KINDRED SPIRITS by J. B. Allen (1938-2005)


photo © 2017, Amy Hale Auker

by J. B. Allen (1938-2005)

The spotted heifer missed the drive
and spent the winter free,
‘Though freedom’s price was willow bark
then sprigs of filaree
That finally showed beneath the snow
before her strength played out.
And green-up brought a fine bull calf
to teach the maverick route.

They fattened on the meadows
of the high Sierra’s flanks
In the company of a maverick bull
that drifted from the ranks
Of cattle across the great divide
turned loose to make their way
And lost amongst the canyons
that were strewn in disarray.

The offspring of this union
proved a wily beast,indeed,
Endowed with instincts from the wild
and blessed with wond’rous speed
That proved a worthy challenge
to the punchers in the hills
Who through the hills spun hairy tales
of wildest wrecks and spills.

But though the issue from the two
was sometimes trapped or caught,
These two ol’ wily veterans
still practiced what they taught,
Spent the winters running free
within their secret haunt
Which held enough to see ’em through
emergin’ weak and gaunt.

For years ol’ Utah searched the range
in futile quest for sign
Of where they spent the winter months a
and somehow get a line
On how they made it every year
and brought a calf, to boot,
‘Til fin’lly one cold, dreary day
it fell to this old coot

To happen on their winter park,
hid out from pryin’ eyes,
And to this day ol’ Utah holds
the key to where it lies.
The kindred spirit, shared by all,
who seek the higher range
Could not betray that cul-de-sac
to folks just bent on change

With no respect for mav’rick ways
or independent thought,
And not one frazz’lin’ idee
of the havoc being wrought
By puttin’ things on schedule,
be it work, or man, or cow,
Till ways that make for bein’ free
are bred plumb-out somehow.

Old Utah turned and trotted off,
to let those old hides be.
His heart a-beatin’ lighter
just a-knowin’ they were free.

© 1997, J.B. Allen
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Texan J.B. Allen was a working cowboy for over three decades. He was a frequent performer at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and also at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Nara Visa, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, and other events. His poetry is included in many anthologies and in his own books and recordings. His book, The Medicine Keepers, received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1998.

J.B. Allen’s poetry is featured in a new CD from, MASTERS, along with the work of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens. The compilation includes recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs) with an introduction by Jay Snider.

Andy Hedges, songster and host of COWBOY CROSSROADS  comments on the CD, “This album represents four of the finest poets to ever come out of cowboy culture. We are not likely to see their kind again and the world should be grateful to for preserving their voices.”

MASTERS has been offered to rural libraries across the West in the outreach Rural Library Program, a part of Cowboy Poetry Week. It was also given as a thank-you to our supporters and is available for purchase. Find more about MASTERS here.

Find more about J.B. Allen at

This photograph is by cow hand, writer, and poet Amy Hale Auker, taken a couple of weeks ago. She cowboys with her husband Gail Steiger in rugged country at Arizona’s Spider ranch. About this photo, she noted, “We rarely run anything through the chute, but this huge maverick bull came from down in the low country. We drove him out with gentle cows, sixteen miles.A quick brand in the chute and he’s free again.”

Look for Amy Hale Auker’s new book, Ordinary Skin: Essays from Willow Springs, from Texas Tech University Press in May. Find more about her at her web siteon, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Events: April


Find links to all months here.

• through April (March 23-May 13, 2018)
13th Annual Cowgirl Up! Art from the Other Half of the West Wickenburg, Arizona

• through April 2, 2018
52nd National Folk Festival  Canberra, Australia

• April 3-7, 2018
26th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival Nashville, Tennessee

•  Dates not yet received for 2018
22nd Annual Cowboy Poetry Night Gateway, Colorado

• Dates not yet received for 2018
Folkfest New Braunfels, Texas

• April 13-14, 2018
Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

• April 13-15, 2018
15th Annual Columbia River Cowboy Gathering and Western Music Festival Kennewick, Washington

• April 13-15, 2018
10th Annual Cowboy Idol Competition at the 14th Annual Columbia River Cowboy Gathering and Western Music Festival Kennewick, Washington


• April 15-21, 2018
17th annual Cowboy Poetry Week


Find more Cowboy Poetry Week news here.

Cowboy Poetry Week Events in 2018:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 6:00 PM
Oregon City Public Library  Oregon City, Oregon with Tom Swearingen

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 6:00 PM
Pleasant Valley Branch Library Ogden, Utah with Robin Arnold and Sam DeLeeuw

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 6:00 PM
Southwest Branch Library Ogden, Utah with Saddle Strings and Gordon Champneys

Thursday, April 19, 2018 12:00 PM
East Portland Rotary Club Luncheon Portland, Oregon with Tom Swearingen

Thursday, April 19, 2018 6:00 PM
Ogden Valley Branch Library Ogden, Utah with David Anderson and Thatch Elmer

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 6:30 PM
Canby Public Library Canby, Oregon with Tom Swearingen


•  April 19-22, 2018
25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Santa Clarita, California

• April 20-22, 2018
97th Annual Red Bluff Roundup Red Bluff, California

• April 20-21, 2018
31st Annual St. Anthony Cowboy Poetry Gathering St. Anthony, Idaho

• April 20-May 28, 2018
Trappings of Texas Custom Cowboy Gear and Western Art Exhibit Alpine, Texas

•  April 27-29, 2018
Stagecoach Indio, California

• April 28, 2018
Ranch Day at the National Ranching Heritage Center Lubbock, Texas

•  April 28, 2018
6th Annual Genoa Cowboy Festival Genoa, Nevada

• Dates not yet received for 2018
102nd Annual Meeting, Texas Folklore Society Tyler, Texas

•  Dates not yet received for 2018
Second Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering Lebanon, Tennessee

• Dates not yet received for 2018
3rd annual Cowboyin’, Horses, and Friends  Choctaw, Oklahoma

• Dates not yet received for 2018
47th Annual Bob Wills Day Festival Turkey, Texas

TRACKS THAT WON’T BLOW OUT by Ray Owens (1934-2007)

Owens, Ray #799-7x5-72

2006 photo by Kevin Martini-Fuller


by Ray Owens (1934-2007)

I didn’t know him all that long
And maybe not that well
‘Cause how good you really know someone
Is sometimes hard to tell.
But on this one thing I’m certain
There ain’t the slightest doubt
He made some footprints in my mem’ry
And left some tracks that won’t blow out.

She was someone extra special
When I met her, way back then
Over forty years has passed now
But I can still remember when
She was young and shy and smilin,’
The prettiest thing for miles about
That mem’ry still walks through my mind
Leavin’ tracks that won’t blow out.

There’s been a lot of happ’nin’s
I remember through the years
Times my cup was runnin’ over
And some times that brought some tears.
It’s gettin’ on toward evenin’ now;
The sunset could be soon
But somehow I’m still feelin’
Like it’s early afternoon.

I guess that’s ’cause of bein’ blessed
With havin’ lots of friends
And some understandin’ family
On whose love I can depend.
If I was gonna make the trip again
And travel the same route
I’d maybe try a little harder
To leave some tracks that won’t blow out.

© 1996, Ray Owens, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

New Mexico poet Ray Owens, a lifelong student of poetry and the West, is greatly missed by so many friends, fans, and family. A quiet gentleman, he appeared at gatherings across the West, including the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the @Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration, the @Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, and appeared at the @estern Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2006. Red Steagall often recites his poetry on his Cowboy Corner radio show.

Ray Owens’ poetry (recorded at the National Cowboy Gathering) is featured in a new CD from, MASTERS, along with the work of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, and Sunny Hancock. The compilation includes recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs) with an introduction by Jay Snider.

The CD’s introduction quotes Ray Owens, “all four have left ‘tracks that won’t blow out.’”

MASTERS has been offered to rural libraries across the West in the outreach Rural Library Program, a part of Cowboy Poetry Week. It was also given as a thank-you to our supporters and is available for purchase. Find more about MASTERS here.

Find more about Ray Owens at and at

THE RIDERS by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)


by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

He claimed he’d rode the bad’uns
plumb from Canada on south.
He’d rode ’em in the wet,
and he’d rode ’em in the drouth.
He’d rode where broncs was little,
and he’d rode where they was big,
And he wore a lot of purties
made of silver on his rig.
Of course he’d never rode before
for such a little spread,
But if they had some broncs to bust,
he’d snap a few, he said.

The Boss, he kinder blinked his eyes
toed a piece of ground.
“Of course,” he said, “us peelers here
ain’t never been around,
But if your pride can stand to ride
amongst a bunch of hicks,
I’ll hire you on, and maybe you
can learn us all some tricks.”

The stranger’s name was Buck La Rue.
He wore a fancy boot.
From all his talk you’d think
he’d learned the hoot owl how to hoot.
But Joe, the ol’ top peeler,
always kinder held his jaw;
Just rode ’em as they came
and never raised no big hurraw.

He cut La Rue some four-year-olds
and watched him snap ’em out.
This Buck could fork a bronc,
he said, there wasn’t any doubt.
But when they talked of ridin’
in the evenin’s after chow,
‘Twas Buck La Rue that never failed
to tell the others how.

He’d say: “You made a middlin’ ride
upon that gray today,
But Joe, I’ve rode ’em awful tough,
down Arizona way.
Of course you boys ain’t been around
enough to realize
That these here broncs is purty tame,
an’ kinder undersize.
I’ve forked ’em in Wyoming
and the South Dakota hills,
That you’ve got to set ’em salty
or they jolt you to the gills!”

But Joe jest went on ridin’,
never puttin’ on the show;
His spurs was never bloody
and you never heard him blow.
Then came a day when Buck La Rue
got spilled upon the ground,
Because this roan bronc hadn’t heard
how Buck had been around.

“Why damn his soul!” said Buck,
and you could see it hurt his pride,
“This two-bit ranch can’t raise a bronc
that Buck La Rue can’t ride!”
Buck screwed down on him once again.
The roan unravelled quick,
And where he throwed ol’ Buck that time,
the dust was purty thick.

The third time that he throwed him,
Buck’s tongue forgot to wag,
The ol’ Joe spoke up quiet:
“Let me try that little nag.
The chances are he’ll throw me,
for as Buck has often said,
I’m just a local rider
for a little two-bit spread.”

Joe stepped up in the saddle,
raked the roan both fore and aft,
The bronc done plenty buckin’,
but ol’ Joe set up and laughed:
“I’m just a pore ol’ country boy,
raised weak on country chuck.
Ain’t never saw the elephant
nor spun the world, like Buck!

Come on, ol’ hoss, and show me
how you lay ’em on the ground,
For, as ol’ Buck has told you,
I ain’t never been around!'”
That roan, he bucked the damndest
that a country bronco could,
But Joe stayed in the saddle,
settin’ deep down in the wood.

For once he done some spurrin’
as he gave the boys a show,
While Buck just stood a-watchin’,
with his head hung kinder low.
Joe wrung him dry of buckin’,
like a wringer wrings a shirt,
Then stepped down from the saddle,
lookin’ plenty fresh and pert.

He says to Buck: “You take him!”
And he give his hat a whirl.
“In case he’s still too tough for you,
just give him to your girl!”

The moral of this little tale,
as some of you have guessed,
Is something most all cowpokes know,
most everywhere out West
For most of them have have noticed,
that it’s generally the case:
The toughest broncs are always
those you’ve rode some other place!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West” (1968)

For an excellent recitation of this poem, tune in to the latest episode of Andy Hedges’ COWBOY CROSSROADS. He recites the poem at the top and it continues with part one of a rollicking interview with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

S. Omar Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman.

Above is a later version of S. Omar Barker’s poem; an earlier one was published in Songs of the Saddlemen (1954). See both versions and find more about Barker at

This 1908 photograph by noted cowboy photographer Erwin E. Smith (1886-1937) is titled, “The LS Bronco Buster” and is described, “Photograph shows a cowboy on a bucking bronco in a corral at the LS Ranch, Texas, 1907.” It’s from The Library of Congress and you can find more about it here.

At the Amon Carter Museum, the largest holder of Smith photographs, they tell, “Erwin E. Smith (1886–1947) always wanted to be a cowboy and an artist. When he was a boy growing up in Bonham, a town in Fannin County in North Texas, the era of the great trail drives was over, and he feared that the old ways of the cowboy were disappearing. However, the legend and myth of the cowboy was just beginning. Popular literature, art by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, and the fledgling film industry promoted a romantic, yet often inaccurate, image of the cowboy. For his part, Smith resolved to honor the life of the cowboy by presenting as true a portrayal as possible.” See their on-line gallery of his works.



by Yvonne Hollenbeck

There’s been a lot of poems and songs
about those cattle drives,
but I’ve never heard a poem or song
about those cowmen’s wives.

Did you ever stop and wonder
about how those guys get fed?
Who boils that brew and cooks the stew
and bakes up all that bread?

Well, I know who and so do you,
so I wrote this little thing
bout why I’d like to be in Texas
when we round up cows next spring.


In a kitchen in an old ranch house on a cold and autumn day,
sat a bunch of fellers telling yarns about the cowboy way.

They tell of places they have been and country they have seen.
One prefers the Badlands where the grass is never green,

while others tell their windy tales of Sandhills, lush and wet,
as they eat their eggs and pancakes ‘cause it soon is time to get

outside and saddle up their mounts and ready for the ride,
for the roundup is about to start. I too must get outside

and load up all the food and drink and pack it in my truck,
then find a place along the trail where they can stop for chuck.

I’m soon unloading food supplies…it’s not an easy deal
to feed those men while on the trail and plan for every meal.

And when the noon meal’s over, the work is never through;
you have to clean and pack and move the meal site all anew.

They’ll stop the drive at sundown and again they have to eat,
and then I start all over and I’m really getting beat!

They set up camp and bed ‘em tight, some men stay with the cattle;
I head on home to pack more food, for eating’s half the battle.

And while the men are fast asleep, I prepare tomorrow’s menu;
just two more days of rounding up and then this job will be through.

So when you hear those poems and songs about those cattle drives,
just think about the “unsung” ones…bout the cowman’s wives.

With that I guess I’ll bid “good-bye” and say just one more thing:
I’d sure like to be in Texas when we round up cows next spring!

© 2008, revised, Yvonne Hollenbeck
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Popular cowboy poet and champion quilter Yvonne Hollenbeck delights audiences across the West. Here her latest book and CD are titled Rhyming the Range. Both collect her original poems. The book includes the most requested poems from her two out-of-print books and all of her newest poetry.

Find more about Yvonne Hollenbeck and her complete schedule, which includes quilting events, at

Find more of Yvonne Hollenbeck’s poetry at

This photo of twin bull calves was taken last spring at the Hollenbeck’s South Dakota ranch, where Yvonne and her champion calf-roper husband Glen raise cattle and quarter horses.

30th Annual California Rodeo Salinas, July 16, 2017



From the organizers:

30th Annual California Rodeo Salinas
Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering
Sunday, July 16, 2017 ~ Sherwood Hall ~ Salinas
Doors Open at 1:00 pm
Open Mic – 2:00
Show Starts at 2:30


It’s our 30th celebration and hope you can attend. We have wine tasting and a BBQ prior to the show along with a silent auction offering a wide variety of treasures to bid on and a live dessert auction during intermission.

As you know this entertainment forum began around the campfires and in the bunkhouses of the Old West and we are proud to keep this great American tradition alive. We are pleased to bring great American Music and Storytelling to this year’s event as well as performances from Youth Orchestra Salinas (YoSal) and the winners of our kid’s poetry contest as a portion of our proceeds go to the Foundation for Monterey County Free Libraries. Entertainers include:

Master of Ceremonies, Clem Albertoni, South County’s poet laureate and funny man.

Los Vaqueros Hunting Club Traveling Band, a local country and western band that was born of campfire smoke, camaraderie, a love of tales and songs where creativity is not hindered by fact or truth. Featuring close friends, Randy Handley, Terry Handley, Rich Casey and Roger Hill.

We welcome Cowboy Poet, Humorist and Storyteller Chris Isaacs from Eagar, Arizona. Chris has been nominated for the Western Heritage Award by the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Excellence by the Academy of Western Artists.

Dave Stamey is back! He is the newest member of the Western Music Association Hall of Fame and has been awarded the 2016 Male Vocalist of the Year, 2016 Songwriter of the Year, and his 11th CD, Western Stories, was just awarded 2016 Album of the Year. Joining Dave on stage is the lovely Annie Lydon on harmony vocals.

Reserved tables are being offered at the Diamond level, first come first served closest to the stage. Regular tickets can be purchased online at or by contacting Clem Albertoni at (831) 678-3297 or Lydia Miranda at (831) 320-5939. Individual tickets are $30.00 in advance or $35.00 at the door. Wine Tasting and BBQ tickets may be purchased at the event for $10.00 each. We look forward to seeing you there.




In a lobby of a big hotel in New York town one day,
Sat a bunch of fellows telling yarns to pass the time away.
They told of places where they’d been and all the sights they’d seen,
And some of them praised Chicago town and others New Orleans.

I can see the cattle grazing o’er the hills at early morn;
I can see the camp-fires smoking at the breaking of the dawn,
I can hear the broncos neighing I can hear the cowboys sing;
Oh I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

In a corner in an old arm chair sat a man whose hair was gray,
He had listened to them longingly, to what they had to say.
They asked him where he’d like to be and his clear old voice did ring:
“I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

They all sat still and listened to each word he had to say;
They knew the old man sitting there had once been young and gay.
They asked him for a story of his life out on the plains,
He slowly then removed his hat and quietly began:

“Oh, I’ve seen them stampede o’er the hills,
when you’d think they`d never stop,
I’ve seen them run for miles and miles until their leader dropped,
I was foreman on a cowranch—that’s the calling of a king;
I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.”

…authorship uncertain

Cowboy and poet JB Allen (1938-2005) recorded an outstanding recitation of this work at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The recording is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten from

Top cowboy balladeer Don Edwards sings it in a video here.

The great Buck Ramsey (1938-1998) sings the song here.

The authorship of “I’d Like to Be in Texas…” is uncertain. In the late Glenn Ohrlin’s The Hell-Bound Train, he writes, “Vernon Dalhart recorded ‘Roundup in the Spring’ on November 1, 1926… The song was first printed in sheet music copyrighted in 1927 by Lou Fishback (Fort Worth, Tex.); Carl Copeland and Jack Williams were listed as co-writers. The following year, the Texas Folklore Society printed an article by J. Frank Dobie, who claimed it was an old song he had obtained from Andy Adams.”

The Lomax’s include information from the Dobie article, writing that “…he found two lines in an unpublished play of Mr. Andy Adams. When he requested the full version, Mr. Adams sent him two stanzas and the chorus, which he had obtained fifteen years previously from W. E. Hawks, a ranchman now living in Burlington, Vt. However, he claimed to be responsible for most of the second stanza….”

Find more about “I’d Like to Be in Texas” at

This 1929 photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is titled, “Cowboys roping horses at roundup near Marfa, Texas.” It is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs. Find more about it here.

Russell Lee taught photography at the University of Texas, Austin, from 1965-1973, and is best known for his FSA photos. Find more about him at Texas State University’s Russell Lee Collection.