Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Check out other Western performers

Ok, you've got Wayne's comments about Western Music and Cowboy Poetry to help you understand what's going on out here. I'm now going to add mine.

Many of us have lost interest in todays "Country" music. I know that I almost never listen to a Country station anymore. I can't tell who is singing as they all sound alike to me. The songs all sound poorly written with ludicrous lyrics, disjointed music and what I would call a "soft rock" style. anyone remember Fleetwood Mac? Abba? America? Those are all soft rock groups from the 70s and that's what todays country music sounds like to me...only not as entertaining.

"Western" music now...songs about the cowboy and the west, its history and current events. Folk music with a Cowboy flavor in the tradition of Marty Robbins and Eddy Arnold or the Sons of the Pioneers.

And there are many great performers who are doing very well with this style. Michael Martin Murphy and Ian Tyson are probably the most well known with a big bunch rapidly catching up with them. Three organizations are of note here. The Western Music Association, the Academy of Western Artists and the Cowboy Poets of Idaho. Each of these has been growing steadily over the years with members throughout the US and Canada. A look at the members of any of these organizations shows you the best of the best in Western Music and Cowboy Poetry. Many performers who should be household names.

The music I hear from these folks is far more entertaining than anything in the Nashville accepted lists. If more people heard what we are doing out here, then our style would rapidly overtake and surpass the Nashville music poularity. That's exactly why it's so hard to get our music heard on the radio. Unless it's on Nashville's top-40 list, music desn't get played. Drop in your local radio station and ask them about playing music from local artists. You'll get smiles and handshakes; they'll accept your CDs and then use them for Christmas tree decorations or something.

A few, mostly independent, stations are playing our stuff and they are getting a great response from it. The best example I know of is KRLC radio in Lewiston, Idaho which has had a great increase in listeners since they instituted a weekly program of western music.

At www.cowboyentertainer.com you can find more information about this subject; music from some of our performers and contact info for the major performers organizations noted here. Check us out. Go to a Wetern Music or Cowboy Poetry gathering or show if one turns up in your area. You'll have a lot of fun and you'll find yourself whistling a whole bunch of "new" tunes!

Monday, October 30, 2006

What is Western Music/Cowboy Poetry?

The following is an article written for www.cowboyentertainer.com by Wayne Nelson of American Falls, Idaho.

There are few enough people alive today who remember a world without television, let alone those who remember a time with no radio. All we really have to go by are accounts, diaries and books of the period. Add to that word of mouth through hundreds of family histories and you get a glimpse of what leisure time was like in a world so quiet you could hear the stars in their paths across an endless backdrop of skies newly discovered by "civilized" man. Outside the circle of firelight or the walls of a makeshift cabin, night in frontier America was a dark and dangerous place. In those days people clamored to be together the way we now clamor to be away from others. And when they gathered, how did they entertain themselves? They played games, sang songs, told stories and recited poems learned from both written page and word of mouth.Then, as now, a well delivered poem brought the embers of the campfire to life, spreading itself across the dancing flames with added richness each time it was told.

The sheer joy of listening to a skilled recital must have been equal to watching a good movie with ones' favorite actors in terms of today. Having a good storyteller or poet along on a long cattle drive could do wonders in boosting the moral of a crew, which in turn led to the success of the endeavor. Some cowhands with only marginal proficiency were kept on the payroll for their entertainment value alone by farsighted trailbosses who realized their importance in the overall picture.

Somewhere along the line someone remembered that if a good story is preserved in clever rhymes it is more easily remembered ("In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." How could we forget?) and began to memorialize their heros and heartlands in the telling and re-telling of what are now the classics, many of which had many campfire miles on them before they ever hit paper. Some good books were published in the first few decades of the twentieth century but seemed doomed to the realm of obscure folklore.

Then, in the mid-1980's a few devotees met in Elko, Nevada and started the ball rolling on one of the biggest phenomena of our time. Not only were people reciting the classics...they were digging out grandpa's poems that he never showed anybody, coming out of the poetry closet themselves by the thousands, enriching Western culture with verbal color and detail heretofore thought impossible. Cowboy music (as opposed to "Country" music), art, gear western horsemanship, cooking and even Cowboy Church have enjoyed a simultaneous revival. Gatherings have sprung up almost everywhere cattle are raised and new writers are voicing their love of the cowboy lifestyle with a zeal that hasn't appeared since the Oklahoma land rush.

A virtual rebirth of western culture has resulted from Cowboy Poetry...one that has many sociologists scratching their heads. It's too bad they can't see what we see; It's too good to ever die!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fall and Winter pictures: Broadwater County, Montana

One of the nice folks who have viewed and commented here mentioned that I should post some Montana pictures.

This first one is of Mt. Baldy, about 20 miles NE of Townsend, Montana.

The one with all the snow and looking DOWN the mountain is from almost at the southern edge of the base of Baldy, looking SW, towards Townsend. There's a little haze in the air so you can't see town in the picture. This second one is the picture I used for my Big Sky Dreams CD cover.

Actually, I am from West Yellowstone, Montana; the West entrance to Yellowstone National Park. So, I have hundreds of YNP area pictures, many from back in the 20s and 30s. I guess I'll post some of those in the future.

A couple of my songs, "Big Sky Dreams" and "Listen to the Wind", are written with the theme of living outside Montana and wishing I was home. TJ Casey has a really great song about his love for Montana called "It's in the Blood".

Many of the Western Music and Cowboy Poetry performers write about their homes as our surroundings are a big part of who and what we are.

Incidentally; for those who don't know...there IS a difference between "Country" and "Western" music. To paraphrase what I read in the Western Way magazine last year; Western Music is about the life, work, surroundings or history of the cowboy. Did i tell you all this already? Well, that's ok; it bears repeating!

Anyway, thanks for checking in with us once in a while and I hope to hear from more folks here soon.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Another Big Day in Montana

Howdy all:

Well, it's nice and cool today; about 40 degrees right now. No snow here in the Townsend valley yet but there's already some in the mountains around us. I'm sure hoping for a good old-fashioned Montana winter again this year. The colder it gets and the more snow we see, the more likely many of our "Californicator" residents will decide that Arizona might be a better idea!

I had a chance to talk with Montana Senator Conrad Burns ( www.conradburns.com )at a meeting Wednesday. He makes lots of sense to me and is obviously not only a real Montanan but a (ex)Marine. I enjoyed hearing his views and I even gave his wife one of my Big Sky Dreams CDs. Hopefully, someone in the group listens to it!

I got an e-mail from Charles Engel from Bend, OR. He's got a radio show on the local Public Radio ( http://www.kpov.org/ )where he focuses on Western Music and he asked for some CDs. I'm sending out mine and I encourage you to contact him.

Some of the links at www.cowboyentertainer.com are links to radio stations that play our stuff. KRLC in Lewiston, ID and KRRM in Grants Pass, OR are two who play mine quite often. www.cowboyentertainer.com/tommy.html is the page we have set up for the KRLC DJ; Toe Tappin Tommy Tucker.

A friend of mine found a guitar in the dump. since it looked nice (no strings on it) he brought it to me to see if it was useful. With $36 of repairs, it is now quite a nice little guitar. It's a Lyle, so it isn't a BIG find, but it is a nice sounding and playing little guitar and I guess my point is; if you feel the need to throw away your guitar, call me first please!

Anyway, everyone have fun out there and let me know if you're reading this. Leave some comments. TALK to us!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cowboy Music and Poetry: Growing and building!

The art of Western Entertainment is alive and well all over the world. More and bigger audiences crowd into little theaters, school auditoriums and even Carbegie Hall just to see and hear Western (NOT Country!) Music and Cowboy Poetry performed by some of the most talented artists in the country. Check out websites like www.cowboyentertainer.com and www.cowboypoetry.com to find a wealth of information about what we do and why we do it. Listen to "Around the Campfire" at www.classicheartland.com for some great Western music.

How many out there have songs or poems they'd like to share? Who has been to a Cowboy Poetry or Western entertainer Gathering or show? Who are your favorite Western entertainers; past and/or present?

An example of a Western Music artist of the past...Marty Robbins. Today? Older Chris Ledoux stuff, Michael Martin Murphy, Ian Tyson. These are names you might know. How about naming some of todays best?