Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lots of interest in the discussion of our various organizations.

Ok. As you can see, we have had a bunch of replies to the discussion of the Western Music Association/Academy of Western Artists/Cowboy Poets of Idaho post I put up last weekend.

On november 23, Donna Hatton posted a nice message on the AWA Yahoo group appealing for help for the AWA for an unspecified problem. Juni Fisher answered it and then I felt compelled to answer with My Post to the AWA Yahoo group on Nov 24 . That post prompted several replies, some of which I posted here. Most of the others were one-liners such as "Right on, Larry" and that sort of thing.

As many of you know, there have been even more posts to the various Yahoo groups involved.

All of you who know me know that I enjoy a good debate, whichever side I might be thrown to. Also, I'm never shy about voicing my opinion. It's obvious that my opinion isn't shared by all out there. Horrors! You mean, not everyone agrees with me? Is it possible that I might not be right?
Please take the time to read what I've got posted here and comment on those you find interesting. This has become a good discussion and I'm learning a lot...mostly positive stuff. One thing seems clear to me. Whether you feel that any or all of these organizations are helpful to you or not; worth your time, effort and money or not...obviously, they are very important not only to many individual performers but to our industry as a whole.

I think that one feeling I have gotten from this discussion is that Donna is probably right. We probably do need to help out with the AWA if they are having problems. Also, it might be a good idea to throw our support to the WMA and CPI as well. All three of these groups have a positive impact on our Western Entertainment world. If not, there would not be so much passionate interest in them from so many people.

Comments from Bill Chiles in re; our current ongoing discussion!

This popst is an e-mail from Bill Chiles in reference to the posts I've made and various e-mails and replies this week. Bill gave me permission to post it here.

I just got back from the WMA Albuquerque festival, I received treatment equal to the amount of work I have put in.

Was I the best singer their? Hell yea, I believe LynnAnderson...( yes the Lynn Anderson, performed and jammed and visited allweekend with her) I believe Belinda and Curly and Junie and this years winner Dave Stamey when they say I am, what I also believe is, it is more than talent, it is managing your talent correctly, hard work, yes giving it all up for one dream, their is no being discovered, just damn hard work AND the talent.

Some work smart and hard and have mediocre talent and they end up on top or near, but all the talent in the world cannot end up on top without managing it all, I have received respect for my talent, but none for my business sense, the proof is in the pudding, If I want to be on the A+ list then I have to manage myself to get there. So lets quit whining and looking for a organization to be a talent/booking agency for us. It's family for when we travel far away, it's unconditional caring while we learn and try and fail and win. In the end, no one does it for you, the entertainment business is not set up that way, only the cream goes to the top. You figure it out or the audience will figure it out for you. Am I the best I can be? No way am I a real entertainer, a long way to go.

Bill Chiles

Comments from Juni Fisher about the WMA/AWA Discussion

Howdy again folks. This was an e-mail I got from Juni Fisher last weekend at the beginning of this discussion. She agreed to let me post it here.

Hi Larry,

I am answering your email, off the forum, since I don't want to call you down on something, you are a nice fella. But to compate the WMA to the AWA is to compare A whole bag of beautiful apples to one rotten one.

The WMA has workshops for youth, for folks wanting to know how to pitch to radio, pitching to festivals, and they added a day-long songwriter workshop this year.

Now in years past, the WMA was taken down by unscrupulous folks, special grants were stolen...yes, stolen, and the possibility of getting those particular ones is lost. BUT, a dedicated and honest group of folks reformed the WMA, and worked hard to recoup, get a new format, and build great relationships. Now the WMA is strong again and growing. The awards are VOTED by the members...not the case with the AWA. Bobby Newton decides the AWA awards. Not informed decisions, as he does not attend shows or showcases....he picks who he wants to add to the membership roster.

Last year we who were still members of the AWA paid an extra fee to be included on the website listing, and those listings did not go up till 10 months after we had paid the fee, and two months before our membership would expire. We were charged for a convention that was not a convention at all. The "showcases" were a lame flop, sound men did not even show up.

Now back to the WMA. The showcases go on throughout the event, pairing folks who are the most experienced for some, pairing the up and comings together for others. There is a Best of the Best Show at the end, and those performers are the proven entertainers who have won awards that year or in years past. OF COURSE IT'S THE BEST...why would we want the public to come see our not so good, in hopes they will get hooked on western music?

The WMA is run by a governing board, with an advisory board. The board members are voted on by the genereal membership, in and OPEN meeting. We all feel a part of the running of the WMA because we ARE a part of it.

I hope you will come to the WMA convention next year and see for yourself that it is a fine organization, full of dedicated, hardworking and honest people who promote WESTERN music.

I have been to three WMA conventions in the past three years...they are on the rise for all the right reasons.

Juni Fisher
2006 WMA Female Vocalist of the Year
2005 AWA Western Female Performer of the Year
2005 WMA Crescendo Award
Red Geetar Records
Larrivee' Guitars

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An inspirational post from Kathy Camden

Dear all: I think a lot of people need to look at the broad picture. Everyone benefited from the org.'s. whether you were a member or not, because what you did was being promoted. We used to do this for a fun time like the one in Rupert... NOT FOR MONEY. If this business is to be a business, then we have to pull together as a team, not whine and cry. You can "should of" all day and night... but that doesn't fix the problem. I will say a line for a Wayne Damron song... "Don't should of on me and I won't should of on you".

While I am on a roll.... STRIVE, ACHIEVE, SUCCEED AND GO FORWARD....could have,,,, should have.... and would have.... if you are using these words, you need to go forward. You are in neutral.

Kathy Camden

ps... my husband and I started with this cowboy stuff around 1983... so been down the road.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some general thoughts about last weekends e-mail storm

What a great day!! It hasn't managed to climb above 10degrees F yet today and it's been snowing a little bit all day long. I'm not sure if it's snowing here or if it's falling above Great Falls and landing here, the way the wind is blowing!

The e-mail storm over my AWA-WMA post seems to have subsided a bit, at least for me. All but one person who commented on it was positive. They all basically said that they had planned to answer the thread until they saw my post and since I had said everything they wanted to they just commented..."right on"!

It did make me take a closer look at what we want these different organizations to do for us. Yes, I'd like to have more recognition for what I do. But, I want to be recognized for my talent, not for who I've been freindly with. I know that's kind of an unrealistic view. In almost any endeavor it's not so much what you know as who you know and the Music business, in any genre, is very much that way. On the other hand, I'm old enough now that I can look out at the world and say "Don't care. I'm gonna do it my way" and be able to live with the consequences. In the past 8+ years that I've been following Western Entertainment I've made some of my greatest friends. I've had a wonderful time and built hundreds of special memories that I will be able to take with me when I'm gone. The awards I've won and the money I've managed to make are nice but when I'm gone, they will stay here. I can't take them with me. The money, of course, was gone Long before I made it!

One of the e-mails I saw mentioned bringing in "big names" so that we could charge $30-40 per ticket and thus make real money for everyone. Let's have a reality check here, folks. Aside from one or two (literally) performers, no one knows who any of our "big names" are except those already interested in Western Music or Cowboy Poetry. Maybe out in Arizona or California you are getting $30 a ticket for an AWA "star" but out here in Montana...well, good luck.

What Bobby Newton of the AWA is saying is true. We are NOT going to beat Nashville at a game they've been playing for a long time. We need to work with them in some way. If Bobby has some ideas about that, I'm ready to listen.

John Westbrook and I were out to dinner with an AWA award winner not long ago. This person spent most of the dinner talking about the "big names" they had played with and were friends with. Names we are all familiar with because we are AWA and WMA members and the success of our peers is important to us. The speaker was "name dropping" to the wrong folks since John has played with Merle Haggard, Johnny Lee and MMM but we didn't say anything...just let it all run past us. My point here is that if this person had been bragging to anyone else in the restaraunt, they wouldn't have known any of the "big stars" being spoken of. Unless John had spoken up! THOSE names, everyone in the building would have known. For Merle you might get $30 a ticket in Montana. Murphy was in Missoula about four years ago and I think the ticket price was $25 and I'll bet there were less than 500 in the audience.

Now I know, because I went to Elko last year and saw what SHOULD be going on at every Western show, that there are a lot of fans out there and a lot of people are learning who we are and what we do. But the few thousand that we see in Elko each year is only a small piece of the thousands who attended Garth Brooks concerts only a few years ago! I'm right back around to; if Bobby Newton and the AWA (or anyone else for that matter) has a plan for building our popularity beyond what we have now, then I'm all for it!

I've got lots of ideas too. Everyone who knows me knows that when it comes to ideas, my motto is: "Quantiy, not quality!" I figure, if only one in 100 ideas works out, that just means you need to crank more ideas out there, faster!

I'm looking forward to meeting more of you out there. One of the best things about this Western Music quest, we all get to run into each other once in a while. With the small size of our "family" it's inevitable. Leave a comment. Let's hear Your ideas! Maybe the solution is out there.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

If you missed out on Rupert, you really missed out!

Rupert, Idaho; November 9-12, 2006. One of the best Gatherings I have ever attended. Thursday jams on stage, Friday and Saturday day and night shows, Sunday Cowboy Church....the same kind of schedule as most Cowboy Poets of Idaho sanctioned Gatherings but all the stuff that went on! Wow!

The Jam sessions at Earl and Sandy White's house...all nighters, all weekend. I staggered off to bed about 3AM each night (morning?) and left some still playing and talking when I did. A weekend of the best poetry, music and above all, friendship you could ever find, any where.

I'll be posting a comprehensive report at but here are a few pictures to give you an idea. Wish you had been there. Hope to see you at the next one!

My Post to the AWA Yahoo group on Nov 24

I've done the Bar-band thing, as a single, duo and with a band. I've even played in the chicken wire cage for orchestrated fights. Top 40 country and some rock. Then, in 1998, someone invited me to a "Cowboy Poetry Gathering". There were about as many performers as audience at the first gathering I attended. Approx 30+ of each. The audience size wasn't what attracted my attention. First, it was the quality of the performers. These weren't the local jam-session cowboys I was used to seeing. These were exceptionally talented performers. Then, they were doing the kind of music that I played for myself in my living room. The old cowboy songs, Marty Robbins, Ian Tyson and even...ORIGINAL MUSIC! Add to that the fact that the audience was there to listen. Not to get drunk, get laid, shoot pool or whatever but to actually pay attention to the performers.

The Cowboy Poetry was also something I had never experienced before. Stories about MY life, told in verse...Funny, sad, frightening but true! I was enthralled and it all changed my life dramatically. I invited myself to another Gathering in Virginia City, Montana; joined the Cowboy Poets of Idaho and turned my back on the bars (hopefully) forever! I've spent 8 of the best years of my life growing from the country singer in a group of Western Performers to a Western Performer who still does the occasional country song. So much for my quick autobiography.

In the past few years, I've researched the more successful Western performers and the organizations that are supposed to help us in our craft. The three main organizations I would discuss are the Academy of Western Artists, the Western Music Association and the Cowboy Poets of Idaho. Each has about the same number of members although the CPI is still running third in numbers. Many of the best performers I know are members of all three. I was a member of all three at one time and even was President of the WMA's Northwest Chapter for a while. Although I never went to a WMA or AWA awards show, I believe that I did get a good insight into what was going on. I have several friends whom I respect who are or were very involved in the AWA and the WMA and we have discussed, at length, our impressions of all three organizations and the reasons for those impressions.

In my opinion, the reason for an organizations existence is to support all its members. In our case, I want to see training/workshops in the things which help me advance my craft. For instance; writing workshops, guitar maintenance, promotion instruction and so on. Organization sponsored or sanctioned Gatherings or shows should provide an opportunity for newer members to not only "showcase" but grow with on-stage experience and advice, instructions and support from the more experienced members.

My impression of the awards shows for the WMA and the AWA has been that they are "showcases" for the more well known performers to "strut their stuff" as well as a place for the unknowns of our world to meet "the right people". It all sounded like a place to compete with my peers, not advance with them. I can do enough of that with things like the Northwest Fair Association or groups like them. Thus, the extreme cost of traveling so far would not have, in my opinion, brought any returns for me. In addition, it seemed that the awards for both of these groups were given to the same people each year...Just different awards once in a while. And, there were rarely Northwestern names in the ballot and almost never a northwestern name in the list of winners, even though I had come to know many Northwestern area entertainers who are the best I've seen, bar none, of Western performers. I'll list a few here but look at the list of featured performers at for a good idea.

One of the best writers, of music or poetry, I have ever met or heard of is Wayne Nelson. Wayne is the only member of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho to have won not only the Golden note Award for music and the Silver Quill Award for writing but is also in the CPI hall of Fame.

Arguably one of the best guitar players in the country today is John Westbrook. John also is a great songwriter and has several songs which have become very popular wherever we have been seen. If you judge by CD sales, in the past five years I've rarely seen John outsold. In fact, at a show we did where we shared the stage with Brenn Hill, Eli Barsi and Joni Harms, the only one who outsold John was Joni.

Bill Chiles has one of the most beautiful singing voices in America and he does Western Music...The old trail songs that we are trying to carry on to the next generation. To show a little conceit, I'll say that I also have a remarkable singing voice and I have written several Western songs which are very popular. I'm one of the few who has ever outsold John Westbrook in CDs! (I put that in just to prod him a little!).

Wyoming Red was a sister duet who had the most wonderful repertoire of old Western songs as well as the addition of their genetic harmony that made them one of the biggest crowd pleasers I've worked with. Another Northern female vocalist that is top notch is Terri Taylor of "Stampede!". None of these great entertainers, with the recent well deserved exception of "Stampede"!, have been noticed by either the AWA or the WMA.

Those of us up here in the Great White North have found that the Cowboy Poets of Idaho meets all the expectations we have in an organization. They do provide workshops at several of their sanctioned shows, they make it a point to help new and younger performers get the stage experience they need and awards from the CPI are granted to different names each year by the overall memberships vote as the other organizations do. But, the list of names on the ballot seems different each year. When you go to the Annual Gathering in St. Anthony, Idaho you usually see new faces on the night show and many new ones in the day shows. Everyone is treated like a star, not just a select few and this, I believe, is the job of an organization such as this one. And I know of several Gathering organizers (I am one) who actively seek new talent to put out for all to enjoy.

Most CPI sanctioned Gatherings have a multi-talent night show with no "headliner" or "top billing". Each performer is treated the same and if anyone is paid, all get the same pay. One of my big frustrations was to be a Day-show performer, for free, and have someone "Headline" the Night-Show (usually for a decent check) who was no better than I and often (here I take a deep breath and show some arrogance) not anywhere near as good! And, don't start with the "You have to pay your dues" line. Read the first paragraph. When you can tell me your Bar-fight stories then we can talk!

I have heard these same concerns about the AWA and the WMA from more than just myself. I know several exceptional performers who once were members of all three groups who gave up on the two Southern groups and focused on the CPI. I'm sure not because of the awards and recognition but because of the family feeling for ALL members and the friendly helpful atmosphere that is a big part of all CPI Gatherings.

If the AWA is in trouble, maybe they could revamp a little and try to be more accessible and friendly towards ALL the members, not just a select few "stars". Possibly an effort to enhance the abilities, help with the problems and address the concerns of everyone would help.

In my case, I plan to be aware of the AWA and the WMA and what they are doing. I count several active members of both organizations as special personal friends and I certainly hope my words here didn't hurt any feelings. At the same time, I feel the need to help CPI grow to be, in the Northwest, what the other two are for the South.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wyoming Red Retiring!!

I got a call from Rusty tonight and she asked that Wyoming Red be taken off the website as they are retiring from the Western Music world.

I know I speak for us all when I say that this is a major loss to our little family. Gatherings will not be the same without "The Reds" showing up and I will miss them a lot.

Rusty just felt that she and Susan both have so many other things going on in their lives that they had to make some hard choices and they just don't enjoy the traveling as much as they used to. Also, both want to have at least some contact with their husbands ocaisionally so...they are cutting out the Western Music shows.

For those few who do not know these ladies, they have the sweetest voices on any stage and are some of the best people you can ever meet. They have won the Cowboy Poets of Idaho Golden Note Award as well as being inducted into the Cowboy Poets of Idaho Hall of Fame. The Reds are some of the first people I met in Western Entertainment and the influence of such talented and personable performers was a big part of what led me into this little "family" the past few years.

We love you, girls and I can only hope to see you down the trail somewhere.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rupert, Idaho Gathering

Well, Howdy all and what's happening with you? What's happening with me is that it's 5:30 in the morning and I just got in from my trip back from Rupert, Idaho. But what a great time we all had!!

Those of you who have never attended a Cowboy Poetry or Western Entertainer gathering have been missing out on some of the best times available in our world. Just look at how much fun these two have obviously been having!!

We played music, sang songs and performed Cowboy Poetry from 10 in the morning 'til 10 at night at the Wilson Theater in Rupert, Idaho. then, we went to the house of some friends and continued until around 4 in the morning (public still invited!), slept ( as you can see here) for a little while and then started over again.

We'll have a full Gathering Report on when I get some more pictures in from our (unofficial) photographer, Tosha Wolfe.

If you'd like to have more info about these events, check out our cowboy entertainer links or give me an e-mail, leave a comment here or whatever. You can count on the best entertainment you can see anywhere as well as the opportunity to meet some of the best people.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"On the Road" updates

Well, we're having a blast out here on the road again. Wayne Nelson and I played at the Portneuf Valley Brewing in Pocatello, Idaho last night and had a great time. Fairly good audience, very appreciative, and some Great performers. You could hear Jazz, Blues, Folk, Country, Bluegrass and Western all in the same place!

I met Zack from "Shakey Bones", a rock group up here for a couple of concerts. He just happened to stop in the Brewery while walking around Pocatello with nothing much to do and then he joined our jam session and was there until the last of us left. I enjoyed his music and wish I had the time to go to one of their shows.

I got e-mail from Marvin O'Dell of Classicheartland and he says he'll be featuring me and my "Listen To the Wind" CD at classicheartland this weekend. That's nice of him. We also have a link to and Marvin's playlist on the cowboyentertainer website.

Keep in touch, all. If your reading these, give us a comment to let us know you were here!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

St Anthony Roxy Theater Benefit

Well, we had a lot of fun in St. Anthony last night. The Fall River Boys, Mark Seeley, Rand Hillman and Dave Grimes, were a great hit, like usual. I don't know what I like from them the best: their semi-serious (They're nver Really Serious!) songs and poems or their humorous stuff. "Ghost Chickens In the Sky" is exceptionally funny but I also love to hear them sing some of the more "standard" Western songs.

Zeb Angell was here again. I really enjoy Zeb's poems as well as his delivery of both his and others poetry. It's great to see a younger guy coming up in our world.

Oral Elser had the audience in his grip from the first sentence last night. His stories and poems are always entertaining. What impresses me is that he's so very funny for several minutes and then hits us with a serious poem that makes us sober up a little...then he takes us right back to laughter. Oral is a gem.

Colt Angell and I worked together very well again. I always like to have a good lead guitar player with me and Colt certainly is that. I can do a song he's never heard before and he's playing lead for me within a few bars. Speaking of bars, we went out to the Star Bar after the show and Colt broke out his stand-up bass and we played for a little while. He's great Bass player too.

All in all, the Roxy Theater benefits have both been fun and I look forward to doing more of them. The Roxy is very important to those of us in the Cowboy Poets of Idaho as we've been holding our gathering there for a long time. In addition, it's a great facility for the Fremont County residents to have available. We hope to see more and more support for the Roxy's renovation and maintenence.
Jills Place Cafe
Just a quick addition to this post. The Guesthouse Inn in St. Anthony donated a room and Jill's Place Cafe donated a meal. The motel was comfortable and the people were nice. The breakfast I had at Jills was exceptional! If you are travelling through St. Anthony, Idaho and are ready for a meal, please stop at Jills and make sure they know it's because they helped out the Cowboy Entertainers. If you're ready for a nights sleep, please do the same at the Guesthouse.

Incidentally, the walls in Jill's are covered with pictures of US Military members from the Civil War to today. Just walking around inside, looking at pictures of Fremont County area people who have served our country gave me chills. What a great thing to do!
Jills Place Cafe