Friday, March 14, 2008


Hank Cramer, a Western Music Association cowboy singer from the Pacific Northwest, has been selected by the Armed Forces Entertainment Network to travel overseas and entertain American troops in combat zones later this year. The music tour will take him to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and the Philippines. Hank’s touring troupe will include cowboy poet-humorist Paul Steuermann as the opening act; Mark Iler on tenor guitar and harmonica; Davey Hakala on fiddle; and Kurt Mesford on lead guitar. Hank’s son, Hank Cramer IV, will run the sound system and serve as “roadie”.

Hank, a retired Special Forces soldier, volunteered for the music tour and was selected by an audition board that met in late January. The precise tour dates have not yet been set, but Hank and his band will travel for up to 45 days. AFEN provides a service similar to that of the USO. While the USO engages major celebrities, AFEN’s role is to bring high-quality but lesser-known talent to entertain troops in remote locations.

Hank served 28 years as a soldier in both the regular army and reserve, with deployments to Central America, the Philippines, and Afghanistan. He is also the son of the first American soldier killed in Vietnam (Captain Harry Cramer of 1st Special Forces Group). Hank is glad for the chance to bring some smiles to today’s young soldiers serving in faraway places. “I know they’ll be laughing at Paul Steuermann’s jokes and stories, and they’ll be tapping their toes and singing along when the band kicks in,” Hank says. “These kids are doing a tough job under hellacious conditions, and they don’t get a lot of entertainment out there. I’m glad for a chance to lighten their load, and deliver a big ‘Thank You!’ from back here in America”.

A national-touring folksinger, Hank is based in the tiny mountain town of Winthrop, Washington. He has fifteen CD’s and three movie sound-tracks to his credit. Heartland Public Radio chose his song “My Sweet Wyoming Home” as the #5 Cowboy Song of 2007, while Texas Public Radio’s “Random Routes” named two of his songs to their Top Twenty . Hank is a member of the Western Music Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a Life Member of the Special Forces Association.

When not on the road touring, he lives on a micro-ranch with his wife Kit, daughter Kelsey, and their many critters.

For more information, e-mail or call (509) 996-3528

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lee Earl Memorial Gathering; 2008

Well, the 4th Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Gathering (I did it all in one breath!) has come to a close. The Lee Earl Gathering is the first real gathering of the year and also always one of the best. John Westbrook and I have been going to the Lewiston Gathering for at least six years now; maybe more, even before it was the "Lee Earl" Gathering and we've kept going back every year, first, because of the people setting it up and second, because it's always such a fun show. John ran sound for the show again this year and I ran gofer for him when I wasn't either working the CD table or working the pool tables in the back room.

Smoke Wade and Donna Earl produce this show and they do a wonderful job. I know how hard it is to set up one of these gatherings and their results are impressive.