13th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering
by Dorothy Miller
The 13th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, held in mid-January at the Arvada Center, was a bright array of talented entertainers. For those who yearn for the simple cowboy life and have a love of poetry this yearly jamboree holds a great fascination.
I’ve never lived on a ranch or owned a horse, but I became enthralled with cowboys when I was a little girl, living in California. Every Saturday night we sat around the radio eager to hear the Grand Ole Opry.
The laughter that came with Minnie Pearl and the cowboy songs of Ernest Tubbs transported me to another world, a world where cowboys in 10-gallon hats worked horses on the prairie, cooked beans over a campfire and slept under a star speckled sky.
I’ve always loved poetry and have written many sad, bad and not-so-bad poems.
The annual Cowboy Poetry Conference had a great variety of cowboys, cowgirls and kids. Poets kept their audience captivated with interest.
Liz Masterson is very active at this conference. Liz, who is a descendant of Bat Masterson, and Sean Blackburn have performed concerts and festivals across the United States and Canada. Liz received the Patsy Montana Cowgirl Award in New York City in the year 2000 and the Western Music Assocation’s Female Performer of the Year in 1998. She is also a talented yodeler.
Sean Blackburn brings rope tricks, comedy and song-writing to the act. He is a devoted horseman. The pair have six albums and were recently featured in American Cowboy Magazine.
The room where Liz Masterson and Sean Blackburn sang was decorated by Indian blankets, a cactus adorned by tiny red lights and a wagon wheel. One of the most touching songs that they sang was the tender Foster and Alan song, “After all these Years.”
Each hour in the Cowboy Poetry Gathering brings fascinating performers. It’s difficult to choose between five sessions of such talented people. One of those is Angel Vigil, who is an author, performer and teacher.
He is a Colorado State Heritage Artist who specializes in traditional Hispanic stories. He has received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, a Heritage Artist Award and a Master Artist award from the Colorado Council on the arts. He has written four books on Hispanic culture. His fifth book is scheduled for publication this year.
Buffalo Bill Boycott from Lander, Wyo., performs cowboy and original songs on the fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar. He presents humorous cowboy poetry and is one of the best yodelers. Buffalo Bill Boy performs at schools and has many recordings, including the award-winning “Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas.”
His talented daughter, Oakley also sang and Bill joined her in part of a song.
Jon Chandler comes from Westminster, Colo. His book “The Spanish Peaks” received the Western Writers of America’s 1999 Spur Award for Best First Novel.
Chandler has written children’s stories and songs and has produced an animated cartoon series called “Cowboy Critter Campfire Tales.” Jon played the guitar with his partner, Ernie Martinez who plays a variety of instruments. Martinez is also a songwriter.
Deb Carpenter grew up on a cattle ranch in Nebraska. She is a school teacher who brings the Old West alive for her students. She sang a song about Sitting Bull while accompanying herself with buffalo ribs. It was truly fascinating.
Many other gifted performers appeared on the four-day program. There was a fantastic collection of talented cowboys and cowgirls.
A soup and sandwich bar was kept busy feeding the crowd who came to appreciate and enjoy the 13th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering. It was truly a grand trip into American Cowboy country.