Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 5-6-13
I’d bet a bucket of gold coins that you’ve heard of Baxter Black. Perhaps you have attended a shindig where he’s headlined the show. If you haven’t, here’s my advice: if Baxter will be performing within driving, flying, walking or crawling distance of your location, you owe it to yourself to grab the opportunity to see Baxter Black … Live!
I say this with confidence and appreciation because Big Timber brought Baxter to town last weekend as a salute to Service Men and Women. Proceeds to: Big Hearts Under the Big Sky, an organization in partnership with Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, that provides outdoor adventure trips for Wounded Warrior Veterans and their families; and for children facing life-threatening illness and their families.
The event started with a “VIP” gathering in the Grand Hotel. VIP ticket holders could have their pictures taken with Himself — Baxter Black. Think of the huge number of programs Baxter does per year; think of the number of years he’s been ping-ponging around the United States and Canada; then think of the zillions of photos wherein BB’s visage has been captured. The mind boggles. In a thousand or so years in the future, when archeologists excavate earth to decipher life back in the 21st century, the excavators are going to wonder. No matter where they dig, they’re apt to turn up an image of that mustachioed, twinkling-eyed feller in the cowboy hat.
The show took place in the Civic Center, formerly the old high-school gymnasium. Inside the auditorium folks could browse the displays showing names of men and women of Sweet Grass County who have served our country both in war time and in peace time — from as far back as the Civil War up to and including the current conflict.
Boy Scouts in scouting uniforms posted the flag. The crowd stood to recite the Pledge. Leslie Keltner led the Star Spangled Banner. Taylor Brown, State Senator, read an excerpt from the book “Taps on the Wall” by Viet Nam Hanoi Hilton survivor, Colonel John Borland, then asked veterans in the audience — as he announced the names of the various armed forces — to stand and be recognized. These were lump-in-the-throat proud moments.
Windy Bill Chiles, velvet-voiced singer and guitar player from Idaho and Leslie Keltner, golden-voiced singer and poet of Cody, opened for Baxter. Bill’s voice can make the listener cry one minute and tap the foot to an exciting up-beat western tune in the next second. Leslie’s songs and poems are genuine cowgirl! Her Runumuk Cowgirl Productions Company hosts the annual Songs of the Cowboys in Cody, Wyo.
For the next hour and 15 minutes Baxter Black made some folks laugh so hard, they cried. It’s useless to try to describe his antics or recap his stories and poems. You hadda be there. And 600 people were!
After the show the audience lined up to purchase Baxter’s autographed books. His latest novel is titled “RIDE, 8 seconds COWBOY RIDE ain’t that long RIDE!” The jacket blurb claims: “A hilarious tale of true love and saddle-bronc riding featuring a zany cast of characters on a cross-country quest to make it to the National Finals Rodeo and find everlasting fame, glory, and happiness.”
Cooney Bedlam, a kinda good-lookin’ bull and saddle-bronc rider with the soul of a poet. Straight Line, Cooney’s travelin’ partner and wanna-be celebrity spokesperson. Pica D’Troit, the object of Cooney’s bungling affections and a fine saddle-bronc rider in her own right. Turk Manniquin, owner of Over The Top Athletic Cosmetics, and his minions: Nova Skosha, Celebrity Recruiting Agent, and File Blitzer, Road Manager. Oui Oui Reese, the gorgeous, diabolical model plotting her way to the top. And Lick Davis, the charming, laconic cowboy poet who’s always eager to offer a friendly word of advice.
“RIDE 8 seconds COWBOY ain’t that long RIDE” is available all over the place in bookstores, online or I can loan you my copy if you promise to return it. ❖
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