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Cowboys and poetry

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ELKO, Nevada – The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is the nation’s largest annual celebration of cowboy culture.

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ELKO, Nevada – The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is the nation’s largest annual celebration of cowboy culture. For six days in January the community of Elko welcomes thousands of cowboys and cowgirls, poets and musicians, artisans and scholars, rural and city people — all of whom share a love of the American West and the artistic traditions of ranching and cowboy culture. More than 60 poets and musicians from the US, Canada, Australia, and Hungary will perform on eight stages at five different venues throughout Elko.

Hard work, scarce pay, lonesome nights, heartbreak, and death – common themes of the blues and of the songs, poems, and stories of the cowboy. Cowboy culture is a blend of traditions and influences – blues and other African American cultural traditions have been a major influence on the evolution of western music. The 27th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 24-29, in Elko, Nevada, will explore the connections between traditional cowboy and western music and traditional African American blues music.

Among the blues programs at the gathering, legendary folk singer Ramblin’ Jack Elliott will perform music from his Grammy Award-winning album, A Stranger Here. After last year’s gathering, Jack headed to Los Angeles to receive the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Recording for his CD, A Stranger Here. At this gathering, Jack will share a sampling of this blues music — all pre-World War II tunes – that Jack knew and loved. He will be joined by a few of the revered musicians featured on his award-winning album, including pianist Van Dyke Parks.

Zydeco music is a synthesis of traditional Creole, Cajun, and African-American music including R&B, blues, jazz, and gospel. Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie will perform their special brand of foot-stompin’ zydeco from the bayou country of southwest Louisiana. And Sourdough Slim and Robert Armstrong will present blues and old-time music reminiscent of the 1920s and 30s, including Jimmie Rodgers songs.

Additional highlights of the gathering include cowboys from Hungary, the Marshall Ford Swing Band (featuring Emily Gimble, granddaughter of Texas fiddle legend Johnny Gimble), songwriting legend Ian Tyson, the fiddlin’ Quebe Sisters, Wylie and the Wild West, and renowned cowboy poets Waddie Mitchell, Baxter Black and Wallace McRae. Tickets to the 27th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased online at www.westernfolklife.org/cowboypoetrygathering or by calling 888-880-5885.

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About the author


Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.