April 20, 2024 newsletter

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Monday, April 29, 2024

Howdy everyone!

It's good to talk to everyone again. We can't wait to share a little slice of the 2024 Gathering with you, in words and pictures. Photos included here are from Jessica Brandi Lifland.

Waddie Mitchell performing Saturday afternoon

Audience on Friday

The Gathering brought approximately 2630 attendees from 34 states and 6 countries to Alpine to hear our outstanding "Branding Crew" of more than 40 poets, singers, songwriters, guitarists, fiddlers, mandolin and banjo players, humorists, authors, folklorists, and storytellers. We had a large number of first-time attendees, due in part to the front-page article in Texas Co-op Power (November 2023), extensive advertising on the internet, RV groups organizing to attend, and word of mouth.

Show rodeo
The Wednesday night Show Rodeo raised $1375 for the SRSU Rodeo Team. With warmer weather than 2023, more folks came to SRSU's outdoor S.A.L.E. Arena for an evening of rodeo events.

Jim Goodnight speaks to the Gathering

Gathering dedication to Jim Goodnight
On Friday morning, events in Marshall Auditorium kicked off by dedicating this year's event to Jim Goodnight, a founding board member of the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering, who continues to provide his marketing expertise and support.

Patrick Sullivan presents award to Kaden Miner

2024 Buck Ramsey Award
Our 2024 Buck Ramsey Award was presented to Kaden Miner for his significant promise to contribute to the cowboy canon including poetry, music, and story.

Kay Nowell presents award to Brigid Reedy

2024 Keeping the Tradition Alive Award
Our new Keeping the Tradition Alive Award was presented to Brigid Reedy. The award recognizes younger poets, musicians, and writers who honor our traditions and history. We hope the award will encourage her and future recipients to continue to promote our way of life, and even to become part of the tradition bequeathed to later generations.

Hal Cannon during the keynote address

Keynote address
The keynote address by noted folklorist, documentarian, and banjo player Hal Cannon ("Making the Ordinary Heroic: The Work of John Lomax") highlighted the Texas folklorist whose 1910 anthology, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, was groundbreaking, followed by his collection of recordings for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. Lomax's children also participated in his work, becoming noted folklorists themselves. Hal's skills as a radio documentarian came into play for his keynote address, and you can hear the recorded voices of John Lomax, Alan Lomax, Bess Lomax Hawes, Don Edwards, and others in his speech, which is available online at https://halcannon.substack.com/.

Jerry Brooks, at the Taste of the Gathering

Ross Knox, at the Taste of the Gathering

Cora Rose Wood, at the Taste of the Gathering

Taste of the Gathering
The free Taste of the Gathering session was a highlight, as usual. Eleven performers performed their poetry and music, one by one.

Dom Flemons in the "Banjo in the Cow Camps" session

Deanna McCall, in the "Cowboy Girls" session

Joel Nelson, in "Joel Nelson Talks Poetry and Songwriting"

Randy Rieman, in the "Hooves of the Horses" session

Tom Sharpe, in the "Hooves of the Horses" session

Amy Hale, Andy Wilkinson, Deanna McCall, and Vess Quinlan, in "Cutting for Sign: Stories and Prose"

Jill Jones and the Jingle Bobs, in "Songs of the West"

Free sessions
Thirty-six free sessions continued Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, ranging from amazing banjo work during the "Banjo in the Cow Camps" session; to the "Soldiers and Patriots" music and poetry session with Brenn Hill, Joel Nelson, and Randy Huston; to the open mic sessions featuring attendees. The free sessions in multiple locations on campus are the heart of the Gathering, giving performers the opportunity to hear each other's work and respond in poetry or song. (You'll often hear, "That reminds me of this classic poem.") Some performers get to spend time onstage with old friends; others find new friends and mentors. Our goal is always to create what I think of as "magic sessions," when a performer might be inspired to leave his or her planned set list behind, and contribute to a larger whole created onstage in the moment.

Chris Ryden and Joel Nelson Thursday night

Jay Snider Thursday night

Andy Hedges and Ramblin' Jack Friday afternoon

Doris Daley Friday night

Andy Nelson Friday night

Pipp Gillette Saturday afternoon

Brenn Hill and Corb Lund late Saturday afternoon

Paid shows
The paid shows were fun and a little bit magic, whether it was Doris Daley and Andy Nelson bringing the poetry and humor, with Corb Lund and Jill Jones and the Jingle Bobs bringing the music; or Waddie Mitchell, Pipp Gillette, and Lloyd Wright onstage together; or Andy Hedges with 92-year-old Ramblin' Jack Elliott; or Corb Lund and Brenn Hill remembering their friend Ian Tyson.

Andy Hedges sings with Brenn Hill, with Brigid Reedy on violin

Andy Hedges sings with Ramblin' Jack Elliott, with Dom Flemons on harmonica

Maggie Rose Hedges joined her father on the violin

Roll On, Cowboys
On Saturday night, a packed house heard Andy Hedges of Lubbock perform his recent double album of duets entitled Roll On, Cowboys live with eleven other performers, including the legendary Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Corb Lund, Waddie Mitchell, Brigid Reedy, and more. Bob Campbell, author of the song "Roll On, Cowboys," was in attendance as well. This was a repeat of the album launch Andy did in Lubbock in April 2023, and a preview of the show he took to Carnegie Hall in March.

The crowd was enthralled. Peggy Clay Bougeus said, "This show will be a hard one to top. It was the best thing we've ever experienced at a gathering!" Another attendee, Jodell Wright, said, "Phenomenal show last night. It will be interesting to see how they top it next year. We'll be back to find out!" In the words of Laurie Wood: "This was SUCH a great show!"

Dutch oven biscuits from dedicated cooks

Congenial crowd at Poet's Grove

Amy and Gail are working cowboys, used to early breakfasts (on left)

Breakfasts and suppers
As ever, the dedicated chuckwagon cooks rose long before sunrise to prepare the campfires for the cast-iron baked biscuits, and the Alpine Lions Club served the eager diners biscuits, eggs, coffee, and more. Laura Wandel Johnson said the breakfast was, "A favorite part of the weekend, hope to see you all next year!" Roux Alpine catered supper at the Alpine Civic Center all three nights, and everyone who attended enjoyed the food, conversation, and simplicity of knowing where and when they would eat.

Our professional mercantile staff from Intertribal Visions in Lawton, OK were onsite again, with great logo merchandise and skilled handling of performer merchandise. The zip hoodies were a big hit, as were the lower prices on most logo items.

Two young volunteers sold over $1100 worth of raffle tickets. The prize was a $500 gift certificate at Big Bend Saddlery. Thank you to Big Bend Saddlery for their donation, and to everyone who purchased a ticket.

Volunteers served lunch to performers and staff

Home-school high school students worked diligently Wednesday afternoon preparing name badges and packets for performers, members, and attendees. Local and out-of-town volunteers worked all week to make the event a success. Think you could help? Sign up now to volunteer next year.

What was new
The Gathering used reserved seating this year for all paid shows. Attendees appreciated knowing where their seats would be, and were remarkably patient as we worked out some kinks with the seating chart. (Thank you!) Members received a free event program and lapel pin this year in their badge packets.

How it happened
124 paid members, 41 sponsors, and an number of donors contributed to underwrite the event. (Thank you!) The Gathering thanks the City of Alpine, the community volunteers, SRSU staff and students, local businesses, members, sponsors, donors, and the committed cowboy poetry, music, and storytelling fans who helped make the event a success.

Attendee comments
Jane Baxter Lynn said, "The whole weekend was a fabulous experience. This was our fourth or fifth time since 2009 and it was superb. So many special moments. Thanks for continuing to keep this gathering going and keeping the Cowboy culture alive for those that do this incredible work and for future generations." Performer Randy Huston said, "It was an amazing gathering." And from Phil Elmore: "Thank you all for producing a fantastic 2024 Gathering!!"

All the best,
Kay and Gene Nowell
Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering

P.S. Love the Gathering, and keeping these traditions alive? Right now, we're taking pledges for matching funds for our big fundraising campaign (2025 Performers Fund). Our matching pool goal is $60,000, and we have $21,070 pledged. If you can help, please pledge now. Pledges will be collected on September 1.

P.P.S. Or you can support the Gathering all year with a membership. This year, members get six weeks of early ticket access ahead of the general public (Sept. 15 vs Nov. 1). Thank you to all our members and supporters!

Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering
April 2024

Board of Directors
Elizabeth Baize, Fort Davis
Robbie Burns, Alpine
Marian Freeland, Alpine
Bill Jones, East Tennessee
Karen Lloyd, Alexandria, VA
Karen McGuire, Alpine
Kay Nowell, Alpine
Gene Nowell, Alpine
Vess Quinlan, Alamosa, CO
David Richmond, Lindrith, NM
Chris Ryden, Midland, TX
Jim Street, Alpine
Parick Sullivan, Fairfax Station, VA

Event Producer
Bob Saul, Fort Worth

Film Production and Advisors to the Board
John and Erika Moore, Durango, CO

Advisors to the Board
Rachel Barrett, Alpine
Jim Goodnight, Dallas
Andy Hedges, Lubbock

Mailing address:
Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering
P.O. Box 1076
Alpine, TX 79831


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