Hal Cannon

Musician, composer, writer, folklorist
photo of Hal Cannon

Hal Cannon is a musician, composer, and writer who spent much of his life as a folklorist and radio producer. As the founding Director of the Western Folklife Center and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, he has published dozens of books and recordings on the folk arts of the West.

As a radio producer he specialized in stories about the rural traditions of the West, mostly produced for National Public Radio and Australia's Radio National. Three of his most extensively researched documentaries were about Texas cowboy traditions including one that followed the travels of John A. Lomax and his life recording early cowboy songs and the songs of African Americans starting in the early part of the twentieth century. That research will inform this year's keynote address.

Since retiring from the Western Folklife Center, Hal's life revolves around music. A lifetime of listening and studying the American West informs his songs. He performs primarily with the 3hattrio singing and playing banjo and guitar. The trio has met with critical praise and has toured major festivals in Europe and the U.S. Also, he writes a occasional music and art column, Loose Cannon Boost. He is currently working on an album of old-style cowboy songs reimagined.

Hal recently moved from the Utah desert with his wife (writer, artist, and hospital chaplain Teresa Jordan) to a floating home on the Multnomah Channel in Oregon.