2/05/2012

The Gathering

Last night David and I went to "The Gathering." Now, before you think we've joined a cult, I'll let you know it was the Sierra Vista Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering. It's affectionally called "The Gathering." For those who live back East, you've probably never heard of an event that's peculiar to the Western states.

The crowd of over 1,200 was a sea of cowboy hats, leather fringes, big belt buckles, and fancy embroidered jackets. The performers came from all over. Some were locals from Cochise County and others came from as far away as Texas, New Mexico, California, and even Nashville, TN. The folks sitting next to us were ranchers that live about 10 miles from our home. They were talking about the premature calf that had been born a few nights before at barely 20 pounds.  The little one was doing all right, but had been brought up to the safety of the corral with her mother. They were also talking about the price of a bale of hay which is $17.75 right now. Rain was elusive this past year for much of the West. Ranching is a hard and expensive business in southeast Arizona. 

The show was soon underway with poets and musicians taking turns. The poetry rhymes and tells the story of the early as well as present day cowboy. Humor and pathos are entwined through the stories of cattle drives, the freedom of the prarie, lost loves, tributes to those gone, and the horse. The musicians are top notch with with sweet, predictable Western music vocal harmonies. The strum of guitars and joyous fiddles, keep toes tapping. The crowd cheers for favorite songs, which are distinctly western in style--not country or bluegrass.  A quartet sings Cool Water and then Ghost Riders, which was  written by a Cochise County resident. Ghost Riders, the most well known Western song of all time was written in 1948 by Stan Jones who grew up on a ranch in Douglas, AZ. It's been recorded by more than 50 artists, including Bing Crosby and Johnny Cash. We enjoy the traditional Indian flute played by Arvel Bird, who is half Paiute and half Scottish. He wears his tribal Paiute sash and the tartan plaid of the Kennedys. He and his Irish wife, celebrate both cultures with flute, fiddle, and Celtic hand drum.

Gatherings continue to preserve the history, the music, and culture of the American cowboy. It's in a wonderful oral tradition of storytelling in both prose and poetry, which is memorable, fun, and sometimes downright side-splitting. The tale of a pig riding contest in West Texas was the highlight of the evening. The schools are heavily involved and award winning student poets share their poems as well. 

America's romance with the cowboy has had a long run, and continues still. The independent spirit, backbreaking work, love of  horses, care of cattle, love of country and of God. With pride and admiration, I tip my hat to the cowboy. Long may he roam free.

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Positively encouraging

2/05/2012

The Gathering

Last night David and I went to "The Gathering." Now, before you think we've joined a cult, I'll let you know it was the Sierra Vista Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering. It's affectionally called "The Gathering." For those who live back East, you've probably never heard of an event that's peculiar to the Western states.

The crowd of over 1,200 was a sea of cowboy hats, leather fringes, big belt buckles, and fancy embroidered jackets. The performers came from all over. Some were locals from Cochise County and others came from as far away as Texas, New Mexico, California, and even Nashville, TN. The folks sitting next to us were ranchers that live about 10 miles from our home. They were talking about the premature calf that had been born a few nights before at barely 20 pounds.  The little one was doing all right, but had been brought up to the safety of the corral with her mother. They were also talking about the price of a bale of hay which is $17.75 right now. Rain was elusive this past year for much of the West. Ranching is a hard and expensive business in southeast Arizona. 

The show was soon underway with poets and musicians taking turns. The poetry rhymes and tells the story of the early as well as present day cowboy. Humor and pathos are entwined through the stories of cattle drives, the freedom of the prarie, lost loves, tributes to those gone, and the horse. The musicians are top notch with with sweet, predictable Western music vocal harmonies. The strum of guitars and joyous fiddles, keep toes tapping. The crowd cheers for favorite songs, which are distinctly western in style--not country or bluegrass.  A quartet sings Cool Water and then Ghost Riders, which was  written by a Cochise County resident. Ghost Riders, the most well known Western song of all time was written in 1948 by Stan Jones who grew up on a ranch in Douglas, AZ. It's been recorded by more than 50 artists, including Bing Crosby and Johnny Cash. We enjoy the traditional Indian flute played by Arvel Bird, who is half Paiute and half Scottish. He wears his tribal Paiute sash and the tartan plaid of the Kennedys. He and his Irish wife, celebrate both cultures with flute, fiddle, and Celtic hand drum.

Gatherings continue to preserve the history, the music, and culture of the American cowboy. It's in a wonderful oral tradition of storytelling in both prose and poetry, which is memorable, fun, and sometimes downright side-splitting. The tale of a pig riding contest in West Texas was the highlight of the evening. The schools are heavily involved and award winning student poets share their poems as well. 

America's romance with the cowboy has had a long run, and continues still. The independent spirit, backbreaking work, love of  horses, care of cattle, love of country and of God. With pride and admiration, I tip my hat to the cowboy. Long may he roam free.

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