Nearly everyone in a small group of our friends who gathered recently marveled at how summer is charging headlong into fall. We talked about gardens, vacations, haying, the small-grain harvest, county fairs, football practice, and the start of school.
Raised on a cattle and grain operation, summer was an all-hands-on-deck season for our family. Everyone had a job. Children working off-ranch was nearly unheard of at the time, unless they were working for a neighbor. Aside from an occasional 4-H activity, picnic, dance, or rodeo, we stayed pretty close to home in June, July, and August.
If there was time between haying and harvest, we might make a quick trip to western Montana to visit relatives. Depending on how the harvest was progressing, we might drive to Billings. My grandmother lived there. We’d buy a few things for school and take in a couple days of the fair. Another last-chance getaway destination was the Black Hills of South Dakota. We could leave after dinner, drive to Rapid City, and get settled in our motel room before supper. Whatever the destination, we tried to pack as much fun as possible into the time available.
Dick Warwick may have had the same thought in mind as he selected the 14-tracks for Cowboy Poetry Lite (Nuthin’ Serious). Twelve of the tracks on the 2012 release are Warwick’s own, including “The Barnyard One-Step.” I saw Warwick perform this poem in person last year at the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in Kanab, UT, where he won several events. I’m not sure which I enjoyed more, his smartly-crafted poetry or his ability to balance on one foot while delivering it. Suffice to say, if you’ve ever ventured into the boot-sucking quagmire of a muddy corral, you’ve done the barnyard one-step. It wasn’t nearly as much fun when you were doing it.
Hanging his hat in Washington State, Warwick refers to himself as a “barnyard yarnbard.” That should give you some indication as to levity employed by this writer and performer of original and classic cowboy poety. So should the warning printed on the album: “CAUTION: Contains phonemes, syntax, trochees, anapests, tetrasyllables and iambic pentameter. Dispose of properly – do not alliterate.”
Two poems have an Aussie flavor: “Said Hanrahan” by Fr. Patrick Joseph Hartigan, who wrote under the pen name John O’Brien; and “Backfire” by award-winning Australian bush poet, sheep shearer, and Warwick-mentor, Milton Taylor. Having spent considerable time soaking in Australian culture, both here and down under, Warwick deftly delivers a believable mate’s speaking voice. (For more on Warwick and a complete track listing, go to cowboypoetry.com/dickwarwick.htm)
Cowboy Poetry Lite sells for $16 (postpaid within U.S. and Canada) from Dick Warwick, P.O. Box 111, Oakesdale, WA 99158; (509) 285-4084; firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can’t help but smile looking at the cover of Andy Nelson’s latest CD, Andy Nelson Stew: Most Requested Stories and Poems. Illustrated by Western cartoonist Ben Crane, the colorful artwork places Nelson smack-dab in the middle of a chuck-wagon scene, stirring a bubbling Dutch oven with a microphone stand. It hints at the light-hearted material Nelson is best known for, but you’ll also find a few sincere and contemplative selections thrown in for good measure. A Wyoming radio personality, Western entertainer, emcee, rodeo announcer, and farrier, Nelson is known for his quick wit, infectious good nature, and professionalism. He’s also an all-around nice guy.
Subtitled Most Requested Stories and Poems, I was anxious to see which selections made the final cut on this project. I’m happy to report to Andy’s fans that there are 24 spoken tracks, plus “Thank You for Your Support,” a tongue-in-cheek musical spoof of the tourist season in Andy’s backyard – Yellowstone National Park. Nelson co-wrote the ditty with Kip Calahan, whose voice you hear on the song.
Some of the requests are from previous recordings; others were recorded especially for this album. First into the stew pot is “License Plate Mottos,” a popular ice breaker Nelson uses to warm up a crowd. His rapid-fire delivery of these in a live performance setting never ceases to amaze me. Another fast-paced crowd pleaser is “The Horse Race” by Nick Sanabria, which Nelson revised with permission. I found these favorites of mine in the poetry category: “Ridin’ With Jim,” “The Cat Wrangler,” “The Old Crockett Spurs,” “Mud Season,” and “My Shoeing Rig.” For more about Nelson, or to read the above-mentioned poems, go to www.cowboypoetry.com/andynelson.htm.
Andy Nelson Stew sells for $18 (postpaid) from Andy Nelson, P.O. Box 1547, Pinedale, WY 82941; (307) 367-2842; www.CowpokePoet.com.