Baxter Black DVD commemorates three decades of cowboy poetry | TSLN.com

Baxter Black DVD commemorates three decades of cowboy poetry

Jeri L. Dobrowski

Baxter Black acknowledges the lunacy within his poetry. His tales – with characters found in virtually every community – are chock-full of outlandish escapades. His fans expect it.

An unofficial spokesman for those producing food and fiber, Black is the continent’s foremost purveyor of agriculturally-correct entertainment. From an appearance for the Owyhee County Museum, Murphy, ID, to the National FFA Convention at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN, he greets the audience with graciousness and aplomb before unleashing his wicked humor.

A small-scale cattle rancher and former large-animal veterinarian, Black knows what makes his audience tick. He knows their collective secrets: the logic of a project that went awry; the shortcuts to disaster; the carnage. It’s as if he holds a magnifying mirror that exposes every foible; every bonehead idea. But with him doing the instant replay, it’s not only OK, it’s funny!

2010 marks the 30th year Black has penned his weekly newspaper column, On the Edge of Common Sense. It first appeared in July 1980, in the Record Stockman, Denver, CO. That’s 1,560 capers involving cowboys, corrals, coffee, Christmas trees, Corriente cattle, Catahoula curs, C-sections, cancer eyes, catfish farms, cotton producers, and their cousins from coast-to-coast. Along the trail, he’s shared a million laughs with adoring fans. Observing the pulse of America, he reins-up on occasion to drive home a serious point, delivering insight that would do King Solomon proud.

Appearing in 150 papers around the U.S. and Canada, the column is the core of Black’s multifaceted enterprise. It’s beamed into the cosmos for radio and television consumption. As Baxter Black on Monday, it airs on more than 130 radio stations and networks, from his hometown of Benson, AZ, to 100 Mile House, British Columbia, Canada. Baxter Black from Out There, a two-and-a-half-minute video romp of selected columns, is seen on RFD-TV and US Farm Report. Compilations are packaged as books and CDs.

Devoted fans have come to expect a new release each fall. The latest is a double DVD collection entitled “Baxter Black LIVE on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson & on Iowa Public Television.” The title is only slightly shorter than the 120-minute runtime. Even at that, it doesn’t do justice.

Recommended Stories For You

Those who remember Johnny Carson, the incomparable television host and comedian, will find double delight in the footage. Younger generations will be treated to a glimpse of the cultural icon as he attempts to corral Baxter on live television. Among the eight classic routines captured on the Burbank, CA set are “Vegetarian’s Nightmare,” “The Oyster,” and “All I Want for Christmas.” Sprinkled throughout the clips, taped from 1987 to 1992, are segments in which Baxter discusses his journey from veterinarian to humorist. He is joined in the retrospective by Hal Cannon, Western Folklife Center Founding Director, and Jeff Sotzing, The Tonight Show producer.

Black recounts how, while working for a drug company, his shtick blossomed into a popular draw at livestock producer meetings. In the course of two years, he did 200. The company started getting calls from people wanting to hire Black for their own events. Fortunately, they passed the requests on to him. When the job ended in 1982, Black supported himself with performance fees while looking for another position as a practicing vet.

He told me in a phone interview, “I kept my licenses up until 1988. But, the phone never stopped ringing. I have not had to solicit speaking jobs. It is God’s gift to me, among others. When I leave the stage, I say ‘Thank you God for letting us do this one more time.’ I find joyous satisfaction that we – me and the crowd – did something good.”

The Iowa Public Television disk features highlights from a series taped from 1992-2002. It opens with Baxter playing guitar and singing one of his original compositions. Black notes that before he discovered his calling as a poet, he thought he was a songwriter.

Slipping back into his stand-up persona, Black delivers 11 fan favorites, including “Could Be Worse,” “All Ranch Rodeo,” and “Cowboy Bride.” Bonus footage includes four of the most popular Baxter Black from Out There shorts: “So Lucky to Be an American,” “Just a Dog,” “Reindeer Flu,” and “Cowboy Wedding.” (I want to know how they timed the dog eating the wedding cake so perfectly in the latter.)

Baxter Black LIVE on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson & on Iowa Public Television sells for $24.95 + $7.50 Priority shipping/handling. Order before Christmas and take advantage of the holiday special: Buy two copies of the DVD and get one of several selected items free. Coyote Cowboy Company, PO Box 2190, Benson, AZ 85602; 800-654-2550; http://www.baxterblack.com.

Baxter Black acknowledges the lunacy within his poetry. His tales – with characters found in virtually every community – are chock-full of outlandish escapades. His fans expect it.

An unofficial spokesman for those producing food and fiber, Black is the continent’s foremost purveyor of agriculturally-correct entertainment. From an appearance for the Owyhee County Museum, Murphy, ID, to the National FFA Convention at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN, he greets the audience with graciousness and aplomb before unleashing his wicked humor.

A small-scale cattle rancher and former large-animal veterinarian, Black knows what makes his audience tick. He knows their collective secrets: the logic of a project that went awry; the shortcuts to disaster; the carnage. It’s as if he holds a magnifying mirror that exposes every foible; every bonehead idea. But with him doing the instant replay, it’s not only OK, it’s funny!

2010 marks the 30th year Black has penned his weekly newspaper column, On the Edge of Common Sense. It first appeared in July 1980, in the Record Stockman, Denver, CO. That’s 1,560 capers involving cowboys, corrals, coffee, Christmas trees, Corriente cattle, Catahoula curs, C-sections, cancer eyes, catfish farms, cotton producers, and their cousins from coast-to-coast. Along the trail, he’s shared a million laughs with adoring fans. Observing the pulse of America, he reins-up on occasion to drive home a serious point, delivering insight that would do King Solomon proud.

Appearing in 150 papers around the U.S. and Canada, the column is the core of Black’s multifaceted enterprise. It’s beamed into the cosmos for radio and television consumption. As Baxter Black on Monday, it airs on more than 130 radio stations and networks, from his hometown of Benson, AZ, to 100 Mile House, British Columbia, Canada. Baxter Black from Out There, a two-and-a-half-minute video romp of selected columns, is seen on RFD-TV and US Farm Report. Compilations are packaged as books and CDs.

Devoted fans have come to expect a new release each fall. The latest is a double DVD collection entitled “Baxter Black LIVE on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson & on Iowa Public Television.” The title is only slightly shorter than the 120-minute runtime. Even at that, it doesn’t do justice.

Those who remember Johnny Carson, the incomparable television host and comedian, will find double delight in the footage. Younger generations will be treated to a glimpse of the cultural icon as he attempts to corral Baxter on live television. Among the eight classic routines captured on the Burbank, CA set are “Vegetarian’s Nightmare,” “The Oyster,” and “All I Want for Christmas.” Sprinkled throughout the clips, taped from 1987 to 1992, are segments in which Baxter discusses his journey from veterinarian to humorist. He is joined in the retrospective by Hal Cannon, Western Folklife Center Founding Director, and Jeff Sotzing, The Tonight Show producer.

Black recounts how, while working for a drug company, his shtick blossomed into a popular draw at livestock producer meetings. In the course of two years, he did 200. The company started getting calls from people wanting to hire Black for their own events. Fortunately, they passed the requests on to him. When the job ended in 1982, Black supported himself with performance fees while looking for another position as a practicing vet.

He told me in a phone interview, “I kept my licenses up until 1988. But, the phone never stopped ringing. I have not had to solicit speaking jobs. It is God’s gift to me, among others. When I leave the stage, I say ‘Thank you God for letting us do this one more time.’ I find joyous satisfaction that we – me and the crowd – did something good.”

The Iowa Public Television disk features highlights from a series taped from 1992-2002. It opens with Baxter playing guitar and singing one of his original compositions. Black notes that before he discovered his calling as a poet, he thought he was a songwriter.

Slipping back into his stand-up persona, Black delivers 11 fan favorites, including “Could Be Worse,” “All Ranch Rodeo,” and “Cowboy Bride.” Bonus footage includes four of the most popular Baxter Black from Out There shorts: “So Lucky to Be an American,” “Just a Dog,” “Reindeer Flu,” and “Cowboy Wedding.” (I want to know how they timed the dog eating the wedding cake so perfectly in the latter.)

Baxter Black LIVE on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson & on Iowa Public Television sells for $24.95 + $7.50 Priority shipping/handling. Order before Christmas and take advantage of the holiday special: Buy two copies of the DVD and get one of several selected items free. Coyote Cowboy Company, PO Box 2190, Benson, AZ 85602; 800-654-2550; http://www.baxterblack.com.

Go back to article