Cowboy Jam Session: Celebrating the 10th annual Cowboy Poetry Week, April 17-23 |

Cowboy Jam Session: Celebrating the 10th annual Cowboy Poetry Week, April 17-23

by Jeri L. Dobrowski

As a loyal follower of, I check in regularly to see what’s happening in the world of western and cowboy poetry, music, festivals, film and print. Among my favorite features are “News, Picture the West, Poets, Musicians, & Others in the News in Print & on the Web,” and “New Cowboy and Western Poetry & Music Releases.” Included this month is word of The Bar-D Roundup: Volume Six (2011), released in conjunction with the 10th annual observation of Cowboy Poetry Week, April 17-23.

A spoken-word album, The Bar-D Roundup is an annual compilation of vintage and contemporary recordings of some of the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry. Co-produced by Margo Metegrano of The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry (, and Andy Nelson of the Clear Out West Radio Show (, the 28-track album takes the listener on a memorable journey across the West. From the opening excerpt from Bruce Kiskaddon’s “Looking Back,” recited by Randy Rieman, to Sharlot Mabridth Hall’s “Beyond the Range,” delivered by Dick Morton, the selected poems speak to the toil and reward, solitude and friendships, sorrow and playfulness found in lives lived in the American West.

Metegrano writes in a media release, “Cowboy poetry preserves a history as it tells the stories of our working West. As importantly, it conveys compelling modern accounts of an endangered way of life to those who may have little information about this important segment of our population. Cowboy poets are great ambassadors from the rural world.”

Twelve tracks were recorded specifically for the project, adding freshness and energy to the sixth release in the series: Linda Kirkpatrick reciting “Cattle” by Berta Harte Nance; Jay Snider reciting Sunny Hancock’s “The Bear Tale”; DW Groethe’s “This Old Post”; Jane Morton’s “Ground Tied”; Carole Jarvis’ “Lovin’ the Life”; Pat Richardson’s “The Evaluation”; Rod Miller’s “A Bolt of Broomtails”; Abi McWhorter reciting “Therapy” by her father, Larry McWhorter; Andy Nelson’s “The Box R Cavvy”; Jesse Smith reciting “Forgotten” by Bruce Kiskaddon; Dick Morton’s previously mentioned recitation by Hall; and lastly, a Public Service Announcement by singer and songwriter Brenn Hill.

The late Buck Ramsey’s 1993 recitation of “Windy Bill” is from the archives of the Western Folklife Center (WFC), recorded during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. Rodney Nelson’s “Gift Rift” is also from the WFC archives, recorded during the 2007 gathering.

Rounding out the selections are pieces gleaned from artists’ previous recordings: Waddie Mitchell and Larry McWhorter reciting “Cowboy Count Yer Blessings”; Red Steagall’s “McCorkle and the Wire”; Don Edwards’ “The Devil’s Hatband”; Joel Nelson’s “The Song of the Packer”; “The Medicine Keepers” by J.B. Allen; Jerry Brooks reciting “The Old Prospector” by Badger Clark; Linda M. Hasselstrom’s “Death of the Last Cowhand”; Andy Hedges reciting Larry McWhorter’s “Trilogy for Cissy”; Doris Daley’s “A Baxter of Blacks”; Elizabeth Ebert’s “Cowboy Courtin’ Time”; Yvonne Hollenbeck’s “Sorting Time”; Sam Jackson’s “Comfort First”; and Bob Schild’s “Ode to a Friend.”

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A narrative description of the tracks is posted online. Nearly as entertaining as the recordings themselves, it includes an introduction to the poems and a snippet of each:

A photo of cowboy, ranch manager, and Western-swing fiddler Frankie McWhorter graces the cover – Frankie and an attentive canine pal. Frankie was the late Larry McWhorter’s father and Abi McWhorter’s grandfather. The photo celebrates the commonness of life in rural communities of the real working West and the arts that are passed from generation to generation.

Copies of the album, along with Cowboy Poetry Week posters – this year featuring a painting by Duward Campbell of the late J.B. Allen and his horse Pilgrim – are offered free to rural libraries across the West through The Center’s rural library outreach project. Depending on where you live, your local library may have this year’s title, or others, for listening or lending.

If not, The BAR-D Roundup is available for $20. It is also offered to new and renewing supporters of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Send check or money order in U.S. funds (postage included for the U.S. and Canada; add $5 U.S. for other countries) to, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133. If you prefer, you can pay by a secure, online credit card payment at

Should you wish to order previous releases, consider these special offers: The BAR-D Roundup Vols. Six and Five (2011-2010) postpaid (first class) for a $35 donation. Or select The BAR-D Roundup: Vols. Six-Two (2011-2007) postpaid (media mail), for a $75 donation.