Cowboy Jam Session: Western Culture News & Reviews
Performance venues across the country are showcasing Western entertainers. Beneath the broad umbrella of the genre are individuals who bring diverse talents and experiences to the stage:
Utah-born singer/songwriter Brenn Hill celebrates the West with a contemporary flavor. His sixth recording, , is described on http://www.brennhill.com as “a potent collection of songs filled with interesting characters and eagle-eyed observations on life, love and the indomitable Western spirit.”
The first time I heard it, I was struck by the Chris LeDoux overtones. When I mentioned this to Hill’s manager, he seemed both surprised and pleased. Come to find out, LeDoux was a big fan of the 30-year-old Hill. The late singer’s band, Western Underground, recorded one of Hill’s songs on their new album. That’s not to say Hill is a LeDoux wannabe, but if you liked LeDoux, give him a listen. “Simple Things,” with simple piano accompaniment, brings the 15 tracks to a surprisingly touching conclusion.
described Hill as “a bridge between Western music’s best traditions and the future of the genre…” Truly in step with the times, Hill has a My Space page where visitors can listen to four full-length songs: http://www.myspace.com/brennhill. You can also purchase CDs and mp3 downloads. sells for $18 plus $2 s/h. Direct inquires to (615) 369-0810.
A 16-track CD of Georgie Sickings poems, , was released this summer. The first recording devoted exclusively to Georgie’s poetry, it’s long overdue. Kudos to Andy Nelson of Pinedale, WY, for recording and producing the album.
Among the poems is “Housewife.” Sicking takes umbrage at the term bestowed upon her by a banker, declaring, “never, was I ever, married to a house!” Don’t think for a minute these stories are fictional. Raised near Kingman, AZ, Sicking captured wild cattle and horses, tended a ranch by herself, and wrote poetry to help pass the time alone.
Georgie performed at the first National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 22 years ago. A National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Honoree, the Nevada Cattleman’s Association recognized her for having ridden 100,000 miles horseback. (Read more about this no-nonsense octogenarian at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/sicking.htm. Send $18 (postpaid) to Georgie Sicking, PO Box 11, Kaycee, WY 82639.
South Dakota ranch hand Ken Cook is capturing the essence to modern ranch life, much as Sicking did during her era. The father of four, Cook is committed to sharing agriculture’s work and reward with his family. A good many of the lessons are captured on two recordings, . Hear selected tracks at http://www.kencookcowboypoet.com. For additional photos of the Cook kids and the words to several of Ken’s poems, drop by his featured guest page at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/kencook.htm. The CDs sell for $12 each (postpaid) from Ken Cook, 23154 Teal Lane, Martin, SD 57551-6601; (605) 685-6749.
Cook recently competed in the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo held in Hot Springs, SD. He took home a buckle and prize money for winning the poet/serious category and placed in two other events. What that means is he knows the cowboy life, does a decent job of crafting his poems, and delivers them in a pleasing and effective fashion.
Patty Clayton, Academy of Western Artists’ 2007 Western Music Female Vocalist of the year, salutes the West with a folk/bluegrass flair. More than half of the 13 tracks on her recently released are Clayton’s own works – honoring a rich family heritage. In addition to the vocals, Clayton plays guitar, clawhammer-style banjo and acoustic upright bass.
The title track has a delightful, old-time feel. Clayton proves that beauty’s in the eye of the beholder with “Wyoming Wind,” painting the Cowboy State’s gusts and gales with a lovely melody. In “The Vaquero and Me,” Clayton tells how Hawaii became home to the paniolo (cowboy), causing heartache for one Mexican senorita.
Listen to two-minute clips of all these, and more, at http://cdbaby.com/cd/pattyclayton3. Order directly from CD Baby for $15 plus postage. Write Clayton at PO Box 140772, Edgewater, CO 80214 or via http://www.pattyclayton.com/