You won't want to miss this year's PREMIER PERFORMER
An Evening with Dave Stamey
Two Premier Performances at 6 and 8:30 p.m.
Durango's VFW Hall, 1550 Main Avenue
Cowboys and Indians magazine has called him “the Charlie Russell of Western Music.” Western Horseman declared his “Vaquero Song” to be one of the greatest Western songs of all time. True West magazine named him Best Living Western Solo Musician four years in a row. Dave has been a cowboy, a mule packer and a dude wrangler, and is now one of the most popular Western entertainers working today. He has been voted seven times Entertainer of the Year, seven times Male Performer of the Year and five times Songwriter of the Year by the Western Music Association, and received the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists. He’s delighted audiences in 23 states and finds that he prefers this to being stomped by angry horses. In November of 2016 Dave was inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame. davestamey.com
2022 HeadLINER Performers
Cowboy Poetry and Music - Show I
Hosted by Jon Chandler
September 30 @ Durango's VFW Hall (1550 Main Avenue)
October 1st @ Durango's VFW Hall (1550 Main Avenue)
Cowboy Poetry and Music - Show II
Hosted by Joni Harms
September 30 @ Durango's VFW Hall (1550 Main Avenue)
October 1st @ Durango's VFW Hall (1550 Main Avenue)
Skylar HarwoodAurora, Utah
Born and raised in central Utah, Skylar has been entertaining audiences with his quick wit and quirky personality for over a decade. His poems are products of his own embellished experiences and far-fetched fibs that will leave you unable to tell the difference. From the red dirt of Moab, the mountain valleys of Heber and the western town of Durango, he has induced many laughs. When he’s not telling stories you can find him shoeing a horse, working with leather or on an adventure with his wife Brandi and their three boys.
Jay was born and raised in southwest Oklahoma in a ranching and rodeo family. His dad was a top roper and rodeo cowboy, and his granddad was a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Jay rodeoed throughout most of his early years, but now he stays busy on the ranch raising horses, cattle and team roping. Jay has appeared at many of the major poetry gatherings around the country and has been honored to be a part of the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering as an invited poet and one of the feature poets for many years. His cowboy poetry CD, Of Horses and Men was named "Cowboy Poetry Recording of the Year" by the Academy of Western Artists for 2006. Jay was honored to receive the male "Cowboy Poet of the Year" by the Academy of Western Artists in 2008. His latest CD, The Old Tried and True, is a compilation of many of his favorite classic poems written by many of the great cowboy poets of the past.
Olivia HarmsCanby, Oregon
The daughter of Western Music Hall of Fame member Joni Harms, Olivia’s artistic identity has been honed since she was young. She made her first appearance on stage when she was two days old, and 26 years later Olivia is following in her mother’s bootsteps and blazing her own trail. Olivia’s newest album Rhinestone Cowgirl was recorded in Nashville. The 11-song collection calls out to cowboys, name-drops George Strait, swings through Buckaroo territory and packs plenty of twang and steel guitar. “I wanted a very traditional country vibe to bring back honky-tonks,” Olivia explained. “I wanted folks in and out of the Western life to connect with my songs and relate to them.” Olivia has played the NFR in Vegas, Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and more. She is working hard to put Western back in the country. www.oliviaharms.com
Carin MariBuena Vista, Colorado
Carin is a songwriter from the heart who is passionate about playing her own brand of music. In 2001, country music quickly became her focus when friend and mentor Michael Martin Murphey suggested she learn “I want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” Carin toured for nine years with her brothers in a band, winning numerous awards, playing formidable venues and releasing five albums. In 2010, Carin entered the Texaco Country Showdown and won a trip to Nashville where she performed one of her original songs on the stage at the historic Ryman Auditorium during the finals, winning second place. Carin graduated from South Plains College in 2012 majoring in voice and guitar and then in 2014 from Texas Tech University with a focus on creative writing. While actively pursuing her own career, Carin has been the lead guitar player in Michael Martin Murphey’s band and has opened for Clint Black. She has recorded nine albums as a solo artist, her most recent being Home, released August, 2021. www.carinmarimusic.com
Jeff CarsonHeber City, Utah
Jeff, a distant cousin of Kit Carson, lives high in the Wasatch Mountains. Those long nights alone with his mules has led him to spoutin’ poetry and prose like a hot tin coffee pot on a blazin’ campfire. Jeff was born and raised in Utah and has lived in Heber City for the past 20 years with his wife, four daughters and several mules. His passion in life is spending time on pack trips in the high country and breaking green mule colts. His life experiences have been the inspiration for most of the poetry he writes. He also performs regularly with Incahoots, a singing duo from Utah.
Chris IsaacsEager, Arizona
Chris is one of the most popular entertainers in the cowboy genre today. He has performed from border to border, coast to coast and into Canada. His life as a working cowboy, his time as a packer and a horse shoer have all given him a world of material to work with. Not just a cowboy poet and storyteller, he's a humorist cut from the same cloth as Will Rogers. He says, "Real life is too funny anyway. You don't need to make stuff up." His easy stage presence and quick wit have endeared him to audiences all over the country.
Joni HarmsCanby, Utah
Joni has a warm sincerity and ease to her voice that shines through on stories and melodies of a country/western way of life, making you feel you are part of the entire experience she sings about. Joni loves to write about rodeo, cowboys and the ranch way of living, but says her favorite kind of songs to write are ballads or story songs. Joni lives on a century farm in Oregon that was homesteaded by her great, great grandfather Harms in 1872. She is a tough, hard-working rancher who is also a mom with strong values and a gift for writing and performing music. She has earned multiple honors from such notable organizations as the Western Music Association and the Academy of Western Artists and has performed on some of the most famous stages, including the Grand Ole Opry and New York City’s Carnegie Hall. www.joniharms.com
Jon ChandlerCommerce City, Colorado
A seventh-generation Coloradan, Jon's music and stories reflect his heritage. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. "Linwood," his moody examination of Doc Holliday’s life, won the Spur for Best Song in 2009, while his tribute to Wyoming’s Hole in the Wall country, "Morning Star Moon," received the award in 2012. His novel The Spanish Peaks received the WWA’s Medicine Pipe Bearer Award (Spur Award) for Best First Novel, and Wyoming Wind, A novel of Tom Horn was a finalist in the Colorado Book Award. True West Magazine named Jon Best Western Musician for his extraordinary song writing and musicianship. His eight music CDs, two novels, two non-fiction works and myriad short stories and nonfiction articles are collected by western lifestyle aficionados worldwide. He hosts the iconic monthly concert series America’s Soul Live at the Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor in Arvada, Colorado. Homage is his new recording of cover songs that have influenced his writing and singing. jonchandler.com
10:30 am to 4:30 pm ~ Various venues around beatiful Durango. The “heart” of the Gathering, featuring 40 invited performers in four concurrent theme sessions every hour. In open sessions anyone can entertain. To sign up, please call Lindy Simmons at 970-946-2460. FREE admission.
Valerie BeardKim, Colorado
Valerie is a rancher’s wife, teacher, writer, crew cook, quilter and reader. She and her husband, cowboy poet Floyd Beard, live in a remote area in southeast Colorado and run Corriente cattle with their daughter and son-in-law. They keep a few Border Collies around to stay humble. Valerie has appeared at many gatherings across the West including the Arizona Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Cimarron Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering and the Western Slope Gathering. In 2015 she won the Novice Division of the Western Wordsmith Poetry Contest with her first poem “No Better Life.” Valerie was a top five finalist for the IWMA Female Poet of the Year in 2019 and 2021. valeriebeard.com
Colt BlankmanAvon, Utah
Colt started performing cowboy poetry at the age of eight in a kids’ poetry contest at the Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous. Now 16, Colt has had the opportunity to travel and share poetry at different venues around the country. In addition to sharing cowboy poetry, he loves to participate in wagon trains, ride, shoot and hunt. He is a member of the High School Rodeo Association as a shooter in the Light Rifle and Trap. He won the 2019 Silver State International Rodeo and qualified for the National Finals Jr. High School Rodeo in 2020. He was honored to be the Rod McQuery and Sue Wallis Scholarship recipient and an invited performer at the 2019 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. His CD, Pullin’ That Trigger, was among the top ten for most played poetry album on the Western charts in the Winter of 2018. In 2019, his original poem "The Buckle" was published at the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry and Cowboypoetry.com. He released a new poetry CD titled Wagon Train in 2021 and it debuted at number five for the most played poetry album on the Western charts. Colt was nominated for the Liz Masterson Crescendo Award and for Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year by the IWMA the fall of 2021. He is a member of the Utah High School Rodeo Association Cinch Team for 2021-2022 and is excited to be an ambassador for both.
Almeda is an engaging entertainer, sharing the West from a Western heart. Her clear alto voice lends nuance to the stories in her songs. Whether spoken or sustained, with gusto or gentle grit, Almeda's singing and narration captures folks of all ages as does her flat pick guitar playing. With a compelling stage presence of wit and charm, history and trivia, humor and a humble spirit, Almeda knows she's but a vessel for the songs she delivers and her repeated invitations to perform is testimony to the quality she brings to her shows.
Camp Meetin' CowboysColorado and New Mexico
These three musicians are regulars at cowboy church and camp meetings, hence the name. Rancher Geary Parsons, who plays guitar and mandolin and provides vocals, has lived in the Four Corners area since 1979. He spent many years as a touring musician in the U.S., Canada and Germany, opening on one occasion for Johnny Cash. Randy Randall plays steel guitar, acoustic guitar, and dobro and sings. He has been making music for 61 years. Born in New Mexico, he currently lives in Aztec, New Mexico. Sam Noble, who plays the washtub, is a well-known Durango poet. He has been writing poetry for 30 years and has performed regularly at the Bar D Chuckwagon. He adds variety to the group’s performances with his poetry.
Venessa CarpenterArimo, Idaho
Living in east Texas for 12 years laid the foundation and gave 18-year-old Venessa the heart and soul for the adventures that have found her. While her classical piano teacher had high hopes for her, Venessa was out with her sister one day going to pick up a client's horse in Golden, Texas. They took a wrong road that led them to the home of Kasey Musgraves and that's where the adventure began. She would find her passion as she sat in an old antique chair weekly learning guitar from Mr. John Defoore. With the help of musician friends, Venessa found her voice and learned things on the guitar she had only dreamed about. When she isn't performing, Venessa is writing songs with her good friend Mr. Dan McCorison or out riding her horses or working on a leather project.
Ellie EnglishGilbert, Arizona
Ellie has a strong background in classical theater, vocal training, historic dance and costuming. At age 15, Ellie created a theatrical program for the local Gulf Beaches Library to perform for the kids' program, writing and hiring actors. A few years later she created a historical interpreting program for the Titanic exhibition, the first ever of its kind. She trained the volunteers, created the costumes, wrote the monologues and did hours of research to recreate survivor accounts, with a live walk through performed on Good Morning America. She was invited to attend the prestigious Shakespeare program at Cambridge University and later performed at the Globe Theater in London. Since then, she has written and performed for Colonial Williamsburg, Tampa Museum of History, Tombstone and many others. Her latest work has been writing and performing living history lectures about the ladies of the West at theaters, museums and festivals. Her Lilly Langtry portrayal reflects the old vaudeville style of acting. Her Kate Elder portrayal covers new material that has been discovered about Kate's life through memoirs. Her portrayal of Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke fame includes a presentation with songs from the show.
Jack GeorgeQuemado, New Mexico
Jack is 15 years old and works on many local ranches in the Quemado area. He was named after his grandfather who was a horse trader and he was only 18 months old when he participated in his first rodeo. Jack has been performing cowboy poetry for four years and was recently awarded the Buck Ramsey Award by the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Jack states, “I said my first cowboy poem when I was in kindergarten for the school declamation and haven’t looked back since.” He recites classic poems with the best of them.
KC Cinch HarwoodAurora, Utah
KC resides in a small town in central Utah with his parents and two younger brothers. He is as adorable as they come and quick-witted to boot. He’s following in the footsteps of his dad and grandpa in performing cowboy poems. At the age of 10, KC has developed a love for a good cowboy story and making other folks laugh. When he is not sharing his original cowboy tales, he’s out taming his horse “Popcorn” with his brothers, practicing his auctioneering, helping his dad shoe horses and playing with his dogs. We think KC is a real treat, and you will too!
Lynne Belle LewisMancos, Colorado
Lynne and her husband Perry run Rimrock Outfitters, a horseback riding outfit on the west side of the La Plata Mountains in southwestern Colorado near Mancos. They offer supper rides and multi-day camp trips during which they entertain guests with cowboy songs around the fire. An accomplished yodeler, Lynne's goal in her music is to portray the Western culture, both old and new, and to impart the passion of her cowgirl lifestyle. She performs frequently in venues such as the Four Corners Expo, Ute Mountain Rodeo Chuckwagon, the county fair and Cortez Sunflower Theatre. Lynne has performed at the Cochise Cowboy Poetry Gathering, on a pack trip with Gary McMahan and even in Germany representing American cowboy culture. She has three CDs and is an accomplished photographer.
Dan McCorisonSun City, Arizona
Dan grew up in Colorado and began playing Western Swing and Country music soon after college. He has performed around the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan and over the years he has recorded and released five albums. His most recent release, Me and Les, won 2021 Traditional Western Album of the Year from the International Western Music Association and he’s especially proud to have been named Songwriter of the Year by them as well. His previous album, Montana Moon, was named Western Music Album of the Year for 2017 by the Academy of Western Artists. Currently, Dan is living in Arizona with his wife June and their trusty dog, Daisy. When he’s not writing, singing or producing, he’s likely to be spotted hiking a desert trail. Dan is a proud member of the International Western Music Association.
Dave MunsickDayton, Wyoming
This Wyoming rancher and performer takes audiences back into country that few have imagined and even fewer have seen. A former New Mexico state fiddle champion, Dave combines his musical and poetic gifts into memorable pictures that he writes and sings. Drawing widely from a diverse palate of experiences, Dave colors his Western Folk style with a unique harmonic and lyrical smoothness in creating a genre of music he describes as "Western Americana." These are songs about the people, places and times of a West that lives without borders; a West where stories fly and horses run. Dave has performed across the west for 40 years and has worked as a sideman or opened for acts including Chris Ledoux, Ian Tyson and Lyle Lovett, both as a solo artist and as a member of the bands that he has led. This includes his family band, The Munsick Boys, who were voted the number one Western band of 2016 by the Academy of Western Artists.
Terry NashLoma, Colorado
This western slope cowboy poet was named 2018 Male Poet of the Year by the International Western Music Association. Terry’s CD, A Good Ride, was also named Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year. Terry has written original poems and recited classic cowboy poetry for over 25 years. He believes that cowboy poets have the responsibility to keep Western heritage alive for audiences now and in the future. He states, “This genre of music and poetry... speaks to each of us and helps us all recognize the commonality between all humanity,” as we all have rural heritage somewhere in our backgrounds.
Claudia NygaardNashville, Tennessee
Claudia is the daughter of a California rancher who grew up believing cowgirl boots were appropriate footwear under a ball gown. Her songs tell stories about TV Western heroines, wide-open spaces, well-loved horses and even better loved cowboys. Her voice has been described as “amber honey,” and the matter of her songs is compared to Guy Clark and Ian Tyson. Charismatic, with a twinkle in her eye, she has a Will Rogers ability to captivate her audiences. She has written songs on Nashville’s Music Row and has won songwriting competitions. Her new album, To Race With the Wind, proves you can take the girl out of the West but not the other way around.
Dale PageMonrovia, Indiana
Dale was born and raised in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma State University. He has worked as a horseshoer, bull rider, movie wrangler and stable manager. His writing has been published in several national magazines, including The Quarter Horse Journal, Western Horseman and Persimmon Hill. Dale writes mostly narrative poems, with both real and fictional characters. He has performed at cowboy poetry gatherings and churches in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington state. He was named Best Performer in 2008 at the Oklahoma State University's Cowboy Poetry and Songs event in Stillwater. In 2010, he won First Place in Serious Poetry, Rising Star Division, at the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in Montrose, Colorado.
The RussellersGardner, Colorado
Dennis Russell, poet and songwriter, and Beverly Gray Russell, instrumentalist best known for her musical saw, share their original music and poetry that depict their ranching lifestyle on the beautiful Huerfano River in southern Colorado. They share their traditional stories and songs at campfires, gatherings and house concerts with family-friendly entertainment. Dennis is founder of the Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering and a popular emcee of many Western events. He also serves on the board of the International Western Music Association. You will often find Beverly showing kids, parents and grandparents how she plays her magical musical saw.
Lindy SimmonsMancos, Colorado
Lindy was the winner of the poetry contest at the 2021 International Western Music Association conference. Her poetry is rooted in the true stories of cowboys of history and present day. A ranch wife for almost 50 years, Lindy also followed the family on the rodeo road for many years. She has done ranch work from bucking bales to feeding cows in the mud. She is fluent in Spanish and is a Southwest and Mexican history buff. Lindy’s “day job” was as a professor at Fort Lewis College in Durango over a span of 40 years, retiring to write poetry and history and dedicating much time to the local historical society. She currently serves as the president of the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering. She has been cited as a “visionary” for her “Variety Show With a Twist” running 14 years at the Durango Gathering.
Round Valley, Arizona
Makenzie is a 14-year-old middle school student who loves poems and stories about cowboys and the West. She has performed poetry locally and last August she was a featured performer at the Arizona Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Prescott, Arizona. She was fortunate to be able to share the stage with her grandpa Chris Isaacs and one of her favorites, Dave Stamey.
Lemitar, New Mexico/Colorado
Kacey and Jenna Thunborg
Sixteen-year-old twins Kacey and Jenna have been performing in front of audiences since they were eight years old. Jenna is the main vocalist and yodeler while Kacey provides harmony and instrumental accompaniments. Kacey has recently ventured into song writing. Their first CD Simply Western was released in 2019. The International Western Music Association has awarded the girls “Youth Harmony Duo of the Year” in both 2017 and 2019 and the Liz Masterson Crescendo Award in 2018, among other awards. They live on a working farm and help tend livestock and other chores.
Cora Rose Wood
Cora has been singing and writing songs since she was four years old. When she wasn't busy singing and writing cowboy poetry, she was pushing cows horseback with her dad or participating in youth horse shows and rodeos. In 2008, she released her album Cora’s Cowgirl Yodel and was the Western Music Association’s Youth Yodeler of the Year in 2008 and 2010. Her involvement in Western music, cowboy poetry, 4-H events and horse shows, and her time spent in the saddle on the ranch has not only kept her busy, but has also made an impact on her songwriting. In 2012, her family moved to a ranch in southern Montana where she became more involved in sports and symphonic band, playing the flute and piccolo. Her experiences with high school marching and symphonic band helped shape her passion and appreciation for music as a whole and inspired her to attend Sheridan College in Wyoming to study music and music technology. Today, Cora draws on all of her experiences and influences to write music that is raw, relatable and tells a story, while also keeping the voice of the American cowboy alive.
Michael Mullins and Geary Parsons met at Durango’s Cowboy Church and formed the Timberline Cowboys. Michael taught himself to play guitar when he was eight and has been singing since he could talk. Originally an opera major, he worked his way through college playing restaurants, bars and clubs. After serving in the army for 12 years, he was an English professor in Texas for the next 23 years. He played solo gigs two or three times a year in the La Plata County area and, upon retirement, settled with his wife Kaye on a modest spread outside of Durango. Geary got his first guitar when he traded a pocket watch for it at the age of eight in the mountains of North Carolina. He learned to play Bluegrass and then Country and Western music. After serving in the army he met his wife Jan and moved to Durango. Geary served in law enforcement for 37 years in the Four Corners area and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering.