2021 PREMIER PERFORMERS
The High Country Cowboys
Red Lodge, Montana
Remembering the good old days of Western music and the silver screen cowboys like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers, the High Country Cowboys present their brand of this classic genre. Born and raised in the heart of ranch country in south central Montana, they grew up playing cowboys and watching the old B-Western films on VHS which instilled in them a love for the West and cowboy music.
Since their beginning in 2014, the Pro Cowboy Country Association has awarded them Music Group of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and they received Best Album of the Year for their album "Cowboy" in 2018. Lead singer Marty was honored as Yodeler of the Year in 2017 and Male Vocalist of the Year in 2018. The IWMA also recognized their album "Cowboy" as Best Album of the Year in 2017, and Marty has won IWMA Yodeler of the Year three times. Their traditional sound and three-part Western harmony has been compared to the Sons of the Pioneers and Marty Robbins.
For more information visit The High Country Cowboy's website
!!Coming SOON!! 2021 Evening Performers !!COMING SOON!!
Tickets $35 premier seating, $25 regularThatch Elmer
Tickets $35 premier seating, $25 regularJeff Gore
Thatch ElmerHarrisville, Utah
This 16-year-old has been reciting cowboy poetry since he started speaking complete sentences. He has a deep appreciation and fondness of classic cowboy poetry and loves reciting his favorites along with his original poems. Thatch is a working ranch cowboy and horseman at the Pheasant Run Ranch Performance Horse and Roping Center and his day work with horses and cattle and the Western lifestyle inspire most of his writing. He is an accomplished team roper and rodeo announcer for youth rodeos and riding clubs, including the Utah Youth Rodeo Association, Utah Junior High Rodeo Association, Weber County Junior Posse and Utah State Western Riding Club Association. Thatch is featured on CowboyPoetry.com, has a book of original poems titled “Cowboy Rhymes and Dreams of Other Times,” and has released two CD’s.
He was awarded the first Rod McQuery/Sue Wallace Youth Scholarship from the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2014 and was nominated for the IWMA Liz Masterson Crescendo award in 2018.
Visit Thatch Elmer's website here
Jeff grew up working on ranches and still does, living out and singing about the cowboy life. He has been performing since he was four years old, and has spent the last 30 years traveling and singing cowboy and Gospel music all over the U.S. and abroad. The recipient of Male Vocalist of the Year in cowboy music from the AWA in 1997, and a lifetime achievement award for Western music by the American Cowboy Culture Association in 2005 – the youngest ever to receive this award – he has also produced and acted on television, has appeared in film and is presently producing, directing and starring in a film based on his 2010 novel, "Jingle In The Horses." In spite of these and other accomplishments, he is proudest when he is asked to ride out with a crew of cowboys at the wagon on ranches from Texas to Idaho. Jeff and his wife Donna have two daughters and five grandsons.
Visit Jeff Gore's website here
George Ray RussellBoulder, Colorado
This "wrangler of rhymes" is the grandson of a horse and mule trader and son of a father who was a “recovering” rancher. George was named Poet Laureate of his hometown in Sherman, Texas, in 2010. He said he "paints his poems, so if you close your eyes you can see them play out before you." Most of his poems have a humorous twist because, as he says, "People tend to like you better if you make ‘em laugh instead of makin' ’em cry.”.
Tom SwearingenTualatin, Oregon
The 2019 IWMA Male Poet of the Year, Tom tells stories of the people and land of the American West through original cowboy poetry that is often inspired by his own experiences and observations from the saddle. Some are humorous, others serious, and all entertaining. Tom brings his stories to life with rhythm and rhyme and a storytelling style that makes him a popular performer not only at cowboy gatherings and horse camps, but at libraries, historical centers, and wherever else you find folks who appreciate the cultural heritage of the West.
Tom is two-time winner of the National Finals Rodeo Cowboy Poetry Week Contest and has been nominated by both the IWMA and the AWA as Male Poet of the Year. His “Horses and Happiness” CD is a two-time IWMA finalist for Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year. His “Rhyme ‘Em Cowboy!” CD was a finalist for IWMA 2018, 2017, and 2016 Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year. His latest CD, “Language of the Land,” was a finalist for 2019 IWMA Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year. Tom and his wife lcan often be found riding their horses in Oregon’s backcountry.
Bonnie KrogmanWood, South Dakota
Bonnie enjoys making people laugh. Her poetry, mostly humorous, is based on 45 years of ranching in South Dakota with her jovial husband, Kenny. Bonnie has been trampled by a rampaging cow, bucked off green colts she was breaking, and suffered heat stroke in the hayfield. She feels fortunate to have raised her three children in ranching and rodeo and hopes that her grandchildren can continue their style.
Bonnie has appeared at poetry gatherings in Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Jan SchiferlFordyce, Nebraska
Born on the rural plains of South Dakota, Jan grew up in a faith-based farm and ranch family, cultivating her deep love of people, horses and the “cowboy way.” Singing gospel music in a little country church as a young girl created the fire for using music to tell her story.
Jan has performed throughout the Midwest at fairs and festivals, most recently appearing as part of the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering in Fort Worth, Texas. Her new album “Waving of the Grass” was named 2019 Heritage CD of the Year by the Rural Roots Music Association.
Jan was named Nebraska Mother of the Year in 2013. She and her husband Greg have four children and operate a small ranch in northeast Nebraska where they train horses, raise cattle and host events for families and their community.
Daytime Theme Performers
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.
Floyd BeardKim, Colorado
Floyd was the International Western Music Association Male Poet of the year in both 2016 and 2017. He ranches in the southeastern Colorado canyons, out where you swear you may not be at the end of the earth but you can see it from there. He and his wife Valerie run corriente cattle with their children.
Jerry BellRiverton, Wyoming
Jerry is the real thing – a working cowboy. Jerry has been with a cow outfit in the Jackson Hole-Yellowstone area for close to 30 years, working cow camps and guiding. He has entertained with poetry and music at the local lodges and fairs and is a member of the Wind River Poets, Idaho Poets and Poets of Utah associations. He performs throughout Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Montana and California and especially enjoys cowboy poetry and music gatherings. His style and presentation are enchanting, often funny, and about as real as it gets. Jerry helps the neighbors gather, brand and ship when he can. He also enjoys the outdoors and pack trips with good friends.
Camp Meetin' Cowboys
Info still to come!
Jon ChandlerCommerce City, Colorado
Jon is a seventh-generation Coloradoan on his mother’s side, his ancestors having arrived in the state in 1858. Jon’s multi-faceted past includes narrating and writing songs for Zane Grey audio novels, writing a screenplay and performing at the legendary Ryman Theater in Nashville. Among his many awards is the title of “Best Living Western Musician” by True West magazine. He has recently been honored with the Branding Iron Award by the William S. Hart Museum. A champion for preserving Western music and writing, Jon has served on boards of the Western Writers of America and the Colorado Cowboy Gathering.
Mike DunnSan Tan Valley, Arizona
Mike’s Western heritage goes back to the 1800s. His granddad’s ranch, home of the Rail “A” brand, is still in the family today. There on the eastern slopes of the Whetstone Mountains he learned what cowboy life was all about and he continues to work the ranch today. His original poetry reflects his personal experience, as well as stories passed down from granddad’s day. Much of his poetry is shared in his book Somewhere Between Earth and Heaven, winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award. He has also won the Gail I. Gardner Award as a cowboy poet.
Jack GeorgeQuemado, New Mexico
Fourteen-year-old Jack can recite classic cowboy poems with the best of them. He was named after his grandfather who was a horse trader and cowboy and many of the poems he performs were his grandfather’s favorites. He has grown up ranching and hunting. He was only 18 months old when he participated in his first rodeo! His parents trained horses, rodeoed and hunted. You could say the cowboy lifestyle is in his blood. Jack states, “I look forward to building on this skill as I grow and mature, and to carrying on the cowboy heritage for future generations.”
Randy HustonRociada, New Mexico
Randy writes and sings about the modern-day lifestyle of the cowboy. He is a fourth-generation livestock producer and partners with his father on their ranch in New Mexico. He started breaking horses for wages at the age of 14 and spent many years in rodeo arenas through high school and college. He has written some of the most widely recognized songs of contemporary cowboy music. Randy’s albums have won awards from the Academy of Western Artists. In 2015, his album Cowboys and Girls won the award for “Outstanding Traditional Western Album” from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Steve JonesSteamboat Springs, Colorado
Steve is best known for his tenor voice. Some call him the “Irish cowboy tenor” as he mixes Western music with some songs with an Irish flavor. Steve sang with the Yampa Valley Boys for 17 years before going solo. He also is a songwriter, having recently penned “Picasso” with well-known songwriter Les Buffham, telling the story of a wild horse of northwest Colorado. It is the theme song of one of his two CDs. He sings original, contemporary, and classic cowboy songs and adds a good deal of humor.
Jo Lynne KirkwoodSigurd, Utah
Jo Lynne was born in the small northern Arizona town of Fredonia. Her great-grandfather was an original settler of the area, and her family has worked with livestock for generations. Jo’s poems reflect her intimate relationship with the land and the people of the Arizona Strip country, as well as an often tongue-in-cheek appreciation for daily agricultural life in central Utah, where she and her husband Michael now live. Jo is a Lariat Laureate on Cowboy Poetry.com, and has been named Female poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists. Her poetry has received numerous other awards and has been published in multiple Western magazines and anthologies.
Peggy MaloneFruita, Colorado
Peggy has been nicknamed “The Little Girl with a Big Voice.” Her stage presence animates a crowd with energy, laughter and the chance to join in her songs. She was the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame’s 2013 Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist of 2015. The 2020 Curly Musgrave Silver Buckle Award was presented to Peggy by the International Western Music Association. Peggy is an organizer of the annual Western Slope Cowboy Gathering in Grand Junction. She is a regular volunteer at elder care facilities.
Sam NobleDurango, Colorado
Sam grew up in Bayfield, Colorado, and has lived and ranched north of Durango all his adult life. He’s been involved with agriculture, rodeo and the cowboy world which has given him a background for his own brand of cowboy poetry and humorous stories. For 13 years, Sam and his wife Tanna followed their sons as they competed in rodeo events.Today, Sam and Tanna operate a little farm and ranching operation north of Durango. Sam has written cowboy poetry for 30 years. Since 1991, he has also recited inspirational poetry at the Bar D Chuckwagon chapel. He is an active participant in Durango’s Cowboy Church and hosts “A Cowboy and His Creator” during the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
Shag ReimerDurango, Colorado
Shag was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew on various farms west of there. He was a horse rider at age three, a team driver by seven, and a dairy worker by age 12. He has broken, trained and shown horses, done blacksmithing and leather work, rodeoed, and worked as a film studio stunt man and wrangler. He started writing poetry seriously in 1987. He said, “Up until then I just jotted down lines and stories and stuck ‘em in pockets and drawers.”
Dennis RussellGardner, Colorado
Dennis runs a cow/calf operation along the Huerfano River in Redwing, Colorado. As a poet and musician he blends original Western poems and songs with some of the classics. Dennis is the founder and co-producer of the Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering at the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico, held every August. Dennis is also a board member for the International Western Music Association.
Lindy SimmonsMancos, Colorado
On a ranch with her husband for almost 50 years and on the rodeo road with her son, Lindy has collected stories of working cowboys, past and present. Her poetry is original, usually humorous, and dynamically presented. A professor by profession, she is knowledgeable in Southwest history and speaks Spanish fluently. She has been writing and producing the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering’s “Variety Show with a Twist” since 2008. She was recently elected president of the Gathering’s board of directors.
BJ SmithEndiang, Alberta
BJ retired from the Canadian Mountain Police, is an experienced horse trainer, riding coach, packer, mountain guide, clinician, survival expert and Canadian Ski Patrol instructor. He can guide a group of wilderness packers horseback in the Rockies for a hundred miles or more, then give an entertaining, hour-long safety talk to school children. With all that, he is also a cowboy poet extraordinaire. He has written three books, produced two CDs, and has won the Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Award among others
Caitlyn TaussigKremmling, Colorado
Caitlyn is a fourth-generation rancher who runs cow-calf pairs with her mother and sister on their high-country cattle ranch. She also works as the county 4-H coordinator. Since childhood, Caitlyn has been singing and performing at rodeos, sporting events and weddings. Her inspiration for songwriting comes from summering cattle at 9,000 feet, cowboying in rough and dark timber country, working the ranch and listening to her father's stories. Don’t let her mellow voice fool you; she can night calve, brand and castrate calves with the best of them.