Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three years ago I was invited to open up a show for Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans at the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. I didn't think I'd ever be invited to perform there, so it was a huge honor. I played my standard fare that night--raps, cowboy poems, and folk songs. I think my cowboy/folk songs were appreciated, but my hip-thrusting raps and avant garde poetry didn't impress the buckaroos nor the folklorists.

For the past two years I haven't been invited back. I didn't plan to apply for the 2012 gathering, but a couple days ago my pal Andy Hedges called and strongly encouraged me to try again. I'll let you know what happens.

I think I've mentioned before that Andy's one of the best young folk singers I know. He often collaborates with another Lubbock friend of mine, and stellar songwriter, Andy Wilkinson. Their release last year, Welcome to the Tribe, won the Wrangler Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Album from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Now the Andy's are working on a new collaboration. Hedges plans to include my 1996 arrangement of Curley Fletcher's "Saddle Bum" (heard on my Love's Hangover Sale CD). My contribution to the evolution of this song (originally titled "Saddle Tramp" and performed on a 1960s Harry Jackson LP) was to add harmonica and change the melody to make it more mournful.

The sentiments of "Saddle Tramp" are dear to me. They express my own feelings of being a ranch refugee and troubadour. I'm pleased that Andy will polish up this gem and carry it into the 21st Century:
Verse 2:
"I used to work, but now I shirk, and never more will hire / To mark an ear, to turn no steer, nor tend no branding fire. / The pie and cake are mine to take, the best of everything. / I'll lay my head on the softest bed, if I'll blow my harp and sing."

Verse 4:
"I stay awhile to sing and smile, but when there comes a rift / And things get cool, I ain't no fool, I fork my bronc and drift. / I ramble down to that little town when winter comes along / To little [Hana] in [Santa Ana] and sing for her my song."
Note 1: Curley Fletcher is most well known for "The Strawberry Roan" (1915).

Note 2: Andy turns 31 today--Happy birthday, Andy!

Note 3: Little Hana arrives home tomorrow to a fresh foot of powdery snow.

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