Author Archives: darcyminter

The Braun Boys — All Grown Up

Muzzie Braun and his four boys—Cody, Willy, Micky and Gary—performed at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering six times between 1988 and 1994. Muzzie Braun and the Boys are all grown up now, with successful musical careers of their own. Cody and Willy formed the band Reckless Kelly, and Gary and Micky started Micky and the Motorcars. Both bands have achieved national success with their Western roots music.

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It’s been 23 years since Muzzie and his boys have performed at the Gathering, and we are super excited to welcome three out of five members of the original band to the 2018 event. Muzzie, Cody and Willy Braun will perform together at the Gathering again.

 

We interviewed Cody Braun about his return to Elko and what his early participation in the event meant to him and his family. Here’s what he had to say:

Performing in the early days of the Gathering
The Gathering was one of the larger events that we would do every year. It was the granddaddy of all cowboy poetry events, with all the influential Western musicians.

Starting when I was about 10, I got to sit in on jam sessions upstairs at the Stockmen’s Hotel. I got to stay up until the wee hours. I learned a lot about fiddle playing from Woody Paul (Riders In The Sky) and Billy Beeman, who played German fiddle with The Lobo Rangers (with Dave and Patty Bourne). We got to hang out with Ian Tyson and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (who sometimes slept on our hotel room floor). We met a lot of people who are life-long friends.

We are excited to be returning to the Gathering after all these years!

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Muzzie Braun, Baxter Black and Woody Paul. Photo by Sue Rosoff

 

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Muzzie Braun, Baxter Black, Ramblin Jack Elliott and Richard Farnsworth. Photo by Sue Rosoff.

 

About Reckless Kelly
Western music was our main influence growing up. I listened to Bob Wills, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and honky tonk stuff. We brought the Western country influence to Reckless Kelly which has an authentic country roots sound. Others in the band came from more of a rock background. Willy is the main songwriter. He writes good story-songs.

Performing with Muzzie
We play about 3-4 times a year with our Dad. When we do, we tend to play a lot of Dad’s tunes, and older Western honky tonk stuff. We can’t really sing the songs we used to when we were kids because they were written for us as kids.

 

Don’t miss these shows at the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 29 to February 3, 2018!

Muzzie, Willy and Cody Braun will perform with Mike Beck on Friday, February 2, in “Who You Callin’ Americana?” in the Elko Connvention Center Auditorium. The show starts at 8:00 pm and tickets start at $25.

Cody and Willy will perform in “Fresh Voices: Cowboy Coffee House” with Wyoming poets Maria Lisa Eastman and Pat Frolander, Canadian cowboy singer Matt Robertson and Utah singer-songwriter Sand Sheff, Thursday, February 1, at 6:00 pm in the Western Folklife Center G Three Bar Theater. Tickets are $35.

With the purchase of a 3-Day Deluxe Pass or a Single Day Pass, you can also catch Muzzie and the boys performing Friday morning on the Ruby Mountain Music Stage and Saturday afternoon in the G Three Bar Theater.

Tickets and information at www.nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org.

 

Mining the Mother Lode: a Moving Rural Verse Poem-Film

Andy Wilkinson’s poem “Mining the Mother Lode” is a lament for the diminishing waters of the enormous Ogallala Aquifer caused by the forces of “progress.” The poem was made into an animated poem-film with the help of Rebecca Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing as part of the Western Folklife Center’s Moving Rural Verse project, which created collaborations between poets and filmmakers around the subject of water in the West. By artfully fusing poetry and video, the Moving Rural Verse poem-films hope to nurture a deeper understanding of rural America and kindle important conversation about critical issues.

The “Mining the Mother Lode” film is not a literal adaptation of the poem. Rather it attempts to provide a counter-harmony to Andy’s words, reflecting the essence of the poet’s vision, just as the poem itself reflects the essence of the diminishing waters of the Ogallala.

Ogallala

Andy spoke to us about the writing of the poem and his hopes for its impact:

“I was asked to write an article about the using up of the Ogallala Aquifer for a local magazine. I started to write, and I realized I was ranting. There is no future in doing a rant in prose. I thought that if I am going to be emotional and passionate about it, I am going to have to write a poem.”

“I want people to think about what our obligation is to the environment. The USDA created an annual report in the early 1950s that was about water. If you blacked out the date, it would read exactly the same if it were written today.”

AndyWilkinson_byTinaThompson

“We already knew what the problem was back then. It’s not the lack of science or the lack of technology, but the lack of will. It’s the lack of willingness to change the bigger systems. Farmers are trapped in a system. They know they are using up the water, but they have to make the payments on the notes and on the equipment. You can change hearts but if you don’t change the system to go with it, you are still going to have the negative effects.”

The Moving Rural Verse program was funded, in part, by Artplace America, National Endowment for the Arts, The Community Foundation of Utah, Jeff Tant and Briana Tiberti. The Moving Rural Verse DVD—containing all four poem-films—is for sale in the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop. To purchase it, give us a call at 888-880-5885

The Brauns and Bertsolaria at the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is chock-full of phenomenal performances, captivating stories, and enlightening learning opportunities. With so much going on and so many wonderful shows it is difficult to choose just a few to highlight. We will continue to share the best of the Gathering in this blog so tune in often. We are very excited that Muzzie Braun is returning to Elko with his sons Willy and Cody, of Reckless Kelly. And of course we can’t wait to present the wonderful traditions of the Basque culture, including the improvised poetry sparring called bertsolaria.

Tickets to the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering go on sale to Western Folklife Center members on Tuesday, September 5, at 9:00 am Pacific. The general public will be able to purchase tickets starting Thursday, October 5. To join or renew your membership, click here. You may also join on the phone when you purchase your tickets. Call 888-880-5885 or 775-738-7508. See you in Elko!

Braun Family Trio comes to Elko
Family trio Muzzie Braun and sons Willy & Cody Braun are coming to Elko for the 34th Gathering! Muzzie Braun has been writing, recording and performing for 30 years. Coming from a musical family, Muzzie continued the tradition with his four sons, touring and recording as Muzzie Braun and the Boys. They appeared at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for many years. Willy and Cody Braun went on to found the GRAMMY-Award-winning band, Reckless Kelly. As a trio, Muzzie, Willy & Cody play back-to-roots, acoustic material that reflects their far-flung influences and family cohesion.
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Muzzie Braun

Willy and Cody Braun will join poets Maria Lisa Eastman and Patricia Frolander, cowboy crooner Matt Robertson and trailblazing troubadour Sand Sheff for “Fresh Voices: Cowboy Coffeehouse” on Thursday, February 1. On Friday, February 2, Muzzie Braun, Willy Braun and Cody Braun will perform in our “Who You Callin’ Americana”* show on with an opening set by Mike Beck. These Idaho natives bring a grounded sensibility and rock-and-roll edge to their country convictions. Their sounds may span genres, but all these fellows are cowboy at heart. Buy your tickets now and enjoy the shows!

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The Braun Brothers

Bizkaia, Boise and Beyond *
From Basque country to buckaroo country comes an evening of surprises. Join champion bertsolariak from both sides of the pond as they engage in the Basque art of bertsolaritza, which is improvised, created-on-the-spot melodic poetry-sparring as the bertsolariak try to cleverly one-up each other. Enjoy verse and stories that connect buckaroos to Argentine Basque gauchos to Basque-American ranchers. And, experience the irresistible force of music and dance that spans all these worlds. Gure etxera datorrena, bere etxean dago! “Who come to our home are at their home!” February 1, 6:00pm – 7:30pm in the Elko Convention Center Auditorium.

Dance Abounds at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Dancing is always a big part of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. With so many dance workshops to choose from you will be well-prepared for the three evening dances. Sign up for exhilarating and enjoyable Basque Dance, Two-Step, Polka & Schottische and Rodeo Swing workshops, held on Friday, February 2 and Saturday, February 3. The Friday Night Dance features Wylie & The Wild West and the Saturday Night Dance features the Caleb Klauder Country Band and a special guest Basque band! And Wylie & The Wild West will wrap up the Gathering with their highest energy dance tunes at the Midnight Dance on Saturday.

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* The asterisk in the title means that this show is one of several we for which we offer a special “Next Generation” discount for folks who are between the ages of 15 and 35. A limited number of tickets are available at the discounted price of $20. Buy up to two tickets. Read more information about this discount.

34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Poets & Musicians

We are thrilled to announce the artist line-up for the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 29-February 3, 2018, in Elko, Nevada. Tickets go on sale to Western Folklife Center members beginning September 5, and to the general public on October 5. Members also get tickets to free members-only shows and for the first time this year, members receive a discount on the price of a 3-Day Deluxe Pass, which is $60 during the member pre-sale period and $80 starting October 5. To purchase or renew a membership, click here.
Featured Poets & Musicians

Amy Auker, Prescott, AZ
Mike Beck, Monterey, CA
Ryan Bell, Seattle, WA
Muzzie, Willy & Cody Braun, Clayton, ID
Caleb Klauder Country Band, Portland, OR
Cowboy Celtic, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
John Dofflemyer, Lemon Cove, CA
Carolyn Dufurrena, Winnemucca, NV
Maria Lisa Eastman, Hyattville, WY
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Marshall, CA
Dom Flemons & Brian Farrow, Hillsborough, NC
Patricia Frolander, Sundance, WY
Pipp Gillette, Crockett, TX
Kristyn Harris, McKinney, TX
Andy Hedges, Lubbock, TX
Yvonne Hollenbeck, Clearfield, SD
Rita Hosking & Sean Feder, Davis, CA
Ross Knox, Midpines, CA
Betty Lynn McCarthy, Buffalo, MO
Michael Martin Murphey, Walden, CO
Wally McRae, Colstrip, MT
Waddie Mitchell, Twin Bridges, NV
Terry Nash, Loma, CO
Joel Nelson, Alpine, TX
Rodney Nelson, Almont, ND
Shadd Piehl, Mandan, ND
Vess Quinlan, Florence, CO
Henry Real Bird, Garryowen, MT
Brigid Reedy, Whitehall, MT
Riders In The Sky, Nashville, TN
Randy Rieman, Cascade, MT
The Rifters, Cimarron, NM
Matt Robertson, Okotoks, Alberta, Canada
Jack Sammon, Condong, New South Wales, Australia
Sean Sexton, Vero Beach, FL
Sand Sheff, Moab, UT
Andy Wilkinson, Lubbock, TX
Wylie & the Wild West, Conrad, MT
Paul Zarzyski, Great Falls, MT

We will be adding Basque artists in the coming weeks!
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Theodore Waddell, Sheep #12, 42”x50”, Oil on Canvas

New Exhibitions in the Wiegand Gallery

Displays Feature Ranch Photographs from the Farm Security Administration
and the Pottery of Dennis Parks 

The Western Folklife Center is presenting two new exhibitions in its Wiegand Gallery, including the ceramic artistry of Tuscarora’s Dennis Parks and photographs of ranch life taken during the Farm Security Administration of the 1930s and 40s. Both exhibitions, as well as the Western Folklife Center’s permanent collection of contemporary hand-crafted gear, will be on display through December 9.

Way Out West: Images of the American Ranch, Photographs from the Farm Security Administration, 1936-1943

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Rounding up of cattle, Elko County, Nevada. Arthur Rothstein, March 1940.

The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was a New Deal program created in the late 1930s to help farmers and ranchers suffering from the impacts of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Some of the country’s finest photographers were enlisted to document the lives of everyday people in rural America. Between 1935 and 1942, photographers took 77,000 black-and-white photographs and 644 color photographs. The collection includes some of the finest and most widely recognized documentary photographs ever taken.   

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Cowhand. Elko County, Nevada. Arthur Rothstein, March 1940.

The best known of the FSA photographs were of Dust Bowl immigrants in Oklahoma and California, Depression-era soup lines, and farm life of states like Vermont and Kentucky, but the FSA photographers also visited the ranching country of the rural West. They documented cowboys at work, but they also looked at the everyday lives of ranching women and children. The result is an amazingly rich and personal record of ranch life of the period.

 

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An Anglo rancher, Mora (vicinity), New Mexico. John Collier, January 1943.

The photographs in this exhibition are taken from the book Way Out West: Images of the American Ranch, Photographs From the Farm Security Administration, 1936-1943, by former Western Folklife Center Executive Director Charlie Seemann. The book, which includes 125 photos and accompanying text, will be available in the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop. Photographers in this exhibition include: Russell Lee, Marion Post Wolcott, John Collier, Jr., Dorothea Lange, John Vachon and Arthur Rothstein.

 

Dennis Parks: Land Language and Clay

Blue Warriors

Dennis Parks, Blue Warriors, 1994. Courtesy of Dennis Parks.

Organized by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, this exhibition features the work of internationally known ceramist Dennis Parks and his son Ben Parks, both based in Tuscarora, Nevada. Visitors will see pieces from the Parks’ private collections and items drawn from the Dennis Parks Archive Collection housed by the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art. Dennis Parks is perhaps Nevada’s best-known ceramist. He moved to Tuscarora in 1966, where he established the Tuscarora Pottery School. Parks pioneered a process of making ceramics using native clays that are single-fired in kilns fueled with recycled crankcase oil. Recognized for his innovative use of text, Parks often imprints written fragments from classical literature, political puns, and poetry onto his works.

His stoneware has been honored worldwide for its wide range of inventive forms and his work has been exhibited in museums in more than 20 countries around the world. Parks has taught his unique firing techniques to audiences internationally, and he conducted workshops and lectures throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and the Czech Republic, as well as in Indonesia, China, Japan, and South Korea. Dennis’ son Ben Parks carries on his father’s legacy of ceramic artwork and a few of his pieces are on display and for sale through the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop. To learn more about Dennis Parks and his techniques, visitors can select from three books by Parks on sale at the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop.

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Dennis Parks and John Fahnestock, Abacus, 1995. Courtesy of Dennis Parks.

The Wiegand Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, and Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is closed Sundays and holidays. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for students and seniors, and $1.00 for children ages 6-12. Western Folklife Center members are free, with a $3.00 charge for each adult guest. Admission is free on the first Saturday of every month.

These exhibitions are supported by the Nevada Arts Council, a state and local agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The Dennis Parks exhibit is also supported by the Nevada Museum of Art.

Yevgeny Alexandrovich Yevtushenko–“Cowboy Poet”

YY - PZarzyski & YYevtushenko 1995©Rosoff

By Paul Zarzyski

“A poet’s autobiography is his poetry. Anything else can only be a footnote.”

In January 1995, the distinguished Russian poet, Yevgeny Alexandrovich Yevtushenko honored us with his spirited, yet humble, presence at the eleventh annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, thanks in large part to a dear friend of the Gathering, poet-critic Scott Preston, who extended the invitation to Mr. Yevtushenko. My best recollection is that few of us knew much, if anything at all, about the Russian writer’s work or life. It was our way, however, to delve into his poetry the instant we caught wind that he’d be joining us, and the admiration for his sensibilities was instantaneous; dare I quip that we rolled out the “red” carpet of western hospitality for this literary figure as we had never done before? I only wish I could relay here the many personal recollections of those who also shared the stages, as well as attended the behind-the-scenes jam sessions, private corner-table saloon conversations, and, yes, even a wedding ceremony, with Yevgeny as celebrity witness and Russian-proverb messenger.*** Moreover, I wish I could relay the responses of those hundreds in the audiences, who sat in musical awe of his words delivered with fervor in both English and Russian—especially “our” western women (and certain western men?), who swooned over the tall, lithe beautiful poet-god with his Cossack charisma and charm. What I wish most, however, is that I had a $5.00 poker chip for each captivated (and capsized) woman I witnessed peering into the deep alluring pools of Yevtushenko’s eyes. To this day I still grin when I think about all those tough cowboys kissing good-bye for good the wife or girlfriend, who they thought they knew inside and out, never again being quite the same gal with whom they arrived in Elko!

Yevtushenko reciting 1995©Rosoff

You bet, we presented, interwoven into our lighter-hearted work, our most “serious,” heart-wrenching, soul-searching sensibilities from the Elko stages (In reflection of Yevgeny’s haunting masterpiece, “Babi Yar,” I read my Holocaust Museum poem, “Shoes.”), after which the oftentimes solemn overall mood magically transitioned to levity in Yevtushenko’s presence. We drank together, we laughed together, we danced together—as if to prove aloud and out in the wide open spaces of the Cowboy West that the crucial human counterpoise/anodyne/antidote to the evil and toxicity of human torment and suffering is indeed poetry, with its aftermath of wisdom and hope and, at times, you bet, redemption and joy.

“together / we extol what the soul knows /
once solaced by poetry—it know it wants more / poetry!”

YYevtushenko & PZarzyski ©Rosoff

Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s death in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, April 1, 2017, set into domino-effect motion for me a power-grid overload of Cowboy Poetry Gathering reminiscences, not only of our 1995 event, but of 33 year’s worth of close encounters of the ars poetica otherworldly kind coaxed out from behind the humankind / animal-kind / plant-kind / cosmic-kind scrims in Elko. For whatever mysterious reasons, year-after-year, the sacred open range of the west, before the stringing of barbed wire, becomes, for thousands of us in attendance, the open range of the heart and soul and mind rising up out of the creative journey, out of storyline and/or song line, out of imagination, to the wildest Elko Gathering heights. I choose to believe that Yevtushenko felt the presence of this power, and in its midst, embraced his fellow travelers into the passionate and compassionate realms of universal language.  Whatever the catalyst responsible for our coming together so munificently in that minuscule space and time, his presence—his grace, wisdom, humility and wit—narrowed further the finest of spiritual lines between us, and reminded us that we were not, first and foremost, Cowboy Poets of the American west, but rather Human Being poets of the Planet, Earth.

Amen, and R.I.P., Brother Yevgeny.

 

Yevgeny Alexandrovich Yevtushenko–Cowboy Poet

Purring growl of your Russian tongue makes love
to our women, suddenly erumpent and churning
erotic in public. Once they were sweet
cream butter melting to our Dutch oven touch
under slow even-burning coals of mesquite,
ashwood, piñon fires, but now they burn
hot in the flames of pitchwood pine–they sizzle,
smoke, scorch and ruin the cobbler
because of you, Yevgeny. The cold war over
does not mean the heat-seeking
Yevtushenko must strike, but you have
struck Elko like a Cossack Slim Pickins
forking the bomb to earth
in a switch-a-Roosky take on our movie,
Dr. Strangelove. Stalking Siberian tiger,
you prowl the aisles, all perimeter seats
manned by women anxious to be anointed,
transfigured by one droplet of your love-
potion ambrosian spit. I must believe
they adore you merely because
you do not slobber them with Red Man
Tobacco juice, with granules of Copenhagen snuff,
Brown Mule or Skoal. In your baggy corduroy britches
tucked inside reptile-hide boots
like some tinhorn Texan, you capriole from podium,
glide, prance, pivot, swoop, whirl, as if the room
effervesces with pinkish iridescent bubble-
bath bubbles shaped like Cupid hearts
popping to the hot soft guttural
touch of your phonics, of your skinny fingers
sculpting and scripting into sexy metaphor
the palpable air of our women’s longing. You tempt them
away from our horse lather and leather pheromones
into the surrealistic–lure
them with your somniloquous lips. How dare you kiss
their thinnest skin, their rice-paper cheeks,
the silken backs of their hands gone limp
to your line’s feminine, feline endings
gently penetrating their capillary
yearnings? How dare you
mesmerize us men into applauding
your pilferage? I have caught you red-handed,
Yevgeny! But, how do I indict a fellow knight-
errant from the ivory tower’s round table
when so few of us make this crusade? The Cowboy
Coliseum exults and salutes you the Czar-
zyski of Cossack Poetry, while boasting me
The Elko Yevtushenko. My Slavic compadre,
my comrade, my partner-in-rhyme, together
we extol what the soul knows
once solaced by poetry–it knows it wants more
poetry! But it is you who has exposed the sword
as impotent twig in your forest
of Dwarf Birches. You who has led the brigadier
charge of words into battle for all those still
kept silent. Yes! Yevgeny, I shout Yes!
yes, the way to mankind’s peace-filled helix
is through the chromosomal Y, its remnant
exiled within all men. Bring it on home,
Yevtushenko–bring us back to the mother world
where your poetry throws open the gates
rolls and buries the barbed wire, bulldozes
the hormonal walls into rubble,
and hoists the white flag that allows us all,
unconditionally, to swoon for you.

(From I Am Not A Cowboy—Dry Crik Press, 1995)

Yevgeny Yevtushenko 1995©Rosoff

***Read Carson’s Vaughan’s piece in the Paris Review, “An Empty Saddle for Yevtushenko.”

Listen to Yevtushenko recite poetry in Elko during this session hosted by writer Kim Stafford.

Faces of the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

We’ve been having a great time going through photos of the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering by our photographers Jessica Lifland and Charlie Ekburg. We wanted to share some of them with you — Enjoy!

Doug Moreland by JBL

Doug Moreland by Jessica Lifland

Mike Thomas by JBL

Mike Thomas by Jessica Lifland

Ross Knox by CE

Ross Knox by Charlie Ekburg

Teresa byCE

Teresa Jordan by Charlie Ekburg

Don Jack and Andy by JBL

Don Edwards, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Andy Hedges by Jessica Lifland

Jack Sammon by JBL

Jack Sammon by Jessica Lifland

Paul by CE

Paul Zarzyski by Charlie Ekburg

shoe shine girl by CE

4H Shoe Shine Girl by Charlie Ekburg

Olivia Romo by JBL

Olivia Romo by Jessica Brandi Lifland

Luke Bell by JBL

Luke Bell by Jessica Brandi Lifland

Girl performing by CE

Young Buckaroo in Talent Show by Charlie Ekburg

Dame by CE

Dame Wilburn by Charlie Ekburg

Ofelia Zepeda by JBL

Ofelia Zepeda by Jessica Lifland

Dom Flemons by JBL

Dom Flemons by Jessica Lifland

Reedys by CE

Johnny and Brigid Reedy by Charlie Ekburg

Trinity and Kristyn by CE

Kristyn Harris and Trinity Seely by Charlie Ekburg

Doris Daley by JBL

Doris Daley and Jarle Kvale by Jessica Lifland

 

Dave Stamey by JBL

Dave Stamey by Jessica Lifland

Brian Farrow by CE

Brian Farrow by Charlie Ekburg

andy Wilkinson by CE

Andy Wilkinson by Charlie Ekburg