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There's an old coyote wailin' as the twilight paints the sky
There's a western wind that's singin' a cowboy lullaby
When the cattle start to settle underneath the nightherd's wail
And those ghostly riders rumble, they are Echoes of the Trail

                                                                    from Echoes of the Trail

 

Johnny Kendrick still lives and works on the stock farm near the Kansas-Missouri border where he was born and raised. He's involved in organizing "Echoes of the Trails: A Western History Conference and Cowboy Poetry Gathering" held annually in Fort Scott, Kansas and he co-founded and managed the Fort Scott Country Music Jubilee, a country music stage show now in its eighth year.  Fans everywhere enjoy his renditions of classic songs by Bob Wills, Jimmy Rodgers, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and his recordings, Western, Traditional Songs of the Cowboys 1850-1920 and Tales of the Perilous Trail, are must-haves for any serious Western music collection.

 

 

About Johnny Kendrick 

Selected Lyrics and Poetry

Recordings

Contact Information

 

  www.JohnnyKendrick.com


About Johnny Kendrick 

Official biography

Johnny Kendrick is a farmer-stockman who lives and works on tallgrass prairie land in western Missouri. Lifelong passions for music and the American West led to his developing a program that traces the history of the Cowboy through music. His latest CD "Western" is a collection of traditional cowboy songs from the 1850s to the 1920s accurately presented and true to the spirit.

"To me the one thing that says 'America' loudest is the image of the cowboy," he says. "From the time I first saw Roy and Gene riding across the silver screen, I've been fascinated with the heroic ideas the image portrays."

A broadening interest led Kendrick to investigate the roots of the cowboy; from the importation of Spanish cattle to the New World in the 16th Century through the adaptation of vaqueros' tools and lifestyles, to the impact of modern-day life. He's traveled to experience the land that nurtured the cowboy: the Big Open in Montana and the Dakotas, the vast Texas plains of the XIT, the waving bluestem of Kansas prairie. He brings all he's learned together in a program of cowboy songs that follows the historic trail from the dust of old Mexico to the chrome-plated rodeo cowboys of today.

"It seemed to be just a natural progression to combine two of my life-long passions, music and cowboys," he says.

Kendrick, his wife, photographer Ellen Law Kendrick, and their two boys, still live and work on the stockfarm near the Kansas-Missouri border where he was born and raised. In order to remain close to that land, he says he's worked at various off-farm jobs "to support my agrarian habits."  Today those habits include keeping quarterhorses, longhorn cattle as well as farming.

He's involved in organizing "Echoes of the Trails: A Western History Conference and Cowboy Poetry Gathering" held annually in Fort Scott, Kansas. Kendrick also co-founded and managed the Fort Scott Country Music Jubilee, a country music stage show now in its eighth year, where he performed each Saturday night to fans who looked forward to his renditions of classic songs by Bob Wills, Jimmy Rodgers, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

www.JohnnyKendrick.com

Selected Lyrics and Poetry

 

Echoes of the Trail

Trail City

Dear Allison

School Work

Wild Prairie Rose

Keener Than a Briar

Ozark Rocks

 

Echoes of the Trail

There's an old coyote wailin' as the twilight paints the sky
There's a western wind that's singin' a cowboy lullaby
When the cattle start to settle underneath the nightherd's wail
And those ghostly riders rumble, they are Echoes of the Trail

From the canyons of Chihuahua, to the blue Dakota grass
Far across the wide Missouri, to beyond the Beartooth Pass.
Came the Longhorns and the drovers, then the pilgrims and the rail
Destiny displaced the Red Man, like the Echoes of the Trail

Wail away you old coyote, though city lights make starshine pale
We will gather to remember, and hear Echoes of the Trail
They say the good old days are over and better days have come and gone
But there'll always be a cowboy tellin' stories, singin' songs.

Ridin' circle on a good horse, and doin' his job without fail
Who will watch a purple sunset hearin' Echoes of the Trail.
Wail away you old coyote, though city lights make starshine pale
We will gather to remember, and hear Echoes of the Trail

© 1997 Johnny Kendrick, Prairie Rose Music BMI
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


My good friend Arnold Schofield suggested this as a name for a cowboy poetry gathering at Fort Scott, Kansas. While we were getting things ready for the second go round, I made up this song. A live recording of me singing it is on a compilation CD we made that year: Echoes of the Trail '98, available from me for $16 postpaid at RR Box 25, Richards MO 64778, 417-484-3344 email.

 

Trail City  

When we came by two years ago
These doors were open wide.
And how the bright lights beckoned
Thirsty boys to come inside
And up the stairs in Birdie's room
We talked late in the night.
Now she'd recall a cowboy
Out on his first long ride.

We turned 'em loose along the Platte
And I went on to Miles
Rode the grubline westward,
Stopped at Livingston awhile
Saw the rivers change direction
It made me think of home
And Birdie saying she'd be here
When my circle all is done

I'm searching for Trail City, I'm sure it was 'round here
But the streets are overgrown and the houses disappeared
There's only you and this old dog, and I see you're fixed to go
Searching for Trail City somewhere down the road.

Y'say some went on to Denver
And some just turned back home.
Sir, do you remember
Which road she traveled on?
No, that's all right, just thought I'd ask
I expect we'd better go.
B'leive I'll try for Cherry Creek
Before the winter snows.

I'm searching for Trail City, I'm sure it was 'round here
But the streets are overgrown and the houses disappeared
There's only you and this old dog, and I see you're fixed to go
Searching for Trail City somewhere down the road.


© 2002 Johnny Kendrick, Prairie Rose Music
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Trail City, Colorado, was a town that flared up then died quickly along one of the routes they used to trail cattle from Texas from to up north. As far as I've been able to determine it was just across the line approximately west of Garden City, Kansas.


Dear Allison

I went to the barn quite early to do the morning chores
Like forkin' down hay and feedin' grain, and swingin' wide the doors.
I caught up that bay colt, to do a favorite thing,
Ridin' in the pasture, checkin' calves, in early spring.

Now that colt, like you, is just a kid; his schoolin's just begun.
And he's got to learn to pay attention; other time's for fun.
He'll take the bit, and stand quiet, when the saddle's swung in place,
And though he might want to, he won't bolt. It's me who'll set the pace.

Just like you learn your ABC's, he's got to learn his too,
And that takes practice, and hard work, so he'll know what to do.
When you're grown, you'll make good use of everything you've learned.
And if he tries, why, so will he; into a cow horse he's turned.

So I opened up the gate and walked us both outside,
He eased his back and let a sigh, when I settled down astride.
We went along the meadow then, the dew just sparklin' in the light
Of early mornin' sun rays, and the meadowlarks singin' bright.

Until we came to the pasture gate, and I stepped down to do
The opening, then the shutting, of it when he'd passed through.
The cows looked up from grazing when we ventured near,
The little calves watched with eyes of curiosity, not fear.

Now there's a heifer, whose time is close, I've watched the last few days,
But now don't see her with the herd. Guess she's hidin' up aways
Along the creek. Ho! There she goes. The colt watches her run east
Then stop, and look back west, to the buckbrush beneath the trees.

She's calved all right, that's where we'll look, to see what we can find.
She watches us go down the draw, then follows aways behind.
It's hard to see down in this brush, but we hunt back and forth
Until I see the tracks she made, and they lead back north.

To a thicket, and lookin' hard, I just can see a tiny ear
Flicker once, then lie still. But that's enough, because I'm near.
And I push through and find him there, nose stretched out on the ground
And still as hope, just frightened eyes, lashes flutterin' at my sound.

And then, I see your balloon in shreds, and this note that you set free:
"Dear Finder, When you find this, won't you send it back to me?
And tell me where it came to rest, how far its journey's run
Away from Kansas City. Love, Allison."

© 1991 Johnny Kendrick
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This is based on a true occurrence, except our north pasture isn't quite as big as it seems here. I answered the little girl's letter and the more I thought about it, and her, the whole thing turned into this poem.

 

School Work

My boy's just like a lot of 'em, I suppose.
He'd rather be in boots and jeans than got up in town clothes.
And he'll vow to do most anything, even fixin' fence,
If he thinks it keeps him home from school, and off the teacher's bench.

Now, fetchin' pliers and balin' wire ain't no kind of fun,
But he swears it beats a day at school, and, well... he is my son.
But we make him go, a bunch, and hope that he does well,
And will use his time effectively in that "God-forsaken cell."

Sometimes, he'll forget himself, and even have some fun,
And bring us home a tale about some stunt some kid has done.
Or, in his haste to get outside some cookies and some milk,
Papers spill out of his books that reveal this student's ilk.

And so it came to pass one night, when I'd come in from chores,
And picked a piece of paper up off of the kitchen floor.
His assignment was to write in prose, correct and neat,
Three things he'd have if he should snare a leprechaun's hind feet.

The first that he wrote down was money. Now that makes good sense to me,
Or to anyone who's doctored calves through a cold spring's damp and freeze.
But he'd not keep it for himself. Why, he'd divvy it all out.
Piles for Ma and Pa, and teacher too. Nope, he wouldn't leave her out!

Oh, he'd keep a little for himself, just enough for gettin' by,
To keep stocked up in candy canes and have one good horse to ride.
The second thing was World Peace, to abolish crime and vice,
And to have everybody get along, to just "Be nice."

But the third one he wrote down made me give his mom a wink,
And reckon, "Maybe everything we've said has not gone down the sink."
For what he wants makes good advice for people, low or high.
It's for everyone to be trustworthy and never tell a lie.

© 1994 Johnny Kendrick
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

We're forever picking things up after our two boys around here, and one particular time provided the inspiration for this.



Wild Prairie Rose

I thought I saw paradise looking at me
From a blue butterfly in the sun through the trees
In the song of a bobwhite, where the Drywood Creek flows
In the glint of the dew on a Wild Prairie Rose

I once loved a lady and she once loved me
But a heart can't undo what a mind won't believe
And I went for the money, in citified clothes
Under concrete and steel lies a Wild Prairie Rose

It's taught me a lesson so hard that it's true
She's never needed me like she wants to
I see now a message, down in my glass
Like the storms and the sun shining, all must pass

Sometimes the night rain, in the cold neon glows
And puts me in mind of a Wild Prairie Rose.

© 1979 Johnny Kendrick
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

About a hundred years ago, I played in a band, the Undergrass Boys, and I made up this song that we recorded on an LP.

 

Keener Than a Briar

You could tell he'd punched some cattle by the way he sat his horse
Like an eagle on his perch, or a river in its course.
I was lookin' at the fences, 'cause we'd just come on the place,
When he came up out of the draw, follerin' a new mama whiteface.
His sorrel was old, but fit, and seemed like he would know
Before the feller did, where he needed him to go.
He aimed him toward the fenceline, and as we shook across the wire,
He howdied, I said "How ya doin?" and he said "Keener than a briar."

An amusin' sort of feller, who had a certain way
Of sayin' things, and talkin', that I didn't get just right away.
But, after we had parted and I went on up a ways,
I got to thinkin' about his stories and the way he turned a phrase.
And I got to lookin' forward to us meetin' now and then.
Seemed like he'd always have a story that'd leave me with a grin.
And it didn't seem to matter, night or day, he'd never tire,
And when I'd greet, he'd always say, "Why, I'm keener than a briar."

I'm sad to say, we left that place, and now I live in town.
I couldn't seem to make it pay, and the lawyers got us down.
It's easier, in lots of ways. Now, I donąt ride no fence,
Or have no first-calf heifers, or bankers to convince.
Yet, some nights I get to thinkin', when the freeway traffic's died,
How good it'd be to catch a horse and take a mornin' ride
And hear a blackbird singin' on the pleasant springtime breeze,
And see the baby calves spread out underneath the trees.
And how the prairie night would glow, when we'd light the April fires,
And how, no matter what, he'd always say, it's "Keener than a briar."

For Leroy Watts

© 2001 Johnny Kendrick
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Leroy Watts, now of Verona, Mo., is well known in cowboy poetry circles and one of the first real ones that I ran into several years ago. His unfailing response to a greeting was the basis for this poem.

 

Ozark Rocks

It was just a casual conversation, just to pass the time of day,
Richard tellin' how he'd need a steel bar, 'cause his rocks was in the way.
Punchin' postholes, he'd bust 'em up and scratch 'em to the top
Just to open up a little crack for a fence to make his ropin' goats stop.

Well I just remarked that where I'm from, the dirt is deep and black
And when farmers throw down seed, then they better jump back
Or else get tangled in the growth and carried up so high,
Their ears'd pop 'fore they'd get loose and fall out of the sky.

I mentioned that before weąd set our posts in good and stout
We'd make sure they's pointed down, cause if they weren't, why they'd sprout.
I says "Yer rocks is advantageous, cause you don't have mud in spring,
And all's you do is pick one up when you need something to fling.

"Now me, I has to carry some when I'm lookin' at the herd
And Shep goest to chasin', gone deaf and can't hear a cussed word.
You've no idee the trial it is when the trader's made a bid
And you canąt find your cows 'cause the grass has got 'em hid!"

And I'd just commenced to tellin' bout our giant stacks of hay
When Richard says he's got to see if Cody's colt gets worked that day.
Well, then it come some weeks had passed and I was at Echoes
A-standin' mongst the wagons, listenin' to them liars blow;

How them fellers carry on, I cain't begin to say
Bad colts they'd broke, rough trails they'd rode, big 'uns that got away.
I'd 'bout considered a point to make to bring 'em back to earth
When Richard comes a hustlin' up, and grinnin' for all he's worth.

An' carryin' a little box, all done up with a bow
And he walks right up to me, with witnesses in tow!
He says, "You mentioned back at Mt. View 'bout your tragic lack of rocks
So I brought you a breedin' pair. Got 'em right here in this box."

He says, "They're easy keepers, don't require a lot of care
Just turn 'em out on yer place and pretty soon you'll have rocks everywhere.
I gathered 'em just this mornin' they wasn't hard to fetch
I picked out some slow ones that'd be easy for you to ketch."

Now some of them boys thought that was funny and had quite a little frolic,
Ol' Jay Jones laughed so hard, I thought he'd took the colic.
Not seein', quite, the humor, I opens up the box
And sure enough, there's two big 'uns and a bunch of little rocks.

"Why looky there," cries Richard, a little gleeful, maybe,
"Them rocks has calved and already got you a purty bunch of babies."
Well, I thanks him kindly and 'lowed they sure was stock I'd keep.
That bunch was still a-snortin', as I hauls 'em to the Jeep.

So I gets home that night and dumps 'em out, not thinkin' much about it
There by the barn, along the fence, then went in to find the couch.
Next day, I riz a little late and my head was poundin' hard
I seen them rocks had wandered some, and was layin' in the yard.

Pore little Sam, I shudder now, the way I hauled him in,
And licked him too, when he maintained, Gosh Pa, it wasn't him
That'd throwed them rocks across the yard, and he didn't know who did.
But I made him pick 'em up and put 'em back, the pore little mistook kid.

The next few days I got busy, the cows kept gettin' out
In the neighbor's corn and he swore my calves could do without.
So the next time I happens by, them rocks wasn't even there.
Sam just won't learn, I muttered, but couldn't find 'em anywhere.

Oh, I looked a little, then decided I'd go in town to think,
And while I's there, just might as well have a little drink.
I get the old truck started and when I hit the blacktop
I seen a lump, and dang if it didn't seem to be an Ozark rock.

Naw, I says, he wouldn't a carried it this far, he's a lazy little cuss.
He might have throwed 'em in the pond, but that can't be one of ours.
The sun had set when I went home... well, several hours before,
And I wasn't particularly concerned about them rocks anymore.

A day or so requested my presence at the bank,
And lined up on the parkin' lot was Ozark rocks, all in a rank.
But most peculiar, a couple weeks past, it made me shut my mouth.
On 71 Highway, them Ozark rocks was all aheadin' south!

Them rocks had quit my range! I don't know if it's the dirt,
Or too much rain, or lack of company, Somethin' sure made 'em hurt!
So Richard, when they show back up, just set and watch' em dance,
'Cause they've come home, no more to roam, from yer dandy Turtle Ranch.

© 2004 Johnny Kendrick
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Johnny told us this poem was inspired after a conversation he had with Richard Dunlap, a Missouri Cowboy Poetry Association member and past president, a few weeks previous to the 2004 Echoes of the Trail gathering.  


Johnny Kendrick's Recordings 

 

Tales of the Perilous Trail


2013

Includes:

Chopo
My Texas Girl
Sam Bass
We Were Buddies
Three Rivers Song
Tom Shariman's Barroom
Banks of the Old Pontchartrain
Keener Than a Briar
I Wish I'd Stayed in the Wagonyard
Ballad of Ira Hayes
The Warm Desert Sands
Western Cowboy
The Rustler's Warning

Find the liner notes here.

Johnny Kendrick’s Tales of the Perilous Trail is a collection of authentic and traditional songs and stories about the American Cowboys. As the title suggests, all have a common theme of moving along, and the trials, troubles and joy that can bring. A couple of cowboy songs from the Carter Family, a Hank Williams classic that didn't sell, and a discovered gem recorded by Tex Owens on a Kansas City radio show in 1936 are just a few of the highlights of this trail to revelation. Others are a fresh take on Huddie Ledbetter's cowboy, Peter LaFarge’s classic Native American ballad, and a new song by the Turnpike Troubadours interpreted with an old perspective. Subtle work with guitar, tenor guitar, piccolo banjo and an understated fiddle help tell the stories. Accompanists on this true-to-the-spirit collection are Kendrick's sons Jackson and Samuel.

Tales of the Perilous Trail is $14 postpaid from www.johnnykendrick.com, or downloads are available at cdbaby.com/johnnykendrick.
 

$14 postpaid from:

Johnny Kendrick
RR Box 25
Richards, MO 64778
417-484-3344 
email

www.JohnnyKendrick.com

 


 

Western
Traditional Songs of the Cowboys 1850-1920

Includes:

I'd Like to be in Texas  traditional
The Santa Fe Trail  James Grafton Rogers
The Range of the Buffalo  traditional
The Trail to Mexico 
traditional
When the Work's All Done This Fall 
D. J. O'Malley
Lee's Ferry 
Romaine Loudermilk 
The Mormon Cowboy
traditional
The Z-Bar Dun
traditional
The Last Longhorn
John Wesley
The D-2 Horse Wrangler D. J. O'Malley
The Cowboy  Allen McCandless
A Border Affair  Charles Badger Clark
Life is Like a Mountain Railway  traditional

The interesting liner notes include information each song and 
these words from Johnny Kendrick:

The oral tradition of cowboy poetry and song lends adaptation and variety to its performance.  Many songs in this collection existed in other forms long before they were branded with "authorship" and published dates.  Others, with established authors, represent direct reflections of culture and habits of traditional cowboys, usually done with some adjustments to "make the fit."  We all, who love and preserve this tradition, impart some of our selves to the renditions we choose.  I hope you enjoy mine.

$16 postpaid from:

Johnny Kendrick
RR Box 25
Richards, MO 64778
417-484-3344 
email

www.JohnnyKendrick.com


Echoes of the Trail '98

The Echoes of the Trail '98 CD that includes Johnny Kendrick's modern classic, Echoes of the Trail, was recorded live on June 19, 1998 at Fort Scott, Kansas,. It is a showcase of musicians, storytellers, and poets and also includes:

Miriam Thompson, 1844 by Kaye Kuhlman
Old Pard by Buzz Benson
Dad's Old Boots and The Search by Leroy Watts
When I Talk to Horses and The Stud? by Debra Coppinger Hill
Sierry Petes by Gail Gardner recited by Don Collop
Mail Order Bride and The Biker and Cowboy by Harold Carpenter
Doubt if He's Ever by Richard Dunlap
Snakes by Francine Robison
From a Dog's Point of View by Jack DeWerff
Grass and Water, I Can't Yodel Yodelin' Love Song for You by Gerry Allen
The Rancher and the Cowboy and What it Takes by Cliff Sexton
What It's Worth and A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer by Gail Burton
Take Me Back to West by Debra Coppinger Hill, sung by Gerry Allen
Amazing Grace harmonica by Red Stradley

$16 postpaid from:

Johnny Kendrick
RR Box 25
Richards, MO 64778
417-484-3344 

email

www.JohnnyKendrick.com

Contact Information

Johnny Kendrick
RR Box 25
Richards, MO 64778
417-484-3344 
email


www.JohnnyKendrick.com

 

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