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Lewiston (Idaho) March


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March, 2007
Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Gathering   Lewiston, Idaho


Report and photos by Smoke Wade 

3rd Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship

Cowboy Gathering Report


For the third consecutive year, more than 80 cowboy poets and musicians gathered on March 1 – 4, 2007, in Lewiston, Idaho, for the 3rd Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Cowboy Gathering. And once again in "Cowboy Woodstock" style, 36 hours of poetry and music was presented to tireless audiences.

The gathering is held annually to raise money for a scholarship fund in the memory of  Lee Earl (1937-2004). Two scholarships of one thousand dollars each are awarded each year to local area students majoring in English and music. Earl was a prominent local cowboy poet and he was involved in youth programs that promoted cowboy poetry and western music at local area schools. Lee died in August of 2004.

The event started off with a well-attended no-host dinner social on Thursday night at Tomato Bros. restaurant in Clarkston, Washington. Forty-five performers and family members gathered at the social to renew old friendships and to get acquainted with new friends. Following the dinner, many of the performers shared in an informal jam session at the restaurant.

A plethora of events got under way Friday morning at 10:00 a.m. Poets and musicians scurried about town to participate in several local school assemblies and performances at local businesses. Fifteen of the cowboy entertainers gathered at KRLC 1350AM radio station to participate in a live broadcast on the Western Heritage Show hosted by Toe Tappin' Tommy Tucker. Both the radio station and Tucker have won several awards from the Academy of Western Artists and the Western Music Association.

Meanwhile, the Midday Cowboy Show took place at the main event center, the Lewiston Elks Lodge. Jinny Lowe, publisher of Cowboy Troubadour and Happy Trails, hosted the two-hour show. The program featured a dozen local area poets and musicians.

High noon marked the start of two other venues at the Elks Lodge. In the trade show room, hourly sessions on the vendor’s stage featured poets, musicians and open mic participants. In the main lobby of the Elk’s Lodge, musicians were assigned to a continuous jam session that continued until 5:30 p.m. Intertwined with the three simultaneous venues, art and gear vendors tended their booths including local saddle maker, Ed Earl; Don Mallory, silversmith; and John Geis, bronze sculptor.

Matinee Showcase performances where hosted during the afternoon on the main stage by Sam Mattise, Idaho, and Smoke Wade, Nevada. The featured night show performers gave the audience a sample of their talents during the matinees.

Jinny Lowe, Idaho treated the dinner crowd to a special presentation of honky-tonk piano, as they assembled in the main event center. A local western band, Blue Country & Friends, entertained during the dinner hour. Blue Country featured the vocals and accordion of Maxine Larson, Idaho. Bodie Dominquez, Washington presented pre-show entertainment.

The Friday Night Show got under way at 6:30 with Toe Tappin’ Tommy Tucker as the emcee. Eric Larson, Washington, presented a rousing rendition of the National Anthem. Following the patriotic opening, the audience was welcomed by event coordinators, Smoke Wade and Donna Earl. The featured performers included Idaho cowboy poets Bobbie Hunter and Howard Norskog. The poets representing Washington State were David Rustabakke, Orvil Sears, and David Nordquist. Western musicians included Dallas and P.J. McCord, Oregon;  Larry Gibson, Montana; Sam Mattise and Natale Wren, Idaho; and Eric Larson and The Rockin’ HW all of Washington. The Rockin’ HW consists of cowboy poet Mike Whitaker, and musician, Alan Halverson.

Following the evening show, Billy Rose, Doc Quam and Sam Mattise conducted a western dance. Sometime after midnight, the cowboy performers hung up their spurs and turned in for the evening.

The Saturday programs at the main event center started at 10:00 a.m. with a special Cowboy Coffee show hosted by Howard Norskog, followed by the Saturday Morning Wake Up Music show hosted by Bobbie Hunter. And once again all day sessions were presented on the vendor’s stage and at the fire pit jam session.

"Lil’ Cowpokes"

By noon on Saturday, the Elks Lodge was packed for the Lil’ Cowpokes Show that ran from noon – 1:30 p.m. Over twenty youth performers participated including the winners from local school poetry contests. One Lil’ Cowgirl recited poetry while jumping rope. This may be a first for cowboy poetry. Over two hundred students competed in the poetry contest.

Following the youth show, the dreaded Tall Tales of the West contest got under way hosted by Dallas McCord. The contestants included Dave Nordquist, Howard Norskog, Eric Larson, Smoke Wade, Billy Rose, Sam DeLeeuw, Van Criddle, Sam Mattise and Hilma Volk. After the dust had settled and trouser legs were rolled back down, Van Criddle, Oregon, was declared the champion teller of tall tales.

Sam Matisse

Afternoon matinees followed the tall tales. The Saturday Afternoon Cowboy matinee was hosted by Sam Mattise. The matinee featured a special presentation of "Snowville" performed to music by Eric Larson and Bodie Dominguez. "Snowville" is the popular poem written by Wayne Nelson, Idaho.

Sam DeLeeuw and Terri Taylor

The late matinee was the Redhead Cowgirl Show hosted by Smoke Wade. The program featured A. K. "Kathy" Moss, Kathy Criddle and P. J. McCord all of Oregon. Utah redhead cowgirls included Sam DeLeeuw and Terri Taylor. Terri brought the other two members of the musical trio, STAMPEDE!, to back her up on stage. Since guitar player, David Anderson, and Steve Taylor on stand-up base, were neither cowgirls nor redheads, both cowboys donned red wigs for the performance.

Once again, the early dinner-seating crowd was treated to Jinny Lowe on the honky-tonk piano followed with dinner music presented by a local popular western band, "Beargrass." The pre-show entertainment was "Awesome" Jim Aasen of Washington. Aasen is noted for his wonderful renditions of Marty Robbins and Jim Reeves songs.

The Saturday Night Show was hosted by Toe Tappin’ Tommy Tucker. The National Anthem, sung by 14 year old Shiloh Sharrard, Idaho, was followed with a welcome from Smoke Wade and Donna Earl. Each evening’s performance was opened with a poetry track of Lee Earl’s CD, Shot from the Hip."

The Eggleston Girls

The four young Eggleston Girls, Washington, opened the show with a set of Eli Barsi songs. The near-capacity crowd was treated to exceptional performances presented by poets A. K. Moss, Van Criddle, Howard Norskog and Sam DeLeeuw. Billy Rose and Doc Quam of Desert Breeze sang high-energy cowboy songs, while Shiloh Sharrard delighted the audience with classic country music. A special guest of the evening was local dance musician and rodeo announcer, Hal Olson.

A. K. Moss

The award-wining group, STAMPEDE!, performed as headliners for the evening. They have become a crowd favorite over the years in Lewiston. The group consisted of WMA President, Steve Taylor, his wife, yodeling champion, Terri Taylor, and genuine cowboy singer and songwriter, David Anderson. Terri is known as "The Epiglottis Goddess." STAMPEDE! was awarded the 2006 Crescendo Award from the Western Music Association.

David Anderson of STAMPEDE!

In the midst of all the high-talent performances of the evening’s show, one group stood out from the rest. The show stealers were the Reddington Family, Oregon, also known as the High Strung Band. The mother, Jennifer, played guitar, while the father, Shawn, played stand-up bass. But the energy of the group came from the children. With precision and perfection, the three youngsters managed to take the audience to the next level. Nine year-old, Morgan and eleven year-old, Hunter, played exceptional fiddle music, while fourteen year-old Landen on guitar was a flat picking wizard. After a standing ovation and a curtain call, the High Strung Band proceeded to the product sales table where they sold every CD they had brought with them. This group has earned the respect of many gathering organizers, and their name will soon be on the "must book" list for many major western entertainment events.

During the midpoint of the show, raffle prizes were given away including a cowboy poetry quilt made by Virginia Earl. In addition, many performers donated CDs and books that were raffled off including a copy of the 2006 The Bar-D Roundup donated by

At the end of the show, Smoke Wade and Donna Earl hosted the People’s Choice Award show. The 2006 winner’s were:

Poet-Smoke Wade
Musician-Shiloh Sharrard
Musical Group-The High Strung Band
Vendor-John Geis, sculptor
Teller of Tall Tales-
Van Criddle
Lil’ Cowpoke Musician-Kade Fisher
and Lil’ Cowpoke Poet – Meeka Woods

Following the evening show, Beargrass, STAMPEDE!, and Desert Breeze performed dance music. And once again, the cowboy performers danced and jammed until the wee hours of the morning.

The Christian Cowboy Balladeers with Howard Norskog as church leader hosted a Cowboy Church on Sunday morning. Following the church service, once again the cowboy poets and musicians bade each other farewell, promising to meet once again, somewhere along the cowboy poetry trail.

Bandy Earl works on a poem


Donations to the Lee Earl Scholarship Fund  fund may be sent to:
Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 88
Asotin, WA 99402 

Read some of Lee Earl's poetry here.



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