Let the 3
take you down trails unimagined with their latest
release, Dark Desert Night.
may have heard stories like those in some of the
dusty tales or felt the emotions explored in other
pieces, but never quite in this way, with such
singular, innovative expression. It is something new
and different and compelling. The band, which
includes Greg Istock, Hal Cannon, and
Eli Wrankle, labels their sound American
Desert Music, “...a new genre which responds to the
natural world of our sacred homeland near Zion
National Park in Utah. We also strive to acknowledge
the cultural traditions of the generations who have
worked and lived on the deserts of the American
southwest...” That hallowed space finds room for
trail drives, murder, deceit, love, awe, the blues,
want to give a listen to this creative
collaboration. Their hypnotic music enchants; you
will listen over and over.
Find order information for Dark Desert Night
and more about 3hatrio at
Award-winning writer and poet
Deanna Dickinson McCall's
book of stories,
published by The Frontier Project Inc., is a rich
collection of compelling storytelling.
fourth-generation rancher, Deanna Dickinson McCall
raised her family without electricity or a telephone
on a remote Nevada ranch and is no stranger to rough
patches, herself. She draws on her experience,
family stories, history, and her expansive
imagination to create captivating stories that stay
with a reader long after the book is closed.
Settings range from pioneer days to today's West. In
introducing one of the contemporary stories, she
writes, "In today's world, women work at jobs
previously filled only by their male counterparts,
and are offered opportunities never dreamed of by
earlier generations. Yet, we are not immune to the
same downfalls and insecurities that plague men in
She continues on that theme, "...In many aspects the
West is still a frontier to women. The female role
differs in rural and agricultural society here,
often crossing previously unseen or blurred
lines...Women face their own unique adversities, no
more or less than men, just different. Regardless of
times or circumstances, the West breeds strong women
to face these unique issues..."
These close-to-the-bone stories ring with
authenticity. Strife and struggle are faced with
grit and determination. Sometimes it all comes to
disappointment, and sometimes characters prevail.
Always, the stories inspire further contemplation
for the reader.
Rough Patches, together with Deanna Dickinson
McCall's recent highly praised book of stories and
poems, Mustang Spring, displays a breadth of
talent and inventiveness.
Find some of Deanna
Dickinson McCall's poetry
here at CowboyPoetry.com.
is available for $23 from: Deanna Dickinson McCall,
PO BOX 376, Timberon, NM 88350-0376;
www.DeannaDickinsonMcCall.com, and from
The Frontier Project and
Summer of '58, a novel by
horsewoman, poet, and writer
Janice Gilbertson, tells
an engaging and unique story. It's 1958 and Angela's
now-divorced father takes her on the summer rodeo
circuit. The evocative, nearly cinematic period
atmosphere of honky tonks, cafes, motels, and arenas
is filled with captivating characters. Readers are
transported to another time, but all is not sweet
nostalgia; young Angela becomes involved in a
murder. The compelling plot makes for a satisfying
excerpts at Janice Gilbertson's web site,
janicegilbertsonwriter.com, where there are also
excerpts of another to-be-published novel, The
Canyon House; her writer's blog; and order
information for her novel, poetry books, and poetry
CD. Visit her
Find some of Janice
Gilbertson's poetry here at
Summer of '58 is available for $17.96
postpaid from: Janice Gilbertson, PO Box 350, King
City, CA 93930;
firstname.lastname@example.org. Credit card orders are
accepted by the publisher at
and the book is available at Amazon.com.
Shooting Arrows and Slinging Mud; Custer, the Press,
and the Little Bighorn by
James E. Mueller takes a deep look at the Battle
of the Little Bighorn through extensive research
into the newspapers of the day, from near and far.
He investigates the power of the press, its
accuracy, and its affect on the history of the
battle, and he contrasts how art and popular culture
have contributed to its perception. The readable
volume gives new context to the historic events and
offers some insight into how modern-day military
operations are covered. Illustrations and extensive
notes and a bibliography add to the weight of the
is available from
Oklahoma University Press and other booksellers.
Shooting Arrows and Slinging Mud; Custer, the Press,
and the Little Bighorn
Unspoken, by horsewoman,
poet, and writer A.K. Moss,
is a novel of Western life that will appeal to a
wide audience. The author's own working ranch and
horse training experience shines through in an
intriguing tale of hardship, sacrifice, and courage,
the story of a family faced with adversity but armed
with determination. At the heart of the novel is a
young complex character, Paige Cason, who learns—and
patience and healing. Readers will be glad to know
that Paige returns in a forthcoming sequel,
Find more about A. K. Moss here
at CowboyPoetry.com and more about her books at
www.akmossbooks.com and on
www.akmossbooks.com and booksellers.
Oklahoma University Press offers
a compelling, important account of cowboy life in
its publication of Jack Bailey's journal, A
Texas Cowboy's Journal: Up the trail to Kansas in
1868, edited by David Dary. From the
earliest known day-by-day journal of a cattle
drive from Texas to Kansas, Jack Bailey, a North
Texas farmer, describes what it was like to live
and work as a cowboy in the southern plains just
after the Civil War. We follow Bailey as the
drive moves northward into Kansas and then as
his party returns to Texas through eastern
Kansas, southwestern Missouri, northwestern
Arkansas, and Indian Territory.
In this slim book,
the edifying introductory material takes up nearly
as many pages as the diary. Editor David Dary's
preface tells of the acquisition of the precious
piece of history, and offers insightful commentary
about the life and times of the author, about whom
little is known.
What survives of Jack Bailey's diary gives colorful
and exciting views of his experiences on the trail.
Recounting one evening in 1868, he transports to
We had the
hardest time last night imaginable. I got up at
10 o'clock. Never got off my horse no more until
day light. As I predicted we had 2 of the worst
kind of Stampedes. The 1st time they made a
break about 9 oclock. Run about 1/2 hour. Got
them running around in a circle. Dont Sanders on
herd with hguard + they manages to stop them.
They rested then until about 2 hours before day,
then jewhilikens how they run. It was raining,
came a loud keen clap of thunder. They turned
all loose. It was so dark we couldent see them.
Sometimes we were right in middle of herd. You
bet they made the ground roar ...
Indians, Civil War soldiers, and more. He accounts
that one day, "Negroe soldiers camped near us. They
are resting. They are so fatigued. We are all
Near the end of his diary, he writes, "I have left
out some things that I wish I had put in but my
paper run short before I got to Kansas. I dont force
you to read this so if you dont like it, just lay it
down + don't critisize me for I make no pretintions
toward writeing or any thing of the kind. Hope it
will interest some people."
Bailey ends with some poetry. The book includes fitting illustrations and a
bibliography for further reading.
A Texas Cowboy's Journal is available here
here from Oklahoma University Press and from other booksellers.
lively collection of essays, a smattering of poetry, and
photographs illuminate the lives of today's rural women in Ankle High and
Knee Deep; Women Reflect on Western Rural Life, (Two Dot/Globe Pequot
Press) edited by Gail Jenner.
The accounts are
collected in categories, "Fortitude," "Horse Sense,"
"Community," "Self-Reliance," "Memory," "Resilience,
and "Lessons," where work, family, humor, pain,
love, loss, wisdom, and inspiration are a part of
writers contribute, including
Jane Ambrose Morton,
Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns,
Amy Hale Auker,
and others, more than 40 in all. Their stories draw
the reader in to a world of of struggles and
accomplishments, a world populated by so many
articulate and admirable women.
From the editor's
the general public has now adopted, words like
sustainability and renewable/recyclable, come to
us directly from the life of a farmer or
rancher. Working within a landscape that can
change with the seasons or alongside the forces
of nature that demand commitment and sacrifice
develops deep character; interestingly, the word
“character” comes from the Greek word meaning
“to chisel.” That describes perfectly what
living and working in an often harsh physical
environment does to the human soul.
Ankle High and
Knee Deep; Women Reflect on Western Rural Life
is available from booksellers everywhere.
A sumptuous collection of photographs and stories are offered
to fans of cowboy artist Charles M. Russell in Charles M. Russell,
Photographing the Legend, by Larry Len Peterson (University of Oklahoma
Press). The many images and the accompanying text immerse the reader in his life
From the book's description:
Almost as familiar as the
images of the American West he painted and
sculpted is the figure of Charles M. Russell
himself. Standing or mounted, in boots and
wide-brimmed hat, sash knotted at his waist,
gaze steady under a hank of unruly hair: he is
the one and only “Cowboy Artist.” What is not so
well known is the story that unfolds in the
myriad photographs of Russell, pictures that
document a remarkable life while also reflecting
the evolution of photography and the depiction
of the American West at the turn of the
twentieth century. This biography makes use of
hundreds of images of Russell, many never before
published, to explore the role of photography in
shaping the artist’s public image and the making
and selling of his art. More than that, the book
shows how the Cowboy Artist personified what he
The large-format hardcover (328
pages; 344 photograph) of Charles M. Russell,
Photographing the Legend, is available from
University of Oklahoma Press,
here, and other booksellers.
Managing to be exotic and grounded simultaneously, the
brims with satisfying musical surprises. Hal Cannon, Founding Director of the
Western Folklife Center, wrote many of the songs, some in collaboration with
band member and multi-instrumentalist Greg Istock. Istock adds occasional
Caribbean flavor and dazzling jazz influences. Hal Cannon contributes lead
vocals, banjo, and guitar. Eli Wrankle offers his violin and creative influence
from his seventeen-year-old perspective.
A "recording blog" by Hal Cannon at the
www.3hattrio.com site reports on a day
of recording, "This work has an aspect of prayer, beseeching the muses, locating
currents of emotion." Hear "Old Paint" as it never has been heard before and
eleven additional generous, inspired tracks.
From the album description: "The music on this album is entirely original with
the exception of 'Old Paint,' a widely known traditional cowboy song composed on
the trail drives after the Civil War by black cowboys. The 3hats' rendition is
unlike any other, inspired by the blues ballad tradition. Every song has its
story. Hal composed 'Wind' when he was sitting high on Hurricane Mesa singing in
harmony with an approaching storm. 'Flight' came in a dream while he camped on
the bank of a raging river near Wallowa Lake in Oregon, a few miles from where
Chief Joseph is buried. 'Tongues' was inspired by Hal's Crow Indian friend Henry
Real Bird, who has spent his life working to preserve his native language. Most
of the songs speak for themselves even if sometimes the words aren't in the
dictionary but emerge from the haunting instrument that is the human voice."
Find more at the band's web site, www.3hattrio.com, where there are "musical
morsels" and track samples for listening. A digital download ($9) and a CD ($15)
are available: http://3hattrio.bandcamp.com/releases.
In her new book, Tales of the Frio Canyon; Stories of the
Texas Hill Country, ranch-raised Texas
poet, chuckwagon cook, writer and regional historian Linda
Kirkpatrick spins fascinating stories and collects rare
photographs from the Texas Hill Country that she calls home. There are wild hog
hunter tales, Texas Ranger mysteries, profiles of early cowboys and ranchers,
outlaws, movie stars, ghost tales, and more. Some of her poetry and that of
others is included.
Author Mike Cox comments, "...Linda is a natural storyteller. She
offers some takes that have never before seen print, and adds new details to
others. The result is an excellent work of local history and folklore that is
both fun to read and a good source of information for future researchers."
The handsome book was produced by Jeri Dobrowski's
Lamesteer Publishing and Graphics.
Find more about Linda Kirkpatrick in our feature here.
Tales of the Frio Canyon is available for $20
postpaid from Linda Kirkpatrick, PO Box 128, Leakey, Texas, 78873, and from her
"Somewhere in the West" blog,
A line from "The Cowboy's Lament" gives a title to
Rod Miller's new novel, Cold as the Clay.
The story grabs the reader on the first page of the prologue and never lets go.
The suspenseful tale shines with authenticity in its sparkling prose and fully
The book is described, "Orphaned, homeless, and on the verge of manhood, Wilson
Hayes finds refuge in the employ of powerful rancher Jesse Longmore. Cowboy
skills, tenacity, and grit propel the young man's rise to a powerful position on
the Fishhook Ranch and membership in the family--but Longmore's belief that he
has become a threat results in his driving Hayes away and into the uncomfortable
company of an outlaw band and a rival rancher..."
Rod Miller characterizes the story as, "a re-telling of the biblical story of
King David set on an Old West ranch." Read more about that in an illuminating
on writer Tom Rizzo's blog for October 1, 2013.
Born and raised in Utah, Miller is the son of a working cowboy who spent his
youth working with cattle and horses. He competed as a bareback rider in high
school, college, and professional rodeos throughout the Intermountain West.
He has contributed a number of essays on the art and craft of poetry to
CowboyPoetry.com. He has given poetry workshops and lectures at numerous places
and judged many poetry competitions. He is a widely published poet whose work
has appeared in several anthologies and numerous periodicals. He is author of a
collection of poetry, Things a Cowboy Sees and Other Poems, and a
chapbook of poems, Newe Dreams. He also writes book reviews and magazines
articles for a variety of periodicals, has published short fiction in several
anthologies, and is author of four novels and three books of nonfiction.
Miller is membership chair for the Western Writers of America and a former board
Find more about Rod Miller in our feature here and visit
Cold as the Clay is available in paperback from
Amazon and Barnes & Noble
at $13.89 plus shipping. The novel is also available in a Kindle edition at
Award-winning writer and working ranch woman
Amy Hale Auker's new novel, Winter of
Beauty, eloquent and relevant, sweeps readers into the world of the
cowboys, their families, and others who populate the remote Tinaja ranch. The
story rings true to the bone. One cowboy is even invited to the National Cowboy
From the publisher's description:
Winter of Beauty tells
the story of the men and women raising beef and
families far off the highways in a seemingly
antiquated lifestyle while facing contemporary
problems. As Bride Mountain changes her clothes
with the seasons, the people down below seek
beauty and belonging, drink coffee and tequila,
work and play and live and love.
Top cowboy poet
Waddie Mitchell comments on the
Amy Hale Auker has found her own
voice with which she has created a refreshing
style of storytelling. It is obvious she has a
broad understanding of the politics and traditions
of a ranch. It is also obvious she loves the West.
She stays spot on with the cycles, moods and
language that have evolved within the ranching
community. Her characters have the recognizable
traits of folks from the same lifestyle and
heritage. I tasted the food and the pain and the
cold and the friendships. Winter of Beauty
will stand the test of time.
Find more about Amy Hale Auker and
her writing in our feature
here and visit
Winter of Beauty
is available in a special author's edition for $15 postpaid from
available in October, 2013, also from the publisher,
Over nearly two decades, artist and photographer
collected images and stories of 49 ranch women and working cowgirls. Those
impressive visual and written portraits are collected in
Tough by Nature:
Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West.
In a description of a current Tough by Nature exhibit at
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Lynda
Lanker is quoted from her preface to the book:
I didn't go out
there to prove that their lives were so
different from those of the women I knew or the
cowboys we thought we knew; I started to
discover that they were. There were at least
as many of the female cowhands and ranchers who
were doing the same work as the men but they had
mainly been portrayed as rodeo queens in tight
satin shirts with lots of sequins and fancy boots.
I wanted to go deeper and show the true women
instead of the stereotype. I hope people come away
from the exhibition feeling the ruggedness, the
beauty, and the cultural tradition of this life,
for this ranch life, long romanticized, is harsh
and makes one tough by nature. What these women
and their families are doing is admirable. They
have made an indelible imprint on the American
The book includes a foreword by
Larry McMurtry, an introduction by Sandra Day
O'Connor, and an afterword by Maya Angelou ("...I
was happy to meet these cowgirls, and I would by
happy to call them and Lynda Lanker sister friends,
because I am proud of their fortitude.")
The lives of these women
(including poet and "cowboy"
Georgie Sicking) are
vivid, varied, and deeply interesting. Though it
looks like a beautiful "coffee table" book, it is
far more than that, rich with history and the grit
of women who make and have made their own ways in a
challenging world. Lynda Lanker's own story of the
project is a testament to strength; she, too is
"tough by nature."
Find images from the book,
purchase information, and more at
Facebook, at the publisher's site,
Oregon State University Press,
Amazon, and other booksellers.
Oklahoma writer and poet
latest book is Tall Tales and Short Stories: A
Family Legacy. From the Amazon description:
...The lives of true cowboys are
colored into this account of four generations of a
family that lived, enjoyed and overcame the
hardships of working on the ranges of Texas, New
Mexico and Oklahoma. It is compiled for the
appreciation of all who have been cowboys or have
ancestors whose lives were enriched by cowboy
life. This book opens the corral gate beckoning to
the young ones who feel the calling to live in an
honorable, hard-working and determined commitment
to life that few find nowadays. Enjoy the
hardscrabble humor, sweat and endurance of those
who have preceded us in this great adventure of
the American West.
Find some of Chimp Robertson's poetry
and more about him
Find order information for
Tall Tales and Short Stories: A Family Legacy
and performer Mark Lee
Gardner's latest recording, Outlaws:
Songs of Robbers, Rustlers, and Rogues is
described as "A saddlebag of famous and lesser-known
outlaw ballads from America's past, performed by
noted Old West historian and author Mark Lee
Gardner. Five bonus tracks include several of Mark's
original clawhammer banjo tunes."
He comments on the CD, in part:
I first visited Jesse James's
St. Joseph, Missouri, home when I was a small boy.
Advertisements for the popular attraction tempted
tourists with the tantalizing slogan, "See the
Bullet Hole." I saw the hole, but I know now that
it was not made by the shot that killed Jesse—that
the bullet never left his head. Nevertheless, I've
been chasing outlaws and bullet holes ever since.
Most of the songs in this
collection reflect not only how we romanticize
outlaws, but what a significant place they hold
continue to hold
the American consciousness. The truth, of course,
is seldom as much fun as the myth. Most outlaws
were stone-cold killers, and none stole from the
rich to give to the poor...
There are songs about John Hardy,
Sam Bass, Jesse James, female outlaws, Mark Twain,
and others. Several songs are about Billy the Kid
(including a Bob Dylan cover) and he has put
Phil LeNoir's poem, "The
Finger of Billy the Kid," to music.
His frequent performing partner Rex Rideout is
heard on the CD, as are Skip Gorman and Vance
Mark Lee Gardner is known for his music performances
of historic playing styles on vintage instruments.
Mark Lee Gardner is the author of
To Hell on a Fast Horse: The Untold Story of
Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett and the
forthcoming Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the
Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape.
He also edited
Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys,
which is accompanied by a CD recording
performed by Mark L. Gardner and Rex Rideout. See our feature on the
Mark Lee Gardner recites Jack
Thorp's "What's Become
of the Punchers" on the first volume of
The BAR-D Roundup.
Find Outlaws: Songs of
Robbers, Rustlers, and Rogues, at
Baby and find more about Mark Lee Gardner and
his work at