Overseas Tour 2013

First stop Tombstone, Arizona  and, wait for it – re-enactment of the Gunfight at O.K. Corral!  Then that night, to cap it off, I get to perform in Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. What a place. Straight out of Gunsmoke. Also a chance to meet all the other singers, musicians and poets for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Back slapping, hugging welcomes.  Next day it’s into the schools – always a great addition to the Gatherings.  Then an Artists’ luncheon followed by a reception at the Windemere Hotel in Sierra Vista before the main concert.

The organisation for these festivals is just amazing.  Contracts, theme choices, set lists, stage set ups, theatre tech. requirements, performer requirements, time grids, travel & transportation details (arrival arrangements, intra gathering transport),  lodging (all entertainers are accommodated at the one hotel or conference centre), merchandising  -  full details of quantity and pricing of artist’s sales and percentages, p.r. Information and obligations, additional ticketing requirements and even..... jam session/party times.
But it’s worth it.  The end result is awesome.  Green room loaded with food and drink; stage straight out of a movie set, technical equipment first class, a television monitor backstage and a stage manager who juggles everything with precision – even measuring you beforehand to ensure the microphone  is at the right height. You really feel part of a very professional but very relaxed and friendly team.

Main concerts are in the evening while throughout the day are ‘themed’ concerts staged concurrently in a variety of locations. For example, four entertainers (perhaps a singer, a musician or group and two poets) will do a round robin (all on stage together, one will be compering as well) for fifty minutes, entitled (e.g.) “Critters”  That requires me to have at least four Cowboy poems on that one subject.  And there are probably four themed concerts  as well as main (half hour) sets for each Gathering.  All rural (Bush or Cowboy), no smut and no repeating.

All in all, it means for one Gathering lasting five days, I need a repertoire of about  twenty to twenty five poems, all in their specific rural type genre. Whew!

Each night, when the show closes, all the entertainers get together for a jam session – poets equally in the circle with musos and singers.  And what fun it is! Some of the Gatherings are in areas where there just isn’t a hotel that fits the bill and we are billeted.  In Sierra Vista, three or four of us stayed on a magnificent ranch down near the Mexican border. 

Barry Ward and I performed at a subsequent concert in the town and then on to a house concert in Sun City, Arizona. I spent a couple of days there (a coyote prowled into the backyard one night) before going on to stay in Scottsdale. My hosts there took me to the Saguaro Forest – the giant cactus you see in all the Westerns.

From Kenab, Utah, (where I did a school and also went to the fabulous Bryce Canyon), the next stop was ‘Dixie College’, St. George University. The English Professor had seen a concert of mine the previous year and asked would I do a writing workshop at the University. This had been arranged some time back and in the meantime a magnificent Performing Arts concert hall was added to the campus and it was decided that I would do a concert as well.  Folklorist, musician and legendary founder of the National Cowboy Gathering (Nevada), Hal Cannon heard about it and offered to perform as well.  What an honour and what a wonderful thing to be part of.   Both my workshop and the concert were widely advertised and well supported and received.

I went back with Hal and his wife Theresa Jordan to stay at their place in the Zion National Forest. Theresa is a brilliant writer and artist and now a dear friend.  They put on a house concert in her studio in Virgin, Arizona and I met the local ranchers in a good, old fashioned get-together. One of the locals  invited me to go riding in the high mesa country. Who cares if I’ve retired from world of horses? This was too good to refuse.   So I didn’t.

Flew North to Seattle, Spokane, then Oakesdale, Washington and the farm of Milton Taylor’s best mate, Dick Warwick. We had a great time and did concerts in Idaho and Washington.
Now for the big adventure. To Calgary and then Kamloops, Canada, home of their biggest Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Workshops again as a lead up to the big concert which opened with... the Can Can.  Fabulous!     A similar format to the other places but with an expansive trade and art display as well.  Beautiful things.

Big shows and camaraderie beyond belief.  V.I.P. treatment in a superb hotel and conference centre. And the food (especially the salmon), magnificent.

The best part?  Arizona have booked me as a headliner for 2014 and Canada have for 2015!     (Should I live that long.)

Read about Carol's other overseas tours




overseas tour collage