Roundin’ Up the Music

 


National Festival of the West, March 15-18

 

The 17th annual festival has moved around, and this year it’s at a recreated western town near Phoenix, AZ. With five stages, music (artists being booked at press time), cowboy poetry, chuck wagons, a western film fest, mountain man rendezvous, square dancing, Buffalo Soldiers, and more, it’s very affordable, at $12/day. Info at http://www.festivalofthewest.com/.


Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, April 25-29

This local festival has become one of the nation’s best annual western events. It delivers many of the stars of western and cowboy music, performing everything from traditional 19th century cowboy folk music to Bob Wills-flavored prairie swing and wonderful new songs. You’ll hear AWA and WMA award winners for top vocalists, best artists, best original songs and best groups among today’s top western singer-songwriters and bands, along with national award-winning cowboy and cowgirl poets.

This year's festival at Gene Autry's old Melody Ranch brings a herd of headliners including Don Edwards, Sons of the San Joaquin, Wiley & the Wild West, the String Devils, Sourdough Slim, Jon Chandler & the Wichitones, Dave Stamey, Cowboy Celtic, Doris Daily, Ginny Mac, Juni Fisher, Andy Nelson, and more. Complete details, artist bios and advance tickets (recommended) at http://www.cowboyfestival.org/.

Also, check the various music calendars for a stampede of gigs to other local venues by some of these artists while they're in town, like Juni Fisher performing April 30 at Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena.


Country Fest & Stagecoach Festival, May 5 & 6

This is a brand-new mega-event, in the Southern desert town of Indio. It promises an extensive and diverse lineup on separately-themed stages, including western and bluegrass stars, and assorted country performers from classic country to modern Nashville red-state-rock pop-country. The authentic western acts include Riders In The Sky, Red Steagall, Cowboy Celtic, Don Edwards, Sons of the San Joaquin, and Waddie Mitchell. (No website established at press time.)


Conejo Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, May 18 & 19

The 9th annual event centers on two evenings in a spacious community theater in Thousand Oaks. This year brings musicians Belinda Gail & Curly Musgrave, Sourdough Slim, Nancy Lee and Michael Tcherkassy and poets Gary Robertson and Pat Richardson. Info at www.conejoplayers.org and advance tickets (recommended) at 805-495-3715.


Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival, May 20

Western music always has a presence here, this year, with Fur Dixon & Steve Werner, and Daniel Slosberg doing songs from the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Info: http://www.topangabanjofiddle.org/


Summer Events

In July, Riders In The Sky will play the Hollywood Bowl, Texan Red Steagall will headline Fourth of July festivities in the Eastern Sierra town of Bridgeport, and Sons of the San Joaquin will play a big ranch jubilee in Murietta. August 4 through 9 brings an L.A. celebration of the late Gene Autry's 100th birthday. Details unannounced at press time.


Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival & Western Art & Gear Show, December

This one is unusual because it's all indoors, but it's first-rate. 2007 marks its ninth year. Info: 800-722-9652, http://www.montereycowboy.com/.


Every Month: Ongoing Western Music Events

The Riders of the Purple Sage with mandolin master Evan Marshall opening, are booked most first Mondays all this year at the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena. Info at http://www.coffeegallery.com/.

The Southern California Western Music Association (WMA) Chapter Jam is held the third Sunday of each month, 1-3 pm, and all pickers are invited, at the Museum of the American West (Autry Museum), 4700 Western Heritage Way, in Griffith Park; 323-667-2000, x317. It's a good idea to call ahead, because the wrong person at the museum desk will demand a museum entry fee, though the event is always in the lobby and otherwise free; hopefully, that will be resolved by the time you read this.

There's also the every-third-Wednesday Cowboy Western Jam, 7:30-9:30 pm at Vincenzo's Pizza, 14504 W. Lyons Ave. in Newhall (Santa Clarita), just off I-5; 661-259-6733.


Western Music Resources

You can subscribe, free, to an extensive monthly e-mail calendar compiled by Voleta & Jack Hummel of Western Skies Publicists & Photography. E-mail them at westmusc@ix.netcom.com . You'll get up to two years' notice of some events.

The key organizations you can join are the Western Music Association, at http://www.westernmusic.org/, and the Academy of Western Artists, at http://www.awa-awards.org/ .

Other key sites for information are

Of course, the Tied to the Tracks weekly Acoustic Americana Music Calendar always includes updated western and cowboy music and poetry events, at www.myspace.com/laacoustic.