2020 Cowboy Poetry Line Up
Lavern "Straw" Berry - Cordell, OK
“Straw” Berry lives in Cordell, Oklahoma in the west-central part of the state. He grew up on a ranch raising sheep and cattle (and believe it or not, turkeys), and was part of the third generation of Berry’s to work on the ranch. He and his father work a small cow/calf and wheat operation in Washita County, Oklahoma, and he starts a few colts. He has been doing cowboy poetry since about 2000, and has been an invited performer at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Tex
Mike Blakely - Fredericksburg, TX
A native Texan, Mike served in the U.S. Air Force in Albuquerque, N.M., and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He released his first novel 1988 and his first CD in 1995. One of his co-written tunes landed on a Grammy Award-winning album by Flaco Jimenez in 1995. Another was played on the orbiting International Space Station in 2007.
Mike is now a three-time winner of Western Writers of America’s Spur Award – once for best western novel of the year, and twice for best western song of the year. Mike spent many years touring with his dancehall band, but now plays more shows as a solo artist, or in a duo or trio configuration at listening rooms, house concerts, festivals, and private parties. His career as a novelist leads to many non-traditional concerts at book stores, libraries, writers conferences, and book clubs.
Mike lives in Fredericksburg, TX, with his wife, Annie, and their many animals.
Teresa Burleson - Weatherford, TX
Teresa Burleson is an award winning poet whose poems are inspired by her personal experiences, her heritage and the Western way of life. She has an appreciation for the agricultural industries and the people who make their lives in it. Her passion for her Western Heritage is also how she makes her living. Her position as Director of the Stockyards Museum, in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, allows her the opportunity to promote and perpetuate the local history and that of the historic cattle drives that passed through Fort Worth.
She is honored to be voted the Western Music Association, 2017 Female Poet of the Year and her CD, The Calf Book, was named 2017 Poetry CD of the Year. She has been in the Top 5 Nominees for Female Poet of the Year with the Western Music Association (WMA) in 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. In 2010 she was awarded the Cowgirl Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists.
Allan & Rodeo Kate Chapman - Decatur, TX
A three time Grammy nominee, winner of the American Song Festival, a Clio winner, nominated for Song Of The Year by the Academy of Western Artists and The Western Music Association – with songwriting credits going back thirty plus years for performers like The Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, George Jones, Sandy Posey and numerous international recording artists – Allan Chapman has been writing and producing music most of his adult life. A former College English literature teacher, Allan gave that up “to run away and join the music circus” writing songs in Nashville, New York City and Los Angeles.
In the late 1980’s Allan returned to Texas to help run the family ranching operation and stayed. The subject matter for the western songs he writes now ranges from the day to day experience of today’s rural ranchers to the history of the Great American West. His CDs have been critically acclaimed both in the United States and in Europe. His CD Sixth Generation (tales of the west) was nominated for Western Album of the year – 2009 by the Western Music Association. His song Boxcars Of Juarez is a top-20 play winner on the Americana Radio Network.
Allan is married to the fiddle instrumentalist extraordinaire – Rodeo Kate.
devon dawson - forth worth, tx
Pipp Gillette - Crockett, TX
Pipp Gillette lives and works on the family ranch near Lovelady, Texas, where his grandfather started raising cattle and cotton in 1912. Pipp and his late brother Guy received the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Album of 2011 and the 2013 Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Original Western Composition for their performance of the Waddie Mitchell song “Trade Off.” Drawing on a lifelong interest in Western history and music, Pipp plays traditional cowboy music on guitar, banjo, harmonica and bones. Pipp’s first solo CD, Singing Songs by Waddie and Pipp received the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Album of 2016. His newest CD, Pipp Gillette with Lloyd Wright was released fall 2018.
Gary Robertson - Byars, OK
Gary is the 2016 recipient of the Academy of Western Artists Buck Ramsey Award for Cowboy Poet of the Year. He has also published his first book of original Cowboy Poetry, “A Treasure Trove of Memories.”
Gary has been writing for as long as he can remember. He started publishing and performing his poetry in the early ‘90s. Prior to that, he told his poems around tailgates, in branding pens, in tack rooms, cafes and bars to anyone that couldn’t out run him. In addition to his new book, Gary has three CDs of his work, and he has been published in several national publications (including “Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion“) and he has been an Honored Guest at CowboyPoetry.com.
Jay Snider - Cyril, OK
Jay Snider was born into a ranching and rodeo family in southwest Oklahoma. Today, he makes his home in Cyril with his wife, Sandi. His dad was a top roper and rodeo cowboy; his granddad was a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Jay rodeoed during his early years. He now stays busy raising cattle and ranch horses and team roping.
Explaining the reason behind his pursuit of Cowboy Poetry, he says: “I’ve been researching the cowboy way for life for nearly 60 years. I felt a need to preserve some of the stories I heard from the old timers, and I wanted to try to relive some of my own experiences. Fortunately, cowboy poetry seems to appeal to most people. I thank God for the greatest super-hero of all times: the American Cowboy.”
He has appeared at many of the major cowboy gatherings across the US and has made four appearances at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Elko, Nevada. He also appeared on Country Music Television’s Christmas in Cowboy Country, hosted by Clint Black. Jay was named in the 2005 Best of the Best at National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, Kanab, Utah and as the 2008 Academy of Western Artists’ Top Male Poet
Doug Tolleson - Sonora, TX
Doug was born in Fort Worth Texas and learned to play guitar from his Father and uncles, sitting on porches and tail-gates. He says he started writing songs as a kid because “it was easier than trying to learn everybody else’s…” He grew up in and around construction and agriculture, and started in the cow business at 12 when his Grandfather gave him two bred heifers. He partnered with his Dad and Grandfather and later paid for his first year of college on money earned from the herd that grew from those heifers. A lifelong interest in animals and rangeland has led to him a career in the research and education side of ranching. A graduate of Texas A&M, he has worked on several commercial and research ranches around Texas and Arizona. He and his wife Lana currently live on the Texas A&M experiment station ranch between Rocksprings and Sonora. Doug has played music all around the Southwest including the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Arizona Strip Range Livestock Workshop, Museum of Northern Arizona, the Panhandle Plains Museum, the Uvalde Grand Opera House, and the Big Texan Steak Ranch.
R.J. Vandygriff - Lipscomb, TX
R.J. Vandygriff (his friends call him “R.J.”) is an award winning singer/songwriter, playwright and actor not to mention a pretty darn good cowboy. He’s at home on stage, in front of a camera or horseback in the big pasture. R.J. grew up ridin’ horses and strumming an ol’ guitar, competed in Saddlebronc and Bareback as well as working as a rodeo clown and bullfighter.
Whether he’s performing as a solo artist or starring in the highly acclaimed musical “The Cowboy Ain’t Dead Yet!” R.J. has the God given talent to walk on a stage in front of any audience and connect with them. He is one of those performers who “creates” a moment when he steps to the microphone, a moment remembered by all. He has appeared on stage with George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alabama, The Judds, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Moe Bandy. Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Andy Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Sons of the Pioneers, Red Steagall, Michael Martin Murphy, and Baxter Black just to name a few. Some performers sing the songs, but R.J. has lived them. He lives his life by the cowboy code on and off the stage. He earned his spurs and has the scars to prove it.