Mike Beck is an engaging acoustic solo artist who regularly performs in the United States and Europe. He is a regularly featured performer at The National Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. Mike has seven albums under his belt with original songs that have been recognized as some of the finest compositions on Western Americana out there.
The Western Horseman magazine recently picked “The 13 Best Cowboy Songs,” and included two compositions by Mike, putting him along side other writers such as Ian Tyson, Tom Russell, Lucinda Williams, and Gene Autry.
David Wilkie, the founder of Cowboy Celtic, has been tracking down the roots of cowboy music all the way to the Celtic isles for more than a decade. As Wilkie has discovered, the cattle industry has been going on in Scotland and Ireland for hundreds of years, and cattlemen from Ireland and Scotland brought their culture and musical traditions with them when they moved to North America.
The music of Cowboy Celtic demonstrates that those traditions live on in the cowboy songs of today. This connection between cowboy and Celtic is neither forced nor vague. Rather, it is very natural and direct. The stories of love and loneliness, lawbreakers and lynchings, all reflect the very real world of both the old west and the rural Britons. The connection is in the stories and it is unmistakably in the music. Whether in the traditional songs or old tunes with new lyrics, or in Wilkie’s original material, when you hear it, you get that startling recognition that it has always been there.
Cowboy Celtic, centered in Turner Valley, Alberta, includes David Wilkie on mandolin and vocals, Denise Withnell on guitar and vocals, Keri Lynn Zwicker on harp and vocals, and Joseph Hertz on fiddle. Their second CD, “Cowboy Ceilidh,” won the Oklahoma City National Cowboy Hall of Fame Wrangler Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Music Album in 1999. They were the first Canadians to ever win this award.
“This is more than music. It’s theatre and imagery and history and storytelling and more, all wrapped up in sagebrush and tartan.”
Award-winning novelist and singer/songwriter Mike Blakely has published 18 books, released by major New York City publishers. Mike's most recent release is titled A Song To Die For, released November, 2014. Among his last few releases were co-writes: One with Willie Nelson (A Tale Out of Luck), and the other with Kenny Rogers, titled "What Are the Chances" (released Sept. 2013).
As a performing songwriter, Mike has released 12 CDs, performed all over the U.S., and made 16 tours to Europe. His songs have been recorded by Alan Jackson, Gary P. Nunn, Red Steagall, Flaco Jimenez and Raul Malo, john Arthur martinez, Randy Brown, Geronimo Trevino III and Johnny Rodriguez, Johnny Bush, Pauline Reese, Debbi Walton and others.
A native Texan, Mike served in the U.S. Air Force and later earned a bachelors degree in journalism 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 a two-time winner of Western Writers of America’s Spur Award – once for best western novel of the year, and once 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.
Texas-bred musical powerhouse, Kristyn is noted for her shimmering vocals, solid swing rhythm guitar style, unique songwriting, award winning yodel, and captivating stage presence. At 24 years, she is the youngest person in history to be awarded the International Western Music Association Entertainer of the Year, which she has received 3 years in a row (2016, 2017, 2018). She is also a 3-time recipient of the IWMA Female Performer of the Year (2014, 2015, 2018), and was named the Ameripolitan Music Awards Western Swing Female Artist of the Year (2017) and the Pro Cowboy Country Artist Association’s 2017 Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year. Her singing has been praised as “timeless” with “the warmth and power of Texas sunshine”. Most recently you might have seen Kristyn featured on ABC’s American Idol, where she performed a traditional western yodeling song for the judges and was granted a ticket to Hollywood.
Andy Hedges is a songster, reciter and storyteller. His varied repertoire includes classic cowboy poetry recitations, obscure cowboy songs, dust bowl ballads, and blues. Andy taught himself to play the guitar when he was 14 and began collecting classic cowboy poems and traditional cowboy songs. He has released nine albums including four joint projects with songwriter Andy Wilkinson.
He also hosts a podcast called Cowboy Crossroads which features interviews with poets, musicians, songwriters and historians. Andy lives in Lubbock, Texas, with his wife and children.
Pipp Gillette raises cattle on the family ranch near Lovelady, Texas, where his grandfather started in 1912. His Camp Street Cafe in Crockett is a live music venue featuring performers from around the world.
Pipp plays traditional cowboy music on guitar, banjo, harmonica, and bones. Pipp and his late brother, Guy Gillette, recorded eight albums of cowboy music and were recipients of the Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Best Traditional Album of 2010. They also received the 2012 Wrangler Award of Best Outstanding Original Western Composition for their performance of the song, “Trade off” penned by Waddie Mitchell.
Joel Nelson has been a cowboy since age six when he helped on a cattle drive to the railroad. For more than 30 years, Joel made his living working on cow outfits in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Hawaii, specializing in breaking colts. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Range Management, has built custom saddles, and served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. He is a founder of the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas, and a 2009 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship. Joel’s poem “Equus Caballus” was selected to be a part of the national Poetry Out Loud program for high school students. He and his wife Sylvia run Corriente cattle in the beautiful West Texas ranch country.
Raised on a ranch on the Mouse River near Towner, North Dakota, Rodney Nelson, the missus and their two children have lived on the Sims Creek ranch near Almont, North Dakota, since 1984. In addition to ranching, Rod works as a part-time brand inspector, horse trainer and aging rodeo performer. Audiences throughout America know Rod as a popular rural humorist, entertainer, banquet speaker, and columnist.
Rodney Nelson’s regular Up Sims Creek column appears bi-weekly in the “Country Living” section of Farm and Ranch Guide.
Brigid Reedy is a singer, songwriter & fiddle player from southwest Montana. She has been performing since the age of 2 and has traveled from coast to coast sharing her love of American music. An accomplished singer and fiddler, Brigid’s musical repertoire runs the full gamut of the American West, from the most traditional cowboy tunes to new and original songs. Brigid also recites and writes poetry that reflects her life and experience as a young woman growing up in the contemporary rural West and her beloved Montana.
Sourdough Slim rekindles the country blues, cowboy classics and popular jazz standards of pre-WWII America. Whether he is vamping the haunting refrain of a Jimmie Rodgers blue yodel or stomping out a hot novelty rave-up, everyone gets caught up in the fun this cut-up has on stage. A well traveled veteran of stages ranging from the National Cowboy Gathering in Elko to The Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, this modern day vaudevillian has captured a sound and moment in time that resonates well with audiences young and old alike. He plays a provocative array of period instruments including: accordion, guitar, baritone ukulele, and harmonica. Highly musical. Highly campy. Highly entertaining to all ages.