2018 Lineup


Amy Hale Auker


Prescott, Arizona

Amy Hale Auker is the author of Rightful Place, Winter of Beauty, and The Story is the Thing. Her new book, Ordinary Skin, was released in May 2017 by Texas Tech University Press. Amy cowboys for the Spider Ranch in Yavapai County, Arizona, and performs poetry and speaks to groups all over the country. She presents her original work and also enjoys reciting the poems of other women who have “been there and done that,” who speak with a strong voice of authenticity and a deep connection to the land. Amy endeavors to produce something of value from a place where the bats fly, the lizards do push-ups on the rocks, the bears leave barefoot prints in the dirt, the hummingbirds do rain dances in August, spiders weave for their food, and poetry is in the chrysalis and the cocoon.


Martha Craig - Craig Ranches




Cowboy Celtic

Victoria, BC, Canada

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.”

Sponsored by

Frost Bank


Mike Blakely

Fredericksburg, Texas

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.




Dom Flemons

Washington, D.C.

“Dom Flemons is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area. He is known as “The American Songster” since his repertoire of music covers nearly 100 years of American folklore, ballads, and tunes. Flemons is a music scholar, historian, record collector and a multi-instrumentalist. He is considered an expert player on the Banjo, Fife, Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Quills, and Rhythm Bones. He has performed with leading musicians, such as, Mike Seeger, Joe Thompson, Martin Simpson, Boo Hanks, Taj Mahal, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Guy Davis. He has been a professional touring musician for the past ten years and has traveled around the nation and the world presenting traditional folk and roots music to diverse audiences. Flemons has performed as a soloist at prestigious venues, such as, Carnegie Hall, Cecil Sharp House, the Grand Ole Opry, the Opening Ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Newport Folk Festival and represented the United States at the 2017 Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Malaysia.

In 2005, Flemons co-founded the Carolina Chocolate Drops who have won a GRAMMY for Best Traditional Folk in 2010. He left the group to pursue his solo career in 2014. In 2016 the Carolina Chocolate Drops were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and are featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.”

Pipp Gillette

Crockett, Texas

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 newest CD Singing Songs by Waddie and Pipp received the
Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Album of 2016.





Andy Hedges

Lubbock, Texas

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.




Waddie Mitchell

Elko, Nevada

Waddie Mitchell was immersed in the cowboy way of entertaining as a boy on the Nevada ranches where his father worked. The art of spinning tales in rhyme and meter about a rich lifestyle of pushing cows and living off the land came to be called cowboy poetry. Waddie recites the older classics as well as his own, eloquently expressing moments grand and common, humorous and tragic. In 1985, Waddie helped organize Elko’s first Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Since then, he has kept busy writing, publishing and recording. Waddie was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 2011, and was honored in 2012 with the Nevada Heritage Award from the Nevada Arts Council. In 2017, he released Cohorts & Collaborators, an album featuring nine top Western artists who have co-written songs with Waddie.





Joel Nelson

Alpine, Texas

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.





Randy Rieman

Choteau, Montana

Randy Rieman has had a love affair with the spoken word for over 40 years. For 33 consecutive years, he has shared his passion for poetry with audiences at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, where he is considered one of the foremost reciters of both classic cowboy poetry and traditional Australian bush poetry. He has also been known, on occasion, to pick up his guitar and share a song from his life with horses and stockmen. Randy is currently headquartered on a ranch at the base of the Big Belt Mountains, near Cascade, Montana. He spends a fair bit of time conducting horsemanship, ranch roping and cattle-handling clinics around the United States and Europe. When the snow flies, you'll likely find him inside braiding fine rawhide reatas and hondos. Randy has released two CDs as well as the DVD Four Strands Of Rawhide featuring legendary horseman and braider Bill Dorrance.






Trinity Seely

Cascade, Montana

Trinity Seely’s life has taken her to many wonderful places that she has called home. From British Columbia Canada, to the Ojai Valley in California, to the Wasatch Front of Utah, granite peaks of the Handcart Ranch in Wyoming to the rolling hills of Nebraska where she currently resides and works with her husband and 4 children on the Rex Ranch. Ranching and agriculture have always been a part of Trinity’s life and it has embedded in her a love for all things cowboy.

Trinity writes and sings from a very personal perspective as a ranch wife, mother and cowgirl.