We’re sad to report that Dave Stamey is unable to be our Premier Performer, due to medical issues. We wish him a speedy recovery!
Instead, we’ve been able to arrange for a very unique show that rarely happens!
RJ Vandygriff & RW Hampton will be teaming up to bring you something really special!
You won't want to miss this amazing duo performance!
~ Two Premier Performances ~
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Shows at 6 PM and 8:30 PM
Tickets $45 reserved / $35 general.
Durango's VFW Hall, 1550 Main Avenue
An award winning singer/songwriter, playwright and actor who 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. Whether he’s performing as a solo artist or starring in the highly acclaimed musical “The Cowboy Ain’t Dead Yet!” RJ is one of those performers who creates a “moment” when he steps to the microphone.
Blessed with a wonderfully rich baritone voice that has made him one of the leading Western Entertainers in America today. After 22 years in the entertainment business, RW is still pure cowboy, singing about what he loves best. During his acting career, RW has worked in three Kenny Rogers films as well as a film with Kris Kristofferson. His music has earned him numerous honors from such organizations as the Academy of Western Artists and the International Western Music Association.
2023 HeadLINER Performers
Cowboy Poetry and Music - Show I
Host - BJ Smith
6:00 on September 29th @ Durango's VFW Hall (1550 Main Avenue)
8:00 on September 30th @ Durango's VFW Hall (1550 Main Avenue)
Cowboy Poetry and Music - Show II
Host - Andy Nelson
8:00 on September 29th @ Durango's VFW Hall (1550 Main Avenue)
6:00 on September 30th @ Durango's VFW Hall (1550 Main Avenue)
Caitlyn TaussigKremmling, Colorado
Caitlyn is a fourth-generation rancher who runs cow-calf pairs with her mother on their high-country cattle ranch. Her interests include travel, cattle care, learning to be a better roper and studying up on bridle horses in the Californio tradition. Caitlyn has been singing since childhood and has performed at ranch brandings, cowboy gatherings, private events, guest ranches, bars and ranch ropings. She draws inspiration for her songwriting from Colorado's rugged and beautiful landscapes, her experiences summering cattle at 9,000 feet, cowboying in rough high country and dark timber, working on the family ranch and feeding cattle in the harsh winter months and listening to her late father’s wild stories. An article about the Taussig family appeared in the February, 2016, issue of Western Horseman, and in January, 2019, Caitlyn and her mother Vicki were featured in the front page NY Times Sunday business section story "Female Ranchers are Reclaiming the American West." Caitlyn's debut album, The Things We Gave Up, was released in January, 2015.
Belinda was raised on ranches in Nevada’s Carson Valley and in the California Sierra Nevada foothills near Sequoia National Park. Her rich ranching heritage and love of the West runs deep in her music and evoke the character of the people, as well as the beauty, majesty and deep connection to the land that only those who have lived the ranch life can truly capture. Belinda is counted among the top female Western music performers of this era and was recently listed as one of the top 50 Country and Western entertainers of all time by American Cowboy magazine. A vibrant and natural entertainer with a dynamic and captivating voice, Belinda stirs the emotions and visions of the West in the heart of every audience she embraces.
Andy NelsonPinedale, Wyoming
As a second-generation farrier, Andy has the experience, talent and humor to bring authenticity and entertainment to an audience. Raised in Oakley, Idaho, Andy traveled the Great Basin of southern Idaho, northern Utah and northern Nevada with his father on farrier jobs from the time he was a child until he went off to college. While in college at Utah State University, he continued to shoe horses for the USU Horsemanship Program. Now Andy lives in Wyoming, where he and his wife Jaclyn raise horses and children. Andy and his farrier brother Jim co-host the "Clear Out West" (C.O.W.) weekly syndicated radio show, and the brothers are in demand as announcers at regional rodeos.
BJ SmithAlberta, Canada
Bj is an experienced horse trainer, riding coach, packer, mountain guide, clinician, survival expert and Canadian Ski Patrol instructor. He has taught wilderness topics at the university and college level and delivered hundreds of safety talks to school students. Following a full career in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police where he experienced years of service in the arctic, Bj supervised criminal investigations for the government of Alberta, instructed for the Lethbridge College and was president of the Lethbridge Therapeutic Riding Association. He routinely guides groups of wilderness travelers on horseback through the Rockies, often on week-long trips of a hundred miles or more. His skill and knowledge as a packer and horseman has been recognized by the Alberta Trail Riders Association and private equestrian clubs who have enjoyed his clinics. He consulted with Rafter Six Ranch Resort and the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, developed and instructs the Wilderness Wrangler outdoor course at Olds Agricultural College, was president of the Alberta Cowboy Poetry Association, recipient of the Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Award and National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo Silver Buckle. His professional and comical performances have been featured at cowboy gatherings and festivals across western Canada and the U.S. and on cruise liners. Bj is often featured on radio and television shows and is the author of three books and two CDs. www.BjSmith.ca
R.J. is as comfortable putting a colt under his first saddle as he is in the spotlight on a stage. He grew up in Roxton, riding horses and strumming an old guitar. As a young man he competed in high school, college, amateur and professional rodeo in the bareback and saddle bronc events and becoming a sought-after rodeo clown and bullfighter. He left the sport of rodeo and college to pursue a career in Country music. After regional success with his recordings of “Big Blue Diamond” and “Say Lady,” Nashville came calling. R.J. found himself touring two hundred days a year opening for the biggest names in Country music, folks like George Strait, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Alabama, The Judds and many more. After touring Europe, he bought a small ranch in northeast Texas where he raised horses and cattle, as well as producing team roping, cutting horse and team penning events and ranch rodeos. He completed his formal education at East Texas State University with a degree in History and Agriculture. R.J. has received numerous awards and been inducted into the CMA Texas Hall of Fame. He has appeared in movies, numerous commercials and in theater. He had an ongoing role in the series Walker, Texas Ranger and appeared in Branson for three years as Joe Texas in the one man musical comedy “The Cowboy Ain’t Dead Yet!” R.J. and his wife now live on a ranch in the Texas panhandle where his wife was raised. http://www.cowboyaintdeadyet.com/
RW HamptonCimarron, New Mexico
Growing up in a small Texas town, RW has drifted all across the American West, working cowboy jobs punching cattle, riding young colts, shoeing horses and even leading trail rides and guiding hunters in the high country. Never glamorous, ranch work instilled in him a positive approach to life. His favorite was singing around the campfire while out with the wagon, and his rich baritone voice brings an honest quality whether he’s performing live or on record. RW writes and sings about what he knows and lives. His music has earned numerous honors from such prestigious organizations as the Academy of Western Artists and Western Music Association, which inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 2011. rwhampton.com
2023 DAYTIME Performers
Floyd BeardKim, Colorado
Floyd lives near Kim in the canyons, out where you swear you may not be at the end of the earth but you can see it from there. He and his wife Valerie run Corriente cattle with their children. Floyd was the International Western Music Association Male Poet of theYear in both 2016 and 2017.
Marleen BussmaDammeron Valley, Utah
This award-winning poet acquired a love of horses from her father and grew up wanting to be just like Dale Evans and live in the Old West. Marleen is described as a "formidable story teller," drawing from her past growing up on a North Dakota farm, while putting together verses on the plight of women of the West from frontier days to modern farm and ranch times. She writes about the rancher as he works and worries, hoping to make it through another year. Her writing has earned numerous honors, including Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year awards, Will Rogers Medallion awards, the Georgie Sicking Award and the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for Best Western Poem. She is retired with her husband Vaughn.
Jimmy CantwellCanon City, Colorado
As far back as Jimmy can remember he wanted to be a cowboy. He was also hooked on the Grand Ole Opry, eventually realizing music and cowboying could go hand in hand. He has real experiences to put into his songs. Between horses, cattle and music, he’s been led on an adventure from Nashville bars to Fort Carson Color Guard Cavalry charges. The journey has helped him realize that what truly connects Western music, horsemanship and cowboying is the "feel" of the West – it comes from the heart and soul. Joy, heartache, arid beauty - it’s what he loves about the music and why he does his part keeping it alive for generations to come.
Jon ChandlerCommerce City, Colorado
A seventh-generation Coloradoan, Jon performs music and recites stories that reflect his heritage. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. "Linwood," his moody examination of Doc Holliday’s life, and "Morning Star Moon" won Spur awards in 2009 and 2012 respectively. His novels, The Spanish Peaks and Wyoming Wind: A Novel of Tom Horn have also received award recognition. True West magazine named Jon Best Western Musician for his songwriting and musicianship. He has eight CDs, two novels and numerous short stories and non-fiction articles. He hosts a monthly concert series “America’s Soul Live” at the Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor in Arvada.
Jeff is an educator with Kansas State University Research and Extension and his music and poetry focus on the historical aspects and history of the West. He entertains with lyrical lessons about the role the West played in shaping the U.S. economy, ideology and heroism. He uses both original and vintage songs to tell the story of western development and his poems reflect the lifestyle of those who live in the West. In addition to his K-State duties, Jeff is involved in the management of two cattle ranches, serves on several regional boards and finds time to spend with two young grandsons.
Mike DunnSan Tan Valley, Arizona
Mike is proud of his Arizona heritage going back to the 1800s. His personal experiences center along the east side of the Whetstone Mountains on his granddad’s ranch where the Rail “A” brand is still in the family today. It was there he learned what cowboy life was all about and his original poetry reflects these experiences, stories handed down and the realities of cowboy life. His book and CD are titled Somewhere Between Earth and Heaven. He has received the Gail I. Gardner Award as an Arizona Cowboy and Poet and a nomination as Cowboy Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists. His CD earned him a nomination for Cowboy Poet of the Year by the International Western Music Association.
Slim was born and raised in the mountains of western Colorado. He spent his childhood working the family ranch with his granddad and building roads with his dad. Slim understands the cowboy in all his "gritty glory" – from the lowest saddle tramp to the ranch owner – and his vivid descriptions and colorful antics bring the West to life. Slim and his wife Virginia have a daughter, six dogs, two horses and “a partridge in a pear tree.” He works as a paramedic and entertains with stories that range from rural directions to CPR on mangey old heifers. He’ll make you laugh 'til your innards hurt.
Rik "Yonder" GoodellWhitefish, Montana
Yonder hangs his hat in Montana where he pens cowboy poetry based on his own experiences – with a little imagination tossed in for fun. His background includes a small cow-calf operation, work on a horse ranch and many years as a deputy sheriff and an actor. Rick Huff in Western Way magazine described Yonder’s poetry as “... being accurate, authentic and exceptionally well crafted ... his experience as an actor serves him well. I have to say he is one of the best interpreters of verse I have ever encountered.” His poetry has won awards and exemplifies his deep-seated respect for “The Cowboy Way” which he promotes with passion, humor and integrity.
Kenny is a singer of Western ballads and songs who resides in the beautiful Bryce Canyon area of southwest Utah. Kenny is a popular entertainer and has a great arsenal of songs that cross many Western genres. His rich cowboy heritage connects with his songs and guitar renditions.
Fort Worth, Texas
Two Bit Pete aka David Hansford
Set your hats for a hilarious performer. This poet is committed to capturing the spirit of the Old West cowboy as it was in the late 1880s. It’s a repeat performance in Durango, and he has performed at Cowboy Campfire Tales at the Fort Worth Stock Show and various Red Steagall events. His comfortable style and dry humor make his cowboy poetry fun and entertaining.
Steve Jones, "Yampa Valley Steve"Steamboat Springs, Colorado
The Irish tenor is in his 25th year as a performer, 17 of which were spent with the Yampa Valley Boys. Steve's third CD album, The Lump of Coal
(Hope’s Diamond), is based on a true story that happened on the Gathering train ride a few years ago. It charted in the top 20 of Western CDs in all four quarters of 2022 per “The Western Way” reporting. He has two other CD recordings, That Irish Kid (2012) and Picasso (2017). Steve brings enthusiasm and energy to the stage with an audience-friendly show, including sing-alongs. He has appeared at the Arizona Folklore Preserve, Colorado, Cochise, Durango, Grand Encampment and Nebraska (Valentine) Cowboy Music Gatherings; the Steamboat Pro Rodeo series, county fairs and many other public and private events.
Jo Lynne Kirkwood
Jo Lynne’s poems reflect her intimate relationship with the land and people of the Arizona Strip country, as well as an often tongue-in-cheek appreciation for daily agricultural life in central Utah, where she and her husband Michael now live. Audiences will find themselves laughing, and sometimes crying, to tales of cowboy and country life, trials, tribulations and comedy. Jo Lynne shares yarns from yesterday, as well as real life experiences of ranching and farming life in rural Utah. Her poetry has received numerous awards and has been
published in magazines, anthologies and elsewhere.
Dennis KnillLamar, Colorado
Dennis is a fourth-generation Coloradoan, descended from homesteaders on both sides. He grew up training and showing horses for his grandparents. A Vietnam Navy veteran, he writes and sings from his life experiences, along with some classic Western and Gospel tunes that he likes to share with listeners. Colorado history is the theme of some of his songs, and others are in the style of Ian Tyson and Dave Stamey. Dennis said he discovered Cowboy music too late to make a career of it, but it lit a fire that still burns.
Tim has been a singer, songwriter and ranch cowboy since his youth. He started playing guitar at the age of 42 and sings all over the country at cowboy gatherings, western settings, churches and many more places. “I love to sing the old cowboy songs, Western Gospel and much more,” he said. “My mission is to lift up my Lord whenever and wherever I sing.” He is known for his extensive knowledge of the history of Western songs.
Kristen Lloyd, "Krazy Ani"Midway, Utah
Kristen is an engaging Western performer and speaker, as well as an award-winning singer/songwriter and author/illustrator who has been delighting audiences as “Krazy Ani the Train Robber” since 2010 with her gun twirling, trick roping, and whip cracking prowess. However, her greatest joy has been performing for elementary schools and helping kids “Find their Brave” through hands-on trick roping lessons and inspiring creative activities. You'll see Krazy Ani in our Cowboy Parade and at a special show on Saturday.
Ernie has been part of the Colorado music scene for over 40 years. His outstanding and versatile pickin’ has been used on over 150 albums as well as playing with Jon Chandler, Gary McMahan, Patty Clayton, Barry Ward, Dakota Blond and Reckless Abandon. Ernie has recorded two albums. His latest, Bluerange, combines his love of Western and Bluegrass music. In 2011, Ernie was inducted into the Colorado Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor.
Sam NobleDurango, Colorado
Sam grew up in Bayfield and has lived and ranched north of Durango all his adult life. He’s been involved with agriculture, rodeo and the cowboy world which has given him a background for his own brand of cowboy poetry and humorous stories. For 13 years, Sam and his wife Tanna followed their sons as they competed in rodeo events. Today, Sam and Tanna operate a little farm and ranching operation. Sam has written cowboy poetry for 30 years. Since 1991, he has recited inspirational poetry at the Bar D Chuckwagon chapel and he is an active participant in his church.
Miska has been a large animal veterinarian for 25 years. Her career and passion for livestock and the Western way of life inspires her poetry. Her kind, thoughtful bedside manner is reflected with whimsy and heart in her writings about her patients, their owners and how they touch her soul. Her debut poetry album, The Best Horses In Heaven, They Have No Tail, was awarded 2022 Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year by the International Western Music Association.
Kye RieffSarcoxie, Missouri
Kye lives with wife Kasey, daughter Lizzy and son Tryan in southwest Missouri. His poetry comes from years of experience on the ranch and in the rodeo arena. Rodeo competition has given way to a love of teaching. Knowledge gained from years of riding saddle broncs and fighting bulls is now passed on to the next generation as Kye speaks at rodeo schools and rodeo Bible camps. Kye and Kasey are also the founders of Top Hand Clinics, a ministry that uses horsemanship and ranch work to share the Gospel. When not on the road with a rodeo school, Top Hand Clinic, poetry contest or preaching, the Rieffs start colts, train horses and day work for local ranches.
Lindy was the winner of the poetry contest at the 2021 International Western Music Association conference. Her poetry is rooted in the true stories of cowboys of history and present day. A ranch wife for 50 years, Lindy also followed the family on the rodeo road for many years. She has done ranch work from bucking bales to feeding cows in the mud. She is fluent in Spanish and is a Southwest and Mexican history buff. Lindy’s “day job” was as a professor at Fort Lewis College in Durango over a span of 40 years, retiring to write poetry and history and dedicating much time to the local historical society. She has been cited as a “visionary” for her “Variety Show With a Twist” running 16 years at the Durango Gathering.
Odis is well known in the Four Corners region for his versatile musical talents. He has played with many groups and currently is keeping the boots scootin' with the Vanishing Breed Band. He is a "true blue" cowboy who recently even ran for sheriff. His home state is Texas. He served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Besides music, he runs cows and horses and is proud of kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. Odis was a performer at the very first Durango Cowboy Gathering in 1989!
Timberline CowboysDurango, Colorado
Michael Mullins and Geary Parsons are Timberline Cowboys. Michael taught himself to play guitar when he was eight and has been singing since he could talk. Originally an opera major, he worked his way through college playing restaurants, bars and clubs. After serving in the army for 12 years, he was an English professor in Texas for the next 23. Later, Mike settled with his wife Kaye on a modest spread outside of Durango. Geary got his first guitar when he traded a pocket watch for it at the age of eight in the mountains of North Carolina. He learned to play Bluegrass and then Country and Western music. After serving in the army, he met his wife Jan and moved to Durango. Geary served in law enforcement for 37 years in the Four Corners area. Both artists now serve on the Board of Directors of the Durango Cowboy Gathering and they have just released their second CD.
Garden Grove, California
Scott "T" Tonelson
Scott grew up in Bayside, New York, listening to Gene Autry, the Sons of the Pioneers and a plethora of other Country and Western singers. He was a founding member of several string bands including Crystal River, Pony Express Band and the Reptile Ramblers. He regularly performs throughout the United States and has performed in Canada, the Philippines and Australia. He has shared the stage with all the greats including Dave Stamey, Belinda Gail, Joni and Olivia Harms and Juni Fisher. He will release a new Western and Gospel CD this year.