You won't want to miss this year's PREMIER PERFORMERS

An Evening with Kristyn Harris and Hailey Sandoz

Thursday, September 28, 2023
Shows at 6 PM and 8:30 PM
Tickets $45 reserved / $30 general.
Durango's VFW Hall, 1550 Main Avenue


Get ready for fun and sparks to fly! Kristyn and Hailey are unique individual performers, but they create musical magic when they hit the stage together with an impressive repertoire of Classic Western, Western Swing, original tunes and more. 

Kristyn Harris of Burleson, Texas, is a five-time IWMA Entertainer of the Year and the youngest person to have received this honor.  Her most recent album, A Place to Land, was awarded Outstanding Western Album by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for 2020. She is recognized for her powerful voice, swing rhythm guitar chops, songwriting, yodeling and energetic stage presence, as well as the passion and authenticity that she puts into each performance. Outside of music, her time is spent with her herd of black angus cattle, working her newest colt or trick riding. 

Hailey Sandoz of Plano, Texas, is a three-time IWMA Instrumentalist of the Year known for her exceptional fiddling, jazzy vocals and creative arranging skills. A recent graduate of Texas A&M University, Hailey is a highly sought after touring musician, and at age 18 was hired full-time with Grammy award winner Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band. Western Swing and Cowboy music is her favorite but she is also at home playing Celtic, Country, Bluegrass and everything in between. Aside from her musical endeavors, Hailey has a huge passion for horsemanship with a special interest in reining and reined cow horse.

2023 HeadLINER Performers

Cowboy Poetry and Music - Show I
Caitlyn Taussig       
Andy Nelson
RJ Vandygriff
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
Belinda Gail  
BJ Smith             
RW Hampton
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 Taussig   

Kremmling, 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 Gail

Magnolia, Texas

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 Nelson

Pinedale, 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 Smith

Alberta, 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.

R.J. Vandygriff

Lipscomb, Texas

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.

RW Hampton

Cimarron, 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.


Performers will be updated as we get closer to the 2023 GATHERING!