Cowboys, cowgirls to bring the Old West alive

30th annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering to be held Jan. 18-20


With its roots in the Wild West, Golden still today holds on to some of that traditional cowboy culture.

“Golden has always kept that frontier ethic,” said Jon Chandler, a cowboy singer/songwriter of Commerce City who is a seventh-generation Coloradoan. “It is a Western town.”

Fittingly, Golden will again host nearly 20 cowboy-and-cowgirl musicians and poets/storytellers who will be traveling from across the country to perform at this year’s Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The 30th annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place Jan. 18-20 at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, with a Meet & Greet Reception and Sampler Showcase on Jan. 17.

There are a lot of gatherings that take place around the country, but Golden’s is one of the best, said Yvonne Hollenbeck of South Dakota who has been performing for 30 years.

Performances at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering are “a unique type of entertainment you can’t find at most places,” Hollenbeck said. And “there’s a wonderful slate of entertainers this year.”

Hollenbeck will perform some of her original work about her life as a rancher’s wife, but a highlight of this year’s gathering is Hollenbeck’s quilt show. She will be bringing about 40 quilts to Golden — five generations of family quilts spanning 150 years, all made by her and her husband’s family on the plains of Colorado and Nebraska.

With her oldest one dating back to 1875 and the newest one made within the past year, there’s a lot of history with each quilt, but it’s “very entertaining,” Hollenbeck said. Through the quilts, one can see changes of the times and the economy, she added.

“Many of them were made when times were hard,” Hollenbeck said. “Those women (who made the quilts) had so little, but they were very artistic and creative with what they had.”

The music, poetry and stories that one will experience at the gathering has roots in the West, rural living, ranch life and the olden days, said Kristyn Harris, a musician known for her yodeling who will be travelling from her Texas town to perform at this year’s Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

“I love sharing the music with other people,” she said, adding it’s a truly unique experience. “The audience could be falling out of their chairs laughing, and then brought to tears, all within the same hour.”

Harris will be performing some original songs and some classics, she said. And the audience can expect some new songs this year, Harris added, as she was unable to attend last year’s gathering in Colorado because she was competing on American Idol.

Because he is local, Chandler is a staple of the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, having performed at the annual event at least 15 years. Chandler also performs a monthly concert series called America’s Soul Live at the Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor in Arvada.

At this year’s gathering, the crowd can expect his performances to consist of original songs inspired by the Colorado lifestyle. For his Sunday matinee performance, Chandler will be joined by his sidekick Ernie Martinez of Lakewood, who Chandler referred to as “one of the best pickers around.” Chandler noted that Martinez was named 2018’s Instrumentalist of the Year by the International Western Music Association.

“Golden is a beautiful town and it’s really attractive to the artists,” Chandler said. “I’m proud to represent my state alongside this group of fantastic artists who come from across the country.”


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