Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival
I spent last week with friends in Elko, Nevada attending the Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival. This gathering started thirty-four years ago as a place where ranchers and cowboys could assemble to share poems and stories about their lives working cattle and running their ranches. In the last three decades, these men and women have continued to foster their relationships as well as their crafts of poetry, music, artisanship, and storytelling. Regardless of the vehicle they use to convey their message, their stories are about heartbreak, hard work, humor, and their appreciation of the American West.
Among the many performances, lectures, and activities that I attended, one performer stood out. His name is Mike Beck. Mike grew up learning how to cowboy and handle horses from some of the best in the business. Bill and Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, and Buck Brannaman to name a few. At the end of long days of working with cattle, instead of braiding rawhide like the other cowboys, Mike would pick up his guitar and play. He continued to hone his horsemanship skills and started offering his own clinics sharing what he had learned from the Dorrance brothers. The word about Beck’s clinics began to spread, and he was asked to go to Europe to conduct his clinics. For many years he has done 2-day clinics mostly in Scandinavia. He doesn’t consider himself to be the best clinician or horseman, but he continues to do a few workshops each year