The 24th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is coming up at the beginning of next year in Elko, Nev., and two Fort Worthians will be there, representin’.
One is an obvious choice: Songwriter and musician – and Texas Poet Laureate – Red Steagall is an old-timey C&W dude who’s been at this music thing since the latter half of the last century. He also has blindingly white hair and a white beard and is rarely seen cowboy-hat-less. Uncle Red also has just put out a new album, Here We Go Again (Wildcatter Records), and its back-cover shot – of Red, surrounded by young people and holding court beneath an old theater marquee – is almost as awesome as the cover of his earlier album, Dear Mama, I’m a Cowboy, a photo of Red sitting at a desk and writing. Ah, sincerity.
Anyway, the other local selection is singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ginny Mac, who has neither white hair nor white beard, though she may occasionally sport a cowboy hat. Mac is a senior at Texas Christian University and also one of a handful of women in the predominantly male preserve of poetic cowboy-ing. Between now and Elko, Mac will be finishing her forthcoming album, Under Texas Skies, the follow-up to 2005’s Wishing River, the follow-up to her debut, Sweet Sentimental Dream, the 2004 Western Swing Album of the Year, as voted on by the Academy of Western Artists. Wishing River, like Texas Skies, will be produced by the legendary Tommy Allsup, who’s produced records for Hank Thompson and his Brazos Valley Boys, the Original Texas Playboys, and honey-sweet singer Leon Rausch, and has produced records with Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson (is there anyone on Earth Willie hasn’t worked with?), Tex Williams, Jody Nix, and others.
Still living in good ol’ Azle, Allsup also runs West Main Productions, a local record label-slash-studio. Allsup ain’t bad company for a Fort Worth lass who manages – during homework breaks – to play out steadily. She has standing gigs in Granbury and has been a nightly mainstay at Bella Italia West with her younger brother Glenn Mac, whose guitar-work on Ginny’s forthcoming record will mark his entrée into the wild wonderful world of cowboy poetry-singin’-playin’-storytellin’.
Mac will play a gig tomorrow (Thursday) at Bella Italia (5139 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-738-1700) before decamping for Lubbock, where she’ll spend the weekend as part of the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration, a sort of precursor to the big Nevada event in January. Visit GinnyMac.com. For more info on the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, “a weeklong celebration of life in the rural West,” according to the group, visit WesternFolklife.org. … Though SXSW doesn’t take place for another half a year, the music festival already has the hype machine in full swing. Fans, what do you need to know? You’ve probably already decided whether you’re going or not, no matter which marquee acts deign to make the scene. (Why doesn’t SXSW just call itself “Austin City Limits Festival but with Boring Workshops and Shit to Sell”? Seriously.)
Local bands, what do you need to know? My two cents: Save your press packets and hard work for some other gathering of 9 zillion bands where you can be equally overlooked and underappreciated.