Hungarians and the Blues at the Gathering




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Hungarians and the Blues
at the 27th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Elko, Nevada—What do Hungarians and the Blues have in common with the cowboy poetry and music of the American West? Find out at the 27th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the nation's largest and oldest annual assembly of cowboy poets, musicians and devotees of the American West, January 24-29, 2011, in Elko, Nevada.

As part of its ongoing effort to build understanding among herding cultures worldwide, the Gathering will welcome horsemen, musicians and craftsmen from the Hungarian puszta, the largest contiguous grasslands in Europe, home to the legendary Hungarian horsemen, csikos, who have tended and defended their herds of grey longhorn Hungarian cattle since the Magyars first crossed into the area from the Carpathians a thousand years ago. Renowned for their horsemanship and animal husbandry, they have much in common with the American cowboy.

"We will explore common ground and new ground between these two herding cultures," explains Charlie Seemann, Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. "Through panel discussions, performances of pastoral music and poetry, workshops and an exhibition about Hungarian csikos, we hope to build a bridge between two cultures that may seem very different on the surface, but that share profound similarities."

The 27th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will also investigate the connections between cowboy music and blues music. Blues and other African American cultural traditions have been a major influence and a big part of the evolution of western music. Among the Blues programs at the Gathering will be a dinner theater production with folk legend Ramblin' Jack Elliott who will share music from his album, A Stranger Here, which won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Recording. He will be joined by revered blues musicians featured on the album. Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie will be back for a second year with their foot-stomping zydeco music from deep in southwest Louisiana's bayou country. Zydeco is a synthesis of traditional Creole, Cajun and African-American musical traditions including R& B, blues, jazz and gospel. Geno's CD Le Cowboy Creole was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008. Sourdough Slim and Robert Armstrong specialize in original and roots blues and old-time music reminiscent of the 1920s and 1930s, including Jimmie Rodgers songs. Cowboy Blues poetry sessions with poets Paul Zarzyski, DW Groethe, Sandy Seaton Sallee and others will round out the Blues programs at the Gathering.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is the nation's largest annual celebration of cowboy culture. For six days the community of Elko, Nevada, will welcome thousands of cowboys and cowgirls, poets and musicians, artisans and scholars, rural and city people — all of whom share a love of the American West and the artistic traditions of ranching and cowboy culture. In addition to being entertained by non-stop poetry and music, they will participate in hands-on workshops, roundtable discussions, dances, parties and more. Over 60 poets and musicians from the U.S., Canada, Australia and Hungary will perform on eight stages at five different venues throughout Elko. Additional highlights include the youthful Marshall Ford Swing Band, featuring Emily Gimble (granddaughter of Texas fiddle legend Johnny Gimble), songwriting legend Ian Tyson, the fiddlin' Quebe Sisters, Wylie and the Wild West, Michael Martin Murphey and renowned poets Waddie Mitchell, Baxter Black, Paul Zarzyski and Wallace McRae.

Tickets to the 27th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased online at or by calling 775-738-7508 or toll-free at 888-880-5885. For more information about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, visit

Thank you to the following major sponsors of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering: Littlefield Farm, National Endowment for the Arts, City of Elko, Barrick Gold of North America, Nevada Energy, U.S. Department of Education, Newmont Mining Corporation, Wells Fargo Bank, Anne Pattee, R.C. Baker Foundation, The Bretzlaff Foundation, Blach Distributing, KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting, and Red Lion Hotel & Casino.

The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding, and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the American West.

Photos available on request.