Although we live in the heart of the Wild West, cowboys that ride off into the sunset are not something often seen in the bustling metropolis of Albuquerque. The days of cattle drives, roping steers and whistling Dixie are all but a memory here. But one look up to the stars proves that spirit is still alive. We can still see them; the city has not grown too big to block them out.
It has grown large enough to host the 17th Annual Western Music Association International Awards Show and Festival at the Embassy Suites Hotel, however, bringing cowboys and girls from around the world to the heart of the West to unite in their love for music. This four-day long festival will showcase western music talent from 17 states and Canada. There'll be cowboy poetry, workshops, a yodeling contest and western tunes about everything from traveling the desert to finding love in the good ol' Burque.
Quite a few of these talents are native New Mexicans. Earl Gleason, for example, will perform Thursday on the Sierra Vendor Stage (one of the festival's four) at 3 p.m. Gleason used to perform with Dick Bill's Rocky Mountain Boys and can be heard playing around the chuck wagon at Western festivals like this one. His song "Enchilada" tells of his favorite place to be, eating enchiladas, red or green, in Nuevo Mexico. "Enchilada" is featured on The Best of New Mexico Western, a compilation of New Mexican artists, many whom will participate in this weekend's festival. Syd Masters and The Swing Riders are also featured on the CD and will take part in the WMA Barn Dance Broadcast hosted by Johnny Western on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and will also play on the Sierra Vendor Stage at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Syd and his Swingers perform what they call "vintage western cowboy swing," so it'd be a good idea to bring some leather-soled shoes.
The Chris LeDous Toast and Jam on Thursday will honor the late singing rodeo cowboy with appearances by New Mexico artists Lynn Anderson and Mentor Williams. There will also be an audience participation jam session, so take along whatever cowboy inspired musical implement you wish. Come tune in your inner cowboy (or girl) this weekend with some soul-searching, toe-tapping Wild West music.