Cowboy culture and barn dance boot scootin’ 

What: 3rd Annual Pemberton Country Jamboree

Where: Pemberton Stables

When: Friday to Sunday, July 25-27

If your idea of country music is Shania Twain and Garth Brooks, you might need to wind back the clock a few more years and see where the country twangs really started.

Before midriff tops and slick music videos, the law of the land and the music that followed involved real cowboys and cowgirls, who roamed the dusty land for days with nothing but a horse, a guitar, and perhaps pen and paper – ready to record the stories that nobody would believe.

The Pemberton Country Jamboree is bringing these nostalgic types together with the best traditional cowboy and country artists B.C. and Alberta have to offer all weekend long.

Canada’s most successful cowboy poet, Mike Puhallo, is one of the many Stetson-wearing performers who’ll be saddling up for the big event. The author of five books and two CDs won the 2002 Will Rogers Award for excellence in cowboy poetry and is one of the few real life cowboys who attempts to make a living out of his craft. Mike has been a saddle-bronco rider, a packer and horse trainer, and continues to run a ranch with his brother. We caught up with him recently on his way back from Forth Worth, Texas.

Pique: Why Cowboy poetry?

MP: I can't sing worth a lick. I have been writing poetry as long as I can remember because a cowboy is what I've been. I guess that's where it fits, although Western Folklife Poetry might be a more accurate term for what I do. This genre is leading the way in the resurgence in popularity of lyric poetry. The growth over the last 20 years has been phenomenal.

Pique: How do you stay so passionate about it for so many years?

MP: The audience response to my poetry is what keeps me performing. I guess the passion for story telling is pretty deep-rooted. I see a real need for rural artists to work at bridging the gap between urban and rural cultures. I also have a lot of fun doing it!

Pique: For people who have never been to cowboy country, what would they need to know to have a good appreciation of what it's like out there?

MP: Anyone that comes with an open mind and a sense of humour, can’t help but have a good time.

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