Pemberton Jamboree 

Cowboy poets and performers at Pemberton Jamboree

What: 3 rd 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, a pen and paper, ready to recount the stories that nobody would believe. The Pemberton Country Jamboree is bringing the best traditional cowboy and country artists B.C. and Alberta have to offer. You’re in for a visual and aural treat.

The first Canadian woman to ever sing at the Grand Ol’ Opry is none other than Shirley Fields. For more than 55 years she’s been yodelling her way across the continent, winning hearts wherever she goes. She was inducted into the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2000 and toured with country legends like Loretta Lynn and Marty Robbins. She’ll be performing, guitar in hand, all the songs that made her famous.

Canada’s most successful cowboy poet is Mike Puhallo. This author of five books and two CDs won the Will Rogers award for excellence in cowboy poetry last year and is one of the few real life cowboys who attempts to make a living out of his craft. Mike has been a working cowboy, 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?

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.

Pique: Have you got a quick poem about the Pemberton Jamboree for us?

MP: Friends are pulling into Town,

to swaps some yarns and rhymes;

Sing some songs and reminisce,

about the "good ol' cowboy times"!

The misery of pulling calves

when it's thirty five below,

The rain soaked trails, summer heat,

cold winds and driftin’ snow.

Gosh it sounds romantic,

when ranch life’s put to rhyme.

Then there’s all them funny stories,

that weren't so funny at the time.

All things being equal,

right down to the slim pay cheques ,

I'd rather tell the stories ,

and let my brother have the wrecks!

Other performers over the weekend include Tammy Gislason, who has been performing since the age of five. Her new CD, Sunshine Cowgirl, won her the Rising Star award at this year’s Academy of Western Artists Awards, and she was also nominated for song of the year and female vocalist of the year.

Other acts to check out include Matt. E. Johnston, Frank Gleeson and Kraig Jodrey, who are making waves in American cowboy circles after successful careers in Canada’s west.

Enjoy all of these acts each day of the jamboree from the stage or in the cool comfort of the beer garden. on Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Daily tickets for the Jamboree are available onsite at Pemberton Stables, on Meadows Road. $5 for adults and $2 for kids. There’s loads of free parking and dry camping available.

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