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Johnny Campbell Cowboy Gathering

Date: Nov 04, 2017

In February of 2014, the cowboy poetry and storytelling world lost one of its finest fellows: John N. Campbell of George West. John was the only performer to participate on stage at all 25 of the first 25 years of Storyfest. He recited his original poetry and told stories about his experiences as a South Texas Brush Country cowboy, revealing a love and respect for the land and the particular breed of men who were and are known as cowboys.

To honor John—the poet, the storyteller, the cowboy, the man—the cowboy time at Storyfest will now be called the “Johnny Campbell Cowboy Gathering.”

Long-time friend Gil Prather penned these lines upon hearing of Johnny’s death:

Hey Johnny Campbell,
you finally went wandering,
seeking and trying to find
A green pasture to ride in,
on a horse that is your friend.
You are leaving memories behind,
A memory to cherish,
that leaves all of us sharing,
Your heart, your soul and your rhyme.
Tho tears are falling,
You made our hearts stronger,
By touching us in so many ways.
I have nothing left now to say,
Just another treasured one,
gone his way.

2017 Cowboy Participants:

Lee Haile
Monte Jones (aka Biscuits O'Bryan)
Gil Prather
Stan Mahler
R.J. Vandygriff

Lee Haile

Lee Haile
Lee Haile 

Lee Haile is an entertainer.He is a singer/songwriter, storyteller, and cowboy poet who has been performing for over 30 years.He has performed at SeaWorld Texas and at festivals around Texas and surrounding states.Haile also performs at schools, dude ranches around Bandera, family reunions and parties in the Frio Canyon, around campfires, and just about anywhere anybody invites him to share his stories, poems, and songs. He is a woodworker:he builds furniture, does artistic carvings, and turns bowls and pots out of the native wood in the Hill Country.Haile is also a birding and nature guide in the Hill Country and a river kayak guide.Texas Highways recently called him “the John Muir of the Hill Country or a jolly Henry David Thoreau.”He has competed in the Texas State Liars’ Contest© and performed in the Open Mic at George West Storyfest. Two years ago, he performed a story at the Dobie Dichos event.Haile has been the Pioneer Toy Maker at the Texas Institute of Culture’s Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio for the last 30 years and is the current president of the Texas Folklore Society.He lives in western Bandera County with his wife Karen and says he is still enjoying life and having fun.



Andy Hedges is a songster, reciter and guitarist. His varied repertoire includes classic cowboy poetry recitations, obscure cowboy songs, dust bowl ballads, and blues. Andy taught himself to play the guitar when he was 14 and began collecting classic cowboy poems and traditional cowboy songs. He has released nine albums including four joint projects with songwriter Andy Wilkinson.In 2010, Andy won the Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for Outstanding Traditional Western Album. His latest album, Cowboy Recitations is a collection of traditional and modern cowboy poems that Andy has picked up over the years. Andy lives in Lubbock, Texas with his wife and children.

"Andy Hedges makes no claim to being a cowboy but he has the cowboy spirit, integrity, and the heart that makes his music so undeniably real. Andy could very well carry on the traditions when all us old guys are gone. I'd feel assured in knowing the music of our great American West was in good hands."

- Don Edwards

"He embodies the future of the tradition." - Waddie Mitchell

"Andy is just the kind of artist I like. Deep into the tradition and carrying it into the future with his own voice." - Jim Rooney


Monte Jones (aka Biscuits O'Bryan)

Monte Jones (aka Biscuits O'Brien
Monte Jones (aka Biscuits O'Brien 

The Rev. Jack “Monte” Jones, aka Biscuits O’Bryan, is a third generation San Angeloan and fifth generation Texan whose great-great grandfather, Joseph Bell Chance, fought for Texas independence in the Battle of San Jacinto. He graduated from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin and then attended Texas A&MUniversity for a semester. The Corps of Cadets and comparative vertebrate anatomy convinced him he did not want to be a veterinarian, so he enlisted in the U. S. Navy. While in boot camp, he was selected for flight training as a Naval Aviation Cadet. When arriving in Pensacola, Florida, he was chosen to be on the Naval Aviation Cadet Drill Team. They marched during half-time shows at college football games around the country. He made his six carrier landings on the USS Saipan in July, 1956. While learning to fly jet planes in Beeville, Texas, Monte developed ear blockage problems and chose to leave before completing flight training. Upon returning home, he decided to attend college, and he received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Drama and English from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, where he was named a Distinguished Alumnus, and a Master of Divinity degree from The School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, and was elected Seminary Student Body President his senior year.He has taken graduate courses at The University of Texas, The Graduate Theological Foundation and HoffstraUniversity.

He created Biscuits O’Bryan, the cook for the I. O. Everbody Ranch, on the stage of the Covered Wagon Dinner Theater at the Caverns of Sonora in 1987, and has performed at cowboy poetry gatherings, schools, chamber of commerce banquets, and other events in Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Connecticut, and New York City. He is the author of three books, Biscuits O’Bryan’s Book of Beans, Bread and Other Bull; More Bull from Biscuits and Biscuits O’Bryan; Texas Storyteller (one of the books in “The Texas Heritage Series”). His compact disc, Biscuits Live at the Grand, was recorded at a one-man show at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston. In 2003, Biscuits received the Will Rogers Award for Outstanding Cowboy Storyteller/Humorist by the Academy of Western Artists.


Stan Mahler

Born in Haskell, Texas and now living in Olney, Texas, . He has performed his music from the Big Bend country to the corners of Texas and New Mexico. He also a member of the Western Music Association, Academy of Western Music and the Cowtown Opry located in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas. Stan has shared the stage with western artists like Leon Rausch, Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, R.J.Vandygriff, R. W. Hampton, Dan Roberts, Jeff Gore, Royce Smithey, Judy James, and let's not forget Devon Dawson, the Outlaw Jessie Robertson. Cowboy and cowgirl poets, Lanny Joe Burnett , Teresa Burleson and Chris Isaacs. Stan's powerful tenor voice and yodeling talent makes him a sure fire hit with every audience as he sings about the history and lifestyle of the West.

R.J. Vandergriff

R.J. Vandygriff
R.J. Vandygriff 

Whether he’s performing as a solo artist or starring in the highly acclaimed musical "The Cowboy Ain’t Dead Yet!" R.J. has the God given talent to walk on a stage in front of any audience and connect with them.He is one of those performers who "creates" a moment when he steps to the microphone, a moment remembered by all.

He has appeared with George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alabama, The Judds, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Moe Bandy. Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Andy Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Sons of the Pioneers, Red Steagall, Michael Martin Murphy, and Baxter Black just to name a few.2016 Western Swing Hero
Cowtown Society of Western Swing Music
2016 Western Album of the Year Nominee
Western Music Association
2014-2018 Texas Touring Artist
Texas Commission on the Arts
2015 CMA of Texas Hall of Fame Inductee
Country Music Association of Texas
2015 Western Male Vocalist of the Year Nominee
Western Music Association
2013 Western Male Vocalist
Academy of Western Artists
2013 Cowboy Keeper Award
National Day of the Cowboy Organization
2012 Wrangler Award "Best Original Western Composition"
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
2004 Will Rogers Recipient for Western Humor
Academy of Western Artists

R.J. is an award winning singer/songwriter, actor, playwright and real cowboy!

R.J. worked or appeared in over 100 episodes of the TV series "Walker, Texas Ranger" and opened for some of the biggest names in the Country/Pop/Western Music businss and has appeared at major Festivals, High Schools, College and Civic Auditoriums in the USA and Europe.Among just a few are:

San Antonio Symphony "In The Bunkhouse"-RFD Channel with Red Steagall
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum-Oklahoma City, OK
Silver Dollar City-Branson, MO**Theatre Victoria, Victoria, TX
Heritage Of The Plains-Spearfish, SD**Queen Of The Prairies Festival-Sedalia, MO
Lincoln Co. Cowboy Symposium-Ruidoso, NM**Festival of the West-Scottsdale, AZ
National Cowboy Symposium-Lubbock, TX**Stockman’s Casino-Elko, NV
Westfest-Snowmass, CO**Riverbend Live Concert Series-Rosenberg, OR
National Cutting Horse Futurity-Fort Worth, TX
National Chuckwagon Championships-Clinton, AK
MPEC Center-Wichita Falls, TX**Camp Creek Inn-Jackson, WY
Globe News Center for the Performing Arts-Amarillo, TX
Hopkins Co. Civic Center-Sulphur Springs, TX**Terrell Civic Center-Terrell, TX
Moe Bandy Theater-Branson, MO**Festival of the Horse-Springfield, MO
Convention Center-San Antonio, TX**Cal Farley’s Poetry Gathering-TX
Peterborough Music Festival-Peterborough, England
Westham Town Hall-London, England
Lyme Park Music Festival-Stockport, England

And, yes, he is available for hire for his award winning music and the longest running one-man musical comedy "The Cowboy Ain’t Dead Yet!



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