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Johnny Campbell Cowboy Gathering

Date: Nov 03, 2018
Location(s): 

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.

2018 Cowboy Participants:

Mike Blakely
Brady Bowen
Grady Lee
Deanna Dickinson McCall
Monte Jones (aka Biscuits O'Bryan)
Gil Prather
Max Stalling
Andy Wilkinson


Mike Blakely

As a singer/songwriter, Mike Blakely has released 13 albums, performed all over the U.S. and has made 16 tours to Europe. His songs have been recorded by Alan Jackson, Gary P. Nunn, Red Steagall, Flaco Jimenez and Raul Malo, john Arthur martinez, Randy Brown, Geronimo Trevino III and JohnnyRodriguez, Johnny Bush, Jon Chandler, Bill Barwick and others.
As an author, he has published 19 books with major New York City publishers. His upcoming novel, A SINISTER SPLENDOR, will be released in February of 2019. It is a historical novel about the Mexican War.He is currently at work on Part Two.
Mike’s latest album, THE OUTSIDE CIRCLE, features ten songs about the wild west and cowboy life, past and present. It was released in June 2018 and was co-produced by Walt Wilkins and Ron Flynt (of Jumping Dog Studio in Austin, TX.) Find it on CD Baby for download or buy a physical copy directly from Mike here.
A native Texan, Mike served in the U.S. Air Force in Albuquerque, N.M., and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He released his first novel 1988 and his first CD in 1995. One of his co-written tunes landed on a Grammy Award-winning album by Flaco Jimenez in 1995. Another was played on the orbiting International Space Station in 2007.
Mike is a two-time winner of Western Writers of America’s Spur Award – once for best western novel of the year, and once for best western song of the year. Mike spent many years touring with his dancehall band, but now plays more shows as a solo artist, or in a duo or trio configuration at listening rooms, house concerts, festivals, and private parties. His career as a novelist leads to many non-traditional concerts at book stores, libraries, writers conferences, and book clubs.
"Having celebrated our house concert anniversary with the seventh show by Mike, we can only attest that it just keeps getting better and better! I'll personally guarantee it to be one of the musical highlights of your life!" ~ Paula Reynolds, Hilltop House Concerts, Kerrville, TX.
“Blakely is a consummate artist whose superb ability to capture an audience only serves to highlight his songwriting skills... which approach brilliance.” – Buddy Case, “The Loft,” Enola, AK
"Mike helped us establish our restaurant as a major music venue in the Hill Country of Texas. He has produced a weekly concert series for us for over eight years, consistently packing the house show after show. We have been named "Best Live Music Venue" four years in a row thanks to his efforts. He is an established talent, a huge asset to our business and a real pro." Paul Brady, owner/mgr. River City Grille, Marble Falls, TX
http://mikeblakely.com
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Brady Bowen

Brady Bowen prides himself on being a Multi-World Class cutting horse trainer and rider. The covers of the first six of his CDs have a picture of him riding cutting horses he trained and rode that won over $100,000 each or more in world class competition. The CDs are comparably named “In My Spare Time” volumes 1 through 6. In his “spare time,” to this date he has recorded over 10 CD albums and two live video DVDs. Along with the six “In My Spare Time” CD series and he has Volume 7, a “Tribute To Billy Dozier” CD plus Volume 8 “Instrumentals 1” and Volume 9, “Tribute to Bobby Boatright, Leon Chambers and Tom Morrell, former band members of his band “Swing Country,” all of whom have since passed on, plus his most recent CD, Volume 10, “Old Pictures in a new Frame.” All CDs showcase many of the best Western Swing musicians and vocalists of our time. As a musician and horse trainer, it has helped him keep two Texas western traditions alive – Western Swing Music (The official Music of the State of Texas), and training cutting horses. It was not by chance that in his “spare time” his music would evolve into invitations for his Swing Country band to play at many western swing events & festivals and the creation of his CDs & DVDs, not only is he a world class Texas horse trainer but also a renowned Texas fiddle player.
The late legendary Tom “Wolf” Morrell produced Volumes 1 & 2. Volumes 3, 4 & 5 were
produced by another legend, two-time Grammy winner Tommy Allsup. Brady and Howard Higgins produced Volume 6 in 2010, "Tribute To Billy Dozier" in 2011, in 2012, “Instrumentals 1” and in late 2012, “Volume 9 – Tribute To Bob Boatright, Leon Chambers, and Tom Morrell” plus Volume 10, all were produced by the team of Brady Bowen & Howard Higgins. Musicians that have been featured on Bowen’s CD’s are the late Bobby Boatright, who played on the first five albums, the official voice of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, the legendary Leon Rausch, plus some the finest of Texas Western Swing musicians, Tommy Allsup, Leon Chambers, Bobby Koefer, Billy Dozier, Larry Reed, Chris York, Wayne Glasson, Ronnie Dale Shultz, C.B. Sutton, Joe Paul Clark, Charlie O’Bannon, Johnny Johnson, Albert Talley, Jess Meadors, Hugo Chambers, Howard Higgins, Curtis Potter, Jody Nix, Tom Morrell, Elmer Lawrence, Bobby Dixon, Derwood Strube and many more.
Brady and his “Swing Country” band have played the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium each year from 2005 until recently, numerous dances throughout Texas, Oklahoma & Louisiana, plus Brady is, and has been, a supporter of many Western Swing music organizations for many years and received the President’s Choice Award in May, 2009 from the Cowtown Society of Western Music where he is currently serving on the CSWM advisory board. In September 2009, the Academy Of Western Artists awarded Brady Bowen and his Swing Country Band the 2009 Western Swing “Group Of The Year.” Since that time he has been inducted into the CSWM Heroes Hall of Fame, the North West Western Swing Music Society of Seattle Hall of Fame (2010), the Western Swing Society of Sacramento Hall of Fame (2011), the Western Swing
Music Society of the Southwest (WSMSS) Hall of Fame (2011), in 2012 he was nominated once again for “Western Swing Band of the Year” by the (AWA) and in 2013 won “Album of the Year” for his Volume 9 Tribute also by the Academy of Western Artists (AWA), along with being inducted into the prestigious Texas Western Swing Music Hall of Fame in San Marcos, Texas.
Always a family man, Brady and wife Laura, live just outside of Jacksboro, Texas on the Bowen Ranch. His son Weston and daughter Scarlet are both presently in college. Currently, Brady is involved in the oil industry & judging National World Class Cutting Horse Championship competition. Now, “In His Spare Time,” he dedicates this time to promoting, producing, and recording many different genres of Country, Western, and Western Swing Music through the Bowen-Higgins Studio located on his ranch in Jacksboro, TX. Volumes 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 plus many state-wide, regional and area artist’s CDs, all were produced, mixed, recorded, and mastered by Brady & Howard at the Bowen-Higgins Studio since it’s beginning in 2010.
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Grady Lee

Grady Lee is a singer-songwriter who has been touring and playing his music since the sixties. After close to 50 years of playing venues all over Texas, Grady has slowed down and is now playing select venues, and performing mostly original tunes, as well as songs from his 3 cds.
Grady spent several years traveling the roads of Texas with an original 1960's chuck wagon and performing for festivals, fairs, corporate events, and school presentations. Grady also spent nine years as the resident cowboy singer at theGeorge Ranch Historical Park.
Grady's songs tell stories from the old west as well as some true life stories. His music comes from his work as a cowboy singer and from everyday life situations. Grady enjoys sharing his stories of the road in his presentations.
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Monte Jones (aka Biscuits O'Bryan)

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.


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Deanna Dickinson McCall

Deanna has cows, horses and a love of the land bred into her, coming from a family that began ranching in Texas in the 1840’s. She has ranched in several western states, including 22 years raising her family on a remote Nevada ranch without phones or electricity. She now ranches with her husband in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico.
Her writing and performances have won numerous awards: The Will Rogers Medallion Award, the Georgie Sicking Award, NM/AZ Book Awards, Women Writing the West, Western Music Assoc, The Academy of Western Artists, and the Heritage Award from the Texas Poets Gathering in Alpine.
www.deannadickinsonmccall.com
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Gil Prather

Pure Original’ describes Gil Prather. Known by his musician peers as “The Man from the Rio Grande,” Gil offers a unique style of self-penned Cowboy/Western music with a Tex-Mex border flavor. His music reflects his younger years of growing up on the Mexican border as a working cowboy in the Big Bend Country of West Texas. Early in his career, Gil’s versatility was recognized by major producers. He has written and produced several award-winning radio and TV commercials and, in 1996, he wrote the award winning song “I’ll Be Back in Texas by the Fall,” which was voted Song of the Year by the prestigious Academy of Western Artists.
From 1990 -1997, Gil was “the other brother” in the nationally acclaimed “Jose Brothers” comedy act which toured the southern United States. In the mid 1990’s, he teamed with Robert James Waller (The Bridges of Madison County) to co-write several selections from Waller’s Border Music album. Gil’s writing talent and unique style have made him well-known from Mexico to Canada, with performances throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. In 2014, Gil was inducted into the Cowtown Society of Western Swing Hall of Fame.
Gil has been a working cowboy since birth, spent time in the cattle and ranching business, and dabbled in the construction business. He appeared in Robert Duvall’s film Wild Horses and on CNBC’s hit reality show West Texas Investors Club as “The Tenderizer” with Rooster McConaughey and Butch Gilliam. Gil is still active in film, TV, and music.
Listening to Gil’s musical performance, you will experience true Americana music from a unique grass roots artist who has written a lifetime’s worth of songs reflecting the cowboy way of life he has experienced first-hand.
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Max Stalling

George West Storyfest is excited to have Texas country singer-songwriter Max Stalling perform his original cowboy songs in this year’s Johnny Campbell Cowboy Gathering. Stalling pens tunes that form a snapshot of his life, a life which began in rural South Texas.
The son of Hal and Jeanne Stalling, born in Crystal City, Texas, he is the youngest of six children. Stalling attended school in nearby Carrizo Springs. He would eventually venture to Texas A&M University where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science.
In graduate school at A&M, Stalling had a roommate who owned a guitar. The instrument would prove to be Stalling’s future. After spending his adolescent and teenage years consumed with pop and rock hit-makers of the ‘70s and ‘80s such as AC/DC, ZZ Top, Journey, Billy Idol, Loverboy, The Cars, Cheap Trick, ELO, Boston and a slew of others, the college student was now writing poetry and observational prose. He picked up the guitar in 1990.
“Somewhere about that time it occurred to me that I needed to stop consuming and start creating.”
But Stalling wasn’t quite ready for sound checks and stages. He spent a decade working in the food industry, including five years as a research scientist developing new products for Frito-Lay in Plano. By 1991 Stalling had moved to Dallas. He didn’t know a soul and consequently felt disconnected, like an outsider. About two years later he ran across the ubiquitous public radio station KNON-FM, which led him to Adair’s Saloon, and the now-defunct Naomi’s Lounge and Three Teardrops Tavern.
It was there that Stalling found his musical family. He soaked up the influential talents of Texas music legends Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt. He formed friendships with emerging Texas singer-songwriters Mark David Manders, Ed Burleson, Brian Burns, Tommy Alverson, Larry Joe Taylor and the late Ronny Spears.
Stalling was now leading a double life. On the weekdays he was a devoted food scientist at Frito-Lay. On the weekends he was a budding Texas singer-songwriter.
Max Stalling, the artist, was born.
“Somewhere in there all of those elements came together,” he remembers. “I did it very quietly. I picked up the guitar and started writing songs. I had been piddling around with guitar and prose; it was those people and that scene that gave me real purpose and understanding of what could be.”
In 1997, he released his debut album, Comfort In the Curves followed by 2000’s Wide Afternoon, 2002’s One of the Ways and 2007’s Topaz City. He has two live albums, 2006’s Sell-Out and 2009’s Live From the Granada. More recent releases are Home to You and Banquet.
He consistently plays at least 150 shows a year all over Texas – Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Amarillo, Ft. Worth, Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Grapevine, Galveston, Austin, Luckenbach, Gruene – and occasionally ventures to surrounding states. He’s steadfastly cemented himself as an important and respected regional singer-songwriter with a deeply loyal following.
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Andy Wilkinson

Andy realized at the tender age of six that he wanted to be a poet. He also realized that the way to become a good poet was to live a life of variety, so he set about building an eclectic resume that includes time spent as a police officer, financial planner, commodities broker, and a formative stint as a bag-boy and cashier at Piggly-Wiggly.
Andy wrote songs and poetry all along, releasing albums and gaining a reputation a well-researched and well-liked personality on the national cowboy poetry stage.
Andy currently serves as the Artist-in-Residence at Texas Tech University's Southwest Collection and continues writing and making music as a way of life.
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