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The Arts Voyager, 1-26: I'm a reel cow-hand
Chaneling Bob Wills at the Stock Show & Rodeo
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, Texas -- It was supposed to be the Cowboy Poets Campfire Stories day Tuesday (one of four, concluding today beginning at noon) at the West Arena of the 116th Stock Show & Rodeo, continuing through February 4 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, but, borrowing a page from the French, the Western wordsmiths evidently interpret poetry to include music, and far be it from this greenhorn worshipper at the temple of Bob Wills to grouse about an afternoon of cowboy, western swing, and frontier tunes largely presided over by Devon Dawson, a latter-day Dale Evans if ever there was one, and also featuring the band of veterans (of tours with Tex Ritter and Lefty Frizzell, among others) known as the Over the Hill Gang. Youth also claimed its place, chiefly in the person of golden-trelissed sensation Kristyn Harris, boasting a yodel that makes its presence known not only in stand-alone moments, but by adding tremor and tremble to the rest of her singing. It's no insult to say that Harris can belt 'em. The scariest part is that she's not yet 18. Notwithstanding legendary bassist, author ("The Chameleon Rancher"), and Cutting Horse Hall of Famer Pat Jacobs's quip -- referring to the three hardly over the hill cowgirl guitarists ("Mustang Micky" joined Dawson and Harris) who accompanied his Over the Hill Gang for their set -- that "they're here to notify next of kin in case any of us keel over," in fact they were all there to carry on the tradition of concert cowboy music that emerged with Wills, even if it means, as it did Tuesday afternoon, ignoring a flash storm that's knocked the power out and playing on.

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