Diners, Fenceposts and Cowboy Poems: Road Trip to Elko

1,037 miles, 16 hours, seven thousand fenceposts, one overnight snowstorm,

two or three little hometown diner meals

one night in a Comfort Inn in Idaho Falls and a couple of tourist moments later…

Twin Falls, ID

and we finally made it all the way down to Elko, Nevada from the great white north to participate in the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

There’s cowboys here from all over the country, but it turns out I’m the only one with red scoria still stuck to her car and a good ‘ol Northern, kinda sounds like you’re from Canada, accent.

And I’m the one hanging around with this guy.

I can’t tell you what it means to be here surrounded by all of this talent, all of these stories of ranch living, all of these expressive people in hats and boots and some really great mustaches. Last night I met a hat maker with a leather-tooled neck tie and vowed I’d find one and start spreading his style-sense back in North Dakota.

Would it be weird if I wore a leather tooled neck tie?

Maybe.

Anyway, last night was my first gig at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Martha Scanlan sound check

I took the stage at the Convention Center for a show called “Straddling the Line,” with landscape storyteller and accomplished musician Martha Scanlan and sage rocker and cowboy Brenn Hill.  In its 30th Anniversary the gathering is focused on the next generation of cowboy poets, singers and storytellers so we each took our turn talking and singing about what it means to be out here loving our land and the work we do.

Watch the full concert here: 

The audience and the people here are warm and inviting. We’re from all over the country, but we have things in common and so much to learn from one another. Wednesday night we rolled into town and bought tickets to a Ranch Radio Show where Stephanie Davis sang about the magic of baling twine, and besides the leather-tie promise, I promise to learn all the words to that song, because I swear it was written about Pops.

Today the streets and concert halls will fill up again, a sea of cowboy hats and the buzz of information, stories and music being passed around.

This morning we will walk down the street for a fresh donut and I’ll take the stage with my friend D.W. Groethe before heading back to the Convention Center to join other forth and fifth generation ranchers to talk about what it’s like to be back on the ranch.

Tonight we will see Ian Tyson and dance at Stockmens.

And tomorrow we’ll do it all over again before heading back up north to the horses taking in the winter sun on the top of the hills outside my window.

Music has given me so many gifts in my life, this week is one of them.

Grateful to be here. Grateful to tell my story.

Grateful that you all are listening and sharing yours too.

Peace, Love and Happy Trails!
Jessie

Sunday Column: What it means to be a cowgirl

The wind is blowing so hard out here it woke us out of a dead sleep early this morning and detached some of the new shingles on the roof of the garage, undoing in one second some of the hard work Husband laid down last weekend when the weather was a little less tornado-ey and a bit more melty.

You never know what you’re going to get out here. If I’ve learned anything this winter I’ve learned that. 

So we’re spending the day inside making shelves, making plans, making progress and making egg in a hole.

Ever had it? It’s gourmet.

Later today after I get tired of handing my dear husband things like nail guns, screwdrivers,   sandpaper and the thing he just asked me to find that I will never find because I have no idea what it is, I will go hide in my room and play some cowboy music and try to get  prepared for our trip to Elko on Tuesday. 

This trip to another region of cowboy country has gotten me thinking about my roots and where I may have picked up on the idea that I want to stick around here and ride horses for the rest of my life.

In fact, lately I’ve been in touch with a woman from New York who is working on “The Cowgirl Project,” a documentary and movement that explores what it means to be a cowgirl. She’s going to meet me in Elko next week and we’re going to talk about it a bit more, but to prepare she called me up and asked me for my initial thoughts on the topic.

Visit www.barbaranewmancreative.com for more information

At the time I was riding in the back of my Big Sister’s car as she drove our dad around town, a sort of outing we’d been scheduling that week to get him out into the world as he recovers. Lately I’ve found all of the women in my life have had to ‘Cowboy Up,’ so to speak, to tap into the best and strongest parts of ourselves to move through the scariest moment of our lives and come out better–more compassionate, more understanding and more capable–on the other end.

But I have to be honest, I’ve never thought to define the word “cowgirl.” And so when I was asked to do just that, I sort of started rambling. I mean, I have plenty of thoughts on what it means to be a cowboy, but really, when I get right down to it, some of the best cowboys I know are women.

And they don’t all wear hats and chaps and ride a strawberry roan. 

No. In fact one of the best cowgirls I’ve known, the one who showed me at a young age the kind of woman I could turn out to be if I stuck here with the cattle and the buttes and a roast in the oven, was my grandmother.

And when I think of her I think of an old free feed cap and hands that can soothe a baby and fix a fence.

When I think of her I think strong, not just in muscle but in spirit.

When I think of her I think of homemade rag dolls,  popsicles on the porch, rainwater catching in the barrel below the house and digging up potatoes in the garden out back.

When I think of her I think overalls in the winter and her voice yelling “Come Boss! Come Boss!” as my grandpa threw out grain for the cattle.

When I think of her I think of family and holidays surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles in a tiny kitchen on the prairie, homemade buns and the jello salad she always forgot in the refrigerator. 

When I think of her I think of that old sorrel horse, the one I rode when she was gone. The one that taught me how to fall off and get back up again.

Coming Home: How I define a cowgirl
by Jessie Veeder
1/26/14
Fargo Forum
http://www.inforum.com

There are plenty more like her out there, some of who’ve never sat thier ass in a saddle, but if asked to get ‘on up there  would give it her best shot, with confidence, grace and good humor.

And when you got home there would be a roast in the oven and maybe a jello salad somewhere in the back of the fridge.

And I don’t know what it all means except that as long as their are women out there who know how to “cowboy up,”–in between sidewalks or on the wide open trail–I think we’re all going to be ok.

If you need me I’ll be in my room singing about it.

Cowboy Singing

We’re looking ahead out here in the arctic tundra. Every day Pops is getting stronger and more antsy and our biggest job is to keep him from taking the keys and heading out the door without us.

I keep reminding him that it’s only been 2 weeks since they cut him open and rearranged his heart, but it doesn’t matter.

He’s ready to move on.

And so we are. Moving on and looking forward, me in particular to next week when I’ll be loading up my guitar and my husband and all of my boots to head on down to Elko, Nevada for the 30th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

It’s a big event and my first visit as an entertainer, so I’m excited.

And then I saw my name in the Western Horseman Magazine and I got even more excited.

North Dakota. Montana. Close enough.

Then I got nervous.

And I’ve been going back and forth between those two emotions for a few months.

But it’s going to be a good trip and I’m happy to be a part of an event that celebrates and lifts up Cowboy culture with poetry, art, music, dancing and lessons on things like leather-working, two-stepping and cast-iron cooking.

It’s our kind of party, I tell you what.

I’ve always been thankful for the opportunity to grow up in these hills so I’m thankful for the opportunity to tell my story a few state’s over.

And I’m thankful for the music.

If you’re in the area, stop on over. Here’s my schedule:

Thursday, January 30

Straddling the Line

With Brenn Hill, Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld
8:30-10:00 PM
Elko Convention Center Auditorium
$35/$30
Fusing deep rural experience with diverse musical influences, 29-year-old troubadour Jessie Veeder demonstrates that the younger generation doesn’t really leave the ranch behind–but they may find themselves straddling the line. The musical outcome is electrical and enthralling.  

Friday, January 31

Jessie Veeder & DW Groethe
10:45 – 11:45 AM
Flag View Auxiliary

Back on the Ranch
With Meghan O’Toole Lally and others
1:00-2:15 PM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Saturday, February 1

Across the Medicine Line
With Doris Daley & Rodney Nelson
10:00 – 11:00 AM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Being Cowboy in a Digital World
with Jessica Hedges & Jolyn Young
2:30-3:45 PM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Here’s a link for more information about the gathering. 
www.westernfolklife.org

And here’s a link to a little interview and a few songs I played on a North Dakota Morning show. I woke up at 4 am to get there in time, so please take that into consideration with your critique 🙂

Music with Jessie Veeder
NBC North Dakota Today

For more information about my music visit:
www.jessieveedermusic.com