The performers included WMA Hall of Famer RW Hampton, myself, Doug Figgs and Randy Huston. For the concert in Cimarron, NM in the City Park, we were joined by cowboy poet Dennis Russell and the amazing Rod Taylor. One of our attendees was a local deer (we think she was local…no one actually checked her ID to see). She seemed to like the music all right although it’s hard to tell with deer since they either can’t or won’t applaud. That’s the kind of stuff that happens where the Rockies meet the Plains.
One thing that was a little different was that each of us personalized our set lists to match the event. Almost all the songs were either about horses or heroes. Randy Huston had a song that he had just finished last week called “The Day of the Cowboy.” He played it for me and I said, “I like it. Let’s do it!” He said, “But you don’t know it.” I said, “Randy, it’s so new, YOU don’t even know it. So what?” We did it and it was fine. It’s a great song and will be on his upcoming CD…yes, after ten long years, he’s nearly finished recording a wonderful project with some of his old buddies in Nashville. Probably the best part of the album is that his lovely daughter, Hannah, will be singing four of the songs.
I played a new song entitled “Old Soldier” that I’d never performed in public before. It’s a tribute to the veterans of WWII…the greatest generation…and talks about the fact that there aren’t many left. I initially got the idea from Texas songwriter, Butch Morgan, who told me about taking care of his father, a high-ranking combat veteran and quite the imposing figure in his time. Now he’s an old man who has difficulty getting around. When people see him, they have no idea of the heroic deeds he performed. I also included some things about my father in the song which made it very personal for me.
The Sunday concert in Placitas, NM took place under the threat of major thunderstorms. We didn’t know for quite a while if we’d be able to set up the stage outside but sure enough, the clouds parted and moved on west. We made it through the first half with Doug Figgs and Randy Huston doing great sets and after a brief intermission, we brought up Rick Iannucci, the director of Horses For Heroes. He surprised the four performers and WMA/NM president Joe Brown by inviting us up on stage. He then brought up some men and women who are participants in the program and they awarded each of us a purple wild rag, a badge of honor and recognition of accomplishment in Horses For Heroes. It was their way of thanking us and paying their respects. I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder or more humbled. Can you believe that THEY were thanking us? These young people have risked everything to defend the people and country they love, yet they seemed surprised when we all expressed our appreciation for their service.
We regained our composure and I started the second half of the program with Randy joining me on fiddle. An amazing number of people turned out for the concert in spite of the threatening weather so we had a good audience. My biggest regret is that I’m sure the storms kept a lot of folks away. Because this was a benefit, we wanted as many people to come out as possible. I can only imagine the numbers we’d have had with better conditions. It was pretty cool though to have a lot of new faces in the crowd, people who weren’t familiar with the type of music we play. We all got some new fans Sunday night.
When I was done, RW Hampton took the stage. After his first song, it began to sprinkle. After his second, a hard drizzle began to fall. In typical RW fashion, he went into an extemporaneous version of “Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain,” at which point, the heavens opened up. People jumped up and helped us get the instruments and electronics under cover. We toweled ourselves and our instruments off and proceeded to do an impromptu set under the portal at the Arte de Placitas gallery. RW did nice version of Marty Robbins’ “Devil Woman” and Johnny Horton’s “North to Alaska.” That inspired me to do Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans” and a swingin’ version of “Route 66,” complete with doowops from Doug Figgs, Joe Brown and Calvin Hampton, one of RW and Lisa’s seemingly endless supply of sons. Doug did a nice rendition of “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” and Randy got the crowd singing along on his great original, “Cattle Rest Easy.”
Most of the people stayed for the acappella concert. Although they were crowded in like sardines, nobody seemed to mind. I think they appreciated that we didn’t let a little thing like a thunderstorm make us quit. Not that we were heroes or anything. Considering who this concert was for and the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf, it really seemed like the least we could do. We know who the real heroes are.
To find out more about Horses For Heroes or to make a donation, go to www.horseforheroes.org. Show your appreciation and NEVER FORGET.