Musicians, poets, and storytellers will regale the audience with their experiences of hard work, heartbreak and hilarity in the West as the The Lincoln Theater presents the Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Part of the new “On the Road” series of the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering, this event embodies the spirit and heart of a uniquely American way of life. In addition to the main performance at the Lincoln Theater, there will be two free school shows the day before for students in Napa and St. Helena.
For more than 30 years, the ranchers, cowboys and artists at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering have been sharing poems, stories and music about their lives, celebrating the shared traditions and experiences of the land and culture of the rural West.
The Elko gathering has been described by journalists as “the most honest and open-hearted festival in America” and by ranchers as “the highest concentration of lies in any one place at any one time.”
Charles Shaw of Two Buck Chuck fame attended the Elko gathering a few years back. After listening to the stories and songs about life on a ranch, he approached Gail Steiger, one of the performers.
“He said, ‘Wow, this is just like growing grapes,” Steiger said. “We’re all at the mercy of things we can’t control, living with uncertainty, praying for rain and worrying about frost and heat waves and such. So that got it started. Pretty soon we were talking to Lincoln Theater about doing a show in the Napa Valley, and we’ve been coming back ever since.”
The connection between Steiger and Shaw did not end there. “He told me he was going to make me his favorite chili recipe by a guy named J.I. Gardner, and he asked if I’d ever heard of him. Well, as it turns out, I had heard of him. He was my great grandfather. So we really hit it off,” Steiger remembered with a chuckle.
Lincoln Theater is working with the Western Folklife Center to bring the Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering to Napa. Taking the stage this year will be performers and songwriters Stephanie Davis, Amy Auker, and Rodney Nelson and Steiger.
“Whether California, Arizona, Mongolia or Brazil, if you are working close to the ground it doesn’t take long to find we have more in common than separates us and that’s what Cowboy Music and Poetry is all about,” Steiger said.
Tickets can be purchased online at lincolntheater.org or by calling the box office at 707-944-9900. Children’s tickets are free.