Steve Cormier Headlines Albuquerque’s International Western Music Assoc. Conference Nov. 9-13th
By Bill Nevins, Staff Writer
At the 2022 International Western Music Association conference, New Mexico cowboy-music expert Steve Cormier will present on Thursday November 10 at 3:30 pm a workshop on Open Range Cowboy Music & Poetry, which he describes in this way: “Traditional cowboy music came from the work of ranch hands on the open range and Working cowboys, mostly anonymous, composed poetry and songs about horses, cattle, love, hate, longing, success, and failure, religion, and death. The music was an expression of their lives and is the foundation of modern western music. We will cover the development of this music from the trail songs of the l870s to the l920s “Tyin’ Knots in the Devil’s Tail” and “Little Joe the Wrangler.””
Reporter Mike Easterling of The Farmington Daily Times wrote in his June 6, 2022 story about Cormier: “When he looks back on his days as a working cowboy in the foothills of Kansas and the Llano Estacado of eastern New Mexico, Steve Cormier knows better than to romanticize a life that had plenty of drawbacks. Yet, the retired Albuquerque teacher who now makes his living as a singer and songwriter, storyteller and actor — recalls his time in the saddle with more than a little fondness. “It’s a beautiful life if you don’t mind low wages and loneliness,” he said.
“Earlier in his life, Cormier could live with those drawbacks in exchange for the kind of personal freedom the cowboy life afforded him and the chance to view the world from the perspective of between a horse’s ears. But cowboying is decidedly a young man’s game, he said, and when Cormier revisits that world today, he does so as an artist who tries to convey the charms of that life to a wider audience.He said he hasn’t worked as a cowboy in 30 years and doesn’t intend to do it again.
“A cowboy and his life are best looked at from a distance,” he said. “The best you can say about it is you survived and have a little less jaundiced view of it now than you did while you were doing it.”
“Cormier is touring in support of his new album “Wichita - Albuquerque - Silver City,” a collection of original and traditional material that he recorded in those three cities. Cormier said he finds himself writing songs less and less as he grows older and relying increasingly on the material of others that he finds meaningful. “I only write something if I feel a nagging need to express myself,” he said. “If something sticks in my brain, I’ll start writing about it. If the muse isn’t there, it isn’t there.” But even after all these years, it’s that ragged and dusty cowboy lifestyle that, for all its faults, still captures his imagination.
Cormier said that while the number of people who can make a living as a working cowboy continues to shrink, there is still a demand for those who can drive cattle — even if it’s just on a feedlot. “They’re always going to be around as long as people are eating those animals in restaurants and their homes,” he said. “ … It’s not very romantic. But there’ll always be a need for cowboys.”
The International Western Music Association (IWMA) is an organization that encourages and supports the preservation, performance and composition of historic traditional and contemporary music and poetry of The West. Western Music is the folk music of the Western life style and vista. Some Western Music originates from roots in English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh ballads, as well as musical influences from the European countries of immigrants who “went west” and some carries jazz and blues origins. While “Cowboy” music is an important part of the history of Western Music, the stories and lifestyles of the larger populations of Western culture are equally important: settlers, farmers, ranchers, horsemen and women, soldiers and the women who accompanied them into the west, miners, opportunists, gamblers, saloon keepers, school teachers, and other town folk who populated the American West.
Details on IWMA and the 2022 Conference are at https://iwesternmusic.org/event-detail.php?37 n