Workshops and Special Talks

Please note, this information is for January 26-31, 2015, and remains published to give you an idea of workshops and special talks that might be available during a National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Most workshops occur early in the week, Monday-Wednesday.

Every year during the week of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center organizes more than a dozen workshops on a variety of topics;  an excellent opportunity to be taught new skills, meet artists and performers, explore and gain knowledge of meaningful and interesting topics, and have a chance to meet and get to know others who share similar interests as you take part in the larger community found at the Gathering—many sell out, please consider becoming a Western Folklife Center member so you can purchase tickets early.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Workshop Silversmithing
In this four-day workshop, master silversmith Dave Alderson teaches the basics of silverwork and fabrication - from sheet silver to a polished product. Dave is known not only for his exquisite work but also his talent for improvisation and problem-solving. Attracted to silversmithing at age 16, he has learned from influential West Coast masters including Bill Wimmer, Gordon Hayes and Tracy White, and has studied firearms engraving and Argentine silversmithing techniques. Dave will share his skill and artistic curiosity with students, as they learn to cut, shape, solder and polish their own three-piece silver buckle set. All experience levels welcome.

Rawhide Braiding
Great Basin buckaroo and braider Doug Groves makes rawhide reatas, quirts, reins and bosals of great beauty and utility. A 2009 recipient of the Nevada Governor's Award, Doug learned braiding from peers in the bunkhouse and beyond, and now passes on those techniques for turning cowhide into fine gear. Assisted by his son Grant and daughter Katie, Doug will guide each student in creating a handsome set of rawhide button-studded bridle reins with a 12-strand rawhide romal. An added bonus is the camaraderie and cooperative learning that takes place among braiders of different experience levels in this four-day celebration of rawhide.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Workshop Silversmithing
Day 2 of 4
Workshop Rawhide Braiding
Day 2 of 4

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Workshop Silversmithing
Day 3 of 4
Workshop Rawhide Braiding
Day 3 of 4
Workshop Pulled-Wool Saddle Blankets
Nevada ranch woman Jean Spratling creates beautiful and comfortable saddle blankets sought after by working ranchers who know the wool's absorbency helps prevent saddle sores. Jean's mother learned the craft in California from neighbor Ernie Archer, who cleaned and carded wool from his own sheep. These days, Jean buys the wool already cleaned and carded. Using a latch-hook process of pulling the wool through burlap, Jean and her daughter Millie will guide students through the process of making a top-quality wool saddle blanket.
Workshop Secrets of Sourdough
Learn the art of sourdough from Kent Rollins - a man who has cut more biscuits than the Pillsbury Doughboy! Sourdough was a key ingredient on the old wagon trails and is still popular around the West, from chuckwagons to kitchens. We'll explore the tricks of the trade in working with this age-old ingredient through biscuits and pie crusts. Kent has over 25 years of experience cooking off a chuck wagon for traditional working ranches. He has also shared his cowboy cooking talents on PBS, QVC, the Food Network and NBC.
Workshop Traditional Baja California Ranch Cooking
Spend a wonderful afternoon with vaquero Jose Maria (Chema) Arce and other special guests from northwest Mexico, learning about the unique cuisine of Baja ranch country. This region's rugged mountains and desert oases are rich with ranches, orchards and gardens that provide for daily meals and income. Workshop participants will learn to prepare family favorites such as birria (traditional goat stew), dulce de camote (traditional sweet conserves made with seasonal fruit, yams or winter squash), and home-made cheese. We may even learn to roast our own coffee beans, while getting better acquainted with this fascinating branch of our global ranching family.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Workshop Silversmithing
Day 4 of 4
Workshop Rawhide Braiding
Day 4 of 4
Workshop Pulled-Wool Saddle Blankets
Day 2 of 2
Tour A Day at the Ranch
A day-long visit hosted by native Nevadan John Collett to one of Nevada's largest working cattle ranches, the TS Ranch. This historic ranch still operates a traditional buckaroo cow outfit, including a remuda and a quarter horse breeding program. In 1984, Newmont Mining Corporation bought the TS which it now operates with the goal of striking a healthy balance between mining, ranching and wildlife habitat.
Workshop Playing Western Swing
Learn what makes western swing music distinctive, driving and just plain irresistible! Award-winning multi-instrumentalist Joey McKenzie, national fiddle champion Katie Glassman and incomparable upright bassist Gavin Kelso offer a day-long music workshop exploring the treasures of authentic Texas-style and western swing fiddling, guitar accompaniment, upright bass, and theory. Class will start with separate instruction in fiddle, rhythm guitar and upright bass, coming together after lunch to play together. Students must bring instruments and be able to comfortably play the basics. Recording is encouraged, so bring your recording devices.
Workshop The Joy of Soups
There's nothing better on a winter day than homemade soup. Dorothy Steninger and Peggy Longhurst believe that great soups can be created with what is on hand in your refrigerator, pantry or garden, without making it an all-day process. To demonstrate this, participants should bring one ingredient to the workshop, and by lunch time, the group will be enjoying scrumptious soups made with ingredients on hand, having learned about the basics of soup and stock making. Dorothy Steninger, founder of Machi's, learned to cook in the ranch family kitchen, where being 40 miles from town required growing practically everything needed in the kitchen and being creative with ingredients on hand. Assisting her is Peggy Longhurst, who has enjoyed catering and cooking in the kitchen at Elko's Ruby View Golf Course.
Workshop Become a Grill Master
Do you find yourself at the meat counter wondering what to do with all those different cuts? Want to know how to grill the perfect steak? Join Kent Rollins in the kitchen to learn about different cuts of meat and how to best use them, and to learn his master grilling tips and techniques. Drawing on over 25 years of cooking off a chuck wagon for traditional working ranches, Kent has appeared numerous times on the Food Network and was chosen among the nation's top 16 grillers to compete on Chopped: Grill Masters. So fire up the grill, turn on the heat, and dive into New York strip steak, ribeye steak, cowboy sushi rolls, chicken fried steak and more, using Certified Angus Beef!
Workshop An Afternoon With Paul Zarzyski
Paul Zarzyski does not write poetry so much as he rides it (for much longer than 8 seconds) - "spurring the words wild across the open range of the blank page." In this brutally honest, yet sentimentally intimate discussion, he'll show how he strives to keep his poems "free of the wire, to keep them following the lodestar lead steer into creative infinity." This is a rare opportunity to ask Paul all your burning questions about his work and, more importantly, to hear his heart-felt responses to your work. As seriously as Paul always takes such interactions with his fellow writers, make no mistake: we're talking three hours of 200-proof music-juice FUN!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Workshop Waltz and Two-Step Basics
With these two dances, you'll have no problem asking that cutie to dance when the lights go down and the band swings into action. When you're whirling and weaving across the floor, you'll understand why the waltz is considered the most romantic dance. And the Texas two-step is the perfect way to snuggle close to your sweetie, while gliding around the room. Learn the basics for both dances in time for Friday's Dance. No partners or experience necessary!
Workshop A Conversation With Corb
From goth girls to survivalists, bovines to bibles, antique pistols to vintage motorcycles: Alberta-born honky-tonker Corb Lund's songcraft plumbs the depths of his personal experience of the West. In this session, Corb will share how he crafts a good song, why he draws on so many genres for his tunes, and much more.
Workshop Old-Time Contras and Squares
With the current old-time music revival booming across the country, young and old are rediscovering the joys of dancing squares and contras to live music. With a few simple moves, these dances can still raise the roof when the bow hits the fiddle strings. Join dance caller Rob Snow to see why this geometry in motion will make your face ache from smiling so much. Partners are not necessary, just bring a sense of fun. Live music by local Elko band, Southwind.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Workshop Rodeo Swing
If your toes are tapping but you need some good moves, this is a perfect dance for you. Rodeo swing is the easiest form of swing dancing and the style you'll see at rodeo dances around the West, and at Saturday's Midnight Dance. Craig Miller will teach you the moves and keep you smiling. All levels are welcome and you don't need a partner to attend.
Workshop Romancing the Muse
Songwriter and singer Gretchen Peters has written songs recorded by artists across the spectrum, from Bonnie Raitt to Neil Diamond, Sarah McLachlan to Etta James. Early on, Gretchen eschewed the Nashville assembly-line writing model in favor of her own path. In this musical chat about songwriting, she will share how to keep a sense of creative play, use both sides of your brain, and silence your inner critic. Learning to romance your muse means getting in touch with your subconscious - where the "good stuff is" - that leads to writing truer, deeper and more nuanced songs.
Workshop Learn to Yodel
You know you've always wanted to warble like Slim Whitman, Jimmie Rodgers and Ranger Doug. So warm up your tonsils, grab a pen and paper, put on your tightest underwear, and discover your inner yodeler with the irrepressible Gary McMahan.
Workshop Ranchera and Cumbia
Learn two social dances that are popular in Mexican and Latino communities on both sides of the border. The bounce and sway of the one-step ranchera works perfectly to the mariachi and norteno music popular in northern Mexico and the American Southwest. Originally from Colombia, the cumbria is a sultry, flirtatious dance similar to salsa in form but with its own seductive flavor.