Featured Artists 2017


Arvel Bird

Nashville, TN

Celtic Fusion recording artist Arvel Bird is known around the world for his dramatic connection between Celtic and Native American traditions, stirring up scenes that evoke the soul of North American history.

Although based in Nashville, Arvel is permanently on the road, connecting with audiences the old-fashioned way . . . live. This is where Arvel’s emotionally-driven performance ignites concert venues, symphony halls, festivals and more, leaving his audiences inspired, transfixed and transformed. Arvel has performed in Scotland, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and in prestigious locations in the US including the Smithsonian Museums in DC and NY, and the Hochstein Performance Hall in Rochester, NY, logging over 500,000 miles in 10 years.

Arvel returned to Arizona in 1986 and was quickly hired by Glen Campbell. In 1991, he moved to Nashville, continued playing with Campbell and also toured with Loretta Lynn, Tom T. Hall, Ray Price, Louise Mandrell, Clay Walker, and others.

With his 20 album releases and two DVDs, Bird has earned numerous music awards in the U.S. and Canada. A few of the most recent are: Best Instrumental Album at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and Best Traditional Instrumental at the Indian Summer Music Awards in 2010.


Mikki Daniel

Richardson, TX

Mikki Daniel loves and lives the Western life she writes and sings about. Introduced by Michael Martin Murphey as the “future of Western Music”, she was awarded the 2016 WMA Female Performer of the Year. She has also received nominations for Ameripolitan Awards 2015 Western Swing Female Artist of the Year, WMA 2015 Female Entertainer of the Year and 2015 Song of the Year, for AWA 2015 Western Female Entertainer of the Year, Western Album of the Year and Western Song of the Year. Her CD “Cowgirl Swing” remains in the top of the charts for western swing DJ’s and won 2015 Western Swing Album of the Year from the WMA and the Rural Roots Commission. In 2014, she made history as the youngest recipient of the Western Heritage Wrangler Award with her debut CD “Gotta Be A Cowgirl”. In 2013, she was the winner of the Western Music Association’s “Crescendo Award”. She is known for her ability to spin a tale (as evidenced by her original songs on both her CD’s and her book), her strong rhythm guitar, and crystal-clear voice and yodel. Whether performing a swingy, fun, toe-tapping western swing or big band tune, or a soft, haunting rendition of a familiar old cowboy song, an original tune, or hymn, you can't help but love the personality, energy and engaging smile of this young entertainer!



Desert Sons

Tucson, AZ
website soon

"Songs of the West in Rustic Harmony"

The Desert Sons have been presenting traditional and contemporary music of the American west since 1989. Although the group retired in 2012, their love of the music of the West continues. Their style emphasizes vocal harmony with sparse instrumentation and is reminiscent of that popularized during the "Silver Screen Singing Cowboys" era of the 30's and 40's. Many of the familiar songs of that period ("Tumbling Tumbleweeds", "Cool Water", "Back in the Saddle Again", etc) were in the Sons' regular repertoire and were warmly recalled and received by audiences of all ages.

Buck Ryberg and Benny Young were founding members, Buck sings lead and plays rhythm guitar while Benny plays the fiddle and joins in on vocal harmonies. Skelly Boyd (Safford, Az) and Slim Tighe (Bisbee, Az) round out the quartet on lead guitar and bass fiddle, respectively. Everyone sings!

All of the members have other vocations, and the music is a devoted 'avocation'. When asked if the group is 'full time', Benny is fond of simply indicating that "we do this for love". Although primarily a 'hobby' group, the Desert Sons found time to record 5 albums over the past 2 decades.

The Desert Sons are honored to be appearing again at the Cochise County Cowboy Poetry Gathering on the 25th Anniversary show – and thank you all for the continued support of this great Gathering!


Rena Randall & Due West Trio

Tucson, AZ
website soon

Together since the early 90's, Rena Randall and the Due West Trio performs Western music in rich harmonies.

Rena Randall is a fifth generation native Tucsonan with a rich pioneer heritage.   On stage, Rena plays tenor guitar and three-string and mountain dulcimers. In addition to being a fine songwriter, her vocal abilities and soaring range captivate western music lovers.  That “pretty voice” has caused Rusty Richards, former member of the legendary Sons of the Pioneers to declare, “I have definitely become a fan”.

David Gibson, raised in Tucson, can also claim a long heritage in Arizona. Dave is a songwriter and a fine instrumentalist, playing stand-up bass, guitar and banjo. These talents, along with a pleasing vocal style in both lead and harmony, make him a valuable asset to the group.    

Dave Bertoglio, born and raised in Southern California but with 1800’s Arizona Territory family history, offers guitar, harmonica, lead and harmony vocals.  He also written some of the group's songs.

The newest member of the group is Emily Holmes. Growing up in northern Utah, she started learning the fiddle at age 10. She toured with the bluegrass band "String Fever" for 12 years playing stand-up bass. Now living in Tucson, she has taken up the fiddle once again and enjoys playing with the Due West Trio.



Juni Fisher

Franklin, TN

In high school, showing a horse she’d trained in 4-H, Juni Fisher was also leading the horse judging team for her school’s FFA chapter, where her aptitude for evaluating horses shone. Her college horse show team coach learned Juni had a knack for showing in many events for her team, which topped the west coast Intercollegiate circuit. Juni won her first cow horse futurity in 1981, riding the same horse to other championships while she was also working on a cattle ranch. By the mid 80s she was on the coast of California training cutting horses, and then in ’90, moved to Tennessee to fox hunt, train Three-Day-Event horses, and Steeplechase horses. An injury sidelined her long enough to get her back into music, and the rest is history.

Fisher’s kudos include 2006, 2009 and 2011 WMA Female Performer of the Year,  Composer and Performer of 2007, 2011 and 2013 WMA Song of the Year, 2008 WMA Songwriter of the Year,  2008 Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Most Outstanding Traditional Western Album,  2009 WMA Album of the Year, 2014 WWA Spur Award for best song, and 2011 Western Music Association Entertainer of the Year.  She’s happily back to riding cow horses and cutting horses these days, too!


Sue Harris

Phoenix, AZ

Sue Harris grew up in Arizona and is a lifelong folksinger whose passion and respect for the West, its stories, history and lifestyle are evident from the moment she steps on stage. Harris has a masterful touch with "true western music".  She conveys the feeling of what this music is supposed to be about -- wide open spaces that influence a type of lifestyle and type of humor indigenous to the west. Her presentations are sometimes quirky, sometimes dramatic, and sometimes wistful, but never fail to draw the listener into the world of the West from her own unique perspective.

She spent many years on the Roster of Performing Artists for the Arizona Commission on the Arts and was inducted in 2010 into Arizona CultureKeepers, an honorary society of individuals who have demonstrated a passionate dedication to keeping Arizona’s culture alive. She has recently also become a touring/core member of the New Christy Minstrels.

She has been featured at many cowboy gatherings throughout the Southwest and even Canada, and has released two CD’s, both of which have enjoyed international airplay. In addition, her recording of Dean Cook’s “Where Do You Go” was included on the Smithsonian Folkways compilation CD “Songs and Stories from Grand Canyon.”



Carol Heuchan

Cooranbong, Australia

Twice Australian Champion Bush Poet and nine times Laureate award winner, with seven U.S./Canada tours under her belt, Carol is definitely "Have poem, will travel." Carol spent her nefarious youth mustering cattle and breaking horses in the Snowy River country. She left there some decades back (possibly in a hail of bullets) and competition horses were her life for the next (she prefers to forget how many) years. She wrote a book after retiring from competition about 12 years ago, then between teaching riding and international horse judging she figured it was easier to just talk about ‘em so slipped into life as a full-time performance poet, writer and events broadcaster – in fact, whatever will get her out of housework.


Susie Knight

Conifer, CO

Susie Knight hangs her hat in Conifer, Colorado, in the mountains due west of Denver. Her entire life, she’s either been on-stage performing as a singer, dancer, and actress, or off-stage working with horses-and-humans on ranches in Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Colorado.

Writing her own cowboy songs and poems since age 15, Susie turned professional as a singer in 1999 and as a cowgirl poet in 2010. She pleases audiences of all ages from classrooms to campfires to concert halls. Known for her animated delivery in everything from the side-splitting humorous to the tear-staining poignant, Susie Knight draws her audience in to enjoy a western experience that’s enjoyed by all.

Named Runner Up for 2016 Cowboy Idol Musician, and winner of the following awards: 2016 and 2014 WMA Female Poet of the Year, 2013 AWA Cowgirl Poet, 2013 Cowboy Idol Poet, and the 2016 and 2012 WMA Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year, Susie Knight is best known as Colorado’s All-Around Cowgirl-Entertainer.



Jon Messenger

Sierra Vista, AZ

Jon Messenger has a richly textured voice, probably one of best, if not The Best, story-telling voices in Western Americana.  Deep and resonant, and easily manipulated by its owner to deliver the songs he writes from a colorful palette about Cowboys he's known and ridden with, sunrises he's watched, cactus he's faced-off with (literally), bandits and outlaws and peacemakers, and the love of his life, his wife Kathy.

Jon is an imaginative and colorful singer-songwriter with a reputation for writing “outside the box”. An eclectic blend of influences become apparent in his work, for he’s played folk, country, bluegrass, blues, rock, and western swing. As a western songwriter his work shows tremendous insight into real cowboy living and he’s immersed himself in the work of the self-sufficient working western folk so that he might better tell their stories. A passion for liberty and a thirst for physical and spiritual truth permeates his songs, which are delivered with passion and conviction. He has a wonderful ability to wrap himself in a song - to inhabit it, presenting the songs of other composers in a way that makes each tune his own.


Dale Page

Monrovia, IN

Dale Page was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. While earning a degree in English from Oklahoma State University, he worked as a horseshoer, bull rider, vet lab assistant, and on the movie set of “The Cheyenne Social Club.” 

Page began writing cowboy poetry in the mid 70’s, combining poetry with his time riding and packing in the Rocky Mountains. He writes mostly narrative poems, taken from personal experiences, family histories, and stories told by friends. He inserts both real and fictional characters into these plots to illustrate his stories. 

He was named Best Performer in 2008 at the Oklahoma Cowboy Poetry and Songs in Stillwater. In 2010, he won First Place in serious poetry, Rising Star Division, at the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in Montrose, CO.

Page’s book, A Fork in the Trail, and his CD, Once We Were Kings, are available from the author at his website.



Saddle Strings

Hooper, UT 

We are a cowboy band with the style of the traditional trail songs and ballads of old, but with a contemporary flair.  Brian Arnold provides vocals and guitar, and Kurt Argyle, one of the finest bass guitar players in Western Music, sings as well. Occasionally the guys switch and Kurt plays guitar, with Brian on the bass.  Laurie Morgan and Cindy Argyle sing, and present the lady’s view of the West. Often, all four join in harmony as we try to portray what we see from the saddle, through music.


Jay Snider

Cyril, Oklahoma

Jay Snider was born to a ranching and rodeo family in Southwest Oklahoma. His dad was a top roper and rodeo cowboy and his granddad a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He rodeoed throughout most of his early years and now stays busy raising ranch horses, cattle, and team roping.

Jay has appeared at many poetry gatherings, including the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona, the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, Arizona, the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in Kamloops, British Columbia, Cal Farley's Youth Poetry Gathering near Amarillo, Texas, and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. In July of 2001, CowboyPoetry.com chose Jay as the fifth Lariat Laureate winner for his poem, My Old Amigo Lum. Jay appeared on Country Music Television’s, "Christmas in Cowboy Country" hosted by Clint Black. Jay was awarded the "Best of the Best" trophy at Kanab, Utah's Cowboy poetry rodeo. Jay's newest cowboy poetry CD, "Of Horses and Men" was named "Cowboy Poetry Recording of the Year" by the Academy of Western Artists for 2006 and was honored to receive the male "Cowboy Poet of the Year" by the Academy of Western Artists in 2008.