A little bit country

Dennis Golden and ‘Texas’ Tom Weatherby

Dennis Golden, a disembodied cow skull and “Texas” Tom Weatherby get high and lonesome.

Dennis Golden, a disembodied cow skull and “Texas” Tom Weatherby get high and lonesome.

Photo By Todd Upton

Cowboy poetry is brewed from broken hearts, raw humor and hell-bent hard times. Blended with Western music and honest-to-God singin’ by duo Dennis Golden and “Texas” Tom Weatherby, it’s as polished as a Sunday spittoon. These Reno storytelling songwriters are fixin’ to put on their best boots for a big doing’s-up at the Gold Hill Hotel—a celebration highlighting what Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons has officially proclaimed as Nevada’s “Cowboy Poetry Week,” April 20-26.

Golden, 66, and Weatherby, 53, reckon it was 1999 when they first crossed paths, as co-workers at local sign-giant YESCO. Golden retired from the daily grind in 2004, and it was some time before the pair finally jammed together, one night at a remote, Humboldt County hunt club.

“It was a chukkar hunt,” Weatherby recollects with a laugh. “It snowed all weekend, and we ended up sittin’ in the trailer, playin’ guitars, more than we went huntin'.”

While Texas Tom—a lifelong player whose grandfather was a fiddler—sings and strums, Golden is quick to delineate the difference between them.

“I’m not a musician,” the range poet insists. “I don’t really play an instrument,” though Weatherby reminds him that he does indeed play the harmonica. Golden also does true justice to cookin’ with a Dutch oven—a talent he showcased on the PBS weekly series Outdoor Nevada.

Wide open spaces, are, of course, a common thread in the Golden and Weatherby repertoire, showcased last August under the stars at the mighty fine Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater at Reno’s Bartley Ranch Regional Park, when Golden and Weatherby opened for America’s premiere singing cowboy, Michael Martin Murphey.

“Dennis Golden and ‘Texas’ Tom Weatherby create the feeling of cowboys out on the Plains, which is what I personally appreciate in presentations of cowboy music and poetry,” says Murphey. “The audience wants to be transported away from the urban world into a simpler world, where humor and resignation in the face of life reigns. Dennis and Texas Tom won’t ‘beam you up,’ they’ll beam you down—to Earth. And this highfalutin, politically over-corrected world could sure use more of that!”

Well, tie that Murphey to a mottled mule and drag ‘im through a trough of slop if that ain’t the truth. Such subjects as “Ode to a Cowpie"—just one of 11 cuts on their debut CD, The Call of the Range—are superbly wrangled by these range rovers. The West’s stark landscapes are a driving force behind the tales and tunes for Golden, who’s been performing cowboy poetry for more than 25 years.

“I thought I found my niche when I started writing about contemporary ranchers, and the issues they face today—environmental, political, economic,” says Golden. “It’s tough to be a rancher these days, tough to make a living doing it, tough to keep it in the family. The kids leave and head to the city.”

Hunkered-down city folk a-hankerin’ for this duo’s down-home melodies will get their fill April 22 at the Gold Hill Hotel. And, like the land, the range music of Dennis Golden and “Texas” Tom Weatherby will speak for itself.