I get to call myself a professional cowboy singer. Wow, how many people get to say that?”
The answer is: not many, but to thousands of Dave Stamey fans throughout the West, it is an answer that brings music to their ears.
This California horse wrangler-turned-full-time songwriter/performer makes his first ever trip to Canada this March. He’ll be appearing on several stages at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival, March 8-10; one week earlier he performs at the iconic East Longview Hall in Southern Alberta, March 1-2.
Cowboys and Indians Magazine calls Dave “the Charley Russell of Western Music.” Western Horseman Magazine lists his Vaquero Song as one of the greatest western songs of all time. Ranch and Reata calls Bandit Joaquin and Wheels among the top ten great western story songs. And his fans? They just cheer and hope he’ll be back soon.
About five years ago, Dave and his wife Melissa realized that cowboy music had outpaced his ‘real’ job taking care of 128 head of horses on a guest ranch north of Santa Barbara, California. So the Stameys decided to focus on the music; now they maintain a schedule that keeps them on the road about three or four days per week. He develops large and loyal followings wherever he goes.
“We keep inviting him back because he really carries the torch for cowboy music,” says Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival director Michael Fleming. “His songs are honest, insightful and touch the souls of his listeners. He can make an audience in a large venue feel like they’re sitting around a campfire under a moonlit western sky.”
In part, that authenticity springs from Dave’s lifelong love affair with horses and all those hours spent in the saddle. After he got clients mounted up at the guest ranch, he explains, he had all those horseback hours where he could let his mind go free.
First came a phrase, then an idea, then a tune…”and then comes the hard work of peeling it up from the ground. It takes weeks or months or even a year for the song to feel right.”
Stamey calls himself an excavator, digging deep for every song he writes. Indeed, it is his fine craftsmanship — and versatility — that sets Dave apart from other writers.
“I never want to write the same song twice, that would be death to me!” he says. “If my last song was a storytelling ballad, then the songwriter in me wants to do something different next time.”
That devotion to his craft shows up in every song and performance. Pat Richardson is one of Elko’s most beloved cowboy poets and has been on stage with Dave numerous times throughout the U.S.
“Dave Stamey is the entertainer that the other entertainers go to see. Heck, his intros are as entertaining and informative as the songs themselves.” says Richardson.
“I wouldn’t miss any show Dave was featured in,” adds North Dakota top poet Rodney Nelson (who was one of the original poets featured on the Johnny Carson Show 28 years ago and who is also on the 2013 Kamloops program.)
Dave Stamey sends out an occasional newsletter to friends and fans throughout North America. In December, referring to his 2013 tour dates to Arizona, Nevada, California, Tennessee, Colorado and Washington, he quipped, “if it has a zip code, we’ll be there.”
As of March, Dave can now add area codes 403 and 250 to his list. And for Canadian cowboy music fans, that’s something to sing about.