Waddie Mitchell began cowboyin’ at a young age, in Nevada. Later on, Waddie took up cowboy poetry and helped out in the organization of the 1984 Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which he also participated in. He has won awards for his work and appeared on numerous TV shows, and has been featured in many popular magazines, books and other publications. He has performed internationally for audiences from Los Angeles to New York, Zurich to Melbourne, and all points in between.
"I can’t ever remember ‘finding’ cowboy poetry, “ Waddie Mitchell says of the entertaining and enduring art of storytelling. “It was always there. The cowboys sure never called it poetry. I know I wouldn’t have liked it if they would have. Seems like an oxymoron, don’t it!?”
From his earliest days on the remote Nevada ranches where his father worked, Waddie was immersed in the cowboy way of entertaining, the art of spinnin’ tales in rhyme and meter that came to be called cowboy poetry, a Western tradition that is as rich as the lifestyle that gave birth to it. Within his stories, told in a voice that is timeless and familiar, are the common bonds we all share, moments both grand and commonplace, the humorous and the tragic, the life and death struggles and triumphs that we each recognize. And yet, Waddie presents his material with personal insights and the lessons learned during his life spent as a buckaroo.
“All the time I was growing up we had these old cowboys around,” he says. “When you live in close proximity like that with the same folks month after month, one of your duties is to entertain each other, and I suppose that’s where the whole tradition of cowboy poetry started. You find that if you have a rhyme and a meter to start that story, people will listen to it over and over again,” Waddie states in his down-to-earth description of its beginnings.
The Shedd Institute is pleased to bring Waddie Mitchell to Eugene and the Jaqua Concert Hall.