Wow, day one of Great Falls’ Festival of the Book and I was hooked! The event is sponsored by the Great Falls Public Library and is held there too.
Last night featured two wordsmiths (one was also a talented musician). Paul Zarzyski, cowboy poet extraordinaire, opened the show. Listening to him recite poetry is fun, watching him recite poetry is more fun! And, when you listen to the poems you are transported to the life of a real cowboy, real bronc rider, or even a real parent. When Paul tells a story, it is truly from the heart.
Paul has written several books and has performed at many cowboy poetry gatherings, including the huge event in Elko, NV. It gets better – he is also a songwriter. And that’s where his tie to musician/storyteller Wylie Gustafson is.
Conrad, MT native Wylie Gustafson (Wylie & The Wild West) performs with an awesome band but also performs solo. I’d have to say the same thing about Wylie that I said about Paul – if you enjoy listening to him, you ought to watch him sing! Tall, lanky and seemingly rubber-jointed, this guy really gets in to his performance. The first CD of Wylie’s that I received many years ago was titled “Total Yodel” and believe me, when that CD is playing in my car, I’m howling down the road! Obviously, I bought another of Wylie’s CDs last night…I couldn’t resist it because it had a new song on it that Wylie had just cut.
Many of Wylie’s songs are written or co-written with Paul and we were able to get the inside scoop on them – what prompted that particular story idea, memories from their past and feelings from the soul. What a great combination. And, these guys seem to tag-team a performance very well.
Great Falls’ Festival of the Book continues tonight and Saturday. On tap for tonight are authors Carol Bradley, Ken Robison and Ruth McLaughlin. My son bought me Ruth’s book Bound Like Grass for Christmas so I’m eager to hear her speak.
Details for Great Falls’ Festival of the book are available by calling 406-453-0349.