High Country Cowboys win prestigious music awards

By: 
Alastair Baker
News Editor

Photos courtesy of WMA and PCCAA - The High Country Cowboys with their WMA awards for Traditional Western Album of the Year. The Montana Silversmith’s belt buckle awarded to each of the High Country Cowboys at the PCCAA for Group of the Year.

Local Traditional Country singing group, The High Country Cowboys, picked up two top honors recently at two different music awards shows.
The first was at the Pro Cowboy Country Artist Association (PCCAA) event, Arkansas, for Group of the Year and the second was at the Western Music Association (WMA) Annual Awards Show, Albuquerque, for Traditional Western Album of the Year.
“We are pretty fortunate,” said John Kosel, who with brothers Marty and Joe make up the trio. “We were up against some pretty good competition.”
On top of winning these awards, Marty also won Yodeler of the Year for the third time running at the PCCAA.
“It’s neat we brought three awards home,” said John.
Also nominated with the High Country Cowboys in the album category was Rex Allen Jnr., whose father Rex Allen Sr. was one of the last of the B-Western movies stars and made 50 movies.
“Junior is a popular Western performer and has done a lot of Country in Nashville. We thought we didn’t have a chance, so we’re very pleased,” said John.
The High Country Cowboys’ album is called ‘Cowboy’ after an Eddy Arnold song from 1976.
“It made the top ten but Eddy wasn’t happy with the recording,” explained John. Since that time the song can only be found on an out of print album called ‘Eddy’ and as a single but in no other format, even on CD.
“We picked up on it,” said John. “It’s interesting that during the awards the youth group with the WMA featured it. We don’t know why. But it was fun to see. We want to make that song more popular.”
What also pleased John was seeing Arnold conducted into the WMA Hall of Fame at the same awards ceremony.
The High Country Cowboys are steeped in a musical tradition that goes back to the Sons of the Pioneers and Roy Rogers.
“We sing more Traditional Western, same subject matter as Contemporary Western but with a more classic sound,” said John.
This is of tremendous worth after the trio won Group of the Year at the Pro Cowboy Country Artist Association Awards. The awards show is only in its infancy but is already gaining ground in protecting the traditional values of the Western musical genre.
“Royal Wade Kimes, known around the world as ‘The Gentleman Outlaw’, was fed up with what Nashville has done with Country, and as soon as he heard of us, he wanted us to join the association,” said John.
On the PCCAA website it states, Kimes has “recognized the empty and massive void of true country and a complete absence of cowboy-flavored songs. He decided to do something about it by forming the Pro Cowboy Country Artist Association. (PCCAA).”
The PCCAA Awards was aired over the weekend of Nov. 12, after it was decided by the program makers that it’s original mid-week slot needed changing because of its growing popularity.
“It had a lot of success,” said John. “The funniest thing about the awards is seeing this kind of music still being played. People are still gung-ho about this music.”
“Western music isn’t thriving here like it should be,” said John.
He mentions that bands played Western songs at the awards from other countries to prove that there is a Worldwide interest and that this genre is still popular.
“As long as we keep working at it, the younger generation is picking up on it. Not so much in the big cities, but Montana is perfect with the big ranches, the farms and home schooling. The kids have not heard it before and they like this music,” he said.
Reviewing how far they’ve come as a band in a very short time, John recalls their musical adventure as being “very casual” in the beginning “but now we try to get dates but most of this happens by itself.”
A strong and supportive family core helps the band take in some of the success and the pressure along the way. “People ask about taking over our management but it would take the fun out of it,” said John.
“Success motivates us and excites us,” he said.

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