Thompson Peak Writers and Susanville Sunrise Rotary recently hosted a fundraiser featuring singer/songwriter and cowboy entertainer Dave Stamey at the Honey Lake Valley Association Hall. The weathered wood of the old building lent to the impression of a country barn dance and was filled to capacity with long-time Stamey fans and soon-to-be Stamey fans.
A Dave Stamey concert is a singular experience imparting the connection of soul felt when visiting an old friend. A sense of shared history as Americans is conveyed by this gifted guitar-picking, singing storyteller as he brings to life the raw beauty of our country. His love for the journey of our cowpoke predecessors draws every listener in while offering a front seat into a glimpse of the past.
Gorgeous guitar playing plus Stamey’s rich voice portray tales of dusty trails and an intimate knowledge of western traditions — weaving a wondrous spell featuring a sea of sparkling stars in a sapphire sky and leaving an audience breathless as the earthy dust of California’s past rises all around.
The sensation of sitting around a campfire with a dear old friend was palpable in the old hall. Folding chairs fade away into horse blankets draped over logs and one might reach out and warm the hands over the glow of camaraderie emitted during a Stamey performance.
His ability to conjure images of the past is perfectly matched by the intimate connection Stamey sparks with his audience. No one ever left a Stamey concert without laughing, crying or pining for more as evidenced by Western Music Association naming him Entertainer of the Year seven times, Male Performer of the Year seven times, and Songwriter of the Year five times.
One concert-goer had this to say: “I came because someone had an extra ticket. I had no idea who this guy was and no particular affection for country music. I am now a huge Stamey fan. This was an incredible experience. I can’t believe I only had to drive five minutes for it.”
When Stamey’s family moved to California in his 12th year he subsequently picked up a guitar and started strumming, lending credence to the distinct impression he was inhabited by pioneering cowboy souls who roamed these golden hills before. After all, Stamey also lived on the site of a historic ranchos in the town of Nipoma for over a quarter century.
Such a possession would explain his original “Vaquero Song” which recalls the golden days of California’s Rancho era. The ballad is touted as “one of the greatest western songs of all time” by Western Horseman Magazine.
Of course, he too roamed these hills as a cowboy, a mule packer, and dude wrangler. It is the merging of his experiences and an innate talent for storytelling which gave birth to a dozen albums of original music in just two decades.
There were tears during “A Good Dog” laughter at “Used Rough” and some good old fashioned learnin’ with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”
Stamey is also a recipient of the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists and was recently inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame which leaves some wondering how we lassoed such big talent in our remote neck of the woods.
“I get to see beautiful country and I get to meet people who live in small, rural communities who really like that I’m telling their stories,” Stamey explained.
A master at creating atmosphere and connecting with his audience, Stamey does more than put on a show, he creates an experience and awakens a yearning in the listener for simpler times.
“Music is very immediate, very emotional, very direct. I think it’s the fastest way to reach the core of a human being. I love to tell stories through music … you can fashion an experience for the audience that they would never have any other way,” he said.
His talent and authenticity are sure to keep fans coming back for more. For the uninitiated, this advice from Cowboy Magazine, “If you haven’t discovered Dave Stamey yet, it’s time you broadened your horizons.”