The Los Angeles area is hardly known as a “cowtown” but for the 23rd year in a row, the city of Santa Clarita will play host to some of the finest cowboy music the western genre has to offer. This year’s Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival takes place April 20 thru April 24, 2016, with pre-festival activities starting on April 16.
In addition to western music and cowboy poetry, trick ropers and gun spinners will be on hand to delight children and adults alike. There will be interactive history exhibits and lots of cowboy grub to fill your tummy. Vendors offering western apparel and gear will be plentiful.
Festival favorite, Don Edwards, who has performed at every festival for the last 22 years, will headline the event with two concerts. An intimate concert at the Hart Mansion is already sold out. His second concert is on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Canyon Guild Theater. He will share the stage for this second concert with the Caroline Sills Combo.
Edwards usually performs a couple of songs at Cowboy Church, which is not part of the official festival but is on the schedule of events. Cowboy Church takes place down the road at the Master’s College at 8 a.m. on Sunday. Admission is free for Cowboy Church.
Hot Club of Cowtown, a hot jazz/western swing trio, will perform on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Canyon Theater Guild. The group is known for its upbeat, jazzy sounding renditions of classical western swing hits by Bob Wills and others as well as original songs written by two of the members, Elana James and Whit Smith.
Hot Club will be joined by Sourdough Slim, the “Last of the Vaudeville Cowboys.” Slim will charm his way into your heart through his accordion playing, yodeling, and all-around fun performance that will leave you laughing and feeling happy.
Cow Bop and Mikki Daniel will take the stage at the Canyon Theater Guild at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Cow Bop is western jazz/swing band that does things in their own unique way. If you are lucky, they may perform their rendition of “Pennies from Heaven,” which they have renamed “Benny’s from Heaven.” The music is upbeat and filled with humor. The band is as much fun to watch as it is to listen to.
Mikki Daniel, who won the New Horizon Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Female Yodeler of the Year Award from the Western Music Association, among many other awards, will charm you with her renditions of classics from the 1920s through the 1950s. She says her musical influences range from Roy Rogers to Louis Armstrong and it shows in her upbeat, clear vocals and interpretation of the classics.
Other performers at the festival include the Quebe Sisters, Dave Stamey, Brenn Hill, Cari Mari, James Intveld, Old Salt Union, and more. Some performances are held on festival grounds and are included in the price of festival admission while those held in concert halls are ticketed separately. For a list of performers and ticket prices, check the festival website cowboyfestival.org.
The main event takes place at the William S. Hart Park in downtown Old Newhall. Most of the theaters are just down the street leading to the park, within walking distance from the festival grounds. Transportation is provided for out-of-the-area events such as the Lone Pine Film Tour and Reagan Library and Paramount Ranch Tour. A complete list of events is on the festival website.