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Honoring Red

Posted on: June 1st, 2012 by R.W. Hampton 1 Comment

R.W. Hampton & Red Steagall

Tonight at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock,TX, Lisa and I will join a great many others in congratulating our friend, Red Steagall as he is honored with the Boss of the Plains award. As we celebrate his life, achievements and contributions to the RHC and the ranching industry as a whole it is apparent that Red has meant so much to so many. To say that Red has been important in my life and career would be an understatement along the lines of “Texas is big”.  So for this Texas cowpuncher turned western singer and entertainer I think it’s best to say it like this:

Dear Red,
It has been a long trail, mi compadre and you’ve been there along with me every step of the way. Why, when I was just a kid I remember hearing you on my little transistor radio on those cold frosty mornings as I ran my Dallas morning news paper route.  Later you kept me & my running mates company as we listened to you on “8 track tapes” while we chased our high school rodeo dreams.  And who can forget those great rodeo dances & places like the Longhorn Ballroom, Panther Hall, the Fort Worth Stockyards & NFR in OKC.
Since then our trails have crossed, connected & run together many times.  I have been blessed to call you friend, employer, mentor, peer, co-writer, pard & in many ways a father-figure.  You’ve never been stingy about sharing the stage & spotlight or your vast knowledge of the music business.  Many of the things you have taught me have been by example.  Yes, things like the way you treat your fans, fellow performers, & audiences.  The way you have used your expansive career to help those around you.  These are just a few of the things I attempt to emulate. One of the most important things you have taught me is how a man stands up for his faith & his convictions. You have always done this with such impeccable class and non-apologetic authority.
Many people both here and abroad have asked, how I went from a cowpuncher to entertainer and how I’ve managed to get where I am now. I always smile & say, “Well, you can’t get there alone, you gotta have good friends”.  I finish by saying that I was told early to pick out the best and learn from them.  Red, that’s just what I’ve done because you are the best.  Many thanks Red for all you’ve done for me, for all you’ve done for the Ranching Heritage Center and everyone on our industry.
What would you say to your hero if you had the chance?

Jiggity Jig

Posted on: May 8th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 4 Comments

 

Wyoming 2012

Home again, home again, jiggity jig…

Whoever wrote that certainly wasn’t returning from almost THREE full months on the road with two kids.  It was more like “Home again, home again, collapse at the door…”

Yes, three (3) months.  What started as a two year commitment to travel with the kids and homeschool them has, over the past three months, turned into a true once-in-a lifetime adventure we never could have imagined.  I can say in all honesty that given the opportunity, I would do it all over again.  But, if you had showed me last fall a map and calendar of what 2012 was shaping up into, I think I probably would have chickened out. 

Maybe that’s why God doesn’t lay out everything He has in store for us all at once.  Consider all the things we would miss in life when the mountain in front of us looks too high to climb.

Well, I guess that brings me back here, home after almost three full months traveling in an SUV on the road with two very active and energetic young boys.  And where is here?  Well, it’s a state of exhaustion, amazement, enlightenment, and sheer awe at all the truly wonderful things and people we met and visited along the way. 

 Elko 2012

We began the adventure at the end of January with a trip back to the annual National Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival in Elko, Nevada.  Neither of these boys had been to Elko and I hadn’t been back with R.W. in years.  The best thing about Elko and its legendary gathering – it never changes.  It is pure “cowboy” in so many ways and yet it constantly seeks to show how our culture is so connected to similar cultures and people from around the world who are so very different but have much in common.  The artistry displayed, heard and shared at Elko is like nowhere else; a venerable feast for the cowboy (or cowgirl) spirit.  Buckaroos, cowpunchers, vaqueros, ranchers, friends, fans, family – they all gather for one week to experience the expression of that spirit and to feed their own souls with music, poetry, stories, art, culture, and friends.

Two days up to Elko through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada, a four day stay for the gathering, then another two days back home.  The following week at home flew by with doctor appointments, business meetings, church meetings, a Boy Scout banquet that required a cake and table center-piece, car tune up and oil change, surgery on a sick horse, and setting up everything for the five-week trip we were about to embark upon. Not to mention the usual stuff that goes on like home-school, music business, ranch chores, and dealing with a winter storm.

Tennessee 2012

Then it was off to the East! With the excitement of a new adventure we loaded up and pointed the SUV towards Texas. And then Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee where we started out the musical portion of the trip in Nashville with R.W. filming a couple of music videos right down on Music Row.  The next day R.W. was invited to a singer-songwriter night at Douglas Cafe and connecting with both new friends (including the up-and-coming new group The Henningsens (who have written several top hits for The Band Perry), and old friends (like cowboy partner Dave C. who manages Charlie Daniels, and fellow Savannah Music artist, Michelle Wright).  No matter what industry you are in, it is always great re-connecting with the folks you hope to work with in the future. 

From Nashville it was off to Pigeon Forge for a four day festival called Saddle Up (one of our personal favorites!), then down to Chattanooga, farther south to Georgia, back up to Chattanooga, over to South Carolina, up to North Carolina, and then Virginia for over a week at the Williamsburg Film Festival. From there we headed back West through West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma… You get the picture.

Inside Raccoon Mtn, TN 2012

TN. Racoon Mtn.2012

Along the way we went caving in Chattanooga, had a blast at Rock City, visited Wade Hampton III’s homes in Columbia, SC.

Pillars remain at WadeHamptonIIIs.2012

We toured historic Jamestown and Williamsburg, where we all spent some time in the stocks.  The boys and I spent an afternoon at the beach on the Atlantic side of America and even got to watch the regal USS Enterprise ship out on her final deployment before she is decommissioned.

In the Stocks in Williamsburg.2012

Somewhere along the way we toured the Great Smoky Mountains, Monticello, Greenbrier Resort, Churchill Downs and the majestic Gateway Arch in St Louis, Mo among other things.

Monticello.Spring2012.photo by Denver Crowder

The Boys on the steps of Monticello

Jefferson's Gardens.2012

You might think that after those five weeks a little rest was in order, but no, thankfully R.W. had another job waiting for him in Texas the next weekend to help pay for all our fun!  So after five days of “rest” and unpacking, repacking, ranch repairs, another car tune-up, and several kids’ activities it was time to load up and head back to Northeast Texas for another five days on the road.  (Thankfully for me, this was an “all male event” so I was able to stay home and at least get the laundry caught up!)

Home again, home again, jiggity jig… for another five day stretch of rest, repairs, and repacking then off to West Texas to our daughter’s hometown to celebrate  Easter with her, her husband, their two boys, and a bunch of his side of the family.  Not a bad little trip at all but we were starting to feel the miles each time we clicked those seatbelts on.

Driving... some more

After a big four day rest it was off again! Destination: Kansas… in tornado season no less.  As the weather reports started warning of one of the biggest storm systems in current history R.W. and one of the boys loaded back up for what our son was convinced was going to be a “really exciting” trip to see a tornado.  Fortunately for me, as I was a nervous wreck waiting at home, the excitement didn’t turn out like he had hoped and the event which was to be held outdoors at a local riding arena was moved to a theater downtown that also doubled as a storm-shelter.  Unfortunately, for the good folks putting on the event, the attraction of holding the concert in a location that doubled as a storm shelter still wasn’t enough to convince a good portion of those who had planned on attending to leave their homes and brave the unknown forecasted weather.

With the excitement behind them the boys returned home with a little less jiggity jig for a whopping two day rest.  With over twenty states covered in less than 2 1/2 months it was time to complete the circle of the Central United States by heading west again, this time to Santa Clarita, California just north of Los Angles.

As we once again loaded suitcases, CDs, a plastic crate of our school books & lesson plans, R.W.’s guitar, hats, boots, a few toys, a box of office work I hoped to finish, and assorted drinks, snacks and cell phones I had to laugh at how we had managed to perfect our use of space. Even our five year old knew the drill by heart and loaded without complaint.  (Of course it didn’t hurt that there were a few days set aside for family fun at Disneyland ahead either!)

Goofy and Ethan being... goofyThe next 13 days included travel days across New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California; a quick visit to one of our sons who is stationed at the Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Base; several days at the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Music Festival, two days in the recording studio working on some new songs, a visit to Disneyland with four generations of our family present, an afternoon visiting the Grand Canyon, and the drive back across Arizona and New Mexico. 

 The Grand Canyon.2012

Yes, by the time we got back late last Monday night our jiggity jig was completely gone.  But can you imagine missing all or any of that?  What an adventure! What a great experience for our boys!  What memories we have made!  What fantastic things they have learned and people they have met!

So, another week at home and although it was full of unpacking, repacking, shipping orders, homeschool, cleaning house, cleaning up the yard, and end of the school year activities we seem to have gotten our jiggity jig back so we head out again for Texas this afternoon.  Each time it’s been a little harder to load up and drive off, but we won’t ever have the chance to make those miles and memories again, so why not? 

Our travel times with our youngest boys won’t last forever so we cherish these trips plus it’s even more fun having you along for the ride. And, essentially we owe it all to you, because without you and your support we wouldn’t have the chance to share this wonderful country without children this way. Without you, R.W. would just be a great voice singing around the campfire in some remote cow-camp.  I can’t imagine our life without you, so I’m so glad you have not only joined us on our adventure – but you are the whole reason for it!

Thanks!  The Hamptons, Lisa, R.W., and of course, “the boys”

Taking Time Out

Posted on: January 19th, 2012 by Lisa Hampton 8 Comments
January Evening Skies- photo by Lisa

January Evening Skies here in New Mexico

Does life ever get so crazy that you don’t know whether you are coming or going?  Ever get that small voice in the back of your mind saying “Umm, and how exactly do you expect to get all this done?”

It’s been one of those weeks here.

Up early, trying to fit in a little exercise time before starting the day’s chores, catch up on the weather and news & check emails, then it’s time to get breakfast going and roust the boys for schoolwork (all before 7:30 am). Then it’s back to the computer to try to answer a few emails and phone calls while R.W. does a bible study with the boys.

From 8:30 to noon it’s a balancing act of 5th grade and kindergarten lessons while R.W. does ranch chores and practices his music, a short break for lunch and a few minutes outside to lend R.W. a hand with winter projects he is working on here at the ranch, then it’s time to get the boys back to their schooling, fix dinner, do a couple of loads of laundry, straighten up the living room and kitchen from the day’s studies (yes, the books seem to end up everywhere in the winter as we gather by the fire most of the day.)

Most evenings as soon as the dinner dishes are cleared and washed, the nightly ritual of putting kids to bed is upon us.  We haven’t had TV reception in years but on the occasional night we all finish early we like to play games or curl up and watch a movie as a family.  Almost every evening one of us will read a chapter or two of a book of the boy’s choice before it is “lights out” for them somewhere between 8:30 and 9 PM.  That leaves roughly an hour or two for me to tackle whatever else awaits on my desk or in my kitchen before we fall into bed.  And there really isn’t ever enough time to get it all done.

But tonight, amidst our last lessons R.W. came in and announced – “School is OUT!  You all HAVE to come outside right now!”

 

Sunset at Clearview Ranch Jan 19, 2012

Sunset behind the Sangres

Well, he was right, as usual.  No matter what was going on it was one of those moments that time stands still and as we stood there as a family our New Mexico sky turned oranges, pinks, violet, vivid reds, and deep turquiose blues.

Thank you God, for the wonderful reminder of why we live here in this land.

Thank you for giving us moments when time stands still, moments we can share with our children and thank you so much for the beauty that is uniquely your creation.

Thank you God, for making us take time out.

I wish my photos could do justice to the changes in colors, they really don’t, but I wanted to take time out of our crazy week and share the moment with you.

And I want to thank you, for riding this trail with us, no matter how busy we are, we always love to hear from you.

Love you all,

Lisa, R.W. and the boys

 

Happy 100th Birthday New Mexico!

Posted on: January 6th, 2012 by R.W. Hampton 1 Comment

Sunset at Clearview
Yes, on this day, 100 years ago, (January 6th, 1912) President Taft signed the proclamation making New Mexico the 47th state of the Union & the U.S. added a brand new star.

As I travel around, folks who’ve visited our 5th largest state are quick to tell me how surprised they were at the beauty, expanse & vastness of the land. They want to tell me about the snow capped peaks and the incredible sunrises and sunsets.  And of course the food!  Many will tell of visiting our villages with unpaved streets, adobe buildings and churches built in the 1700’s. Yes, we have places here that time has forgotten & yet the Atom bomb was developed in our state and we even have a spaceport!

On a humorous note, it never ceases to amaze me, how many folks still ask; “New Mexico, where’s that?”  One fellow I invited for a visit said “I’d love to come out if I can get my passport renewed.”

A lady at dinner one night exclaimed, “New Mexico? You live in New Mexico?”

“Yes”, I answered a bit surprised, “Why?”

Sunset at Clearview

 

“Well,” she said, “You speak excellent English!”

To that I just smiled and said, “Well, I was educated in the U.S.”

So happy birthday New Mexico and may you continue to be overlooked and slow to be discovered but as enchanting as ever. Out here we like our skyline uncluttered and our neighbors scattered out a bit.  Here’s to your next 100 years!

 

Shortgrass

Posted on: August 11th, 2010 by R.W. Hampton No Comments

The land of the shortgrass is my home. 

It is often brutal in the winter, with winds whipping off the mountains carrying storms across these high altitude plains. It can be dry as a bone into the summer, with ranchers crying for rain. And in years like this one, it is a beautiful, lush, green pasture that rolls over the land, interrupted only by the hills and ravines that have been created through time and sprinkled with the occasional grove of cottonwood or elm trees near a dirt tank oasis and scattered cactus and yuccas, which bloom in the spring.

Although what is considered the shortgrass country stretches from the Southern Rocky Mountains to Alberta, Canada, our little Clearview Ranch is located at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a chain within the Rockies here in Northeastern New Mexico. It is popular country for raising horses since it gets its name from the short, but potent, native grasses that are suited to this windy high desert region. 

There is a rugged beauty here that is evident not only in the land, but also in its inhabitants. Many an old timer has been heard to say that if you ever wear out a pair of boots here, the country will steal your heart forever. 

My oldest son, Cooper Hampton, and his best buddy, Dawson Enloe, joined the Marines together during high school.  Over the years they have set foot in many countries and worn out their boots, both overseas and around our own great nation, but they have always expressed their desire to someday come back home to the Shortgrass country, their home. 

This song was written for them.

Of Men, Music, and the Land

Posted on: May 17th, 2010 by R.W. Hampton 1 Comment

I went to town the other day to get a haircut before I flew to Florida for the weekend.

As usual, our little barber shop was busy, so I got in line behind about a dozen or so other men who were waiting for Ruben to work his magic.

Now in order to paint a clear picture of my world, let me say that when you are the best barber in a huge county of about ten thousand people, you are always busy.

As I hung my hat and coat, I exchanged howdys with everyone and took a seat to wait my turn in Ruben’s chair.

I shuffled through the stack of girlie and hunting magazines.

Not seeing anything interesting, I decided to settle in and listen to the talk. Some in Spanish, some in English, and some in what we refer to as Spanglish.

After listening for what seemed like forever, I came to the realization that I never before had considered how little I had in common with these men.

Different cultures, races, languages, tax brackets, and religions.  The only thing I could see we had in common was that we were all men in need of a haircut.

Now Old Ruben is a music lover from way back. As a result, he’s always had an old guitar that he keeps on top of the pop machine in the corner. Many’s the time that Ruben has asked, “Hey RdubbleU, how about a song while you wait?”

One time I went in with my boys, and by the time we all got a haircut, I discovered I was a little shy of what I owed him. Ruben doesn’t take credit or debit cards, but he will take a song.  So, at two bucks short and a song being worth a nickel, I am, and have been, indebted to my barber for quite some time.

On this particular day, I went and grabbed that old guitar upon request and started to play and sing. Ruben loves Marty Robbins songs, so I played “I Walk Alone.” One of the other fellas asked if I knew “Cowboy in the Continental Suit.” I played that and some others and then handed the guitar to an old man who played “El Rancho Grande” and “De Colores.”

An old cowman from the Canadian River Canyon up around Roy, New Mexico, got to his feet and did a little jig to that ancient old tune while the other men laughed and clapped. Someone remarked that he was in his nineties!  The old cowman replied that he was destined for Dancing with the Stars.  And so it went, for the better part of an hour, until it came my time for a haircut.

I looked across this tiny shop and noticed that the faces that once had been courteous, but indifferent, had warmed. We all had a good laugh when one of the wives came in to tell her husband it was time to go home.  She said she had dragged him out of the saloon many times, but never the barber shop!

When Ruben was done, I left a ten on the counter, grabbed my hat and coat, and said adios.

Heading back to the ranch, I hummed “El Rancho Grande” as I drove and had to laugh at how wrong I had been.  We share so much in common, these men and I.  Our bond is a love for music.

But much more than that, it is a love for music about the land, this land, our land!