Skip Gorman and Connie Dover: The Celtic Roots of the American West

Skip Gorman and Connie Dover: The Celtic Roots of the American West

“Few American artists understand the Celtic roots of cowboy music better than singer Connie Dover and fiddler-guitarist-singer Skip Gorman.” – Boston Globe

Cowboy singer/musician Skip Gorman and Celtic singer and poet Connie Dover bring together their down-deep, heartfelt interpretations of the traditional music of the American West, Ireland and Scotland. Dover, described by the Boston Globe as the “finest ballad singer America has produced since Joan Baez,” and Gorman, who Bluegrass Unlimited magazine calls “a masterful interpreter of cowboy ballads” blend their music in a concert of the “sweet old songs” of the trail, the cow camp, and the Old-World ballads that were their predecessors.

Connie and Skip met in the Owl Creek Mountains of north central Wyoming, where Connie is a ranch cook, and Skip worked as an entertainer and wrangler during cattle drives and roundups. Their chance meeting on the trail led to impromptu duets around evening campfires, and blossomed into a musical friendship that led to concerts throughout the United States and embassy-hosted tours of South America with musical friend Tom Sauber, where as The Wyoming Pals, they shared cowboy and traditional songs at community concerts and school workshops throughout Chile, Argentina and Paraguay. One of their recent collaborations was a series of concerts to benefit Wrangler Ranch, Inc. (Thermopolis, Wyoming), whose mission is to offer to children in crisis the healing benefits of horse-related activities in a working ranch environment. Their 2007 appearances included the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads in Cody, Wyoming, and a return tour of South America. Skip and Connie’s performances are a rare treat – their music is drawn from the ballads and old-time dance tunes that brought them together.

Connie Dover

Connie Dover has become an American treasure who has rediscovered the musical synergy that existed between the British Isles and the American West. – Cowboys and Indians

Just occasionally, a voice arrives on the folk scene that is so pure, so beautiful, so magical, that it tells you: this is how to sing a song. Such a voice has Connie Dover. – The Scotsman (Scotland’s National Newspaper)

Acclaimed by the Boston Globe as “the finest folk ballad singer America has produced since Joan Baez,” Connie Dover finds her inspiration in the landscapes and culture of the American West. When she is not performing, she works as a ranch cook in the beautiful country between Wyoming’s Wind River and Absaroka Mountains. Her soaring, crystal-clear voice and powerful interpretations of traditional music and original songs speak to the hearts of listeners, and have garnered rave reviews around the world.

Connie received a 2007 Emmy Award for her PBS documentary soundtrack: Bad Blood: The True Story of the Missouri-Kansas Border Conflict, and she was awarded the Grand Prize in the 2007 Yellowstone and Teton Song Contest, sponsored by the Western Folklife Center (Elko, Nevada). She is the winner of the Speakeasy Prize in Poetry, and she has twice been a finalist for Native American Music Award and Scotland’s Living Tradition Award. She has been a guest on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Thistle and Shamrock and A Prairie Home Companion. In addition to her solo CDs, she can be heard on numerous film and television soundtracks, and on the Sony, Virgin, EMI, Narada and Rounder record labels. Her first collection of poems, entitled Winter Count, was published in 2007. Her upcoming CD of traditional Christmas songs, The Holly and the Ivy, recorded with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, will be released in 2008.

Born in Arkansas and raised in Missouri, Connie is of English, Cherokee, Mexican and Scots/Irish descent. Her studies at Oxford University have further enriched her unique perspective of the context of traditional songs, and she offers a musical experience that transcends cultural boundaries and affirms our connection with the past. From a tender love song in Irish Gaelic to an ancient Scots ballad or the mournful plaint of an American cowboy, Connie’s pure, powerful voice – in spoken word or music – transports listeners across centuries.

Skip Gorman

Gorman is one of the most savvy and authentic cowboy folk artists in the country.
– Boston Globe

The lonesome ache that is in the core of Skip Gorman’s voice and fiddling fits close to the bones of the slope country, the rough breaks, the bunchgrass high plains. These traditional cowboy songs, unadorned, openly sad, sometimes lively or gritty, carry the distance and solitude of the West in them. – Annie Proulx, Author, Centennial, Wyoming

Through his music, Skip Gorman brings back to life the workaday world of the old “waddie” cowboys of the American West. His music is the simple yet poignant songs performed around campfires by cowhands and westward settlers in the late 19th century. Since the early 1970s, as a member of Utah’s Deseret String Band, which culminated in his seminal recording of “Powder River” for Folk Legacy Records in 1977, Gorman has brought to western music a scholar’s knowledge of the cowhand’s Spanish, African-American and Celtic roots. Along with an exquisite touch as a singer, guitarist, mandolinist and fiddler, Gorman brings to his music personal experience gained as a working cowboy on Wyoming ranches. In addition, Skip has long been known as one of the country’s top performers of the mandolin style of Bill Monroe, and is a top notch Celtic style fiddle player as well.

Gorman has performed on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and filmmaker Ken Burns has featured Skip’s music in his PBS documentaries, Lewis and Clark and Baseball. Gorman has several award-winning CDs on his own Old West label, as well as the Rounder and Folk Legacy record labels. His musical accolades include an INDIE Award and a 1999 Top Ten folk pick on His latest releases are “A Herder’s Call” and “Fiddles in the Cow Camp”along with Dogie Music with his group, The Waddie Pals, Mandolin in the Cow Camp, featuring artwork by the renowned Western artist, William Matthews, and Roll on Prairie Wagons – Let ‘Er Buck, Young Pards (Ballads and History for young Cowpokes).

Skip has performed at folk and bluegrass festivals and cowboy gatherings (including Elko, Arvada, Monterey and Santa Clarita) throughout the American West and in Europe. He was a featured performer with Connie Dover for the US Embassy’s Fourth of July Celebration in Santiago, Chile in 2006.

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