LeMars, Iowa…..Patsy Montana is well known as being the first female in country & western music to sell over a million copies with her song “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.”  Today, even though Ms. Montana passed away some years ago, her song is still the first and foremost among young girl singers who want to yodel.”
     Bob Everhart is the President of the National Traditional Country Music Assn., and is very blunt about where country music is today, and wonders why it does not contain any of the elements that made it famous in the first place.  “Patsy Montana was not only a very well liked performer, she was in incredible songwriter, and she yodeled.  Yes, she yodeled.  This is not a dying art form, though it sure has been eliminated by today’s so-called country music singers and recording artists.  Passe?  I don’t think so.  Some of the biggest selling records coming out in the Americana style, as well as small labels that specialize in a more traditional country music sound, find yodeling one of their best selling items.”
     According to Everhart, who was a close friend of Patsy Montana.  “The last show we got to do with Patsy Montana was at our Opera House in Walnut, Iowa, in 1993.  She was a remarkable woman, and we’re grateful to be able to do a “Tribute Show” to her, and her music, at our 36th Annual National Old Time Country, Western, Bluegrass, & Folk Music Festival, at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds, in LeMars, Iowa.  Dates are August 29 through September 4th.  Patsy’s grandson, Michael Montana, who makes his home in Alabama, is coming to help us present his grandmothers music.  He will not only perform, he will also host and emcee the program.  It will be held the Wednesday night of our event, August 31, beginning at 7pm.  There’s a whole ton of entertainment on the show, beginning with Maggie Mae (Wi), followed by Jeannie Seely from the Grand Ole Opry.  Jordan Garner, an 8 year old yodeler from Australia, and Naomi Bristow an 11 year old yodeler from Canada, will certainly set the stage for the incredible cowboy and western acts which follow, including: T. J. Casey, a real cowboy from Montana, and another Canadian, Jim Reader.  Ron Affolter from Minnesota not only sings the part, he looks the part.  K G & The Ranger from Wisconsin have a truly remarkable western show, and the Wild Horse Wranglers from Texas add some rip-snortin’ music and comedy to the mix.  Earl Gleason is another ‘real’ cowboy singer from New Mexico, and he will be joined by Pat Boilesen from the Sandhills of Nebraska.  Tom Hawk is a retired professor from Maryland, but he can sing a western song with the best of them, and Alexa Whipple is a champion yodeler from Nebraska.  Throw in two cowboy poets, Rich Bellert from Texas, and Abe Reddekopp from Missouri, and it looks like one fine evening of real cowboy and western music.”
     “We had hoped to have Janet McBride, also from Texas,” Everhart added, “but she just can’t make it.  We’re really glad we can do this show in honor of our old friend Patsy Montana.  That wasn’t her real name you know, it was Ruby Blevins from Arkansas.  When she was quite young, she went with her Uncle to take a truckload of watermelons to Chicago.  While she was waiting for the truck to be unloaded, she noticed a small ad in the local newspaper, asking for country singers to audition for the WLS Barn Dance.  She slipped away, did the audition with another young country singer named Gene Autry, and they were both hired on the spot.  Her and Mr. Autry remained lifelong friends.  Before you knew it, she was performing with her own band the ‘Prairie Ramblers.’  It was with this band that she recorded her self-written song “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.’  The song was an instant hit in 1935, and became the first million selling record by a female country recording artist.  Patsy Montana was a very good fiddler, but she was an extraordinary guitarist.  She performed her ‘brand’ of country and western music around the world, and was inducted in our America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993.  She was inducted into Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, the same year that she died.”
     “The annual Old Time Country & Western Festival where the Patsy Montana Tribute show will be held, has been going for 36 years, and includes well over 600 country music performers during the weeklong event.  Shows are held in huge air conditioned buildings as well as outdoor stages.  The event includes great country cookin’ and some of the best Iowa corn-fed beef steak anyone is likely ever to eat.  LeMars is also home of Bluebunny Ice Cream, the largest ice cream manufacturer in the world.  General admission is $15 per day per person, with a seven-day gate pass available at $60 per person, which includes everything, all ten stages as well as celebrities like Jim Ed Brown, Jeannie Seely, and Helen Cornelius from the Grand Ole Opry.  Bonnie Guitar, Eddie Pennington, and Tut Taylor are also on tap for performances.”
     “The festival grounds also includes large flat areas with 30-amp hook-ups at $12 a day (no reservations are taken, first come first serve only).  A Tipi Village in an old ghost town setting is a great place for ‘jammers’ to gather, and throw in six old time dances in the Dance Hall, and it’s a pretty good deal for the dollar,” said Everhart.  “Workshops, contests, open stages, even the front porch of an old log cabin becomes the focal point of entertainment interest.  It’s all done much the way it was done when homesteaders started settling Iowa.  We keep telling folks, don’t put all your money in your gas tank to drive thousands of miles to see one show.  Come home, be with us, and see a thousand shows.”
     More information is available at the NTCMA website, or calling the NTCMA at 712-762-4363, or e-mailing them at    

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