Two troubadours are riding into Great Bend for an evening of contemporary western music and poetry at the Great Bend Public Library on Thursday, October 10. Kerry Grombacher and Aspen Black will perform their “Songs & Stories of the American West” concert at 6:30 p.m. at the library, 1409 Williams St. Admission is free.
Their work draws vivid portraits and tells fascinating stories that are set in the Western landscape, where they’ve worked and traveled with cowboys and Indians, ranchers and rodeo riders, outfitters and chuckwagon cooks, and lawmen and lawbreakers.
“I’m happy to be returning to Great Bend for a concert,” said Grombacher. “The late Don Schorock booked me at the Barton Arts Center in 2010, when I was on my border-to-border Highway 281 Troubadour Tour, and it was among the best stops along the eighteen hundred-mile highway. This time around, we’re bringing new songs, and some older ones – including my Highway 281 ballad – to the Great Bend Public Library.”
Aspen Black added, “I’m really looking forward to performing in Great Bend. I’m a Virginia cowgirl, and it’s awe-inspiring for me to spend time on the Great Plains, with the big sky and long horizons that signify the West in our imaginations.”
Grombacher and Black, both successful solo artists, have worked together as a duo since 2014, performing nationwide for arts councils, house concerts, festivals, museums and libraries. Their songs are influenced by the English ballad tradition, the string-band music of Aspen’s Appalachian home, and the corridos of the desert Southwest, where Grombacher has lived and worked.
Grombacher plays guitar and mandolin. His songs have been featured on the ABC-TV adventure travel show, “Born to Explore,” and on the Putumayo World Records CD “Cowboy Playground,” which was released in over 60 countries. He has released five albums of original songs, and his songs have been recorded by a list of artists that includes Jim Jones, Belinda Gail, The Texas Trailhands, Gary Prescott, and Trails & Rails.
Nalini Jones, of the Newport Folk Festival, said, “Kerry Grombacher is the best kind of songwriter, with lyrics that take us on journeys to places we’ve never visited before, and melodies so pure and true that they seem to rise up from the plains …”
Black plays guitar and bass. She is a finalist for the 2019 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Cowboy Poetry, and she released a new CD of Cowboy Poetry, “Tales from the Road,” in 2018. Black’s “Lovin’ the West” won the Rural Roots Music Commission’s 2017 Classic Western CD of the Year award, and her “Eastern-Western Cowgirl” was the 2015 Female Country-Western CD of the Year. She was a Top Five finalist for the International Western Music Association’s Female Poet of the Year in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and her poetry CD, “Invisibility,” was a Top Five finalist for Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year in both 2015 and 2016.
Dick Shoemaker, of YNN-TV in Franklin County, Virginia, said, “Aspen Black has the voice of an angel. I could listen to her sing all day, and just sit back and smile.”