Cowboy crooner Steve Cormier will headline historical society meeting

Singer-songwriter, storyteller and actor shares tales of cowboy lifestyle

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • Cormier will perform after the historical society meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 8 in the Banquet Room at the Farmington Civic Center.
  • Admission is free and open to everyone.
  • The event is designed to kick off the organization's membership drive.

FARMINGTON — When he looks back on his days as a working cowboy in the foothills of Kansas and the Llano Estacado of eastern New Mexico, Steve Cormier knows better than to romanticize a life that had plenty of drawbacks.

But he can't seem to help himself. Cormier — a retired history teacher from the Albuquerque area who now makes his living as a singer and songwriter, storyteller and actor — recalls his time in the saddle with more than a little fondness.

"It's a beautiful life if you don't mind low wages and loneliness," he said.

Earlier in his life, Cormier could live with those drawbacks in exchange for the kind of personal freedom the cowboy life afforded him and the chance to view the world from the perspective of between a horse's ears. But cowboying is decidedly a young man's game, he said, and when Cormier revisits that world today, he does so as an artist who tries to convey the charms of that life to a wider audience.

Cormier will perform songs and relate stories about the open range during a performance this week for the San Juan County Historical Society. He said he hasn't worked as a cowboy in 30 years and doesn't intend to do it again.

Singer-songwriter and storyteller Steve Cormier performs this week during the San Juan County Historic Society meeting at the Farmington Civic Center.

"A cowboy and his life are best looked at from a distance," he said. "The best you can say about it is you survived and have a little less jaundiced view of it now than you did while you were doing it."

Cormier said it's been four or five years since he last performed here, but he knows his Farmington audience will start with a little more foundational knowledge of the cowboy life than the crowd members who come to see him elsewhere.

Read more:Bloomfield resident competes on reality TV program 'Ultimate Cowboy Showdown

"I probably won't have to explain some of the nuances … like I would in Philadelphia or Boston," he said. "Those shows are usually a little more explanatory."

Cormier plans on talking, and singing, about some of the more iconic figures from cowboy history during his show at the Civic Center. He's touring in support of his new album "Wichita - Albuquerque - Silver City," a collection of original and traditional material that he recorded in those three cities.

Although he hasn't worked as a cowboy in decades, New Mexico's Steve Cormier still enjoys sharing the charms -- and pitfalls -- of life in a saddle with audiences all over the country.

One such tune on the disc was crafted by Cormier's longtime friend Mark Ross and focuses on Bill Pickett, the legendary African-American wrangler from Oklahoma who was considered the world's finest bulldogger in the early 20th century.

Cormier said he finds himself writing songs less and less as he grows older and relying increasingly on the material of others that he finds meaningful.

Read:Family, friends mourn Don Hoglund, the former New Mexican who led White Sands horse rescue

"I only write something if I feel a nagging need to express myself," he said. "If something sticks in my brain, I'll start writing about it. If the muse isn't there, it isn't there."

But even after all these years, it's that ragged and dusty cowboy lifestyle that, for all its faults, still captures his imagination.

Steve Cormier is touring in support of his new disc "Wichita - Albuquerque - Silver City."

Cormier said that while the number of people who can make a living as a working cowboy continues to shrink, there is still a demand for those who can drive cattle — even if it's just on a feedlot.

"They're always going to be around as long as people are eating those animals in restaurants and their homes," he said. " … It's not very romantic. But there'll always be a need for cowboys."

Cormier will perform after the historical society meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, in the Banquet Room at the Farmington Civic Center 200 W. Arrington St. in Farmington. Admission is free and open to everyone, but the event is designed to kick off the organization's membership drive.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription: