"They used to call it country and western/will someone tell me where the western went?/ did it stray from the herd like some poor doggy/ that wound up tangled in some barbed-wire fence?" - Let's Put The Western Back In The Country - Joni Harms-Wood Newton.

Carlene Carter put the "c" back into country, Shooter Jennings fired the O and Joni Harms injects the genre with its western roots.

There's something happening, Mr. Jones (not you George) and rural cowgirls are the forefront of the tidal wave.

We're not talking about the vocally challenged geriatric Aussie hillbillies here or city chameleons applying teat cups to a genre they discovered in chat rooms.

You know who I mean - our buzz sawed voiced pioneers, except Smoky Dawson who can still hold a tune at 93, who turned generations off the soundtrack of our lives.

Leave that to genuine outlaws Billy Joe Shaver, Shotgun Willie, Ray Wylie Hubbard and many literate peers who win the war from within with pure talent.

Now that brings us back to Oregonian oriole Joni Harms who has made 10 albums in a career littered with stillborn discs doomed like bull calves en route to market.

Joni, 46 and mother of two young buckaroos, was an oasis at Gympie Muster in 2005 in a Sargasso Sea of refried rock and blues bozos designed to broaden its appeal.

I'm not bagging fest promoters who gave us talent diverse as Texan troubadour Lee Roy Parnell, Gary Allan, David Lee Murphy, Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch and Trisha Yearwood.

And the best Aussies banned from mainstream commercial radio in their homeland.

Harms won fans with her pure country voice on credible country reeked in the rich past, present and future of the genre.


"The majority of the songs include lyrics of the west, because I love to write about things I've experienced," Harms revealed.

"Rodeo, cowboys and the ranch way of living shows through a lot in my music."

She broke on Nu Country FM when her Two Stepping Texas Blue won high rotation and praise from late heart transplant recipient and midnight DJ Peter Cresp-Gerrard.

Harms ninth album Let's Put The Western Back In The Country on Texas indie label Wildcatter has been belatedly released here because of her Gympie gallop.

She sets a two stepping mood with her entrée title track and expands on Cowboy Up, covered by late liver transplantee-rodeo rider Chris LeDoux.

It's magic all the way - Murphy's Law is a Good Samaritan tale of a rodeo queen who finds true love in the arms of a deputy sheriff who rescues her when her old pick-up breaks down.

And Coyote Café, penned with Cyril Rawson and David Lee Murphy co-writer Kim Tribble, is a Tex-Mex tryst of a Mexican senorita and Texan cowpoke who dies at the wrong end of a barrel in the hands of the irate damsel's dad.

The singer's character, towing steed in a horse trailer and dog Shotgun in the cabin, yearns for human romance in A Little Bit Of Love akin to the metaphor in Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Equally accessible is the ruptured romance of a Texan cowboy chasing his belle to Oregon via Laramie and Calgary in Oregon Trail and distant past in The Wind.

The woman is on the edge of insanity after leaving her family to marry a man who perishes with his wagon, leaving her with a baby who dies.

The song plunges from pathos to bathos as the widow hears the baby's posthumous cries.
But there's a melancholic mood swing to triumph in Shape Of My Heart and secret of longevity in love in fitting finale We Work It Out.

So what does Joni do when she's not on the road with her band Harms' Way?

Well, she raises cattle, quarter horses, Christmas trees and children on a family ranch homesteaded by her great, great grandfather at Canby, south of Portland, in 1872.

The label is a by-product of Wildcatter Ranch at Graham, Texas.

Further info - www.joniharms.com

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