Roger Ebert


How did you get through the holidays? As I am writing this it is New Years Eve day and I watched one of the many run downs, in the news shows, on who all was lost during 2017. It is amazing how many people I did know passed on but also how many I did not know who was considered to be important and news worthy.

It is hard for many to get through the holidays because of many things. Hopefully the joy of the birth of our Savior gave the needed energy to come through the season whole.

As I set here the word that a legend in our Western Music world, Liz Masterson passed away from cancer. Liz was not only a legendary talent in our music world and family, but was a really great person.

I was accepted into a family of talented people in the Western music world and have been in awe of this fact for years. When I am with my family I am so aware of how little talent I really have and yet I was brought into this world and treated as an equal.

This group filled in a gaping hole in my life because at age 40 I started losing all of my best friends. The losses caused me to start dealing with my pain through cowboy and country poetry. I was fortunate that a radio station owner and personality took to me and hired me for several performances that the station sponsored. I try to thank him for the opportunities but is any expression of thanks enough?

He is gone now and adds to the growing list of people in this new family that I have lost. I used to make the Western Music Association Festival in Albuquerque NM every November. It was the time of year that a huge number of family members got together to recognize the talent and calling of the poets and musicians.

Of course the making of new friends also sets you on a path of loss because we are all born to die. The first one to make a big impact on me was the loss of Curly Musgrave. For those who did not know him he was the most gifted and knowledgeable musician that I ever knew. I could not be called a close friend but we were on the path to it when we lost him. His partner, Belinda Gail, was hit by the double whammy of losing her singing partner and her husband in the same year.

2017 was the year of loss for ‘The Voice’ Bill Barwick. Bill was a larger than life singer, actor, businessman, and rescue technician. Bill loved the Walnut Valley Festival at Winfield and was on stage there for almost 30 years. He was the booming voice of the Western Channel. He was one of the best vocalists and stylists in Western Music, and he worked with the Rocky Mountain Rescue Team for 30 years. When he had his stroke a few years ago we watched him battle back because there was “no quit” in Bill.

To top off the year 2017 I lost several family friends and here this morning the news came in that Liz Masterson from Colorado lost her battle with cancer. That nemesis that I hate the sound of. Cancer has been a major factor in a large part of my losses over the years.

How do you deal with loss? I guess you just live. Health has prevented me from seeing my new family at the WMA now for several years. I have never found the words that can give any comfort to anyone who has experienced loss. I guess the only way that I have dealt with it is in the knowledge that we will all feel the same loss over time. I have faith that someday we will all be joined together again.

What a jam session that will be.

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