Texas swing band played swan song for Cowboy Jubilee

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Connor and Tobin McCrae play the national anthem at the start of the Cowboy Jubilee at the Carson City Community Center on Saturday.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Connor and Tobin McCrae play the national anthem at the start of the Cowboy Jubilee at the Carson City Community Center on Saturday.

Sourdough Slim kept them laughing, Rod Nelson held them in rapt attention with his poetry and the Quebe Sisters had the audience clapping to Western Swing.

That was the scene at the 14th Annual Cowboy Jubilee and Poetry event that is an annual fundraiser for Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center and a regular stop for some of the nation's top cowboy entertainers.

But only two-thirds of the Carson Community Center auditorium were filled for the first of two shows, leading organizer Delsye Mills to say this would probably be the last such event.

"This is the last year of it," she said. "Ticket sales are horrible."

The music lovers who did buy tickets were treated to the first Carson City appearance - they have played in Reno - of the Quebe sisters, Hulda, 17, Sophia, 20, and Grace, 21, who all play the fiddle and harmonize on Western Swing, cowboy, old-time country and even some jazz tunes.

They often play folk festivals, but also are regulars at the annual Elko Cowboy Poetry gathering, where they have played since 2005. They've played at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and the Grand Ole Opry.

They have opened for Merle Haggard. They play all over the continent, from their home state of Texas to California to the East Coast and all the way to Nova Scotia.

"It wasn't what they normally heard there, but they really liked it," said Sophia.

The three sisters began performing at a fiddle contest in Denton, Texas.

"It just kind of went from there, and now we have a band," Sophie said.

They also have two CDs, the first, "Texas Fiddlers" being an instrumental and the second, "Timeless," includes the swing music and three-part harmonies they have come to love.

Sophie admits it is unusual for young performers to gravitate toward Western Swing, but said they hope to bring their sound to a younger audience.

The women count among their influences the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills, The Sons of the Pioneers, the Mills Brothers, the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline and Ray Price.

Also performing for one song were two artists even younger than the Quebes - Tobin and Connor McRae of Carson City, who performed the National Anthem on violins to start the show.

"We just wanted to do it because our friends played it," said 7-year-old Tobin, who admitted being "kinda" nervous.

Connor, 8, said he wasn't nervous at all because "you can't even see the first row."

Rod Nelson, 58, leaves the music to others.

"Every time I do music I'm requested to never do it again," he said.

He has been performing cowboy poetry for 21 years. He's also a real cowboy, steer wrestling on the senior rodeo circuit, training horses and working as a part-time brand inspector in Almont, N.D., where he owns a small ranch and raises red Angus cattle.

But his passion is in the poetry.

"Some years I'm real busy, some not," he said. "I've never promoted it at all, it's all word-of-mouth."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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