Roy musician captures sounds of beloved Western performers

Sunday , April 16, 2017 - 5:00 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

ROY — Fans of Western music stars Willie NelsonMerle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins might enjoy hearing Robin Arnold.

“I work hard at getting close to their sounds,” Arnold said. “I will sing their songs and put their feel into it.”

At 69, the Roy resident has perfected his craft for more than 50 years — and it shows.

Arnold first publicly performed his cowboy crooning at age 16 — having borrowed some cowboy boots and a cowboy hat — in a high school talent show, .

“Not only do I recognize the song, I recognize who sang it,” Arnold said, repeating the words of a fan.

A top follower, Patsy Kirchmann, of Roy, said that’s why she often schedules his performances.

“He really has a great personality,” she said. “He knows how to bring the heart of the music to the people, too.”

Those who want to take in Arnold’s music are invited to a free concert this week. Arnold is one of six artists featured in three free performances as part of Cowboy Poetry Week in Weber County libraries:

• Arnold will sing at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 17, in the activity center at the Southwest branch of the library, 2039 W. 4000 South, Roy. Poet Bob Urry also will perform.

• The Saddle Strings will provide the music alongside poet Sam DeLeeuw for a performance at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in the activity center of the Pleasant Valley Library, 5568 S. 500 East, Ogden.

• Musician Dave Anderson and poet Stan Tixier will perform at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in the auditorium of the Ogden Valley Branch, 131 S. 7400 East in Huntsville.

Tixier, who organizes the local events, said Cowboy Poetry Week was established nationally a decade ago by cowboypoetry.com with the idea of promoting cowboy poetry and western music through public libraries.

Cowboypoetry.com provides posters to libraries throughout the country that participate in the week.

“Through pairing cowboy poets with musicians or musical groups, they wanted to create programs that people would enjoy,” Tixier said. “There is quite a following for this kind of entertainment.”

The three performances in this year’s event each will last about an hour and a half, Tixier said.

“Crowds are getting larger each year as the word gets around about how good these free programs are,” Tixier said.

Tixier and Arnold each were winners of the 2011 Cowboy Idol contest at the Columbia River Poetry Gathering in Kennewick, Washington. Arnold was the music idol winner and Tixier was the poet idol winner, as voted by members of the audience.

A retired railroad employee, Arnold takes his singing on the road, performing three or four times a week, often at nursing centers.

Arnold performs the second Wednesday each month at the Roy Senior Center, according to director Kathy Gallegos, and he has a steady following.

“He’s wonderful,” she said. “He has volunteered for me for five years. I don’t know very many entertainers at his level who still volunteer in senior centers.”

Arnold said he enjoys taking an audience on a journey through the Old West through a ballad.

“I like it when you can tell the story as you sing and watch them,” Arnold said. “They can visually see the story in their minds.”

His credits include performing on stage with The Riders In The Sky and Phil Vassar, as the opening act at the Utah State Fair.

He has performed in venues including the National Festival of the West in Scottsdale, Arizona; the Canyon Country Western Arts Festival in Cedar City; the Western Heritage Festival in Spanish Fork; and the Western Legends Round-Up in Kanab.

More locally, he’s performed at the Orrin Porter Rockwell Festival in Brigham City and the Heber City Cowboy Poetry and Buckaroo Fair.

“I have about 500 songs up under my hat to pull from,” Arnold said. “The majority of people I run into enjoy songs that are familiar.”

More information about Arnold’s music is available at robinarnold.com.

You can reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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