By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Local southern Alberta multi-faceted musician and cowboy poet Noel Burles recently released his very-first poetry collection on CD entitled, “Rhyme ‘N’ Time.” Burles currently resides in Coalhurst, but pre-COVID pandemic, the road was often the vagabond troubadour’s home away from home.
Burles’first spoken word cowboy poetry collection was released a few months ago, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Burles said artists can’t really have a traditional release. “It’s just kind of, well OK, here you go. And if somebody wants to buy one, cool.”
“I put 30 poems on this CD. Way more than most people do. I felt, if someone’s going to actually spend the money to buy my work, I’m going to give them their money’s worth or try to anyway,” he noted. “That was my thinking.”
“The odd one has a little bit of music in the background, but very little,” Burles added.
Burles said he started doing cowboy poetry back in 1990. At the time, he didn’t know he could do poetry, but discovered he could indeed rhyme. His latest release is a culmination of poems from over the years.
“One of the poems on this album was the first-place winner in a cowboy poetry rodeo, pay to enter, down in an Oklahoma competition,” said Burles. Selections from the new CD are also getting some airplay in the United States.
“Bob O’Donnell, from ‘The Western Jukebox,’has a daily pod show for one hour and has been playing both my poetry CD and my music. He can be found on Facebook Bob O’Donnell. For those that like country and western, this is wellworth a person’s time,” said Burles.
Burles joked he has unlimited brainwaves, but if he gets an idea, he can sit down and write out a poem between 10-15 minutes – it just comes naturally. “It just comes to me. Somebody will say something and I’ll go, I can write a story on that and then I write it.”
One poem entitled “Gremlins,” Burles pointed out, is about how we lose things. “When you had the pen in your hand two minutes ago, but now it’s gone and you’re searching for it and then you find it in your pocket. But now, you can’t find the paper.”
Topic-wise, the selections on the CD also includes funny things and stories Burles has heard over the years. “I’ve been around now a little over 70 years. I’ve got some stories,” he joked.
Burles said musically he’s also been writing a few new songs. “I probably have enough to do another album. With COVID-19, it makes it very hard to find a place to sell them. Before, we were going to shows and doing the poetry shows and doing festivals. Until COVID-19 hit, I was doing 400 shows a year, musically. All of a sudden, it stopped. And so did the paycheque.”
Without being on the road, pretty much all of 2020, Burles – in his “wisdom” – decided to buy a pedal steel and learn how to play it. “That wasn’t the brightest thing I’ve ever come up with.” But, at least he tried it. “I play several instruments.”
Burles is also in the process of writing a few articles for some magazines on history and he said he has his fingers in all kinds of pies, so to speak. “I like music. I have a train set I like to play with.”
So, he tries to keep busy, when not touring and performing live. The hope is to still tour the new cowboy poetry collection, when things get sorted out pandemic-wise. “As soon as we get a shot, I’m gone,” he said.
Right now, fans can purchase Burles’CD through his Facebook page and his music and poems are available to stream on YouTube. The new collection is also available to purchase at the Coalhurst IDA.