Mistress of the Mix: Not My First Rodeo

blue boots

I'm ashamed to admit this, but I'd totally forgotten that it was Rodeo week in Redding. It was only for about five minutes, this past Monday morning, but it was long enough. I was standing in my kitchen right around 9am, admiring the deep violet hues of a hydrangea bush I'd just planted in the backyard, when I heard the gunshots.

I actually grabbed the phone to call 911 before I gave myself an eyeball roll and chuckled. I should've known. It's not like this is my first rodeo.

It reminded me of the moment a few years ago when my husband experienced the same thing during his first Rodeo week in Redding. He called me just after 9am on a Monday morning because he'd just heard a slew of gunshots coming from the direction of downtown. He wanted to make sure I was okay, and told me to lock the door...and then he wanted to know why I was laughing.

Oh nothing, honey. It's just a bank robbery.

Moments later, my friend Matt Grigsby posted photos online of this gang heading down California Street, displaying guns and flags.

Asphalt Cowboys

Here's another bombshell confession: This week marks my 16th rodeo week in Redding, and I'm still not entirely sure if these guys are supposed to represent the thieves, or the posse chasing after them!

That doesn't mean I don't enjoy rodeo week. I really do. I think I've done my best to embrace Redding's western heritage, especially since so much of rodeo week - outside of the actual rodeo, that is - unfolds right outside my office door. I have to literally weave between thousands of pancake eaters on my bicycle just to get to work during the Asphalt Cowboy's Pancake Breakfast. The boys in yellow have already shown up on the block twice this week (they generously reward me for the inconvenience of not being able to drive my car to the office for several days in a row during the festivities by giving me breakfast tickets).

I also really enjoy going to the rodeo, and that's most definitely because I enjoy the sport of cattle roping and the athleticism of bronco riding. It's most definitely not to ogle cowboy butts. Definitely not that.

This year my husband surprised me with a brand new cowboy hat, which he purchased in the authentically western state of Nebraska. It's white and gorgeous, and he probably looks better in it than I do, but I'm going to wear it anyway. I've got the jeans, I'm good with shirts, I've even got a bolo tie. There's just one thing I'm missing, and I'm putting it out here, just laying it out here, in case there's some boot company out there in the world looking for a public radio celebrity endorsement.

What I'm saying is that I don't have cowboy boots.

I used to have the most amazing pair of cheetah spotted boots made out of some kind of animal hide with pointy silver toe tips and heel plates that I found in a little store in Mexico back in 1991. I loved those boots so hard that I wore them under my first wedding dress. But alas, they contracted a bad case of mange about ten years later, and I had to put 'em down. It was a sad day. Since then, I just haven't found a pair I really like.

Until now.

So I'm just laying it out there to the universe that I'm a size 8 1/2 wide, and I really dig these:


But I also like these, these, these and these.

Boots boots boots

But in the meantime, if you happen to run into me at the rodeo, or the pancake breakfast, please pardon my lack of appropriate footwear. and if you know anyone in the funky boot manufacturing industry that you could pass some information along to, I've got an extra ticket for the pancake breakfast for you. I'm also reviving my Honky Tonk Girl playlist  - one of my favorites - for all you buckaroos to enjoy as you kick up your heels while the rodeo is in town!

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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15 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    I Grew Up Dreamin’ of Being a Cowboy – Willie Nelson

    Go to Sleep, My Little Buckaroo – Bing Crosby

    Boot Scootin’ Boogie – Asleep at the Wheel

  2. A. Jacoby says:

    Love that you paid proper homage to some of the classics: Ernie Ford, Faron Young, Lefty Frizzel and the like . . . but I don’t see any Sons of the Pioneers (although you kinda got there with Roy Rogers as he was one of the original SOP) or any of our local boy.  . . . or did I just miss it? How about:



    and I know, you could have made that play-list six hours long and still missed some good ones.

    How Fun!!!

  3. Rod says:

    “…I don’t have cowboy boots”.  Sounds like a long forgotten song title.  I got to thinkin.

    You’re after cowgirl boots Val.  Your evocative lead illustration sets your tone.   She’s a beauty, just the kind of cutie every cowboy dreams of.

    And then you show your favorites which aren’t cowboy boots.  I’m not sure what we call ’em other than cowgirl boots.  They are attractive.

    Which bring me around to……What is the Rodeo about?

  4. Caroline says:

    R.I.P. Cheetah Spotted Boots!! 😉 XO

  5. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    My favorite part of rodeo week over the years  has been figuring out where the loot was hidden.  I was always happy to learn that my guess was correct even though work prevented me from going on the hunt. I’m retired now.  I was at the same place  searching last year with a young man who, like me, didn’t find the loot, but who died trying.   I blame it on bad clues! My enthusiasm dimmed.  Thanks for a great article.


  6. Karen C says:

    I used to hunt for the loot too  when the kids were at home.  We would all listen to the clues.  One year they stashed it at the Civic in the parking lot, inside some sort of hole that was covered with a metal plate.  I knew it was down there, and sure enough it was.  Only I did not find it because my car was parked on top of it!  It became less fun and as the town grew and more people moved in.  It seems we used to know almost everybody or at least heard of them and knew where they worked.  Not so anymore.

  7. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    If you don’t know how much I love this playlist, you don’t know me.  And of course, I can’t help tacking my own list to the board:

    Sinaloa Cowboys — Bruce Springsteen

    Cowboy Man — Lyle Lovett

    Cowboy Song — Dan Reeder

    Cowboy Lips — The Bobs

    Mexican Cowboy — Willie Watson

    Japanese Cowboy — Ween

    Hippies and Cowboys — Cody Jenks

    Western Cowboy — Hurray for the Riff Raff

    Cowboy Lloyd Cross — Dale Watson

    The Cowboy in the Continental Suit — Marty Robbins

    I really wanted to put Texan Love Song by Elton John on the list, but it doesn’t have the word “Cowboy” in the title.

  8. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives—that dude is an under-appreciated national treasure.  In his career he’s done bluegrass, Bakersfield honky-tonk, traditional Nashville country, rockabilly, gospel, and southern rock.  He’s an accomplished multi-instrumentalist.  He’s been around for a long time—long enough that many of his younger peers have settled into recycling well-worn formats and doing “greatest hits” live shows.

    Not Stuart.  His latest album—Way Out Westis jangly, road-trippy music that mixes psychedelia, surf, spaghetti western, truck-driving songs, Marty Robbins-style Mexico ballads, and Gram Parsons-era Byrds/Flying Burrito Brothers.  His prior album, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, was a double album of honkey tonk (Saturday night) and Gospel (Sunday morning).  I still kick myself that we missed his Red Bluff show a couple years ago.

  9. Valerie Ing says:

    Marty Stuart is SO awesome. I’m sorry you missed him. I also missed him because I was out of town when he played the Cascade Theatre in 2015. When I did country western radio some years ago, he was a staple on my show.


    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I guess I missed his Cascade show, too—how did I not even know he was playing?  I did see him a few years back at the Stagecoach festival in Coachella, and years before that in Colorado.

      And since you brought up the Cascade:  Nobody to date has been able to answer my “what the hell happened?” query.  Just an abysmally blank slate this year, and it seems like nobody wants to say why, other than some hand-waving speculation.  Something’s gotta be going down—or it already went down.

      • Valerie Ing says:

        Did you never see the response I wrote to your original query? I did respond…but I probably didn’t satisfy your curiosity. I mentioned that JPR isn’t really involved in the day to day operations of the Cascade’s management or marketing efforts any longer the way we used to be…kind of a “our baby grew up and is now responsible for making its own way in the world” situation. Anyway, keep your ear to the ground, because the Cascade HAS been hard at work developing the 2017-18 season. They’ve been keeping it under wraps but and it will be released next week. In fact, you can read all about it right here. And while I wasn’t involved in choosing any of the shows, I am super duper excited about some of them!

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I do remember your response, but at the time it struck me as long on why JPR was no longer directly involved and therefore why you didn’t really know the answer.  That’s kind of the answer I got from others, too—we don’t know, why don’t you ask the Cascade folks?  So I sent them an email, and it was ignored.  That only heightened my suspicions that a significant sea change had occurred.

          Glad to hear that’s just my tendency to wring my hands about everything getting the best of me, again.  Looking forward to the curtain drop next week!

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