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Local trio wins prestigious Wrangler Award for latest CD

Apparently wasting time is not the cowboy way.

The New Mexico Western music trio that calls itself The Cowboy Way released its debut CD, also called “The Cowboy Way,” late last year and right out of the chute it won the prestigious Wrangler Award, presented by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, for best traditional Western album.

bright-spot-logo“I think the three of us made something a little special,” trio member Doug Figgs said during a phone conversation from the Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on Friday. “We are going everywhere on the CD. We are going historical (“Los Ladrones,” about horse thieves), we are going modern-day cowboy (“Let the Best Man Win,” about bullriders), we put in some covers (“Everything That Glitters” by Bob McDill and Dan Seals) that really appeal. We covered a whole lot of things in one album.”

Figgs represented the trio at Saturday’s award ceremonies, which were held at the museum and presided over by actor Bruce Boxleitner.

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Other members of The Cowboy Way are Jim Jones of Albuquerque and Mariam Funke of Socorro.

Although the award-winning CD marks their first album as a trio, all three members are veteran performers and recording artists.

Figgs, a horseshoer and cowboy, as well as a singer/songwriter, lives in Lemitar. He was the Western Music Association’s 2015 Songwriter of the Year, and “Charlie and Evangeline,” a song he wrote with Todd Carter, won a Western Writers of America Spur Award for songwriting that same year.

Jones, a Texas native, has a hatful of Western CDs and four Western novels to his credit. He is the WMA’s 2014 Male Performer of the Year and his song “Texas is Burnin'” won the WWA’s 2013 songwriting Spur.

Funke, who is skilled on the Spanish guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums and more, is considered the master musician in the trio. A native of Germany, Funke followed his fascination with the American West to Socorro, where he put down roots and teaches music when he’s not performing or recording with The Cowboy Way.

Established in 1961, the Western Heritage Wrangler Awards recognize the best Western work in music, literature, film and television.

Past honorees have included novelists Max Evans, Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry; musicians Michael Martin Murphey, Red Steagall and Don Edwards; and film stars John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Gary Cooper.

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“For us, it is amazing,” Figgs said of the Wrangler Award. “We are absolutely honored and thrilled.”

Figgs shoes about 1,200 to 1,400 horses a year and raises cattle on his own place. He said he is not letting the award or the glamour of the awards ceremony go to his head. He’s not ready to give up corrals and horse stalls for the limelight.

“I’ve got to shoe horses for a few more years,” he said.

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