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Head up the Great Western Trail with 'Bandera'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The Bandera's Riverside Players next radio western - aptly titled "Bandera" - will be broadcast at 4 pm throughout this week on www.banderaradio.com, available on both computers and SmartPhones.

Written by JD Ellis and Salle Ellis, "Bandera" tells the tale of the beginning of a cattle drive on the Western Trail in the 1870s.
The action takes place at dusk at a staging point on the outskirts of Bandera just before the beeves and wranglers head up the trail to Dodge City, Kansas.
Cast includes Tom Fitchett as "Pete" the trail cook; Connor Abbott Ramos as "Little Mary," a 12-year-old cook's helper; Ian Taulli as trial boss "Capt. Silas Hayes"; Bob White as the ramrod "Gabe"; Kendall Tennyson as "Josh," a teenage boy on his first big adventure up the trail; Danna Wither as "Jenny," Josh's mother; Walt Ellis as trail hand "Jeb"; Judith Pannebaker as "Sarie," a friend of Latigo; Braxton Clouse as "Latigo," a trail hand with a dark past; Cindy Fitchett as Comanche Chief "Pasinnaya"; and Sandy Miles-Wolfe as "Vi," a friend of Capt. Hayes.
Rodney Smith provides guitar and harmonica background music and Salle Ellis directed. The radio western is sponsored by Campfire Coffee, available only in Bandera.
JD Ellis wrote the half hour western several years ago when his mother, Salle, became involved in community theater in Bandera.
He envisioned "Bandera" being a part of one of the annual celebrations that take place in this area, such as "Celebrate Bandera" or the National Day of the American Cowboy. "But that's a great idea that hasn't yet come to fruition," Ellis added ruefully.
"I actually wrote the piece as an stage play that could be produced yearly by high school students," he said in a recent interview. "Most of the parts were written for teenagers because, for the most part, they were the ones who participated in those cattle drives."
Ellis' research for "Bandera" ended up in a glossary or series of footnotes to the play, explaining the characters' names and phrases. For example, "Mexican strawberries" is actually beans, as in Pete's line: "Come and get your 'Mexican strawberries' an' cornbread." Ellis added that all the incidents referenced in the play, such as Indian raids and Jose Policarpo Rodriguez heading up the Great Western Trail and trading steers for safe passage through Indian territory, among others, were also based in fact. Even Pete's recipe for 'biling coffee" is correct.
For a taste of what life must have been like just before heading up the Great Western Trail, listeners are advised to tune into www.banderaradio.com for "Bandera" or any one of the Players' radio westerns.

Pictured: San Antonio resident Connor Abbott Ramos plays "Little Mary," a 12-year-old cook's helper, in the Bandera Riverside Players' latest radio western, "Bandera." A tale of life heading up the Great Western Trail. Ramos is the grandson of Medina resident, Danna Withers. "Bandera" will be broadcast on www.banderaradio.com.