The “Wildfire” singer-songwriter will be playing in Austin, Fort Worth, Waco, Wichita Falls, and five other cities in Texas on his 2004 Cowboy Christmas tour.

How would you define a “cowboy Christmas”? It’s a Western-style event that shows the country connection—and I’m not talking about country music, but about the landscape, the environment—with the original Christmas story. And it’s a celebration of the cowboy Christmas frontier dance that originated in Texas in the 1880’s.

What’s the history? There’s the cowboy aspect in the original Christ­mas story because Jesus was born in a stable, and the first people to get the news were men who were watching livestock, the cowboys of that era. And I’ve unearthed a lot of great stuff on the first cowboy Christmas ball. A New Yorker named Larry Chittenden in­­herited a ranch in Anson from his uncle, and when he came down to see it, he witnessed a wedding Christmas party attended by ranchers from all over Texas. He was so taken by what he saw that he wrote a whimsical poem called “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball,” which became a song. And Anson has kept the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball alive for over a hundred years. We play there every year.

So now you’re upholding the tradition. Yeah, the mantle fell to me, I guess, because of my enthusiasm. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a singing cowboy. I’ve gone through a lot of permutations of that, but as it’s turned out, I’m a traditional singing cowboy now and loving it. (Go to for a complete concert schedule.) STEPHEN SAITO