PARTNERS OF HARRIS CENTER
RIDERS IN THE SKY
Sat, May 25, 2019; 8 pm
Beginning each performance with their trademark greeting, "Mighty fine and a great big Western 'Howdy,' all you buckaroos and buckarettes," Riders in the Sky simultaneously pay tribute to and poke gentle fun at the classic cowboy songs of the 1930s and '40s, particularly the work of the Sons of the Pioneers, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry. During the '80s and '90s, the group was notable for its ability to attract fans both firmly within the country tradition (the Riders are members of the Grand Ole Opry) and outside of it. Riders in the Sky are made up of lead singer Ranger Doug (born Douglas B. Green), Woody Paul (born Paul Chrisman) on fiddle and vocals, Too Slim (string bass and guitar), and since the mid-'90s, "Cowpolka King" Joey Miskulin on accordion.
40 years ago, Ranger Doug, Too Slim and the late Windy Bill Collins played that first date on the bitter cold evening of November 11, 1977 at Herr Harry’s Frank N’ Stein Rathskeller in Nashville, and small listening room dates followed. By August of the following year demand was building, and while Windy Bill left, Woody Paul joined, and the true professional beginnings of the band began at the Kentucky State Fair, where the trio played 10 days for $2500- and bought their own rooms and meals out of that!
A first wave followed, including appearances on Austin City Limits; recording contracts with Rounder, then MCA, then Columbia; guest appearances on the Grand Ole Opry leading to membership in 1982; and a three-year run on The Nashville Network with a TV show called “Tumbleweed Theater,” which yet in turn led to a seven-year run on public radio with “Riders Radio Theater. People Magazine, interested in the Riders phenomenon, ran a story which happy caught the eye of a Hollywood producer.
And so the second wave broke, sending the boys to Hollywood to star in “Riders In The Sky” on CBS for a year on Saturday mornings, introducing them to yet another generation. More recordings, endless show dates, and television appearances followed for a decade before the fine folks at Pixar called and asked the quartet – by this time they had been joined by Joey the Cowpolka King – to sing a tune called “Woody’s Roundup” in the movie “Toy Story 2.” Thus, the third wave began, highlighted by a number of projects for Disney, including two albums, both of which won GRAMMY Awards!
The creation of satellite radio has recently given them a new platform, as they continue to produce episodes of the award winning “Classic Cowboy Corral” on Sirius/XM. Still more road dates and recordings (several on their own Riders Radio Records label) and other film and television projects have filled the days and weeks and years, and since the quartet has slowed up very little, the numbers begin to add up: an astonishing 7,200+ appearances, 35 years on the Grand Ole Opry, 40 records albums (well, now CDs,) and tours of all 50 states and all over the world. Honors accumulated as well. In addition to the two Grammy Awards, Riders received numerous awards from the Western Music Association, including the highest: membership in the Western Music Hall of Fame; numerous Wrangler awards from the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum; awards from the Academy of Western Artists; enshrinement in the Walkway of Western Stars, and more. What began as a celebration of classic Western Music and an evening of hilarity has become a career, and that career has become a legend, one which, 40 years on, shows no signs of stopping or even slowing down much.
$42-$62, Premium $72