Wow, do these guys connect! They appeal to old folks who grew up admiring and emulating the mythical movie cowboys of the Old West who were known for always being courageously on the side of justice, “good guys” who protected the weak and battled evil, and who also could play guitars and sing and yodel.
For those in mid-life who listened to Riders In the Sky on radio and watched them perform on TV, emulating “The Cowboy Way” became a practical approach to living a good life while having a little fun at the same time. And today’s youngsters—well, they may not actually know these guys by their names, but they know their award-winning songs and giggle and guffaw at their good-hearted laugh-out-loud humor.
Darke County Center for the Arts is presenting two special events this month featuring America’s Favorite Cowboys, Riders In the Sky, at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall in Greenville. Past Riders’ concerts have sold out, always leaving some disappointed fans, so the addition of a second show has been a consideration for several years. And making that second show a matinee aimed directly at youngsters and their families seems a no-brainer for many good reasons, the most obvious being that an entertaining, funny, and wholesome show featuring world-renowned artists singing songs, making jokes, and doing rope tricks all for a low ticket price should attract a broad-ranging audience eager to connect to the wonder and joy that fills a show by RITS.
Although those who have seen past Riders’ performances wouldn’t mind seeing and hearing the songs and routines they’ve enjoyed in the past, the quartet’s performance at 8 p.m. on Nov. 12 is brand new and honors Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys, featuring film clips from Roy’s greatest moments on screen as well as fun facts about his life and legacy. While introducing the iconic performer to new generations, the show provides yet another connection for the many fans of the Ohio-born Western star, and will “trigger” (that’s an in-joke for those in the know) a lot of memories.
“Round-Up at Kids Corral” on Nov. 13 will offer Ranger Doug, Too Slim, Woody Paul, and Joey, the CowPolka King at their delightful best, displaying their quick wit as well as their wide-ranging musical skills as they interact with their audience. Award-winning songwriter and distinguished music historian Doug Green sings lead and baritone for the quartet, his ever-present grin and twinkling eyes generating a warmth and friendliness that almost instantly pulls the audience into Riders’ performances.
Bassist Too Slim worked as a janitor, a puppeteer, a hay stacker, a sportswriter, and a wildlife manager before becoming a Rider in 1977, and can be counted on to whack out a tune by playing his face sometime during the show. In addition to dazzling fans with his fiddle playing and intricate rope tricks, theoretical plasma physicist Woody Paul sings lead and tenor vocals with the group. Known for his soulful stylings on the “Stomach Steinway,” accordionist Joey the CowPolka King brings zest and enthusiasm to the stage, his amazing musical skill undergirding and heightening the group’s vocal harmonizing.
The only exclusively Western artists to have ever won a Grammy (and they’ve won two), Riders In the Sky were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1982, and continue to delight audiences everywhere, justifying Billboard journalist Jim Bessman’s characterization of them as “one of the most historically significant acts in the history of American music.” You have two upcoming opportunities to attend a Riders show, making your own connection with these outstanding artists and their beloved traditions. A few reserved seats still remain for Saturday night’s “Salute to Roy Rogers” which starts at 8 p.m.; those tickets cost $30. General admission tickets for “Round Up at Kids Corral” on Sunday afternoon are $10. To reserve yours, contact DCCA at 937-547-0908 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets may also be purchased on-line at www.CenterForArts.net, and, if any are left by showtime, will be available at the door.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.