The National Fiddler Hall of Fame presents Riders in the Sky at Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom
For over thirty years, the Riders in the Sky have been keeping the traditions of Western music and the Singing Cowboy alive and well as they’ve toured the country entertaining crowds of all ages with their signature blend of humor and harmony. On Saturday April 14, this Grammy award winning band will mosey on down to the Cain’s Ballroom to delight fans with an evening of traditional cowboy tunes, skillful musicianship, and amusing repartee. Presented by the National Fiddler Hall of Fame, the festivities will also include a brief induction ceremony honoring several musicians, including the Riders’ Woody Paul, for their contributions to the art of fiddling.
Don’t let the white hats, cowboy duds and silly antics fool you. Behind the lighthearted banter and the costumes, this is a quartet of seriously talented musicians who’ve garnered a long list of awards and honors during a career that includes symphony performances, radio and television shows, Disney movie soundtracks, and commercials. It’s hard to imagine any of them would have envisioned all of this when they started the band over three decades ago.
“Yes, it’s a surprise,” Riders’ vocalist and guitarist Doug Green (a.k.a. “Ranger Doug”) told me in a recent interview. “I guess once you’re established you can usually go on for some time if you’re not chasing the hit record, if you find a comfortable middle ground like we have where you do a lot of different things and keep it interesting. But you couldn’t have predicted us taking this dated form of music in 1977, which was strictly nostalgia in those days, and bringing it to two new generations. No, I never could have predicted it, but I’m delighted it happened.”
Clearly these songs of the range and the cowboy life have broad appeal. “It’s always had a wide spectrum,” Green commented on the makeup of the Riders’ audiences. “But we get a large number of people who remember this music when it was popular or were raised with it because their parents loved Western music, so we have this demographic that has sort of a nostalgia edge to it.” Green continued, “and then there’s some people in their middle age that want to bring their kids to see it, an acoustic music show with harmony, well it’s a pleasant thing. A lot of people love the fact that we’re keeping the Western tradition alive…We lose the teenagers, though, which is interesting,” Green laughed. “They don’t come much. Lady Gaga is too big of a draw, I guess.”
Although the Riders’ show at the Cain’s is not specifically a children’s show, it is appropriate for all ages. “The kids, that’s another big segment,” Green noted. “Something about Western music, the great outfits, it’s about something they can understand which is having fun with your friends, riding horses and being outside. They don’t know anything about broken hearts and faithless lovers and falling off bar stools, that means nothing to them, but they do love horses and cattle and the outdoors and there’s something to that Western rhythm that’s kind of infectious and kids really enjoy it.”
Although Green has enjoyed every aspect of his time with the Riders, it’s the live performances he loves most of all. “You can’t beat the interaction with a good audience, I mean that’s the biggest thrill of all, surely.” For more information on the show, please visit www.nationalfiddlerhalloffame.org
– with permission from Tulsa Kids