A rootin’ tootin’ good time, the cowboy way
The Riders in the Sky often sing of “the cowboy way,” but what is the “cowboy way”?The cowboy way is doing the right thing, Riders in the Sky-style. It’s fun, melodious Western music mixed with humor and lyrics that people of all ages enjoy.
The Cowboy Way is Western music, or cowboy music, but definitely not country – you’ll find no sad ballads about ex-wives or prison mixed into the Riders’ performance or lyrics. The Cowboy Way is contagious, even for people who have never before heard the Riders in the Sky. Chances are, though, you have.The Riders are most well-known for their children’s albums, “Woody’s Roundup featuring Riders in the Sky” (a companion album for the soundtrack of the 1999 movie “Toy Story 2”) and “Monster’s Inc. Scream Factory Favorites,” both winners of the “Best Musical Album for Children” Grammy award.
They have adult honors, too, like a recent induction into the Walk of Western Stars in Newhall, Calif. And in 1982, the Riders in the Sky were the first exclusively Western music artists to join the Grand Ole Opry.Where the Riders really shine is in their on-stage performances – if you do anything almost 5,000 times, you’re bound to be good at what you do. The Riders in the Sky have been at it since 1977, with more than 200 live performances a year.
The band is made up of four people: Ranger Doug, “Idol of American Youth,” sings lead and baritone vocals “with an ever-present big grin and a warm twinkle in his eyes;” Too Slim plays bass, and more notably, his face (more on that later); Woody Paul, “King of the Cowboy Fiddlers,” sings lead and tenor vocals; and Joey the CowPolka King “plays both ends against the middle” on his accordion.They begin each show with their trademark “mighty fine and a great big Western howdy, all you buckaroos and buckarettes,” and from that moment on, the entertainment is non-stop. If audiences are lucky, they will see Too Slim play his face, rhythmic slaps on his cheeks that create a surprisingly catchy tune. But even if Too Slim sticks to the bass, the Riders still provide plenty of opportunities for laughs and fun. It’s a show not to miss, and one to bring the whole family along to.The Riders in the Sky perform tonight at 6:30 p.m. as part of the Budweiser Hot Summer Nights free concert series at the Ford Amphitheater.