Riders in the Sky bring Western Swing to Orange
It used to be called Country and Western music. Today’s country music rarely includes the tunes sung by cowboys around the campfire in days gone by. Riders in the Sky have carried the torch for 35 years for a music genre almost extinct.
“Riders in the Sky started in the late part of 1977 because there were three of us that just loved old time western music,” said Ranger Doug. “We’ve been having a lot of fun while we preserve the western style.” He said they played for fun in little clubs in Nashville. “It just started building on its own. It took off and we made a 35 year career of it.”
They will ride into Orange at 3 p.m., Sunday, July 14 at the Lutcher Theater. The show is a recent addition to the line-up, offering a summer performance.
Ranger Doug (Even his kids call him that) said their audience is a nice mixture of ages. “We’ve always had the older people that have always had a fondness for that musical style. Children have always been a big part of our audience too, because there’s something about that cowboy beat and the fancy clothes.”
They began with three musicians, but added an accordion about 20 years ago. Ranger Doug joins Too Slim, Woody Paul and Joey “the Cow Polka King” as they pick and grin with cowboy songs and laughter.
He can’t even remember how many albums they have recorded over the years, “I’ve kinda lost count, but it’s in the high 30s,” said Doug. They have won two Grammys for their efforts.
Some of their humor shows in the title of one of their albums: “Always Drink Upstream from the Herd.”
Besides their many albums, Ranger Doug wrote a book, “Singing in the Saddle,” chronicling the era of the singing cowboy such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. There is also a coloring book and other merchandising tidbits. Most will be available at the theater or can be ordered online at www.ridersinthesky.com
Some of the labels they have recorded for are Disney, Columbia, MCA, Rounder, Acoustic Discs and on their own label, Riders Radio Records. They had a show on National Public Radio called Riders Radio Theater for about seven years. “That was a really nice thing for us. It didn’t make us a lot of money, but it gave us lots of exposure and we sure had fun.” They offered a half hour of old time radio with songs, skits and a cliff hanger adventure each week. He said the show ran from 1988 to 1995 or 1996. That led to a TV show on CBS. They replaced Pee Wee’s Playhouse on Saturdays in 1991.
The song “Woody’s Roundup” in “Toy Story 2” was performed by Riders in the Sky.
Orange and Galveston are their only stops in Texas this year.
Tickets can be purchased online at Lutcher.org or by calling the box office at 409-886-5535. Ticket prices are $30 for adults and $20 for students.
The Lutcher Theater is located at 707 Main Ave. in Orange.