Cowboy Jam Session by Jeri Dobrowski: Faces of classic and contemporary cowboy music
For more than thirty years, the cowboy music and comedy quartet Riders In The Sky have been keepers of the flame passed on by the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Reviving and revitalizing the genre, the group previously honored Autry with Public Cowboy #1: A Centennial Salute To The Music Of Gene Autry.
Consisting of guitarist and lead vocalist Ranger Doug, upright bassist Too Slim, fiddle player and vocalist Woody Paul and accordionist Joey, the CowPolka King, the group’s way-out Western wit and velvety, harmonious tones have earned them a following among all ages. Riders’ fans, affectionately called buckaroos and buckarettes by the band, are encouraged to live life “The Cowboy Way!”
Since their first performance in 1977, the Riders have chalked up more than 6,100 concert appearances in all 50 states and 10 countries. To date, they are the only exclusively Western music artists to join the Grand Ole Opry, the longest running radio show in history. Ranger Doug also hosts Ranger Doug’s Classic Cowboy Corral heard weekly on SiriusXM Channel 56.
Western movie, music and TV star Roy Rogers is celebrated in a 2015 release by the group. The 14-track album, Riders In The Sky Salute Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys, pays homage to Rogers (1911-1998) who rose to the top in an era when Western stars were at their zenith. The Grammy Award-winning Riders salute Rogers, founding member of the Sons of the Pioneers and undisputed “King of the Cowboys,” with favorites from his long career including “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Happy Trails (To You)” “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “My Adobe Hacienda,” “Along the Navajo Trail,” “Roll On Texas Moon,” and “Blue Shadows On the Trail.”
If you appreciate old-time cowboy songs, this is a must-have album for your collection. The Riders’ treatment of these classics is nostalgic yet sophisticated, taking the listener back to the days when cowboy heroes ruled the box office and airwaves. You’ll enjoy riding down the trail with this group of accomplished entertainers.
Tangible copies of Riders In The Sky Salute Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys sell for $20 plus shipping from ridersinthesky.com. Downloads are available.
Daron Little is one of the faces of contemporary cowboy music in the real working West. Making his home near Encampment Wyoming, he cowboys for a living. Describing himself as a “bovine relocation engineer and cowpunch music guitar picker/singer at Silver Spur Ranches,” Little shares glimpses into his lifestyle via Facebook. Photo offerings on any given day vary from selfies to a cowboy’s vantage point from the saddle. Far removed from Hollywood, it’s the sweat-stained, sunburned, all-weather, all-terrain world of a working cowboy. (For more on the Wyoming division of the ranch, see silverspurranches.com/)
Earlier this year Little released his fourth recording, a 6-track EP of original songs entitled Dos Amigos. Butch Hause musician and proprietor of the Ranger Station, Berthoud, Colo., joins him on the acoustic session. Those familiar with today’s cowboy music genre may find a hint of Tyson or a dash of LeDoux in the selections, maybe a bit of Corb Lund. (Listen to the full-length tracks under “Store” at ranchcowboymusic.com.)
Little’s songs reflect his life and experiences in an occupation that is as often misunderstood as it is romanticized. In the opening track, “The Outside Circle,” he explores the myth and realities of the lifestyle, preceded by an impressive guitar introduction. (Find the lyrics at cowboypoetry.com/daronlittle.htm)
Order Dos Amigos for $10 from Daron Little, PO Box 314, Encampment, WY 82325; 307-761-3251; ranchcowboymusic.com. Downloads are also available. While you’re there, take a listen to samples from his other albums. Ranch Cowboy Music is a favorite of mine.