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LISTEN: Exclusive interview with Ranger Doug from Western Band Riders in the Sky

 

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<< Entertainment >>

2013 STAGECOACH FESTIVAL

Friday, 26 April, 2013 9:35 PM

Riders in the Sky to perform at the Stagecoach Festival on Sunday

3:50 p.m. - 4:50 p.m. on the Mustang Stage at California's Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif.

Photo credit: www.hcpress.com

Western Band/Comedy Group/Children's Band Riders in the Sky

 

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

|

INDIO, Calif. -- Riders in the Sky are a western music band, comedy group and a children's band. They are made up of lead singer/guitarist Ranger Doug, singer/fiddler Woody Paul and singer/bassist Too Slim. They were formed in 1977 and have been touring the country ever since. Riders in the Sky have written and performed songs for the movies "Toy Story 2" and "For the Birds." To date, they have made over 6,200 live performances, 700 Grand Ole Opry appearances, 300 television appearances, 200 public radio shows and much more. Look for Riders in the Sky to perform at the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, Calif. on Sunday at 3:50 p.m.

"We were looking for a name when we started and Too Slim went into a record store," said Douglas B. Green, who uses the stage name Ranger Doug. "He was flipping through some albums from the Sons of the Pioneers, who were our heroes. Their brand new double album from 1973 was called Riders in the Sky. He said, 'That's it, perfect name.'"

Some websites consider you guys a western music band while others call you a comedy group or a children's band. Which title do you prefer the most?

"The answer is yes, all of those things," he added. "We appeal to a wide demographic. We've had many children's appearances and we've had many western appearances, which is what we mostly do. We have comedy in every show. It's just entertainment. Many people will remember us from the song 'Woody's Roundup' from the movie, 'Toy Story 2.' It's been a great career, 35 years of it."

You guys have had many hit songs over the years. Which one is your favorite to perform?

"I still love 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds,' because the audience always loves it and appreciates it," Green explained. "Bob Nolan was the songwriter. Tim Spencer and Roy Rogers founded the Sons of the Pioneers many years ago. That was the second song he ever wrote. He copyrighted it in 1933 or so and it's been a standard classic ever since."

What was it like performing with "America's Got Talent" finalist Taylor Ware at the Grand Ole Opry?

"She's a dear girl, really a nice kid, very talented," he said. "I think we recorded with her. I can't remember what she did, probably 'I Wanna Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart.' She recorded one of my tunes called 'How Does She Yodel.' We recorded with her quite a bit."

Please give me some highlights of your new album, America's Favorite Cowboy Songs.

"You can only get it at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store," the lead singer/guitarist added. "It has tunes like 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds' and 'Back in the Saddle' and 'Red River Valley' things like that on it. It's all classic, old-time western songs."

What's next on the horizon for you guys?

"We have a new album coming out with the great western character actor Wilford Brimley," Green explained. "He does a benefit every year in the little town that he lives, which is called Greybill, Wy. He has brought his grandchildren to see us many times. Out of the blue, he asked us if we'd do the benefit. We said sure, so we drove out there, we were out west anyways so it worked out fine. We discovered that he sang and asked if he'd come up on stage and sing a song with us. He did and he was good. We had a blast. Joey, our accordion player, turned to him and said, 'We really should make a record. Call me up.' We did it. It was a riot, we really a great time."

I remember Brimley from the TV commercials. Have you gotten a chance to do one with him yet?

"Yeah, most people remember the oatmeal commercial," he said. "I saw him in 'Terms of Endearment' just yesterday. We'd love to [do a commercial]. No mention was made of it as of yet."

Let's discuss your upcoming performance at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival on Sunday.

"We have played that festival twice before," the lead singer/guitarist added. "It's just the most incredible festival in country music. We're glad that they've always had a western stage as part of the festivities. It's just a delight. They treat you like gold. It's just a beautiful setting. We love coming back to California."

Can you give me a preview of that show?

"We'll do our standard mix of cowboy classics like 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds' and 'Riders in the Sky' and 'Back in the Saddle Again.' Then, we'll do a number of our own songs. Of course, as I said, there's plenty of comedy in the show. We might do some rope spinning and just have a good time with the audience. We'll bring back some memories of the people who remember this music from when it was popular. We hope to introduce a lot of young people to the beauties and joys of western music."

What goals do you guys have for the next five to 10 years?

"Get to 45 years," Green laughed. "We're just now finishing up the Wilford Brimley project. Then, yes, we'll start another one after that."

For more information about Riders in the Sky, visit their website at www.ridersinthesky.com. You can also visit their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Related Stories: STAGECOACH: California's Country Music Festival returns for the seventh year: April 26 - 28 in Indio; Fans enjoy 7th Annual Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif.

 

Photo credit: facebook.com/Saddlepals

Wilford Brimley with Riders in the Sky

 

Graphic credit: Stagecoach

Saturday's set times for the 2013 Stagecoach Festival

 

Graphic credit: Stagecoach

Sunday's set times for the 2013 Stagecoach Festival

 

Visit the official website of the 2013 Stagecoach Country Music Festival

 

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