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Cowboy singers your kids already love

Buzz Lightyear and the other Toy Story 2 characters won't be there, but the Grammy-winning voices behind the Woody's Roundup theme will be.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001


Riders in the Sky put the "western" back into country and western music, and they have a Grammy-winning motion picture soundtrack as proof that the simple campfire song is still a big hit with fans.

Band members Ranger Doug ("Idol of American Youth"), Woody Paul ("King of the Cowboy Fiddlers") and Too Slim ("Insert Title of Your Choice Here"), and new member Joey the Cowpolka King have faithfully tended to the musical tradition of the singing cowboy. Names from the past such as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers seem to ride along every time the Riders take the stage.

With their campy stage names, it's obvious that while Riders are seriously talented musicians, they are loose enough to have lots of fun wearing their big hats, wooly chaps and cowboy shirts.

Ranger Doug sings lead and baritone, and his jazzy rhythm guitar playing is a big part of the unique Riders sound. Ranger Doug is also a historian and a champion yodeler. Too Slim is master of both the cowboy lingo, which he uses to craft western stories, and the stand-up acoustic bass. Woody Paul's fiddling brings the out sounds of the Old West. Paul also thrills audiences by performing rope tricks and modestly claims to be a "part-time brain surgeon."

The band tours constantly, bringing its music to millions of fans. The Riders' Web page lists their tour schedule over the past 20 years as 4,000 shows, 2.3-million miles, 200 national television appearances, 200 national public radio shows, three television series and dozens of albums.

The Riders are a big hit with children, thanks to their CBS Saturday morning program Tumbleweed Theater and the recent movie Toy Story 2. The CD soundtrack featured Woody's Roundup, the title song of the movie. It won a Grammy in February as best musical album for children.

At a glance

Riders in the Sky will appear on Rock Crusher Canyon's Garden Pavilion Stage for two shows today. The Riders won a Grammy award for best children's album, Woody's Roundup Featuring Riders in the Sky, on the soundtrack of the movie Toy Story 2. Tickets are $25 for adults and children 5-12 are $12.50 for the show and a barbecue buffet. The Riders will perform at 4 and 7 p.m. Call 795-1313 or visit the Web site at http://www.rockcrushercanyon.com.

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