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Riders gallop in to wow Rock Crusher audience

The Grammy-winning group displayed their talents in a pair of two-hour performances that showcased their musical skills.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 8, 2001


CRYSTAL RIVER -- Riders In The Sky, the Grammy-winning cowboys, rode into Rock Crusher Canyon Friday night, singing songs of the Old West to a young audience.

The Riders, fresh off their February Grammy win for the soundtrack album to Toy Story 2, played and wisecracked their way through two one-hour shows which showcased their great musicianship, particularly in harmony singing. The group's singing on western standards such as Cool Cool Water, San Antonio Rose and Tumblin' Tumbleweeds was an inspiring rendition of the musical style.

But the younger buckaroos in the audience came primarily to hear the songs from the Disney movie. The Rock Crusher Canyon Garden Pavilion was sprinkled with dolls and other toys from the Toy Story movies.

The highlight of the set came as the Riders performed a medley of songs from the Toy Story 2 soundtrack. It was the moment the young kids had been waiting for.

Sitting at one of the tables closest to the stage was Stephanie Dodd, 10, who came with her family to see the show. Before the music began, she said she was "excited" about the concert.

She and other youngsters even joined the band for a heart-warming campfire song.

Bass player Too Slim invited the children in the audience to come onstage, and about a dozen obliged. He kicked off a campfire song, and fiddle player Woody Paul let each child have a moment in the spotlight, inviting them to the microphone to repeat a line of the song after Too Slim sang it first.

After the show, lead singer and guitarist Ranger Doug talked about the band's legendary career and their popularity with children.

"The children are our special audience. They really enjoy the Toy Story songs, but they've always liked our music," he said. "They like the concept of sitting around a campfire and singing cowboy songs."

Riders In The Sky have enjoyed a lengthy and successful career. The Rock Crusher Canyon concert marked the band's 4,287th show, spanning a 23-year career.

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