Riders In The Sky are truly exceptional.
By definition, empirical data, and critical acclaim, they stand “hats & shoulders” above the rest of the purveyors of C & W – “Comedy & Western!”
For more than 30 years 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. And while remaining true to the integrity of Western music, they have themselves become modern-day icons by branding the genre with their own legendary wacky humor and way-out Western wit, and all along encouraging buckaroos and buckarettes to live life “The Cowboy Way!”
Riders In The Sky are exceptional not just in the sense that their music is of superlative standards (they are the ONLY exclusively Western artist to have won a Grammy, and Riders have won two), but by the fact that their accomplishments are an exception to the rule as well.
Guitarist Ranger Doug, “Governor of the Great State of Rhythm,” sings lead and baritone vocals with an ever-present big grin and warm twinkle in his eyes. A yodeler of breathtaking technique, he is also an award-winning Western music songwriter in his own right–and a distinguished music historian whose 2002 Vanderbilt University Press book “Singing in the Saddle” was the first comprehensive look at the singing cowboy phenomenon that swept the country in the 1930s.
Upright “bunkhouse” bassist Too Slim, easily the sharpest wit in the West, was, prior to the Riders, a janitor, industrial galvanizer, puppeteer, rumor-monger, hay stacker, burlesque show emcee, sportswriter, wildlife manager, and electric bassman. Besides his superb bass play and comic genius, he has inspired thousands to whack out tunes on their faces.
Woody Paul, “King of the Cowboy Fiddlers,” sings lead and tenor vocals, and gained early experience in country-western music by hanging out with the likes of Roy Acuff. When not dazzling Riders fans with his fiddle, he’s thrilling them with intricate rope tricks which he swears he’ll get right before his career is over.
Accordionist Joey, the CowPolka King, “plays both ends against the middle,” as they say, on his “stomach Steinway.” The master musician, who apprenticed with the late polka king Frank Yankovic and has recorded with everyone from Roy Rogers to U2, is also the Riders’ album producer and a licensed driver.
Equally as exceptional, but of greater significance, is that in 1982, Riders In The Sky became the first, and to date only, exclusively Western music artist to join the Grand Ole Opry, the longest running radio show in history, and thus began a love affair with radio as well. In 1988, they recorded comedy skits for the album “Riders Radio Theatre” and launched the long-running international weekly radio show of the same name on public radio. And keeping pace with the ever-changing technological landscape, in 2006 “Ranger Doug’s Classic Cowboy Corral” debuted on XM Satellite Radio, still heard weekly on SiriusXM Channel 56.
Yes, it would be “The Easy Way” to call it a career after 30-plus years, but it wouldn’t be…”The Cowboy Way!” And so, the never-ending trail drive continues. The ponies are rested and watered, and America’s Favorite Cowboys are ready to saddle up and ride, bringing good beef to hungry people wherever they may be. Yes, Riders In The Sky are truly an exception to the rule.
The Quebe Sisters
With over fifteen years of touring to date, The Quebe Sisters have delivered their authentic triple fiddle and three-part harmony sound to the concert halls and festivals of North America, Europe, and Russia.
Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe front an innovative Progressive Western Swing band of archtop guitar, upright bass, fiddles and sibling harmony. The Dallas-based five-piece presents a unique Americana blend of Western Swing, Jazz-influenced Swing, Country, Texas-Style Fiddling, and Western music.
“We differentiate our music as ‘Progressive Western Swing’ from simply ‘Western Swing’ because we aren’t trying to sound just like Bob Wills,” Grace Quebe explains. “Instead, we continue his vision, playing the style he pioneered in an authentic way by incorporating new genres and songs, interpreting them using our own unique voice through Country instrumentation.”
The band’s stripped-down acoustic instrumentation breathes new life into seasoned sounds once found in Texas dance halls and honky-tonks. Grace continues, “To us, preserving the tradition of Western Swing isn’t about keeping something alive like a relic. Western Swing has always been about innovation.”
Innovation has led the sisters to channel the musical connection between danceability and emotiveness, combining old sounds with new feelings and old feelings with new sounds. It’s not nostalgia that drives the band as purveyors of Western Swing, but the aspiration to take the music back to its roots and sustain the spirit of Swing.
Combine the musical stylings of The Mills Brothers, Ray Price, Count Basie, Willie Nelson, and you have none other than The Quebe Sisters.