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Interview w/ Riders in the Sky, an Important Slice of the American Musical Pie

For more than thirty 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 have 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!”

Since 1977, the trail has led this classic cowboy quartet to heights they could have never predicted. Riders have chalked up over 6100 concert appearances in all 50 states and 10 countries, appearing in venues everywhere from the Nashville National Guard Armory to Carnegie Hall in New York, and from county fairs to the Hollywood Bowl. Their cowboy charisma and comedic flair have made them naturals for TV, and landed them their own weekly show on TNN, as well as a Saturday morning series on CBS. They have been guests on countless TV specials, documentaries and variety shows, appearing with everyone from Barney to Penn & Teller. And their animated likenesses have shared the screen with Daffy Duck on the Cartoon Network, and the Disney Channel’s Stanley.

On Thursday, December 13, at 7:30pm, they will grace the stage at Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg to celebrate the holiday season as they present “Christmas the Cowboy Way.” They will mix classic Christmas tunes with the wide-open spirit of cowboy music, sprinkling the evening with their wacky western wit and down-home charm. Learn more about the band with our short interview: 

1. What brings the band to Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg? A promoter/buyer with good taste!

2. What is your most memorable show? As for a live show, the two appearances at the Hollywood Bowl.  As for an appearance, winning the Grammys for sure!

3. What is “The Cowboy Way” How do you describe it? In this era of situation, ethics, and difficult moral choices, we ask “What would Gene or Roy or Tex or Ranger Doug do?” That’s the Cowboy Way

4. Is everyone in the band original members? Too Slim and Ranger Doug started the outfit in November of 1977, 41 years ago.  Woody Paul joined in August of 1978, and we were a trio for 10 years. Joey joined in 1988 and is the new kid, only 30 years with us!

5. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?Because we are committed to a tradition and a style, the music itself has not evolved; we are carriers and proponents of a beautiful and important slice of the American musical pie.  But we have all evolved greatly as singers, musicians, and writers, and still enjoy creating as much as we did 40 years ago.

6. What advice do you have for musicians?Play what you love and never stop creating.  Always play with people who are better than you are, so you never stop learning.

To purchase tickets, call Carnegie Hall Box Office at 304.645.7917, visit, or stop by at 611 Church Street, Lewisburg, West Virginia. Performance tickets start at $30, and discounts are available for Carnegie Hall members, students, senior citizens, and military. Carnegie Hall Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10am-4pm. 

-HashtagWV #108. December 2018.

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HashtagWV Art & Entertainment is a high-quality print and digital multimedia platform for all things West Virginia and the greater Appalachian region. The editorial focus is local music, unique shopping, the arts, events, theatre, and food and drinks.