Purveyors of “The Cowboy Way” Come to Holstein

The stage was ringed with armadillos (stuffed); Woody and his pals from Toy Story sat companionably around the ‘ole chiffon campfire while cacti of various sizes and shapes loomed in the background. Thus was the stage set for a Return to the Glorious Days of the Singing Cowboys last Saturday evening at the Clausen Center in Holstein. Then the long awaited Riders in the Sky appeared with “a great big Western Howdy” and the fun began.

Ranger Doug Green, lead guitar; Too Slim Fred LaBour on bass; Woody Paul Chrisman with his fiddle; and Joey, the Cow Polka King accordionist, Miskulin ambled into town and put on a rollicking good show. Sequined shirts flashed; fringe flew; multi-hued boots jigged as they launched into “How The Yodel Was Born”. Who knew it was brought to life by a bronco and a buckaroo meeting at the old saddle horn?

Next came the iconoclastic “Dueling Faces” that tore way past “Dueling Banjoes” and left it panting in the dust by the side of the metaphorical road. It’s a pure wonder how Too Slim and Woody retained any facial covering at all after that maverick adventure into facial percussion.

Their performance alone would have cinched the show’s success but “Cool Water” came next. Folks in the audience sang along with the dirge like lament and various hearts were badly wrenched. Tears were averted, however, by Joey’s goofing around with the repeated refrain of “Water” in every imaginable take on the word. There were inspirational songs, a couple from “Toy Story 2”, and “Timber Trail” which almost had a person expecting to see Roy Rogers or Gene Autry come wandering in on Trigger and Champion. “Hoop Dee Doo” was a kick in the backside as was “The Clarinet Polka” sans reeds.

The concert goers joined in on “You Are My Sunshine” and broke into spontaneous applause when the Riders began the opening yodels of “Lonesome Cattle Call”. It only got better when they went on to paint a portrait of the old West followed by Too Slim singing “I’ve Cooked Everything”, a parody of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere”. At that point the crowd convulsed and most of polite society’s rules of decorum bit the dust. Folks laughed till it hurt. The guys ended with “Tumbling Tumbleweeds”, a fabulous hats off to the days of yore.

What a night it was. Riders in the Sky are the real deal – no doubt about it. May they tumble this way again real soon.