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Birthplace of Country Music Alliance presents Riders in the Sky

March 27, 2010 | 12 am

The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance proudly presents the Riders in the Sky, Saturday March 27, 2010 at The Paramount Center for the Arts in historic downtown Bristol TN/VA for a concert at 7:30pm and workshop at 3:00pm.

For 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 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.

As a classic cowboy quartet, the trail has led them to heights they could have never predicted. Riders have chalked up over 5,400 concert appearances in all 50 states and 10 countries, appearing in venues everywhere from the Nashville National Guard Armory to Carnegie Hall, and from county fairs to the Hollywood Bowl. Their cowboy charisma and comedic flair 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. If you consider their compositional credits, one might call them "Writers In The Sky!" In addition to penning award winning songs for their own albums, they wrote the score for Pixar Animation's 2002 Academy Award-winning short "For the Birds." They composed the theme song for the internet cartoon show "Thomas Timberwolf" by renowned Bugs Bunny creator Chuck Jones. But the animated character that history will most certainly link to Riders In The Sky is the loveable cowboy Woody, as Riders performed "Woody's Round Up" in "Toy Story 2," with the album of the same name garnering Riders their first Grammy Award in 2001 for "Best Musical Album for Children." Two years later, Riders roped their second Grammy in the same category, for "Monsters Inc. — Scream Factory Favorites," the companion CD to Pixar's award-winning movie.

"Ranger" Doug Green is a yodeler of breathtaking technique, an award-winning Western music songwriter in his own right, and a distinguished music historian. His 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.

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 Ol' 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, heard weekly on Channel 10.

Ultimately, exceptional careers do not go unnoticed, and throughout theirs, Riders In The Sky have been honored regularly. In addition to being inducted into the Grand Ol' Opry, Riders are in the Western Music Association's Hall of Fame, the Country Music Foundation's Walkway of Stars, and the Walk of Western Stars (in Newhall, CA near Melody Ranch Studios) along with Gene, Roy, John Wayne and other cowboy legends. No less important than their two Grammies, Riders have been the Western Music Association's "Entertainers Of the Year" six times, and won "Traditional Group of the Year" and "Traditional Album of the Year" multiple times. The Academy of Western Artists has named them "Western Music Group of the Year" twice in 5 years, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has bestowed Riders with their Wrangler Award statuette three times. It comes as no surprise then that Billboard magazine's Jim Bessman counts them as one of "the most historically significant acts in the history of American music."

Yes, it would be "The Easy Way" to call it a career after 30 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 afternoon workshop is at 3pm at The Paramount and will consist of an hour long presentation illuminating the fascinating bit of cultural history known as the “singing cowboy”. Part lecture, part audiovisual, and showing musical clips of the major players in the cinematic flowering of the style, the workshop will be supported by live performances by their lead member, "Ranger" Doug Green and other members of the Riders In The Sky.

The lecture would cover the historical background from the rise of the cinematic singing cowboy, the arc of popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, and the reasons for the inevitable decline in the 1950s, going up to the renaissance of the style in the 1980s and 1990s, and continuing with Riders In The Sky. It is a bit of American history, popular culture, musicology, and folklore, presented in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

This show is sponsored by Alpha Natural Resources, Bristol Virginia Utilities, City of Bristol Tennessee, Fox Tri-Cities, WETS, WOPI, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ticket prices are $25, ($15 students) and may be purchased at The Paramount Center for the Arts box office at 423.274.8920 or visit www.theparamountcenter.com or www.etix.com

The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance is a non‐profit organization dedicated to telling the story of the living musical heritage of the Appalachian mountains and the cultural traditions that sustain it. The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance is funded in part by grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts Tennessee Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, call (276) 645‐0111 or visit online at www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org