Northwest Oklahoma Concert Series starts with Riders in the Sky Oct. 29

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Northwest Oklahoma Concert Series starts with Riders in the Sky Oct. 29

Four men from different walks of life came together for their first performance in 1977 to become America’s favorite cowboys: Ranger Doug, Too Slim, Woody Paul and Joey. These men make up the entertaining group Riders in the Sky, who will be performing in Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Herod Hall Auditorium Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Together they are a theoretical plasma physicist and wildlife manager; a galvanizer, Life Scout and English major; shot putter and Bluegrass Boy; and a Polka Hall of Fame member. Riders in the Sky are the only exclusively Western artist group to have won a Grammy, and these entertainers have won two.

With all of the original members, 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, for more than 30 years. 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!"

As a classic cowboy quartet, the trail has led them to heights they could have never predicted. Riders in the Sky's first official public performance was Nov. 11, 1977, at the erstwhile Nashville nightspot "Phranks & Steins."  This sparked a blazing future. The group has chalked up more than 6,100 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. Their animated likenesses have shared the screen with Daffy Duck on the Cartoon Network, and the Disney Channel's Stanley.

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. The album garnered the Riders in the Sky 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.

With countless awards and prestigious honors, Riders in the Sky became the first, and to date only, exclusively Western music artist to join the Grand Ole Opry. 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. 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.

All Concert Series performances will be in Herod Hall Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.  Season tickets are now available at Holder Drug, the NWOSU Bookstore, Graceful Arts Center, Rialto or by calling (580) 327-8692. Adult season tickets are $40, and student season tickets are $20. Tickets to individual performances will be sold on an “as available” basis at $15 for adults and $10 for students.

The acts to follow The Riders in the Sky are Ted Vigil: a John Denver tribute, Dec. 10; The Fantasticks, Feb. 18; and FullSet, March 11.

The reserved seating section at each concert will be held until five minutes prior to the performance. 

Contact Dr. Irene Messoloras, chair of the Department of Fine Arts, at (580) 327-8692 or irmessoloras@nwosu.edu, to purchase tickets or pick them up at Holder Drug, the NWOSU Bookstore, Graceful Arts Center or Rialto.            

The Northwest Oklahoma Concert Series is supported by the Alva Tourism Convention Development Committee, the Oklahoma Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Charles Morton Share Trust.

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