Giddyap, giddyap, fellow cowpokes. America's three favorite non-retired cowboys, Ranger Doug, Woody Paul and Too Slim, known collectively as Riders in the Sky, are comin' fer a visit, yodeling all the way.
They are perhaps best known now for their international radio show, Riders Radio Theater, heard locally on WAMU, "a half-hour of high yodeling adventures," says Ranger Doug. "We sing a few songs and have a few commercials of our favorite products, such as the NATO Garage Sale and Deadwood Darlene's Prairie Lubricants. Then we have a serial."
Right now, they're in the midst of solving the "Phantom of the Valley" mystery. "Aaaaah HAAA Haaa!" laughs the ranger, more mischievously than Vincent Price.
These three spoofy, goofy cowboys, complete with white 10-gallon hats and furry chaps, were raised on cowboy TV shows and movie westerns of the '50s.
"Tex Ritter was my favorite," says Ranger Doug. "But Slim and Woody liked Roy Rogers."
There were local high-falutin' idols too. You know, the TV cowboys who would introduce cartoons or serials and maybe do a skit or two.
"Mine was Sheriff John out in Los Angeles," he says. "Slim's was Buck Barry from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I think those really affected our psyches in a profound and dangerous way. I know I've never been the same since."
The Riders in the Sky started out 13 years ago playing clubs in Nashville. All three were trying to make it in the Big Music World.
"I'd been doing a solo cowboy singing career," he explains, "and wanted to work up a trio to do the music of the Sons of the Pioneers. But we didn't want to be a replica. So we came up with this."
Eleven albums, several national tours and a TV and radio show later, these three fellows are still out roping cattle.
"Woody is the King of the Clothesline," says Ranger Doug. "And we do show tricks. But they tend to go over better on radio."
Riders in the Sky are performing at the Birchmere on Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at TicketCenter. For information, call 549-5919.