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If you've ever scrolled across the radio dial on a Sunday afternoon, chances are you've heard a trio of howling coyotes, ow-ow-owooooing in harmony.

That chorus signals the start of yet another episode of Cowpie Radio, courtesy of Riders in the Sky.

Each Rider wears his persona on his sleeve. You've got wise-cracking upright bassist Too Slim, "A Righteous Tater"; Woody Paul, "King of the Cowboy Fiddlers"; and accordion player Joey, "The CowPolka King." The troupe is led by singer and yodeler Ranger Doug, the "Idol of American Youth," fetching in a good-natured, heroic manner.

In addition to their on-air shenanigans, Riders in the Sky also tour regularly, bringing their olde tyme brand of cowboy humor, through songs and skits, to cities across the country.

Straddling a line between cowboy classicism and kitsch, Riders in the Sky has remained popular among children and their parents for 28 years. It's a fair marvel, considering the hyper-technical sources of entertainment available today.

Speaking from his home on the Harmony Ranch in Nashville, Tenn., Ranger Doug is mildly baffled himself.

"It's a great mystery to me," he admits. "I think, though, that kids will always be interested and fascinated with cowboys. We've got a whole new generation coming up of people who saw us when they were 5, and are now bringing their kids."

Doug, who bases his character partly on his childhood hero, The Lone Ranger, says that keeping up with ever-changing trends isn't something the Riders worry about too much.

"We're not a hit-record sort of an act; people expect us to do classics and standards. We mix up the show with comedy bits, so they won't be seeing the same show. We ad lib a lot, and we're spontaneous onstage. It's what keeps it fresh for us, too."

Riders in the Sky

Sangre de Cristo Arts Center Theater, 210 N. Santa Fe Ave., Pueblo

Saturday, March 11, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Tickets: $6, call 719/295-7222 for more info.


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