Riders In The Sky

Riders In The Sky•January 4, 2024• Egyptian Theater Park City

Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe

Photographed by Alisha Gregson

Photo Credit: Alisha Gregson

It’s a new year. New concerts to see and new experiences to be made. With all the excitement of what’s to come, it’s nice to see that not everything is changing. Like quality concerts coming to Main Street, Park City at the Egyptian Theater. I have never been to a show there and left disappointed. Another unchanging element to the Egyptian Theater experience is starting the night off with Theater Manager, Randy Barton addressing the audience. It’s a time-honored tradition that I look forward to. Barton has made a skill out of thanking sponsors, announcing upcoming shows, and introducing the band. He’s humourous, timely, and brings a great energy to open up the night.

Photo Credit: Alisha Gregson

In the heart of Park City, Utah, the historic Egyptian Theater played host to a mesmerizing evening of cowboy melodies and laughter as Riders in the Sky took the stage. The iconic Western music quartet, renowned for their seamless harmonies and infectious humor, transported the audience on a musical journey that echoed through the theater’s rich history.

The Egyptian Theater, with its ornate decor and vintage charm, served as an ideal backdrop for Riders in the Sky’s timeless performance. The venue’s intimate setting created an immediate connection between the artists and the audience, fostering an atmosphere of camaraderie and shared appreciation for the Western musical tradition.

The quartet, consisting of Ranger Doug, Woody Paul, Joey Miskulin, and Too Slim, took the stage with an air of nostalgia and reverence for the theater’s historic ambiance. As the spotlight illuminated their figures, the audience was captivated by the band’s stage presence and the promise of an evening filled with classic cowboy tunes.

Ranger Doug, the group’s lead vocalist, began the concert with his resonant baritone, setting the tone for a night of musical excellence. Woody Paul’s nimble fingers danced across the strings of his fiddle, adding a layer of virtuosity to each performance. Too Slim, with his upright bass and deep bass voice, anchored the harmonies, creating a sonic landscape that transported the audience to the heyday of Western swing. Miskulin dazzled the audience with his accordion play and rich voice.  

The Egyptian Theater’s acoustics enhanced Riders in the Sky’s sound, allowing every note and lyric to reverberate through the ornate walls. The crowd, a diverse mix of generations, found themselves enthralled by the seamless blend of traditional cowboy tunes and Riders in the Sky’s signature wit.

Between songs, Riders In The Sky engaged the audience with humorous anecdotes and cowboy tales. The Egyptian Theater’s intimate setting facilitated a more personal connection, as laughter echoed through the ornate space, creating a dynamic and interactive concert experience.

As the evening progressed, Riders in the Sky delved into their extensive repertoire, offering renditions of classic Western songs and original compositions. The crowd’s response was enthusiastic, with many attendees singing along to familiar tunes and applauding the band’s musical mastery.

One of the concert’s standout moments occurred when Riders in the Sky performed their rendition of “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” The haunting melody filled the Egyptian Theater, creating an ethereal atmosphere that captivated everyone in attendance. The trio’s ability to convey the timeless allure of cowboy folklore through their music was truly magical.

I think my favorite stretch of the evening was when Riders In The Sky performed music that they recorded with Disney. “Woody’s Roundup” from Toy Story 2 had children of all ages on the edge of their seats. I enjoyed their Western-style version of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and the crowd seemed to delight in “Jessie, the Yodeling Cowgirl”. These guys can yodel! The highlight of the Disney segment was when they played the music from the Academy Award-winning animated short, For The Birds. The men were silhouetted as the film played on the big screen behind them. I heard several patrons mention how much they liked that. It’s a short that I’ve enjoyed and wasn’t aware that they did the music for it. So this was a fun surprise for me.

The Egyptian Theater’s storied history, dating back to its construction in the 1920s, seemed to resonate with the theme of the evening. Riders in the Sky, with their commitment to preserving the cowboy musical tradition, paid homage to the cultural legacy embedded in both the theater’s walls and the American West.

The band took questions from the audience. I was impressed with how many questions were asked. The best question was awarded Too Slim’s Cactus Tie or “Cactie”. The Q&A was followed by Riders In The Sky taking requests. After gathering a list of songs the band proceeded to play all of them at once. This made the audience laugh. It was a pretty cleaver bit.

As the concert reached its climax, the quartet received a well-deserved standing ovation from the appreciative audience. The Egyptian Theater, witness to countless performances over the decades, stood as a silent testament to the enduring power of live music and the indelible impact of Riders in the Sky.

In conclusion, the Riders in the Sky concert at the Egyptian Theater in Park City was a celebration of musical craftsmanship and cultural heritage. The synergy between the historic venue and the iconic Western quartet created an unforgettable evening, leaving the audience with a deep appreciation for the artistry, history, and humor embedded in the soul-stirring melodies of Riders in the Sky.

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