This past weekend, Doug and I trekked up north to Bayfield, WI for a show. (When I say ‘up north,’ I mean Up.North. It is a five-plus hour drive one way). We went to see a band called “Riders in the Sky” at the Big Top Chautauqua, (a large circus tent at the bottom of a ski hill, under which they host various musical artists). It was an evening of great classic Western tunes.
The goal of Riders in the Sky is to entertain, of course, but also primarily to keep alive the music of Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry, and other such Cowboy classics. There are four members, Ranger Doug (guitar/vocals), Too Slim (upright bass/vocals), Woody Paul (fiddle/vocals), and Joey, the CowPolka King (accordion/vocals). Before they came out, we were briefly entertained by some classic reels of Roy Rogers and snipits of songs. Then the Riders took the stage and Doug and I found ourselves, smiling widely, laughing, singing along (of course), and otherwise, in complete awe. The music was nostalgic, familiar, beautiful, and just plain fun. We heard such classics as “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “Cool Water,” “Back in the Saddle,” and of course, “(Ghost) Rider’s in the Sky.” It was an amazing show.
As for the Big Top, neither Doug, nor I knew what to expect while we made the long drive. Once we arrived, we found the venue at the end of Ski Hill Road, where we were greeted by the gatekeepers, a nice collection of volunteers who took our tickets. We parked and walked up the steps. Before us was the ski hill, and off to the left of where we entered was a tented concession stand, an information/raffle tent and a souvenir tent. At the far left was the Tent – the Big Top – blue and white, canvas-like material – covering a stage with seating for plenty. The seats we had were surprisingly comfortable, and though the house was not ‘packed,’ there were plenty of guest, considering it was the first concert of the season, and we’ve had some pretty lousy weather – which was threatening that night. But we were dry as a bone, and happy as clams.
If you’re ever in northern Wisconsin in the summer months, check out Big Top Chatauqua. This year, they have such artists as Bonnie Raitt, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Travis Tritt.
I appreciate your tuning in, and always welcome feedback. Sorry there’s no music clips to share, but I’ll put something together some time later. ~ Linda