Holly's picks

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December 20, 2004 // UPDATED 4:55 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Look! Up in the sky!

Musically, Riders in the Sky are firmly grounded in the rich American music tradition of legendary cowboy singers -- Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers -- but the quartet has blazed their own trail as they reinvigorate the old-time genre.

Riders' Doug ("Idol of American Youth"), Woody Paul ("King of the Cowboy Fiddlers"), Too Slim ("A Righteous Tater") and Joey ("The CowPolka King"), have been together since 1977. Over those 27 years, the successful group has reached far beyond the traditional cowboy niche. Their music has been heard in several animated films, most notably "Toy Story 2," and the band has even appeared in a cartoon themselves -- an episode of "Duck Dodgers," starring Daffy Duck in space, for which they recorded and sang "live" on the show, "The Ballad of Duck Dodgers."

They've also starred in their own eponymous Saturday morning children's TV series, for CBS; hosted another one, "Tumbleweed Theater," for TNN; appeared regularly on the country TV show "Austin City Limits"; and served as spokesmen for the National Park Service, Opryland and such varied products as Levis, Taco Bell, Budweiser, Coke and Cheer.

The Riders are returning to Orchestra Hall to once again perform their celebrated holiday concert. There's sure to be one or two songs in their repertoire that even your kids will already know by heart at this fun family event.

Thursday, Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall $17-$29 for adults, $13-$24 for kids 6-17. 371-5656.

Winter concert

Self-described "rural folk piano player" George Winston is one of the most successful New Age pianists to come out of the '70s. His music has retained a country, pastoral feel throughout his recording career, evoking images of the big skies and wild, open spaces. The Grammy Award-winner will play solo piano and guitar tunes that celebrate the season.

M Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, $17-$29. 371-5656.