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Pro Picks – Western & show tunes lift promoter's spirits

Oct 15, 2012 02:33PM ● By Stacy

1. Happy Trails

This iconic song written by Dale Evans is the inspiration for my collection of almost 100 different objects that proclaim “Happy Trails” on them – from an actual highway sign autographed by the “Queen of the West” herself to a toothpick holder. It is also the photo greeting I now use every year on my New Year’s card with a slight variation – “Happy New Trails!”

2. Gunsmoke – Performed by Don Edwards and Rich O’Brien.

I’ve always been moved by Rex Koury’s nostalgic theme for the beloved long-running television series but had not heard the Glenn Spencer lyrics until recently. The music and words evoke visions of days gone by in the emerging Western frontier.

3. Another Day, Another Dollar – Written and performed by Wynn Stewart.

Thanks to a VW Jetta TV ad featuring this song, I first became acquainted with the music of Wynn Stewart and have since become a huge fan. My only regret is not having the opportunity to see him perform in person as he passed on in 1985.

4. Four Strong Winds – Written and performed by Ian Tyson.

A longtime favorite of what I call “life lesson songs.” Ian was my first experience in booking a performer (in 1997) and I feel honored to call him a friend. A couple of lines from the song are used in my home phone’s voice mail greeting, which bemuses Ian when he calls.

5. Stars – Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and performed by Terrance Mann as “Javert” from the Cameron McIntosh musical Les Miserables.

This very powerful song always moves me to tears. The angry, righteous Javert believes that Law and Order will prevail like the constancy of the stars. When it doesn’t, it’s literally his downfall. I had the very good fortune to see a stunning production of Les Mis in London years ago; I will never forget it.

6. Any Dream Will Do – From the musical Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.

This CD always lifts my spirits and inspires and reminds me to pursue the things I care about. For me it coincides with a favorite quotation by Emily Dickinson – “I dwell in possibilities.”

7. I Wanna Be a Producer – Sung by Matthew Broderick from the Mel Brooks’ stage and movie musical “The Producers.”

It touches the promoter/producer instinct in me and I’ve had the good fortune to promote and produce Western Music shows with several of my Western Music heroes.

8. The Old Cactus Trail – Performed by Blue Prairie.

Another on my list of favorite “trail” songs from a Lubbock group Very pretty words and music by Tim McKenzie.

9. Stay In The Saddle, Son – Performed by The Sons of the Rio Grande and written by its leader, Walen Mickey.

A father’s advice to his son about how to live his life is put to very pretty music with the wonderful three-part harmony of the Sons.

10. Ridin’ Down the Trail To Albuquerque – Performed by R.W. Hampton.

I first became acquainted with this song by Don Swander and June Hershey when it was adapted as the opener for the afternoon children’s television program on KOB, hosted by Dick Bills. Hearing it always evokes fond memories of the TV Westerns of my youth and their lasting influence on me. Since I just can’t be pinned down to just a measly 10 favorites, let’s call Second Hand Cowboy a tie for this position. I love the music and lyrics by Jaime Brockett and the sound of Auge Hays’ rugged vocal rendition about a man’s struggle to make something out of his “second hand wishes and schemes” and the woman who tries to love and support him.

– Mary Ryland of Albuquerque is owner of Sidekick Productions, which produces and promotes Western Music. Influenced by the music of the singing cowboy, she has produced concerts starring Ian Tyson, Don Edwards, Riders In The Sky, the Sons of the Pioneers, the Sons of the San Joaquin and the Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys.