Monday evening hundreds of cowboy and western fans from southern Iowa and northern Missouri traveled to Simon Estes Auditorium in Centerville to reminisce about life in the old west while enjoying the live entertainment presented by the “Sons of the Pioneers.” The fans came early and almost filled the lower area of the auditorium. The Pioneers have been around for 79 years and have had 26 members that have kept the cowboy/western music legacy alive.
This concert was really nostalgic for me because I can remember listening to my mom’s 78 rpm recordings of the Pioneers. I think everyone in my age group remembers the western tunes like “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “Ghost Riders In the Sky,” “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” and “Cool Water.” We were treated to all of the classics plus others that are not quite as popular.
The show started with a short medley that gave us a picture of what was to come. All six of the present musicians are very talented and they can play several instruments which include guitars, fiddles and string bass. Ricky Boen was outstanding on the fiddle, whether he had the melody or filling in harmony. Also each member had an opportunity to sing lead as well as adding neat harmony. Every member sang a verse when they did “Whoopi Ti Yi Yo” along with the audience. Ken Lattimore was great singing the “Cowboy’s Lament/Streets of Laredo.” I also enjoyed Randy Rudd singing “Tear Drops in My Heart.”
I always like it when the artists provide a little history about their group and they talked about the past members of the Pioneers that went on to have an individual career. Roy Rogers and Glen Campbell were two they mentioned. Mark Abbott, the bass player, provided much of the humor for the show. His “Preacher Song” really brought the house down. Over all, we were able to imagine being part of the old west, riding horses and herding cattle through the canyons and across prairies.
My favorites, besides the tunes mentioned above, were “Just a Closer Walk,” “Navajo Trail,” “Red River Valley,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Empty Saddle,” “Room Full of Roses” and “My Adobe Hacienda.” The evening of live entertainment ended with everyone singing “Happy Trails” with the Pioneers.