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Mon, July 22

Sons of the Pioneers to play Old West music at the Elks Opera House Saturday

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

The Sons of the Pioneers have woven themselves into the very heart of the American West with their "Tumbling Tumbleweed" kind of music.

And, the very breed of musicians who have been celebrating this music for more than 75 years will bring the full flavor of their style to Prescott in a concert Saturday at the Elks Opera House.

Perhaps no other bunch of musicians can take as much credit for setting the standards for the western music genre as the Sons of the Pioneers, who not only established their own brand but inspired many other western performers, as well.

Historians know of the Sons' humble beginnings - one was a truck driver and fruit picker for a major canning company; another answered a classified ad for a yodeler; and a third worked in a grocery store chain warehouse. Fate would bring them together.

Even though the original group would morph a bit during its early years, the Sons of the Pioneers established themselves officially in 1934 with Leonard Slye, who later changed his name to Roy Rogers, Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer. Nolan wrote one of the first songs the Sons of the Pioneers recorded, "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," still a standard in the group's repertoire.

In 1976, the Sons of the Pioneers were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and though early members of the Sons of the Pioneers have died, their legacy lives on with current performers Gary LeMaster, Ken Lattimore, Randy Rudd, Mark Abbott, Ricky Boen and Luther Nallie, the trail boss who has been with the group for more than 40 years and performed with original Sons' members.

Founding members Nolan and Spencer wrote more than 3,000 songs between the two of them, Abbott said from his Fort Worth, Texas, home this week.

"We have quite a catalogue to draw from," he said of the Sons' play list, adding the audience will hear the classics, such as "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Cool Water," and "Ghost Riders in the Sky," which was written by a park ranger and made a hit by Vaughn Monroe years ago.

Abbott, himself, was a free-lance musician before joining Sons of the Pioneers and has been in the field for a long time. He's drawn to western melodies because they "paint a picture of the West, the western lifestyle, the cowboy.

"It's about something intriguing and alluring - the beautiful broad expanse of the West and the western way of life. The harmonies are intricate and the chord changes are beautiful.

"It will be a very entertaining show," Abbott said.

The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $30 to $36 and are available at the Elks Opera House box office by calling 777-1370, logging onto or at the door.

Of their music, the Sons of the Pioneers say, "Country and western artists may sing about pickup trucks or their girlfriends. Our songs are unabashed love songs to the West. That's one of the things that make us different."


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