Ranger Doug won’t give up his last name easily. Well, his legal last name, that is.
If you ask him, he’ll say, “Idol of American Youth,” the phrase that’s followed his stage name for years. It’s an integral part of his persona with Riders in the Sky, the Grammy-award winning western band headed to The Clayton Center on Dec. 6.
Ranger Doug – Doug Green for those still wondering – said during a recent interview that the band has been through the Triangle a couple-dozen times, but never Clayton. He said locals can expect a mixture of comedy and traditional western music that appeals to three demographics.
“Older folks heard it growing up and they appreciate old-timey western music,” Ranger Doug said. “People in their middle years enjoy the comedy.
“With the kids, something about cowboys, our outfits and the silliness has attracted a great kid following.”
In fact, the band’s two Grammys came in the best children’s album category, one each for songs from the Pixar films “Toy Story 2” and “Monsters, Inc.”
Each of the band’s four members grew up in the 1950s, when, as the 68-year-old Ranger Doug puts it, “cowboys were still king.” They were also all surrounded by music as kids, oftentimes in the family. Ranger Doug’s kin, for instance, played guitar and his Uncle Arvid yodeled – skills he picked up at an early age.
They all played with different groups in the 1960s and 1970s, before Riders in the Sky made its debut on Nov. 11, 1977. Today, 37 years later, Ranger Doug said he’s still having fun.
“We continue to mix up the set in the show and there’s a lot of ad lib,” he said.
“You want to please the fans, but part of it is introducing this music to new fans,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s still remembered and vivid for a whole new generation or two.”
Part of the fun is the elaborate outfits the band wears for each show. The colorful get-ups with stitching shaped like roses, musical notes and horses are typically custom made by tailors in Nashville, Tenn., and Hollywood, Calif.
“People enjoy that about a show,” Ranger Doug said. “I miss that with a lot of today’s performers, with shirt tails hanging out and blue jeans they slept in the night before.”
Area residents can see the band’s outfits and hear their songs at next month’s show in Clayton. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8. Tickets cost $28.