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For decades the premier western singing group has musically painted unforgettable images and stories of horses, cattle, cowboys, “night herds,” tall timber, cool water, canyons and prairies. Original songs like Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Cool Water and Ghost Riders in the Sky are classics forever entwined into the lore and mystique of the American West. Both Tumbleweeds and Cool Water have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
First started by Roy Rogers, gifted Canadian songwriter Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer, the group garnered national and international fans through appearances in almost 100 western films during the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. The group provided songs for several John Ford westerns, including the soundtrack for The Searchers, starring John Wayne, and Walt Disney called on the Pioneers to supply the soundtrack for the film Pecos Bill. When television came along they regularly appeared on the Roy Rogers Show and had guest spots on such programs as the Barbara Mandrell Show. They were the first cowboy musical group to perform at Carnegie Hall, the first to headline in Las Vegas casinos and recorded numerous albums under contracts with Decca, Columbia, RCA and others.
The group’s current configuration is part of an uninterrupted 80-year existence during which they have accumulated more coveted honours and awards than anyone in Western music. The group has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Western Music Association Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame among others. The Smithsonian Institute named them as “national treasures.”
The Pioneers are known around the world for their unique three- and four-part harmonies.
“We are honoured to be returning to Canada. We had Western Canadian tours in 2012, 2015 and 2016. We were parade marshals for the Calgary Stampede in the 1990s,” said “trail boss” Tommy Nallie, who joined the group in the 1980s. “Every concert is pure cowboy music packed with our timeless hits, solid Western swing and a good measure of comedy and banter. Each of the five members share the vocals and instrumentals.”
Part of the hallmark sound comes from acoustic fiddles, mandolin, upright bass and lead and rhythm guitars.
In addition to performing their regular theatre concert season in Branson, Missouri, the Pioneers have recently been invited to perform on RFD-TV, PBS program, on Nashville’s Grand Ol Opry and at various theatres and festivals across the country.
“The Pioneers are legends in the field of Western music,” said local promoter Margaret Morrissette. “Everyone I talk to is so very excited they are coming to British Columbia for a six-concert tour. We’re gonna have lots of fun!”
Tickets for the 7 p.m. Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre performance are available at the theatre box office, online or by calling 1-250-549-7469. Seating is limited so fans are encouraged to get their tickets early.