Celebrating their historic 85th anniversary, the Sons of the Pioneers will ride into British Columbia for seven performances in October including a stop at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Oct. 13.
Long regarded as the most influential and prolific Western music group, the Pioneers will tour through various theatres in British Columbia throughout the month of October.
Come celebrate the group’s historic anniversary and meet Tommy Nallie (lead guitar and vocals), Roy (Dusty) Rogers, Jr., (MC, vocals), Ken Lattimore (vocals, fiddle), John Fullerton (vocals, rhythm guitar), Paul Elliott (fiddle), and Chuck Ervin (bass, vocals).
The Sons of the Pioneers are the gold standard for Western music, delivering thrilling harmonies, iconic yodeling, and poetic images of the West. Signature songs like “Cool Water,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” forever rooted in Western lore, are stirring new audiences of all ages.
In celebration of the historic anniversary, the Pioneers have also released their first album in eight years, 85 Years of Harmony, to wide acclaim.
When Roy Rogers (then Leonard Slye) and gifted songwriters Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer began developing their trademark “Pioneer sound” in the 1930s, little did they realize they were launching a juggernaut that would become one of the most decorated and longest-lived groups in American music history. Since then, 47 official members have rotated through to keep the Pioneers’ musical campfire burning brightly.
“We stay true to the music — so many of these songs are masterpieces — and audiences just get really excited,” says Nallie, the current leader and only the fourth “trail boss” in the group’s history.
Another development that Rogers — whose storied film, TV, and recording career earned him the sobriquet “King of the Cowboys” — might not have foreseen is the recent addition of his son, Dusty, into the group in 2018.
“How many guys get to join their father’s group that their dad started 85 years ago?” says Rogers. “I think it’s almost unheard of.”
The Pioneers’ songs have appeared in more than 100 Western films and continue to be used widely, such as in the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski (1998) and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), Clint Eastwood’s The Mule (2018), and in Ken Burns’ epic Country Music TV documentary (2019). A Broadway musical about Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Happy Trails, is due out in 2020.
The Pioneers are the most decorated group in Western music, winning honours such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Western Music Association Hall of Fame, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Texas Swing Hall of Fame, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to name a few. The group’s renditions of “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and “Cool Water” have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and the Smithsonian Institution has named the group one of America’s “National Treasures.”
“We are honoured to return to British Columbia,” says Nallie. “Canadians really know and appreciate Western music, and that makes it really fun for us, too.”
The Sons of the Pioneers will be playing at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Tickets $54 (adult, 22+), $27 (youth aged 13 to 21), $15 (students aged 12 and younger) and available online at chilliwackculturalcentre.ca at the Cultural Centre box office or by calling 604-391-SHOW (7469).