When I was a boy, the yearly ritual for my folks and me on my birthday was to stand in lines around the block to see the latest Roy Rogers movie, a Technicolor adventure of the West with Roy, Dale, Gabby Hayes, Bob Nolan and The Sons of the Pioneers. The plaintive harmonies I heard would forever evoke in me the far horizons of the West. Like many boys of that time, in my heart I lived on that ranch on the big screen with Roy and The Sons of the Pioneers.
What a revelation it has been to discover just how many of the songs I have loved and sung since boyhood were penned by Bob Nolan. Not only Tumbling Tumbleweeds and Cool Water, but lesser known gems like Chant of the Plains, Song of the Prairie, Chant of the Wanderer, This Ain’t the Same Ole Range, One More Ride, Ridin’ Home, Song of the Rover, Rocky Roads, Tumbleweed Trail, and Blue Prairie are songs I couldn’t wait to sing, once I’d heard them. It isn’t only that Bob Nolan wrote great songs and helped fashion classic arrangements of them. He also made superb renditions of other people’s songs. I don’t know of a more authentic or exciting version of Stan Jones’ Ghost Riders in the Sky than the one Bob Nolan and The Sons of the Pioneers recorded.
In their vivid evocation of the wonders of nature, several Nolan songs, such as Blue Prairie, Chant of the Plains and Song of the Prairie, are more timely now than ever before. Cool Water could become the theme song of our drought stricken West.
Throughout my life the music of The Sons of the Pioneers has served to remind me of my deepest values, the beauty of the wilderness, the joy of roaming through it freely…and celebrating it with spectacular harmonies. As I set about making selections for Yondering, an album of classic cowboy songs, I was struck by just how many of the songs had been composed by Bob Nolan: five out of sixteen!
We hear a lot today about “cowboy poetry.” For me, the greatest “cowboy poet” of all was, and is, Bob Nolan. As a performer, I’ve sung various kinds of music, from Broadway to doo-wop, but I notice that the songs I mostly sing to myself are those of Bob Nolan and The Sons of the Pioneers. I’ve paid tribute to that music in Yondering.
(See www.richflanders.com for more on the Bob Nolan songs featured on Yondering. The song on this page, Bob Nolan's "Chant of the Plains" is from Yondering, used here with permission.)
July 29, '08 News:
BEST WESTERN ALBUM OF THE YEAR
BEST SONG (Blue Prairie)
Academy of Western Artists (AWA)
Yondering reaches deep into the heart, bringing a sense of peace in an unsettling world.Musical Medicine Newsletter, Inner Harmony Health Center
Beautiful, rich, poignant, and given a depth of feeling and sweetness with the tenor and exquisite phrasing of Flanders' voice. Jean Houston, author of The Possible Human & A Mythic Life
Simply beautiful work.Bernard Boyat, Le Cri Du Coyote magazine
Magnificent! Every home should have a copy. Thank you for keeping American music alive and very well! An amazing tribute.Troubadours of Divine Bliss
Truly special. This one gets a nod from me for nominations for Western Male Vocalist and Western Album of the Year. None do it any better than this cowboy from New York! Rick Huff, The Western Way magazine, Western Music Assn.
Hear samples and order at www.richflanders.com
or send $16.00 check or m.o. to Rich Flanders, 374 County Route 48, Thompson Ridge, NY 10985
September 28, 2008
I want to celebrate this news with you! The 2008 Will Rogers Cowboy Award from the Academy of Western Artists for the "BEST SONG" was awarded to BLUE PRAIRIE from our album, YONDERING - Songs of the American West.
The award was presented at the Granville Theatre in Garland, Texas, Tuesday evening, September 23 in a gala ceremony featuring top entertainers from the western music industry. To have a first album nominated in two categories - Best Western Album of the Year and Best Song - seemed honor enough. That the award is named after someone I've always greatly admired, Will Rogers, makes it all the more meaningful to me. I can't think of much finer company to be in.
I share this wonderful sculpture with my friend, Ken DeAngelis - producer, engineer, mixing & mastering honcho, guitarist, accordionist, and fellow arranger extraordinaire - and Julie Ziavras of JAZ Music Productions, Inc., as well as with bassist Barry Wiesenfeld and violinist Rachel Handman, and I am eternally grateful for the love and support I've felt from friends and fans and family. In my acceptance remarks I mentioned my bride, Amy, my late, great father-in-law, Norman Ober - Yondering's greatest fan - Wayne White, official "president of the fan club" who drove almost 3 hours to be there, our Lakota friends on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers (www.grandmotherscouncil.com), striving to bring healing to our Earth.
One of the most memorable experiences of the evening was the jam session after the ceremonies. All the award winners, together with many of the runners up, gathered in the hotel lobby and played and sang together into the wee hours. Any guests wandering through got the show of a lifetime. I've seldom heard such formidable musicianship or sung with such a stunning assembly of talented, versatile, open-hearted performers. Amy and I made some wonderful new friends and flew home with a stack of their terrific cd's to listen to.
I'm attaching 3 recent reviews I hope you'll enjoy. (For more reviews, click on the link at www.richflanders.com ) Thanks to all for the recognition. As always, the enthusiasm of friends for projects like this is deeply cherished. There'll be more to come!
Country CD Reviews, Nashville95.com, May 13, 2008:
In his web site biography, Rich Flanders claims, “Now, I’m not a cowboy, and I don’t own that big spread on the far side of the Divide.” But after listening to Yondering: Songs of the American West, some might be convinced otherwise, as Flanders clearly has a deep, intimate relationship with the old west.
His renditions of these Western classics take listeners on a nostalgic journey that conjures images of wide open frontiers and vast horizons. And while the music sticks closely to its heritage, Flanders does a great job toying with creative autonomy. His droning, layered harmonies are meticulously crafted, and are the album’s preeminent attribute. Moreover, Flanders showcases his seasoned vocal chops with wonderful intonation and vibrato, which is a breath of fresh air in a time of unbridled pitch correction.
The album is simple, under-produced - yet it has depth and character. In a nutshell: Flanders got the job done, and done right.
Cowboy Jam Session: Western Culture News & Reviews
Aside from meeting artists at festivals and gatherings, I also meet them at my mailbox. CD shippers and padded envelopes show up every now and then, bearing addresses from across the United States and Canada.
It’s exciting to open a package and see what’s inside. I don’t take it lightly when I receive such a parcel. Whether it’s from a poet or singer, author, publisher, or film maker, I understand the time, effort, and expense that go into producing such a project. Unfortunately, space doesn’t allow me to tell you about them all.
Rich Flanders is one of those artists whom I met down at the mailbox. His album, Yondering: Songs of the American West, arrived with of all things, a New York State address. An address means little to me if the material inside is good, and Yondering is good.
Like Woodson, Flanders (www.richflanders.com) shares an enduring fondness for the Sons of the Pioneers. A former Broadway performer, he too tips his hat to the group in the acknowledgments, commenting that of the many kinds of music he’s performed, the songs on the album are the ones he most often sings to himself. A labor of love he contemplated for years, Flanders provides fresh lead and harmony vocals on the 16 tracks.
Songs were selected based upon their universal appeal. You’ll instantly recognize the majority of the songs celebrating the peaks and prairies. Five were penned by Bob Nolan, including “Chant of the Plains” and “Blue Prairie.” Other cowboy/Western classics include “Blue Shadows on the Trail,” “Ridin’ down the Canyon,” “River of No Return,” and “Song of the Trail.” For generous track samples, head over to cdbaby.com/cd/richflanders and take a listen. If you like what you hear, order directly from CDBaby. Yondering sells for $16 plus $2.25 shipping.
COWBOY Magazine, Fall, 2008:
RICH FLANDERS doesn't claim to be a cowboy, but, like so many folks, he's got a deep appreciation for the classic Western songs that we all know and love. Flanders has a great tenor voice, and he's backed up by capable performers on accordion, bass fiddle, fiddle, and masterfully blended harmony vocals.
Included in this collection of 16 favorites are "Blue Shadows on the Trail," "The Timber Trail," "Blue Prairie," "Ghost Riders in the Sky," "Ridin' Down the Canyon," "Cool Water," "River of No Return," "Song of the Trail," and "Man Walks Among Us."
We promise this one will get a lot of playing time at your house. Very nicely done. Rich Flanders, 374 County Highway 48, Thompson Ridge, NY 10985 ; www.richflanders.com or www.cdbaby.com/cd/richflanders CD, 16 tracks, $16 plus postage.
Songs of the American West
Nominated by The Academy of Western Artists
Winner: Best Song Blue Prairie
Sunday, April 05, 2009 6:27 PM
Hi everyone -
Ride Away takes its title from the soundtrack of John Ford's 1956 masterpiece, The Searchers.
As on Yondering, the songs of Ride Away celebrate the beauty of the wild and stir the heart. Some of the selections are new. Some are little known or rarely heard. One or two could almost be called "folk." I chose each because it was a gem, and I believe Ride Away, like Yondering, will cross genres and appeal to a wide range of music enthusiasts.
Two of the songs, My Shadow and the Moon and Thirteen Voices, were written for the album by Ken DeAngelis (www.kenandjulie.com)whose compositions have been compared by critics to those of Harry Chapin and Simon & Garfunkel.
Thirteen Voices was inspired by Amy's and my acquaintance with the Lakota elder, Beatrice Weasel Bear of "The Thirteen Grandmothers"
The efforts of these extraordinary indigenous leaders from the Americas, Tibet, Africa, and the Arctic to save life on this planet are being documented in a new film, For The Next 7 Generations. We feel privileged to bring Thirteen Voices to the public.
Man Without a Star
(Arnold Hughes & Frederick Herbert)
Call of the Wild
My Shadow & The Moon
The White Buffalo
Mah Lindy Lou
The Hills of Old Wyoming
(Ralph Rainger & Leo Dubin)
(Johnny Lange & Elliot Daniel)
South of Santa Fe
(Tim Spencer & Roy Rogers)
How Green Was My Valley
(Alfred Newman & Paul Francis Webster)
A Cowboy Has To Sing
This Ain't The Same Old Range
(Music by Ken DeAngelis, Lyrics by Ken DeAngelis & Amy Ober)
The Searchers (Ride Away)
Produced by JAZ Music Productions, Inc.
Lead & Harmony Vocals
Ken DeAngelis - Guitar, Accordion, Harmonica
Rachel Handman - Fiddle
Barry Wiesenfeld - Bass Fiddle, Flute
Arrangements: Ken DeAngelis & Rich Flanders
Sound Engineering, Mixing, Mastering: Ken DeAngelis, JAZ Music Productions, Inc.
Manufacturing & Design: Mediaworks, Inc., Nashville
Photos: Marissa Raymond (www.marissaraymond.com) & Dody Schwartz
• Send $17.00 check or money order to:
($15.00 each for 2 or more cd's)
374 County Highway 48
Thompson Ridge, NY 10985
• Order online via credit card at www.cdbaby.com/cd/richflanders
If you'd like an inscription on your copy, or for a gift copy, just include a note asking for a signed copy.
Member, Academy of Western Artists and Western Music Association
Winner of the Will Rogers Cowboy Award
=========== REVIEWS ===========
"Ride Away is a worthy companion to Rich's previous album, Yondering. This one is a mixture of old familiar Sons of the Pioneers' songs and new creations, all tasting of the American West. The instrumental arrangements instill a mystical feeling to the Native American songs and make an exquisite setting for that little gem, Colorado Trail. Two of Bob Nolan's greatest songs are included - one joyful, the other melancholy." (E McDonald)
"I must confess I always watch with great interest for the follow up albums, the second releases, from artists who have impressed me either positively or negatively with their initial efforts. I was impressed very positively with his first album (Yondering), but based on what I've just heard in Rich Flanders' second CD, Ride Away, I'm ready to say he should definitely be considered to be one of Western Music's A-List performers all the way!!
"What a treat you're in for this time! From the inspired mix of rare film music ("Man Without A Star," "The White Buffalo"...an early Alan Bergman song from, get this, an episode of Rin Tin Tin!), newer works (Joyce Woodson's "Call Of The Wild") and debuts (player & co-producer Ken DeAngelis's "My Shadow & The Moon" and "Thirteen Voices" with Amy Ober) to the thoughtful and well-executed arrangements, "Ride Away" is top notch. As the title suggests, Stan Jones' theme from "The Searchers" is here, too. Flanders also isn't afraid to veer off the rigidly Western trail a little when the occasion demands. All will appreciate that fact and be thankful for it when they hear his take of the Burl Ives release "Mah Lindy Lou" or the Newman/Webster theme from "How Green Was My Valley." Fourteen tracks. Rich Flanders' Ride Away is a brilliant album, and I mean the kind that could and should earn Classic status." (RICK HUFF, "The Western Way," Fall 2009 issue)
January 26, 2011
I'm pleased to announce that our performance of Thirteen Voices - nominated BEST ORIGINAL SONG, 2010 by the Western Music Association - is now up on YouTube. The video was taken at the Western Music Ass'n Awards in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Saturday evening, November 20, 2010. Enjoy!
Inspired by the Thirteen International Indigenous Grandmothers (www.grandmotherscouncil.com), the music to Thirteen Voices was composed by Ken DeAngelis, with lyrics by Ken DeAngelis and Amy Ober. It is one of 14 songs of the West from our album, RIDE AWAY, nominated ALBUM OF THE YEAR, 2010, by the Western Music Ass'n.
(Hear samples and order at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/RichFlanders1)
Dismount at www.richflanders.com
Happiest of New Years!
March 4, 2011
"Stepping down from the saddle for a moment and into the Great American Songbook, here are 3 duets from our show, Double Standards, including the rarely heard, Isn't It Romantic/Wasn't It Romantic. (The show also included Nolan's A Cowboy Has to Sing, which NY audiences loved!)"
CELIA BERK & RICH FLANDERS sing highlights from DOUBLE STANDARDS:
• And the Angels Sing
• Isn't It Romantic/Wasn't It Romantic
Samples can be heard and the songs can be downloaded individually or as an album.
"....a distinctive new singing duo, Rich Flanders & Celia Berk bring a fresh sound to The Great American Songbook."Also available at iTunes and Amazon.