Ranger Doug Green on Western swing, the Time Jumpers and being the 'beautiful heartbeat' of a band
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"Don't Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes at Me," The Time Jumpers
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
After a lifetime of making music, Ranger Doug Green is probably due for retirement soon. Instead, he's busy playing with two of the most highly regarded Western music bands in the country.
Ranger Doug, as he prefers to be called, helped found Riders in the Sky — a Grammy-winning group that keeps the tradition of bands like Sons of the Pioneers alive — nearly 40 years ago, then he found himself a member, almost by accident, of The Time Jumpers, a conglomeration of Nashville's best session musicians.
It's the latter who'll come to Amarillo for a 7:30 p.m. July 22 concert in the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Buchanan St. The Time Jumpers — which also counts Vince Gill, fiddler Kenny Sears and others among its members — will perform two fundaising concerts this month for the historic Granada Theater in Plainview; the second is set for July 23 in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Tickets for the Amarillo show are $35 to $55, plus fees; call 806-378-3096 or visit PanhandleTickets.
Ranger Doug came to the Time Jumpers a few years after it formed in 1998, but he already had a career full of highlights. He began playing folk music as a college student — "it was cool to be able to play guitar in the '60s. You might get a girlfriend that way; I think I did" — then found himself a member of a bluegrass band for a short time.
"I was not well-suited for that, but I like (bluegrass). Once I discovered Western swing, though, I never looked back," Ranger Doug said.
In 1977, Ranger Doug, Woody Paul and Too Slim formed the Riders in the Sky, formed to help keep the music of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers alive for a new generation. They take that charge seriously and work often in projects aimed at children, including singing "Woody's Roundup" in the Toy Story movies.
"Woody's Roundup," Riders in the Sky
A Nashville resident and member of the Grand Ole Opry, Ranger Doug started jamming backstage at the Opry with some fellow musicians in the late 1990s. Those musicians eventually formed a band, the Time Jumpers, which took on a Monday-night residency at the Station Inn bluegrass club and started attracting the musical cognoscenti of Music City to their shows.
"When I heard about what they formed as a band, I went down to see them ... and eventually, the steel player said, why don't you come on up and play," Ranger Doug said. "And I was a member."
He said he realizes it's unusual — at age 70 — to be a prominent member of two active bands.
"But it's all I ever wanted to do," he said. "If I took a full retiremnet, I would probably just start a band. This is what I love and what I've always done, and it's what I'll probably be doing until they carry me out on a stretcher.
"I never get over the joy of it. It's hard to describe, but when you see the Time Jumpers play, you can just tell we are so happy with what the others are doing. ... It's hard to describe what kind of joy it is, but it's a physical sensation."
"Stars Above the Rio," The Time Jumpers
The Time Jumpers appeal to Ranger Doug because he can position himself as just one of a (highly talented) ensemble instead of fronting the band.
"Vince (who joined in 2010) has had plenty more spotlight than me, but we've both been out front and had that time, and it's great," Ranger Doug said. "That's not what either he or I get out of this. It's not an ego thing. It's really feeling so good about playing with a bunch of guys who you like that can really play.
"Everyone is so agreeable," he said. "Everyone gets along. There are no primadonnas, no big egos, no pouting. Everybody just gets down there and enjoys the heck out of it.
"You know how hard it is to keep a band together, and to have 10 different personalities and to have them all mesh, that's just great," he continued. "And that's aside from the musical talent, which is a big part of our appeal."
The Time Jumpers members each take a few turns in the spotlight during their shows, then back each other for the rest of the songs. Ranger Doug said he loves that part.
"As a rhythm guitarist, I"m all about the feel, all about the pulse ... I can sit back and enjoy the beautiful soloists," he said. "My job in the band is the beautiful heartbeat, and I love that role."