The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 2, 2014

Cowboy up with the MidLife Cowboys Band

By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz
For The Daily Item

— They are back in the saddle again and tomorrow they’re headed to Norry for some toe-tapping, knee-slapping, home-on-the-range music crooned by a posse of cowpokes known around these parts as the MidLife Cowboys Band.

There won’t be any horses hitched out front of the Townside 2 Coffeehouse tomorrow or a lonesome tumbleweed tumbling down the sidewalk, and there certainly won’t be any country music because cowboys in these parts sing a different tune.

“People often tell us they have never heard a band like ours before and the reason for that is there are simply no other bands in the Valley like us,” said Gary Stoner, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the 10-gallon hat wearing MidLife Cowboys.

What makes these cowpokes stand out from the area’s other music makers, besides the weathered cowboy hats and boots, is their music.

Their sound brings to mind old black and white films of a harmonica-playing Roy Rogers crooning songs around the campfire that tell the tales of the wild west, of saddles and spurs, lassies and lassos.

And unless you want to get one of the cowboy’s gander up, never ever refer to their music as country.

“We don‘t play country music. Some people who never heard us perform automatically think cowboys means country music,” Stoner said. “We describe our music as cowboy classics with a toe-tapping, bluesy flair delivered with a wisp of humor and sprinkled with rare but perfectly executed mistakes.”

For their gig at the King Street, that also includes performances by Lux Bridge and Mike Sweigard, Stoner and his posse will round up a set list that includes such iconic tunes as “Don’t Fence Me In” to “Back In The Saddle Again” to “Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle.”

The band’s tight three-part harmony and solid backup create the perfect combination of sounds and styles that comes from years of performing together, regular practice sessions and a collection of some of the best performers found along the Susquehanna.

In addition to Stoner, also known as Trail Boss, the cowboy posse includes Ed “Too Dang Cool” Scholl on electric guitar and vocals, Chris “Bluesman” Trasatti providing soulful harmonica and vocals, Mike “Saddle Sore” Celline laying out the beat on drums, Richard “Range Rover” Rupert, who has been known to ooze more talent than humanly possible while working the bass, is joined in life as well as the band with Alison “Miss Alison” Rupert providing vocals and percussion while Wayne “Chuck Wagon Master” Krebs acts as the hitch that keeps everything together.

Stoner, a physician at Geisinger Medical Center, credits the band’s distinctive style of music, along with some occasional cowboy poetry, humor and even a yodel or two from Miss Alison, as the ingredients for a family friendly show that will have even the orneriest audience member crack a smile or even do a Texas-two-step.

Although the cowboys are scattered around the Valley from Montoursville to Pitman, the band’s commitment and love of performing makes them find time to rehearse, schedule local gigs and plan shows outside the Valley since they’ve been successful in playing the fair circuit with gigs across the Keystone State.

“I’m very fortunate to be able to perform with such a talented group of people. Each one of them adds so much to the band,” said Stoner. “It might sound trite, but if being part of the band was not fun, if it was not something myself or any other member enjoyed, we would not be doing it. One of the comments we hear the most after our shows is that it looks like we’re having a great time. And we are. And when that happens, everything about the playing and the vibe of the show is so much better.”