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'Toy Story 2' 

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RANGER DOUG is as thrilled as a Texas armadillo on an empty road. As the official front man and "trail boss" of the ultimate old-fashioned cowboy band Riders in the Sky, Doug (also known as "The Idol of American Youth") is calling from his home in Nashville to talk about Toy Story 2, for which the Riders have recorded the Randy Newman-authored theme song.

"People say this movie's going to be big," drawls Ranger Doug. "I've even purchased Pixar stock, so I'm counting on it being big."

The Riders--including Woody Paul ("King of the cowboy fiddlers"), bunkhouse base-player Too Slim ("the little man with the big instrument"), and accordion whiz Joey the Cow Polka King--will be at the Raven Theater on Nov. 20, performing on-stage before the gala local premiere of the much-anticipated film.

They'll be joined by the film's director, John Lasseter, and a handful of stars from the film, including Cheers' John Ratzenberger (voice of Hamm, the piggybank) and Kelsey Grammer (voice of Stinky Pete, the prospector). The fully catered event-- featuring a silent auction of Toy Story memorabilia--is a fundraiser for the Valley of the Moon Children's Center, which provides shelter to neglected, abused, and abandoned children.

If prompted, the Riders may even sing the new Toy Story song: "Woody's Roundup."

But does it feature any yodeling, a Riders in the Sky specialty? "I'm proud to say there are exactly two and a half seconds of good old-fashioned yodeling in the song," he says, and then offers a demonstration. "There's a line that goes, 'With Jesse the yodeling cowgirl, oh-di-lo-di oh-di-lay-di oh-di-lo-di-o-ee! I can't wait for the dance mix."

It has not gone unobserved to Ranger Doug that his contribution to Toy Story 2--which also features songs sung by Sarah McLachlin and Robert Goulet--will present a unique educational opportunity. Many children will, in that short snatch of yodeling, be hearing such a sound for the very first time in their lives. That's quite a responsibility.

"Fortunately, we have broad shoulders and years of experience," says Ranger Doug. "So we are proud to carry that responsibility.

"But that's the cowboy way."

The Toy Story 2 benefit takes place on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. at the Raven Theater, 415 Center St., Healdsburg. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased in advance by calling 565-5843.

From the November 18-24, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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