Country band High Ryder celebrating 20 years
Members of local country band High Ryder are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the group with a busy summer schedule.
The High Ryder Band was formed in 1994 by Roy Hess, who is still a member today and hasn't missed a beat. Hess happened to hear a young singer, Hodge Fabian, performing at the Old Time Fiddlers Jamboree. He told his wife that if he could get Fabian to front a band, he would get back into it himself. It wasn't long before the two, along with a few other veteran musicians, put together High Ryder and began appearing at venues all over the area. Now, after 20 years, the band is still performing, drawing record crowds and, according to Hess, “still learning. It's one great ride, and great therapy.”
Over the years, lead singers have changed and several players retired and were replaced, but real trauma occurred in 2012 when long-time bassist Jim Howell died, and his son, then the lead singer could not continue.
Fortunately, Hess and lead guitarist Vern “Bup” Eberhart found father and son, Andy and Andrew Hresko, seasoned country performers, who joined the band.
Current band members are Hess, vocals, guitar and fiddle; Eberhart, vocals and lead guitar; Andy Hresko, vocals and bass; and Andrew Hresko III, vocals and drums.
Today, the band is more cutting edge, driving country, but still classic.
“I guess we would be classified as a bar band,” said Hess, who has played in all types of bands since 1954. “Somewhere along the line we were voted Best Area Country Dance Band. But what we really love is concerts. Since the time is limited, you need to put your best stuff out there and entertain the crowd. Anyone who attends our shows can see that we're having a ball.”
The band has performed to big crowds at Connellsville's Lions Square and Uniontown's Storey Square, among others, this summer.
Every band member sings and contributes to the show, which is rare in most country bands. The guys are looking forward to concerts they have scheduled for the second half of their anniversary celebration.
They include: Dawson Grange Fair, 8-11 p.m. Friday; benefit concert at Rostraver Gardens 5 p.m. Aug. 16; West Newton Concert Series (at the bridge) Aug. 23; Flax Scutching Festival, 1:15 and 3:15 p.m. Sept. 13 and then that night at the Brownfield Community Center, 7-10 p.m.; and Dunbar Days 3-6 p.m. Sept. 27.
Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.