Home, home on the stage
February 23, 2010
In September, Lannie "The Marshal" Scopes and Craig "Creek" Johnson tipped back their ten-gallons, kicked up their spurs and marched down Main Street as part of the annual Miners’ Day Parade.
They were partially responsible, Scopes says, for holding up the procession, but only because they wanted to stop and chat with every familiar face they saw. It seemed that everyone had the same question for the longtime local cowboy icons: "When are you going to bring back Cowboy Night?"
In the olden days (circa 2003-2006), Scopes and Johnson who make up the band In-Cahoots and operate a cowboy-themed motivational speaking company would get together with other cowboy entertainers and enthusiasts to bring a taste of the Wild West to the Egyptian Theatre. They’d perform weekly shows for about two months in the summer and again in the winter.
Then, somehow, Cowboy Night fell by the wayside.
Chatting with folks on Miners’ Day got Scopes and Johnson thinking. Cowboy Night hadn’t been back on stage for about three years. It was time to sidle up to theatre manager Randy Barton, hands on their holsters.
Of course, they didn’t even get a chance to brandish their weapons before Barton enthusiastically agreed to schedule the show. This Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 and 27, the original cast will return to the stage for two nights of tails from the dusty trail.
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Scopes describes Cowboy Night as a "cowboy variety show with a common theme." All of the pieces of cowboy culture cowboy poetry, musical acts, an audience shoot-out and a few surprises will come into play.
The event will feature cowboy poets Fred Engel and Jeff Carson, cowboy bands In-Cahoots and Stampede, and a special guest appearance by "the fastest gun in the West," Marshal Pat Garrett.
Scopes and Johnson started In-Cahoots 11 years ago to combine their love for music and the cowboy lifestyle. Since then, they’ve performed "from Wyoming to Arizona, and everywhere in between," says Johnson.
They frequent the big cowboy poetry gatherings in Elko and Heber City and have shared the bill with their Cowboy Night collaborators several times. In fact, Scopes says he didn’t want to commit to a comeback at the Egyptian unless the whole group was available.
The format of the show includes performances by each individual/group with running jokes and stories to lasso it all together. "We have something happening the whole time," says Scopes. "If people fall asleep, we just take ’em out back and shoot ’em. We haven’t had to do that yet."
The musical offerings will comprise traditional cowboy songs as well as original material. Just remember, "It’s cowboy music, not country music," says Johnson.
Audience involvement is an important part of the show and the lead cowboys like to establish a rapport with the audience early on. You’ll find Scopes and Johnson drawing in spectators off the street prior to the show. ("We like to ‘howdy’ people," says Scopes.)
One of the favorite activities for the kids in the audience is a contest to see if anyone can clap faster than Garrett can shoot and holster his pistol. "Nobody’s won so far," Scopes says.
That reminds him, the show is very family-friendly and appropriate for kids of all ages. It’s also suited for both tourists and locals.
"It’s what people expect when they come to Park City," says Scopes. "They don’t want Aspen or Vail. We give them what they’re looking for."
The Egyptian Theatre provides a perfect venue for all the grit and glory of a night on the range (minus the horses and campfires). "The Egyptian has a certain charm and personality that lends itself to what we do," says Johnson. "We think there’s a great connection between cowboys and the Old West and an old theatre with a great history."
"We’re just really excited to be back," Scopes adds. "Park City is one of our favorite places."
The show starts at 8 p.m. and runs for 90 minutes. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and $20 for cabaret seating. Children’s tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. For tickets and more information, call 649-9371 or visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.