Range riding in your living room (video 2:22)

Range riding in your living room (video 2:22)
Range riding in your living room (video 2:22)
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Listening to the easy banter between songs, you feel like you’re sitting in their living room at a FREE Rangers show. It’s even better when you see them at a sonically great venue like Ashland Coffee and Tea, where they recently celebrated the release of their new self-titled CD. The FREE Rangers come by that warm stage presence naturally, according to singer/guitarist Debbe Peck, having honed their band’s sound in living rooms and parties.

 

Debbe and Steve

Debbie & Steve

Debbie and husband Steve (bass and vocal) are the core of the band, having played and sung together for 31 years. They met in Florida when Debbe, then in a bluegrass band, took her guitar to Steve, a luthier by trade, for repair. They ended up moving out west to Flagstaff, Arizona where they both “got bit by the Western music thing.” They formed a band, Sugarfoot, and really honed their harmonies and overall sound playing a gig for a dude ranch “chuck wagon experience” 6 nights a week for 3 summers. What developed was spousal harmony.

 

 

 CD ProThe FREE Rangers’ roots are in “mental health nights” according to Debbe, “Steve and I, along with Rick Myers (guitar/vocal) would just sit in one of our living rooms and play for the fun of it and to relieve the tensions of life.” About 3 years ago Jim Norman (dobro/pedal steel) started sitting in and they got a bit more serious about being a band and writing their own tunes. Debbe, Steve and Rick’s vocals really work well together with consistently tight harmonies. Rick’s tasteful guitar licks, complimented by Jim’s crying string sound, adds a soulful Western dimension. While all four are serious musicians and have a true love for the music, Debbe says you really can’t take it too seriously. “It’s more about the audience’s enjoyment and taking things a little bit farther than getting rich or making it. “

 

One fairly unique and fun aspect of the FREE Rangers is Steve’s yodeling – not something you hear every day. Yodeling is a technique that requires the singer to alternate rapidly between the lower “chest register” and the higher pitched “head register.” On stage, Steve offers a humorous explanation of how cowboys came to yodel that involves a bucking horse and a saddle horn. That moment is included in the video clip below and on the new CD because, as Steve says, “Sometimes you just have to yodel!”

 

The band plays around town about once a month with their next show scheduled May 29 for the Chesterfield Library Acoustic Concert Series. The new CD is available now on CD Baby and soon from their website and Plan 9 Music. As good as the CD is, it’s really better to just settle back in their on-stage living room and enjoy their musical hospitality.

  

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