- Kelly Kerr / provided
- The Red Dirt Rangers’ Kids Christmas Show is 2-3 p.m. Sunday at The Blue Door.
Red Dirt Rangers’ Kids Christmas Show has been an annual holiday tradition for, well, a
2-3 p.m. Sunday
The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley Ave.
“I’m not exactly sure when the first one was,” said Rangers vocalist and mandolin player John Cooper, “but it’s been well over 25 years. Let’s put it that way. … We don’t know for sure, but we’ve got kids’ kids’ kids at this point.”
The show is 2-3 p.m. Sunday at The Blue Door, 2805 N. McKinley Ave. The Rangers will play songs from the album Blue Shoe: Music for Kids of All Ages, released sometime around the first Christmas show, which according to The Oklahoman, took place in 1993, i.e., the year The Blue Door opened.
“With our kids record, we tried not to write down to the kids,” Cooper said. “There’s no Red Ball, Blue Ball, Green Ball type stuff. There’s songs like ‘Nobody Else Like Me.’ … We have a song called ‘Black Dogs and White Dogs’ about how dogs can get along and people can get along. We try to put a little lesson in a lot of the songs instead of just mindless kids stuff. We’ve always felt like kids are really smart, and they’re really smarter than adults in a lot of ways because they don’t have all that baggage that comes with the computer age and television and all the other influences that I think jade adults a little more. Kids are just open, and they just want to have a good time. They want to be entertained.”
While many aspects of modern life are dramatically different from the time of the first shows, Cooper said the target audience still seems familiar.
“Things have changed over the years, but not that much,” Cooper said. “Kids are still kids, no matter what you do to them with the technology. I think that’s not going to change. I hope not, I really do. … The computer age is great and horrible at the same time. I think we’ve lost a lot as humans by having the computer age. Personal interaction and those kinds of things just kind of went out the window. Now everybody’s got their phone or their computer and they’re just stuck to that thing instead of actually interacting with people. It’s kind of sad in a way.”
Children, meanwhile, remain an engaged, interactive audience — as long as performers are able to hold their attention.
“Kids are a very interesting audience because they love music, and they’ll jump and dance and sing, but you better be entertaining because they will walk away in a heartbeat,” Cooper said. “They don’t feel like they owe you anything, to sit there and be nice and listen. It’s refreshing because it’s a very honest audience reaction. Sometimes people sit there to be nice and that kind of thing. Kids, man, they don’t care.”
- Blue Shoe: Music for Kids of All Ages was released in the 1990s.
Like children, the band has also basically remained unchanged.
“We’re still performing the same way that we always have, despite the technology,” Cooper said. “My band started before there was a computer age. We’ve been together 31, almost 32 years, so we’re a pre-computer band. … Of course music has changed exponentially — the way it’s delivered, the way it’s listened to, the way it’s attended. Everything’s changed, man, everything, but the one constant has been the kids’ show. We do the same show we’ve always done, and the kids love it.”
Whether performing for children or adults, Cooper said, the cardinal rule is the same, and because the band has endured for so long, fans who have grown up listening to the Rangers will occasionally ask to hear old favorites from Blue Shoe.
“An audience is an audience,” Cooper said. “You just have to be entertaining. … You have to be a little more engaging with the kids. That’s the only difference, but it’s funny because, at our ‘adult shows,’ we’ll have adults that will request kids songs sometimes in a bar. It’s kind of weird, but we do them and they love it. … Adults in a bar drinking are kind of like kids anyway.”
The show will also include some holiday tunes, treats and surprises, but Cooper said the length of the set list will be carefully considered because children “start getting fidgety and antsy after about 35, 40 minutes, tops.”
Friendly insuranceProceeds from the show will go to Red Dirt Relief Fund, a nonprofit inspired by the generosity the Rangers experienced after Cooper and bandmates Brad Piccolo and Ben Han were injured in a 2004 helicopter crash.
“When a musician gets hurt or someone in the music industry gets hurt, the only insurance they have is their friends throw benefits for them,” Cooper said. “We were very fortunate that we had benefits thrown for us, not only in Oklahoma but in Texas and California. We got money donated us from all over the world. It was an incredible outpouring for us. We felt very blessed, and talking with other musicians in our genre, we decided that we needed to have some sort of thing besides just putting on benefits. We wanted to create an entity that could help music people in the state of Oklahoma. … That’s probably the thing that I personally am most proud of that we’ve ever done in the music business, and that includes a lot of great shows and a lot of great tours and going overseas and everything. That’s the thing I think that will out live us and be our legacy.”
—John Cooper tweet this
To date, Cooper said, the fund has granted almost $200,000 to music industry professionals in need — including Cooper.
“I broke my hand about six weeks ago, and I don’t have any insurance, and I called [Red Dirt Relief Fund executive director Katie Dale] and said, ‘Hey, remember when we met out at The Farm about 10 years ago to start up the Red Dirt Relief Fund?’ She said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s all been coming to this day. I need the fund.’ … She just laughed. For me, it came full circle. My intent was not to do it for me, but my turn came around, so it’s pretty cool, or I’m really glad it’s there; let’s put it that way. I couldn’t have paid for all the X-rays and doctors. It gets expensive really quick.”
Costs for just about everything have risen since the ’90s, but tickets are the same price they were when the show began — $5.
“It’s not a money show,” Cooper said. “It’s about having a great time with the kids on a Sunday afternoon right before Christmas. … I’m not a huge Christmas person per se. It’s a little too over-the-top for me, all the consumerism that it seems to lend itself to. To me it’s sad, really, that it’s become so commercial, but this is something I can really dig. Christmas is for kids, man.”
Call 405-524-0738 or visit facebook.com/reddirtrangers.