Sourdough Slim aka Rick Crowder is a well-traveled veteran of stages, ranging from the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering to the Lincoln Center’s Roots of American Music Festival and the Carnegie Hall Folk Festival.
On Nov. 7, Crowder will perform locally at the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club as part of the Ojai Concert Series.
This isn’t the first time Crowder has performed in Ventura County, with past performances at Underwood Family Farms, the Ventura County Fair and the Conejo Cowboy Festival in Thousand Oaks.
“Audiences in Ventura County have always been open and receptive to my act — they get it,” said Crowder, 67, of Paradise, California.
His fast-paced stage show finds him crooning Western classics, playing accordion, guitar and harmonica, dancing a jig, dishing out comedic sketches and letting loose with some yodeling. His “yippie ti yi” style won him the Academy of Western Artists 2001 Will Rogers Award for Yodeler of the Year; and 2009, 2010 and 2011 nominations for Entertainer of the Year from the Western Music Association.
The Ojai Concert Series is dedicated to bringing high quality live Celtic, folk and roots music from around the world to beautiful Ojai. Tickets are by donation and all income is given to the artists.
“We have had Sourdough here before and he is always a delight, so we are looking forward to a wonderful evening,” said Shane Butler, who started the popular music series along with his wife, Kelli. “He’s one of the most commonly requested artists that we’ve had here, so it was just time to do it again.”
“He’s the only person I know doing what he’s doing,” Butler continued. “We have had him here in town five or six times over the last 30 years and each time he’s been very entertaining, delightfully funny, and the consummate entertainer. He has a great, clear and robust singing voice and appears to love what he’s doing, and the shows are a delight for entire families, who have been bringing their kids here to the shows for a couple of generations.”
For this tour, Crowder will be accompanied by Robert Armstrong on banjo, guitar and saw. Together, they will rekindle the country blues, vintage jazz, cowboy classics and string band repertoire of pre-WWII America. Longtime fans may remember Crowder and Armstrong as founding members of two acoustic combos, 8th Avenue String Band and R. Crumb’s Cheap Suit Serenaders. Between them, they share an array of period instruments including flat-top guitar, national steel, baritone and soprano ukulele, musical saw, accordion, six-string banjo and harmonica. These “modern day vaudevillians” capture a sound and moment in time that consistently delights music fans everywhere they perform.
Above all, guests will be treated to “a total entertainment experience,” Crowder said.
“Our attention to detail in regard to authentic instrumentation, wardrobe and getting the sound right is all part of it,” he noted. “But I must say that the verbal and physical comedy of the over-the-top character Sourdough Slim is a big reason why folks leave the show with a smile.”
Crowder hopes to engage and entertain the audience with a unique cultural experience.
“Laughter and music are good medicine for the soul,” he said. “That’s what we are all about.”
In this day and age, it is a challenge to get folks in this country to open up to an act that has three much-maligned cultural icons: yodeling, accordion playing and an antiquated cowboy persona, Crowder admitted.
“No one is more aware of this than Sourdough Slim — but he makes it work to his advantage big time,” he said. “Thirty years of touring with return performances, playing some of the biggest venues in the country, certainly attests to that. What it all boils down to is entertainment. And as Via Magazine puts it, Sourdough Slim is an ‘entertainer extraordinaire.’ ”
Sourdough Slim performs on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club, 441 E. Ojai Ave. in Ojai. For tickets and more information, visit www.ojaiconcertseries.com. Tickets are also available at Serendipity Toys, 221 E. Matilija St., Ojai.