An Ode to the Band of Outriders

The Calgary Stampede Band of Outriders was formed in 1991 and is known for sharing their musical version of western hospitality to local crowds and thousands of Calgary visitors every day during the 10-day Stampede. Andrea Khoury, an Outriders alumna and founding member of the band, wrote this poem to celebrate the Outriders’ 25th anniversary. Enjoy!

There are strange things done in the name of fun by the geeks who toil in the band.

The Stampede trails have the oddest tales that have traveled throughout the land.

The midway lights have seen great sights but the greatest they ever did see

Was the group that was formed, out of old drums and horns, by people like you and me.

The Band of Outriders have been entertaining audiences on Stampede park and in the community for 25 years! Yahoo!

The Band of Outriders have been entertaining audiences on Stampede park and in the community for 25 years! Yahoo!

 

Now old Bobby E was from Calgary, where the marching bands twirl and blow.

Why he left his room at the school to groom new musicians we’ll never know.

He started with Round-up, then moved on to Showband with Stetsons to follow in time

And by ninety-one, Mr. Eklund not done, it was time for a new band to shine.

 

What a group like ours needed was words to be heeded by someone who held a baton.

Mike Gardner came in, tuned us up, made us grin and soon we were chugging along.

In the first years, ‘tween the dead space and cheers, we figured out what we should play

Based solely on trying, the tunes that were dying and those that were winning the day.

 

We got some black jeans, white shirts we kept clean, wore bandanas to finish the look.

They arranged us some gigs with the donkeys and pigs, and whatever else they could book.

The venues were fitting for a group with no sitting and not many members to boot.

We were playing for chickens and bunnies and pigeons, all of us having a hoot.

Did you know that most members of the Band of Outriders are Stampede Showband alumni?

Did you know that most members of the Band of Outriders are Stampede Showband alumni?

The alumni band, not a bit off hand, was how we were known at the start.

We had musical skill and some time we could kill and we wanted to share our art.

With fifteen musicians, hell bent on a mission to entertain people on park

Outriders was born, to eat dogs made with corn, and play tunes right from dawn until dark.

 

Back in the day, we went ‘round on the dray, with Mr. Clarke driving the tractor.

In pre-parade, we danced and we played, our energy always a factor.

We’d jump off and on, rev them up, play a song, get them ready for what was still coming -

The Stampede tradition, Guy Weadick’s big vision, small donuts and guitars a strumming.

When the time had come for Mike to move on, the Stampede, they hired us a captain.

From the army to us, Dave Jones made a fuss but the swing tunes they sure started happening.

Trombones would play and woodwinds would sway with trumpets just screaming behind them.

The whole band was rockin’ and people were talkin’, the comments, we sure didn’t mind ‘em.

 

With Jones out in front, our bass drum would grunt, ‘cause Dave wanted rhythm perfection

And dancing while playing, those three big drums swaying, was killing our little drum section.

In spite of our logo, the drums were a no go, so Ad went and built us a trailer.

We brought out a drum kit and let the poor bum sit and nevermore spoke of his failure.

 

Without that big bass drum, our logo was just dumb. We needed to change that old graphic.

Our uniforms, too, would have to be new. This big makeover brought some new traffic.

The band started growing, and now we were showing we maybe could learn some new tricks.

Sure we were old dogs – no more gigs for hogs – a big band we formed just for kicks.

 

We held a big dance with a bit of romance and A Big Band of Outriders playing -

An annual event, to which we all went, bringing people all happily paying.

The Gimbels attended, and scales we amended from majors to minors and blues.

Each year for one night, we jazzed up a site, and made Ella Fitzgerald our muse.

 

Change is a must and the group really fussed when Jones was replaced by Herard.

The old Heebee-Jeebee, on this just believe me, was great and he worked super hard

To build going forward, standards not lowered, but raised to a soaring new height.

But, Chris was real busy, his schedule dizzy, creating a bit of a plight.

 

He’d sing at the Coke stage then like on a rampage, he’d run to meet Outriders aft,

Missing the odd cue but what else could he do? He’d catch his breath while we all laughed.

Sooner, not later, to make the band greater, Chris knew he had to take leave.

He kept on singing. The band hired Dwayne Engh, a drummer to act as our reeve!

The Band of Outriders are all Calgary Stampede volunteers.

The Band of Outriders are all Calgary Stampede volunteers.

Now, to be decent, the story most recent, I’ll leave to those more in the know.

Because, let’s be real, I don’t really feel, like I’m still a part of the show.

From Chris on to Dwayne then with Jay at the rein, I’ve been a part of the crowd.

With my brand of flair, I wanted to share ‘bout the time that makes us old folks proud.

 

A history class from a grey-haired old lass, whose work for a decade or so

With others – the mothers, the sisters and brothers and fathers you don’t even know -

Was to create, this band that’s first rate. We played Mr. Brown’s Scales of Joy,

Disco Inferno, La Suerte, Pachuco, Winnetka and old Danny Boy,

 

Late in the Evening, You Ain’t Got A Thing, Birdland, and Jockamo too,

Runaway Baby, Sir Duke, Call Me Maybe, Pure Disco, and Who Are you,

Nights in White Satin, Locked Outta Heaven, Hoe Down, and I Will Survive,

Killing Me Softly, an old Western Medley, The Jetsons, and Stayin’ Alive.

 

A legacy band, the best in the land, is what we’ve all built in this time.

Forgetting the last or ignoring the past would have seemed to me such a great crime.

Well, now it’s all history, no longer a mystery of how it all started and more.

A century’s quarter, I’ve been the reporter, I hope it’s been more than a bore.

 

There are strange things done in the name of fun by the geeks who toil in the band.

The Stampede trails have the oddest tales that have traveled throughout the land.

The midway lights have seen great sights but the greatest they ever did see

Was the group that was formed, out of old drums and horns, by people like you and me.