Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra - A Prairie Portrait
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A Prairie Portrait (Shanachie, 2000)

Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Hearing these cowboys singing to a symphony orchestra just makes you want to shine up you boots and put your Sunday best on. Don Edwards and Waddie Mitchell are the consummate cowpokes, and though this pairing with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra may look good on paper, it's not exactly a match made in cowboy heaven.

The opening instrumental "Texas Trilogy" recalls the days when Arthur Fiedler used to have some country star or other join him for a Boston Pops TV concert. These performances often looked like uncomfortable blind dates, at best. Edwards singing on "Roundup in the Spring" reveals a better utilization of this pairing. Instead of allowing the size and girth of the orchestra to go head-to-head with the diminutive and quiet Edwards, it acts as a polite undercurrent to his storytelling/singing.

The disc could have done without all the swelling strings of songs like "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky," but it's doubtful any orchestra really knows how to play minimalist classical music very well anyhow. The rushing sound of the wind, the lone wail of a coyote and the metronome of a horse's hooves is more than enough accompaniment for any good cowboy anyway. But you can't blame a guy for wanting to get dressed-up now and again.

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