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Davis Journal

The Cowboys Ride Away

Jan 03, 2022 09:19AM ● By Richard Watson

The Bar J. Wranglers performed for the final time on Dec. 17 at Woods Cross High. Photo by Richard Watson

On Dec. 17 in the Woods Cross High auditorium, a group of singing cowboys said goodbye and rode into the sunset. For the past 13 years, the Bar J Wranglers have treated South Davis audiences with their music and laughs while celebrating Christmas. In a sold-out show, concert attendees loved and appreciated the Wranglers’ final show. After 44 years, the Wranglers are stepping down.

The Wranglers are some of the best singing cowboys to ever assemble. Babe Humphrey is the founder of the Bar J Wranglers and made his stage appearance late into the show. Near the end of the show, Babe sang a favorite song of his, Mary Did You Know, with his two sons in the band, Scott Humphrey, rhythm guitar and Bryan Humphrey, bass. The other members of the Wranglers are Tim Hodgson, fiddle player; Donnie Cook, the multi-talented instrumental player; and Danny Rogers, the guitar playing, deep bass singing.

The show began in perfect harmony as they sang several Christmas crowd favorites including Christmas Cookies and Ghost Riders/Reindeer In The Sky. Then the audience eagerly sang along with Jingle Bells as Bryan Humphrey yodeled. The Wranglers next jokingly told a story, in good taste, about the COVID pandemic in a horse race call fashion. The crowd roared with laughter as the race ended with No Clue.

When Babe walked onto the stage, he was accepted with a standing ovation in appreciating the Wranglers for giving people great memories and smiles. After Babe sang a few songs, he presented a long-time tradition of the Wranglers in recognizing the veterans in the audience. According to Scott Humphrey, “Singing cowboys are part of the culture of America and so are military veterans. We love to thank veterans because they sacrifice a lot for family and country. Dad (Babe) and his nephew (Bryan’s son) are veterans and we feel that everyone should appreciate vets.”

One song that outlines the final chapter of the Bar J Wranglers captured the emotion of them retiring. The Old Double Diamond, is a song about leaving a ranch…”Now she’s sellin’ out, I’m movin’ on, But I’m leaving with more than I came.” 

In an earlier interview with Scott Humphrey, he answered the question of why they decided to sell the Bar J Ranch. 

“The Wranglers loved performing and everyone loved the Chuckwagon. But we knew that eventually the land would be sold, and the business would be closing,” he said. “We also realized we were getting older and life changes. Each Wrangler will now move on with their own plans.”

Scott also revealed that the tradition of the singing cowboy is dying out. Over the years, the Wranglers have tailored their music from legendary cowboy music like the Sons of the Pioneers. What the Wranglers will miss, according to Scott, is how their shows were intimate and up close with their audiences. When asked if there might be a reunion tour, Scott said, “Nothing is planned, yet. During our shows at the Ranch and on our tours, we had a formula and rehearsal for those shows. Right now, that formula is not in place. But (touring) is not out of the question.”

The one thing that Scott wants everyone to remember about the Bar J Wranglers is the good, uplifting entertainment they gave with every performance. From one of their older songs, it says it all…Leave your cares behind, Spend your time with ole Bar J.” 

The evening ended with an old George Strait song, The Cowboy Rides Away. The song ending was poignant and emotional with the words,  Oh, the last goodbye’s the hardest one to say, This is where the cowboy rides away.