By Ray Rodriguez

“The Sons of the Pioneers are American icons known around the world for their trademark harmonies and haunting lyrics that tell the story of the American West.”
– Grand Ole Opry

With a myriad of awe-inspiring experiences brought to Pioneertown via the Pioneertown International Film Festival, there is one that will be as historic as the films themselves – the performance of Sons of the Pioneers. Afterall, Pioneertown, California was named for Sons of the Pioneers who were original investors of this living, breathing, old west movie set built in 1946. The significance of these acclaimed musicians finding a place of honor here at the inaugural Pioneertown International Film Festival is not lost to this community.

In 1977, the Smithsonian Institution, which designates certain artists and performers who have made a noteworthy contribution to the arts and culture of America, named the Sons of the Pioneers as “National Treasures”. In 1995, the Sons of the Pioneers were inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Sons of the Pioneers were the first Country and Western group to sing at Carnegie Hall, and the first to perform at the lavish nightclubs in Las Vegas. The group has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6845 Hollywood Boulevard for recording.

From Our Partners

The Sons of the Pioneers are as much an institution as they are a source of timeless music, not only to Pioneertown, but to the music industry itself. These walking, singing, troubadours of music history represent the original pioneers of western music. To this day, their music is recognized internationally from generation to generation, with songs like, “Cool Water” and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” each rooted deeply in western lore.

Formed and founded in 1934 by Roy Rogers (then known as Leonard Slye), Bob Nolan, and Tim Spencer, the band has remained together continuously through the contributions of 47 rotating members over the years. Today’s six accomplished musicians (including Roy Rogers’ son) bring fresh energy to this classic genre, taking audiences time-traveling into the great American West. The opportunity to hear them in their roots of origin is to be celebrated.

In the spring of 1931, Ohio-born Leonard Slye, the cowboy singer who would later change his name to Roy Rogers, arrived in California and found work as a truck driver, and later as a fruit picker for the Del Monte company in California’s Central Valley. After entering an amateur singing contest on a Los Angeles radio show, he received an invitation to join a group called the Rocky Mountaineers. Slye would eventually lead the band, and through many evolutions and musical partnerships, founded Sons of the Pioneers.

The current “Trail Boss” of the Sons of the Pioneers is Tommy Nallie (vocals, bass), who joined the group in 1983. Other current band members are Ken Lattimore (vocals, fiddle), Roy (“Dusty”) Rogers Jr. (vocals, MC), John Fullerton (vocals, guitar), Paul Elliott (fiddle), and Chuck Ervin (bass, vocals). Those of us whose hearts have been captured by the charming, storied, western community of Pioneertown won’t want to miss the extraordinary moment when this ensemble steps onto the stage as part of the closing night film party and concert. This will be the perfect occasion to where your Old West best! For tickets and a schedule of all events, go to

From Our Partners