Press

Awards

Venue Entertainment Magazine
VINTAGE COWBOY MUSIC

Syd Masters of Edgewood, NM had a cowboy-hero named Roy. Roy was a working cowboy in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado who, like many cowboys, drifted around.
Syd grew up near the small town of Wabeno, Wisconsin. “He’d come back to Wisconsin and tell me stories of the West. He was here for a lot of that history,” Masters said. “I think he’d be 116 if he were alive.”
Roy was Syd Masters’ paternal grandfather and his music-making also fascinated his grandson.
“He played the guitar and sang cowboy songs. He was terrible in both, but he was authentic. He made me fall in love with the music,” Masters recalled.
Fall in love Masters did: He’s the leader of the local Western band Syd Masters and the Swing Riders.
That’s Western, not country-western, please.
The band’s repertoire is divided into three parts.
One third is vintage music. “By that I mean it starts with cowboy trail songs. For example, “Red River Valley,’ ‘Cattle Call,’ those kind of old songs from the late 19th century,” Masters said.
Another third of the band’s material is Western swing from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. The trio covers songs made famous by singing stars like Bob Wills (“San Antonio Rose”) and Hank Williams, Sr. (“Hey, Good Lookin’”) and by singing actors Roy Rogers (“When I camped Under he Stars”), Gene Autry (“Back in the Saddle”) and Tex Ritter (“Jingle, Jangle, Jingle”).
The final third of its repertoire is comprised of songs that Masters has written.
“But it still sounds like it’s from one of those two time periods,” Masters said. “I write the music and the lyrics.”
Like the famous Western band Riders in the Sky, Syd Masters and the Swing Riders fills its concerts with a heap of humor.
“We once were on stage for an hour and 15 minutes and we only played eight songs,” Masters said. “The rest of the time we told jokes, and got people on stage. Sometimes we get carried away.”
Masters didn’t always play Western music. In high school and later he played in Top 40 cover bands.
Many years ago, Masters moved to New Mexico. By day, he was an independent distributor for Creamland Dairies. By night, he began singing Western music in Albuquerque area clubs.
A stranger Masters met in one Albuquerque bar changed his tune.
“He said, ‘If I could sing like you I sure wouldn’t be doing anything else,’” Masters remembered.
“I decided that night to quit my day job. I needed something simple to push me over the edge and I saw myself as 80 years old saying, ‘I wish I had taken a band on the road.’”
With the Swing Riders, Masters sings lead and plays a nylon-stringed guitar without a pick. He carries the on-stage nickname of Music Man of the West.
The band plays regularly all over New Mexico.
Syd Masters and the Swing Riders have four CDs out. They are available at their shows, online at www.sydmasters.com and at these locations – Natural Sound, Borders Books and Music at Winrock Center, Barnes & Noble in Coronado Shopping Center and at four area Hastings stores. -David Steinberg

New Mexico Magazine
COUNTRY SWING AT WILDLIFE WEST’S CHUCKWAGON DINNER SHOW

Wildlife West – Syd Masters & the Swing Riders were, from what I had heard, a pretty darn good Western band, but I had never taken the opportunity to see them. They’ve been a staple of Wildlife West’s Chuckwagon Dinner Show every Saturday night throughout the summer to Labor Day, so it’s not very hard for a local like me to go see them.
We finally took the opportunity and went to our first Chuckwagon Dinner. Bar-B-Q Beef and/or Chicken with side fixin’s, applesauce and a cookie made for a delicious meal and we didn’t have time to finish before the show began.
Syd says the band specializes in, “Vintage Western Cowboy Swing,” and they are no slouches. These boys can stack harmonies on something like “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds” like they’ve come fresh from the factory.
For folks who like Western music, there is nothing not to like about the group, but Syd and the boys offer something more. Syd knows there’s a difference between being a performer and an entertainer, and every member of the band are immaculate performers. The something more is that Syd is a remarkable entertainer, and his band members play to that side of Syd with perfect timing. They engage the audience with humor, a few songs “by dead people,” and a healthy selection of original material.
Syd and the Swing Riders have garnered themselves the New Mexico Music Industry’s “Best Country Song of the Year” for the Syd Masters original, “Out in the Country.” The boys have also roped a Western Music Association worldwide nomination for singing and yodeling on the “Live & Swingin!” CD. Yee ha!
Although Syd is an Edgewood resident, when not performing at Wildlife West, he and the Swing Riders have been headline performers at the Elko Cowboy Gathering, Western Music Association Awards Show, Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Westfest, Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium, Rancheros Vistadores Trail Ride, Silver City Cowboy Jamboree, South Texas Ranching Heritage Festival, Carbon County Gathering of Cowboy poets, Superstition Mountain Cowboy Gathering, and many more events encompassing twelve western states. Syndicated Radio show host Rick Huff dubbed these singing cowboys the hardest working band in western music. During one stretch they actually performed over 150 shows in 170 days.
So if you have a hankerin’ to catch Syd Masters & The Swing Riders, you’ll either have to be quick or go far. They will be appearing at the July 19th Wildlife West Chuckwagon Dinner and then not again until a final show on August 23rd. In the meantime, they’ve been invited to play two shows at the Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles, California on July 27th.
Their schedule until the end of the year is pretty full, but if you would like to see if they’re playing a venue near you, check out their tour schedule on their website, www.sydmasters.com. -J.A.Uekert

The Santa Fe New Mexican
BAND STIRS UP GREAT WESTERN MUSIC

Laughs and dancing come with these vintage cowboy swing sounds that appeal to all ages
If you don’t want to have a good time, don’t go see Syd Masters and the Swing Riders.
But if you want great music from a band of multi-talented, merry men – and if you like chuckles and belly laughs along with your music and dancing – look no further.
Syd Masters of Edgewood first formed the band back in 1997. To hear their smooth-as-silk harmonies and watch their effortless interaction and good-natured banter is a special treat.
Syd Masters and the Swing Riders bill their style as “Vintage Western Cowboy Swing.” Country isn’t in their title or their repertoire. They are serious musicians having a seriously great time presenting music from the old days, when cowboys sang songs about the ups and downs and heartaches of life. They perform old standards by Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Sons of the Pioneers and Hank Williams, Sr.
They avoid playing music written by anybody who is alive now except themselves.
A Study of the crowd at La Fonda in Santa Fe on Saturday night, about half of which consisted of “followers” of the band, led to the conclusion that it is music for all ages. Dancers ranged from people old enough to remember the original artists and songs, to little boys and girls dancing alone or with their parents.
“The most interesting thing of all that I do, and it’s completely unintentional, is that somehow I have managed to put something together that appeals to every age group,” Masters said. “The older folks remember the music and people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s love it for dancing. Younger people think we’re some kind of Alt Western band. Little kids will come up and stare at us, and start to dance. It’s fun, happy, uplifting music. They think we are living cartoons.”
During the mid 1980’s Masters made his way to New Mexico from Wisconsin.
“I’m not much of a city guy. I came from the backwoods of Wisconsin,” he said. Outfitted in rolled-up jeans, black hat, red bandanna and a colorful shirt, Masters joked, “They threw me out because I was the only one dressed like this.”
His heroes are Bob Wills, Gene Autry, Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Cash.
“I always loved the West, and Western swing. I wanted to live where all that stuff was from,” he said.
He played solo for a while around the West and came to the conclusion that he should start a band.
“I noticed a void for a band that played old cowboy and Western swing,” he said.
Masters is a songwriter as well as a singer and guitarist. Although he started playing a saxophone at age 5 and picked up other instruments as time went on, he never very few music lessons.
After his solo act, he was with two other bands before forming this one. He used to perform stand-up comedy and readily admits he gets a “little silly” on stage at times, especially during the longer shows.
The band plays regularly during the summer in Red River, New Mexico at Bobcat Pass Western Adventures Cowboy Evenings. They travel to many different music festivals and concert halls all around the United States. They are also available for private events such as business parties, weddings, dances and conventions.
“We want to travel a lot more, tour more,” Masters said. “I want to keep writing and recording. I love playing my songs for new audiences. I hope to get into Europe and Australia where they crave this kind of music. Do you know what the top band in Ireland is right now? A band called “Texas’.”
Masters summed up the band’s goals: “This is the last thing any of us want to do. Music is how we choose to make a living.” Their CD’s are available online at www.sydmasters.com. -Sandy Starr

Awards
The Academy of Western Artists presented Syd with the Will Rogers Award For Male Vocalist of the Year!

“Always A Cowboy In My Dreams”

New Mexico Music Industry Awards
Winner!

Country CD of the Year!
Best Song of the Year – “Always a Cowboy in My Dreams”

Other Nominations:
Best Vocal Performance
Best Songwriter
Best Remake
Best Producer

Folk Song

Western Writers of America Spur Award Nomination:
Best Song – “Always A Cowboy In My Dreams”

“The Cowboy Sings”

Awarded Official State Song of New Mexico for
“Under New Mexico Skies”
New Mexico Music Industry Awards
Winner!
Vocalist of the Year! – Syd Masters
Best Remake! – “El Paso”
Best Humorous Song! – “Frying Bacon in the Nude”
Other Nominations:

Best Album
Best Country Song
Best Western Song
Best Producer
Western Music Association Nominations:
Best Song
Entertainer of the Year
Best Duo or Group of the Year
Academy of Western Artists nominations:
Male Vocalist of the Year
Best Yodeler
Best Western Swing Band

“Cowboys on the Moon”

New Mexico Music Industry Awards
Winner!
Country Song of the Year! – “Out in the Country”
Best Humorous Song! – “My Dog”
Nominations
:
Best Album
Best Song
Vocalist of the Year
Best Producer
Best Graphic Arts
Best Arrangement of an Original Composision
Western Music Association Nominations:
Best Western Swing Band
Album of the Year
Academy of Western Artists nominations:
Male Vocalist of the Year
Best CD
Best Yodeler

“Frontier Cowboy Songs”

Awarded Official Song of the Game & Fish Department for
“The Game Warden”
New Mexico Music Industry Awards
Nominations
:
Best Western Song
Best Country Song
Best Vocal Performance
Western Music Association Nominations:
Male Vocalist of the Year
Best Duo or Group of the Year

“Live & Swingin’!”

New Mexico Music Industry Awards
Winner!
Vocalist of the Year! – Syd Masters
Nominations
:
Best Album
Best Live Recording
Best Graphic Arts
Best Remake
Best Instrumental
Best Engineer

“Swingin’ Around the Christmas Tree

New Mexico Music Industry Awards
Winner!
Best Humorous Song! – “12 Days of Cowboy Christmas”
Nominations
:
Best Album
Best Instrumental