Norman Tjossem, Fran Bradley, Ralph Lelii, and James Grumbach sing "My Heroes Have All Been Cowboys,” accompanied by Alyssa Schultheis and Kevin Moon. (Photo by Caleb Savage ’11)
When a cowboy sings a cowboy song in a cowboy way, it usually evokes a feeling of the loneliness of that solitary life on the prairie; one can almost see the landscape, hear the wind, and smell the cattle.
When someone dressed up as a cowboy or cowgirl sings cowboy songs from the Walton Center stage in assembly, it’s a whole different story. To be sure there are sights, sounds, and smells, many of them quite memorable, but feelings of loneliness and solitude … not so much.
Last Monday, Ralph Lelii led a group of hardy cowfolks, faculty and students, in the first annual Cowboy Love Song Assembly. As has been true of Ralph’s previous "Old School” assemblies, this offering was all about community: regular folks, unpretentious music, down-home flavor, bad puns, and knock-knock jokes. No frills … just honest, irreverent, plain old-fashioned fun.
These moments, and others like them, are quintessential George School. But if you really want to have a true sense of Ralph, the man, the visionary, the impresario … follow the journey to the stage as it was set by Ralph’s inimitable sense of occasion: two months of almost-daily limericks and intermittent bursts of prose
on the subject.