Flying J Wranglers
| Flying J Wranglers|
(Musical group based in
The Flyng J Wranglers is a western instrumental and vocal musical group based at the Flying J. Ranch in Alto near the resort community of Ruidoso in Lincoln County in south central New Mexico.
The Wranglers are headed by James R. Hobbs (born November 1, 1953), a singer/songwriter and rhythm guitarist who graduated in 1971 from Farwell High School in Farwell, Texas. His grandfather founded the city of Hobbs, New Mexico. Hobbs' ballad, "Song of New Mexico," has twice been nominated by the New Mexico Legislature as the official state song. Hobbs' wife, Cynthia Sue "Cindy" Ballinger Hobbs (born September 6, 1957), a Tennessee native, is a western yodeling champion who has been twice nominated as "Best Female Vocalist of the Year" by the Academy of Western Artists.
Randy Jones has since the early 1970s played guitar, mandolin, and banjo. He spent fifteen years with the regional group known as the Moon Pie Dance Band of El Paso, Texas, which recorded two albums.
Roy L. Black (born February 8, 1953), a specialist with the bass guitar, has been affiliated with the Flying J Wranglers since 1997. He previously performed with the Timberline Band of New Mexico. Reared on a ranch with experience as a horse trainer, he is known for his cowboy ballads. He still maintains a ranch north of Capitan, New Mexico.
Wrangler Gregory Paul "Greg" Meeks (born 1952), a former member of the Sagebrush Sounds from the Texas Panhandle, is committed to western and gospel music. Meeks sings in high tenor and classic western baritone. The youngest of the Wranglers, Corinna Ripple (born April 12, 1987), a fiddle player, is originally from San Jose, California. She graduated from the bluegrass and Country music program at South Plains College, a community college in Levelland, Texas.
Cast members change over the years. A former performer with the Wranglers is the fiddler Marilyn D. Trotter, a native of Alamogordo, New Mexico, and a perennial New Mexico state fiddle champion.
Tim Scott McCasland (born 1954), the newest member of the Flying J Wranglers, spent more than two decades as an instructor at South Plains College in Levelland in Hockley County, Texas. He has more than fifty years of experience with multiple styles of music.
James Hobbs explains the purpose of the Flying J and the Wranglers:
Something we wanted to accomplish with the Flying J was to help people experience New Mexico. The chuckwagon and the trail drives of the late 1800s are a large part of the history of New Mexico. The first chuckwagon was built in 1866 by Charles Goodnight to use on the Goodnight-Loving Trail drives which ran ... very close to where the Flying J Ranch sits today. So exposing people to the lore, food, and music of the chuckwagon era helps keep New Mexico's history alive. ... The cowboy was the original American free spirit. The cowboy was doing what he loved to do—being out under the stars and enjoying the West. That's what people are coming out here to do—camping out, looking at the stars and just connecting with the outdoors. We try to do that with the music and the western flavor of the Flying J."
Over the years, the Wranglers have performed not only at the ranch but as far away as Germany, Italy, and Japan on tour for the U.S. State Department. James Hobbs has also performed at the White House.The group has made guest appearances at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, and in 2002 and 2003 performed at the "Saddle Up Celebration" in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Since 1982, then operating on a shoestring and barely surviving financially, the Flying J has hosted some thirty thousand visitors each summer for gunfights, chuckwagon suppers, and live entertainment from the Wranglers. The Flying J Ranch is part of the Chuckwagon Association of the West. Other member chuckwagons are located in Cody, Wyoming; Rapid City, South Dakota; Branson, Missouri, and Colorado Springs and Durango, Colorado. All feature traditional chuckwagon cooking, followed by after-supper entertainment of comedy and western songs.
"Song of New Mexico" is listed by the Academy of Western Artists as one of the Top 10 western songs of the 1990s. One may hear the Wranglers performing "Song for New Mexico" (2011) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V2uPbM17Q0.
2019 Christmas tour
Each December the group makes a regional tour in eastern New Mexico and West Texas for its Christmas program, which is slightly adjusted in both content and location annually. The tour began on December 1 at the First Baptist Church in Tinnie, New Mexico, and continued as follows:
December 3: Artesia, New Mexico at Ocotillo Performing Arts Theater
December 4: Albuquerque at African American Cultural Centerco
December 5: Hobbs, New Mexico, at Western Heritage Museum
December 6: Las Cruces, New Mexico, at Triumphantlife Church
December 7: Roswell, New Mexico, at First United Methodist Church
December 13: Midland, Texas at Golf Course Road Church of Christ
December 14: Breckenridge, Texas, at National Theater
December 15: Quanah, Texas, Pease River Cowboy Church
December 17: Amarillo, Texas, at Little Theatre
December 18: Lubbock, Texas, at downtown Cactus Theater,
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal said of the Christmas program, which in 2019 marked the eighteenth performance in Lubbock: "This show is fun and family-friendly in every imaginable way: from great, traditional music to sketch comedy to homespun humor - this show has it all and is a family tradition for many."
COVID-19 halts 2020 tour
The 2020 tour was cancelled because of concerns over the coronavirus and the safety rules for indoor entertainment.
- James R. Hobbs. Mylife.com. Retrieved on October 1, 2018.
- Georgia Temple (December 5, 2011). Flying J Wranglers bring Western harmonies to Globe Theater. mywesttexas.com. Retrieved on December 17, 2019.
- Meet the Wranglers. flyingjranch.com. Retrieved on June 5, 2012.
- Flying J Wranglers return to Cacus Theatre for Christmas show. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (December 14, 2019). Retrieved on December 17, 2019.
- Flying J Ranch - Keeping the Old West Alive. lightentheload.net. Retrieved on June 5, 2012; no longer on-line.
- Pamphlet, "Flying J. Wranglers: A White Mountain Christmas, December 3–4, 2004, p. 3
- Flying J Wranglers gallup into town. pntonline.com. Retrieved on June 5, 2012; no longer on-line.
- 2019 Flying J Wranglers Christmas Tour Locations and Dates. Flying J. Ranch. Retrieved on November 18, 2019.