Come out and enjoy an evening of music, dinner and dancing
The Heritage Center
106 Delaware Leavenworth, Ks.
All dinner and shows $20 donation, $12 shows only
Dinner starts at 6:30 and the music starts at 7:30
“Like” us on Facebook @ Wild Hayride
For Bookings Contact: Ted 816-769-7297 email@example.com
The core of the Wild Hayride Band was the house band for Glen's Opry and then Annie’s Country Jubilee in Tonganoxie, KS for over fifteen years. This band has been a shining star in the local country music scene. With Jim Winters country stylings and soulful songstress Ronni Ward sharing the spotlight on lead vocals, Wild Hayride has what it takes to bring entertainment to the highest level. The lead guitar player is Michael English. (AKA Neon Leon) Steve Straub of the Singing Straub Family is on drums; the silky sounds of Fred Uzzell on steel guitar and dobro; and accomplished bassist, Ted Ward. This band covers the country music genre like no other. From the classic country sounds to the hard core honky tonk, Rockabilly and Western Swing, they do it all! And they throw in a little Blues and Jazz to round it out. Come see a show. You won't be disappointed.
MEET THE BAND
Strummin the Guitar on Dad's lap while he made the cords was Jim's first experience with playing and singing Country music. From there it was singing in church then in school choir. At the age of 14 he got in a talent contest at the local mall and won it and was immediately bitten by the bug. Singing for people and seeing them smile, knowing that folks enjoy the music and feeding off the reaction of the audience has made him a habitual performer. Music is like breathing. "I don't figure on quitting any time soon"
Jim's mom hauled him from show to show until he was old enough to drive himself then she followed him as he performed around the area. Jeannie's Midwest Jamboree in Leavenworth, The KC Opry in Independence, The Union Mill Opry, Byron Jones Northtown Opry, The Big Creek Country Show and many more. In 1983 he spent a season at Lee Mace's Ozark Opry at Osage Beach Missouri on the Lake of the Ozarks. There he learned a lot about showmanship and how to keep a show moving.
Jim served as the Master of Ceremonies for Glen's Opry and then Annie's Country Jubilee in Tonganoxie, KS for 17 years from 1994 until 2011. When Annie's closed, the house band formed up and took on the identity of The Wild Hayride Band and started playing in the area. Serving as the house band for Country Legends 106.9 radio from Topeka, KS they have played for various Nashville stars and events.
Jim also still performs separately from The Wild Hayride Band and does personal appearances and shows in the Kansas City area. He loves the classic country music of the ages and throws in a splash of the newer artist's material if it sounds Country enough.
However Jim is open minded when it comes to music. He enjoys the classics but also likes to perform Swing, Jazz, blues and some old rock and roll and mixes it in when he finds the opportunities.
A wide vocal range and relaxed style mark Jim's performances and he strives to please his audience. Don't miss a chance to enjoy the variety and personality that has made him a favorite of country crowds for over 30 years.
50 plus years professional experience playing conventional (non-pedal) steel guitar and dobro. Performed as a member of the house band at the following venuews: Union Mill Opry- Edgerton, Mo. (1988 to 1995), Glen's Opry- Tonganoxie, Ks. (1996-2004), Annie's Country Jubilee- Tonganoxie, Ks. ( 2004-2011). Staff musician at Songbird Studios- Trenton, Mo. Rocorded steel guitar and dobro tracks for numerous independent country artists and also released two personal CD's: Stainless Steel- 2003, Dobro Dreams- 2006 both available at CD Baby.com. Currently performing with the following bands: Wild Hayride, KC Outlaws, Homemade Jamm, Stranger Creek. Married to Donna for 47 years. We have three children, four grandsons and one grand daughter. I retired in 2010. My favorite music is classic country and my favorite radio station in Country Legends 106.9!
Bassist/Vocalist Ted Ward, 2010 Kansas Music Hall of Fame Inductee, has been with Wild Hayride since its inception. Playing fretted, fretless, upright, and occasionally even a washtub bass. “Some people dance, I play bass to make you want to dance.” Singing high tenor harmony with the band and yodeling while driving my pickup truck, keeps my days full and happy. Growing up in a high and lonesome brownstone coldwater flat at 383 East 49th St New York City, Ted ‘s love of Country Music was ignited by Hee Haw on Saturday mornings listening to Buck Owens and Roy Clark. It didn’t stop there, as a child seeing his first real live cow in the Central Park Zoo he knew he would live in the country some day…Like a dream come true, he now resides with his wife Ronni Ward on 20 acres in Tonganoxie, KS right across the holler from their neighbor Jim Winters. Ted played bass at what was Glens Opry, which became Annie’s Country Jubilee for 14 years never missing a show, though there are persistent vicious rumors that he occasionally missed a note or two. Prior to the longest stint of being gainfully employed as a musician in the above mentioned Opry shows, Ted has played with as a member, or as a hired gun, or been fired from the following bands: Johnnie Lee, Jack Green, Ronni Ward and Cowtown, Kansas City Blues Band, Al Green, Brian Setzer and The Radiation Ranch, Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, Max Groove, Plain Jane (Kansas Music Hall of Fame Inductees), Terry + Jerry Presley.
Best quote? Well it was actually a question.
Ted Ward: “Johnnie Lee, did you ever see Buckwheat sing your song, “Nooking for nub in all the wrong places?”
Johnnie Lee: laughing, face turns red “Yes, as a matter of fact I was in NYC that night and I would have walked right on stage on Saturday Night Live had I known what they were doing to my song!”
Music has always been a way of life for Ronni and her family. She started out singing in the church choir (that her Mother directed) and singing harmony with her Mother, along with her older Brother and Sister, around the piano of her childhood home. Ronni received her first guitar at the age of fourteen and continued making music through every season of life, singing a variety of styles in various bands as early as Junior high school.
In the early 1980s, Ronni was a founding member of a popular Alternative music group in Kansas City called Think Pink. Playing private events and the college circuit throughout Kansas and Missouri, she and the band enjoyed local success. In time, Ronni longed to pursue her love for songwriting, and the rich harmonies and songs that paint real-life stories found in Country Music. Having grown up in an era where singers like Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Ronstadt (one of her earliest influences) were popular, it seemed natural to follow her dream to sing Country music. That dream began to become a reality when she founded her own Country/Rock band, Ronni Ward and Cowtown, alongside her husband, Ted Ward in the early 1990s.
Ronni went on to record demos in recording studios from Kansas City to Nashville. She was managed by the legendary Stan Plesser, founder of the Cowtown Ballroom, and worked with successful L.A. producer John Boylan (Linda Ronstadt, Little River Band, The Association). Ronni eventually became a published songwriter when her song, Where Are We, co-written with Nashville producer and former member of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Larry Lee, found a place on the album entitled “13” from the Ozark Mountain Daredevils reunion project.
In the summer of 1997, after getting very close to securing a developmental contract from Sony Records in Nashville, Ronni happened to run into former high school classmate and fellow vocalist, Jim Winters. Upon Jim’s recommendation, Ronni was invited to become a member of The Glen’s Opry Band, in a well respected Country music theater, featuring a sold-out show almost every week in Tonganoxie, Kansas. The show was located just twenty-five miles west of downtown Kansas City. Ronni soon realized that this unexpected turn in the road was a true blessing and meant-to-be. Since their daughter was soon to become a teenager, it made more sense for them to play music closer to home. Ronni was able to “keep it in the family” when two months later, Ted was also asked to play bass guitar on the Glen’s Opry show. Glen’s Opry was later sold and renamed Annie’s Country Jubilee. Ronni continued as a member of the opry house band until Annie closed her doors in the summer of 2011. At that time, several members of the original group reformed to create The Wild Hayride Band, which consists of six seasoned musicians who now play classic Country music throughout the Kansas City and regional area.
Ronni Ward continues to sing, play guitar, and write songs for several projects including The Wild Hayride Band and The Ronni Ward Band, a four piece group that features her original Contemporary Country/Gospel and Blues/R&B in coffeehouses and clubs, and for churches and special events.
I grew up in a musical family. My mom and dad were performing long before us kids came along. My mom was a great piano player, she was known as the “queen of boogie woogie”. My dad played guitar, and emceed the show. My brother played bass and later became our comedian known as Gilly Gillumwater. When I was eight years old we started singing gospel music around the Kansas City area. The title song from our second album “Jesus you’re the man for the hour” was number one in the Kansas City market for fourteen months and made it to the top fifteen in the nation. It got to the point where we were traveling a lot and getting back in town on Monday mornings just in time for us kids to go to school and mom and dad to go to work. When I was fourteen years old we sold our house and put our stuff in storage. We loaded up the bus and hit the road professionally. Late August of 1975 we had signed contracts to play school assemblies in South Carolina and Georgia. I didn’t play anything at that time, but we needed a drummer. We bought me a drum and I practiced in the back of the bus from Kansas City to South Carolina. Two weeks after we bought the drums I was playing in front of kids at school assemblies. I am sure glad there are no recordings of that. We played schools for two years, and then we started playing state and county fairs. We did two USO tours one in Alaska and one in Greenland. In 1980 I married Rita Burns she traveled with my family singing until 1981 when we came off the road. I did a few more tours but finally gave the road up to raise a family. I moved back to the Kansas City area in 1984 and started playing weekends with local bands. Around the mid 90’s a gentleman named Glen Smith called me and asked if I would play on his show in Tonganoxie, Ks. I told him that I would love to, then in the early 2000’s that show was sold to Annie and Terry Dunavin. My kids grew up at that show. Our son A.J. would play drums there sometimes for us, and our daughter worked out there also. I met a lot of wonderful people there. When the show shut the doors the band stayed together and was renamed The Wild Hayride Band. We still play around the area and would love to have you come out and enjoy some time with us. Thank you for reading this.
Lived and worked in Austin and San Antonio, Texas where he played guitar with Mickey Rooney, Bob Hope, Lee Greenwood, Danny Thomas, Maria Muldaur, Joel Grey, Herschel Bernardi, Dave Brubeck, Tanya Tucker, Little Jimmy Dickens, Porter Wagoner, Rusty Wier, Gary P. Nunn and many, many other performers. He has opened shows for Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, Neal McCoy, Toby Keith, Shania Twain, Steve Wariner, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Bellamy Brothers, and BR5-49.
While he was serving as guitar player, bandleader, and road manager for Dino Lee and The White Trash Revue, they won Band of the Year in the Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll (1986).
In Nashville, Tennessee he performed at Opryland and played many pickup engagements and recording sessions. His most recent recording session in Nashville was a sweetening session for a single released by The Dixie Cadillacs, completed in one and 1/2 takes.
In the Kansas City area, he has performed at Worlds of Fun, Glen’s Opry, Annie’s Opry, the North Towne Opry, the Union Mill Opry, played on numerous recording sessions, and toured the USA and Canada with The Dixie Cadillac’s.
Neon Leon studied guitar with Joe Pass, Howard Roberts, Tommy Tedesco, Joe Diorio and Ron Eschete. He graduated from GIT with Vocational Honors, the highest certificate offered. While in California, he played many pickup engagements and recording sessions. He also played video games with guitarist Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big) and bowled with guitarists Scott Henderson (Tribal Tech) and Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson).
Neon Leon’s greatest thrill was meeting Chet Atkins in Nashville. In 2001 he traveled back to Nashville to attend Chet’s funeral. In 2006 Neon Leon released his first ever CD titled “Haircut” which is available on Amazon.com and iTunes.
His home is usually a motor home, a trailer, or sometimes a hotel room. You can find him playing on beat-up guitars and ruined amps and he plays piano and harmonica, too. His musical instruments are usually in and out of various pawn shops, depending on his particular financial situation. When not performing with Wild Hayride, Neon Leon spends his time with his lovely wife and a whole bunch of dogs.