By Kathy Olivarez
For the first time since covid hit the Valley, the very popular group, Goldwing Express has returned to perform. The group consists of Irishman, Bobby Baldridge, who was referred to in the show as Pop, or, “white man,” and two of his three Indian sons, Steven and Paul, who towered over him. Shawn, a former favorite with crowds, was unable to come.
The group started coming to the Valley 12 years ago, and was very popular with Winter Texans who favored their combination of comedy, country, bluegrass and gospel music. They won several Rio Grande Valley Fame Awards.
During covid, when music shows came to a standstill, they got trucking licenses and traveled the roads of America, delivering covid vaccines.
It was not until 2021 when they got a call from “Shepherd of the Hills” in Branson that they were able to return to doing what they love the most, singing and entertaining at the venue’s bluegrass and barbeque shows.
“You don’t know what it means to us to be back,” said Steven Balderidge who emceed the show. “We really missed traveling and doing shows, and we love to come to the Rio Grande Valley. We will be all over the Valley until January 26 but will be leaving to catch our fifth annual cruise out of Galveston on the Carnival Vista on January 28.”
After greetings to old friends in the audience Pop started the show, playing mandolin and singing, “Home Sweet Home.” Ever a jokester, he told the audience the flowers in front of the stage reminded him of what his wife called him, “a bloomin’ idiot!”
Steven told the audience the group considered the Rio Grande a second home and it’s been good to them. He played the banjo and dobro during the show while Paul played guitar.
They performed songs such as “Music City Lights Keep on Shining on Me.” Pop sang “I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home.” Steven sang, “Two Graves on Hillside.”
The songs were mixed with bluegrass instrumental medleys where they made unique sounds with their instruments. According to Steven, one of the songs, “Specklebird,” was a favorite on the Grand Ole Opry and was played there many times.
Then they moved to their Indian heritage with “Old White Man,” a humorous comedy sketch including feathered war bonnets.
They asked the audience what a mama buffalo said to her son before he went to college. Bison was the answer.
They ended that segment with a song entitled, “Full Blooded Half Breed.”
During the second half of the show, they turned to gospel music with “Sing Me Back Home,” a song about a prisoner about to meet his doom, who asked the warden to allow his friend to sing his favorite hymn during his execution.
Another was about a man who met his fate driving on a country road, calling his mother to let her know everything was alright and he was with Jesus.
Goldwing will be returning to Branson at the end of March and can be found at Shepherd of the Hills until December 31.