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His father’s son

by JOEL MARTIN
Staff Writer | August 22, 2023 1:30 AM

MOSES LAKE — Some children of legendary performers struggle to get out from under their famous parent’s shadow when they make a name for themselves. Ned LeDoux is not one of those.

“He's Dad to me,” LeDoux said of his father, singer-songwriter Chris LeDoux, who passed away from cancer in 2005. “That's it. And I know what everybody else sees and it just makes me a proud son.”

LeDoux’s performance Friday at the Grant County Fair was the final show of a month-long tour, he said, and he was finally going home to his family in Kansas the next day. The set list was split between his father’s songs and his own. Themes of rural life and rodeo dominated, which struck a familiar chord with a Grant County audience.

“I grew up on a ranch outside Kaycee, Wyoming,” LeDoux told the crowd. “And I guess for anybody who's never been there, it's called the middle of nowhere. One thing I try to tell people that's never been to Wyoming is you cross that Wyoming line, make sure you’re driving on the top half of your tank. To live out there in the middle of nowhere, including right here, it's not for everybody, thank God. But some people do.”

He then launched into a song titled “Some People Do,” an original composition from his 2017 album “Sagebrush.”

LeDoux, 46, got his first drum kit when he was 6 and started playing drums in his father’s band when he was 11, he said.

“I guess the singing kind of came in not long after Dad passed away,” he said. “I joined up with a different band, and we played some gig in Nebraska. We got back to the hotel and we were just all hanging out. One of the guys had an acoustic and was singing some songs and they handed me the guitar and said, 'Why don't you play one of your dad's songs?' I said, 'Shoot, I don't sing. What're you talking about?’”

LeDoux took to singing well, recording an EP and three studio albums in a strong, clear voice reminiscent of his father’s but not exactly like it. Friday’s show lasted about an hour and a half, with songs that ranged from optimistic cowboy philosophy — “Dance with Your Spurs On” and “You Only Need One” — to “Copenhagen,” a rollicking Western swing ode to chewing tobacco.

A few songs in, the Grant County Fairgrounds staff took the stage for a few minutes to remind the crowd that Chris LeDoux had played at the Grant County Fair on Aug. 18, 1992, 31 years to the day before his son. Guitarist Mark Sissel and drummer KW Turnbow had been there that night as well, Fairgrounds Manager Jim McKiernan announced, and cheers from the audience showed that a fair number of them had been as well. Darci Homesley, accounting technician for the fairgrounds, presented LeDoux with a poster from that fair, framed and mounted alongside a poster of this year’s.

“It's good to be back,” LeDoux said. “We'll just keep on carrying on the tradition. That's what we're gonna do.”

About halfway through the set, LeDoux gave the band a break and took the spotlight solo with an acoustic guitar to sing “The Hawk.”

“Here's a song I wrote for Dad not long after he passed away,” he said. “It’s hard to believe it's been over 18 years. But I know — I don't think this, I know this, I feel this — he's standing right here right now.”

“Might be reincarnation/Or maybe a wish come true,” he sang. “Well, I believe Dad came back as a hawk/Watching over me and you.”

The silence that followed, and the thunder of applause after that, suggested that LeDoux wasn’t the only one who thought that. And somewhere, Chris LeDoux may have been tapping his toes and beaming with pride.

Joel Martin may be reached via email at jmartin@columbiabasinherald.com.

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JOEL MARTIN/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Grant County Fairgrounds staffer Darci Homesley presents Ned LeDoux with a framed copy of the fair posters from his performance and his father’s, 31 years earlier to the day.

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JOEL MARTIN/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Lindzy Lustig, right, and her dad Tony Lustig, of Moses Lake, enjoy Ned LeDoux’s performance at the Grant County Fair Friday night.