For my colleagues in the Wilmslow Symphony who’ve epxressed complete bafflement at the meaning of the word “Buckaroo…” (Some of the guesses were VERY funny and amazingly wrong).

Here is the definition from Wiktionary-



Derived from Spanish vaquero (“‘cowboy’”).
Several examples of the heels on buckaroo-style cowboy boots.

Alternative spellings



buckaroo (plural buckaroos)

  1. A cowboy.
  2. A working cowboy who generally does not rodeo.
  3. One who sports a distinctive buckaroo style of cowboy clothing, boots, and heritage.

Many cowboy poets have a buckaroo look and feel about them.

  1. A style of cowboy boot with a high and uniquely tapered heel.
  2. A reckless, headstrong person.

Don’t run in looking for a fight like some kind of buckaroo.

  1. (slang) A dollar (variation of buck).

That’ll be twenty buckaroos, buddy.
Of course, the Oregon East Symphony, Best Damn Redneck Orchestra on Earth, is right in the heart of buckaroo country. Pendleton is a place where people routinely attire themselves as buckaroos completely without irony (some contend that Pendleton is the town without irony).
However- in my time there, we’ve never done Buckaroo Holiday- or any other classic Western themed pieces. For years we were saving Rodeo, Billy the Kid and Magnificent Seven for a possible outdoor concert during Round Up- the world’s most debaucherous rodeo which comes ot Pendleton every summer. There was also a long standing theory advocated by some members of the bassoo section that if we did the Gunfight from Billy the Kid we could sell out the concert as long as we used real guns.
So, is there irony in Pendleton? Well, in Pendleton we do Mahler symphonies for bucakroos, which I find pretty damn ironic.

And in Wilmslow we do Buckaroo Holiday for folks who wonder if a buckaroo is a cousin of the kangeroo.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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1 comment on “Buckaroos”

  1. jen

    HA!!! ken, old buckaroo friend, this is hilarious. thank you for my word of the day!

    do you remember the cappuccino cowboy? right across the street from the “buck-n-up” dollar store?

    those were the days for cowboys and buckarroos.

    happy celloing, and conducting, too!


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