NIOBRARA COUNTY – The air surrounding Pleasant Ridge Ranch northeast of Lusk was filled with the gospel music of the Easter family on Tuesday night.
The multi-talented band consisted of Jeff and Sheri Easter, along with their daughter, Morgan Smith, Morgan’s husband, Landan Smith, and Jeff’s second cousin, Jared Easter. Jeff, Sherri and Morgan led with vocals while Landan played the drums and Jared played a variety of stringed instrument: guitar, steel guitar, mandolin and banjo. Jeff also played the keyboard and digital piano.
“This is the 50th year of bringing professional gospel music to the area,” event organizer Mark Lohr said. “I’m calling it ‘Sand Thanks on the Ridge.’”
When not managing Pleasant Ridge Ranch, Lohr serves the Church of Christ in Lusk as their pastor. A humble man, Lohr doesn’t care to speak much of himself, but it is clear he cares about the people in the area and their welfare.
“I do this to share it,” he said. “So many people who have ranches take them and lock the gates. I don’t want to do that. I want to share it.”
Lohr explained how his family has held the ranch in their name since 1889, and he hopes to continue the tradition for as long as possible. He also hopes to continue to bring people together to celebrate Jesus Christ and gospel music.
Before the concert was underway, Patti Sigvartsen and her crew treated the guests to a supper of tacos, followed by ice cold root beer floats.
Lohr opened the concert by informing the guests of some of the history of the ranch and a providing them with a humorous anecdote about his family. He then sang the crowd a few songs before turning the microphone over to the Easter family.
Before handing over the mic, Lohr joked about finding a pretty good backup band, referring to the Easter’s, as they had played music to complement Lohr’s singing during the first part of the concert. He then handed off the microphone to the Easter’s.
“It has taken me 57 years to make it to Wyoming,” Sheri told the crowd.
“We say we are from the country, but we have never been more than 20 minutes from a convenience store,” Jeff jested.
The Easter’s sang a variety of gospel music, both created by their own hand, other traditional songs and requests made by the audience.
As an added indulgence for those attending, Jared’s son, Nash, sang for the audience. After Nash’s solo, he sang a duet with his father. The duet, “Until I Loved You,” was special for the two as the song was written by Jared to honor and cherish the birth of Nash.
Despite a few sprinkles and blustery winds, the band played for around two hours.
The audience, numbering around 75 people, clapped along throughout the concert and sang with the band as they played several familiar tunes.
Another guest appearance was made by Morgan’s almost two-year-old daughter, Ryman. Though Ryman didn’t do any singing, she showed the crowd she was just as much a part of the Easter family as the rest of the band as she smiled to her family and the crowd during the performance.
After the show, volunteers helped the band clean up and the pasture cleared out.