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Front Page News, Archive #1
Willie Kicks Off PBS Series
A 90-minute documentary film on Willie Nelson will kick off PBS' upcoming "American Masters" series on Oct. 2.
           The film is titled "Willie Nelson: Still Is Still Moving." It covers his growing up poor in Abbott, Texas, to his legal problems with marijuana and the IRS, up to his current status as an American legend.
           Nelson says he's seen the film, and he's pleased. He had been worried about how his music would sound, but says he's "very happy" about everything from the music to the people interviewed and what they said.
           Nelson isn't just a country star; he has appealed to many different demographic groups. And he says it may be because of his influences.
           "I grew up in central Texas and I grew up listening to all kinds of music. I listened to Spanish music, Bohemian, Czechoslovakian, waltzes and polkas and country music and pop standards. I seem like I was entertained by all kinds of music," Nelson said.

IEBA to Honor Johnny Cash
The spotlight of the 32nd Annual Conference of the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) will fall upon the legendary shoulders of "The Man In Black" - Johnny Cash - for the presentation of their prestigious "Founders Award," it's been announced by IEBA President, Judy Ade.
           The IEBA Founders Award gives recognition to those whose career ethics and accomplishments within the industry have made significant contributions to the advancement of the entertainment community and its audience as a whole. Last year's 2001 recipient was artist manager, Irby Mandrell.
           Noted Patti Burgart, IEBA Executive Director: "We taok a lot of pride in the selection of Johnny Cash as this year's recipient. His career has transcended formats, decades, and musical style changes to make him a true legend in the entertainment industry."
           Cash is expected to be on hand (health permitting) to accept the honor, to be presented by his lifelong friend, fellow performer, and songwriter of Cash's notable hit "Ring of Fire" - Merle Kilgore, now manager of Hank Williams Jr.
           The Founders Award will be presented as the centerpiece of the 32nd Annual IEBA Conference, which will be held October 6-9th in Nashville. The Founders Dinner is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, October 8th at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown. Comedian Bill Engvall will emcee it. For more information on IEBA resource:

Alan Lomax, Musicologist, Dead at 87
By Polly Anderson (AP) - Alan Lomax, the celebrated musicologist who helped preserve America's and the world's heritage by making thousands of recordings of folk, blues and jazz musicians from the 1930s onward, died in Florida. He was 87.
           Lomax died Friday at a hospital in Safety Harbor, Florida, according to Lisa Kissinger of Vinson Funeral Home. Kissinger said she didn't know the cause of death. Lomax moved in 1996 from New York to the Tampa area.
           He was the son of folklorist John A. Lomax, whose 1910 book "Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads" was a pioneering work in the field of music preservation. Among the famous songs it saved for posterity was "Home on the Range."
           Alan Lomax was still in his teens when he began assisting his father's efforts to interview and record musicians of almost every stripe. Long before tape recording became feasible, the work entailed lugging around recording equipment that weighed hundreds of pounds.
           Lomax said making it possible to record and play back music in remote areas "gave a voice to the voiceless" and "put neglected cultures and silenced people into the communications chain."
           He also did extensive work in Spain, Italy, Britain and the Caribbean. He worked to compile a world survey of folk songs, which deepened the understanding of the links between peoples.
           Among the famous musicians recorded by the Lomaxes were Woodie [sic] Guthrie; Huddie Ledbetter, known as Leadbelly; "Jelly Roll" Morton; Muddy Waters; and Son House.
           As interest in folklore and minority groups' culture has grown in recent decades, experts and fans alike have been able to draw upon the recordings made so long ago.            When interest in Cajun music and its cousin, zydeco, exploded in the 1980s, for example, a two-album set of the Lomaxes' recordings from the 1930s was issued.
           In 1994, his book "The Land Where the Blues Began" won the National Book Critics Circle award for most distinguished nonfiction of 1993. It documented the stories, musicians and listeners behind blues music.
           In 1990, Lomax's five-part documentary series "American Patchwork" was shown on public television, exploring such topics as the blues, Cajun culture and the British roots of Appalachian music. The final episode, "Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old," featured elderly balladeers and musicians who pass their music to the young.
           "It's not preservation, it's process," Lomax said. "It's keeping things going."            In his research, Lomax would photograph the musicians and record their thoughts as well as their tunes, asking them where they learned the songs and what the songs meant to them.
           "If those absolutely important things are ignored, of how we speciated, how we adapted to the planet, then we're going to lose something precious," he told The Associated Press in 1990. "There won't be anywhere to go and no place to come home to." Lomax is survived by a daughter and a sister.

Sony Buys Acuff-Rose Catalog
Sony/ATV Music Publishing will buy the oldest - and one of the most valuable - song catalogs in country music from Gaylord Entertainment for $157 million, Gaylord officials announced on July 2nd. Acuff-Rose Music Publishing, founded by country singer Roy Acuff and songwriter Fred Rose in 1942, includes classics like "Oh Pretty Woman," "Bye Bye Love," "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "Tennessee Waltz." Songwriters who once wrote for the company include Hank Williams Sr., Don Gibson and Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.
           The deal, which must be approved by federal antitrust regulators, is expected to close in August. It's part of a drive by Gaylord to narrow its once diverse interests to a core of convention hotels and entertainment franchises, primarily the Grand Ole Opry country music radio show.
           On July 1st, Gaylord announced the sale of its one-third stake in the Opry Mills Shopping Center in Nashville, in exchange for $25.8 million in cash from majority owner The Mills Corporation of Arlington, Va. In addition, Gaylord got sole ownership of a 24-acre tract of land near its Nashville hotel previously owned by the two companies as partners. Other Gaylord assets include country music standard-bearer WSM-AM radio, the historic Ryman Auditorium, the Springhouse Golf Club, and a 19.9 percent stake in the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League. Its hospitality interests are the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville and the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla. Another resort/convention center is in the early planning stages in the Washington area. The Texas property is scheduled to open by June 2004.

Broadcasters Honor Sonny James,
Induct New DJ Hall of Famers

By Edward Morris - Country radio's movers and shakers gathered at Nashville's Renaissance Hotel Thursday night (June 27) to honor seven of their own and to pay special tribute to Sonny James, the infinitely versatile artist who provided radio with hit songs for 30 years. The event was the Country Radio Broadcasters' annual Country Music DJ Hall of Fame banquet.
           In addition to James, who was cited for career achievement, the honorees were Lee Arnold, J. D. Cannon, Billy Cole, Joe Hoppel and the late Buck Wayne, all of whom were inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame; Doug Mayes and the late Jack Cresse, who were added to the Country Radio Hall of Fame; and Erica Farber, publisher of the trade magazine Radio & Records, who won the CRB's annual president's award.
           The evening's high point came when recording artists Jeff Carson, Steve Holy, Elizabeth Cook and Kaci Brown performed a sampling of James' enormous catalog of hits. Mike Curb, owner of Curb Records and James' long-time friend and musical associate, summarized the singer's remarkable career and presented him his award.
           Joe Hoppel, who has been the "morning man" on WCMS, Hampton Roads, Va., for 47 years, gave his definition of ideal employment: "Find a job you like well enough that you'd do it for nothing and get good enough at it to make a comfortable living."

Slim Whitman's Rarest First Recording
Surfaces On The Internet After 54 Years!

By Mr. Loren R. Knapp
           You never know what youre going to find when you go through the closet and start plowing through those old storage bins. It all started when Mrs. Virginia Cooper was trying to figure a way to help her son and daughter-in-law raise money for their two sons college education. She remembered her old 78 RPM record collection tucked away in an upstairs closet. She purchased thousands of records over the years from radio stations and estate sales all over southern Illinois. Virginia knew they'd be in good condition because she and her husband stored them in old movie reel tins with each record separated by a soft divider. She gave the records to her daughter and wondered if they would be worth anything. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever imagine the gem she had stored in her closet for twenty-five years.
           It wasn't long until the young couple had the old records up for bid on the popular Ebay auction site. This lone record was simply listed as "Test Pressing - Slim Whitman/Florida Label." You are bidding on this 10" 78 rpm record (I believe to be a test pressing). This is a single-sided record and has an orange label FLORIDA MUSIC ENTERPRISE. With a song titled "Way Down in Florida Thats the Only Place to Be" by Jerome Shay. Sung by Slim Whitman and his Variety Boys. Condition is very good, clean record and clean label."
           It immediately caught the attention of Slim Whitman fans and collectors all over the world. The opening bid amount was set at $9.99 and the length of the auction was 7 days. Collectors and fans bid furiously right up to the closing seconds. The winning bid came in just under the wire at $207.50.
           Here's where this lone 78 started. Late in 1948, Slim and his Variety Rhythm Boys managed to scrape together $50 to pay the fee for using a small recording studio at 116 E. Fortune Street in Tampa, Florida. Unfortunately, the name of the street wasnt a good luck charm, as far as Slim's first recording would go. With Tony Marquez playing the accordion and a fellow with the unusual name of Prince Albert on the pedal steel guitar, Slim stepped up to the microphone with guitar in hand and sang "Way Down in Florida That's the Only Place to Be." Slim's brother Armand remembers Slim coming home with a box of fifty records. Their dad Ottis hand-delivered the records to every radio station and record store within a fifty mile radius of Tampa. Ironically, the one copy that he kept has disappeared over the years making this truly a phenomenal discovery.
           It wasn't until March 1949 that Slim recorded under contract with RCA records what would become "Slim Whitman Sings and Yodels." It would later be re-titled "Birmingham Jail," which by the way, is still being marketed in the CD format all around the globe. To date Slim has had 236 LP/CDs produced all around the world. He has recorded 540 individual songs, all of which started with this one newly discovered 78 rpm record.
See: Slim Whitman Collectors International

Bluegrass Group Seeks Monroe Mandolin
The Bill Monroe Foundation hopes to raise about $1 million to buy the famous bluegrass musician's favorite mandolin from his son. The foundation, which oversaw restoration of Monroe's home in Rosine, wants the 1923 Gibson as a centerpiece for a Monroe museum. Foundation executive director Campbell Mercer must raise the money by Oct. 26, the deadline set by Monroe's son, James, who lives near Nashville, Tenn. The foundation has agreed to pay $1.125 million. Payments have cut the amount owed to about $975,000. Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gibson company are also interested, Mercer said recently. The foundation had hoped for state support, but declining revenues and the Legislature's inability to enact a budget for the next fiscal year stymied that hope. The foundation is now selling shares in the mandolin at $25 each to raise the money. (AP)

A California CD featuring studio cuts of Bill Woods from Bakersfield. The disc can ordered from Glenn J. Pogatchnik for $15 each (includes shipping & handling). The profits will be devoted to a website for Bill & The Bakersfield Sound. Send checks or money orders payable to: Glenn J. Pogatchnik, 1675 Los Osos Vly Rd. #130, Los Osos, CA 93402 - Ph# (805) 528-6144

Please Sign Petition to Get
Kitty and Johnny Reinstated

The below is the URL for an online petition to get Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright's names reinstated as Grand Ole Opry members. Please copy and paste or click on the below link and sign your name. For Gaylord Entertainment to deny them this honor is absurd!

Patty White R.I.P.
Patty White, 68, matriarch of the Grand Ole Opry act the Whites and Buck's wife, went home to be with the Lord Sunday, June 16, 2002 around 6:00 PM. She had a heart attack Saturday and then an aneurysm Sunday. Pat was the mother of singing daughters Cheryl White and Sharon White Skaggs, wife of artist Ricky Skaggs. The group has been Grand Ole Opry members since 1984. Buck White and his daughters, who are featured in the movie and soundtrack "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," have been touring in connection with the success of the movie and rushed home to be with Mrs. White before her death. Mrs. White also is survived by two brothers, Frank and Guy Goza, a sister, Hattie Smithee, all of Texas, and five grandchildren.
           The Whites were formed 1971. Group Members: Buck White, Cheryl White, Sharon White and Patty White. A part of country music for three decades, the Whites started out in bluegrass, adopted a contemporary country sound and later evolved into a gospel group. Buck White and his daughters Sharon and Cheryl comprise the core of the group, though other members have included Ricky Skaggs and Tim Crouch. Buck White formed his first band in 1947 and played piano and mandolin with the Blue Sage Boys in the '50s. White married Pat Goza in 1951; in 1962, they formed the Down Home Folks with Arnold and Peggy Johnston. Sharon and Cheryl White teamed up with Teddie and Eddie Johnston to form the Down Home Kids in the mid-'60s. In 1971, the Whites moved to Nashville, and the Down Home Folks comprised the entire White family. Pat retired from the group in 1973, but Buck and his daughters continued with the band. Buck White and His Down Home Folks didn't really get their big break until 1979, when they worked with Emmylou Harris on Blue Kentucky Girl and later toured with her.
           By the early '80s, Buck decided to focus on mandolin playing; after changing their name to the Whites, the group moved away from bluegrass music. In 1982, they made the country Top Ten with "Holding My Baby Tonight" and "Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling." The Whites joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1984 and had a Top 30 single "It Should Have Been Easy," from their 1986 album Whole New World. They moved towards gospel music in 1989 with Doing It by the Book, and their '90s releases continued this trend. ‹ TWANGTOWN/Sandra Brennan

Announcement for Traditional Country & Rockabilly Artists and Fans
New Texas Venue
Opening Spring, 2003

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - Joy2UEntertainment is a privately held minority woman-owned company based in Texas. Joy2UEntertainment strives to be a leader in family-oriented entertainment. Our goal is to be a step ahead of the competition. We want our customers and their families to have more fun during their leisure time. We promote family-oriented entertainment. The universal appeal of good values and spending time with family has never been higher. A high growth area such as Granbury has an annual influx of new residents from many other parts of the country. This trend is true in the Southwest in general. Many new residents and many existing ones are potential customers. Granbury's lake, antique shops, and bed and breakfasts' offer a big influx of potential customers. The close proximity to the seven million residents of the DFW Metroplex allows for an extremely large customer base.
           Joy2UEntertainment was founded by Yamillie Hurst and Ronnie Hurst to capitalize on the ever growing market demand for family and Christian themed entertainment. Joy2UEntertainment is looking to promote itself through the operation of a successful theater and entertainment complex in Granbury, Texas. Yamillie Hurst is the principal owner. Ronnie Hurst is the manager and show producer.
           Mrs. Hurst varied background includes experience in fashion design, theater, singing and makeup artistry, and restaurant. Ronnie Hurst has an entertainment background that spans over twenty five years. He has performed at country music and gospel venues throughout the Midwest. He has worked as a personal manager to various artists for the past ten years. He has booked talent in venue locations from Atlanta to Hollywood, including Nashville, Branson, and Las Vegas. He has produced many live music shows throughout the Midwest as well. Joy2UEntertainment plans to bring in entertainers from Branson, Nashville and host the American Kids Talent competition. We plan on having open mic nights to help promote our local talent.
           Joy2UEntertainment plans to be an active member in community events and will work with local business to increase local tourism. We also will assist the city/county in luring more revenue producing establishments to help lock an entertainment stronghold similar to Branson Missouri, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee etc.
           Contact: Joy2u Entertainment
           3832 Lawndale Ave
           Fort Worth, TX 76133
           Phone: 817-551-0411

National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - June 9, 2002 - They broke in broncos on their ranches and dangled from galloping horses in Wild West shows and Hollywood movies. Often overlooked in history books, women who helped tame the West - and others sharing their pioneering spirit - are riding high in the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Their tales of grit and grace are being told in the new $21 million, 33,000-square-foot (2,970-square-meter) building, which opened to the public Sunday in Fort Worth's cultural district.
           "These women are great role models - often ordinary women who did extraordinary things because they had to get done," said Patricia W. Riley, the museum's executive director. "These are inspirational lessons whether you're 6 years old or 60." Corralling cattle isn't necessarily a requirement to be a cowgirl. The 158 Hall of Fame inductees include former slave and businesswoman Clara Brown, author Laura Ingalls Wilder, painter Georgia O'Keeffe and potter Maria Martinez.
           Among this year's five inductees is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who plans to attend the museum's ribbon cutting on Friday. The El Paso native, whose 1981 appointment made her the first female Supreme Court justice, grew up on her family's ranch straddling the Arizona and New Mexico border. Pam Minick, a champion team roper and a 2000 Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee, said museum visitors may be surprised by some of the 400 women featured -- from Lewis and Clark's American Indian guide, Sacajawea, to boot maker entrepreneur Enid Justin.
           The museum, billed as the world's only museum dedicated to documenting women's contributions to the American West, came from the humblest of beginnings in 1975 in Hereford, near Amarillo. When the town planned to host an all-women rodeo, resident Margaret Formby thought there should be a museum honoring cowgirls. She stored a growing collection of photos and memorabilia - sent from rodeo stars and families of Western pioneer women - in the Deaf Smith County Library basement. The museum opened in a donated house six years later. However, by the early 1990s Formby and others decided it needed more space in a larger city. Nearly three dozen cities lobbied to be the museum's new home.
           Ultimately, the choice was Fort Worth, dubbed "Cowtown" decades ago because it was a frequent stop for cattlemen traveling along the Chisholm Trail. Community leaders say the National Cowgirl Museum, expected to draw 280,000 visitors a year, is a perfect fit near the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Amon Carter Museum and Kimbell Museum. The National Cowgirl Museum has not had a permanent home since moving to Fort Worth in 1994, so the collection has been in storage while organizers raised $21 million from donors and planned the project. The new museum is set to open to the public on Sunday.
           The brick building near a horseshoe-shaped plaza features a mural of women on horseback. Inside, several motifs - wild roses, horse heads and ropes - adorn the light fixtures, columns and stair railings. The museum includes a multipurpose theater with 54 leather-tooled seats, three exhibit galleries with interactive and educational exhibits to showcase about 2000 artifacts, a research library, gift shop and a room for traveling exhibits. Names of the Hall of Fame inductees are on illuminated stars along the first-floor walls of the rotunda, where glass-tiled murals along the second-floor level depict faces and scenes that slowly shift.
           The pop culture gallery features pictures of actress Barbara Stanwyck, singer Patsy Montana and Dale Evans - as well as her stunt double, Alice Van Springsteen. Other displays feature stereotypical cowgirl advertisements, books, posters and album covers. In the ranch gallery, visitors can see a day in the life of a cowgirl. It features pictures taken by ranchers nationwide who were sent disposable cameras by the museum. Artifacts include a split skirt and a side saddle. The arena gallery tells stories of rodeo stars through the years, from trick rider Tad Lucas and sharpshooter Annie Oakley to cutting horse champion Sheila Welch. Visitors can see costumes, saddles and rodeo programs.

Johnny Cash: More Vintage Albums
(Reuters) - Country icon Johnny Cash may have turned 70 recently, but it's his fans who are receiving the spoils. Some three months after Columbia Records' Legacy imprint issued five vintage Cash albums on CD for the first time in the United States, the label said on Sunday, June 2nd it would follow up with another five-pack on September 3. The albums are: "Songs Of Our Soil" (1959), "Johnny Cash Sings Ballads Of The True West" (1965), "Live At Madison Square Garden" (1969), "The Johnny Cash Show" (1970) and "Silver" (1979).
           Cash, who turned 70 on Feb. 26, and producer Rick Rubin are also finalizing the track listing for their fourth collaboration, "American 4: The Man Comes Around," which is scheduled for a fall release as well. Cash recorded about 26 songs for the set, half of which will make the final cut, said Cash's manager Lou Robin. Columbia offered vague details on only one of the vintage albums, the previously unreleased "Live at Madison Square Garden." It was recorded during his Dec. 5, 1969 stand at the New York arena before a record 21,000 people. According to a full-page Variety ad at the time, the show grossed $110,326, a new benchmark for a single performance at the venue.
           Cash's band included his Tennessee Three -- guitarist Bob Wootten, bass player Marshall Grant and drummer W.S. Holland -- as well as Sun Records alumnus Carl Perkins on guitar, fiddler Doug Kershaw, the Statler Brothers and the Carter Family (sans his pregnant wife June Carter Cash, who was expecting their child, John.) A track listing was not provided, nor were details of the other albums. The Rolling Stone Album Guide gives "True West" two stars (out of five) and "Silver" three stars, describing the latter as boasting "strong tunes revelatory of Cash's inner feelings, promoting no cause save that of unburdening his soul."

George Strait's Fall Tour
It's official. The tour dates for George Strait's 2002 arena tour have been announced. Strait will kick off in Detroit, Michigan on September 12th and continue through to early November where he will wrap up his 21-city tour in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas marking the first entertainer to play their new SBC Center. Tickets for the show in San Antonio as well as stops in Dallas and Columbus, OH will be available on July 13th. All other on-sale dates will be announced in the near future. (See below for full tour schedule.) Chevy Trucks and GM Card are proudly returning as corporate sponsors.

After four years of headlining his highly acclaimed and award-winning "Geroge Strait Country Music Festival," the tour that set the standard for the multi-act country music festival trend, George Strait has announced he will return to his traditional arena touring schedule and has booked concerts in nearly every corner of the country.

"We're going back to playing the arenas this year and I'm really looking forward to it," said Strait decidedly. "We definitely had a great time doing the stadiums but I'm excited about seeing some faces again. Not that twenty-thousand seats arenas are exactly intimate settings, but you can tell a difference and I think it will be a fun change of pace."

Joining him will be Curb recording artist, JoDee Messina who played the opening slot for Strait at his sold-out show in Memphis and Lafayette earlier this year. On joining Strait's tour, JoDee said, "I am so excited to be asked to be a part of this tour. George Strait is a country music icon and someone I very much admire. I'm looking forward to hitting the road with him this fall."

George Strait is one of the most accomplished entertainers of our time. Since the debut of Strait Country in 1981, he has sold over 57 million copies making him the #1 RIAA certified country artist. He has amassed 27 platinum records, more than any other country artist in history and has scored a record-breaking 47 #1 hit singles. His current CD, The Road Less Traveled spawned the hit singles, "Run" and "Livin' and Livin' Well." He will return to the studio in the fall to record his next MCA release. Complete Tour Itinerary:

Sept. 12 - Detroit, MI. ( Palace of Auburn Hil
Sept. 14 - Charlotte, NC (Charlotte Coliseum)
Sept. 19 - San Jose, CA. (Compaq Center)
Sept. 20 - Sacramento, CA. (Arco Arena)
Sept. 21 - Los Angeles, CA. (Forum)
Sept. 26 - Indianapolis, IN. (Conseco Fieldhouse)
Sept. 27 - Columbus, OH. (Nationwide Arena) - On Sale July 13
Sept. 28 - Cleveland, OH. (Gund Arena)
Oct. 3 - Albany, NY (Pepsi Arena.)
Oct. 4 - State College, PA. (Bryce Jordan Ctr.)
Oct. 5 - Buffalo, NY (HSBC Arena)
Oct. 17 - Lubbock, TX. (United Spirit Arena)
Oct. 18 - Albuquerque, NM (The Pit)
Oct. 19 - Las Cruces, NM (Pan American Ctr.)
Oct. 24 - Portland, OR. (Rose Garden)
Oct. 25 - Seattle, WA. (Key Arena)
Oct. 26 - Boise, ID. (BSU Pavilion)
Oct. 31 - Oklahoma City, OK (TBA)
Nov. 1 - Dallas, TX. (American Airlines Arena) - On Sale July 13
Nov. 2 - an Antonio, TX. (SBC Center.) - On Sale July 13

Orville Couch RIP
Country singer Orville Couch died Sunday night in Dallas, TX with leukemia. He wrote and was famous for the song "Hello Trouble" that was a big hit In the early sixties. Also "King For A Day" written by Dr Joe Price. He was buried Wednesday, May 29th in Combine, TX.

Dolly Parton Announces Tour
NASHVILLE, May 24 - Dolly Parton is making her summer plans, and CountryNation confirms she's already booked So far, nine shows are on the books which will kick off on July 5 with an appearance on NBC's "Today Show" summer concert series. Parton's itinerary currently includes the East Coast and South, wrapping mid-August in Las Vegas. This will be Parton's first tour since 1993, though she's performed some one night dates in the interim. Not by coincidence, Parton's next album, "Halos and Horns," is set for release on July ninth.

"The Best Of Bluegrass"
All the Original Greatest Hits, From 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' and 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' to 'Rocky Top,' From Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Vince Gill and More. The astonishing success of the quadruple platinum, 2002 Grammy Album of the Year soundtrack to the Coen Brothers' quirky film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" has brought bluegrass down from the mountains and into the mainstream. Now the 12 "greatest hits of bluegrass" performed by legends such as Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs as well as contemporary stars such as Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill have been compiled on "The Best Of Bluegrass" edition of "20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection" (Hip-O Records), released July 2, 2002.

The genre was developed in the '40s by the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, represented on "The Best Of Bluegrass" by two classics from Bill Monroe & The Blue Grass Boys: "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" and "In The Pines." Perhaps the finest singer and guitarist for Monroe was Jimmy Martin ("Widow Maker"), who later joined with The Osborne Brothers to form The Sunny Mountain Boys. The Stanley Brothers were another early great, and Ralph and Carter are heard on "Who Will Call You Sweetheart" and "Angel Band." (Ralph closed the unbroken circlewith a solo Grammy-winning performance on "O Brother, Where Art Thou?").

An often overlooked originator -- maybe the first "hillbilly" recording artist -- was Ernest "Pop" Stoneman, who was putting his proto-bluegrass onto Edison cylinders in the '20s. His large family group would become known as The Stonemans ("Shady Grove"). One of the most popular groups of the post-war era, The Osborne Brothers ("Rocky Top" and, with Red Allen, "Ruby, Are You Mad"), was also one of the most inventive, using amplification, twin harmony banjos, steel guitars and drums.

Yet the most recognizable bluegrass act in history, thanks to exposure on television, is surely Flatt & Scruggs, with "The Best Of Bluegrass" presenting Lester and Earl's "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" and "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." The latter instrumental masterpiece has won two recent Grammys, including in 2002 for an ensemble performance that included Gill, Skaggs, and banjo-playing comedian/bluegrass aficionado Steve Martin, among others. Today's countrified fans have tapped into bluegrass through artists such as Gill ("High Lonesome Sound") and Skaggs ("Hallelujah I'm Ready").

Hillous Buel Butrum RIP
Courtesy: Nathan Parker ( - Hillous Buel Butrum, age 74, died Saturday, April 27, 2002 in Nashville. Wife Phyllis I. Butrum, recently deceased on April 12, 2002. Hillous Butrum had a Country Music career spanning over 50 years which included band member as one of the "Drifting Cowboys" with the late Hank Williams Sr. and other entertainers such as Hank Snow and Marty Robbins. He went on to establish Butrum Enterprises Publishing Company and was very active and past President in the R.O.P.E. organization for musicians. Survived by sister, Norma Britt; nephew, Jerry Britt; niece, Carroll Roberts all of Goodlettsville, TN. Pallbearers will be very close friends. He was a caring family member and steadfast friend to many, and will be sadly missed.

(The Tennessean) - Hillous Buel "Bew" Butrum (Bass), born: 4/21/28 Lafayette, TN, started as a Grand Ole Opry staff musician at the age of sixteen. Butrum joined The Cowboys in 1949 and remained with the band until July 1950. On December 21, 1950 he joined Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch Boys, where he remained for 4 years. Around 1956 He and Marty Robbins formed the music publishing house of BE-ARE Music. It was also around this time that he joined Marty's Band and he remained there for 4-1/2 years. In the 1960's Mr. Butrum formed his own record label called Look Records. One of the artists he recorded was Don Wayne. In 1977 Butrum joined a reformed Cowboys that also included Don Helms, Jerry Rivers, & Bob McNett. Also in 1977, the movie "That's Country" was released. The Drifting Cowboys appeared in that film and Mr. Butrum took an Assistant Director's credit. Also in the film, where Lorne Greene, Kitty Wells, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, etc. In 1984, Butrum and McNett retired from The Cowboys once again.

3rd Annual Bill Monroe
Bluegrass Festival

DATES: May 23rd, 24th, 25th & 26th
In tribute to his father and his own lifelong love affair with bluegrass, James Monroe announced the 3rd annual Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival to be held in Rosine, Kentucky, during the 2002 Memorial Day Weekend. Several times a year James puts down his guitar momentarily to assume yet another role. A gifted business man, he is today founder and promoter of America's premiere bluegrass event—“The Bill Monroe Memorial Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival, held each year in Bill's birthplace, Rosine, Kentucky. The festival is considered the event of the year in the world of bluegrass - ranking with events such as the Newport Jazz Festival as a premiere destination of choice for aficionados of the music born in the hills of Kentucky.

It's a fitting tribute to Bill that the event is held at the place of both his birth and final resting, and that his son James and his band are highlights of each event, forging family tie with fans of Monroe music - both new and old. The festival will feature performances by: James Monroe & the Midnight Ramblers, Rhonda Vincent, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, Larry Sparks, Sullivan Family, Gary Brewer, Dean Osborne, Eddie & Martha Adcock, Lonesome Whistle Band, Bluegrass Alliance, Cumberland Highlanders, Ronnie Reno, The Adairs, Jim Monroe, Time Graves, Dallas Smith Shiloh Band, Don Stanley & Middle Creek, Vince Combs, and J.D. Crowe & New South. For more information on the event contact: Monroe Entertainment - 615-868-3333

Dollywood's Summer Events
  PIGEON FORGE, TN - Tickets to season-long special entertainment events at the "Entertainment Capital of the Smokies" are now on sale at Dollywood.  Earlier available only to Gold Season Passholders, tickets to the park's 2002 Showcase of Stars, Summer Fun Series, and Country Legends Concerts are now on sale to the general public.

The 2002 Showcase of Stars kicks off with teen-age sensation Billy Gilman's first ever performance at Dollywood on June 8, followed by other first time performers keith urban and David Ball on June 22 and June 29 respectively. The Charlie Daniels Band returns to Dollywood on July 6, and park favorite Sawyer Brown returns for a July 13 performance. Country newcomer Jessica Andrews will take the stage on July 27, and Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers host shows on August 3.  Rounding out the series is an August 10 performance by a trio of country stars: Joe Diffie, Tracy Lawrence, and Mark Chesnutt.

In addition to the Showcase of Stars, Dollywood is also offering a wide range of entertainment in conjunction with the park's new Summer Fun Series on selected weekends in June, July, and August.  The Del McCoury Band and The Gibson Brothers headline the Red, White, and Bluegrass Blast on June 15; for the Children's Festival July 19-21, Thomas the Tank takes center stage on all three days during a special stage show presentation of Thomas & Friends(tm) - "All Aboard" Tour; and during the Days of Praise, contemporary Christian artists Audio Adrenaline (August 17) and Rebecca St. James (August 18) will entertain audiences with two daily performances at the park's Celebrity Theatre.

Each Saturday in September, Dollywood is hosting some of the pioneers of classic country music with an all-new Country Legends concert series featuring twice-daily Saturday shows at the park's Celebrity Theatre.  The series begins September 7 with "Grand Ladies of the Grand Ole Opry" Jean Shepard, Jeannie Seely and Jan Howard. The series continues on September 14 with Stonewall Jackson, Ray Pillow, and Tommy Cash.  Jack Greene, George Hamilton IV, and Margo Smith take the stage on September 21, and the series concludes on September 28 with "Memories of Conway" with the country legend's son and grandson Michael and Tre Twitty along with Jim Glaser and Norma Jean.

Tickets for most Showcase of Stars concerts are $18.99 plus tax, with selected artists at $24.99 plus tax.  Summer Fun Series tickets are as follows: The Del McCoury Band and Gibson Brothers $18.99 plus tax; Thomas & Friends(tm) - "All Aboard" Tour $9.05 plus tax; Audio Adrenaline $14.99 plus tax; and Rebecca St. James $10.00 plus tax.  All performances by the Country Legends are also $10.00 plus tax. For more information or to order tickets, call (865) 428-9620.

Abbie Neal & Her Ranch Girls - CD"
A wonderful, have-must CD by "America's Favorite All Girl Western Band". Lou Christie, pop/rock singer for the past 30 years has fulfilled one of his life-long dreams by producing a CD on one of his childhood idols, Abbie Neal. Miss Neal was one of the first women of country music to have her own legion if fans who followed her career from coast to coast. Abbie is now in her 80's, retired and living in Reno, Nebada. This CD has brought her story to a new generation of traditional country music fans, as well as reacquainting her former fans with the music they grew up with. If you would like further information about Abbie Neal, please visit and click on the picture of Abby. You may e-mail from Lou's website or contact: Lightning Strikes Music, P.O. Box 2172, Hillside Manor, NY 11040, 516-741-0102.

29th Annual Telluride
Bluegrass Festival, June 20-23

Planet Bluegrass, producer of the revered Telluride (Colorado) Bluegrass Festival, announces its line-up for the 29th annual festival, held this year from June 20-23.

Long before O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Down From the Mountain made their triumphant march up the charts and into the hearts and ears of Grammy voters and music aficionados everywhere, a devoted clan of bluegrass fans have gathered each summer in the mountains of Colorado for four days of aural and visual magic. The line-up this year continues to boast a roster of performers whose combined Grammy awards outnumber those of any other music festival in the country. Along with an enviable cast of "regulars" (some of which have made the trek to Telluride for the last twenty years or more, and appear again this year), including Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Tim O'Brien, Jerry Douglas and John Cowan.

More a bluegrass 'invitational' than its name suggests, this summer's festivarians (a term coined by the festival in the early '90s to describe its committed audience), for the first time, will experience the charm and sly word play of horn-injected alternative rock band Cake; the Hendrix-meets-Marvin Gaye-meets-Bob Marley sound of slide guitar virtuoso/singer/songwriter Ben Harper; and in a rare appearance, interpreter extraordinaire Linda Ronstadt who, having flirted with bluegrass on collaborations with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, will perform a bluegrass-oriented set specifically for the festival.

This stellar 2002 line-up also includes: Nanci Griffith; Emmylou Harris; Lucinda Williams; Hayseed Dixie; Robert Randolph & The Family Band; Del McCoury Band; The Saw Doctors; Todd Snider; Yonder Mountain String Band; Bela Fleck & the Flecktones; Leftover Salmon; The Boomchicks; Rhonda Vincent & the Rage; Railroad Earth; Eddie from Ohio; The David Grisman Quartet; Bearfoot Bluegrass; and last, but definitely not least, Dr. Ralph Stanley will close the festival on Sunday.

Since 1973, fans of tickling mandolins, weeping fiddles, and magnificent mountain views have been making the pilgrimage "up the mountain" to Telluride, Colorado where, every June, at an elevation of 8,750 feet, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival provides a bacchanal of sound, scenery and socializing for a spectacular summer solstice celebration. The 29th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival is proud to offer a meeting ground for those new to the charms of bluegrass, and for those of you who have been celebrating with us for years.

Ten thousand festivarians gather to experience the music of elite bluegrass pickers, and to get acquainted with artists outside the bluegrass community whose organic sound and down-to-earth appeal make them more than welcome in the festival's majestic San Juan Mountains setting. A four-day festival pass is $165 (does not include camping); children under age 12 are admitted free when accompanied with a paid adult. Four-day passes, individual day passes, and camping passes are all available from Planet Bluegrass, (800) 624-2422, or (303) 823-0848, or online at

Camping is recommended to festivarians who seek to fully experience the spirit of community and late-night jamming under the stars that make the Telluride Bluegrass Festival unique. Lodging is also available at the many picturesque inns and lodges nearby (many offer package rates during the fest). Beer and wine are available at the festival, as well as eats from 15 food vendors; clothing and crafts are available for your shopping pleasure from 30 different vendors, as well.

O brother! Did we forget anything? Where art further information? Everything you need to know is posted on the Planet Bluegrass web site. Go to - For More Information Contact: Traci Thomas or Kim Baum, Grassroots Media, (615) 340-9596 /

Tommy Hill Deceased
One of Nashville great record producers and record execs has passed away. Tommy Hill, who ran Starday Record so many years and has continued to produce records over the past several years, passed away Thursday, March 21 at 11:50 PM. He was born on April 27, 1929.

According to TWANGTOWNUSA.COM - Tommy Hill never quite made it as a country star, despite a couple of decades of trying, and crossing paths with (and even working for) stars and legends like Smiley Burnette, Webb Pierce, Hank Williams, and Johnny Horton. He wrote some very successful songs, and produced important hits by others, and also left some hot rockabilly sides behind. Born on a farm near Coy City, Texas on the eve of the Great Depression, Tommy Hill was one of four children. He spent a good part of that childhood picking cotton in order to help his family survive. He also listened to the radio and especially enjoyed the music of Jimmie Rodgers, and the Delmore Brothers, Cowboy Slim Rinehart, and Wayne Raney. It was while dragging sacks of cotton through the fields that Hill vowed to try for a career as a musician. He learned guitar listening to Ernest Tubb's lead player, Jimmy Short, and was proficient enough as a teenager to get a gig playing on radio with Big Bill Lister in San Antonio ‹ he was good enough, in fact, to blow the competition out of the studio.

With his brother Ken, Tommy Hill got gigs working with Red River Dave McEnery, and one day in 1948, musician/actor Smiley Burnette (of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers fame) passed through San Antonio, and found himself in need of a guitar player of two. Tommy and Ken were hired for the gig and stayed with Burnette, who brought them to California, which got them into the background scenes in his movies as extras and musicians.

The Hollywood work only lasted for 18 months before Hill and his brother returned to Texas to try and really make it in the music business. Sometime in 1949, Hill was playing in a group called the Texas Hillbillies, and he managed to cross paths during the years that followed with Hank Williams and Johnny Horton. A couple of years later, Hill got picked up by Webb Pierce as a fiddle player. They only worked together for about four months, during which Pierce cut one of Hill's original songs, "Slowly," before Hill decided to form a band of his own. Pierce's manager, Tillman Franks (who also later managed Johnny Horton), got Hill a contract with Decca Records in 1952. He formed his own band in Shreveport, Lousiana, with his sister Goldie, who had a hit with Hill's "Let the Stars Get in My Eyes" (retitled "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes"), which he had originally written for Kitty Wells.

Hill had little success with Decca, and was persuaded to join Hickory Records, the recording arm of Acuff-Rose publishers. By that time, rock & roll was rumbling out of the South and the Midwest, and Hill ran across a fellow Texan with a yen to record, steering him to Decca in Nashville ‹ that marked the start of Buddy Holly's commercial recording career. He also saw Ronnie Self in concert and took to heart the kind of music that the kids were listening to. He tried his hand at rockabilly, recording a single session one night that took more than 35 years to see the light of day.

Somehow, however, success eluded Hill. He had no hits during his three years at Hickory Records, and he subsequently hooked up with Starday Records, where he eventually became a producer, handling many of the label's releases until 1968. After a stint with MGM Records, Hill went into partnership with his fellow guitarist, Pete Drake, in the Stop label, which recorded the Jordanaires and Johnny Bush, among others, during its brief existence. Finally, in 1972, Hill formed Gusto Records, and two years later went into partnership with Moe Lytle; the two eventually bought out the King and Starday labels, and Hill was the producer of Starday's biggest hit, "Teddy Bear" by Red Sovine.

Hill hasn't been heard from since the early '60s as a recording artist, and none of his country sides are currently in print. In 1993, however, Bear Family Records released his long-lost rockabilly session from that June night in 1958. Despite his talent and his years of playing and writing, Tommy Hill never scored a hit; however, as he observed in Colin Escott's notes for Get Ready Baby, he had a habit of always giving his best songs away to others. ‹ Bruce Eder

Summer Dates Set for
"Down from the Mountain" Tour

The music from the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is taking to the road again. The second leg of the "Down From the Mountain" tour will kick off June 25 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. Artists who'll take part include Alison Krauss & Union Station, Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Ralph Stanley, The Del McCoury Band, Norman & Nancy Blake, Ricky Skaggs, Dan Tyminski, The Nashville Bluegrass Band, The Whites and Jerry Douglas. The concerts will feature individual as well as collective performances. The first leg of the tour -- which ran Jan. 25-Feb. 20 -- stopped in 17 cities and sold out 19 shows from Lexington, Ky., to San Francisco.

Tour dates:
June 25: Louisville, KY, Freedom Hall (tickets go on sale April 6)
June 26: Detroit, MI, DTE Energy Music Theatre (March 30)
June 28: Buffalo, NY, Darien Lake Perf. Arts Center (March 23)
June 29: Philadelphia, PA, Mann Center for the Performing Arts (March 15)
June 30: Boston, MA, Paul E. Tsongas Center (March 25)
July 2: Hartford, CT, Mohegan Sun Arena (March 29)
July 3: Toronto, ON, Molson Amphitheater (April 8)
July 5: Ottawa, ON, Cisco Systems Bluesfest (April TBA)
July 6: Washington, DC, Bull Run Reg. Park Special Events Center (March 29)
July 7: Cleveland, OH, Blossom Music Center (April 20)
July 9: Cincinnati, OH, Firstar Center (March 23)
July 10: Columbus, OH, Schottenstein Center (April 5)
July 12: Norfolk, VA, NTELOS Pavillion @ the Harbor Center (March 29)
July 13: Charlotte, NC, Cricket Arena (April 27)
July 14: Raleigh, NC, Entertainment & Sports Arena (April 27)
July 16: Knoxville, TN, Smokies Stadium (March 23)
July 17: Atlanta, GA, Chastain Park (May 18)
July 19: Austin, TX, Frank Erwin Center (April 12)
July 20: Dallas, TX, Smirnoff Music Centre (April 12)
July 22: Chicago, IL, Theatre at United Center (April 20)
July 23: St. Paul, MN, Theatre Bowl at Xcel Energy Center (April 20)
July 25: Boise, ID, Idaho Center Amphitheater (April 8)
July 26: Salem, OR, L.B. Day Amphitheater (April 6)
July 27-28: Seattle, WA, Chateau St. Michelle Winery (May 4)
July 30-31: San Jose, CA, Compaq Center @ San Jose (April 21)
August 1: Los Angeles, CA, Greek Theatre (April 28)
August 2: Santa Barbara, CA, Santa Barbara Bowl (April 6)
August 4: Denver, CO, Red Rocks Amphitheatre (April 29)

Certified five-time platinum, the soundtrack for "O Brother Where Art Thou?" (Lost Highway/Mercury Records) recently garnered five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.

Songwriter Harlan Howard Gone at 74
By Robert K. Obermann, Special to The Tennessean - NASHVILLE, March 4, 2002 - Country Music Hall of Fame member Harlan Howard, known as "Mr. Songwriter," died yesterday at age 74. The man behind such timeless songs as I Fall to Pieces, Busted, I've Got a Tiger by the Tail and Heartaches by the Number was once dubbed "the Irving Berlin of country music" because of the size of his catalog of classics. Mr. Howard provided hit songs to several generations of stars, from Kitty Wells to Patty Loveless, from Johnny Cash to Rodney Crowell, from Patsy Cline to Reba McEntire. He wrote for Mel Tillis, then endured to write for second-generation star Pam Tillis. In a career that spanned six decades, Mr. Howard penned more than 100 top-10 hits.

His name became so legendary on Music Row that for 12 years, 1983-95, the community celebrated the Harlan Howard Birthday Bash, an all-star concert and outdoor picnic. A who's who of the country music world has sung his compositions - George Jones, Buck Owens, Glen Campbell, Ricky Van Shelton, The Judds, Jimmy Dickens, Ray Price and Conway Twitty, to name just a few. But Mr. Howard's songs have also been interpreted by such R&B greats as Ray Charles, Joe Simon, Shirley Caesar and Candi Staton. Artists including Brenda Lee, The Kingston Trio, Kay Starr and Burl Ives have had pop hits with his songs, as well.

Harlan Perry Howard was born Sept. 8, 1927, in Detroit. After a difficult childhood in a number of foster homes, he dropped out of school in the ninth grade and became a manual laborer. After military service, he settled in Los Angeles in 1955 and began driving a forklift in a printing factory.

As a boy, he'd been captivated by the music of Ernest Tubb and had begun writing song lyrics. In California, he socialized with other country music lovers, who encouraged his aspirations. "I'd come home from work sometimes with six songs," Mr. Howard once recalled. "During that period of time, I never knew there was that much money in songwriting. I was just writing because I loved it. I never thought I'd be able to quit the factory and make a living full time as a writer."

Cowboy stars Tex Ritter and Johnny Bond signed him to their song publishing company. Mr. Howard formed a songwriting team with West Coast singer Buck Owens that later resulted in five chart-topping hits. Grand Ole Opry star Charlie Walker launched Mr. Howard's hit-writing career by recording Pick Me Up on Your Way Down in 1958. The following year, Heartaches by the Number topped both the country and the pop hit parades in versions by Ray Price and Guy Mitchell.

After writing successful songs for Kitty Wells, Warren Smith and Jan Howard, his wife from 1957 to 1967, Mr. Howard moved to Nashville in June 1960. Along with figures such as Bill Anderson, Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, Willie Nelson, Mel Tillis, Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin, John D. Loudermilk and Roger Miller, he was among the first full-time songwriting professionals in the city. "At the time, there were only a handful of songwriters writing tunes to feed this fiery furnace," Mr. Howard once said. "Every record label had 30 great singers on its roster, all looking for hits. We all made each other write better. When I think back, it's amazing what happened."

Working at Pamper Music, he collaborated on songs with Hank Cochran, with whom he co-wrote Patsy Cline's I Fall to Pieces and George Jones' You Comb Her Hair. Success came quickly in Music City. At one point in 1961, Harlan Howard had 15 songs on the country popularity charts at the same time. That feat has never been equaled since. BMI gave him 10 songwriting awards that year and he was named Billboard's songwriter of the year in 1962 and 1963.

Prominence as a writer led to recording his own albums in 1961, 1965, 1967 and 1971. But the finest collection of his songs came with a 1967 tribute LP by Waylon Jennings, titled Waylon Sings Ol' Harlan. During his career, Jennings recorded more than 40 of Howard's songs, far more than any other artist. Mr. Howard was Jennings' songwriting mentor, and his bonds with other artists were equally strong. He helped Bobby Bare obtain an RCA recording contract. He lobbied for Conway Twitty's transition from teen pop idol to country superstar. He also opened doors on Music Row for current star Sara Evans.

Howard's peers began calling him "Mr. Songwriter" after Ray Charles won a Grammy Award with Busted in 1963. Originally recorded by Johnny Cash, that song is one of a number of Harlan Howard compositions that have been recorded multiple times. Others include Life Turned Her That Way, The Chokin' Kind, Yours Love, Above and Beyond, I Fall to Pieces, The Key's in the Mailbox and Too Many Rivers.

He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973. But his career wound down after 1974 when Charlie Rich scored a hit with She Called Me Baby and Melba Montgomery introduced No Charge, which Shirley Caesar later turned into a gospel standard. Howard entered a long period of songwriting inactivity. "I was getting a divorce and going through some bad times," Mr. Howard once said. "It was burn-out time."

That ended in 1982 when Opry star John Conlee revived Busted and introduced I Don't Remember Loving You and Nothing Behind You (Nothing in Sight as two new Harlan Howard creations. Thereafter, a new generation of Nashville stars began singing his songs. Reba McEntire (Somebody Should Leave), The Judds (Why Not Me), Highway 101 (Somewhere Tonight) and others extended Mr. Howard's hit streak through the 1980s.

In the 1990s Pam Tillis (Don't Tell Me What to Do), Doug Stone (These Lips Don't Know How to Say Goodbye), Collin Raye (All I Can Be) and more had hits with Harlan Howard songs. Trisha Yearwood and Aaron Neville won a Grammy Award for their 1994 revival of I Fall to Pieces. At the 1994 BMI awards banquet, Howard's Blame It on Your Heart, recorded by Patty Loveless, was named Song of the Year.

The annual Harlan Howard Birthday Bash raised funds for songwriter organizations. But declining health forced him to discontinue these events after 1995. He and fifth wife, Melanie, continued to run his song publishing business, however, and they aided such developing writers as Jackson Leap and Bobbie Cryner. He also continued to be a mentor, a raconteur and a gracious host to hundreds of hopefuls who sought him out, year after year.

Harlan Howard was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. "I was writing for the blue-collar man on the street," he once said. "I always wanted to be a songwriter, and I knew I wanted to do it all my life." --Tenessean Staff Writer Peter Cooper contributed to this report. 

Ohio Country Singer
Donnie Bowser Dies at 64

By ANDREW McGINN, News-Sun Staff Writer - March 2, 2002 - Donnie Bowser, the Springfield, Ohio country singer who had a hit in 1957 with "Stone Heart," died Friday (March 1st) at the age of 64. Bowser died in Community Hospital after suffering a heart attack at home about 8:30 p.m., son Gene Bowshier said.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Bowser - he changed his stage name from Bowshier to Bowser because he got tired of hearing disc jockeys mess up the pronunciation - crossed paths with country royalty, but he always hung his hat here. Making it as far as the Grand Ole Opry, it hardly mattered Bowser had been in a wheelchair since a childhood bout with polio.

"For a man to sing like that from a wheelchair he gave it everything," Gene Bowshier said. "He always said sing from the heart. In an interview two years ago, Bowser recalled the one time his wheelchair got the best of him: "The only embarrassing moment I had was when I was fronting a show for George Jones up to Columbus. .. we're doing 'Y'all Come.' I tilted the wheels back, you know, doing a wheelie ... My chair just went right straight back, and I laid there and sang the song."

As a student at Keifer Junior High School, Bowser shared the stage with the Sons of the Pioneers, Roy Rogers' famed vocal group, at the Ohio State Fair. At age 14, he got to play alongside country icon Hank Williams. About that time, young Bowser and his band, the Radio Ranch Boys, were playing every Saturday night on WJEL (now WBLY).

It was "Stone Heart," though, that set Bowser's career in motion. Written while he was at Keifer, he first recorded it in a Wilmington, Ohio, studio in 1956. A year later, the song was released by four different record labels including Robbins Records, operated by singer Marty Robbins.

In 1989, Bowser retired, but not without a last hit. "Falling for You" snuck onto the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart that year. He said in the interview two years ago he retired because of a heart attack that left him with a permanent shortness of breath. Despite his retirement, Bowser often appeared with his son's band, the aptly-named Stonehart. "He'd come and steal my show," Gene Bowshier said. "He's got a lot of fans out there."

"Hee-Haw" Website
From RICHARD LAWSON, Tenneesean Staff Writer. Gaylord Entertainment Co.'s pursuit of profitability has pointed executives to Hee Haw's television cornfield. The Nashville-based company is looking to the past for profits by selling country music nostalgia. When the company pitched itself to stock analysts last week, Gaylord executives discussed plans of reeling in revenue from its extensive library of Hee Haw and Grand Ole Opry television broadcasts. Opry stalwarts, including the late Grandpa Jones, Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff, were regulars on Hee Haw, which Buck Owens and Roy Clark hosted.

The Hee Haw and Opry plans complement efforts with expanding the Opry brand, as well as that of WSM-AM 650, the radio station that has broadcast the show for many decades. Several weeks ago, Gaylord took a public-opinion pounding when word leaked it was considering a format change at radio station WSM-AM 650 from classic country music while exploring syndication for the Opry radio show that could increase its audience. The company backed away from the WSM plan and is still exploring a syndication deal for the Opry.

Gaylord has videotapes of Opry telecasts on Country Music Television and the former Nashville Network, as well as Opry-produced shows dating to the mid-1950s. It owns all of the Hee Haw shows from its first airing in 1969 to the final show in 1994. In its early years, Hee Haw was taped in the Nashville studio of what is now WTVF-Channel 5. It later moved to studios in the Opryland USA complex.

CBS had tried to kill the show, a year after it started during a purge of country and rural-themed programs. But it endured in syndication, appeared on 195 stations and reached 85% of the U.S. population, according to the Internet site Gaylord launched,

Haggard's Life & Career
Music's living legend Merle Haggard reveals the stories of his life and career that make him one of country music's most influential artists on "CMT INSIDE FAME" debuting Sunday, March 3 at 7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT on CMT: Country Music Television. Haggard talks about his turbulent youth and many run-ins with the law, his outlaw image, his time spent in jails across the country including San Quentin prison, his marriages, his love and respect for his parents and the early beginnings and evolution of his career.

"The legend and music of Merle Haggard are known across the world and across all genres of music," says Kaye Zusmann, Vice President, Program Development and Production, CMT. "CMT viewers will hear the incredible stories, first-hand, that most people have only read minimal details about. He tells his fascinating life story including the chapter about being asked to escape from San Quentin with Jimi Hendrix. This is truly going to be a phenomenal experience for our viewers."

"I wound up in some of the roughest prisons and roughest jails in the United States," Haggard recalls. "I turned 19 in San Quentin. I finally realized I did not want to be an outlaw." Haggard continues, "I got more acquainted with the ways of the jail house. There were guys that I knew in there. There was a life waiting for me. If I got arrested and got thrown in jail, I knew somebody there. I wasn't scared. And pretty soon, I was one of the guys that was running the tank. I was sheriff of the tank. They had a judge and a sheriff in a jailhouse tank back in those days. I was thrown into a lifestyle and I found somebody to be friends with. My dad was dead and my mother was working and my brother was gone and it was sort of a place to go. Jail was more fun than the home was.">p> Some of Haggard's earliest memories show his love for country music. He recalls, "First guitar that I ever had my mother brought it to me in a juvenile facility. It was around Christmas and I must have been about 13 or 14. She bought me one for $65, which was the cheapest Martin that she could buy. But it was still a Martin. I was really thrilled with that." Born in Bakersfield, California in April 1937 in a converted boxcar, Haggard has essentially penned his biography through the hundreds of songs he has written such as "Mama's Hungry Eyes," "California Cottonfields," "They're Tearin' The Labour Camps Down" and "The Way It Was In '51." Despite the efforts of his mother, he spent many years in reform schools. He was sent to San Quentin in 1957, charged with burglary; a Johnny Cash concert in January 1958 led to him joining the prison band.

Haggard was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1996, confirming his pioneering influence in the annals of country music. He remains a consistently interesting and vital recording artist who refuses to rest on his laurels, a stance which has endeared him to successive generations of country singers. On his new album "Roots," Haggard again captures the style and mood of classic 1950s country music.

"The Battle of Nashville"
By Edward Morris After the Country Music Foundation purged beloved longtime employees, some fans and scholars fear that "new country" is invading hallowed ground.

If Shania Twain had danced on Hank Williams' grave in spike heels and bustier, it would not have sparked a firestorm like the one that hit the Country Music Foundation when it fired Ronnie Pugh last fall. Most country music fans -- let alone nonfans -- have never heard of Pugh. But to pop-culture scholars, entertainment writers and editorial fact-checkers, the affable, low-key Texan was pretty much the guy who knew everything.

The CMF is the not-for-profit organization that owns and operates the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn., which, besides being a tourist magnet, also houses the world's largest collection of country recordings and reference material. With Pugh gone, scholars fear there is no one left to steer them intelligently through this labyrinth of vital information. The foundation has yet to prove otherwise.

Pugh had been at the foundation 22 years, doing basic library work and assisting in special projects, when, on Sept. 7, CMF director Kyle Young summarily dismissed him. It was a bloody day all around. Also sent packing were Chris Dickinson, the much-admired editor of the Journal of Country Music, and three lower-level staffers. Young told Pugh and Dickinson he was doing away with the special projects department for which they worked.

On Sept. 16, Charles Wolfe, a country music historian and professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, sounded the alarm in an open letter sent to various colleagues and posted on the Internet. "The Country Music Foundation Library and Archives has been severely decimated," Wolfe wrote. To underscore this indignity, he noted -- incorrectly as it turned out -- that Pugh "was given an hour to leave the premises [and] escorted outside by a security guard."

Dickinson's exit, Wolfe said, raised the specter that "the Journal of Country Music will be changed from its present form and stripped of any historical material and turned into a slick Garthian [as in Garth Brooks] fan magazine, full of eye candy for the high rollers who contribute to the [Hall of Fame]." He urged those who agreed with him to protest the firings to the CMF's board chairman and president.

And the protests rolled in. Richard D. Smith, author of the Gleason Award-winning "Can't You Hear Me Callin'," a biography of bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe, told the board's leaders, "I am genuinely afraid that -- under the command of the persons responsible for these firings -- the CMF will abandon its world-renowned commitment to country music history and scholarship. The brutal fact is that this will reflect very badly on you gentlemen in years to come since it happened on your watch."

"The actions of [the Hall of Fame] administration," wrote James E. Akenson, co-chairman of the International Country Music Conference, "show that they do not know the meaning of the word loyalty, nor do they understand the marvelous contributions of Ronnie Pugh to the [Hall of Fame] mission."

Nolan Porterfield, the eminent Jimmie Rodgers scholar, proclaimed, "I know of no more asinine move than the firing of Ronnie Pugh. Chris Dickinson, with whom I have worked on several projects for the Journal, is the finest writer and editor they'll ever have. It's a severe insult to anyone who genuinely cares about country music and its history. The Board of Trustees, it seems to me, has an obligation to correct this situation. Until that happens, you may be sure that I will take every opportunity to speak negatively and harshly about the Country Music Foundation and Hall of Fame."

The fact that Porterfield could muster up no worse threat than bad-mouthing the CMF illustrated the box Pugh's supporters found themselves in. No matter how outraged they were, they could hardly boycott their single most important reference source. It remains unclear whether the foundation is trying to remake itself in some more commercial, less historical image, but fans and scholars of traditional country are watching anxiously. At the very least, the CMF faces an ugly public relations gaffe, one that could affect contributions and grants, as well as sully its standing among research institutions.

Hoping to still the growing turbulence, Young dispatched a letter to Wolfe on Sept. 17 and sent copies of it to all the others who had lodged complaints at Wolfe's urging. Young's response took the high road: "I share your respect and appreciation for Ronnie Pugh and Chris Dickinson, two sticklers for the facts who each made important contributions here and who are deeply appreciated." What Young's letter did not do, however, was explain why he found such "appreciated" employees so dispensable.

The CMF suffered another blow when Bob Pinson, the only other scholar on staff in Pugh's encyclopedic league, announced he was quitting in support of his colleague. Pinson had already been easing into retirement and was working only part-time at the foundation, mostly helping Pugh prepare a massive discography of pre-World War II country music for Oxford University Press. They were only days away from completing the job when the ax fell.

To those who knew the principal players, the dismissals were as mystifying as they were outrageous. Did this signal a shift from the historical to the promotional in the CMF's mission? No, said the foundation, pointing to an array of upcoming scholarly projects. Were Pugh and Dickinson let go to save money? Perhaps. The Hall of Fame and Museum had just moved into a block-long, $37 million temple in downtown Nashville and tourists weren't exactly flocking in. Was it something personal between Young and the outcasts?

Pugh traces his "troubles" with the foundation to the regime of Bill Ivey, Young's close friend and predecessor at the institution, who left in 1998 to become chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Pugh had written a book on Ernest Tubb, the great Texas singer and bandleader, and given the CMF the option to publish it. The foundation declined. Soon after, Duke University Press snapped up the manuscript and, in 1996, published "Ernest Tubb: The Texas Troubadour" to near universal academic acclaim. "Still," says Pugh, "they sort of faulted me then for going outside. It was like I was trying to make a name on my own and not being a team player."

In November 1999, Pugh asked Young to relieve him of his duties as head reference librarian. "I had grown tired of it," he says. "The problem is that in nearly 20 years, you get asked the same questions many, many times." Young moved him into special projects, where he worked on fact-checking for the Journal of Country Music, proofreading books for CMF's joint publishing venture with Vanderbilt University and doing research for exhibits at the new museum.

One project CMF and Vanderbilt had in the pipeline on Sept. 7 was Pugh's proposal for a book on country music and politics. The joint press had already paid him a small advance. Young offered to go forward with the book even after firing Pugh, but the latter declined. (He has since placed the project with another publisher.)

"My official conversations in Kyle's office," Pugh says, "were never pleasant, never friendly, always some sort of reprimand. I got into trouble over some comments to the [Country Music Association] regarding potential Hall of Fame nominees they sent by us. I made it plain that I thought some of them were rather ridiculous in [suggesting] people like Patti Page. It was an absolute travesty. He called me on the carpet for that."

Young also forbade Pugh and other staffers -- regardless of their stature -- from responding directly to questions from the public and the press. Everyone seeking information had to be referred to the foundation's outside publicist, who then determined which staffer could best answer the inquiries. "They were just totally paranoid about the press," Pugh says. "Even Ivey never did that."

When the foundation moved to its new location last May, Pugh, Pinson and other veteran staff researchers learned they would not even be issued keys to the museum's archives, even though they had helped build them and used them constantly in their work. To access the collection, they had to track down a librarian and ask to be let in.

Young won't discuss the specifics of the firings. But he says there are good reasons for the restrictions he imposed. "We get a lot of calls on a lot of subjects, and this is a complicated place," he points out. "Some questions are financial, some have to do with tourism, some have to do with the history of the music. So what we do is channel the calls directly to [the publicist] so that we will know that the media get a timely response and that they get connected to the right person. To my way of thinking, it's not about restricting access, it's about creating access."

On the matter of keys to the collection, Young notes, "I don't have a key." He contends that this particular safeguard is dictated by the larger size and increased functions of the new building. "In the old place, we had 22 people. Now we have about 50 full-time employees, and a couple of hundred people working in this building every day. So security in general is different. We used to operate on a couple of million dollars a year; now we're looking at about $11 million a year. We're spending about $230,000 a year on security alone."

Young admits that money is tight at the CMF. "We opened in a real tough time," he says. "We know now that we were in a recession. Then there's the war and the fact that the country music industry is not exactly thriving. But we are meeting budget. Attendance is not exactly what we expected, but the great thing about this place is there are lots of sources of revenue. We are not a one-trick pony."

To reassure doubters, Young ticks off a series of serious projects nearing completion. These include the publication of "Singing in the Saddle," Doug Green's study of western music and singing cowboys, and the issuance of a revised edition of Mary A. Bufwack and Robert K. Oermann's out-of-print classic on women in country music, "Finding Her Voice." On the record front, the foundation is plumbing its archives to release annotated CDs of live radio performances by Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, Loretta Lynn, Carl Smith and others. Young stresses that the discography Pugh and Pinson were working on will be published in 2003 as scheduled. For the time being, the Journal of Country Music, which usually fields three issues a year, will be assigned to freelance editors.

Pugh says he doesn't know what he will do next. He's applied for library jobs and has gotten his real estate license. Then, of course, there's his book on country and politics to finish. Dickinson has moved to Chicago and is contributing articles on country music to the Chicago Tribune and writing a book.

Wolfe, meanwhile, views the foundation's efforts to mend fences with considerable skepticism, although there are no plans so far to chuck out the archives and replace them with a display of Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus' Stetson hats. "I know how weird and quirky that collection is," he says." A lot of times what myself and other people would do is go up to Ronnie and say, 'Here's what I'm working on. What do I need to look at?' And Ronnie would just sit there and rattle off stuff that would never show up in a computer search. That's what they've lost."

Feb. 20, 2002 - Courtesy: - About the writer: Edward Morris is the former country music editor of Billboard. He lives in Nashville, Tenn.

Waylon Jennings: 1937-2002
Waylon Jennings, known for his musical style of blues, rock and country, passed away peacefully at his home in Arizona from complications of diabetes Wednesday, February 13th. His foot was amputated in December of 2001. He had trouble walking the last several years of his life. Waylon was one of the founders of the Outlaw movement, had 60 albums, 16 number one singles, with a career that spanned 30 years ... and was one the the few performers in the world to be recognized just by the use of his first name.

Loretta, Tom T. Will Join Kentucky Hall
Loretta Lynn, Tom T. Hall and the Osborne Brothers are among 12 pioneers of Kentucky music who will be honored Feb. 28 with induction into the new Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum. The museum is scheduled to open in Renfro Valley, Ky., in May 2002. Also scheduled for induction are Rosemary Clooney, the Everly Brothers, Red Foley, Grandpa Jones, Bradley Kincaid, John Lair, Bill Monroe, Jean Ritchie and Merle Travis. A 16,600-square-foot facility, the new museum will include a music room, a functioning sound booth, historical exhibits and dioramas and a Hall of Fame with exhibit cases and colored acrylic plaques honoring inductees. Lynn and Kentucky first lady Judi Patton are honorary co-chairs for the new museum.

Lewis, Gilley, Swaggart
Jerry Lee Lewis and his famous cousins, Mickey Gilley and Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, will help kick off a dynamic, music-drenched three-month event in their home state of Louisiana next month. All three will be inducted into the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame in Ferriday, LA, on Saturday, March 2, 2002. The induction will take place during the grand opening of the museum and the first stop of the Louisiana Music Cavalcade. The museum and cavalcade are sponsored by Louisiana Secretary of State Fox McKeithen to celebrate the state's unique musical heritage.

"Mickey and Jerry Lee and Reverend Swaggart blazed a trail for other Delta talent to follow," McKeithen commented. "They had to make their own breaks back in those early days, and it's because of their remarkable success that others have enjoyed opportunities for better exposure. We're pleased to be able to claim them as native sons, and I think it's appropriate that this induction ceremony will launch the Louisiana Music Cavalcade."

Bluegrass Museum Reopens in April The International Bluegrass Music Museum will reopen permanently on April 11 in Owensboro, Ky., The Associated Press reports. The museum opened in 1992 but closed in February 2000 for a $3 million renovation. Living members of the museum¹s Bluegrass Hall of Honor have been invited to the opening. Bluegrass musicians will perform at the museum and around Owensboro on opening night. A three-day festival will follow, April 12-14, at the Executive Inn Rivermont in Owensboro.

James Blackwood R.I.P MEMPHIS - - James Blackwood, "Mr. Gospel Music" to those who knew him, died Sunday at Methodist Healthcare-Central of com plications of a stroke. He was 82. A multiple Grammy Award winner and the last living member of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, he entertained and inspired presidents and field hands alike. Mr. Blackwood probably has received more awards than any other gospel singer. During his long career, he was nominated for the Grammys in 31 different years, winning the award nine times. He has been presented seven times with the Gospel Music Association's Dove Award for top male vocalist.

Elvis Presley freely expressed his admiration for the Blackwood quartet, and frequently sat backstage during performances, niece Kaye DeWitt said. The story of Mr. Blackwood is one of triumph over hardship. In 1934, he and brothers Doyle and Roy, and nephew R. W. Blackwood Sr., started the quartet, and the former Mississippi sharecroppers became the first to present gospel music to the general public on network television. After a 1954 airplane crash that killed R. W. Blackwood and bass singer Bill Lyles, James Blackwood held the group together.

The Blackwood brothers organized the National Quartet Convention in 1956, and helped charter the Gospel Music Association. They recorded with RCA for 21 years. In 1994, The Singing News presented Mr. Blackwood with the Marvin Norcross Award, considered one of the most prestigious individual awards in gospel music. And in 1986, the University of Memphis voted him its Distinguished Achievement Award in the field of communications and fine arts. Having been in all 50 states and 35 foreign countries, Mr. Blackwood often told associates that "all the earthly awards will seem as nothing if I can hear Jesus say, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant.'

Though he was the last living member of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, Mr. Blackwood's gospel music legacy lives on through his sons Jimmy Blackwood of Memphis and Billy Blackwood, of Hendersonville, Tenn., and many nephews and nieces. Mr. Blackwood also is survived by his wife of 62 years, Miriam Blackwood, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Services held Thursday, Feb. 7th at 1 p.m. at First Assembly of God Church on Walnut Grove with entombment in Forest Hill East Mausoleum. Roller Family Funeral Home in charge. The family requests that memorials be sent to Gospel Music Trust Fund, P.O. Box 144, Goodlettsville, Tenn. 77072, or Southern Gospel Music Association, P.O. Box 6729, Sevierville, Tenn. 37864.

Freddy Fender Kidney Transplant SAN ANTONIO - Jan. 24, 2002--Freddy Fender, one of the most significant voices in Mexican American musical history, is in stable condition at San Antonio's University Hospital, recovering after undergoing kidney transplant surgery earlier today.

"The transplant was successful," said Director of Organ Transplantation at University Hospital, Dr. Glenn Halff. "He is expected to spend the next day-and-a-half in the intensive care unit then move a regular room on the transplant unit. Barring any unforeseen complications we expect Mr. Fender to make a complete recovery." Freddy's daughter, Marla Huerta Garcia, 21, underwent laparoscopic surgery this morning to remove one of her kidneys in order to donate it to her father. Her surgery was also a success. Marla is in good condition and is expected to be released in a few days.

In lieu of flowers, Freddy is asking fans to donate blood to their local blood banks in order to help other transplant and trauma patients. In San Antonio, the blood bank at University Hospital has set-up a special blood account in Freddy's honor. The blood bank is located on the 3rd floor of University Hospital, 4502 Medical Drive.

At a pre-surgery press conference, Freddy emphasized the importance of organ donation and asked people to consider giving the "Gift of Life." The gift he received today from his daughter will always remain the most significant of his life. "She gave me life," said Freddy.

Born Baldemar G. Huerta on June 4, 1937 in the Mexican slums of San Benito, Texas, Fender's music took him on a "rags to riches" journey from the Rio Grande Valley. Overcoming career and cultural challenges, Fender's music has left a musical imprint on more than six decades.

Fender migrated north with his parents in the late `40's to work as a farm laborer in the upper Midwest. At 16, he dropped out of school to join the Marines. He began his music career in the `50's, while still in his teens, billing himself as "El Be Bop Kid." By '58, he was cutting sides in Spanish, and finding success throughout Texas and Mexico.

He switched styles to a more rockabilly feel, becoming Freddy Fender in '59 and breaking the wider "gringo" market. His major breakthrough to international audiences came in 1974 when his recording of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" topped both country and pop charts. He followed it with a gold record for "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights" and another cross over smash "Since I Met You Baby." Between 1975 and 1977, he had nine songs in the top 10 on the country charts.

Fender is also credited with having written "Secret Love," which became a number one hit for Doris Day. Fender was named "Most Promising Male Vocalist" by the Academy of Country Music in 1975. The Country Music Association named "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" as single of the year that same year.

The beloved performer moved to yet another level in his career when he was tapped by Robert Redford to co-star in the film "The Milagro Beanfield War." One year later, tapped fellow musicians Augie Meyers, Doug Sahn, and Flaco Jimenez to form the "dream band" of Tex-Mex music, The Texas Tornadoes, whose popularity moved Hispanic influenced music to worldwide attention and international audiences of the caliber of the Montreaux Jazz Festival, where Fender and his companions received more than a dozen standing ovations for their high-spirited ethnic influenced music.

While on the mend, Fender has yet another major career highlight to look forward to. It was announced this month that his newest CD project, "La Musica De Baldemar Huerta," was nominated as "Best Latin Pop Album Of The Year" at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards to be held February 27th in Los Angeles. Fender is making plans to attend the event.

Loretta to Get Doctorate The University of Kentucky's board of trustees has approved an honorary doctorate for Loretta Lynn, the 66-year-old country singer and Johnson County, Ky., native. Lynn will receive the honorary doctorate in arts at a ceremony during the Society for American Music's 28th annual meeting March 6-10 on the university's Lexington campus. Her autobiography, "Coal Miner's Daughter," prominently featured her hometown of Butcher Hollow. The best-selling book later was made into a 1980 feature film of the same name starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. Spacek won an Oscar for her role in that film. Lynn grew up in poverty in Kentucky and gave birth at 14 to the first of her six children. She has sustained a 40-year career with hits such as "Coal Miner's Daughter," "Don't Come Home A'Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)" and "You Ain't Woman Enough." (AP)

Studio B to Reopen
NASHVILLE - RCA's old Studio B, one of country music's richest treasures and most productive hit factories from 1957 to 1 977, will become a working studio again, this time as a laboratory for students from Belmont University and Middle Tennessee schools. Officials from Belmont and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum announced January 24th that they'll work together to operate the studio, which was a tourist attraction run by the Hall from 1977 to 1998 but has been closed to the public since then.

The Mike Curb Family Foundation bought the studio on Roy Acuff Place from the Hall for $650,000 and will lease it back to the Hall for $1 a year. "That's a pretty good deal from where I stand," said Keel Hunt, chairman of the Country Music Foundation's education committee. Hunt said Belmont students will use the studio to make demo recordings and to lead tours. The studio also will continue to be available to Metro music teachers for day-long workshops with Music Row songwriters and musicians, and students from Midstate schools will get to learn about music production.

Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, Jim Reeves and Willie Nelson are among the artists who have recorded at the studio. Atkins, who died last year, also produced many hits there when he ran RCA's Nashville operation.

"There's no studio more historic than this," said Mike Curb, owner of Curb Records. "What a wonderful thing for students." Belmont, whose school of music business is named for Curb, announced in October its acquisition of Ocean Way Studios, another Music Row powerhouse. The university's president, Bob Fisher, said the combination of Ocean Way, Studio B and on-campus facilities will give Belmont students "the most extraordinary opportunities of any students in the world in music business."

Kyle Young, director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said officials are still discussing some details, including the extent to which Studio B will be open to the public and to professional musicians. Gillian Welch recorded her latest album, "Time (The Revelator)," while the studio was closed to the public in preparation for the Hall's move from Music Row to its new home on Fifth Avenue. -couresty: Michael Cass, The Tennessean

"A Century of Country" Series
Throughout February CMT: Country Music Television continues its 13-week series on the origins, history and roots of country music in A CENTURY OF COUNTRY. Hosted by Emmy Award winner James Garner, the in-depth documentary series traces the amazing journey through the songs, stories and stars that have brought country music alive. A CENTURY OF COUNTRY will premiere a new installment each Saturday at 9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT, immediately following the telecast of CMT GRAND OLE OPRY LIVE on CMT's Live and Legendary Saturday night.

A CENTURY OF COUNTRY takes viewers into the studios, living rooms, honky tonks and saloons that gave birth to distinctive musical styles; from hillbilly to rockabilly, from western swing to the Nashville sound, this series is rich with the sounds and sensations that make up what is called "country." Viewers will see and hear how these styles evolved across a century, and meet some extraordinary people along the way. One of the most in-depth looks inside country music, A CENTURY OF COUNTRY will give CMT viewers the opportunity to see interviews and historical footage on some of the genres founding artists to the industry's biggest stars including artist Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Chet Atkins, Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, George Jones to the contemporary stars Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Steve Wariner and Garth Brooks.

A CENTURY OF COUNTRY Episode Descriptions for February:

Feb. 2 - The Women's Movement - Female trailblazers Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette broke new ground and redefined the role of women in country music.

Feb. 9 - Honky Tonk Nights - An examination of the hard-living soul of honky tonk music through the lives of pioneers like Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and Lefty Frizzell.

Feb. 16 - Rockabilly: The Music That Rocked Country - The birth of rockabilly in the '50's and the ascendance of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Feb. 23 - Nashville: The City That Music Built - Nashville . . . Music City USA . . . became the center of country music entertainment worldwide and home to a multi-billion dollar industry.

Produced by CBS News Productions, rich in songs and stars, full of heart as well as humor, A CENTURY OF COUNTRY celebrates the music the world has come to love.

CMT, a 24-hour country music network, carries original programming, specials, and live concert and events, as well as a mix of videos by established country music artists and new cutting-edge acts, including world premiere exclusive videos. Founded March 6, 1983, the network, owned and operated by MTV Networks, reaches 56.8 million households in the United States.

Legendary Hank Cochran
42 years in Nashville and still "Livin' For A Song". Hank Cochran celebrates 42 years in Nashville this month and takes center stage, not as a songwriter, but as a performer, with the release of "Livin' For A Song." Co-written with Bo Roberts, the single "Livin' For A Song" will be included on the 38th edition of the Country HotDisc compilation CD to be released February 1, 2002. Country HotDisc targets the European market by servicing over 800 International DJ's and media outlets ­ and this single is sure to please their traditional country tastes.

An ode to the art of songwriting, "Livin' For A Song," is a tribute to the sometimes hard-knocks and soul-searching lifestyle that the "creative ones" must sometimes endure. Evident throughout this moving and unique recording is both strong emotion and real knowledge of the writer's craft and the sacrifice involved in its pursuit. Cochran's heartfelt vocals reach out and beg for a listen. This is a songwriter's song sung by a master of the craft.

Hank Cochran wrote his first song at the age of 13. He began his performing career as part of the popular 1950's duo, The Cochran Brothers. His songs have influenced the careers of artists (Patsy Cline, Ray Price, George Strait & LeAnn Rimes) and consistently held top charting positions for the last 5 decades. He was inducted into the Country Music Foundation's Walkway of Stars in 1967 and the Nashville Songwriters' Association Int'l Hall of Fame in 1974. While Cochran "classics" continue to be recorded by contemporary country artists, his new songs are hot commodities as well. Recent cuts by top young country stars LeeAnn Womack, Daryle Singletary and Wade Hayes prove that fine songwriters - like fine wines - just get better with age.

"Livin' For A Song" is Hank's first release since his Number One Americana CD "Desperate Men: The Legend & The Outlaw" was issued in late 1996. His last Country CD, "Make The World Go Away" on Electra Records, dates to the early Œ80s. No stranger to performing, Cochran enjoys the recording process and is busy in the studio putting the finishing touches on THE PEN, the upcoming album that will include his single, "Livin' For A Song."

As the 10-year anniversary of the NSAI's Tin Pan South fast approaches, Cochran could not think of a more fitting tribute to his fellow writers than his new single. "All I did was write my biography," he said. "I hope they like it. It wasn't always easy and at first there were parts of it I didn't like, but now I do. And I'd do it all over again."

Hank is celebrating his 42 years in Nashville the only way he knows howŠby continuing to write, record and perform. A recent in-the-round performance featuring Cochran, Kent Blazy, Dennis Morgan and Larry Cordle can soon be heard on XM Satellite's program Bill Anderson Visits With The Legends. And, PBS will be filming Hank, at home, in February for a documentary on songwriting titled Waiting To Be Sung.

For Interviews contact: Martha Moore, so much MOORE media / 615-298-1689 / and visit

Josh Graves Loses Second Leg
Dobro pioneer "Uncle Josh" Graves, 73, underwent surgery Friday (Jan. 18) at Tennessee Christian Medical Center in Madison, Tenn., to amputate his second leg. Graves had left intensive care and was sleeping in a room Tuesday (Jan. 22) afternoon, friends said. A member of the Bluegrass Hall of Honor, Graves underwent his first leg amputation last spring and recently had vein grafts to save his other leg.

"He's been having troubles with his legs since he had a heart bypass a few years ago," said fellow Dobro specialist Jerry Douglas. "They took a vein out of his leg to do it. His leg just never healed up." Douglas predicts that Graves will bounce back from the surgery, which he had anticipated for some time. "He told me he was just glad it wasn't his hands," Douglas said. "He's really sad he's not in Florida for this gig he had this weekend. He's old school, man, he doesn't want to miss a gig."

Graves established the Dobro as a seminal bluegrass instrument, greatly influencing Douglas and countless other musicians. He began his professional career in 1942 and joined Flatt & Scruggs in 1955, adding a new dimension to their music and recording hundreds of sides with the duo for Columbia Records. After Flatts & Scruggs disbanded in 1969, Graves worked with Flatt's Nashville Grass from 1971 through 1974 before joining the Earl Scruggs Revue. Graves has since recorded and toured with other country and bluegrass artists including fiddler Kenny Baker.

A benefit concert for Graves in November at the Gibson Bluegrass Showcase in N ashville featured Douglas, Scruggs, Alison Krauss & Union Station, The Whites and Blue Highway. Those wishing to help with Graves' medical expenses can send donations to the Josh Graves Benefit Fund, Bank of America, 1013 16th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, (615) 291-2856. - Michael Gray,

WSM & Opry to Stay As Is
NASHVILLE, January 14, 2001 - Bowing to the demands of listeners and thousands of e-mails received, Gaylord Entertainment representative Colin Reed announced today that WSM will not convert to all-talk and stay with it's country format. The Opry will continue to be broadcast on WSM. The Nashville Tennessean wrap-up article.

Statler Brothers Retire at Year's End
Edward Morris, - The Statler Brothers ...the first country act to re-direct listeners' nostalgia from rural to small-town life ... will retire from touring at the end of this year. With only one change in personnel, the quartet has been performing and recording together since 1961, first as the Kingsmen, then, beginning in 1964, as the Statler Brothers. The current members of the act are brothers Harold and Don Reid, Phil Balsley and Jimmy Fortune. Founding member Lew DeWitt, plagued by illness, left the group in 1981 and died in 1990. He wrote the group's first hit, "Flowers on the Wall," which went Top 5 on the country and pop charts in 1965.

A brief statement released from the Statlers' office in Staunton, VA., says the group will conclude their concert schedule Nov. 1, 2002. "The reasons cited for their decision to retire," the statement continues, "were simply to free themselves of a rigid travel schedule and to spend more time at their Shenandoah Valley homes." A spokeswoman for the group says it has not yet been determined where the final Statlers concert will be held. They will release a gospel album this spring.

Mixing Southern gospel vocal harmonies with wry wit and class-clown goofiness, the Statlers became one of the biggest acts in country music ... both on records and stage ... during the 1970s and '80s. Writing most of their own songs, the Statlers scrutinized and often glorified the American small-town life of the 1950s, with its high school proms, cowboy movies, cool cars and youthful dreams. These passions were reflected in such hits as "Do You Remember These," "Class of '57," "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott" and "The Movies." Their wicked sense of humor also surfaced in their songs. In "How to Be a Country Star," a Top 10 effort from 1979, they advised aspiring performers to "get a gimmick like Charley Pride's got." Their 1973 album, Alive at the Johnny Mack Brown High School, was a merciless sendup of everything horrid about live country music radio shows. Issued under the name Lester "Roadhog" Moran & The Cadillac Cowboys," it lampooned bad singing, worse picking, misremembered lyrics and hick sponsors. Only the fact that "Lester" (aka Harold Reid) was such a bumblingly endearing figure saved the project from being outright vicious.

Although their chart vitality was flagging by the late '80s, the Statlers continued to draw large crowds for their stage shows throughout the '90s, during which time they created and starred in what was to become the most popular show on TNN (then The Nashville Network). The Statler Brothers S how revived the musical variety format of early television and was a perfect vehicle for the Statlers' personable versatility.

The Statlers bill themselves as "the most awarded act in the history of country music," and that is probably true. Their honors include three Grammys, nine CMA vocal group of the year awards and 46 Music City News trophies. They recorded for Mercury Records from 1970 into the 1990s and were for years the label's bestselling country act. Last year, the group released their album Showtime on Crossroads Records.

Waylon's Left Foot Amputated
Doctors amputated the left foot of singer Waylon Jennings in a Phoenix hospital. Jennings' spokeswoman Nikki Mitchell says Friday that Jennings is expected to resume touring this spring. The foot had to be amputated on December 19th because of an infection related to the singer's diabetes. The 64-year-old singer said in a statement that he can now walk after "two years of stumbling."

Country Artists Infiltrate Grammys
By Jay Orr / - When it comes to the Grammys, country and country-related artists make their presence felt every year in categories outside the country field. This year, of course, O Brother, Where Art Thou? is up for album of the year in the overall voting, but there's also Faith Hill, nominated for best pop vocal performance for "There You'll Be," and Lucinda Williams, in the same category, for "Essence." Raul Malo, former member of The Mavericks, and Rick Trevino are two members of Los Super Seven, who have a nod for best traditional tropical Latin album for Canto. And in a related category, best Latin pop album, Freddy Fender is up for La Musica de Baldemar Huerta. The album is due to be re-released Feb. 12 on a major label.

Though they don't have a nomination in the polka field, Willie Nelson and Brenda Lee both contributed vocals to Jimmy Sturr's Gone Polka, tapped for best polka album. And Jamie O'Neal and former country artist Shelby Lynne both are on the soundtrack for Bridget Jones's Diary, which vies with O Brother in voting for best compilation soundtrack album for a motion picture, television or other visual media. The award would not go to O'Neal and Lynne, however, but to soundtrack producers Nick Angel, Kathy Nelson and Alan Pell. The versatile Williams, who won a Grammy once for best country song, also has a nomination for best female rock vocal performance for "Get Right With God." And Ryan Adams, her label mate on Lost Highway Records, gets mentioned for best male rock vocal performance for "New York, New York" and for best rock album for Gold. Lost Highway is based in Nashville and New York.

Sadly, no country artists find their way into the rap field, but they dominate one gospel category -- best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album. Nominees there include Ann-Margret & The Jordanaires and The Light Crust Doughboys With James Blackwood for God Is Love: The Gospel Sessions; Merle Haggard and Albert E. Brumley Jr. for Two Old Friends; The Oak Ridge Boys for From the Heart; and Randy Travis for Inspirational Journey.

Delbert McClinton gets a nomination for best contemporary blues album, for Nothing Personal, which includes appearances by ex-New Grass Revival member John Cowan and Iris DeMent. The folk categories are filled with country talent, too. The late John Hartford has a nomination for Hamilton Ironworks. Down From the Mountain, the concert recording by artists on the O Brother soundtrack (including Hartford), joins it in the category for best traditional folk album. Williams, Steve Earle and Gillian Welch are among contributors to Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt, nominated in the same category.

Country-connected candidates for best contemporary folk album include Buddy & Julie Miller, Buddy & Julie Miller; Nelson, Earle, McClinton, Williams, Emmylou Harris, Billy Joe Shaver and a bunch of other folks for Poet: A Tribute to Townes Van Zandt; Welch for Time (The Revelator); and Williams for Essence. Diane Warren's "There You'll Be," as recorded by Hill, is up for best song written for a motion picture, television or other visual media. The award would go to Warren. Bela Fleck, also a former member of New Grass Revival, is nominated with Edgar Meyer for best instrumental arrangement for their arrangement of Debussy's "Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum" from Children's Corner. T Bone Burnett is up for producer of the year. His credits include O Brother and Down From the Mountain. And finally, two country albums -- New Favorite by Alison Krauss & Union Station and Time*Sex*Love* by Mary Chapin Carpenter -- are in the running for best engineered album, non-classical. The award would go to the engineer -- Gary Paczosa or George Massenburg, respectively.

The Grammys are set for Feb. 27 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. CBS will broadcast the event.

Freddy Fender: Grammy Nomination
The announcement in Nashville, Friday, Jan 4th, by the National Academy Of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) of nominees for the "44th Annual Grammy Awards" included the welcomed comeback project of Baldemar Huerta - better known to this legions of worldwide fans as Freddy Fender - whose album 'La Musica De Baldemar Huerta' received the nod in the "Best Latin Pop Album" category. A winner of two past "Grammy Awards," Fender was ecstatic when advised by phone of the nomination at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas. "Man, I am blown away," he exclaimed "Getting to do the album with Michael and Ron Morales and all the talented people involved was a real kick for me…and now the nominationI couldn't be happier!"

The project, a tribute to his Hispanic heritage, takes listeners on a musical journey back to Fender's roots in the Rio Grande Valley, from which he rose from 'rags to riches,' overcoming career and cultural challenges to leave a major musical imprint that has to date spanned six decades.

On January 24th, Freddy will face a challenge of a different sort. He will undergo kidney transplant surgery at the University of San Antonio. His daughter, Marla, will donate the kidney. With the surgery, Fender has the hope of reversing the deteriorating health problems that have faced him over the past few years.

When asked if he planned on attending the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, set to be televised live on CBS-TV on February 27th, (8 P.M. ET), Fender replied with the earthy humility that his endeared his celebrity, "I'll be back at 100% be then, ready to take on all comers! I'm already thinking about my acceptance speech!"

Marie Hartford Dead at 67
January 1, 2002 - Marie Hartford has died at age 67. The widow of John Hartford passed away Monday, December 31, 2001 in Nashville of lung cancer. Friends said that Mrs. Hartford was diagnosed with the cancer on Christmas Eve and told that she had a short time to live. Marie Hartford worked on Music Row for the Glaser Brothers publishing company and recording studio. Her husband died June 4th after a long battle with cancer. Marie Hartford remembered as a good friend to songwriters.

Bill Mack's Hot Mike: WSM
Courtesy Bill Mack on December 31, 2001
The news out of Nashville pertaining to WSM is, to say the least, upsetting. It leaves the impression that, again, our country music is being pushed into another avenue of hurt. But should we be surprised by this latest happening? Let's, as a proud country music society, face the facts: This is simply another "happening".

Our country music scene, as a whole, has been badgered for several years now. Unless we have closed our eyes and plugged our ears or buried our proud heads in the sand, this latest news pertaining to WSM shouldn't come as a terrific jolt to any of us.

The scent of danger grabbed the attention of most of us when the heads-of-state at the Opry decided the band was too old to perform for a younger audience and fired them for that reason. They publicly announced they were seeking a younger following at the Grand Ole Opry and performed one of the most front-line acts of age discrimination ever by slamming the doors on some of the best professional musicians in the world because they were passed the half-century mark in age. Sure, most of us were angry as hell and made phone calls to each other about the axing of musicians who had given the Opry such a great sound for years. But what good did it do? Those musicians, great as they still are, no longer perform at the Grand Ole Show.

And what about the "temporary" move to the Ryman? Let's face it: Most of us knew the move would eventually be permanent, didn't we? Even though the official announcement said the Opry gang would soon be back in the newer Opry House after adjustments/improvements had been made, didn't we again sniff the fact there were acts of dishonesty being performed? The way some of us saw it, the Opry was no longer good enough or important enough for the new Chiefs-of-Staff. So what did they do? They shoved the grand ol' gang out of the newer quarters and back to the 70s Š and the Ryman.

If we really want to pull a Sherlock Holmes study, let's go back to TNN (The Nashville Network) and Opryland. There is no doubt that Ralph Emery, Crook and Chase and various other names that once graced the television tubes out of our great city of Nashville not only brought a proud focus to the greatest music city in the world, they brought countless country music fans and millions of tourists to Music City U.S.A. Opryland, The Opryland Hotel and The Grand Ole Opry were all within walking distance of the greatest entertainment avenue in the world.

TNN was sold to New York, Opryland became a huge shopping center and the Opry was moved back to the old quarters. Now, the only thing still standing in that once proud piece of valuable real-estate is the Opryland Hotel.

The sad part of all of this is the fact that the most prized musical entertainers on our planet are being placed in a position of doubt and fear. This is not only defamation to some of the greatest names in country music, it is a slap-in-the-face to an industry that has made Nashville, Tennessee the Hollywood of the South and allowed many radio stations and record labels to bank untold billions because they served the most allegiant people in the world Š the country music fans.

None of us wants to hear that proud old radio station, WSM, become another overcrowded sports spot on the radio dial. And messing with the mother church of country music, The Grand Ole Opry? Well, is just shouldn't be allowed. After all, that special show was the only quality entertainment many could afford during the Depression in the 30s and brought ease to millions during World War II. And let's not forget: Would we have ever heard the likes of Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe, Marty Robbins and so many others had it not been for those special nights at the 650 spot on the dial? I doubt it.

Some of our so-called experts and consultants in the business of country music are saying, quietly, "Times have changed."

I dare those people to make that statement to the fans of such special giants as Loretta Lynn or George Jones. Fans of Brad Paisley, Trisha and Martina would also most likely search for rocks to throw if they heard such an idiotic statement.

Now, after thinking it all over, are you really surprised about the latest news out of Nashville? Good part is, many of us have witnessed many indentions in our industry down through the years, but we also realize country music and the fans of our proud sound have always survived.

Bill Mack Country

Barbara Mandrell Hosts Country Showdown
Barbara Mandrell is making a rare Nashville appearance January 24 when she hosts the final round of the Colgate Country Showdown at the Grand Ole Opry House. Mandrell gave her final musical concert -- billed as "The Last Dance" -- on the same stage on Oct. 23, 1997. The Colgate show, which spotlights six regional finalists, will be taped for television and aired nationally via syndication throughout March and April. "Many people helped me have a career in music," Mandrell told in a written statement. "One of the greatest recording musicians, steel guitarist Lloyd Green, saw me perform in a club in Nashville and told several record producers to go see me. I signed with Billy Sherrill at Columbia Records thanks to Lloyd. When I tried to tell him how grateful and thankful I was, he said something so wise and important: 'Just help other newcomers during your career, and that's how you say thank you.'" This marks the first year that Colgate-Palmolive is sponsoring the long-running national country music talent contest. For the past several years, the competition has been sponsored by the True Value hardware store chain. Winners are chosen at the local, state, regional and national levels. Joining Mandrell on the show will be Joe Diffie, who will also headline some of the Showdown's major contests during 2002. (The Jan. 24 taping, which starts at 7 p.m., is open to the public. General admission tickets are $15 each, although Kroger and other Nashville area retailers are providing free admission. Information on complimentary tickets is available from Special Promotions, Inc. at 615-321-5130.)

"The Guys of the Big "D" Jamboree
CD is Available Now, On Line

David Dennard, DSR, has announced: For anyone who's interested, the new Dragon Street CD called "The Guys of the Big 'D' Jamboree" is available now from the DSR web site at as a pre-release on the web only. The regular street date for this CD is Tuesday, February 12, 2002, but we're making it available early on the web to any interested parties. Find out more about this title by visiting the DSR web site. Artists include Lefty Frizzell, Riley Crabtree, Frankie Miller, Tony Douglas, Joe Price, Gene O'Quin, Mitchell Torok, and many more. 30 live and studio tracks (72 minutes of music) with a 36 page booklet, including many unpublished photos, and a discography by western swing historian KevinCoffey. Very cool Texas honky tonk and early rockabilly stuff. (

Help Save WSN's Format
NASHVILLE - Country music fans strongly urge you to bombard Gaylord with letters and emails to the CEO himself, Colin Reed, in protest of this stupidity of possibly changing the format of 650 WSM AM. Write to:
Colin Reed
Gaylord Entertainment Company
One Gaylord Drive
Nashville, TN 37214

WSM could face changes, Gaylord says
Gaylord Entertainment Co. is exploring changes among its three radio properties, including syndicating the Grand Ole Opry and possibly modifying the formats of WWTN-FM, WSM-FM and the historic WSM-AM. Gaylord Chief Executive Officer Colin Reed said the company is evaluating the operations of its three radio stations, and that classic country WSM-AM is the least profitable of the three. This has started a ripple of speculation about possible changes at the three stations, including changes in formats. Some of the on-air staff suggested involving country singers in a grass-roots effort to preserve the format, but station managers said no, essentially telling the personalities to stay quiet on the issue. Grand Ole Opry General Manager Pete Fisher said that the Opry is close to negotiating a deal that would return the program to a syndicated network for the first time in decades.
       WSM-AM is an icon of country music history, and the prospect of a format change would be alarming to Opry artists, WSM-AM staffers and traditional country music fans. Last year, Radio & Records, a leading radio trade publication, chose WSM-AM the country station of the century. The station went on the air as a promotional venture of the National Life & Accident Co. on Oct. 5, 1925. Response to old-time music from WSM's many rural listeners was so strong that the show was institutionalized and elevated into a live show with an audience. After 1932, when WSM built the nation's tallest broadcast antenna, the Opry reached the entire East, making stars of dozens of country music artists. In the 1950s, WSM employees were crucial to launching Nashville's recording studios, talent booking agencies and music publishers. The station was acquired by Gaylord in 1982, after National Life was acquired by a larger insurance company. WSM adopted an all-country format in 1983. Before that, it was a variety station.

Independent MusicFest 2002
Music! Music! Music! Like a little of this style and a lot of that? We have it all as the Tennessee State Fairgrounds come alive once again with Independent MusicFest 2002 to be held in Nashville, TN June 12-15, 2002. With 3 days of great music of all styles including pop, country, rock and roll, gospel, R&B, blues, jazz and roots music of all kinds, attendees will enjoy free parking, free admission, and family oriented entertainment throughout each day. This event provides an excellent networking opportunity for independent artists, music industry products and services vendors, and local and national sponsors. The event is designed to bring to the public a cross section of music often neglected by the mainstream music industry, yet loved and sought after by music fans everywhere.

Expectation is to exceed the 83 artist and industry related booths at the 2001 premiere event last June. Music industry workshops will again be a free feature of IMF. Performing artists will be selected to showcase. What better place could there be to hold such a diverse musical event than right here in Nashville - "Music City"? While it has long been noted for its country music, in the last two decades Nashville has opened its arms to every kind of music heard today and is recognized as the recording capitol of the world. Join us in Nashville as IMF continues to bring great music, family fun, and commerce to our unique city. Together we can give our nation and the world one more reason to come back again and again to Nashville.

Bill Monroe Auction, Dec. 21-22
Monroe Artifacts Donated to Museum; Remaining Items to be Sold at Estate Sale and Auction. Several important artifacts documenting the life and career of Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Monroe will now be preserved in the collections of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where they will be made accessible to music fans for generations to come. The items have been donated by Monroe's son and sole heir, James Monroe, who is executor of the Monroe estate. Mr. Monroe will hold an estate sale and auction of the remaining collection at the Museum on December 21 and 22, and a percentage of the gross will benefit the Museum, which is a non-profit 501c3 educational organization.

"It is extremely difficult for a non-profit museum to compete with private collectors," said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Director Kyle Young. "Without the generosity of James Monroe, we may never have been able to acquire these items. Mr. Monroe's gift immeasurably enhances our collection and we are forever grateful." Monroe's 1923 Gibson F-5, master model mandolin by Lloyd Loar, sold to a private collector for $1.1 million earlier this year.

Monroe is described by Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum historian John Rumble as "one of country music's great historical personalities." Always dapper, he frequently visited the Hall of Fame to greet fans, chat with staff, or perform on ceremonial occasions prior to his death on September 9, 1996, just two days shy of what would have been his 85th birthday. Monroe was inducted as a member of the Hall of Fame in 1970, but never got to see his bronze likeness enshrined in the new Hall of Fame, a 5,300-square-foot "cathedral for country music" now housed in the rotunda of a massive new facility downtown.

Among the donated items are a circa 1970 black-and-white suit, white dress shirt with French cuffs, cuff links, lapel pin, and coordinating tie, a stage costume emblematic of Monroe's style and polished professional demeanor. (The drycleaning stamp on the shirt reads "Bill Mons.") A 1985 log kept by Eddie Sisk, bus driver for Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, includes travel mileage, vehicle service records, and playlists. Along with a pair of heavily annotated monthly planners, these items partially document Monroe's international popularity during the last decades of his life when his venues ranged from rural festivals to prestigious concert halls and the White House. Also included are Monroe's family Bible and a collection of historic photos.

According to Rumble, writing in the Encyclopedia of Country Music, "no individual is so closely identified with an American music style as Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass Music. "For more than half a Century he shaped bluegrass with his forceful mandolin playing; high, lonesome singing; and mastery of his band, the Bluegrass Boys. In doing so he gave older country sounds a new life; gave the mandolin a new role as a lead instrument in country, pop, and rock; and set standards for musicians as diverse as the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, George Jones, and rock star Jerry Garcia." Monroe says that more than 600 items are included in his auction of his father's estate. Items include six vintage mandolins used in concert and on recordings, stage costumes, furniture, jewelry, awards, signed items, household goods from his Kentucky cabin and farm, and a 1982 Zimmer Golden Spirit will be included in this estate sale and auction.

The estate sale is scheduled for Friday, December 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Saturday, December 22, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., in the Museum's Community Room. Any estate sale items not sold prior to the 11:00 a.m. closing will be sold at auction. Media is invited to an invitation-only private preview of the auction items on Friday, December 21, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The auction, which will be conducted by Kevin Benderman Auction Co., Firm #4452, begins Saturday, December 22, at 1:00 p.m. in the Museum's Conservatory. Simultaneously, a live Internet auction for pre-qualified buyers will take place on e-bay inreal time. Sale will continue until everything is sold or until 6:00 p.m. Please note this auction is conducted by the Estate of Bill Monroe, which is solely responsible for all aspects of the auction. The auction is being held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum by special arrangement with the Country Music Foundation, Inc. The Country Music Foundation, Inc. (including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum) neither sponsors nor endorses the auction and has neither appraised nor authenticated any of the items offered in the auction.

Floyd Tillman's 87th Birthday
The Llano Country Opry proudly presents a special edition of the Llano Opry-the Annual Floyd Tillman Birthday Bash at the Lantex Theater in Llano, Tx, on Thursday, December 13. The show begins at 7:00 pm and advance tickets are on sale at the Llano Chamber of Commerce, Pleasingly Plus, Llano National Bank, Kingsland Chamber, KNEL radio or (915) 247-5354. Tickets are $7.00.

Several special guests have been invited to help celebrate Floyd Tillman's 87th Birthday. Past years attendees included Willie Nelson, Johnny Gimble, Johnny Bush, Frankie Miller, Darrell & Mona McCall, Jimmie Eaves and Al Dean.

One of country music's most successful songwriters, Floyd Tillman was born in Ryan, Oklahoma in 1914. He became a singer, guitarist, mandolin and banjo player with the Mark Clark Orchestra and the Blue Ridge Playboys during the 1930's. He signed his first recording contract with Decca Records in 1939. His first hit was his self penned "It Makes No Difference Now." During the late 1940's, Tillman wrote such compositions as "I Love You So Much It Hurts Me" (1948), "Slippin Around" (1949) and "I'll Never Slip Around Again" (1949). These songs became instant hits and sold into the millions of copies during the "early" days of country music.

Tillman would also add "Each Night At Nine" "Mr. Bottle" "I'm Still In Love With Every Girl" "Cold Cold War With You" "I'll Keep On Loving You" and "Daisy Mae" to his list of over 200 recorded compostions. Tillman's biggest hit "Slippin Around" was the first actual cheating song written in country music. Tillman received the inspiration for the song after overhearing a man and a woman talk in a café. It became a million selling hit being recorded by Tillman, Ernest Tubb, Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely and Ella Fitzgerald.

A honky tonk hero and among the first to utilize the electric guitar, Tillman was also elected into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1970 and into the even greater Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984. "Floyd Tillman is one of the greatest songwriters and entertainers in country music," Willie Nelson said during 1999's Floyd Tillman Birthday Bash in Llano. "He was one of the first stylist and still have the ability to keep an audience in the palm of his hand. He is one of my heroes and I love him."

Others already slated to be on the show include Big Bill Lister, Mark Lee, Justin Trevino, Frank Torres, Cook Lindsey, Barbara Lewis, Jimmy Eaves, Zach Huckabee and Pete Mitchell. Tracy Pitcox will MC the show.

Michael Gray (12/04/2001) - Guitarist Grady Martin, one of country music's most acclaimed sidemen, died Monday night (Dec. 3) of congestive heart failure at Marshall Medical Center near his home in Lewisburg, Tenn. He was 72. Ailing for years, Martin retired from Willie Nelson's road band for health reasons in 1994.

A native of Chapel Hill, Tenn., Martin is among a select group of studio musicians in Nashville known as the original A-Team, a group of session masters including late guitarists Chet Atkins and Hank Garland, late pianist Floyd Cramer and drummer Buddy Harman. "Grady had a natural talent for guitar, a natural feel for it," Harman said. "He invented many great sounds on record - intros and all kinds of things - he was heads and shoulders above most of the other players. He's going to be sorely missed."

Martin's studio work included hundreds of sessions; he backed artists ranging from Hank Williams to Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley. On many sessions, he served as bandleader and de facto producer, meaning he led the musicians and directed the impromptu arrangements that became a trademark of Nashville sessions. Martin's recording contributions spanned several decades, from Red Foley's 1949 "Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy" to Merle Haggard's 1983 "That's the Way Love Goes."

His insistent riff on Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman," flamenco-flavored stylings on Marty Robbins' "El Paso" and distorted "fuzz" guitar solo on Robbins' "Don't Worry" are among the most memorable guitar signatures in all of country music. Martin's other classic credits include Nelson's "On the Road Again," Johnny Horton's "Honky-Tonk Man" and "Battle of New Orleans," Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter," Sammi Smith's "Help Me Make It Through the Night," Lefty Frizzell's "Saginaw, Michigan" and Ray Price's "For the Good Times."

Known for his versatility, Martin also played on pioneering rockabilly recordings by the Johnny Burnette Trio, Janis Martin, Buddy Holly and others. Martin signed to Decca as a solo artist and cut over 170 titles through the 1950s and the first half of the '60s. However, the guitarist preferred to stay in the background and was most active as a sideman.

By the late '70s, Martin had become somewhat disillusioned with the methods and fads he believed had come to dominate the session scene. He cut down drastically on his work but still played sessions for friends like Conway Twitty and Nelson. In 1978 Martin briefly joined Jerry Reed's band, making a living on the road for the first time in many years, before beginning a 14-year tenure with Nelson's "Family" band.

Martin was honored April 5, 2000, at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium during "Witness History III: The Twang Years," the keynote event of Chet Atkins' Musician Days. Health problems prevented Martin from attending the tribute concert. Nelson, Vince Gill and Marty Stuart presented the "Chetty" award - named after Atkins - to Martin's son, Joshua. Atkins, Duane Eddy, John Fogerty and others also were on hand to honor Martin.

Martin had a considerable influence on Nelson's use of the nylon-string guitar and his playing technique. "Grady's an old friend, and I'm probably his biggest fan," Nelson told at the tribute concert. "Grady has a touch on the guitar that you really don't hear from any other guitar player. It's a very distinctive tone. Players like Chet Atkins and Django Reinhardt have their own tones and sounds, and Grady Martin has his. It's a sweet tone; the notes are huge. I've tried to rip him off and I never could," Nelson joked, acknowledging that the subtleties of Martin's playing are hard to reproduce.

Lawrence Funeral Home in Chapel Hill, Tenn., is handling funeral arrangements. Details are incomplete. Martin is survived by 10 children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The Rockabilly Hall of Fame has started a Tribute Page for Grady. Friends, fans and family are invited to share their thoughts and comments.

Willie Nelson Gears up for
New Tour, Biography, Album

by Jon Zahlaway - Willie Nelson plans to spend early 2002 the same way that he spends most of his time: on tour. The 68-year-old country legend has lined up a coast-to-coast outing that will kick off in mid-January. Preceding Nelson's latest road trip will be the release of his autobiography, "The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes," which is due in stores on Jan. 8, according to publisher Random House.

In February, Nelson plans to release "The Great Divide," which will be his first collection of all-new material since 1996's "Spirit." Nelson's most recent album is his June release, "Rainbow Connection" (Island), a collection of family-oriented cover songs. The album also features one new track from Nelson and two from his daughter Amy.

Changes may occur before tickets go on sale.
Check with ticketing sources and venues for late updates.

18 - Red Bank, NJ - Count Basie Theatre
19 - New Brunswick, NJ - State Theater
20 - Reading, PA - Sovereign Performing Arts Center
22-24 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza 25 - Boston, MA - Orpheum Theater
26 - Durham, NH - Whittemore Center Arena
27 - Atlantic City, NJ - Tropicana Showroom
30 - Lawrence, KS - Lied Center
31 - Omaha, NE - Music Hall

1 - Denver, CO - The Fillmore Auditorium
7 - El Cajon, CA - East County Performing Arts Center
8 - Anaheim, CA - The Grove of Anaheim
9 - Universal City, CA - Universal Amphitheatre
10 - Highland, CA - San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino 13 - Oroville, CA - Feather Falls Casino
14 - Kelseyville, CA - Konocti Harbor Resort
15-17 - Lake Tahoe, NV - Harrah's South Shore Room
20-23 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
26 - Houston, TX - Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Charlie Daniels Battles Cancer
Veteran country musician Charlie Daniels, best known for the hit song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," has undergone successful prostate cancer surgery and is expected to recover fully, according to a statement released by his publicist. "The cancer was contained within the prostate and has been completely removed. We expect that his cancer is cured," said Dr. Joseph Smith, who performed the procedure on Nov. 20 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. "I thank Almighty God for the healings," Daniels, 65, added in the statement, which was released late on Wednesday, Nov. 28. He is expected to resume touring early next year, the statement said. The Charlie Daniels Band, which he founded in 1971, has just released a new single, "This Ain't No Rag, It's A Flag." Besides "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which topped the country charts in 1979, the band also had hits with the politically inspired tunes "In America" (1980) and "Still in Saigon" (1982).

Freddy Fender "Day" & New Album
Few legendary country artists are more beloved than FREDDY FENDER, as witnessed by the celebration of the 8th Annual Freddy Fender Day set to be held in San Benito, Texas on December 8th. The annual event, created to raise awareness and funds for local and regional student scholarships, will feature a parade, musical entertainment, great Texas cooking, and tons of "down Mexico way" fun.

Fender, a former resident of San Benito, is recognized as the Hispanic entertainer whose career has had the greatest impact in mainstream country music. He has won an ACM Award, CMA Award, and two Grammy Awards, as well as having several cross over million sellers, including "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights."

Fender recently finished a new album "Freddy Fender: La Musica Baldemar Huerta" for February 12th release on the Backporch/Virgin imprint. He is the subject of a celebrity profile feature in the December issue of "Texas Monthly" magazine.

Red Simpson: "Hey Bin Laden"
Red Simpson from Bakersfield has a new CD single out - "Hey Bin Laden". Cody Bryant from The New Riders Of The Purple Sage that produced it. This could be some of the best stuff Red has done. See:
Cody and The New Riders perform regularly at a club in Burbank. More info is at this site:

Bluegrass Stalwart Gene Wooten Dies
NASHVILLE, Nov. 8, 2001 - Dobro ace Gene Wooten, 49, died early Wednesday morning (Nov. 7) at his home in Nashville, after a long bout with lung cancer. A native of Franklinton, N.C., Wooten moved to Nashville in 1977 to take a job with Grand Ole Opry star Wilma Lee Cooper. Since then, he had played the Opry almost continuously, even appearing on the radio show two weeks ago as a member of the Osborne Brothers band. Wooten also played with the Sidemen, a rotating group of musicians who perform weekly at Nashville's famous bluegrass club, The Station Inn. Wooten appeared on Patty Loveless' recent bluegrass album, Mountain Soul. In 1994, he teamed up with fellow Dobro masters Jerry Douglas, Josh Graves, Rob Ickes and others on the Grammy-winning The Great Dobro Sessions.

Rusty Kershaw RIP
Musician Russell Lee "Rusty" Kershaw, brother of fiddler Doug Kershaw and former member of the Rusty & Doug performing and recording duo, died Tuesday (Oct. 23) in New Orleans of a heart attack. He was 63. Kershaw, who was born in Louisiana Feb. 2, 1938, joined his brothers Doug and Nelson ("Pee Wee") in 1948 to form the Cajun band Pee Wee Kershaw & The Continental Playboys. He was the group's guitarist. From 1953 to 1955, the Kershaws performed on KPLC-TV in Lake Charles, La. They also began appearing on t he Louisiana Hayride in 1955 but moved the following year to become members of the Wheeling Jamboree on radio station WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Rusty Kershaw's first record with Doug was "No, No It's Not So," recorded in the early Œ50s for Feature Records in Crowley, La. Now performing as Rusty & Doug, the brothers came to Nashville and signed with Hickory Records, an Acuff-Rose affiliate. Their first single on Hickory, "So Lovely Baby," was released in 1955 and went to No. 14 on the country charts. For their follow-up two years later, they did a cover of Jill Corey's 1957 pop hit, "Love Me to Pieces." It too reached No. 14. Rusty & Doug joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1957. Over the next three years, the Kershaws charted three more singles for Hickory, the highest one being "Louisiana Man," which went to No. 10. The duo signed to RCA Records in 1963. The next year, however, Rusty left the duo. Continuing to record and perform on his own, Kershaw released the album Cajun in the Blues Country (which featured Charlie Daniels on fiddle) on Cotillion Records in 1970. He figured prominently in Neil Young's 1974 album, On the Beach, playing fiddle and slide guitar and also providing the liner notes. Young later returned the favor by performing on eight tracks of Kershaw's Big Easy Award-winning 1992 album, Now and Then, on Domino Records. Also playing on that album were Art Neville and Ben Keith. Kershaw's wife, Julie, told that her husband remained active in music until his sudden and unexpected death. She said he played his last show Sunday in New Orleans. Rusty Kershaw's other survivors include a son, Troy, and a daughter, Sherry.

RHOF Viva Las Vegas #5 Stage
Tom Ingram and gang have again agreed to host the Rockabilly Hall of Fame stage within their annual Viva Las Vegas Easter weekend show at the Gold Coast Hotel in Vegas. This year the Rockabilly Hall of Fame stage will located in East Lounge. Artists will perform on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 29, 30 and 31. For more information, click here.

"We Are The Survivors": The Song
NASHVILLE - Oct. 3, 2001 - NLT Records has released it's "What About the Victims" album. The ten song CD (or cassette) contains is a remarkable blend of celebrities and country artists (including Johnny Paycheck) ... each singing and sharing their own personal experiences as "victims." The "We Are the Survivors," cut is a powerful song that features all of the artists on one track. "We Are the Survivors" hits home in light of the reason events in New York and Washington. Click here for more information and how to order the album now.

Hank "Timeless" Tribute Album
For many years, record company executives embellished hits compilations of Hank Williams Sr. with orchestras and choirs of background vocalists. It was a misguided effort to make Williams, who died on January 1, 1953, more relevant to today's audiences. They should have realized that songs like "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" will never be outdated, so long as lovers betray each other and people wallow in depression. Bob Dylan, Keb' Mo', Keith Richards and Johnny Cash understand. In some cases, their versions on the new Williams tribute album, "Timeless," are more rustic than the originals by Williams, which were recorded between 1947-1952. Also on the album are Adams, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty and Hank's grandson Hank Williams III. Their approaches differ, except for an emphasis on the lyrics and avoidance of clutter. On "Timeless," Johnny Cash recites "I Dreamed About Mama Last Night," a sentimental ode to the trials of motherhood.

Hank Williams was born into poverty on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive, Ala. His family farmed strawberries, and his father worked as a logger before becoming ill. He was born with a deformed spine, which caused him great pain and edged him toward alcohol as an escape. He scored his first hit, "Move It on Over," in 1947, starting a five-year streak that established him as the prototypical tragic hero: brilliant, tortured and dead before 30.

Paycheck Sign Back Up
Monday, September 24, 2001, was another milestone in the great career of legendary Grand Ole Opry member, Johnny Paycheck. Lanny Bryant, the major of Greenfield, Ohio, Johnny's home town informed Johnny's mamangement that the sign that once greeted residents and visitors at the city limits, The Home of Country Music Legend Johnny Paycheck," would be put back in place. It seems that when Johnny was living his outlaw life and career, the city fathers' felt that his lifestyle was not a good representation of their city, Johnny's home town. So the sign was taken down by the community's leaders.

Mayor Bryant said that Johnny did so many great things for Greenfield, he felt that enough time had passed and Johnny as we say, "Has paid his dues," it was time to give him the recognition that he deserves, because Greenfield, Ohio has always been proud of Johnny. The mayor has stated that he would like to look into other aspects of using Johnny's name in other areas of Greenfield's promotions. Congratulations to you Mayor Bryant for having the insight to what Johnny Paycheck means to his home town of Greenfield, Ohio, and to all of traditional country music.


September 16, 2001
Dear Colleagues:
Some of you have heard of the recent wholesale firings at the Country Music Hall of Fame last week. If you have not, be advised that what used to be the Country Music Foundation Library and Archives has been severely decimated. Ronnie Pugh, a veteran of 22 years as the CMF's premier reference librarian and author of the definitive biography of Ernest Tubb, was summarily fired and given an hour to leave the premises; he was escorted outside by a security guard. Chris Dickinson, the brilliant editor of "The Journal of Country Music," who was brought to Nashville to St. Louis specifically to take over the "Journal," was similarly fired. Also let go were other members of the library staff. Two other individuals involved with the new tourism department "resigned."

According to HOF director Kyle Young, this is part of a restructuring in which the emphasis of the HOF will be more toward glitzy, high-profile efforts involving current hot stars. In doing so, it seems to be that the HOF is abandoning its original mission statement of preserving the history of country music - and possibly compromising its status as a non-profit educational institution. At present, there is only one person really working in the library and archives - a pleasant and well-trained archivist, but one who knows little about country music, or about the world class archives they have there. She routinely called on Ronnie or Bob Pinson for help in finding things and answering queries from researchers.

Which brings up a secondary effect of this cold action. Bob Pinson, the dean of country music discographers and legendary historian, an expert who has through the years selflessly helped many of us in our research, had been working part time as he eases into retirement. But now he says - and this is a quote - "when they cut their ties with Ronnie, they cut their ties with me." The great country music discography manuscript, some 15 years in the making, was within a day's work of completion. Bob begged Paul Kingsbury and Kyle Young to at least let Ronnie help him finish this, but was turned down. The manuscript was left sitting on Ronnie's desk. Its fate is uncertain.

Staffers also feel that "The Journal of Country Music" will be changed from its present form and stripped on any historical material, and turned into a slick, Garthian fan magazine full of eye candy for the high rollers who contribute to the HOF. Chris Dickinson, who gave her heart and soul into making the "Journal" a quality publication that would attract scholars as well as newstand readers, feels crushed and angry. She is planning to return to Chicago soon, where she earned her original reputation as a tough, insightful journalist.

We were able to plant a story about this in the Nashville Tennessean, but it ran Wednesday morning, amidst all the coverage of the WTC disaster. Nonetheless, it did alert some people in the music community about what had transpired. It turns out that the HOF Board of Directors had not even told about this "new vision" and change of direction, and some of them were quite upset. They met in emergency session last Thursday, but Kyle Young was able to defer their criticism by insisting they were trying to "micro-manage."

The HOF powers are hoping that they will weather this storm and protest and in a week or so go back to business as usual. I hope this does not happen, and several of us locally are trying to determine what steps can be taken. Essentially, the Hall of Fame is sitting on the world's finest archive of country music, and not properly curating it.

Several of you have asked me if you could write somebody. For now, youmight consider faxing your thoughts to either Marty Stuart, the honorary board chairman, or to Bruce Hinton, the actual chairman of the board. Their fax numbers are:
Marty Stuart, c/0 Rothbaum and Garner: 615-259-1107
Bruce Hinton: (615) 880-7450

Chris Skinker is putting together a fuller list of addresses and we will forward to those interested later. I'm not sure that much can be done to reverse this situation, but I think we owe a debt to Ronnie Pugh and Bob Pinson for all their good help over the years. We owe it to them to at least try.

Charles Wolfe
Click here for CMHOF's reply and other comments

Stoneman Family Lost Eddie
Courtesy The Tennessean by Jennifer Peebles - Eddie Stoneman, the oldest brother in one of the leading families of country music history, died Friday, September 14th. He was 81. Mr. Stoneman, of Charles County, Md., had gone to New York City at age 14 to play banjo on his father's recordings for the old Vocallion label, said his sister, Patsy Stoneman of Nashville. That was in 1934. "He was a hard worker. He did carpentry work, he worked in a service station, he did everything," Patsy Stoneman said. Mr. Stoneman was an excellent guitar player, too. "He played Guitar Boogie out of this world," his sister said.
After the 1934 sessions, Mr. Stoneman continued to perform with his family but did not record again until 1980, when the family made a reunion record. He didn't think it was too lucrative. He had a family to raise. Mr. Stoneman was the oldest of the 15 surviving children of Ernest "Pop" and Hattie Stoneman, who were originally from Galax, Va. Of the kids, 13 took up music. "Pop" Stoneman's great success in the early 1920s persuaded RCA to record other important country artists like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.

Eddie Lewis Stoneman was born June 30, 1920, in Galax. He died a few days after suffering an apparent cerebral hemorrhage, his sister said. Pop Stoneman died in 1968, and Hattie Stoneman died in 1976. Survivors include a son, Lewis Douglas Stoneman, Charles County, Md.; a daughter, Barbara Stoneman Chenoweth, Parsons, Kan.; brothers Jimmy Stoneman, Nashville, Gene Stoneman, Edgewater, Md.; and sisters Roni, Grace, Patsy and Donna Stoneman, all of Nashville. Arrangements handled by Hunts Funeral Home of Waldorf, MD. Burial at Fort Lincoln Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

Real Country Radio
If you want GREAT classic country music - you need to check out XM Satellite Radio. They will have several channels EXCLUSIVELY playing classic country - plus several hours of programming coming from their Nashville studios inside the Country Music Hall Of Fame EVERY DAY. They are launching service in Dallas/Fort Worth & San Diego this Wednesday - and will go nationwide November First. Receivers available soon at Circuit City & Best Buy. See for yourself at: Unfortunately - it will only be available in the U.S.

Cajun Chef Justin Wilson Dies
Justin Wilson, the Cajun humorist and chef whose distinctive accent delighted viewers of his Cookin' Cajun television show, has died. He was 87. His daughter Sarah Sue Easterly said Wilson died Wednesday in Baton Rouge. She would not give details but said more information would be released later Thursday. Over Wilson's career, he released five cookbooks, 27 albums of short stories and an album of Christmas songs. He was host of several cooking programs, including Louisiana Cookin.' He referred to himself as JOOS-tain and became known for the expression: "I ga-ron-tee!" (guarantee), from the Cajun "J'vous garantis." "Cajun cooking is the ability to take what you have and create a good dish and season it right," Wilson told The Associated Press in 1990.

"It isn't all that hard, but so few people know how to take what they have and put it together and season it properly," he said. "It's creative cooking ‹ that's all it is." "I am a gourmet, but I am more of a gourmand," he explained. "A gourmet is somebody that's an epicurean. But a gourmand is somebody that's a P-I-G hog and that's what I am." A native of Amite, La., Wilson had lived in Summit, Miss., for about six years, his daughter said. His last syndicated series of shows was titled Easy Cooking. Wilson called himself a "half-bleed" Cajun. His father was Louisiana's commissioner of agriculture for 32 years, and his mother, Olivet, was Louisiana French. She taught him how to cook. "She was a great improviser," Wilson said. "She'd cook a dish and we'd go 'Mama, w'at's this here, hanh?' And she'd say, 'Children, that's a mus-go. It mus' go down yo' t'roat."'

Some Cajuns found his fractured language annoying, but Wilson insisted he didn't mean to ridicule. He said his critics were "people who take themselves too seriously." Originally a safety engineer, he was inspired to pursue a career in public speaking after he met Will Rogers in the 1930s. "He told me always to tell 'em clean, and always tell your audience something serious ‹ or they'll think you're a complete fool," he recalled. Survivors include three daughters.

Bye, Bye Everlys?
From the Boston Herald: Music Review/by Brett Milano
If you didn't see the Everly Brothers this summer, it's likely that you never will again. Earlier in the current tour, Don Everly told an audience in Seattle that they were about to retire from the road. "This is probably our last tour," he told them last month. "We'll play Vegas or Tahoe a couple of times a year from now on, and that's it."

The brothers didn't make any similar pronouncements at the South Shore Music Circus this weekend. But if they are going out, they're doing so in style. Now well into their 60s, Don and Phil Everly still sound impossibly youthful, having lost very little vocal range over the years. They still don't seem especially close personally: Don does all the talking, and they hardly ever interact. But their harmonies remain some of the most striking that rock 'n' roll has ever produced. And when they lock into a ballad like "Devoted to You" or Carole King's sublime "Crying in the Rain," it takes a hard heart to resist.

Not much has changed since the brothers got back together, after a 10 year estrangement, in 1983. Their band is still anchored by the British musicians who played that year's reunion show at the Royal Albert Hall, with the more recent additions of steel guitar master Buddy Emmons and, just added this year, the late John Hartford's son Jamie on lead guitar (replacing the great English guitarist Albert Lee). Though he seemed about half the age of anyone else onstage, Hartford fit in comfortably, even joining the brothers on vocals during "T for Texas."

"Those Were Our Songs:
Music of World War II"

On November 6, 2001, Capitol Records will released a 2-CD compilation of music from World War II titled "Those Were Our Songs: Music of World War II." Forty of the most memorable songs of the era have been collected and digitally remastered for this set. This, just in time for the 60th anniversary of the United States' entry into the war and the founding of Capitol Records (Spring of 1942). This double-disc set serves as a musical soundtrack for those who lived through the era and those who are caught up in the current nostalgia wave.

What song rates as the definitive tune of the entire World War II experience? No doubt a difficult choice. There were so many popular and memorable songs in the years 1941-1945. Bold rhythmic numbers like "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive," which served to embolden the individual listener while never specifically mentioning the Allied effort, were sharing radio and jukebox time with sentimental songs like "Amor" and "Long Ago (And Far Away)."

"Green Eyes," both sentimental and inspiring with the added kick of a rhumba beat, shared airtime with swing ("Jukebox Saturday Night"), boogie-woogie ("Cow-Cow Boogie") and inspirationally derived music ("Straighten Up And Fly Right," reportedly started as a sermon by Nat Cole's father). Other rhythms were being incorporated into pop music such as polka ("Strip Polka") and calypso ("Rum And Coca-Cola"). "Praise The Lord & Pass The Ammunition," a phrase supposedly uttered by U.S. Navy Chaplain William Maguire during the attack on Pearl Harbor, became the first hit song directly associated with the war. By 1945 the "coming home" song became the order of the day ("Sentimental Journey" and "Waitin' For The Train To Come In"). All manner of forces were at work in this music, as stated by the CD's essay writer, music historian Will Friedwald. This collection comes as WWII nostalgia is again in the forefront of popular culture with the summer hit movie "Pearl Harbor" (Touchstone), HBO's upcoming fall mini-series "Band Of Brothers" and the 60th anniversary of the actual Pearl Harbor attack on December 7 (also the tentative release date for the "Pearl Harbor" DVD/VHS).

"Those Were Our Songs: Music of World War II"
Tracklisting: DISC 1
Artists & Tracks:
1. Andrews Sisters - I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time
2. Helen O'Connell - Green Eyes
3. Kay Kyser & His Orchestra - Who Wouldn't Love You
4. Benny Goodman & His Orchestra - Jersey Bounce
5. Freddie Slack/Ella Mae Morse - Cow-Cow Boogie
6. Harry James & His Music Makers - A Sleepy Lagoon
7. Johnny Mercer - Strip Polka
8. Helen Forrest - I Had The Craziest Dream 9. Tex Beneke & The Modernaires - Jukebox Saturday Night
10. Kay Kyser & His Orchestra - Praise The Lord & Pass The Ammunition
11. Andrews Sisters - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
12. Harry James & His Music Makers - I've Heard That Song Before
13. Ella Mae Morse - Shoo-Shoo Baby
14. Andy Russell - Amor
15. Nat King Cole - Straighten Up And Fly Right
16. Jo Stafford - Long Ago (And Far Away)
17. Johnny Mercer - G.I. Jive
18. Martha Tilton - I'll Walk Alone
19. Betty Hutton - It Had To Be You
20. Pied Pipers - The Trolley Song

Artists & Tracks:
1. Andrews Sisters - Rum And Coca-Cola
2. Johnny Mercer - Candy
3. Les Brown & His Band Of Renown - Sentimental Journey
4. Pied Pipers - Dream
5. Ray Anthony - Chattanooga Choo Choo
6. Spike Jones & City Slickers - Chloe (Song Of The Swamp)
7. Johnny Mercer - On The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe
8. Stan Kenton & His Orchestra - Tampico
9. Peggy Lee - Waitin' For The Train To Come In
10. Harry James & His Music Makers - It's Been A Long, Long Time
11. Betty Hutton - Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief
12. Kay Kyser - Jingle, Jangle, Jingle
13. Freddy Martin & His Orchestra - The Hut-Sut Song
14. Freddy Slack & His Orchestra - Mr. Five-By-Five
15. Nat King Cole - It's Only A Paper Moon
16. Stan Kenton & His Orchestra - Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me
17. Jo Stafford - I Love You
18. Pied Pipers - Mairzy Doats
19. Dick Haymes - It Might As Well Be Spring
20. Johnny Mercer - Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive

Bill Monroe Friends,
Family Return To 'Old Home'

Bluegrass founder's childhood home deemed historic site is open to public.
Rosine, Kentucky ‹ (Aug. 27, 2001) - A host of musical and political dignitaries converged on the rural Kentucky birthplace of the late Bill Monroe on Thursday to unveil the newly restored structure and add it to the National Registry of Historic Places. On a hot and sunny day, more than 2,000 bluegrass devotees made their way up a narrow, traffic-snarled gravel road to pay homage to the man regarded as the founder of the tradition-based musical style.

Among those on hand for speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony was bluegrass standard bearer Ricky Skaggs. Also attending were former members of Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys, including Wayne Lewis, Jimmy Campbell and Robert Bowlin. Monroe family members and his longtime friend, songwriting legend Tom T. Hall, were also on hand.

"He'd be proud to see this house restored the way it is," said Bill Monroe's son, James. "He would have loved this." Monroe was buried here five years ago, and a 20-foot monument marks his grave. Restoring his childhood home is an early step in the Rosine Project, an effort to develop a 1,000-acre state park that would include the home, a museum, nature trails, a restored schoolhouse and Uncle Pen's cabin. The museum's centerpiece will be Bill Monroe's 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin, which was purchased recently for $1.125 million. The celebration included a free all-day bluegrass festival anchored by Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys and Mike Seeger.

2.2 Million Viewers
Watch "Grand Ole Opry Live"

Country Music Television achieved its highest rating ever with this weekend's premiere of GRAND OLE OPRY LIVE. 2.2 million CMT viewers tuned-in to the weekend Opry telecasts while the live premiere episode Saturday night, August 18th scored a 1.31 Household rating, the highest rated telecast in CMT history.

While CMT is seen in 51.9 million homes, Opry fans from across the nation who do not receive CMT have started a grassroots campaign requesting their local cable operators add CMT to their basic channel line-up. The CMT staff has been inundated with thousands of phone calls, emails, and letters. In addition, the carriage issue has received coverage in various local newspapers including a column in the Augusta Chronicle that advises cable customers to "Beg your cable company to pick up CMT."

GRAND OLE OPRY LIVE is telecast on CMT every Saturday at 8:00-9:00 PM, ET live from the 4,400-seat Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville (repeats at 11:00 PM-12:00 Midnight, ET; and Sunday at 11:00 AM-12:00 Noon, ET). The 75-year - old Opry is the longest-running live radio show in the world and is the most recognized brand in country music.

Billy Byrd Dead at Age 81
Billy Byrd passed away Tue. Aug. 7, 2001 at 8:10 am. He was 81 and had suffered from emphysema and heart problems for years. He is best remembered as Ernest Tubbs lead guitarist and when E.T. is mentioned, you always think of Billy and E.T. saying, "Aw Billy Byrd now, pick it pretty son." Billy always helped young guitar pickers and he told me that he didn't teach Grady Martin and Sugarfoot Garland all they know but he taught them all he knew. Billy played for Hank Williams on one of the Kate Smith TV shows and used Grady Martins Bigsby guitar (Grady played fiddle on that show).
Billy Byrd (Born Feb 17, 1920 in Williamson County, TN) was among the first musicians to make the electric guitar "sing" in a country voice, and make the public love it. He was also one of the first country players to make a name for himself with the electric guitar. He is also that rarity in country music, a band member who was allowed to "co-star" alongside the singer for whom he was working. As lead guitarist in Ernest Tubb's band from the end of 1949 until 1959, his playing was among the most widely heard in country music, and Tubb always made a point of featuring Byrd prominently in his stage act and on his records, and introducing him by name wherever possible.

William Lewis Byrd was born in Nashville. Whatever the city's musical inclinations, however, his family didn't want to see him become a country musician. A guitarist from age 10 on, he displayed an impressive level of skill and technique, and his parents hoped he would pursue a career in classical music. He began playing with his older brother James, and made his radio debut on WLAC in Nashville in 1935. At age 18, he was hired as a back-up musician on the Grand Ole Opry, and began working that same year with the Tennessee Valley Boys. Toward the end of the 1930's, he also worked in various dance bands in the Nashville area.

Byrd served in the U.S. Navy as a cook on a destroyer escort. He resumed his career in Nashville after the war, initially as a member of Wally Fowler and His Georgia Clodhoppers, where he remained until 1948. That year he went to Louisiana, joining the Louisiana Hayride and playing with Curley Williams and the Georgia Peach Pickers.

During the fall of 1949, Byrd joined Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours, succeeding Tommy "Butterball" Page as lead guitarist on the single "Tennessee Border No. 2." It was as a member of the Texas Troubadours that Byrd became a star, Tubb mentioning Byrd by name ahead of each solo, and his solos were among the prettiest, most fluid, and memorable in country music. Byrd appeared on hundreds of songs, among them "Two Glasses Joe," "Jealous Loving Heart," "Answer The Phone," and "Letters Have No Arms," from 1949 until 1959, and was also prominently featured as part of Tubb's appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and other television shows. His playing made the electric guitar a popular instrument among country audiences, and in 1950 he collaborated with Hank Garland in the design of the Byrdland guitar for Gibson. While in Tubb's band, he played a customized instrument that included the name "Billy Byrd" prominently embossed on the neck.

Byrd also played a considerable number of sessions with other artists, including Tex Ritter, Webb Pierce, Burl Ives, Cowboy Copas, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Eddy Arnold, and shuttled between Tubb's and Red Foley's bands. In addition to the electric guitar, Byrd was also renowned for his skill on the mandolin, the banjo, and the bass. In 1959, Byrd, who didn't enjoy touring, left the Texas Troubadours to pursue a solo recording career with the newly-formed Warner Bros. Records - where he recorded three albums through 1964 - and he moved to California to join fiddle-player Gordon Terry.

Byrd later moved back to Nashville to continue as a session musician, and was also featured throughout the early and mid-1960's as a guitarist on the local morning television program The Eddie Hill Show. He briefly rejoined the Texas Troubadours - who sorely missed his playing - at the end of the 1960's, but touring had never agreed with Byrd, and he left once again in 1970. He returned again in the early 1970's, before leaving for the last time in 1973, although he played on one last single with Tubb in 1974. He also later participated on Pete Drake's Ernest Tubb tribute album, The Legend and the Legacy.

Billy Byrd's best work, apart from his solo albums, can be heard on any Ernest Tubb record cut between 1949 and 1959. The two Bear Family Records Ernest Tubb boxes covering this period are virtually a celebration of Billy Byrds playing. - Bruce Eder

Roy Nichols Dead at 68
(Posted July 3, 2001) - Roy died in California - this guitar genius was with Merle Haggard for years. Before Hag, he picked for the Maddox Brothers and Rose. Roy made his way to Bakersfield from Fresno in the days when Bakersfield was just starting to boom. Distinctive in his style throughout his career, he made a name for himself through supporting Lefty Frizzell, Wynn Stewart and Merle. Born in 1932 to parents who owned a migrant farm-worker camp in Fresno.
Roy Nichols websites:

Chet Atkins Dead at Age 77
NASHVILLE, TN - June 30, 2001 - Chet Atkins, whose guitar style influenced a generation of rock musicians even as he helped develop an easygoing country style to compete with it, died today. He was 77. Atkins died at home. Atkins had battled cancer several years. He underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in June 1997, and had a bout with colon cancer in the 1970s. Atkins recorded more than 75 albums of guitar instrumentals and sold more than 75 million albums. He played on hundreds of hit records, including those of Elvis Presley ("Heartbreak Hotel"), Hank Williams Sr. ("Your Cheatin' Heart," "Jambalaya") and The Everly Brothers ("Wake Up Little Susie").

As an executive with RCA Records for nearly two decades beginning in 1957, Atkins played a part in the careers of Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Dolly Parton, Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold and many others. Atkins helped craft the lush Nashville Sound, using string sections and lots of echo to make records that appealed to older listeners not interested in rock music. Among his notable productions are "The End of the World" by Skeeter Davis and "He'll Have to Go" by Reeves.

Chester Burton Atkins was born June 20, 1924, on a farm near Luttrell, Tenn., about 20 miles northeast of Knoxville. His elder brother Jim Atkins also played guitar, and went on to perform with Les Paul. Chet Atkins' first professional job was as a fiddler on WNOX in Knoxville, where his boss was singer Bill Carlisle. Atkins' unusual fingerpicking style, a pseudoclassical variation influenced by such diverse talents as Merle Travis and Django Reinhardt, got him hired and fired from jobs at radio stations all over the country. Atkins sometimes joked that early on his playing sounded "like two guitarists playing badly." During the 1940s he toured with many acts, including Red Foley, The Carter Family and Kitty Wells. RCA executive Steve Sholes took Atkins on as a protege in the 1950s, using him as the house guitarist on recording sessions.

Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Leona Johnson Atkins, and a daughter, Merle Atkins. Visitation for Chet Atkins will be Monday evening 5-8pm at: Roesch-Patton Funeral Home, 1715 Broadway, Nashville, TN. The funeral scheduled for Tuesday morning, July 3rd, at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville.

Physician and guitarist Jim Coleman, one of Chet Atkins' doctors, has recorded a tribute album to the ailing Country Music Hall of Fame member. Titled The Guitar That Made America Great, Coleman's 15-song collection covers such Atkins memorables as "Mr. Sandman," "Cheek to Cheek," "Vincent," "Waitin' for Suzy B" and "I Still Can't Say Goodbye." Coleman holds the distinction of having played with Atkins during his last public performance, June 12, 1998, in Knoxville

Johnny Russell,
Opry Star, Gone at 61

Nashville - July 3, 2001 - AKA John W. Russell, born in Charlotte, NC - Styles Country-Pop, Traditional Country - Instruments Vocals, Sax (Tenor), Songwriter. Johnny Russell was a successful country songwriter and performer whose songs were recorded by some of the biggest names in country music, including Jim Reeves, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and even the Beatles. He was born and raised in Roundway, Mississippi and was first influenced by the music of Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Roy Acuff and the Grand Ole Opry. His family moved to Fresno, California when Russell was eleven. In high school, he entered and won various talent contests and even became a character actor on television. A longtime songwriter, he recorded his first song, "In a Mansion Stands My Love," in 1958. Soon after its release, he appeared on Ralph Emery's Late Night Show, where he met Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, Hank Locklin and Archie Campbell. Later that year, he moved to Nashville, where Jim Reeves recorded a cover of "In a Mansion Stands My Love" and helped establish Russell's reputation as a songwriter. His performing career went nowhere, though, and later that year he went back to California to hone his writing skills. In 1963, Buck Owens recorded Russell's "Act Naturally" and had a number one hit. Two years later, the Beatles had success with a cover of the tune, and a 1969 remake by Owens and Ringo Starr became a hit as well.
       In 1971, Russell, trying again to become a recording star, returned to Nashville, where Atkins signed him to RCA. His debut "Mr. and Mrs. Untrue" and its follow-up, "What A Price," both became mid-level hits. Russell had his first Top 20 hit in 1973 with "Catfish John," and later that year had his biggest hit, "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer," which peaked in the Top Five. He had six more hits through 1975, including "Hello I Love You." In 1977, he finished his stint at RCA with six more mid-range hits, including "The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp." He then switched to Mercury and had a Top 30 hit with "How Deep in Love Am I?" He had several more hits with label, including "Here's to the Horses," but none of them made it past the Top 50. In the mid-'80s, he joined the Grand Ole Opry as a comedy and singing act. He went on to appear on various country music variety shows, including Hee Haw. Russell teamed up with Little David Wilkins in 1987 to record the minor hit "Butterbeans." Before the year was out, Russell had a mild stroke, and the following year he underwent surgery to remove a blockage from his chest. Still, he continued to perform and tour as before. -Sandra Brennan
Johnny Russell Scholarship Fund
c/o John Russell, Jr.
216 Centerview Dr.
Suite 317
Funeral was Friday, July 6, 10am, Grand Ole Opry House, 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN
Major Recordings as a Writer:
"Act Naturally"-Buck Owens/The Beatles
"Makin' Plans"-Dolly Parton/Emmylou

Harris/Linda Ronstadt/Conway
Twitty/Loretta Lynn/Vince Gill
"Let's Fall To Pieces Together"-George Strait
"Got No Reason Now for Going Home"-Gene Watson
"Beautiful Unhappy Home"-Loretta Lynn/Ernest Tubb
"The World's Meanest Man"-Burl Ives
"It Sure Seemed Right"-Dottie West
"That's What I Tell Them"-Patti Page
"Hurt Her Once for Me"-The Wilburn Brothers
"You'll Be Back"-The Statler Brothers

Major Recordings as an Artist:
"Rednecks, White Socks & Blue Ribbon Beer"
"Catfish John"
"The Baptism of Jesse Taylor"
"Mr & Mrs. Untrue"
"What a Price"
"Hello, I Love You"
"She's In Love with a Rodeo Man"
"You'll be Back"

Record Labels
16th Avenue
ABC Paramount

TV Appearances:
Nashville Now
Dean Martin Show
Dinah Shore Show
Phil Donahue Show
Grand Ole Opry Live
Good Ole Nashville Music
Pop Goes the Country
NBC-Foulups, Bleeps, & Blunders
CBS-60th Anniversary of the Grand
Ole Opry
HEE HAW Honey's
I-40 Paradise
Yesteryear in Nashville Porter Wagoner Show
Wilburn Brother's Show Church Street Station
Bob Braun Show
Crook n Chase
Prime Time Country
The Ralph Emery Show
CBS-70th Anniversary of The Grand Ole Opry

National and International Press Coverage:
Bill Board
Rolling Stone
Record World
Music City News
Country Music
Country Music News
Nashville Sound
England's Country Music People

Performance Awards
Grammy Nomination-"Male Vocalist of the Year"
BMI Achievement Awards
Nashville Song Writers Association-2 of the top 15 Songs of the Year
RCA Records-"Golden Boot Award"
ASCAP-Awards of Merit
R.O.P.E.-"Lifetime Achievement as an Entertainer" 1995

Fellow Opry members, friends and fans turned out to celebrate the life and death of Johnny Russell at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry house. Pallbearers included Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Porter Wagoner, Jimmy C. Newman, Jack Greene and Billy Walker. The remaining Opry members served as honorary pallbearers. The memorial service was filled with both laughter and tears, as Russell's friends recalled the humorous moments they shared with the late singer-songwriter. The Whites, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Steve Wariner and Connie Smith all performed in tribute to Russell.

"Thoughts from Bill Kennedy"

Posted July 2, 2001 - As the time passes, and rock & roll grows older: it is only natural to see the beginnings of the passing of the legends that help lay the ground work for the most important American culture change of the twentieth century. "Rock & Roll."

Indeed, Elvis Presley and a host of others whose names are graced on the AM oldies airwaves daily. Most recently Joey Ramone and Carl Perkins. Completely opposites in their approach, but bound together in the furious excitement that only a pounding "E" chord can deliver behind a solid drummer. It goes on, and it will continue until the day the very last of the first generation of those pioneers who created an exciting music for the young, and the young at heart, are gone.

In the last week we have learned of the loss of two opposite influences in rock & roll. One, a grizzled old black man who wore his life on every line in his face. Growled, mumbled and spit out lyrics about big legged women, cheating and gettin even. Played the most simple of guitar techniques, but made it sound so unique that it was difficult, if not impossible to duplicate. John Lee Hooker was his name. And what a name. Just to say it sounds strong and powerful. A name that would fit a steel driven man on a railroad gang or a prize fighter. He died at peace in bed. How ironic, I always thought he would get shot in a barroom after messin with some mans old lady. Hooker was one of the very last of Chicago blues men. There are dozens of recordings available that showcase his music. Christ, one of his songs, "Boogie Children" or "Chillen" was recorded fifteen times by him at least. Several years ago he released a CD on Capricorn called "The Healer." It has various artist on it. Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt are two. Raitts rendition and guitar work with Hooker on "I'm in the mood" is a classic. The CD got five stars from everyone who reviewed when it was released. A good one for any collection.

On the other end was a quiet, shy country guy that everyone who ever met-liked, or even loved. Married to the same woman for a thousand years, no arrest, no dope, no nothing. Chet Atkins was a guitar genius. What Les Paul did for the electric guitar and recording magic, Atkins did for the "picker." While Atkins didn't invent the finger picking method he used, he did refine it to a science. By using the thumb pick to play the bottom lower strings as bass, or counter notes, and using the others fingers to pick the melody of the song. In essence, he could play three parts at once.

In the 50's and 60's he was a producer and guitarist on many early rock & roll records. The majority of the early Everly Brothers records feature his artistry.

There is a Christmas CD that Atkins produced that is beautiful. His version of "Silver Bells" is the best. There was also an album release in 1976 called "Chester & Lester." Yep, Les Paul and Chet Atkins actually together on one album.

So, two more shoot on through to the other side. There sits John Lee Hooker with his hat sitting sideways on his head, a hand rolled cigarette dangling from his mouth, clutching his red Gibson ES-320 looking over at Chet Atkins. Neatly sitting with his legs crossed, picken on a mint green Gretsch Country Gentleman.

They're probably wondering who gonna play first, and what, and in what key. Since John Lee didn't care much about being in tune ... God bless'em.

Bill Kennedy -

Hello to all Wynn Stewart fans!
from Wren Stewart Tidwell -

There is a new CD now available (just released this month) of my dad's music that I thought you might like to know about. If you have already bought the box set, don't worry ... this CD does not contain any new material. So if you are one of the blessed that have the box set, please forgive this email. Maybe you have a friend who didn't want to pay that much for the box set but they might be interested in a $12 CD.

This is not the "Greatest Hits" CD that I have had my heart set on doing (which is still "in the works"). But it is a re-release of Wynn Stewart's earlier recordings, similar to the "California Country" CD that was put out in the early 90's and is virtually impossible to find nowadays. This CD will be available from my website as soon as I get my shipment (which I just ordered today and am expecting in 2 weeks). If you want to be put on the reserved list, let me know and you will be one of the first to receive it. I will be selling it for $12. The following is a list of the songs included on this CD:

1. Come On
2. The Long Black Limousine Come On
3. How The Other Half Lives - (with Jan Howard)
4. Above And Beyond (The Call Of Love)
5. Wishful Thinking
6. Wrong Company - (with Jan Howard)
7. Heartaches For A Dime
8. Playboy
9. Big City
10. If You See My Baby
11. Big, Big Love
12. I Don't Feel At Home
13. One Way To Go
14. Falling For You
15. Three Cheers For The Losers
16. Couples Only
17. Another Day, Another Dollar
18. Don't Look Back
The CD is called "The Very Best of Wynn Stewart (1958-1962)". While it is not what I consider "the very best", it is still some very good music and contains many of the songs that people have selected as their favorites thru my song survey. To those of you who requested that I send them a schedule of when the K-mart commercial featuring "It's Such a Pretty World Today" was playing on TV, I apologize, but I never got one either. The ad was pulled after only being played for 2 weeks. A real bummer since they said it was scheduled to play for 7 months. But, oh well. At least it got played a little bit. It was fun while it lasted.

Lightcrust Doughboys'
Smokey Montgomery RIP

Country music pioneer and Texas music legend, Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery passed away on Wednesday, June 6, 2001. A member of one of country music's top history-making bands since the 1930's and the man known worldwide for introducing Dixieland-style jazz banjo to western swing music, Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery has died in Dallas at the age of 88. Since joining The Light Crust Doughboys band in 1935 and continuing through concert appearances as late as May 2001 with The Light Crust Doughboys, the influence of musician/arranger/composer/producer Smokey Montgomery can be heard every time western swing music, Dixieland-style jazz banjo or intricate, swinging banjo solos are played. In an eight-decade-spanning career which has seen Smokey recognized in virtually every western swing and banjo hall of fame in the world, he has more than earned the title of "Mr. Tenor Banjo" and "Mr. Light Crust Doughboy".

As recently as February 2001, Smokey was honored with a Grammy Nomination in the gospel music field for his work with The Light Crust Doughboys, and he has earned Grammy Nominations for the past three out of four Grammy periods, 1997, 1998, and 2000 for best recorded work in his category.

Since turning 80 years of age and in just the last handful of years alone, Smokey and Light Crust Doughboy Art Greenhaw have produced highly-successful musical collaborations with Amarillo's Lone Star Ballet, various orchestras including The Abilene Philharmonic, The Texas Wind Symphony, The Dallas Wind Symphony and others, Southern Methodist University's Mustang Band, gospel music's legendary James Blackwood, The Jordanaires, Ventures' guitarist Nokie Edwards, steel guitarist Tom Brumley and other notables. One of Smokey's major contributions to the legacy of American banjo music is found in his guidance and direction of The Dallas Banjo Band, one of the premier educational and performing banjo ensembles in the country.

The 74th Texas Legislature in 1995 called Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery a "national treasure" along with his fellow Light Crust Doughboys, and The Light Crust Doughboys were designated Official Music Ambassadors for The State of Texas. Bob Wills called Smokey "a genius on that banjo". Countless professional musicians and banjoists call Smokey a major influence, and through motion picture musical performances by The Light Crust Doughboys such as the Gene Autry film "Oh Susanna", Smokey's virtuoso banjo playing launched a thousand tenor banjoists.

In Smokey's last few days of earthly life, he often repeated, "The Light Crust Doughboys have never given anything less than a great performance .... We've always given fans so much more than their money's worth.....We've given 'em everything we had."

Memorial services are scheduled for Saturday June 9, 2001 in the Hall of State Museum located at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas and are open to the public. For information, please call 214-421-0281.

The Light Crust Doughboys have recently released a CD of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame label.

Ryman Designated Historic Landmark
Country fans know the Ryman Auditorium as "The Mother Church of Country Music" and the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. The National Park Service recently named the Nashville hall, built in 1892, a National Historic Landmark. In honor of the designation, the Ryman will host a ceremony Monday morning (June 25) featuring presentations by government dignitaries and Opry and Ryman executives. "If I could pick one structure that truly embodies our country music heritage, it would have to be the Ryman Auditorium," Congressman Bob Clement said. "The Ryman is a facility of national significance which elicits a certain devotion and reverence from country music stars and fans alike." Clement was a driving force behind the Ryman's citation. 06/22/01

Stuart Keeps Hall of Fame Post, Wendell Elected Chairman
Grand Ole Opry star Marty Stuart will serve a sixth consecutive term as president of the Country Music Hall of Fame's Board of Officers and Trustees. E.W. "Bud" Wendell, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, replaces Bruce Hinton as the board's chairman. 06/22/01



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