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Front Page News, Archive #4

Jessi Colter's First
In 20 Years

            Courtesy: Ron Wynn, - February 27, 2006 - CD titles can be misleading, irrelevant or just silly, but Jessi Colter's Out Of The Ashes (Shout! Factory), which will be released Tuesday, Feb 28th, has a special significance. It is her first new solo album in 20 years (though she did two albums of music for children in 1995 and 2000), and it has extensive doses of gospel and blues influence incorporated within the resolutely traditional country framework.
            But Colter also regards it as a renewal work, the beginning of her return to the musical spotlight that she's largely avoided since the death of famed husband Waylon Jennings in 2002.
            "I had to really get away from everything after that," Colter said during an interview she gave while in Nashville on a promotional swing. "When you lose someone like Waylon, it's not something that you can just recover from right away. But I also never really got away from music. There were songs that would work on, and finally I got to the point where I felt it was time that we get these done. I remember playing one for Don (Grammy-winning instrumentalist and producer Don Was) and he told me to get a bunch of those together and we'd make the record. I already had lots of demos at home, so we got them together."
            The results show Colter's voice hasn't lost any of the luster, range or impact that once made her a prominent figure among country singers. She's reverent and evocative on "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and "Please Carry Me Home," a number co-written with her son Shooter that was also featured on the disc Songs Inspired By The Passion Of The Christ.
            Then Colter turns alternately bluesy on "You Can Pick Em" and forlorn on "Never Got Over You," while also displaying her interpretative talents on Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and "You Took Me By Surprise." But the most triumphant number is her rendition of Tony Joe White's "Out Of The Rain," a spirited and highly memorable cut that also has backing from the Greater Apostolic Christ Temple Choir plus Waylon Jennings, who completed the initial vocal track. The song stands as a powerful testament to his memory and White's lyrical flair.
            A pianist in a Pentecostal church at 11 and a rockabilly star as teen, Colter's first hit was the 1961 single "Lonesome Road." Her first marriage to Duane Eddy ended in 1968, and a year later she married Waylon Jennings. She had a country and pop hit in 1975 with "I'm Not Liza," then became part of country history a year later when she joined Jennings, Willie Nelson and Tompall Glaser on Wanted! The Outlaws, the first Nashville album to sell a million copies.
            When asked if anyone involved with that record had any idea of its significance, Colter answered quickly, "Lord, No! We were just having a great time and doing something that we enjoyed. We knew it was a little bit different from what everyone else was doing at the time, but we didn't even think about country music history. We just thought about making good, honest music."
            That remains her mantra today, and Colter says that Out Of The Ashes is only the first in a series of releases.
            "There are more than enough songs written right now for me to make at least two more albums," Colter said. "Plus, I keep writing all the time, so the fans will be hearing a lot more from me in the future."

  WWVA Music Hall Fades WHEELING, W.Va. - With barely a whisper of warning, a legend died here.
            Jamboree USA, the live country music show second only to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry in longevity and prominence, quietly slipped off the air at the end of December.
            The cancellation of the weekly show gave new life to the town's fears that the stage of the Capitol Music Hall, a 77-year-old landmark concert hall that played a starring role in the history of radio, would soon go dark for good.
            The hall's broadcasts, relayed since the 1940s by a giant 50,000-watt transmitter, reached 20 states and Canada.
            A post-Depression variety show called "It's Wheeling Steel" served as the template for shows such as Lawrence Welk's. During World War II, the AM station WWVA, which broadcast out of the hall, raised more money for war bonds than any other station in the country.
            Now, leaders of Wheeling's business and cultural communities are struggling frantically just to keep the doors open.
            Since the first Jamboree USA broadcast from the hall in 1933, millions of people from around the continent waited in lines wrapping around the corner of Main and 10th streets in Wheeling, hoping to get a ticket from the box office.
            "People would make weekends out of it," said George Dormas, owner of the Bridge Tavern and Grill, which has occupied the corner opposite the Capitol Music Hall since Dormas' father, Pete, moved the restaurant there in 1961.
            Dormas "grew up in the place," and spent the Saturday nights of his adolescence serving cheeseburgers to the likes of Loretta Lynn, the Oak Ridge Boys and Ronnie McDowell.
            Many of his former customers' names are carved into metal stars imbedded in the sidewalk outside the entrance to the Capitol Music Hall, a miniature version of Hollywood's walk of fame that boasts names including Charley Pride and Merle Haggard.
            In the early 1990s, visitors to the Capitol Music Hall spent $27.1 million a year in Wheeling, whose city government operates with a $24 million budget.
            The show's popularity began to decline about a decade ago. Media giant Clear Channel bought the hall and WWVA around 1999, and changed the station's format to talk radio, though it kept the Jamboree in its Saturday night slot.
            Many still living here cling to memories of concerts and movies they've seen in the hall, a grand structure built in 1928 with ornate carvings outside and a striking interior of original art deco and classical design.
            Past the box office, massive art deco murals adorn soaring two-story lobby walls that reach up to an arched ceiling bordered by elaborate, classical, gold-painted molding. About 2,500 bright red seats fill the sweeping balcony and main floor of the theater, where dark, clean deco lines on the walls point toward baroque accents high above the stage.
By Mike Wereschagin, TRIBUNE-REVIEW, Sunday, February 19, 2006

Historian Charles K. Wolfe Dies at 62

            Charles K. Wolfe, whose books, articles, studies and liner notes brought the dusty worlds of decades-old country, bluegrass, old-time and roots music to life for modern students and artists, died Thursday night in Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro after a long battle with diabetes and other health problems. He was 62.
            Mr. Wolfe was a three-time Grammy nominee, an English professor at Middle Tennessee State University (he retired last year) and one of history's most ardent chroniclers of music and musicians.
            WSM-AM air personality Eddie Stubbs, who worked with Mr. Wolfe on several lengthy sets of liner notes, including the Mac Wiseman boxed set that won the International Bluegrass Music Association's best liner note prize in 2004, said, "I think any of us who are students of the music are working in his shadow. I truly believe this man belongs in the Country Music Hall of Fame."
            Mr. Wolfe authored more than 15 books, including a book of essays on Southern fiddling called The Devil's Box and a much-cited book called A Good Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry. He co-authored a meticulously detailed biography of folk singer Leadbelly and a book about Nashville blues harmonica player DeFord Bailey that was a primary asset in advocates' ultimately successful drive to win Bailey admission into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
            Fiddle virtuoso Mark O'Connor grew up reading Wolfe's Devil's Box newsletter, which focused on old-time Southern fiddlers, and O'Connor wrote the foreword to the Devil's Box book that compiled work from the newsletter.
            Pete Fisher, the Grand Ole Opry's general manager, praised Mr. Wolfe as a writer of depth, insight and importance, while Michael Gray - once a student of Mr. Wolfe's and now a fellow historian and associate editor at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum - said, "He paved the way for country music scholarship, and he legitimized the research at an academic level."
            Mr. Wolfe is survived by his wife, Mary Dean, and daughters, Stacey and Cindy. Visitation will be this afternoon at the Woodfin Memorial Chapel, 1388 Lascassas Pike in Murfreesboro. Funeral services will be tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at Woodfin. -Peter Cooper, Tennessean

Bluegrass Music Hall Opens in April

            NASHVILLE (February 7, 2006) - James Monroe, a veteran entertainer based in Nashville, will open a 700-seat music hall and RV campground in Franklin, Kentucky. Monroe was inspired by his father, Bill Monroe, the acknowledged "Father of Bluegrass Music," to create a haven for music lovers and outdoorsmen alike. The James Monroe Bluegrass Music Hall is expected to be completed and ready for patrons in early April of 2006.
            In honor of the grand opening, Monroe will host the Kentucky Springtime Bluegrass Special, April 19-22, 2006. The celebrations begins Wednesday, April 19 with The Hatfield Band and Logan County Grass scheduled to perform and continues on Thursday, April 20 with performances by Larry Sparks, Leroy Troy, Primitive Quartet, and Ronnie Stoneman. On Friday, April 21, Dean Osborne, the Fritts Family, Lawrence Bishop, and Mac Wiseman are scheduled to perform and Gary Brewer, The Grascals, and Bobby Osborne will close weekends' festivities on Saturday, April 22.
            James Monroe played with Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys for seven years before forming his own band, James Monroe and the Midnight Ramblers. His band has since toured the United States. The Midnight Ramblers will perform on a weekly basis at the Music Hall in conjunction with the Music Hall's house band.
            Confirmed performances for this summer include Jack Greene and Jimmy C. Newman at the Country Music Package Show; John Anderson, Mel McDaniel, Jessee McReynolds, Jean Shepard and James Monroe at the Country Bluegrass Event and Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price will be featured at The Legend Show.
            The Bill Monroe Memorial Birthday Celebration featuring Bobby Bare, David Davis, Jim Monroe, Bobby Osborne, Billy Walker and James Monroe and the Midnight Ramblers will be held September 14-16. Future appearances include: John Conlee, David Davis, Jim Monroe, Stella Parton, Diane Sherrill, Gene Watson, and Leona Williams.
            For specific information regarding The James Monroe Bluegrass Music Hall please visit

Merle Haggard to Receive
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

            MERLE HAGGARD - dubbed "the most influential country singer of his generation" by the L.A. Times, "the indomitable guardian of country tradition" by Blender, and, "with the arguable exception of Hank Williams, the single most influential singer-songwriter in country music history" by the Country Music Hall of Fame¨ and Museumâs Encyclopedia of Country Music ö makes good on that bountiful praise as recipient of a 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award at this yearâs GRAMMY¨ Awards. MERLE joins the likes of David Bowie, Richard Pryor, and Delta blues pioneer Robert Johnson in being honored this year for "lifelong contributions to the recording medium."
            Meanwhile, MERLE (along with Buddy Guy, Alison Krauss, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, and others) is set to honor another legend as part of the Les Paul & Friends: 90th Birthday Salute at the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles on February 7. Then, after touring last year with icon Bob Dylan, MERLE joins the Rolling Stones for one night only on March 9 at the Alltel Center in Little Rock, AR, before hitting the road for several dates of his own in support of his latest album CHICAGO WIND.
            Released by Capitol on October 25, the Jimmy Bowen-produced CHICAGO WIND has given critics yet another reason to laud THE HAG. "Haggard, despite kicking around for 40 years, sounds fresh and enthusiastic; he's still writing and finding engaging songs to wrap that warm, unfailingly musical baritone around," pronounces People's 4-star review, noting that MERLE "is as close to Nashville royalty as it gets."
            In its A- review, Entertainment Weekly echoed those thoughts, noting that "What is crystal clear is that the 68-year-old country deity has lost none of his vocal mastery - while he may have decades of hard living scored upon his face, his voice remains smooth and unruffled."
            As MERLE continues to break new ground and win over a new generation of fans, Capitol Nashville/EMI Music Catalog Marketing has declared it "The Year of Hag" with a remastered and expanded set of ten original MERLE HAGGARD albums from the 1960s and Î70s on five CDs, set for release on February 21. Featuring 21 rare or previously unreleased bonus tracks, and including four classic albums never before available on CD, these reissues capture the best of MERLE's early Capitol Records output. Capitol Nashville/EMI Music Catalog Marketing continues "The Year of Hag" with HAG: AS COUNTRY AS IT GETS - THE VERY BEST OF MERLE HAGGARD in September, with several more themed compilations (including a collection of spirituals, and an anthology of the best of Merle's songwriting) in late 2006 and 2007.
            Reflecting on MERLE's remarkable career in a nearly 10-page feature in the November issue of GQ, Chris Heath wrote: "Not all of his greatest songs dealt with trouble - he has written with a majesty about love and dignity and gratitude and pride and standing up for what you believe in÷but trouble and heartache certainly felt like his most natural neighborhoods: how life is hard, how hearts break easier than they mend, and how it sometimes seems as though everything but loneliness will abandon you, of anger looking for its rightful home, of wanting to stay but knowing there's something just as deep within a certain kind of man that forever tugs him to leave."

Nashville Palace Re-Opens
            The Nashville Palace has re-opened with a modern, state of the art venue and a renewed commitment to providing the very best in Live Country Music.

            The Nashville Palace is located near the corner of McGavock and Briley Parkway, Nashville, TN, just blocks from the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Mills.

            For ticket and hotel package information call (615) 884-3004.

Louise Scruggs dies at 78
            Louise Scruggs ‹ the wife of banjo innovator Earl Scruggs and considered among the most influential business people in country music history ‹ died Thursday, February 2, 2006 at Baptist Hospital in Nashville. She had been battling respiratory ailments for many months. She was 78.
            Earl Scruggs, a Country Music Hall of Fame member, always gave credit to his mate of six decades for his accomplishments.
            A half-century ago Louise Scruggs began managing and booking the now-legendary bluegrass act Flatt and Scruggs.
            As her husband's steward, she became the first female manager in Nashville music, she brought bluegrass into the folk boom and she virtually created the notion of bluegrass as a successful business venture.
            Through her illness, Mrs. Scruggs worked to further the reach and popularity of her husband's music, helping him toward Grammy Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and other honors.
            Mrs. Scruggs was born in 1927, and grew up in Middle Tennessee, near Lebanon. In 1946, she sat on the front row at the Grand Ole Opry and saw Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys with new member Earl Scruggs. The young instrumentalist, then 22 years old, was winning applause with his electrifying, "three-finger" style of banjo playing. Audiences loved the syncopated roll of Earl's banjo, and Monroe did, too. It made the entire band sound faster, edgier and different than anyone else had ever sounded. That sound would ultimately define what came to be known as bluegrass, and the banjo method would later be called "Scruggs Style."

Livin' Lovin' Rockin' Rollin':
The 25th Anniversary Collection

            On April 21, 1980, Alabama signed to RCA Records. Over the course of the next 25 years, they would become a legend of American music. The story of Alabama is studded with superlatives. With 78 charted titles, 50 Top 10 hits, an unmatched 21 consecutive #1 singles and 75 Gold, Platinum or Multi-Platinum album awards from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Alabama has made entertainment history.
            The band's career sales are in excess of 66 million records, ranking Alabama as one of the 10 biggest-selling bands in the annals of popular music. Alabama has more #1 records, 42, than any band in country-music history and has sold more concert tickets than any other country act. Alabama has been a fixture on country's singles and/or album charts every single year from 1979 to the present. "Livin' Lovin' Rockin' Rollin': The 25th Anniversary Collection," a 3-CD box set, commemorates Alabama's 25th anniversary with RCA and features a career defining collection of songs selected and sequenced by the band. In addition the set includes 9 previously unreleased tracks, many from Alabama's personal archives, as well as rare and never-seen photos and historical notes from Nashville journalist Robert Oermann. c elebrating this new release by giving away a signed Alabama custom Epiphone guitar. Visit for more details and to purchase this boxed set. Alabama's "Livin' Lovin' Rockin' Rollin': The 25th Anniversary Collection" is in stores now.

2006 Music Across America Tour
            NASHVILLE, January 25, 2006 - John Conlee, country music hitmaker, announced John Conlee's Music of America Tour with special guests Janie Fricke and T.G. Sheppard. The show will be hosted by John Conlee, and will showcase all performers singing their chart-topping hits. The show will use one band, saving fans from sitting through set changes and long-lines at the beer stand!!! The tour will be booked by Bobby Roberts Company.

About John Conlee:
Hailing from Kentucky, and one of the newest members of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, John Conlee has made his mark in country music history. Scoring 8 #1 hits, 19 Top 10 hits, co-founding Farm Aid with Willie Nelson, and countless other accolades Conlee continues to entertain fans with his classic voice and sound. Conlee is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and in 2005 he released his first video in over 20 years. The video coincided with a radio single for the track "They Also Serve," a tribute to family members of those serving in the military. Conlee made special appearances on Hannity & Colmes, Fox & Friends, Fox News Channel, Fox Magazine, The Daily Buzz, among others in support of his latest effort.

About Janie Fricke:
Janie Fricke is a name that is hard to forget in country music history. Fricke was named Female Vocalist of the Year by the CMA, ACM, Cashbox, Music City News and Billboard Magazine, as well as hitting the top of the charts earning her 18 #1 hits. Fricke has performed for President Ford, President George H.W. Bush, President Reagan, and President George W. Bush, and was the first female voice to sing on the moon - yes, she performed the wake-up jingle for the Apollo astronauts. And to top that - Fricke performed on the last Elvis Presley recording session, lending her vocals to his final work.

About T.G. Sheppard:
T.G. Sheppard has always had an unstoppable passion for music. That passion, combined with a steadfast dedication to entertainment, has made him one of the most popular live performers in country music today. With success chock full of chart-topping hits, 18 #1's to be exact, like "Last Cheater's Waltz", "I Loved 'Em Every One", and "Do You Wanna Go To Heaven", it's only natural that T.G. has developed a reputation as a solid performer who delivers exactly what audiences want.
For booking information on John Conlee's Music of America Tour contact:
Bobby Roberts Company - 615-859-8899

Daily Country News Updates Here

Bellamy Brothers with New Faces
            It was always brothers 'Jesse and Noah Bellamy,' but it took them awhile to figure that out. "We played together in many bands, realizing many incarnations; however, it has always come down to the fact that my brother and I were the only ones that were serious about the music.  We were always the "only ones left standing," stated Jesse.
            "We both grew up around music," said Jesse, 26, whose father is a musician in the famous country music duo The Bellamy Brothers. "Our dad was and is in the business. It just kind of came natural."
            Although they were raised on a Florida cattle ranch, neither brother had aspirations of being a cattle rancher. Jesse relates, "We converted an old hay barn into a studio, that's where we rehearsed and eventually began recording our first demos." It didn't take the brothers long to realize where their individual strengths lie. Noah excelled in his guitar playing and engineering the recording sessions while Jesse began focusing on singing and songwriting duties in the group.
            In summer 2005 Jesse and Noah embarked on their first tour of Europe where they performed festivals in Switzerland, Norway, and The United Kingdom: delighting audiences in with their unique country-rock sound while receiving rave reviews and significant international airplay along the way.

Janette Carter Passes Away
             Despite heroic attempts to save her life, Janette Carter, 82, beloved matriarch of the Carter Family, passed away at 6 a.m. Sunday, January 22, at Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee. She had been unconscious since Tuesday evening (January 17), when her health took a major turn for the worse. She had endured a combination of chronic illnesses, several surgical procedures over the last several years, and Parkinson's Disease. Prior to being rushed to the hospital's emergency room Tuesday, she had been in a nearby rehabilitation facility following a fall in her home Christmas day.
             Daughter Rita Forrester reported Thursday that her mother, while still critical, had begun showing some signs of improvement. Other complications overnight Friday, however, required emergency surgery Saturday despite Janette's weakness and medical instability.
             Over the next 24 hours, two Code Blue events occurred. A team of physicians revived her after the first event but were unable to bring her back after the second.
             As for the future of the Carter Fold, Rita Forrester says her mother's policies, goals, and ambitions will continue as before. Janette Carter was one of three children born to A. P. and Sara Carter. A. P. Carter was the founder and leader of the history-making trio that began recording in 1927. Three daughters born to Maybelle Carter, the other member of the original trio, have also passed away. With the passing last March of her brother Joe, Janette remained the last surviving child of members of the original Carter Family.
             Janette followed her father's last wishes‹to do all she could to preserve not only Carter Family music but also the old-time folk and country music of the Appalachians‹by presenting country music performances at the site of the general store her father operated in his final years. Over the next several decades, those performances grew to become the Carter Family Fold, centerpiece of the not-for-profit Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Inc. The Saturday night performances have become the region's top visitor attraction.
             Janette's lifetime of hard work and struggles brought her countless awards and phenomenal national and international recognition. The latest, and among the most significant, occurred last September when she was presented with the National Endowment for the Arts Bess Lomax Hawes award in honor of her lifelong efforts in the preservation and performance of Appalachian music. Janette Carter's parents A.P. and Sara and her Aunt Maybelle Carter produced a legacy of music that is regarded as pivotal in the establishment of the country music industry and have been in the Country Music Hall of Fame since 1970.

Cash Home Sold
             Nashville, TN - Johnny Cash and June Carter's rustic Hendersonville home, where they lived during their entire marriage, has been sold two years after the passing of Johnny Cash. The home was purchased by Balinda, LLC, a Florida LLC wholly owned by Barry and Linda Gibb. Barry and Linda Gibb wish to restore the home to its original condition.
             "This place will always be the spiritual home for the Cashes. My wife, Linda and I are determined to preserve it, to honor their memory. We fell in love with it, it's an incredible honor for us. We plan to use the home to write songs because of the musical inspiration."
             The home was sold by the Estate Trustees, Robert L. and Catherine C. Sullivan, as part of the directives left by Johnny and June.

Ferlin Husky Undergoes Heart Surgery
            Country Music Legend Ferlin Husky underwent successful heart surgery on Tuesday morning (December 27) in Springfield, Missouri.
            Doctors found two of his arteries ninety nine percent blocked. Two stints were placed in those arteries and doctors expect a full recovery. Husky will be released from the hospital on Wednesday.
            "Ferlin looks just great," Leona Williams said. "They brought him out of the recovery room at about 12:30 PM and he looked great and said he felt good. He should be up walking and back to singing soon."
            Husky was born in Flat River, Missouri, on December 3, 1925. His first hit record was a duet with Jean Shepard on "Dear John." That was followed by a string of songs that topped both the Country and Pop charts including "Timber I'm Falling" "Gone" "Country Music Is Here To Stay" "Little Tom" "I Feel Better All Over" and "Once."
            Husky had his biggest success in Country Music with the multi million selling "On The Wings Of A Dove" in 1960. It stayed at the number one position for over ten weeks and reached number twelve on the pop charts.
            Husky has just signed with Heart of Texas Records based in Brady, Texas. He will return to the studio in late January to begin recording his first country studio album in over ten years.
            "We are very pleased with the surgery," Heart of Texas Records President Tracy Pitcox said. "Ferlin was having some difficulty breathing during his last few shows and on a recent celebrity cruise. The blocked arteries were the problem. We are excited about the new album and about Ferlin working some additional dates in the future."
            Cards can be sent to: Ferlin Husky P.O. Box 777 Vienna, Missouri 65582. For more information concerning the Ferlin Husky/Leona Williams show, please call (325) 456-5316.

Western Legend Buck Page Still Rockin'
After 70 Years in the Business

            Buck Page, a Western music legend currently living In Burbank, CA, has released his historic first solo album "Right Place To Start". The release will be accompanied by 3 music videos for the CD, due to be commercially released later this year. Special guest, R.W. Hampton added his award winning vocals on two duets. The releases coincide with the filming of a documentary on Buck's life as a Western Music Entertainer for over 70 years, expected to be completed in Spring of 2006. During his long and fruitful career, Buck was a regular guest performer for President Reagan, Willie Nelson and a long list of many others.
            Buck started his professional music career in 1936 at the age of 13, heavily influenced by Gene Autry during his early years. He has been recognized as a "Living Legend" just to name one current award. Buck sees himself as being part of the beginning of Western Music culture. As a teacher and an artist he has spent his life committed to Western Music. The heritage and ethics – important parts of the Cowboy's ways of life - have always been a top priority to Buck: he is the "Salt of the Earth" or the "Real Deal" as people have called him over the years and this solo project will soon prove to be a "Classic".
            "I wish to share my love for Western Music," Buck says. "I encourage artists currently working in the Western Music field. My aim is to bring Western Music to the public and other aspiring artists, in the hopes that they will follow the trails cut by myself and other Western artists and involve themselves in the value and excitement of this true form of America's Music Heritage".
            Buck has been a traveling and working entertainer all of his life. He has never been signed by any major label but has recorded three CD's in the last 10 years with his "Riders of the Purple Sage est. 1936". Buck has again been endorsed by Gretsch Guitars which monuments a 65 year relationship (since 1940) with the Gretsch Family of world class musical instruments.
            For more information and review copies of "Right Place To Start", please contact The Source Entertainment Group at 805 551 2342 or
            Buck's new Cd can be found at and

Mayf Nutter Inducted
            STARDUST RECORDS Artist, Mayf Nutter has received much acclaim the past few years thanks to Buster Doss who has exposed Mayf's recordings to a World-Wide audience of Deejays and fans who never heard his music before.
            Rockabilly Hall of fame founder, Bob Timmers, attended JAMBOREE ON THE MOUNTAIN, an event produced by Col. Doss and was inspired to look into the past achievement of Mayf Nutter. Then it was apparent to him and others associated with the RHOF that Mayf belonged among their esteemed members.
            Mayf Nutter, star of television, films and the stage was inducted into the Rock A Billy Hall of Fame on Saturday, 5 November 2005. The induction took place at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace Saloon on Buck Owens Blvd. In Bakersfield, CA. The Sold Out crowd went wild as Bob Timmers of the Rock A Billy Hall of Fame inducted Mayf for his contribution to rockabilly music. A long line of fans extending into the parking lot were turned away from the Standing Room Only event, but many waited hoping for others to leave early after the ceremony or for a chance to meet Mayf as he left the building.
            Mayf's rockabilly versions of: "Everybody's Talkin.", "Green Door", "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy", "Never Ending Song Of Love" and everyone's favorite "Goin' Skinny Dippin'" have become classics and are currently being played on radio stations around the world. As a matter of fact, Mayf Nutter records are constantly in the Top 100 of the International Charts and have been for the past thirty years!
            It was only fitting that Mayf's induction took place at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace Saloon with the live radio broadcast on KUZZ radio. Among the first radio stations to play Mayf's records was KUZZ AM-FM in Bakersfield. As a result of hearing Mayf's music on the station, Buck called Mayf and brought him to Bakersfield to record with Buck and his Buckaroos. That was thirty six years ago!
            Since that time Mayf has been either a recurring character, or star, of five prime time award winning TV series: "Gunsmoke", "The Waltons", "Falcon Crest", "Knot's Landing" and "Hawkins" in which he starred with Jimmy Stewart.
            Mayf received Best Actor recognition for his role in the Showtime nine hour mini-series "The Lone Star Bar & Grill". Mayf has done over 100 guest star roles is such TV hits as "Murder She Wrote", "The Dukes of Hazzard", "Houston Knights", "Charlie's Angels" and many, many more.
            "Mayf Nutter's Worldwide Radio Hits, Vol 1" is his current CD release and is being played on radio station worldwide.
            Mayf adds this Rockabilly Hall of Fame honor to his many awards including being enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars in Nashville, TN. and being included in the Bakersfield Country Music Museum. Upcoming, Mayf Nutter fans will be able to see Mayf in two feature films "The Painted Forest", produced by Michael Stanton, and "Big Chuck Little Chuck", produced by Byron Quisenberry, in 2006.

Skaggs Family Christmas Tradition
Has Begun for 2005

            Nashville, TN - On October 18, a new holiday tradition began with release of A Skaggs Family Christmas, Vol. 1. The beauty of song and the love of family come together on this collection of Christmas classics (plus a couple of brand new songs), performed by virtuoso multi-instrumentalist Ricky Skaggs, his wife, and their children, joined by members of another celebrated musical clan, The Whites.
            "I believe we were able to capture the meaning of Christmas by recording as a family," Ricky offers. "God is family, and so all of our involvement on A Skaggs Family Christmas is what it's all about."
            This project was born not in a recording studio, but in the Skaggs' living room, where Ricky, Sharon and their kids were singing Christmas songs together. It souded and fest so good that Ricky quickly arranged for them to perform at five holiday shows in 2003. "Everyone at the Christmas shows kept asking if we had a CD of theis music," he writes in the album's liner notes. "Well, at the time we didn't. But as soon as we got off the road ... we went right into the studio and started recording."
            Ricky and his family have taken their love for this music on the road during the holidays for three years, and now - to celebrate their first full-length recrding of theses songs - CMT is creating a magical Skaggs Family Christmas special, featring an appearance by family friend Allison Krauss. The special is scheduled for broadcast between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with several rebradcasts throughout the holiday season.
            Like any gathering for friends and relatives, each with his or her unique personality and taste, the selections on A Skaggs Family Christmas vary widely. Ricky's daughter Molly Skaggs, a 21 yr old music composition student at Nashivlle's Belmont University, casts a delicat, yet jazz-inflected spell in her reading of "Christmastime Is Here." Rachel White, 23, takes the lead on "What Child Is This," with Celtic and bluegrass strains that breathe a timeless flavor into the mix. Cheryl White sings "Mary, Did You Know" in her distinctive full timbre; Sharon White Skaggs delivers a beautiful reading of "Love Came Gently," her voice nestled into the sound of the Nashiville String Machine.
            Buck, the head of the White family clan, covers a broad range on his own, from the playful swing of "Hangin' 'Round the Mistletoe" to the quiet majesty of his recitation on "The Christmas Guest." And representing the next generation of family artists, 16 yr old Luke Skaggs joins in the harmony on a number of tracks and on one, "Little Drummer Boy," steps out with a guitar solo behind his sister Molly's vocal.
            There's joy in Kentucky Thunder's romp through "Deck the Halls," comfort in the pairing of Rachel's voice to velvet strings on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and in the familiar blend of The Whites on "White Christmas," and wonder in Ricky's rendition of "Go Thee Down."
            There's variety ... yet A Skaggs Family Christmas is unified too, as different vocal and instrumental elements flow into a single statement of love, friendship, and faith.
            "I actually didn't realize how much variety we had until I started editing the record," Ricky says. "But that makes it easier to touch a lot of listeners. And because of the kids' involvement , well, I just think that A Skaggs Family Christmas says a lot more thatn A Ricky Skaggs Christmas Album could say on its own."
            Look for Volume 2 of A Skaggs Family Christmas next year, when that special holiday season draws near.
            A 10 time Grammy Award winner, Ricky Skaggs is also a recipient of eight Country Music Association (CMA) awards, including "Entertainer of the Year," and founder/leader of the celebrated bluegrass band Kentucky Thunder. Since 1997, he has owned his own acoustic music label, Skaggs Family Records.
            The Whites are one fo America's most beloved family groups. Drawing on their father Buck's long experience as a bandleader, vocalist, and pianist, sisters Sharon and Cheryl have pooled their talents with his for more than 30 years. From their first appearances as the Down Home Folks in their home state of Texas in the early '60s to their recent soudtrack and on-screen contributions to the Coen Brothers' film O Brother Where Art Thou, The Whites continue to endure as a part of our national musical landscape.
            For hi-resolution images, listening tracks, as well as more supporting documents, please visit and click MEDIA and ARTISTS. Interviews are available. Thank you for your consideration.

Lotos Nile Media
Kissy Black
Jocelyn Harms
Phone: (615) 298-1144 / Fax: (615) 279-0505
Skaggs Family Records
Michelle Nikolai
Phone: (615) 264-8877 x 109

Johnny Rodriguez Pickin' Party Photos

Ray Price Exhibit
            NASHVILLE, Tenn., October 21, 2005 - The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will pay tribute to American music architect Ray Price with an exhibit, tentatively titled Ray Price: The Cherokee Cowboy, opening in the Museum's East Gallery in August 2006 and running through June 2007.
            Price, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, will celebrate his 80th birthday on January 12, 2006. "Ray Price is a man of singular and enduring artistic vision whose role as an architect and savior of country music is too little appreciated," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "The 'Ray Price beat' is elemental. Without it, country music would certainly be incomplete. He is a central figure in the 20th Century history of American popular music."
            Following a tour of duty in the U. S. Marines during World War II, Price aimed for a veterinary career and enrolled at North Texas Agricultural College. Supplementing his formal education with a little nightlife singing in a local establishment, and with encouragement from Dallas recording entrepreneur Jim Beck, the young Texan made his first record, "Jealous Lies," for the Bullet label in January 1950.
            His singing on Dallas radio programs earned the notice of Troy Martin, an executive at the powerful publishing house Peer-Southern Music, who guided him to a contract with Columbia Records in 1951. His first Columbia release, "If You're Ever Lonely, Darling," written by his chart-topping label mate Lefty Frizzell, didn't make any money and failed to chart.
            In the fall of 195l, Hank Williams took Price with him on tour and wrote a song, "Weary Blues (From Waiting)," which he gave to his new pal to record. The song did well enough to garner Price an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry in January 1952. When Price moved to Nashville the same year, he and Williams roomed together. Williams let Price use his band, the Drifting Cowboys, which is part of the reason Price's recordings sounded so much like Williams' for a few years.
            However, Price wasn't just any Hank Williams sound alike. Blessed with a drop-dead tenor voice and an eagle eye for great songs, the balladeer delivered two Top Five country hits for Columbia in 1952: "Talk to Your Heart" and "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes," (which would later become a #l pop hit for Perry Como). He returned to the Top Five again in March 1954 with "I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)." Though "I'll Be There" continued to shadow Hank and Lefty, Price was clearly showing signs of his own musical coming of age.
            With his recording of "Release Me," a 1954 Top Ten, Price further framed his soon-to-be-signature sound by adding session musicians like guitarist Grady Martin to a core group of Drifting Cowboys, embroidering his usual honky-tonk style with threads of western swing.
            In 1956, as Price began to enjoy success with his personally branded honky-tonk, rockabilly cats like Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins were suddenly jitterbugging past superstars like Eddy Arnold and Red Foley to dominate the upper echelons of the country music charts and to preside over what looked to be the death of traditional country music. Some country stars began to emulate the rockabilly sound, but Price had already learned the limitations of imitation. Instead, when he and his band, the Cherokee Cowboys, entered the studio in March 1956 to cut "Crazy Arms," they created a new sound, incorporating both an acoustic and an electric bass to lay down a 4/4, dance-friendly shuffle rhythm that worked like an Evinrude behind Price's imposing tenor and harmonized choruses. The sound became known as "the Ray Price beat," and it catapulted honky-tonk high enough and far enough to land and endure in the 21st century. "Crazy Arms" neatly knocked Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" off its #l aerie and remained in the top slot for twenty weeks.
            Fledgling honky-tonker Price was now a fully feathered star, who helped give wing to the careers of others. At various times, the Cherokee Cowboys included Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck (known then as Donnie Young), Johnny Bush, Jimmy Day and Buddy Emmons, among others. He championed talented songwriters like Bill Anderson, Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran, Roger Miller, Mel Tillis, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
            Price's 1959 Top Five recording of Howard's "Heartaches by the Number" helped establish the young writer's professional credentials, while his 1958 #l hit-and-runner "City Lights" did the same for Anderson. "City Lights," which memorializes the alienation of countless rural southerners who abandoned dirt farms for factory work in the industrial states in the '50s, is a clear example of the special way country records document American history.
            By the early '60s, Price was edging toward a more polished, uptown sound, which reached full flower with his acutely emotional 1967 interpretation of the Irish standard "Danny Boy." The recording found its way to the country Top Ten, but many disc jockeys rejected it as a pop-oriented "sell-out." Done with a full orchestra, the song alienated many Price fans, but it won him new devotees as well.
            Price returned to the top of the country chart in 1970 with Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times." The song also went to #11 on the pop chart, and was Kristofferson's first #1 country hit. "For the Good Times" modernized country lyrics for a new generation and united Price's early fans with new ones. The recording merited recognition as the Academy of Country Music's l970 Single and Song of the Year and won a 1970 Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. The For the Good Times album, on Columbia, garnered the ACM's Album of the Year accolade. In 1971, the Country Music Association voted Price's I Won't Mention It Again Album of the Year. The title song followed "For the Good Times" to the top of the country chart.
            Between 1952 and 1989, Price scored a whopping 108 chart hits including eight chart-toppers and two dozen Top Five classics. Price's recordings for various labels since the 1970s have included the critically acclaimed Time in 2002 and Run That by Me One More Time, a collection of duets with Willie Nelson, in 2003. In 2003, the Academy of Country Music presented the versatile singer with the Pioneer Award.
            Price's membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame is deserved recognition for a man who has used remarkable resources of talent, will and taste for the betterment of the genre. Well before his recordings evolved from the barroom to the showroom, the versatile Price was making music that borrowed from jazz, blues, pop and rock. His innovative honky-tonk beat, designed for roadhouses located a long way from church, and the often-criticized strings that helped to carry his story songs heavenward, attracted new audiences to country music and have become staples of modern country.
            His hits helped draw pop stars to the song catalogs represented by Nashville publishers, and his recording career is synonymous with the rise of Nashville as a recording center. Many of those he helped along the way, including his longtime producer Don Law, are now themselves members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Like his voice and his ear for powerful songs, his skill as a bandleader and his will to make music the Ray Noble Price way is undiminished.
            Price still regards Nashville and its music industry as a key part of his career. He continues to travel here to record, valuing the players who live here and the studios available here. Earlier this year, Price told columnist Chet Flippo that he wanted to be remembered as "the best damn singer ever." Ray Price: The Cherokee Cowboy will be another step in that direction.
            Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of FameÆ and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum's mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum's Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, historic RCA Studio B, and Hatch Show Print.
            The Ford Division of the Ford Motor Co. is a Founding Partner of the $37 million Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which opened on May 17, 2001. More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is available at or by calling (615) 416-2001.

Guitarist Mike Elliott Dies at Age 65
            St. Paul, MN, September 26, 2005 - Mike Elliott, a versatile and highly accomplished guitarist revered for his work in jazz and country music, passed away at his home in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 14, 2005 at the age of 65. Elliott had been seriously ill since suffering a heart attack in January 2005. Mike is survived by his wife Francena Elliott, who was by his side at the time of his passing, and step-children Stephanie Noel and Natalie Page of Dallas, Texas. Born May 18, 1940 in Chicago, Mike studied guitar as a teenager in Colorado under the legendary Johnny Smith. His long career included extended periods in the Twin Cities, where he played and recorded with the influential jazz group Natural Life, and Nashville, where he was a studio musician, producer/engineer and songwriter on hit country recordings. During his Nashville years (1982 - 1997) his many accomplishments included serving as music director for the great Nashville producer Jack Clement, contributing a song to John Anderson's triple platinum album "Seminole Wind," working on staff for Gibson Guitars and writing instructional jazz books for the Hal Leonard publishing company. As a jazz guitarist, renowned critic Leonard Feather considered Mike to be one of the very best. His versatility on guitar led to performances with the Toronto Symphony, road work with Victor Borge, recordings with stars like Johnny Cash and much more. A devoted and brilliant educator, Mike presented guitar clinics with people like Les Paul and taught countless students from beginners to Bela Fleck. Although Mike had some health insurance, he had spent most of 2005 in the hospital and his family is left with staggering medical bills and other expenses. Donations to help cover expenses can be sent to The Elliott Family, P.O. Box 211256, Eagan, MN 55121-9998. A benefit and celebration of Mike Elliott's life will be held on Sunday, October 16 starting at 3:00 p.m. at the Artists' Quarter, 408 St. Peter St. in downtown St. Paul.
            "There was only one Mike, and I'm so fortunate to have had him in my life," said Francena Elliott, Mike's wife. "I loved him completely. Mike was very soft spoken, but he made a huge impression on everyone who met him. Even though he accomplished so much, Mike was incredibly humble and kind. I adored him and will miss him terribly." Standing six foot seven inches tall, Mike's gentle nature and sharp wit were all the more striking.
            Pat Martino, the Philadelphia-based guitar great and Blue Note recording artist, was a long-time friend of Mike Elliott. In recent years, Mike helped make the introductions that brought Mr. Martino to McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul to work with guitar students. "It struck me that Mike was very much a father figure to the students, and truly embraced by them," says Martino. "Few individuals are blessed with the ability to transcend their gifts as an artist and a musician and become an intermediary to learning for all around them. Mike was one of those rare individuals. He made the learning environment very comfortable for everyone, including me."
            The Life of Mike Elliott. Mike Elliott was born into a musical family in Chicago on May 18, 1940. His father was a studio musician and his mother was a blues singer. Mike picked up the guitar at an early age, and was playing professionally by the age of 16 in Colorado Springs, CO, where his family had moved. It was also in Colorado that Mike began studying guitar with his mentor Johnny Smith, one of the most influential guitarists in jazz history. Mike became a business partner in the music store that Smith had opened and began teaching guitar himself. Elliott formed his own jazz group around this time and went out on the road in 1964.
            In 1966, Mike moved to Minneapolis and by the early 1970s he had co-founded the seminal jazz fusion group Natural Life, whose membership included Bob Rockwell on sax, Billy Peterson on bass, Bobby Peterson on piano and drummers Bill Berg and Eric Kamau Gravatt. The group recorded multiple albums and shared the stage with the likes of Charles Mingus and McCoy Tyner. Mike remained in the Twin Cities through 1981, during which time he performed with many high-profile outfits, including the Minnesota Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony (as featured soloist). He also was a busy session musician for albums and TV and radio commercials and taught private lessons and master classes at several universities. From 1978 to 1981, Mike was a clinician with the Gibson Guitar company, traveling the world conducting clinics.
            In 1982, Mike moved to Nashville, TN, to become manager of Gibson Professional Musical Services. There, he held clinics with folks like Les Paul, Howard Roberts and Elliot Easton. Mike's other pursuits in Nashville included teaching, session work, engineering, producing, arranging and songwriting. Remaining in Nashville until 1998, Mike worked with notables such as Trisha Yearwood, Chubby Checker, Emmylou Harris and Joe Diffie. John Anderson's 1992 release "Seminole Wind," which became a triple-platinum seller, included a song co-written by Elliott. In 1996, Mike received the prestigious NAIRD Award for his work as an engineer on Steve Earle's Grammy-nominated album "Train A Comin'." In Nashville, Mike also founded Magic Tracks recording studio, served as president of Celebration Records and was the music director for legendary producer Jack Clement. As a guitarist, executive, songwriter, engineer and producer, Mike excelled in virtually every aspect of the competitive Nashville music scene. In his "spare time," Mike wrote training, technical and owners' manuals for Gibson and authored two successful method books for Hal Leonard - "Expanding Jazz Harmonies" and "Contemporary Chord Solos."
            Mike Elliott returned to the Twin Cities in 1998, continuing his work as an educator, live performer, recording artist and engineer. That year he joined the faculty of McNally Smith College of Music (formerly Musictech). Mike could be seen playing at the Artists' Quarter with friends like pianist Adi Yeshaya, bassist Gordy Johnson, drummers Gordy Knudtson and Kenny Horst, and the Petersons (Ricky, Billy and Bobby). Mike was also called upon by vocalists like Cookie Coleman and Joanie Knudtson to add his magic touch.
            In addition to his recordings with Natural Life and countless sessions, Mike released seven albums of his own, including the highly acclaimed "The Art of the Solo Guitar" and Mike's personal favorite "Home Cookin'" (2002). A devoted educator, Mike's many accolades included a "Distinguished Service" award from the Minnesota Music Educators Association in 1999. Although press-shy, Mike was the subject of many glowing articles and reviews in publications like "Guitar Player," "Minneapolis Star Tribune" and "The Cleveland Plain Dealer."
            Mike was greatly influenced by his mentor Johnny Smith, as well as his friend and contemporary Pat Martino and songwriter/producer and life-long friend Joe Allen. The list of people Mike worked with is seemingly endless, including luminaries with whom he shared respect and friendship like Ramsey Lewis, Chet Atkins, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Johnny Cash and so many more.
            Not only versatile on guitar, Mike Elliott was a Mensa member, a lover of boats and the owner of several exotic cars. An avid golfer, Mike had an incredible six hole-in-ones. He was deeply loved by family, friends and fans - known for his warmth, humility, honesty and kindness.

Country Book written by Jimmy Adams

Amtrak's Heartland Flyer is Goin' to the Bluegrass Festival
            OKLAHOMA CITY - Amtrak has announced that its Heartland Flyer, which regularly operates between Fort Worth, Texas, and Oklahoma City over the BNSF Railway, will temporarily extend its operation 33 miles north to and from Guthrie, Okla., later this month to provide service during the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival.
            The extension will be added to the normal schedule, from Thursday, Sept. 29, through Saturday, Oct. 1. Instead of tying up at Oklahoma City, the Flyer will continue on to Guthrie, arriving at 10:55 p.m. From Friday, September 30, through Sunday, October 2, the southbound Flyer will originate in Guthrie at 7:15 a.m. As usual, it will depart Oklahoma City at 8:25 a.m. and arrive in Fort Worth at 12:39 p.m. The additional charge for the temporary segment between Guthrie and Oklahoma City will be $10 in each direction.
            The Heartland Flyer is operated by Amtrak under a contract with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and with the support of the Heartland Flyer Coalition, a grass-roots group representing the communities along the 206-mile corridor. The temporary extension is being operated under Amtrak's contract with ODOT.

Master producer Ray Ruff passed away 9-15-05. He was one of the founding partners in CURB records and produced Donnie Brooks. He died due to a brain anurisum caused from an attack by his longtime pet mountain lion. More about Ray.

Vassar Clements Dead at Age 77
            Vassar Clements was an extraordinary fiddler, a self-taught virtuoso who appeared on more than 2,000 albums and also played viola, cello, bass, mandolin, guitar and tenor banjo. Clements died Tuesday at his home in Goodlettsville at age 77 after a battle with lung cancer.
            Clements, who was born in Kinard, S.C. but grew up in Kissimmee, Fla., began playing as a seven-year old and never had a formal music lesson in his life. His association with the legendary Bill Monroe initially established his reputation in bluegrass circles.
            His work bridged a variety of styles, including country, jazz, bluegrass, rock 'n' roll and classical.
            Mr. Clements recorded with artists as varied as Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, the Grateful Dead, Bruce Hornsby, the Byrds, Woody Herman and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He even once recorded with the Monkees ‹ by happenstance. He was working on a recording session when someone asked him whether he wanted to stay and play on another one. "I didn't know until later it was the Monkees," he said.

Bluegrass Road Warriors Cherryholmes
Drop New Album On Sept. 27, 2005

            Nashville, TN - Bluegrass band Cherryholmes is turning tragedy into triumph with the September 27th release of their self-titled album on Skaggs Family Records. The album comes on the heels of a slew of first round International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) nominations for this hardworking, roadtested family of world-class musicians. Nominations include ones for Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year, Emerging Artists of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Banjo Player and Fiddle Player of the Year, for which two members of the band were nominated. The final nominations will be announced August 30th, 2005 at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN.
            These are heady times for Cherryholmes, but it was a tragic event that birthed these high-octane pickers. The family band, led by parents Jere and Sandy Cherryholmes, got its start in 1999 when their eldest daughter, Shelly, passed away at age 20 from respiratory illness due to chronic heart problems. Soon after the family went to a bluegrass festival to lift their spirits. Jere and Sandy decided they wanted to do something special with their family so they started a bluegrass band.
            Sandy was already home schooling the kids - Cia, B.J., Skip and Molly - so incorporating music into the lesson plan was a natural progression. Combining hard work, talent and the sheer love of making music, the band quickly progressed and began playing out within a year. By 2002, Jere was ready to quit his job as a carpenter for the Los Angeles County school system, so the band could hit the road and make music full time. Before long they were doing over 250 dates a year and taking the bluegrass world by storm with their rocket-fuled, breakneck brand of traditional music.
            Cherryholmes hit warp sped in 2004. They launched their own festival, The Best in Tradition with Cherryholmes, and self-released their third album, Bluegrass Vagabonds. They also took home the Entertaining Group of the Year award from The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA). Cia brought home the banjo trophy for Banjo Performer of the Year - the only woman to be nominated. 2005 has been just as exciting with Molly and B.J. fiddling on the first live DVD from Rhonda Vincent and the band signing with Skaggs Family Records. They will be Vincent's special guests during the holidays this year for her Christmas tour.
            Ben Isaacs of family gospel group The Isaacs wears the producer's hat for Cherryholmes. The disc showcases their pedal-to-the-metal playing prowess on instrumentals like "Tallahassee", "Shelly In The Heather/Linda's Reef" and "Coastline", while the stunning a capplella closing track, a reworking of the Louvin Brothers' gem "No One To Sing For Me", underscores that the band is made up of six lead vocalists. It's a vocal harmony tour de force.
            From tragedy to triumph, music has been the bond holding Cherryholmes together. If this new album leads to even more accolades and awards, well that's just becoming a family tradition.
            For hi-resolution images, video or listening tracks as well as more supporting documents, please visit and click MEDIA and ARTISTS
Kissy Black
Jocelyn Harms
Phone: (615) 298-1144 / Fax: (615) 279-0505
LABEL: Michelle Nikolai
Skaggs Family Records
Phone: (615) 264-8877 x 109

"Walk the Line" Movie Release: Nov. 18th
            20th Century Fox is scheduling "Walk the Line," a Johnny Cash-June Carter biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, as an Oscar candidate, with a tentative Nov. 18 release date. "Walk the Line" concentrates on Cash's life in the 1950s and '60s, from the time he made his first rockabilly recordings at Memphis' Sun Records to when he married Carter in 1968 and became a heroic cultural figure for his tours of prisons.

Ben Peters R.I.P.
            Ben Peters, the Grammy-winning songwriter who penned 14 No. 1 country hits, including Kiss An Angel Good Morning, Daytime Friends and Before The Next Teardrop Falls, died Wednesday, May 25, 2005 of pneumonia at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville. He was 71.
            Born in poverty in rural Mississippi and neglected as a child, Ben worked cotton fields in his youth. He found his grandfather's saxophone in an attic, learned to play the instrument and ran away from home to New Orleans while he was still a teenager. He took the sax with him and began playing in clubs.
            The Peters family moved to Nashville in 1966. Ben did some work as a solo artist but eventually concentrated on writing and established himself as one of country music's greatest songsmiths. He often drew from real life when writing songs. Kiss An Angel Good Morning, which became Charley Pride's biggest hit, was written after Ben's wife reminded her husband to pay attention to their daughter, Angela, whose nickname was 'Angel.' Peters, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, wrote songs for Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee, Ray Charles, Eddy Arnold, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson.

Jimmy Martin Passes Away
            (05-14) Jimmy Martin, a pioneering bluegrass singer and guitarist who performed with the Blue Grass Boys and many other musicians, died Saturday. He was 77.
            Martin died in a Nashville hospice, more than a year after he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, said his son, Lee Martin.
            After performing as lead vocalist for the Blue Grass Boys periodically through 1955, Martin formed his own band, the Sunny Mountain Boys, and recorded with Decca records for 18 years. Martin recorded several bluegrass standards, including "Rock Hearts,""Sophronie,""Hold Watcha Got,""Widow Maker" and "The Sunny Side of the Mountain."
            Martin was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor in 1995. His life was also the subject of an independent documentary film, "King of Bluegrass: The Life and Times of Jimmy Martin," which was released in 2003.
            According to the film's Web site, Martin was fired at the age of 21 for singing on the job at a factory in Morristown. He then went to see the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and talked his way backstage, where he persuaded Monroe to sing a couple of songs with him. In the late 1950s and 1960s, Martin performed on both the "Louisiana Hayride" and "WWVA Wheeling Jamboree," which were well-known country music shows. He also made guest appearances on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, but never became a regular cast member, which was his childhood dream.
            Martin collaborated with many other artists throughout his career, including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. His voice was the first heard on the Dirt Band's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" album in 1972, and his appearances on subsequent albums brought his feisty spirit to audiences that might never have attended a bluegrass festival.
            Martin performed until his later years, usually from April until October. He also served as a mentor to many musicians, including J.D. Crowe and Paul Williams.
Jimmy Martin slide show
Jimmy Martin speaks

Statues to be Unveiled
at Crystal Palace

            Bakersfield's own country music legend Buck Owens will honor nine of his peers and himself May 25 with the unveiling of 10 life-size bronze statues at the Crystal Palace. Tickets went on sale today.
            Statues of Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, George Strait, Hank Williams Sr., Bob Wills and Owens himself will be presented to the Crystal Palace, made by sculptor Bill Rains.
            Owens along with Dierks Bentley, Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, Joe Nichols and Brad Paisley will perform. Honorees Brooks, Haggard, Jones and Nelson are scheduled to attend.
            Tickets for the event went on sale at 11 a.m. and can be purchased at, all Vallitix locations, the Crystal Palace Box Office or by calling 322-5200. Tickets are $10 and only eight tickets will be sold per person.
            The unveling will take place in the parking lot of the Crystal place with the gates opening at 6:30 p.m. and the dedication starting at 8. The event will be standing room only and no public seating will be available. The Crystal Palace will be closed to the public on May 25 for this event.

"Godfather of Modern Steel Guitar"
Jerry Byrd Dies at Age 85
            Peter Cooper, TENNESSEAN.COM - Musician's intricate, elegant style stood out. Jerry Byrd, one of the most influential steel guitar players in American music history, died Monday morning at Kaiser Hospital in Honolulu. He was 85 years old and had been suffering from Parkinson's disease.
            Mr. Byrd began playing Hawaiian music as a teenager in Lima, Ohio. By the late 1930s, he was playing professionally, and he moved to Nashville around 1944, taking a job on the Grand Ole Opry and playing in a style that was more elegant and intricate than previously had been heard.
            "Many of the players of his era sounded like what you heard in the old western movies: They could be cartoonish and primitive," said Lloyd Green, a friend of Mr. Byrd's and fellow Steel Guitar Hall of Famer. "He came along and played with great tone and originality. He was the first steel player I heard who was a true artist, and most players today consider him the godfather of the modern steel guitar."
            Mr. Byrd performed with Ernest Tubb, Red Foley and other greats, and in 1953 he joined Chet Atkins for a popular WSM Radio show called Two Guitars. He did numerous recordings for Monument Records, but by 1962 he had ceased doing steel guitar session work and instead played bass on many Nashville albums.
            In the early 1970s, Mr. Byrd moved to Hawaii, a region that had long fascinated him, and he settled into a life of teaching steel guitar on the island.

            Biography by Jason Ankeny - Famed guitarist Jerry Byrd was born on March 9, 1920 in Lima, OH. As a child, he developed a passion for Hawaiian music, although he made his first inroads into performing by playing country on an area radio station between 1935 and 1937. After a stint on Cincinnati's WLW, he joined the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in 1941; a year later, he jumped to WJR in Detroit, and remained there until he signed on with Ernie Lee's Pleasant Valley Boys in 1944.
            Byrd remained with Lee until 1946, when he formed his own group, the Jay-Bird Trio. Two years later, he joined Red Foley's band and became a session staple at King Records. Also in 1948, Byrd cut his first singles, "Mountain Mambo" and, under the name Jerry Robin, "Sun Shadows." Later in the year, he issued his first 78, "Steelin' the Blues." While at King, Byrd also recorded a handful of Hawaiian songs, and as the years wore on, the music became his primary focus.
            Still, Byrd remained an active figure on the country landscape; in 1950 he became a regular on Foley's NBC television program, and from 1954 to 1956 he was featured on the Nashville-based series Home Folks. An eight-year stint on the program Country Junction followed, and in 1964 he became a member of Bobby Lord's TV band. In 1968, Byrd left country for good, moving to Hawaii to focus exclusively on the state's native music.

New Dwight Yoakam Release June 14th
            "There's a lot of reckless joy on this album," says DWIGHT YOAKAM about his upcoming album BLAME THE VAIN, due out June 14 on New West Records/Via Records, marking his first affiliation with New West. "We are thrilled to be working with Dwight. He had a vision for this record and delivered on every level. The songwriting, the production, the performances are all stunning. He really has delivered a magnificent album," says Cameron Strang, president of New West Records. The album's first single will arrive at radio in April, with a video to hit airwaves shortly thereafter. A major cross-country tour will launch in July.
            "We never left a session that wasn't flat-out fun," continues the singer, songwriter and guitarist who solely produced the album-a career first -and wrote the music and lyrics for these 12 songs of romantic cravings and deeply felt heartaches.
            Mixed by David Leonard, who did the same honors for DWIGHT's classic albums If There Was A Way and This Time, the new disc is distinguished by DWIGHT's signature panoramic meld. Country, rockabilly, chiming British Invasion guitars, classic Southern rock, Bakersfield grit-and more-are seamlessly blended in the finely etched arrangements on BLAME THE VAIN. You can hear DWIGHT embrace tradition one moment, then playfully uproot it the next, recording with such musicians as ace guitarist Keith Gattis, keyboardist Skip Edwards, bassist Taras Prodaniuk, Mitch Marine on drums, and legendary percussionist Bobbye Hall, whose work is heard (although she's often uncredited) on many classic Motown albums. She was first credited on Marvin Gaye's album What's Goin' On.
            For some "psycho-hillbilly squall," says DWIGHT, there's the song "Intentional Heartache." He ups the ante with "She'll Remember": the tongue-in-cheek intro-"an homage to the Moody Blues, ELP via Monty Python," explains DWIGHT-gives way to a bracing country rock tune with disarming tempo shifts. There's also the subtly poignant innocent plea of the upbeat shuffle "I Want To Love Again," of which DWIGHT enthuses, "I have to pay tribute to Buck and the Bakersfield sound on every album." The album's title track "Blame The Vain" is classic DWIGHT: a self-effacing confessional (where he concludes "...then I just blame me") set against a beautifully raw ascending guitar riff.
            This marks Dwight's first album of all-new material since 2003's Population Me on Audium/Koch Records. His current release, The Very Best of Dwight Yoakam, was #28 on the Billboard Top Country Album Chart after more than 30 weeks of release. The disc reaches all the way back to his two million-selling 1986 debut album GUITARS, CADILLACS, ETC. ETC., which secured his stature among country's elite, while subsequent albums like HILLBILLY DELUXE, BUENAS NOCHES FROM A LONELY ROOM, JUST LOOKIN' FOR A HIT, IF THERE WAS A WAY and THIS TIME all achieved platinum or multi-platinum status.
            The two-time Grammy winner has garnered 21 Grammy nominations throughout his career, while selling more than 23 million albums worldwide and earning praise from the likes of Time magazine, hailing him as "A Renaissance Man," Rolling Stone, noting "he has no contemporary peer," and Vanity Fair, proclaiming "Yoakam strides the divide between rock's lust and country's lament."
            This year, Dwight will have a strong presence in the film world. Look for starring roles in Bandidas with Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones), plus a cameo in the Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughan movie The Wedding Crashers. Dwight first achieved notice as an actor with his film debut in Red Rock West. He went on to achieve major acclaim for his roles in Sling Blade and Panic Room. He starred in South Of Heaven, West of Hell, also directing the film and co-writing its screenplay and has also been seen in Roswell, The Newton Boys, The Little Death and The Minus Man and numerous other films that can be found on IMDB.

What's new in Branson for 2005
            By Special Release to Branson Courier, 03/13/2005 - Guests visiting the area in 2005 can expect to see new shows, attractions, special events, festivals, restaurants, lodging amenities, retail shops, outdoor recreational activities and more as the Branson/Lakes Area continues to grow and expand its wealth of vacation amenities.
            This year marks a record in new development for the Branson/Lakes Area with the addition of Branson Landing, now under construction in historic downtown Branson. The New Shanghai Theatre opens in May and a historic event to welcome home Vietnam veterans is scheduled for June. For updates throughout the year, call the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau toll free at (800) 214-3661 or visit, to sign up to receive the Chamber's monthly e-newsletter.

  • Andy Williams and Petula Clark perform together at The Moon River Theatre in the spring and fall.
  • David Copperfield at The Moon River Theatre June 13-16
  • The New Shanghai Theatre on Hwy. 165, Branson's newest theater, opens May 15 featuring the New Shanghai Circus.
  • The Branson Variety Theater presents Bobby Vinton in concert with Vinton family members and a live orchestra.
  • The Welk Theater hosts Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers with Pam Tillis (Sept - Oct), and Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers with the Lennon Sisters (Nov - Dec). Siegfried & Roy Present Darren Romeo, The Voice of Magic runs April - December.
  • Circle B Chuckwagon Dinner & Show opens at the newly renovated Dinner Bell Restaurant across from The Grand Palace.
  • Clay Cooper's Country Music Express opens at the Caravelle Theater.
  • Les Brown's Band of Renown with Les Brown Jr. performs at the Mickey Gilley Theater.
  • George Jones, Bill Engvall, Merle Haggard and The Von Trapp Children join the Biggest Concert Series at The Grand Palace.
  • John Wayne and America's Yodeling Sweetheart perform at the Nova Theater
  • The Yeary's Music Show and "Act of Godä join #1 Hits of the 60's at the Musical Palace.
  • Neil Goldberg's Cirque show appears at The Remington Theatre.
  • The Sons of the Pioneers perform their chuckwagon dinner show at The Shepherd of the Hills Pavilion Theatre.

  • Acrobats of China featuring the New Shanghai Circus mark the opening of their 8th season in Branson with a new theater on Hwy. 165, the New Shanghai Theatre.
  • Buck Trent, in his 14th season, opens his show at the Grand Country Music Hall.
  • "From Patsy to Present" plays at the Branson Mall Music Theater.
  • Doug Gabriel opens his show at the Jim Stafford Theatre.

  • Silver Dollar City presents Powder Keg, a new $10 million explosive-launch roller coaster that launches riders from 0 to 53 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and hits speeds up to 64 miles per hour.
  • Silver Dollar City presents a salute to the American cowboy during their Festival of American Music & Craftsmanship, September 8 - October 29. Performances by Riders in the Sky, Michael Martin Murphy, Buck Taylor, Roy Rogers Jr., and the palomino-riding Sons of Tennessee along with a tribute to John Wayne are part of the entertainment, along with hundreds of musicians playing bluegrass, string band, country and gospel. Visiting craftsmen demonstrate coppersmithing, stone masonry, and Best of Missouri Hands juried artists demonstrate pewtersmithing, pottery, weaving, watercolor and bentwood furniture making.
  • Silver Dollar City's Bluegrass & Barbecue festival, May 21- June 5, features the upbeat sounds of American bluegrass music along with the aromas and flavors of an all-American barbecue, with Kansas City-style, Memphis favorites and Texas traditional barbecue. Sample 300 barbecue sauces and visit the Barbecue Expo for the latest in grills, demonstrations and tips from the experts. See regional bluegrass artists and rising stars including Blue Highway, NewFound Road, Rarely Herd and the Chapmans.
  • The Branson Balloon offers passengers a 15-minute ride 500 feet into the air over Shepherd of the Hills Expressway offering a bird's-eye view of the Branson landscape. It is the largest tethered helium balloon in the U. S. at 200,000 cubic feet.
  • "Titanic... The Legend Continuesä opens on Hwy. 76 at the former site of Thunder Road Amusement Center. The attraction will feature re-creations of first class staterooms, third class austere accommodations, the Grand Staircase, plus an interactive area for passengers to experience the touch of an iceberg. Visitors can view over 200 priceless artifacts and historic treasures, and will be able to share the personal, heroic and tragic stories of its passengers.
  • Playtime Pizza is a 30,000-square foot complex with indoor go-kart track, 2 levels of arcades, prizes and shops. The dining area seats 520 in individually themed party rooms and private group rooms.
  • A new entertainment complex on Hwy. 76 also opening in 2005 will include a state-of-the-art live entertainment theater, The Belair, featuring Rock Legends of the 50s and 60s. Grammy Award-winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and several other artists will perform. The complex will house "57 Heaven,ä a 32,000-square foot exhibit that takes visitors on a walk down memory lane through lifestyle exhibits displaying the mood and spirit of 1957, including an unparalleled museum-quality collection of classic cars, all vintage 1957. There will also be a themed restaurant and gift shop.
  • The new 2-mile Table Rock Lakeshore Trail connects the Dewey Short Visitor Center with the Showboat Branson Belle and the Table Rock State Park. The paved trail is open each day until dusk.

  • The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas presents the Biblical account of early history at the Museum of Earth History and a new Holy Land exhibit.

  • BransonFest, April 5-9, held at the Welk Resort Theatre will feature a sampling of Branson's finest entertainment, food, arts and culture in '05.
  • The Mid America Gospel Music & Singing Convention will be held May 13 -15 at the Tri-Lakes Music Center and feature choirs from all across the country as well as gospel music groups such as The Dixie Melody Boys, the Florida Boys Quartet, The Hoskins Family and Christian comedian Aaron Wilburn.
  • Mardi Gras in Branson, June 2-4, will feature new musical groups, more food, more vendors and more fun. This Cajun/Zydeco festival celebrates "La joie de vive" Cajun-style with a touch of the Ozarks.
  • Operation Homecoming USA, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, presents Welcome Home - America's Tribute to Vietnam Veterans June 13-19. The homecoming entails numerous events throughout the Branson area including military demonstrations and displays, banquets, a fishing tournament, a golf tournament and a 10-hour outdoor concert on Saturday night featuring some of the biggest acts in the entertainment industry including the Beach Boys, the Fifth Dimension, Creedance Clearwater Revisited, Ann-Margret, the Doobie Brothers, Yakov Smirnoff, the Supremes with Mary Wilson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Tony Orlando, Les Brown's Band of Renown with Les Brown, Jr., and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

  • Boyd's Bear Country opens on Hwy. 76 behind the Nova 4 Movie Theater and offers whimsical and 'folksy with attitude' gifts and collectibles. Guests can shop, and adopt and stuff their own bears.

  • Chateau On The Lake opens the $2 million, 10,000-square foot full-service Spa Botanica in June.
  • College of the Ozarks offers the grand 97,000-square-foot, 4-story Keeter Center, which houses a new restaurant, meeting and conference space, lodging rooms, classrooms and more.
  • Pointe Royale Condominium Resort Golf & Conference Center has a new clubhouse and meeting facility for members and guests.
  • Top of the Rock Golf Course is opening a new Arnold Palmer-designed signature practice facility.
  • The City of Branson is developing a new Recreational Center including a 7,500- square foot fitness facility, two basketball courts, volleyball courts, a 12,249-square foot swimming pool, baseball/softball fields, soccer fields and a 1.5 mile asphalt walking track
  • Chateau On The Lake developer, John Q. Hammons Hotels, announced plans in 2004 to build Charlevoix, a five-star, 18-story luxury hotel next to Chateau on the Lake in 2007.

    Johnny, June Boxes Sets Coming
                The music of country music's most beloved couple will be celebrated with a pair of upcoming Columbia/Legacy multi-disc sets. Due June 7, "Johnny Cash - The Legend" and June Carter Cash's "Keep on the Sunny Side - Her Life In Music" will blend well-known and rare tracks in deluxe packages boasting extensive liner notes and vintage photography.
                "The Legend" will span four discs and 107 Cash tracks, covering 1955-2002 and all of the Man in Black's major recordings for the Sun and Columbia labels. Seven of the included tracks are previously unreleased, including "It Takes One To Know Me." That track was written by his wife's daughter, Carlene Carter, as a teenager, and recorded in 1977. Carter recently added vocals to the recording that appears here.
                The other unreleased tracks are "Doin' My Time," "I'm Never Gonna Roam Again," "When I'm Gray," a demo version of "Down In the Valley" and a version of Billy Joe Shaver's "You Can't Beat Jesus Christ" that all date to the early 1980s, and a 1973 recording of "I've Been Working On the Railroad"
                A limited-edition package will include a hardcover coffee table book, a bonus CD recording of Cash's first radio appearance in 1955 and a DVD featuring the 1980 CBS television special "Johnny Cash - The First 25 Years."
                The two-disc "Keep On the Sunny Side" examines the 64-year career of his wife, a member of the seminal Carter Family and a spirited and soulful songwriter and performer in her own right. The set boasts 40 songs culled from such labels as Arhoolie, RCA, Dualtone and Columbia. - Barry A. Jeckell, NY

    Goldie Hill, Dead at 72
                A long-time member of the Grand Ole Opry has died. Goldie Hill died Thursday, February 24th night at Baptist Hospital of Cancer, Nashville. Goldie was 72 years old. She began singing in her teens with her brothers in Texas then joined Webb Pierce's band in the 50's. Once she arrived in Nashville, she was dubbed "The Golden Hillbilly." Her biggest hit came in 1953 with "I Let The Stars Get in My Eyes." She retired from performing after marrying fellow Opry Member Carl Smith in the late 50's.

                (Biography by Al Campbell) - Country singer Goldie Hill, younger sister of Tommy Hill, was born in 1933 in Karnes County, TX. Music played a huge part in the Hill family. The radio was one way to block out the daily backbreaking work of picking cotton. Goldie soaked up the popular country music of the era and developed a talent for singing. Early on, Goldie's older brothers Tommy and Ken left a life of cotton picking determined to make a name for themselves in country music. Within a few years, they were backing up Hank Williams, Johnny Horton, and Webb Pierce. Sister Goldie officially got her start on the Louisiana Hayride in 1953 as part of Tommy's band. Billed as "the Golden Hillbilly," she scored a number one hit in 1953 with her second single, "I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes," originally written by Tommy for Kitty Wells. Among her other charting tunes were several duets with either Ernest Tubb's son Justin Tubb or Red Sovine, including the big hit "Yankee Go Home." In 1957 she married country singer Carl Smith following his divorce from June Carter. In the late '60s she made a short-lived comeback as Goldie Hill Smith, without much fanfare. Following Carl Smith's retirement from music in the late '70s, he and Goldie lived on their horse farm outside of Franklin, TN, and the two began to show horses professionally during the course of the decade.

    Sunny Spencer Dies at 75
                The Sons of the Pioneers and The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and Outdoor Theatre Family are deeply saddened by the loss of long-time Pioneer performer, Robert "Sunny" Spencer, who passed away in Tucson, Arizona, Saturday evening, February 5.
                As a young teenager, while working at radio station WLEX, announcer Tom Nolan nicknamed Robert "Sunny" and both the name and personality have made Sunny a favorite of friends, family, and fans alike ever since. Trail Boss Dale Warren, a 52-year member of the Sons of the Pioneers and personal friend of Sunny Spencer for over sixty years, said, "Anyone who has known or worked with Sunny, or enjoyed his music, knows that the name is the man! There is no name that could have captured the smile, musical talents, and contagious personality, other than Sunny."
                The Shepherd of the Hills owner, Gary Snadon, stated, "Although Sunny and the Pioneers have only made The Shepherd of the Hills their home for one season now, Sunny had already made a place for himself in the hearts and minds of the Shepherd family. His smile, wave, outgoing spirit, and incredible stage presence will be greatly missed by all of us who had come to know and love Sunny, and looked forward to seeing him each day."
                Sunny had been in Tucson with the Pioneers appearing at their winter home, the Hidden Valley Inn, and was looking forward to a return to The Shepherd of the Hills for their second season in the new Pavilion Theatre.
                A memorial service was held on Wednesday, February 9 with funeral services in Branson on February 13. Warren stated that the Pioneers will not be able to travel back to Branson for the funeral services, as they will fulfill their commitment to sell-out crowds in Tucson.
                "The Show Must Go On" it would be Sunny. "He would certainly understand, and I know he wouldn't have it any other way," said Warren. "It's really the greatest tribute we can give to his memory." However, plans are underway for a community-wide memorial service in tribute to Sunny Spencer, hosted by the Sons of the Pioneers and The Shepherd of the Hills upon the return of the Pioneers to their summer and fall home, here in Branson. Details of the memorial will be released as soon as they are finalized.
                Robert "Sunny" Spencer brought to the Sons of the Pioneers a depth of talent that is both unique and impressive. His fine vocal ability, his mastery of the fiddle, clarinet, guitar, banjo, mandolin, sax, trumpet, bass, fiddle, in addition to his often outlandish sense of humor, has added a unique quality to the Pioneers, as evidenced by the love of millions of fans over t he twenty-one years he performed with the Pioneers. As Dale Warren described so simply, yet eloquently, "There was only one Sunny Spencer!"
                The Sons of the Pioneers will open their season in Branson on May 16.
    -Branson Courier

    Loretta Wins Grammy
                Veteran country singer Loretta Lynn, who launched a bold comeback last year by joining forces with Detroit rocker Jack White of the White Stripes, won her first Grammy Award in 33 years on Sunday, Feb. 13th. Lynn, 69, who received five nominations in four categories, won the country collaboration with vocals prize for her performance with White on "Portland Oregon."
                Lynn's album, "Van Lear Rose," was also nominated for best country album, the winner of which will be announced during the televised ceremony later in the day. Lynn's sole Grammy to date was for "After the Fire is Gone," her duet with the late Conway Twitty, which they won in 1972.
                "Van Lear Rose," the 71st album of her 45-year career, earned wide critical acclaim and attention from a new generation of fans, thanks to the unlikely involvement of White, who coaxed her out of semi-retirement.
                The cherubic-faced frontman with the hallowed indie duo the White Stripes was a longtime fan and journeyed to Nashville in 2003, where they ended up recording most of the album in two days. In addition to producing and arranging the album, he sang with Lynn on the atmospheric single "Portland Oregon," which won unexpected airplay on rock radio stations. Lynn's chart-topping autobiographical 1970 tune "Coal Miner's Daughter" inspired both a best-selling memoir and an Oscar-winning film starring Sissy Spacek.
                Mentored by the late Patsy Cline (news), she carved out a career as a feminist heroine. Her other No. 1 country hits included "Don't Come Home Drinkin' (with Lovin' On Your Mind)," "Fist City" and "Woman of the World."

    Sammi Smith R.I.P. Feb. 13
                Sammi Smith to be buried in Guymon, OK. Singer/songwriter Sammi Smith passed away after a lengthy illness at her home in Oklahoma City. She was 61 years old. She was born in Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 5, 1943 and was known for singing songs true to the gritty reality of everyday life. Sammi Smith was considered one of the true female country songbirds of the 1970s and 1980s. She was unafraid to sing songs that spoke of real life and its hardships, and was known for her husky soulful voice.
                She began to sing in clubs at the age of 11 and had her first hit with "So Long Charlie Brown" in 1967. She followed in 1970 with her first major hit "Help Me Make It Through the night" which went to the top of the country charts and also became a Top Ten pop hit. She wrote songs for fellow artists, including "Cedartown, Georgia" for Waylon Jennings.
                During the late 1970s and early 1980s, she had chart success with many other songs and her last hits came in the late 1980s with "What a Lie" and "I Cry When I'm Alone." Her final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry was with her son, actor and recording artist Waylon Payne in August of 2004.
                At the time of her death, an independent film documentary was being filmed about her l ife and years in the music business.
                She is survived by son Waylon Payne of Nashville and Los Angeles; sons Robert White, Bobby White and daughter Snow Jewel White Showalter of Ft. Smith, Ark., her two adopted sons Alfred and Albert Keay of Globe, Ariz., stepchildren James Johnson and Jennifer Johnson of Bristow, stepmother Edith Smith of Guymon, brother Bobby J. Johnson of Sacra, N.M., Jerry Lathrop of Boise City, special aunt Betty Kidwell of Guymon, two nieces and 11 grandchildren.
                All memorials are requested sent to : MUSICARES 1904 Wedgewood, Nashville, Tenn. 37212.

    Doug Lang wrote:
    A singer with a gift for how to float
    a line across the measures, finding
    hidden values in each word.

    I'm not sure she knew just how good
    she was. The industry certainly didn't,
    another talent driven off the main road
    by the currents of the mediocre river.

    Roy Stamps wrote:
    I have been thinking about the 35 years that I have known Sammi...the very high points and the very low ones, and all those crazy things in the middle. Waylon Jennings called her, "The Girl Hero", I never really knew why, but she liked the title. Believe it or not, there was a time when she was a much bigger star that Mickey or Willie, yet she did everything that she could to bring them into her spotlight so they could share it. For a long time she was the only female member what has been called "The Outlaws". Waylon's wife, Jessie, was around, but she never knew the success that Sammi had. Luther Perkins brought Sammi to Johnny Cash and John helped her get her first record contract. She had been singing in bars since she was nine or ten, and she attributed her sexy voice to breathing all that smoke at such a young age. Like Mickey, it was the smoke that killed her. Sam would give you the shirt off her back if she thought you needed it. She never collected a dime from her record company for one of the biggest selling records in country music history. "When she won the Grammy for "Help Me Make It Through The Night" she didn't attend the awards show because she couldn't afford the trip. They shipped her Grammy to her and when she took it over to Waylon's, he dropped it and broke the sound horn. When her record company, Mega, went bankrupt, her master tapes were sold by the court, she did recieve these back about a year ago when the individual who bought them died. She signed with Electra, but overproduction and bad marketing cut short what should have been a long career. She had a dream of building a school on the Apachie Reservation in Arizona, and held several concerts to raise money for the project. The fact that it never happened was one of her big regrets. She was a direct decendant of the famed Apachie Chief Cochise. About 23 years ago Sammi married an Oklahoma Cowboy. She and John ran a ranch about fifty miles from Tulsa. From time to time she would make a personal appearance at various Opry shows in Oklahoma and Texas, or show up when Willie was in the area to sing with him on her big hit song. Her health started it's downward turn fifteen years ago. Her relationship with John deteriorated after twenty years, resulting in a separation two years ago. Over the years Sammi maintained regular contact with several old friends. Mary Francis, who some of you met at G-3, "X" Linclon, who had played with Sammi's band, and, I'm proud to say, Sylvia and me, among others. She never wanted anyone to know how sick or broke she really was. A few years ago I called Mickey, put him on hold and called Sammi, it was the first time the two old friends had spoken in years. I listened for a while and then laid the phone down to do something and forgot about it. About an hour later I saw the phone laying there and picked it up...they were still going strong. It took a super human effort for her to sing both nights at Gathering III. It was something that she wanted to do for Mickey and his family and friends. To the best of my knowledge, it was one of the last times she sang in public. She loved Jonmark's guitar playing and Marie's violin and had made plans to be at Gathering IV where she wanted to record a group of Mickey's songs, but she was too sick to make the trip from Oklahoma City to Austin. Tonight I thought of those who went before her...all friends...Roger Miller, Mickey, Johnny Cash, Waylon, Buckey Meadows, Merle Kilgore, Jimmy Day, Joe Poovey, Johnny Carroll and so many others. One thing is for sure...there's one hell of a guitar pull going on about now. Services for Sammi will be at ten in the morning on Wednesday in Oklahoma City. This is one appearance by the Girl Hero I will not miss. God Bless, Sam....I'm going to miss you. Let us be grateful to people who make us happy They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom... Marcel Proust

    Merle Kilgore Dead at Age 70
                The distinctive voice of Merle Kilgore, one of the most significant songwriters and entertainers in American musical history was forever silenced February 6, 2005. He died from congestive heart failure onset from medical complications related to ongoing treatment for cancer over the last few months. He passed away in a hospital in Mexico seeking alternative ways to fight the cancer.
                He is survived by his wife, Judy, sons Steve and Duane Kilgore, daughters, Pam Compton, Kim Pomeroy, and Shane McBee, 8 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter.
                Born Wyatt Merle Kilgore on August 9, 1934, in Chickasha, Oklahoma - Kilgore spent much of his growing up years in Shreveport, Louisiana. As a boy of 14, Merle cut his teeth in the music industry carrying the guitar of Hank Williams Sr. to and from the stage of the historic Louisiana Hayride. Who could have known that as an adult, Merle would devote much of his career to carrying the name, the legacy, and musical heritage of the Williams family to new audiences, new heights, and virtually every great stage in country music and beyond as the manager of Hank Williams Sr.'s pride and 'Bocephus' -- Hank Williams Jr.
                And never has the word ;manager' covered a broader definition. When Buddy Lee and Hank's Jr.'s mother, the late Audrey Williams, put Merle on the bill and on the road with Jr. in the '60's there was a method to their plan. The teenage Hank Jr. was growing up in a tough industry without the benefit of his legendary father. In stepped Merle Kilgore's handsome young entertainer, fifteen years older than Hank, who had already written a #1 hit for Webb Pierce, 'More And More,' and followed it with monster hits including 'Wolverton Mountain,' a 10 million seller for Claude King, and 'Ring Of Fire,' written with June Carter Cash, recorded by Johnny Cash and on its way to selling 16 million records for Johnny, June and Merle.
                Few artists on the day wanted to share a stage with Merle Kilgore - even fewer wanted to follow him on stage. Merle simply stole the show on whatever stage you placed him. With his off the wall humor, string of hit songs, and glitzy brand of showmanship, rare that an artist of Merle Kilgore's caliber would take a step back from the spotlight to consider his touring partner - the teenage Hank Jr. - on his way to carving a legendary career of his own. Maybe it was a duty Merle felt to Hank Sr. ... and maybe it was just the stuff legend is made of - but to say theirs was to become a friendship and a working relationship built on mutual respect - and yes - love-would be the true definition. Somewhere on some stage, in some forgotten town long ago Merle Kilgore and Hank Jr. crossed the invisible line to form a bond 'of the road' - and became the kind of brothers and 'family' that only those in the entertainment industry can fully appreciate and understand.
                Reached by phone with the news of the passing of his long time friend and manager, Hank Williams Jr. was unable to make a formal statement at this time.
                Greg Oswald, Sr. Vice-President at William Morris, and responsible agent for Hank Williams jr. was a long time friend of Merle's and in constant communication with him throughout his illness. 'When my brother called me just a few hours ago with the news, my immediate thought was that only six short weeks ago I lost my mother - and the pain was equally as sharp when that news came across the phone line tonight about Merle. He was family not only to Hank, but to me and to so many in the industry. We have suffered the loss of a truly unique and great man in the country music community of the caliber we'll never again see in our lifetime within the industry.'
                Merle Kilgore's management of Hank Williams Jr.'s career brought him accolades along the corridors of Music Row - including CMA 'Manager Of The Year.' He served on the CMA Board Of Directors, was elected Vice President of CMA, as well as President of both the Nashville Songwriter's Association International and the Nashville Songwriter's Foundation. He served two terms as President of ROPE. Merle became an Honorary State Senator in the State of Tennessee, was inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame, and even made the hall of fame in his old high school alma mater - Byrd High-- back in Shreveport. Senator Kilgore has had an illustrious life - from double dating with pal Elvis Presley to acting roles in seven movie productions.
                Through it all, Merle continued not only to be one of the country music industry's most successful personal managers - but an artist in his own right. His acting roles, accolades as a performer, and songbook as a multi-million selling writer would take volumes to record.
                Merle Kilgore was a friend to all within the sound of his voice and he continued throughout life to encourage those within the family of Country Music to love what they did. His legacy will continue with the legions of friends and fans around the world who will insure Merle Kilgore's legend will forever remain among those of the true giants in the music industry.
    Photo: Barbara Dunn King -

    Now Available - "I Still Miss Someone:
    Friends and Family Remember Johnny Cash"

    Book signing party photos here.

    New Louisiana Hayride Book:
    "Radio and Roots Music Along the Red River"

               Overshadowed by its Nashville counterpart and mostly forgotten today, KWKH's "Louisiana Hayride" remains a critical part of country music's history.
               The large brick building at 705 Elvis Presley Avenue might not look like much at first glance, but between 1948 and 1960, Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium was known to radio listeners worldwide as the home of the "Cradle of the Stars." From the auditorium's stage, KWKH-AM broadcast "The Louisiana Hayride," a weekly Saturday night showcase of comedy routines, advertisements, gospel tunes, and - most importantly - country and western songs. The roster of legendary "Hayride" acts reads like a virtual who's who of classic country artists: Hank Williams, Red Sovine, Slim Whitman, Leon Payne, Webb Pierce, Jimmy C. Newman, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Kitty Wells, Johnnie and Jack, Floyd Cramer, The Browns, Faron Young and Elvis Presley. During its twelve year run, the "Hayride" was beamed from KWKH's powerful 50-kilowatt tower to twenty-eight states. The CBS Radio Network picked up the show as part of its "Saturday Night, Country Style" and was heard around the globe on the Far East Network of the Armed Forces Radio Service. Yet, despite the caliber of its performers and the size of its audience, the "Hayride" could never escape the shadow of the slicker, more tradition bound "Grand Ole Opry." Since its final broadcast, the "Hayride" has been relegated to little more than a footnote to all but the most die-hard music critic and country music fan.
               LOUISIANA HAYRIDE: Radio and Roots Music Along the Red River (Oxford University Press; ISBN: 0-19-516751-1; $29.95; December 2004) by Tracey E.W. Laird pays long overdue tribute to one of the most important regional radio shows in popular music. Not only did the "Hayride" kick off the careers of country music's most honored luminaries, its embrace of untested styles and performers set it apart from the more revered "Opry." By allowing rockabilly newcomers like Elvis Presley to take the same stage as beloved country and western artists like Hank Williams, the "Hayride" boasts the singular distinction of launching both modern country and rock and roll.
               LOUISIANA HAYRIDE is also the story of northwest Louisiana's unique social, cultural and historical musical background. Laird takes readers on an immersive journey into Shreveport's early lawless river town days and explores the impact nineteenth-century music, the phonograph, the rise of radio, ad regional native sons like Huddle "Leadbelly" Ledbetter and Jimmie Davis all had on the music and the musicians that would come to prominence on the "Louisiana Hayride." Rich in historical detail, LOUISIANA HAYRIDE, is certain appeal to roots music fans, lovers of country music, and anyone eager to learn more about American music.
               About the Author: Tracey E.W. Laird is an Assistant Professor of Music at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA. She is a native of the Hayride's hometown of Shreveport, LA.
              Radio and Roots Music Along the Red River
              By Tracey E.W. Laird
              ISBN: 0-19-516751-1
              Oxford University Press
              198 pages
              Availble Now
              Book Review to come

    "Jamboree on the Mountain
    May 6th, 7th and 8th

                On I-24 between Nashville & Chattanooga there is a mountain on the Cumberland Plateau and a town named Monteagl. STARDUST, WHP, COUNTRY DISCOVERY, UNIVERSAL SOUND, MISTY, ECHOTA, WIZARD, THUNDERHAWK labels plan to have their artists there ... and there will be more! ALL labels and artists are welcome!
                No artist that performs on the show will pay for a ticket, and no fee will be charged for the artist showcase. Fans, Friends & Family will have to buy tickets ($10.00 a day or $25.00 FOR ALL 3 DAYS). This money will go to the owners of the "STAGE" to offset their expenses. No money to the promoter or anyone else that is helping sponsor this great event. Think of it like a cross between a Willie Nelson Picnic and Fan Fair and you will have the picture of what it will be like.
                Artists, Labels, etc. for more info get in touch with Colonel Buster Doss CEO, Stardust, Wizard & Thunderhawk Records, 341 Billy Goat Hill Rd.. Winchester, TN 37398. Phone 931-649-2577. Fax 931-649-2732, Email

    Country Entertainers
    Remember Johnny Carson

    "I'm not certain that any entertainment show can quite compare to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Comedians and artists were 'made' on his show. When I received my first invitation to appear on his show many, many years ago, that was at a time when Country artists were rarely ever featured. Being on his show was like winning an industry award for me. When a country music artist from my era was a special guest of Johnny Carson, then - we knew we had made it. I'm extremely proud to have had the honor."
    -Crystal Gayle, Grammy Award winning entertainer

    "Johnny Carson is one of the greatest entertainers of all time in my book. There is no, nor will there be, another like him. I have to admit that I was pretty excited to just be in the studio. That was back when 'Going Through The Big D' was at the top of the charts and I thought - man, I have made it! I'm gonna hang with Johnny Carson! It ended up that Johnny couldn't make it after all and Jay Leno filled in. But, he left me a note to say 'sorry kid - ' I'm really sorry too, cause I never had the chance to meet him."
    -Mark Chesnutt, who made his first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1994, shares his story surrounding his first visit to the studio:

    "I was fortunate enough to be on Johnny's show twice. The time I shared the make-up room with him is my favorite memory. He was so easy to talk to. Another interesting time from the show was when my manager and I parked our rental car in Ed McMahon's space. We got in big trouble for that one. Johnny Carson was such a nice guy and one of the biggest influences on the entertainment world. He was an absolute leader."
    -Janie Fricke, 3x Female Vocalist of the Year

    "Johnny Carson was the master of television. I was fortunate enough to be on his show seven times. Being invited on the show in the first place was a true honor, but being asked back was the real thrill. I will never forget one night when Johnny asked me to perform two songs - I knew then that the comedy guests must be bad, because they were not getting their full time. Then as I was headed to the stage, Johnny said 'Hey Lee, only one song,' so the comedian must have redeemed themselves. He will be missed by all. He made us all laugh and will continue to for years to come. My memories from being on his show will always be among my favorites."
    -Lee Greenwood, Grammy Award winning entertainer

    "Johnny Carson was a natural. He was the 'Top Banana.' He helped a lot of talent. Many entertainers owe their income to him. When you were a guest on his show, you wouldn't see him until you were on stage with him. All of his questions just came off the top of his head, which is one reason he was so great. Johnny got on to me at one point for not being on his show for eight years. Of course I wanted to tell him that I had tried, but his people wouldn't let me. I feel like I had a real friendship with the guy. He was so classy."

    -Ray Price, Country Music Hall of Fame Member

    "We were on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and we were somewhat disappointed when Johnny was out that evening and Jay Leno sat in," Richard laughed. "Doc Severson and the other horns players from the house band sat in and played "Some Folks Like To Steal" from our first album. They were all wearing coon-skin hats! It was pretty funny! Although I never personally met Johnny, I was a huge fan, and he'll be missed!"

    -Richard Young of the Kentucky HeadHunters

    Carl West R.I.P.
                On Monday, January 10, 2005, former West Coast Playboy Carl West passed away, he was 69. Carl, who played steel guitar with Wynn Stewart's West Coast Playboys from 1957 to 1959 began his career in the early 1950s. He also worked in various bands with future Champ band member Dale Norris, as well as Eddie and Hank Cochran before they started their recording careers as the Cochran Brothers.
               In the 1960s he worked with a variety of bandleaders, the longest of which was Eddie Drake and a semi-regular gig with Jerry Inman which led to Carl appearing as a sideman on Inman's 1967 country album of Beatles' songs. He also recorded various over the years including dates for Wynn Stewart, Bobby Vee, Dorsey Burnette and the Byrds.
               In the early 1970s he retired from the music scene, taking a day job for close to 30 years. After retirement Carl once again took up the pedal steel guitar, although as a recreational pastime. After Carl had experienced a short period of ill health, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away quietly at home with his family at his side.

    Hollywood Country
                by Jonny Whiteside (LA Weekly) - Don't look for the soul of country music in glitzy Nashville ‹ or even Bakersfield. It's right here on the grand ole streets of L.A.
                Long fabled for its vaunted country music tradition, Bakersfield is more and more like a ghost town with an ever-dwindling handful of regular stages for country acts. Two of these stages feature Buck Owens and Red Simpson, among the very best this hallowed hicksville has produced, but Owens has been missing a lot of Crystal Palace dates recently due to poor health, and Simpson doesn't even bother to fire up his Telecaster anymore, doing a single set with an electronic keyboard every lonesome Monday night at the classic corrugated-tin tonk Trout's in nearby Oildale. At Simpson's once-a-month Grange Hall seniors dance, the crowd fuels up not on bourbon and bennies but coffee and cookies. You can't even get a damn beer.
                Miles later down the Alfred Harrell Highway, I arrive at Ethel's Old Corral Café, a decayed shack with a pair of decrepit buckboards bookending the front-porch roof and an eye-popping 25-foot-high shirtless fiberglass Indian brave standing sentinel in a parking lot full of Harley hogs and pickup trucks. Inside, it's midnight dark. There are rough-hewn picnic tables and benches, drinkers two deep at the bar and, in the corner, a glittering red drum kit surrounded by a handful of scruffy jammers. As likely to do an Alan Jackson song as they are a Haggard tune, the revolving troupe of players, equally primitive and accomplished by turns, demonstrate the fetishistic tribal rite with boozy confidence.
                After a few hours and a few trips out of the frosty-beer-and-AC womb of the Corral for a smoke in the desert furnace, a lulling hot-and-cold sauna effect takes over. Count your stinking blessings, son, because it turns out that there indeed ain't no place like home: California's best country music is still an almost exclusively Los Angeles­centered proposition.
                The history of Los Angeles country is phenomenal, going back to 1929's barefoot Beverly Hillbillies, the Sons of the Pioneers, Roy and Gene and the radical late-'40s guitar stylings of Jimmy Bryant and Roy Nichols. These were players whose deconstructions of hillbilly take-off guitar solos tended toward an almost hard-bop expressionism, which led to the austere modern approach of Missouri-born, Los Angeles­based Wynn Stewart. Stewart, a protean auteur whose prime, from 1957 to 1967, stretches through rockabilly, ballads, honky-tonk and some of the best death songs ever ("Long Black Limousine," "I'm Gonna Kill You"), was an unprecedented stylist whose deep influence directly codified the so-called Bakersfield Sound and significantly reached several future giants. The most notable were Waylon Jennings, a fiercely vocal fan who recorded several of Wynn's tunes and taught himself to play guitar "so it sounded just like Moon's steel" (as in Ralph Mooney, the longtime Stewart sideman who subsequently became a defining force in Jennings' 1970s Waylors), and Merle Haggard, who played bass for Stewart after getting out of San Quentin and later invested the singer's updated honky-tonk form with an explicit realism. Buck Owens and Johnny Paycheck also learned much from the Stewart model.
                But the pursuit of a California country kick never ends, and today there's plenty to be proud of. Solid hardcore talents like Rick Shea, Patty Booker, Kathy Robertson, the expanded-consciousness artistry of I See Hawks in L.A., the incomparable guitarist Pete Anderson, and an ever-swelling army of bluegrass pickers, country rockers, offbeat cowpunk shouters and retro-fixated revivalists all make for a bed of potentialities that's far more heartening than it is funereal. But instead of celebrating the established voices, this story is a tour through Los Angeles' country music underworld, stalking the worthy chosen few that deserve attention beyond their loyal fan base.
                In California, it's always been about the extreme to which one can take the music while remaining clearly linked to tradition, and what has always differentiated California country from the Southeastern model is its embrace of the aggressive, the offbeat ‹ a Westerner's attitude that drove decades of vibrant, progressive activity. It's a connected manner of legitimate communicative expression rooted in the form, rather than an attempt to simulate that form. That's a subtle distinction, one that has nothing whatsoever to do with having smelt a lot of mule shit (as Hank Sr. memorably put it) or "paying dues" or chopping cotton, but has everything to do with the differentiation between covetous aping and natural perceptive sensitivity. What it's all about is combining the form with psychic gravity ‹ something that cannot be simulated.
                "I didn't think I was any good until people started saying that I was," says 26-year-old singer-songwriter Molly Howson. Standing out front of Hallenbeck's General Store, the North Hollywood coffeehouse where she's just delivered a powerful set, Howson drags hungrily on a cigarette. Onstage, she'd torn into the lyrics with almost masculine gusto, and her material was both idiosyncratic and extraordinary. Snarling about unpacking her belongings after a romance went south, only to find she had brought along her ex's "fuckin' fishin' hooks," or careening through "Jack Daniels Did," a hungover, scarcely remorseful tale of completely losing control at last night's saloon (the title line is preceded, in admirably Loretta-esque fashion, by "My Mama didn't raise me that way, but last night . . ."), Howson had considerable impact ‹ even the low-rent NoHo intelligentsia, who had been groaning "Oh, no ‹ a country singer?" turned out to be enthusiastic recipients of her slightly cracked, thoroughly genuine songs.
                Howson is a powerful anomaly, a Hollywood-born high school dropout whose formative experiences came as a habitual truant roaming the streets. She's "never read a book for pleasure," can't abide a 9-to-5 ‹ she works as a house painter ‹ and picked up a guitar for the first time in the summer of 2003. Since then she has exhibited a formidable writing and vocal style, developed over a course of open-mike spots and the few bookings she's been able to get. Howson manages to largely bypass the maudlin shtick that so many inward-looking confessional voices succumb to, creating instead a strikingly effective, original country sound.
                "I started writing songs," Howson says, "because I was looking for something in my life that I could rely on to carry me through." Classic country themes ‹ loss and drunkenness ‹ prevail, and her songs further that pathology with a biting, occasionally profane intensity, masked by a sweet and wholesome demeanor. Her building contractor father, a man of dovetail-precise character, filled the house with country music, and her Fillmore Auditorium­enlightened mother, a congenial free spirit, "always tried to expose Molly to good singers or, I should say, singers with great voices ‹ Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin." So, musically, Howson was in good hands. She names Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline as favorites, and underwent an intense Tanya Tucker period, but none of these are apparent influences in Howson's performances. With her shadowy from-the-chest intonation and an angular manner of phrasing that lends unusual shapes to deliberately toyed-with syllables, she achieves a highly individual presentation.
                But even with an impressive self-produced 11-song CD, Howson had been eating dirt for months, trying to break in on hothouses like the once-a-month "Sweethearts of the Rodeo All Stars" at Molly Malone's and "It Came from Nashville" nights, but was invariably rebuffed.
                "It's all a big clique," she says, "and if you're not already in on it, you can pretty much forget about it."
                So Howson kept going to the pure country sources, and, after a few tries in Chatsworth's Cowboy Palace Wednesday talent contest, was impressive enough to score her own night there. "I was so nervous, I almost puke every time I think about it," she says of her first Palace booking, a demanding all-Molly, 8 p.m.-'til-closing-multiple-cover-song-sets gig. She had no compunction whatsoever about having to learn Shania Twain songs, yet dishearteningly remarks that she wanted to make her second CD "a little more rocking, less twangy." As work on that CD has progressed, though, she says the playbacks are country. "It's all country. I guess that's just what I do."
                Back on the sidewalk outside Hallenbeck's, she chats with friends, signs a CD for an Australian fan, tosses away a cigarette butt and finds herself approached by a coffeehouse employee with some money in hand. "Here. You made nine dollars."
                A marked contrast to Howson's self-propelled, dirt-under-the-fingernails artistry is the only slightly less intriguing singer-songwriter Tonya Watts, who as the only child of the South in this story ‹ and the sole commercially viable performer ‹ represents the latest in a long line of expatriate girl singers seeking approval in the entertainment capital of the world. For the past couple of years, she's organized the "It Came from Nashville" night at West Hollywood's Genghis Cohen on the second Tuesday of every month. The shows are built around Watts and like-minded Southerners Levi Kreis, Austin Hanks, Travis Howard and others who came West to avoid the stifling factory conditions of Music City.
                Meeting Watts, a former model, occasional actress and past Pamela Anderson body double, in a room at Dusty Wakeman's Mad Dog Studios, with her husband, The Bold and the Beautiful soap hunk Brian Gaskill, a quip of Howson's came to mind: "I met them and thought, 'Oh, it's Ken and Barbie.' " Alabama-born, no bigger than a nickel and with an accent of extravagant twang, Watts sports a Stars and Bars­emblazoned T-shirt, sliced down the sides and secured with about 200 safety pins, that trumpets "Redneck & Proud of It."
                At Mad Dog, she was cutting a newly composed number, "When Hank Jr. Came to Town," co-written in Tennessee with Nashville hotshot James Dean Hicks. The song is a good, solid Deep Dixie outlaw update (when queried, she seemed completely unaware of Johnny Cash's 1987 "The Night Hank Williams Came to Town"), and Dusty Wakeman's production puts it across in high gothic '70s hillbilly style. The song tells an old-timey tale of a peckerwood papa and his rock & roll bad little girl discovering common familial ground when they run into each other at one of Junior's concerts ‹ and Watts has pull enough that Indie 103's Watusi Rodeo has been airing several of her label-less cuts.
                Yet apart from the regular "It Came from Nashville" showcases, Watts doesn't play too many other clubs. "I want to use my own band, and I like to pay them $100 or at least $50 each, and I just can't afford to do that," she says. "So I concentrate on what we do [on the showcase nights], which is all about the songs. Often we'll come in with something written maybe an hour before, just get up and do it that night."
                Early Watts originals were airy plaints and sentimental reveries, but her increasing loyalty to Hank Jr. and David Allan Coe, the big-boy practitioners of what author Barbara Ching calls hard country's "deliberate display of burlesque abjection," is leading her down a far gnarlier and more appealing honky-tonk trail. But the "It Came from" crew is show-business hungry. Regular Waylon Payne, the son of outlaw big wheels Sammi Smith and guitarist Jody Payne (godson and namesake of Waylon Jennings), had a 2003 Universal Records debut ("intensely compelling songs," gushed Dwight Yoakam on the accompanying press release, but "intensely murky self-indulgence" would be a more apt description, and the album was DOA). Meanwhile, Howard and Hanks each briefly participated in USA Networks' bonehead "reality" talent contest Nashville Star and have, like Kreis, recently signed their own record deals.
                Watts herself went through a period of constantly shuttling between Hollywood and Nashville ‹ certainly she and her actor husband have significant entrée to industry power pigs ‹ and by dint of her Dixie nativity, considerable babe-ocity and the "Redneck Woman"­heralded return to populist outlaw stance, she seemed on the verge of striking her own insidious pact with the Music City beast. "Every time I go down there," she said on the day of the Mad Dog sessions a few months back, "they keep telling me, 'Tonya, you've really got to be here in Nashville to make this happen,' so I'm considering making the move, because this is what I want to do, and it just looks like that's the only way it's going to." She nearly did. After nearly three months hustling her songs in Nashville, a dismayed Watts gladly returned to Hollywood. "They all say the same thing," she said recently, "and they all talk shit about each other. They don't even like the music being put out, but no one changes. Truth is, they don't want artists there ‹ they just want good singers who will do exactly what they tell them. You just end up stuck, playing the game."
                For Cody Bryant, a Whittier-born, 20-year-veteran multi-instrumentalist of impressive virtuosity on guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin, the matter of Music City is settled. "Nashville?" says the leader of Cody Bryant and the Ruff Riders with a laugh, "why bother? I'm really sick of people whining about Nashville 'not understanding' or 'not taking an interest in real music.' Nashville doesn't owe us the time of day, so quit whining or suck it up and write the kind of stuff they want. Anyway, we're in California ‹ God's country. My pilgrimages have all been to Bakersfield."
                A passionate tradition bearer who embraces the history of Los Angeles country that filtered through his childhood, Bryant writes songs much in the classic Harlan Howard style. He also enjoys a close association with Red Simpson. "When I did my album a few years ago, someone said, 'What do you want to get out of this?' I said, 'A chance to meet Red Simpson ‹ but he's probably dead.' Then I found out from [singer] Kathy Robertson that he wasn't, went up there the next Monday.
                "I made him dig his Tele out of a suitcase, and he took me to Trout's, started throwing modified three-chord jazz progressions over country songs. These old guys can put 12 chords in a three-chord progression if they want to ‹ it's a trick they play to stay awake, and it's what separates the men from the boys."
                After Bryant demonstrated the ability to follow Simpson's musical acrobatics, the pair grew close and have recorded a yet-to-be-released trove of recent Simpson compositions. Bryant's headquarter stage, Burbank's Viva Cantina, features Simpson several times a year. There Simpson always embodies the crackling guitaristic ideal of the Bakersfield Sound ‹ the alliance is one of the best things to happen in California country since Dwight Yoakam coaxed Buck Owens out of a lengthy retirement. At Viva, other eminent players, like axman Al Bruno, have also found a haven. Another close Bryant association with 1930s-era Riders of the Purple Sage founder Buck Page ("His knowledge of that era filled in all the blanks in my mind as to how they got the sound") also demonstrates the breadth of his ongoing search for the authentic.
                Bryant was born to it: "I couldn't fight it if I wanted to. We were the last ones who grew up with Buck's TV show and Cal's Corral [the country-music TV showcase put together by local car dealer Cal Worthington]. My dad was a square-dance caller, and I'd go with him every night to carry his gear ‹ I was going to dances when I was 2, and a lot of those guys on the records were also doing the square dances ‹ it was another paid gig. Joe Maphis, Jimmy Bryant (no relation), all those sidemen. I started playing piano when I was 11, then guitar and then banjo took over my life for a long time. I did bluegrass everywhere you could, the festivals, the parks. Entered and won a lot of bluegrass festivals ‹ winning Telluride was when I made my exit. I was in my 20s and drifted back to the L.A. sound. It's a way of performing, that loose style, energetic, dance-oriented. Take no prisoners, just get it out there and worry about the arrangement when we get to the chorus."
                He and his Ruff Riders work in black uniforms and on the bandstand make everything a joke ‹ except the music. He runs through a raft of classics every night ("It's like Tony Bennett said: 'Take care of the standards, and they'll take care of you'), and when a friend calls for one of Bryant's own numbers, he fires back, "Hey, we're just a bunch of guys who get paid to do cover songs!" He's proud of his originals but is so historically obsessive that he is almost unable to not do all the greats. "I think about them every night while I drive to Viva, because it's the same street they took to work the Riverside Rancho ‹ Cactus Mac, Cliffie Stone, Roy Rogers and the Pioneers, Foy and the Riders, Tex Williams, Johnny Bond, the Western Caravan, Leo Leblanc, and the hundreds of others, and every night I'm conscious of doing their music justice. Their music had value beyond their lifetimes ... I know I take it way too seriously ‹ I would've stopped long ago if I could."
                The most unlikely and perhaps noblest extension of the Los Angeles form of applying extremes to an old-time musical school are the hard-drinking, hell-raising lowlifes known as the Groovy Rednecks. Ridiculed for years by most of the Town South of Bakersfield and Ronnie Mack's Barn Dance crowd, the Rednecks have endured, persevered and not only outlived but artistically outstripped almost all of each camp's most celebrated acts. As frequent Barndance band guitarist Harry Orlove recently said, "I used to hate the Rednecks ‹ they always showed up drunk, and you could never understand what Tex was singing. But I got their last album, and now I love them ‹ they're my favorite band."
                That album, the band's third, titled Ass Grabbin' Country, is a lurching showcase for the band's terminally self-deprecating exercises in truth-telling rocky-tonk ("Happy Mother's Day From Prison," "My Girlfriend's Got a Boyfriend"), and they manage, as usual, to strike dead center with a Roger Miller pith. Meeting with founders Tex Troester and Bob Ricketts and nine-year Redneck Ron Botelho in the party garden adjacent to Troester's micro-mini Ivar Avenue studio apartment, the bud both foams and burns as they recount 12 years of lurid recklessness.
                The Rednecks are a pure Hollywood enigma, born of the crusty Raji's club school but, trading in an almost folk-style accounting of that life, they qualify more as classic troubadours than rock & roll rabble.
                "It's strange," Tex says, "but we always go over better at punk clubs than we do at country clubs."
                Much of the palaver revolves around the fact that almost no one takes them seriously (then, again, neither do they). They finally got a slot on the "Sweethearts of the Rodeo" jam night after several years of trying, but it only happened because another band canceled ‹ the call came three days before the show.
                "We've also been trying for years to go down and play South By Southwest," Ricketts says of the Austin-based music festival and conference, "but they always send our CDs back."
                Neither the Chicago-born, Delta-blues-fixated Ricketts nor former Blood on the Saddle bassist Botelho are exactly born-again country fans, and with the band's primary country picker Gary Riley MIA this afternoon (even as they're preparing to play a matinee set at Hollywood Boulevard boozeteria the Frolic Room), it's almost mystifying trying to peg their indisputable country credibility.
                "It is weird," says Ricketts, "but as more time passes, we just get more and more country."
                It's the songs that nail it ‹ a number like "How Come I Only Love You When I'm Drunk" is nothing if not country; the occasional presence of acclaimed songwriter and drummer Mike Stinson (who sits in when regular trapsman Jim Doyle is unable) speaks further to the magnetic allure of this oddball outfit.
                The band demonstrably came into their official hillbilly own last month, opening for apocalyptic proto-outlaw David Allan Coe at the Key Club. They took the stage in a just-drunk-enough condition to appease the upscale-rebel-scum audience and still saddle up their do-not-give-a-fuck pony for a smashingly tight spree through Ass Grabbin' Country in its entirety.
                "I'd never felt better than I did after that Coe show," Troester says. "I was walkin' around the club like a normal guy, but I couldn't go two feet without someone shakin' my hand or pattin' me on the back ‹ that was the greatest night of life."
                An hour or two and a 12-pack later, they start setting up gear at the Frolic Room. Out front, Tex is in his element. A longtime door man at boulevard strip joint Jumbo's Clown Room, he still occasionally fills in checking IDs and intimidating sloppy drunks at the Frolic's door, and he seems to know everyone. A Middle Eastern guy from the Hollywood Star Tours office next door comes out, eager to show Tex his new belt buckle ‹ a Confederate flag with a golden eagle superimposed upon it.
                "I actually got 86'd from here a couple of weeks ago," Tex rasps. "They caught me smoking a joint out front, but we're still playing the show, so I guess it wasn't really an 86 ‹ more like a 69."
                Later, Tex says, "[The band] means everything to me. It's hard to describe, but if I didn't have the band, I wouldn't know what the hell to do with myself." Besides, he adds, things are looking good ‹ actor Joey Lauren Adams is pitching "How Come I Only Love You When I'm Drunk" for the soundtrack of an upcoming Billy Bob Thornton/Dwight Yoakam picture she has signed to appear in. The Rednecks already had one song used in a movie, and, Tex says, "I get a check for about a quarter every six months."
                Inside the Frolic, the Rednecks are jammed into that slimy niche just left of the entrance; venerable scenester/party beast Donny Popejoy makes a smooth broadcaster-toned intro: "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome for the 424th time ..." and they kick into "Drinkin' Band," a rabble rouser of the highest order. Tex rips his dingy white cowboy off his head and tosses it discuslike down the length of the bar. The congenial dipsos lining the trough love it, a camcorder-toting tourist sneaks in to get some footage of the debauch, and the faces on the Hershfeld mural that covers one wall seem to register that even after all these decades, they really have not seen it all. The romp is afoot, a characteristic barrage of Billy Joe Shaver­simple lyrical observations
                Not long ago at Viva Cantina, country singer Moot Davis has just finished his set. Producer-guitarist Pete Anderson had worked Davis there a couple of times a week, tempering his protégé and breaking in a band in preparation of road work to support Davis' debut album. The boy can sing, and with the presence of Anderson, an outstanding soloist who manages to flabbergast with every song, it's a pretty damn good show. But the preponderance of '50s-era covers and retrofitted originals leaves one asking, "Why, Baby, Why?" Just shy of creepy rockabilly revival, it seems unnatural, a surefire way to hobble one's own artistry.
                Cody Bryant was due up next, and I asked him before he took the stage, "Why can't these guys just be themselves?"
                "Fear," he replied without hesitation. "That's the scariest thing to do ‹ it's a pit full of snakes and fire, something to be avoided at all costs."

    Heather Myles
                by Glenn J. Pogatchnik - Recently my associate Bob Timmers was contacted by Heather Myles's personal assistant Linda Hefferon via e-mail. Bob then forwarded Linda's e-mail to me and this is where the story begins.
                I contacted Linda and requested some of Heather's music. I received Heather's latest Cd "Sweet Talk & Good Lies" and her prior Cd "Highways & Honky Tonks" which incidentally are both available at Heather's website
                I was just flabbergasted at Heather's singing and songwriting abilities. It's very hard to describe such talent ... you simply have to hear it. To me personally her music has all the key ingredients of what made The Bakersfield Sound so popular all over the world. I often heard it said in todays music where is all the talent of yesteryear ... well I'm hear to tell you Heather Myles is living proof that talent exists and is thriving.
                Let me tell you a little about what I've heard of her credentials. First of all she has been touring for some years now building up a fan base. She is extremely popular in Europe and has toured there quite extensively but that's not to say she hasn't toured here in America too. She has toured as the opening act with one of her musical heroes Merle Haggard and later recorded a duet with Merle titled "No One Can Love You Better" which is one of my personal favorites and given the exposure should be a massive hit with true country fans.
                Her music is currently being played on XM satellite on DJ Eddie Kilroy's show "Hank's Place" on Channel 13 where another of her musical influences George Jones heard her on his car radio and actually contacted her to request to meet her and discuss a possible tour with her in the future. How cool is that. She also has an ever expanding fan club. As you can see by the above picture she has even played the Grand Ole Opry.
                This young lady has paid her dues and thru exposure on XM Satellite Radio hopefully will cross over into the realm of fame and fortune. Now getting back to her music. There are so many potential hits on her above Cd's that Eddie Kilroy is actually playing over fifteen separate songs on his show. I mentioned Heather did a duet with Merle on the "Highways & Honky Tonks" Cd. She also has a duet with Dwight Yoakam called "Little Chapel" on her latest Cd "Sweet Talk & Good Lies." She's even graciously let us use her song "Nashville's Gone Hollywood"as an opening song to our sister website
                I must admit I am a little biased about Heather because she hails from Southern California and resides not all that far from Bakersfield and sings and plays the kind of true #*!+kicker music I like. I will tell you one thing she is a true one of a kind and truly deserving of the notoriety and respect a superstar commands ... after all if Merle and George feel that way that should surely indicate how massively talented Heather is. Order her Cd's ... give her a listen and you too will be a true believer. Again her music can be purchased at

    Jones And Friends
    Celebrate 50 Years of Hits

                Nov. 25, 2004 - George Jones says he gets a kick out of hearing the way other singers approach the songs he made famous 30, 40, or 50 years ago. Beginning Thanksgiving, he'll have plenty to keep him amused.
                Public television stations around the country will begin airing "George Jones, 50 Years of Hits: A Soundstage Special Event," with Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Harry Connick Jr., Aaron Neville, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Uncle Kracker, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis and several others dipping into his lengthy catalog.
                The special was taped recently at Nashville's BellSouth Acuff Theatre. Jones, 73, joins in on a number of duets.
                The TV special ties to "George Jones - 50 Years of Hits," a three-disc compilation on Bandit Records released Nov. 9.
                The set spans Jones' career from "Why Baby Why" in 1955 to his rendition of "Amazing Grace." In between are classics such as "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "She Thinks I Still Care," "Tender Years" and "The Grand Tour."
                Jones has had at least 165 songs on the charts and influenced generations of singers. He's among an elite group of aging country stars who form the last links to early figures such as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell.
                The youngest of eight children, he sang for tips as a boy on the streets of Beaumont, Texas. The family lived in a government-subsidized housing project, and his father, a laborer, was an alcoholic who would rouse the children from bed in the middle of the night to sing for him.
                He got his start on radio with husband and wife team Eddie & Pearl in the late 1940s.
                His output included a brief rockabilly period in the '50s under the pseudonym Thumper Jones, several duets with the third wife of his four wives, country singer Tammy Wynette, and duets with pop and rock stars including Ray Charles and James Taylor.
                He continues to do about 120 concerts a year and is working on a new studio album in which he'll sing some of his favorites by other artists, including his friends Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard.
                "I'm hoping to start slowing down after next year," Jones said. "I'll cut the tour dates to about half. I don't want to quit because I love it too much. I just have to have something to do." -John Gerome, AP

    Gatlin Brothers. Gosel CD
    Nashville, Sept. 24, 2004

                There's a certain "coming of age" quality in the knowledge that Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers have chosen as their latest musical projectÝa collection of songs that are taking them back to where it all began. With the music of their heritage. The gospel.
                Family Gospel Favorites contains the music the Gatlin Brothers grew up back in West Texas when four decades of million selling songs and White House performances was still in the far distant future for Larry and younger brothers Steve and Rudy.Ý As they skillfully mastered the art of perfect family harmony on Sundays at the little home church back in Abilene, seeds were forever instilled in the Gatlins' music. As they grew into international fame, their early roots in gospel harmonies were evident no matter how often their later hits crossed and criss-crossed into platinum on the pop and country charts.
                The new Gatlin collection streets October 26th from Dualtone Records. Larry Gatlin is quick to admit it's a project close to the brothers' collective hearts. "My first hero was James Blackwood from the Blackwood Brothers Quartet," noted Gatlin in a recent interview in New York. "Our folks took us to those old Southern style gospel quartet concerts when we were growing up. I loved it! The music was infectious, inspiring and right then and there I decided that making music was what I wanted to do with my life."
                Family Gospel Favorites collection is the 'best of the best' for the pure precision striking harmonies of the Gatlins. Such classics at "It Is Well With My Soul," "In The Garden," "Amazing Grace," "Just A Closer Walk With Thee," "Love Lifted Me," "What A Friend We Have In Jesus," Rock Of Ages," "Whispering Hope," "I'll Fly Away," "Swing Down Sweet Chariot," "Peace In The Valley," "Do Lord," "Victory In Jesus/Power In the Blood," and "Sweet Hour Of Prayer" are filled with the 'realness' of the hope and inspiration of their faith that the three brothers have each personally found in their own lives.
                While Larry, Steve, and Rudy continue to perform a schedule of concerts as The Gatlin Brothers, each has pursued their own individual course as successful artists and businessmen. Larry has recently been named a creative director for the new Gospel Music Channel, which launches nationally in October. He will host his own weekly program on the new channel, initially set to reach 1.5 million households across the nation. The new Gatlin album project will get a special spotlight when The Gospel Music Channel airs a one-hour documentary on the making of Family Gospel Favorites, which will air October 30th. The Gatlins' musical special will have multiple re-airings throughout November and December.

    Americana Music Association
    Nashville, Sept. 24, 2004

               Junior Brown, true to his country roots, was excellent as always. Classy, is the best way to describe this legend's on and off stage presence, definetly in a class by himself. His playing takes you back to the good ole days of country music.
               Mountain Heart is Bluegrass at its best. They are a collection of some of the best musicians in the business. They really get you out of your seat and tapping your toes. Carlos is a cross between Cajun and Rockabilly. His dusky voice combined with Marci's strong clear vocals make a great combination. They play a real hard driving type of music that makes you sit up and listen. -Bonnie Tankersley

    Ray Price Forms New Record Company
               Country Music Legend Ray Price Collaborates to Launch "Texas Records". Country music legend Ray Price, along with former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes; Texass businessman, Jim Sharp; and former Secretary and Board Member of the Academy of Country Music, Rose Waters; have collaborated to launch a new record company, Texas Records, to be based in Austin, Texas.
               The concept for the record company is based around the powerful song, "My Old Friend," written by Robert Segrest, Greta Shepherd and James Segrest of Montgomery, Alabama; home of the legendary Hank Williams. Waters pitched the song to Ray, who immediately loved the song and wanted to record it. From there, Waters brought the high-profile Texas partners together to form Texas Records. Waters previously worked as the business manager for another country legend, Merle Haggard. In his book, "My House of Memories," Haggard credits Waters with his financial salvation.
               Price shared his vision of the song to Willie Nelson, who loved the idea. Soon after, the My Old Friend session was recorded at his studio in Austin, Texas. "If this song doesn't receive any awards, then something is wrong with the 'country music' of today," commented several studio listeners. Willie will sing with Ray on several cuts on the album, which is dedicated to the memory of many of their belated friends in the business. The album will include one of each of these artists' most popular songs.
               Price's first album on the label, My Old Friend, will include such songs as: Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys (Waylon Jennings); King Of The Road (Roger Miller); Hello Darlin' (Conway Twitty); Sunday Morning Coming Down (Johnny Cash); Take This Job And Shove It (Johnny Paycheck); Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley); El Paso (Marty Robbins); Faded Love (Bob Wills); Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Rain (Roy Acuff); I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You (Hank Williams); and Waltz Across Texas (Ernest Tubb).
               The title cut will be released as the first single. The video for the single, which is already in progress, will feature Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Buck Owens; all appearing with Ray in a tribute to their 'old friends.' Harold Bradley and Buddy Emmons, two well-known session musicians from Nashville, also played on the project.
               Already, several country music recording artists have expressed an interest in being a part of TEXAS RECORDS. "Why heck, just the State of Texas could give you a gold album if they like you," one artist said with a laugh.

  • WORTH A CLICK: COUNTRY MUSIC CHANGED MY LIFE. Ken Burke's Books: Tales of Tough Times and Triumph from Country's Legends,

    Country's All-Time #1 Hitmaker
               "Country's All-Time #1 Hitmaker, Conway Twitty, Celebrated With 25 #1s; New Collection Includes 'Hello Darlin,' 'I'd Love To Lay You Down' and Four #1 Duets With Loretta Lynn...
               Elvis had 13. So did George Jones. Reba McEntire had 21, Garth Brooks 18, Loretta Lynn 16. And, incredibly, Conway Twitty had 41 (sharing five of them with Loretta)--more #1 singles than any country artist in history. Now the Country Music Hall of Famer's all-time greatest hits, including four of his #1 duets with Lynn, each digitally remastered, have been brought together on 25 #1S (UTV/Hip-O/MCA Nashville/UMe), released August 24th, 2004. The biggest single-CD compilation to ever span Twitty's chart-topping from 1958 to 1986, 25 #1S embraces each of the handful of record labels for which he recorded.
               Twitty's first #1 was also his only pop #1, "It's Only Make Believe," which featured Elvis Presley's backup group The Jordanaires. It was also the first of many #1s which he wrote or co-wrote, including eight on 25 #1S. But it would be 10 years before he had another #1 and it would not be pop. Though signed to Decca in 1965, it took three more years before he nabbed his first country #1, "Next In Line." He would score eight more in the next four years, including "Hello Darlin'" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" and two duets with Loretta -- the Grammy-winning "After The Fire Is Gone" and "Lead Me On." The two other Twitty-Lynn collaborations on 25 #1S are "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" and "As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone."
               In the early '70s the increased suggestiveness in much of his material, such as on "You've Never Been This Far Before," which spent three weeks at #1 despite being banned by several radio stations, made Twitty perhaps country's first adult contemporary star. Among his other best-known #1s from this era are "Linda On My Mind," "There's A Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)," "I See The Want In Your Eyes," "Touch The Hand," "After All The Good Is Gone," "Play, Guitar, Play," "Don't Take It Away" and "Happy Birthday Darlin'."
               As the '80s dawned, Twitty continued to score with "I'd Love To Lay You Down," the dance floor fantasy "Tight Fittin' Jeans," the Barry Gibb-penned "Rest Your Love On Me" and the boogie-in' "Red Neckin' Love Makin' Night." After exiting MCA (which had absorbed Decca), he reached #1 with his satin- sheet-smooth remake of the Pointer Sisters' "Slow Hand," "The Clown," the Harlan Howard-written "I Don't Know A Thing About Love (The Moon Song)" and his final #1, 1986's "Desperado Love."
               In 1993, just short of his 60th birthday, Twitty died unexpectedly. He left behind a phenomenal catalog of music -- and a record of #1s unlikely to ever be surpassed."

    Alan Jackson and Strayhorn Band.
    The photo was sent in by Tom Rutledge who plays guitar in the Strayhorn Band. It was taken in a little southern town at an abandoned gas station while shooting the video for the song "Little Man". Tom is that smiling fellow on the very right of the picture. Tom and Bakersfield page editor Glenn Pogatchnik became friends thru their mutual admiration of the late legendary Roy Nichols who played lead guitar in Merle Haggard's band. Tom has a very informative website located at

    "Hee Haw" is Back!"
               For nearly 25 yaers the cast of Hee Haw supplied a steady diet of country music and corny jokes fresh from the heart of Nashville. Buck Owens and Roy Clark were the show's co-hosts.
               Volume 1 of "The Hee Haw Collection" goes on sale Tuesday, May 18, 2004 at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, Musicland, Transworld, Border and Towers stores. It will be available on DVD or VHS for $9.99. You may also order from
               Volume 1 features a 30-minute bonus, "Hee Haw Laffs," humor from the 1969-70 season, such as Archie Campbell with his version of "Rindercella," Junior Samples with "Trigonometry" and skits with The Culhanes, The Moonshiners Cabin and "Pffft! You Were Gone."
               Four more volumes are planned. Volume 2 will be released June 29th and features and Jean Shepard. Volume 3 has a Sept. 2nd release release date.

    The Best of 2003 Set for May 11 Release
               MerleFest Records, distributed exclusively by Welk Music Group, has announced a May 11, 2004 street date for MerleFest Live!: The Best of 2003. The audio compact disc assembles a "who's who" of acoustic music recorded live at MerleFest 2003 on a generous 18 tracks. MerleFest host Doc Watson's two contributions reflect both his bluegrass ("Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms") and blues/rockabilly ("Match Box Blues") influences. This live compilation includes something for everyone who appreciates Americana music from Asleep at the Wheel's western swing on "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" to the hard core bluegrass of "How Mountain Girls Can Love" by Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder to Guy Clark's Texas troubadour twang on "Black Diamond Strings" and Don Edward's traditional cowboy music heard on "Master's Call" to the jam band fusion of Donna the Buffalo's "Conscious Evolution."
               Merlefest Live: The Best of 2003 also features live cuts by artists including Dr. Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Whites, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Hot Rize, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Mountain Heart, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, and the Red Stick Ramblers. The CD also presents a glimpse into Vassar Clements' 75th Birthday Jam at MerleFest 2003 with "Orange Blossom Special" featuring Vassar, Sam Bush, Béla Fleck, Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton, Mark Schatz, and Peter Rowan.
               An extraordinary line-up greeted record crowds to MerleFest 2004, the 17th annual festival in celebration of the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson. Wilkes Community College presented the event on April 29 May 2 by on its campus in Wilkesboro, NC. MerleFest again drew an enormous, well behaved, and appreciative audience with a preliminary estimated total participation including volunteers and school children of 82,500. MerleFest 2004 offered food, crafts, family and children's' activities, and performances by nearly 100 Americana music acts, including Doc Watson and Merle's son Richard, the Sam Bush Band, Rosanne Cash, the Derailers, Donna the Buffalo, Béla Fleck & Edgar Meyer, Vince Gill, the Gourds, David Grisman Quintet, Hot Tuna, Indigo Girls, the Kruger Brothers, Patty Loveless, Natalie MacMaster, Nickel Creek, Tim O'Brien, Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio, Reeltime Travelers, Tony Rice Unit, Savoy Doucet Cajun Band, Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends, the WAiFS, and Gillian Welch. A surprise appearance on Sunday by Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones with the John Cowan Band delighted the audience. Look for a MerleFest Live: Best of 2004 project to be released in early 2005.
    (MerleFest Information: 800-343-7857 or

    Loretta Lynn: "Kindred" Spirits Album
               Story by Wendy Newcomer / COUNTRYWEEKLY.COM - May 04, 2004 - Loretta Lynn sings from her heart with a new album - and spreads her wings with a rockin' new producer. Who'd have thought a rock 'n' roller from Detroit could produce legend Loretta Lynn's most country album ever? But that's exactly what happened when the Coal Miner's Daughter teamed up with Jack White, half of the rock duo The White Stripes.
               "It's so country," exclaims Loretta. "This album is countrier than country music was when I first came to Nashville!" Loretta and Jack first met in March 2003 after she found out The White Stripes dedicated - as improbable as it sounds - their 2001 album White Blood Cells to her. She invited Jack and his partner/former wife, Meg White, to her house in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., and made the duo a home-cooked meal.
               "I had chicken and dumplings, green beans and a salad, and all kinds of stuff," notes Loretta. "Jack loved my homemade bread." He also loved Loretta's plainspoken songs and honest voice. One month later she shared a stage with The White Stripes when they played New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. Jack and Loretta set the place on fire, singing her feisty solo hit "Fist City" and the jaunty Loretta/Conway Twitty duet "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man."
               Not long after that, Jack asked Loretta if he could produce her next record, and last fall they entered a small studio in an east Nashville house to create Van Lear Rose, Loretta's just-released album. While some might think the pairing of Jack and Loretta strange, she wasn't concerned at all. "I'm game for anything," she declares, " 'cause if I don't like it, I'll just do something else."
               Loretta recalls her first day in the studio. "I thought, 'Is this old house gonna fall in on us before we get out of here?' " she jokes. "We walked in, and this long, tall guy [engineer Eric McConnell] was sittin' at the control table. I noticed that he didn't have many controls - not even as many as I've got on my little [sound] board. I thought, 'Oh gee, this is gonna be good.' I started singing and you know, we just took off with 'em. From the first song, it was great."
               Van Lear Rose was recorded much like albums used to be made, with a stripped-down fourpiece band and minimal studio tweaking. The studio musicians may not have been Nashville A-list session players, but Loretta was extremely pleased with the results. "This little band was really rocking," she says. "All of them were in their 20s - and real bashful. They was from up in Michigan. They were a nervous wreck, I think, from just being in Nashville. But I thought it was best not to say anything. I thought, 'Well, it might make them more nervous.' But they done good."
               The album was also recorded with very few vocal takes. In fact, with the exception of one song, all of the songs are first-take vocals. However, Loretta says working with Jack was a very different experience than working with her first producer, the late Owen Bradley, who produced many of her classic hits. "Owen was really polished," explains Loretta. "With Owen, you'd have to sing a song three times before he'd even listen to it. He'd want your voice opened up, and he'd want you to remember that song exactly the way you were gonna do it. He wanted it stamped into your mind, and then we'd [record] it."
               Loretta wrote all 13 songs on Van Lear Rose. The album kicks off with the title cut, a story song about Loretta's beloved mother who, according to Loretta's father, was the most beautiful and sought-after girl in the county. The next song - and the one she hopes will be the album's first single - is a rocking country rave-up called "Portland, Oregon," which Loretta wrote seven or eight years ago. "Portland, Oregon, and sloe gin fizz/if that ain't love then tell me what is, uh-huh," notes Loretta, giving an impromptu lyric recital. Jack surprised Loretta by adding his voice to the song and making it a duet. "I went back in the studio the next day after I recorded that," she remembers. "They were playing it back and I heard my voice change in the second verse. I said, 'Well who is that?' and Jack said, 'That's me.' "
               Another of Loretta's favorites on the album is "Women's Prison," which finds Loretta telling the first-person story of the oftenforgotten female inmate. "I've been to a lot of men's prisons and done shows for 'em, but no one has ever asked me to go to a woman's prison," she explains. "I think it's a shame that no one even thinks about a woman's prison - don't you? Nobody cares, and that's just the way I felt. That was one reason why I wrote it. I'm trying to let 'em know I do love 'em, no matter what."
               Other songs on the record include the attitude- packed "Mrs. Leroy Brown" and "Family Tree," a "wife talking to the other woman" ballad. When asked how her songwriting had changed through the years, Loretta laughs.
               "It hasn't," she says. "The same old stuff goes on, don't it? And every day, something is gonna happen that you're not likin' - you might as well put it in your song and sell it. So I do that."
               At the time of this interview, Loretta had yet to play the album for her family and friends. Even her band hadn't heard it yet. She's anxious for her fans to hear the new music, too - and plans a few tour dates this spring and summer with her band and Jack White, so the two can perform the new material.
               But there's one person whom she knows would like the album - her beloved late husband, Doolittle Lynn, who died from diabetes complications in 1996. Loretta poured her heart out about missing Doo in the song "Miss Being Mrs."
               "There's never a song I write that Doo's not a part of," she admits. " 'Family Tree' and all these fighting songs, you've gotta live 'em like you're still fightin' for 'em. I still do in my heart. I know exactly what he'd think about a song and what he'd say, to this day. When I'm writing a song, I can still see him sittin' in the back of the room, watching and listening."
               While many of the songs on Van Lear Rose truly rock because of Jack's influence, they are still vintage Loretta - a country girl singing her life story, just like she always has. "You have to," she declares. "This is how I connect with other people. If you can't connect with people who are not singers, but who are living the same life that you are - you oughta get out of the business."
               And Loretta doesn't plan on retiring any time soon. Along with her upcoming shows, she wants to record a religious album and a Christmas album - and she hopes Jack will once again be her producer. Even though their producing styles are different, she likens the young musician to her legendary first producer.
               "You know, this kid is not very old," she notes of 28-year-old Jack, "but he's older-acting. It's like he's been here many times. I see a little bit of Owen Bradley in him. He's great at the rock 'n' roll music, but I think he will probably be even greater at producing."

    Dave Kirby R.I.P.
               Renowned country music songwriter, guitar session player and singer Dave Kirby passed away at his Branson, Missouri, residence on Saturday, April 17, after a short illness. Kirby was diagnosed with multimyloma cancer on March 20.
               Kirby was born in Brady, Texas, on July 10, 1938. Kirby was influenced by his uncle, legendary Hank Williams's front man Big Bill Lister. Lister took Kirby under his wing and first introduced him to songwriting and guitar playing at the age of eight.
               Kirby moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1955. He landed a job at a local radio station playing country music. He was influenced by the music of Carl Smith, Mac Wiseman, Ernest Tubb and the guitar playing of Merle Travis.
               Buck Owens recorded Kirby's first song "Down By the River". Rose Maddox the cut the same song and shortly after Owens and Maddox recorded it as a duet. Johnny and Jonie Mosby and Porter Wagoner also added their vocals to Kirby compositions while he was living in New Mexico.
               "During the 1960's, Willie Nelson used to come out to Albuquerque and he got me to go and play in the band," Kirby recalled in a 2000 interview. "Willie got to liking my songs, and I don't remember how, but Hank Cochran got to liking them too. They both wrote me saying 'Come to Nashville' so in 1967, I made the big move."
               Kirby signed a writing contract with Pamper Music, which was owned in part by Ray Price. Other writers for Pamper at this time included Roger Miller, Harlan Howard, Nelson and Cochran.
               "I got a few things cut and then I wrote "Is Anybody Going To San Antone?" Kirby said. "It has become my biggest hit, but it just lay there at the Pamper shelf for three years before it ever got cut." Charley Pride heard the song in 1970 and it became a multi million selling single.
               Kirby's compositions became hits for a host of entertainers including "Wish I Didn't Have To Miss You" by Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely, "April's Fool" and "You Wouldn't Know Love" by Ray Price, "What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana?" and "Sidewalks of Chicago" for Merle Haggard, "There Ain't No Good Chain Gang" for Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, "Memories To Burn" for Gene Watson, "Where Are You Going Billy Boy?" for Bill Anderson and Mary Lou Turner, "Leavin's Been Coming For A Long Long Time" for George Strait and "I'll Go To A Stranger" for Johnny Bush.
               Ray Charles, Moe Bandy, Norma Jean, Porter Wagoner, Johnny Russell, Texas Tornadoes, George Jones, Faron Young, Charley Walker, Johnny Rodriguez, Cal Smith, John Anderson, Kitty Wells, Razzy Bailey, Jo-El Sonnier, Curtis Potter, Hank Thompson and dozens more have recorded Kirby compositions.
               Kirby began session work in Nashville during the early 1970's. His first session was with Country Music Hall of Famer Granpa Jones. "Granpa walked in the studio and looked at me," Kirby recalled. "I had kind of long hair and the first thing he said was 'Son, don't play any of those hippie licks on my record'."
               Kirby went on to have a very successful session career playing lead guitar for Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Janie Fricke, Ringo Star, Emmylou Harris, Don Williams, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Crystal Gayle, Wynn Stewart, Ray Price, Moe Bandy, Ronnie Milsap, Connie Smith and Kenny Price.
               Not only a successful writer and session player, Kirby also contributed many vocal recordings of his own including "North Alabama" "Cantaloupe Jones" "The Rumor" "Cowboy Connection" and "Better Off When I Was Hungry." Kirby recorded for Boone, Capitol, Dimension and Monument Records. Dot Records released his album "Writer, Singer, Picker" in 1973.
               Kirby married country music entertainer Leona Williams in 1985. The two entertained together throughout the country while still maintaining a heavy writing schedule and session work.
               "Dave Kirby never realized his importance in the country music community," Brady, Texas, disc jockey Tracy Pitcox said. "Dave played on virtually all of the sessions leaving Nashville throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's. His songwriting is legendary. We were very honored to recognize Dave in his hometown for the last eight years during our 'Dave Kirby Celebration'."
               Kirby just completed work on his first solo album in twenty years. "Mr. Songwriter" contains ten of Kirby's biggest writing successes and will be released on Heart of Texas Records on May 15.
               Survivors include his wife Leona Williams, four sons Wade and Paul Kirby and Ron and Brady Williams, two daughters Janice Ross and Kathy Lee and ten grandchildren.
               Memorials may be made in honor of Dave Kirby to the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum at 1701 South Bridge in Brady, Texas, 76825

    Celebrity Advertising Campaign Places Tennessee Tourism Center Stage...
    The Stage is Set for You!"

               National entertainment legends and Tennessee natives Dolly Parton and Isaac Hayes are among the celebrities promoting their home state's tourism attractions and destinations to national and international audiences through a new advertising campaign launched April 7, 2004.
               Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker unveiled the state's new tourism advertising campaign before a lunch crowd of nearly 350 supporters, including members of the state legislature and tourism industry leaders at Nashville's downtown Sheraton Hotel.
               "The face we put on tourism in Tennessee is serious business, not only for me, but for all Tennesseans," Governor Bredesen said. "This campaign resonates universally - it's going to help us all, and I like that."
               The campaign, themed "Tennessee, The Stage is Set for You!", promotes the many aspects of Tennessee's tourism product, including legendary music, outdoor adventures, family fun, heritage, and scenic beauty. The campaign consists of print, broadcast and electronic components, including radio and television commercials, a new logo depicting a white spotlight illuminating the words "Tennessee. The Stage is Set for You!", plus other broadcast, marketing and sponsorship components.
               The first television commercial features Tennessee native and entertainment star Dolly Parton inviting tourists to make Tennessee their stage for family fun, thrills, relaxation, celebration, discovery, romance and memories to last a lifetime. The television commercial was taped at Nashville's internationally known historic Ryman Auditorium, one of Tennessee's most popular tourist attractions.
               "I'm doing this because I love Tennessee -- I'm a Tennessee girl," Parton said of her involvement with the state campaign. "I mean there's nothing we can't do in Tennessee. The stage is set for everything."
               Taping of a second television commercial featuring musician, actor, and Memphis native Isaac Hayes concluded Monday, April 5. That commercial puts Hayes at the Stax Museum, the former location of the famed soul recording studio in the heart of Memphis where Hayes met so many music influentials and developed the early part of his career. Department officials expect to announce additional celebrities who will take part in the advertising campaign sometime in the future.
               The development of "Tennessee, The Stage is Set for You!" began months ago with comprehensive research on tourist attitudes and perceptions of Tennessee. A comprehensive brand audit, focus groups in six of Tennessee's feeder travel markets, plus online "user preference" studies of potential campaign concepts were part of the research process.
               Commissioner Whitaker said the stage theme was selected because it complements Tennessee's musical heritage, relates both to literal stage venues, and ties into the state's scenic vistas, attractions and cultural centers, as well.
               "We wanted to take what we're famous for, our great music and literal stage venues, and expand that concept to include all of what Tennessee has to offer," Commissioner Whitaker said. "So we're inviting tourists to make Tennessee their own stage for a great vacation, whether it's in the Great Smoky Mountains, at Elvis Presley's Graceland, on Chattanooga's Lookout Mountain or somewhere off the beaten track."
               Tourism is one of Tennessee's largest industries, employing more than 173,000 individuals and generating nearly $10.3 billion in direct revenues last year. The state is home to numerous international attractions, including the Grand Ole Opry, Graceland, the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, The Tennessee River Freshwater Pearl Farm, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park, the Memphis Zoo, the Bristol Motor Speedway, and many others..."

    Jimmie Rodgers Festival, 2004
               The line-up for the 51st annual Jimmie Rodgers Festival was announced at a press conference in Meridian ‹ home of the annual salute to the "Father of Country Music." Betty Lou Jones, president of the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation, said the goal of festival volunteers is to perpetuate the rich musical legacy of Jimmie Rodgers and his contributions to country, rock and roll, blues and gospel music. This year's events include:

  • April 3-4: Jimmie Rodgers Talent Contest, to be held in conjunction with Arts in the Park at Meridian's Highland Park. The youth competition is for ages 3-14 and will be held April 3 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The adult competition, for performers 15 and older, will be April 4 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Winners in both categories will receive prizes. They will also open the shows at Jimmie Rodgers Festival concerts and perform at various promotional events. The deadline to enter is March 26. For information, call chairman Cathy Monsour at (899) 396-5882, 483-5763 or 693-4390.

  • April 8: Southern Gospel Concert featuring the McKamey's and the Inspirations at Northcrest Baptist Church at 7 p.m. Organizers expect this concert to sell out. Tickets are on sale now at Northcrest Baptist Church, or Bible Book Store locations downtown and at the Bonita Lakes Mall. For information, call chairman Richard Ferguson at 743-2682.

  • April 25: Pickin' in the Park is a chance for music-lovers to perform and enjoy hearing others perform at Singing Brakeman Park, near Union Station in downtown Meridian. Pickin' in the Park will begin at 12:30 p.m. and continue until dark. Local musician Mike Brown is chairman of the event; to sign up, call him at 696-7124.

  • April 30: Contemporary Gospel Concert presenting a night with Ray Boltz at Northcrest Baptist Church at 7 p.m. Organizers expect this concert to sell out. Tickets are on sale now at Northcrest Baptist Church, or Bible Book Store locations downtown and at the Bonita Lakes Mall. For information, call chairman Richard Ferguson at 743-2682.

  • May 1: A big day with "Something for Everyone." A railfest and a car show begin at 8 a.m. with crafts, arts, collectibles, delicious food, refreshing beverages, entertainment, antique and vintage car and motorcycle exhibits, railroad memorabilia and children's activities. There is no admission charge from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. For information, call Mark Naylor at 485-1895. Back by popular demand from last year, Andy Anderson and the original Rolling Stones and The Dawnbreakers will perform their rendition of "gray rock" from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

  • May 6: Annual Jimmie Rodgers Golf Tournament at the internationally recognized Dancing Rabbit Golf Club in Choctaw. For more information, call event chairman Robert Smith at 483-9051.

  • May 14: Delbert McClinton performs at Singing Brakeman Park. Tickets will go on sale March 23, at 9 a.m., at all Trustmark Bank locations and the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. This concert is sponsored by WKZR; for information, call Art Matthews and Al Brown at 693-1103.

  • May 26: Annual memorial service is at the gravesite of Jimmie Rodgers. A wreath will be placed at 3:30 p.m. at Oak Grove Cemetery in Meridian.

    New WSM Program Announcement
    Dear WSMonline visitor,
               Thank you for logging on and tuning in to WSM. We appreciate your support of Nashville Country Legend. As you are probably aware, there are many costs associated with streaming on the Internet. Several broadcasters have made the decision to cease streaming their radio stations over the Internet given the escalating costs associated with providing content. At WSM, we feel it is i mportant that we continue to offer you the opportunity to enjoy programming direct from Music City.  
               Beginning March 15th, we will launch a new subscription plan with an introductory monthly fee of $6.50 for high-band listeners to WSMonline and for selected WSM archives. For your convenience, you will also be able to sign-up and save on a full year subscription for only $65.00! Registration for the service will begin a few days prior to the launch.
               With your subscription to WSMonline, you'll be able to listen to 650 AM WSM at the highest quality, while having access to exclusive Internet specials and other unique programming. You will enjoy shows like Eddie Stubbs' Classic Show, a special country legends series, great concert events, as well as album premieres that you can not hear anywhere else. 
               This new subscription plan allows WSM to continue serving Internet listeners across the United States and around the world. WSMonline will offer the low-band stream at no cost as well as access to the information and contests on our website. We appreciate your support of WSM as the premier source of classic country music.
    Brian Landrum
    WSM Program Director

    Grand Ole Opry Road Show
               The Grand Ole Opry will hit the road with an 11-date national tour as the "Grand Ole Opry American Road Show 2004" featuring Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and the Del McCoury Band. Frequent Opry guest Rebecca Lynn Howard also will appear when the tour begins April 23.
               "We know that millions of music fans across the country hold the Grand Ole Opry in the highest regard, and that not everyone has had the opportunity to visit Nashville to see this remarkable icon," said Steve Buchanan, senior vice president of Gaylord Entertainment Co. "Our goal is to give fans across the country the chance to sample the best the Opry and Nashville have to offer, inspiring them to visit Music City to witness country music at its finest. This tour is a great addition to the other ways we are sharing the best in country music, including our television, syndicated radio, and Internet broadcasts."
               Each artist will perform their own song and also join each other on stage for collaborations and at stops that extend through October. Tour stops will also feature WSM Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs as well as special guest appearances by other performers. Embodying the live show format of Opry performances in Nashville, the shows will be complete with a tour version of the Opry's signature barn backdrop and microphone stands.
               "What a great opportunity to show people of all ages where the Opry has been and where it is going," said Gill. "The Grand Ole Opry is country music. This tour will offer fans across America the opportunity to experience the excitement of the Opry with performances by country's brightest stars while we continue our Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday Opry broadcasts right here in Nashville." said Opry vice president and general manager Pete Fisher.
               The Opry hit the road many times in the past with tours featuring everyone from Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl to Garth Brooks and Ricky Skaggs. Traveling tent shows were the first means of taking the Opry on tour in the 1930s.
               During World War II, Opry stars toured American military bases in the U.S. and Central America building wartime morale. Ernest Tubb took a group of Opry stars to New York's Carnegie Hall in 1947, and another Opry troupe played Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. that same year.
               The Opry's first overseas tour in 1949 took Acuff, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Williams, and others to U.S. military bases in England, Germany, and the Azores. The Opry traveled to Houston in 1990 for a special performance for President George Bush and the heads of state attending the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations, then hit the road for a 10-city tour the following year.

    The scheduled dates are:
    April 23 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort Arena
    April 30 York, PA Toyota Arena @ York Expo Center
    July 23 Marshall, MO Crossroads Amphitheatre
    July 24 Monticello, IA Great Jones County Fair
    Aug 14 Columbus, OH Ohio State Fair - Celeste Center Aug 15 Lewisburg, WV West Virginia State Fairgrounds *
    Aug 16 Hamburg, NY Erie County Fair and Expo
    Aug 17 Detroit Michigan State Fairgrounds
    Aug 18 Interlochen, MI Interlochen Center/Kresge Auditorium
    Sept 18 Spencer, IA Clay County Fair
    Oct 16 Phoenix, AZ Arizona State Fairgrounds
    * Del McCoury Band will not be on this date - Buddy Jewell will perform

    Pioneer Arts, Crafts and
    Culture Excell in Iowa

               Missouri Valley, Iowa ... When the National Old Time Music Festival moved from Avoca, Iowa, to Missouri Valley, Iowa, last year, some were concerned that the Pioneer crafts, arts, and culture focus would diminish. Just the opposite happened.
               Held over Labor Day Weekend (Aug 30-Sept 5, 2004) this amazing 7-day festival, which has a definite focus on Pioneer arts and crafts, also includes Pioneer and Homesteader survival skills and culture enhancement. By keeping the Pioneer spirit alive through their survival crafts, and their beautiful ornamentation and art work, the festival is keeping alive a direct connect to the past. It's a direct connect to our own ancestors who came to the raw prairie to make a new life, a new home, a new country.
               According to Bob Everhart, Director of the event, "We are constantly interested in bringing pioneer arts and crafts to our festival. We encourage anyone that pursues this same interest to contact us about being part of what we are doing. We had some incredible pioneer crafts at our festival last year, including hand made furniture from teakwood, ironwood, and mahoganey. We also encourage pioneer culture to blossom at our event. This year we are having a "Mule Jump" relative to pioneer culture. A "Mule Jump" is almost impossible to believe, and until you've seen it, it's also very hard to describe. The best I can do is invite as many people as wants, to come see it, and make their own appraisal of what it is. Mostly though, we want to encourage any artisan or craftsman who has product for sale to the general public, to contact us at their earliest convenience for space availability. We were full last year, and we fill up fast, so it's imperative that they try to reach us as soon as possible."
               The festival, which includes a lot of pioneer music, hosts ten sound stages, well over 600 performers of old time acoustic music, and more than 250 scheduled stage shows. There are always celebrities at this event, and for seven days, the Harrison County Fairgrounds turns into a 'people' festival, celebrating the incredible music and culture of rural America.
               Everhart reminds everyone, "This is an old-time acoustic music, arts and crafts event. The music played here doesn't hurt your ears, it makes you feel good. It's like taking a step back in time, but sharing it with thousands of your closest friends. This same philosophy applies to our arts and crafts vendors. We welcome them with open arms, and do everything we can to make the event not only profitable, but very enjoyable."
               More information on the event is available on the web at or by writing Everhart at P O Box 492, Anita, Iowa, 50020.

    XM Satellite Radio "Entertainment Lone Star USA"
               The Country Legends Network announced that extracts and interview clips from "Entertainment Lone Star USA" will be heard on XM radio. The program is now moving to Fort Worth Texas, the new home of country music. CLN is in negotiations with a number of other major stations to syndicate this program, and another program called "America Talks Country" from coast to coast.
               The show features the Legends of Country Music and future legends, the ones who make Country Music the Music America loves. The President of the Country Legends Association, Frank Dell who hosts the show says "Fan-Demand has been overwhelming and according to surveys conducted by the CLA there is a large market for real Country Music which has been ignored for years by the industry. Fans are rising up and want to be counted for this new trend."
               Dell, and his producer Dick Driscoll, who has years of experience in broadcasting, also produce "America Talks Country"; a talk/music format show that visits with an artist and allows fans to call and talk to them live. The popularity of this type of show is increasing.
               "Fort Worth, is all things country" says Dell. "This is a prestigious move, as well as a location for fans and tourists to attend "Entertainment Lone Star USA" which is a country show that will not compromise country music or force the public to think what is not country, is country.
               The CLA will be active in lobbying for changes in the industry. It's time to clean up the art form so our kind of music keeps its identity, not just as a historical fact but preserved. Many identities are trying to creep into this art form which are not desirable to country fans.
               The CLA believes in God and Country with family moral standards. Some people say country music is cheating, drinking, and other problems of everyday people These people seem to overlook these are subjected in traditional standards by Cole Porter and so many others. Country, Gospel, and Bluegrass music all have a mystery, with real experiences which is why it is so popular and continues to grow, especially with younger fans who are looking for reality in their lives.
               You can count on the Country Legends Association to do what others have failed to do by being fair to the fans and those talented in this industry who have paid their dues in the art form of Country Music. The Country Legends Association web site is currently being updated to reflect the changes. - Fort Worth, Texas the new home for Country Music. Russ Nelson, Public Relations, Country Legends Network, - 218-626-9044

    ABBIE NEAL R.I.P. Birth: Apr. 4, 1918, Brookville, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, USA
    Death: Feb. 15, 2004, Reno, Washoe County, Nevada, USA

               Abbie Neal aka Esther Amanda McKinnon was a National Champion Woman's Fiddler. She began her career with her brothers, Gilbert and Walter. She worked with Cowboy Phil in the '40's and later formed Abbie Neal and Her Ranch Girls. In the '50's, they starred on the Wilkens Easy Credit Hour on WDTV in Pittsburgh, PA. They won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts show in New York City and entertained our troops on USO tours overseas. Abbie starred in her own show WJAC-TV in Johnstown, PA.
               The Nevada Circuit was next, performing at Las Vegas' Golden Nugget and Reno's Harrah's Club. After retirement, she and several other retired musicians entertained senior citizens at convalescent facilities, hospitals, and senior centers.
               Abbie played all stringed instruments. She was well known for her beautiful recitations. A star was placed in her honor on the Walkway of Stars in Wheeling, WV in 1983 for her major contributions to Jamboree USA and country music.
               The music she created for us lives on at As reviewed in the April / May 2002 issue of Country Music magazine, Lou Christie compiled, produced and wrote the liner notes for ABBIE NEAL & HER RANCH GIRLS: AMERICA'S FAVORITE ALL GIRL WESTERN BAND- 42 Track CD (LC4951, November 2001)(79:23): w/ Live Radio & TV shows and the Singles "If Again" (Written by Doug Kershaw, © May 5, 1957, Admiral 45-1006) & "Hillbilly Beat" (Admiral 45-15000, May 1956).

    R.I.P.: "Pappy" Dave Stone
                Country Music radio pioneer Dave Pinkston, best known as "Pappy" Dave Stone, died at mid-day today (Wednesday, February 18th) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
                "Pappy" Dave Stone, inducted to the Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1999, started in radio in 1946 as a traffic manager and bookkeeper, going on to become the entrepreneur of radio conglomerates. In 1947, he went on the air with a 30-minute show called "The Western Roundup" at KSEL in Lubbock, TX. Two years later, he moved up to the position of manager and was told it was beneath the dignity of a manager to be a DJ on a hillbilly radio station. Stone originally took the advice but quickly decided to go back on the air. He stayed on the air even as he began buying stations in conjunction with a real estate friend, Leroy Elmore.
                In 1953, Stone put KDAV on the air in Lubbock, Texas; believed to be the first station to exclusively program country music. KPEP/San Angelo, TX, went on the air a year later followed in 1955 by KZIP in Amarillo. Two years later (1957), his country influence spread to Colorado where he opened KPIK. With the advent of FM, he completed his combine with KPIK-FM in Colorado Springs.
                Always an innovator, Pappy started the first country music club, began booking all the major country acts into the Lubbock area and was a mentor to new talent. Some of these then unknowns included Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, who started his career as one of Pappy's deejays.
                Leroy Elmore, Stone's partner in the radio business and best friend for some 50 years, died in January 2004.

    Earliest live recordings available March 9 on Scena Records
    Early George Jones Live Recordings
                George Jones' live performances from the 1950s and early 1960s have only been the stuff of legend, since no concert recordings from the time have existed -- until now. George Jones: Live Recordings from the Louisiana Hayride on Scena Records provides a wealth of previously unavailable concert recordings from early in the career of the greatest country singer of all-time. The album, taken from Saturday night broadcasts on Shreveport's KWKH, features four songs recorded in 1956 and 1958, four more from an outstanding 1960s set, and eight from 1968 and 1969, when Jones was establishing his reputation as the rowdiest and most heartbreakingly expressive country singer of his generation.
                Until now, the earliest live recordings on Jones came from a 1965 concert released on LP in 1987 by an independent British label. Jones didn't officially sanction a live recording until 1985, when he released First Time Live! on Epic Records. Concert performances from early in his career have always been rare and welcomed with enthusiasm by his legions of fans. Live Recordings from the Louisiana Hayride picks 16 of the best performances from one of his favorite stages, the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
                Jones jumped on board the popular Louisiana Hayride program early in his career. The giant Shreveport country station no doubt gave the East Texas native an early boost when he began appearing on the program in 1955, the same year that his first hit, "Why Baby Why," introduced his remarkable talent to national audiences. Jones was just 24 years old when he performed the CD's opening cut, the romping "You Gotta Be My Baby," which shows that his animated delivery was there from the start.
                By 1958, his colorful, distinctive phrasing had evolved to where his trademark vocal dips and his expressive range already were apparent on ballads like the great "Color of the Blues" and the jumping "Nothing Can Stop My Loving You." Another 1958 recording, "I'm Ragged But I'm Right," finds Jones showing off on a song that's been a well-loved part of his repertoire from the start of his career.
                His 1960 recordings find him in an exceptionally playful mood. He stretches and snaps words on the outstanding "Too Much Water," and the way he exaggerates and amplifies certain words throughout "Big Harlan Taylor" is completely diifferent than any previously recorded studio recording. His cut-up style of stage humor also flares early on, as shown in his introduction to the mournful "Accidentally On Purpose," a new release at the time that he describes as "our brand new escape from Mercury Records."
                The selections also include thrilling versions of such classics as "White Lightning," "The Race Is On," "She Things I Still Care" and "Walk Through This World With Me," the latter recorded two weeks before his marriage to Tammy Wynette in February 1969.
                The Louisiana Hayride ranked right behind the Grand Ole Opry as one of the most popular live country music radio programs of its era. Broadcast at 50,000 watts by KWKH from Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium, the Hayride drew sold-out crowds of 3,800 to its Saturday broadcasts. The show was a fixture in the homes of c ountless country fans across the Mid-South and Southwest. Every third Saturday, the Hayride went national over the CBS radio network. It also gave early boosts to many top stars, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Johnny Horton and Jim Reeves.

    Boogers and Snot: A Funny, Inspirational Book for Kids
    Larry Gatlin's Children's Book
                Grammy Award-winner Larry Gatlin has been entertaining audiences for over four decades, from childhood gospel performances to the White House to Broadway. So when his granddaughter feels lousy with a cold, he knows exactly how to cheer her up--with a funny song.
                Gatlin blends his talents as a singer/songwriter and as a loving grandpa in his new picture book, Boogers and Snot: A Grandfather's Story (recently published by Eakin Press). Featuring color photos of the entertainer along with his granddaughter, Parker, the book reveals a grandfather's solution to soothing his little angel's awful cold-by making her laugh at a song he makes up. In the book he shares the song, titled "Boogers and Snot," with other kids and "grownup kids" at a Christmas church service to remind everyone that God loves them, even when a bad cold leaves disgusting results.
                The book is a grandparent collaboration, with photos taken by Larry's wife, Janis. Printed music and a CD are included for those who want to play and sing along. The book will be in bookstores in mid February and copies are available on or at
                Larry Gatlin's career skyrocketed in Nashville when he and the Gatlin Brothers released hit after hit, such as "Broken Lady" (Grammy winner), "All the Gold in California," and "Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer to You)" in the 1970s. One of his true callings has always been songwriting, and many of his compositions have been recorded by music legends, such as Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, and Johnny Cash. The story of his rise in the music business, as well as the personal struggles he has had to overcome, are told in his inspirational biography, All the Gold in California (Eakin Press, 2003).
                Gatlin continues to write songs and maintains a hectic schedule of appearances (he and the Gatlin Brothers are frequent performers at Branson, Missouri, and many other venues). But his focus remains on his family - which, as Boogers and Snot proves, can be an inspiration.
                Boogers and Snot: A Grandfather's Story by Larry Gatlin, paperback 24 pages, full color. $15.00 (includes CD) - Contact: (615) 297-3800

    Naomi Shares Her Life in Book
                (AP) - Naomi Judd is sharing her way of coping with life's tough times in a new book called "Naomi's Breakthrough Guide, 20 Choices to Transform Your Life." The country singer retired from performing with her daughter, Wynonna, in 1991 because of a chronic hepatitis infection. The book deals with surviving the illness, as well as how she got off welfare and raised her two children, Wynonna and actress Ashley Judd.
                "Whether it's a crisis like a terminal illness ... all these personal ground zeros really are the greatest teachers, they strip us down and help us to identify who we are at a core level, what matters to us most and help us start living out of our hearts," she told AP Radio.
                Judd, 58, talked with mental health experts, and the book includes mental exercises to help people cope with their low moments and get in touch with what's important to them in life. "Your passions are what really allows your life to expand and you become what you've always wanted to be," she said.
                "There's no point in getting a gym membership, or deciding to quit smoking ... or to find that right relationship until you do the work in the book, until you burrow down into yourself," she said.



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