Artists in the Spotlight by Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

get a lot of little news items from Diane Diekman of Sioux Falls, South
Dakota, but the best ‘news’ is that her third memoir is now published. 
Diane is the author of the biographies of both Faron Young and Marty
Robbins.  Her newest book “Mommy Watch Me” tells her story of becoming a
mother at age 50, when she adopted her daughters in Los Angeles in
2000.  Twenty years ago this month, she was taking classes to be
certified as a foster/adoptive parent, before being matched with foster
children.  The book covers their first ten years together as a family,
from Los Angeles to Washington D.C., to South Dakota.  It’s available
from her website at: and can
also be downloaded as a Kindle e-book at

was the third of June another sleepy dusty delta day.”  Love that
song.  To me it’s an incredible ‘story’ song.  How do you follow up to
the biggest album of 1967?  If you’re Bobbie Gentry you don’t sit on the
impressive laurels born of her best selling debut “Ode To Billy Joe,”
which displaced the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band from
its 15-week reign at the top of the US Billboard Top LP’s charts.  You
release “The Delta Sweete,” a concept album based on life in
contemporary Deep South.  Released in February 1968, barely six months
after Gentry’s debut LP, the “Delta Sweete” may not have contained
anything as career-defining as ‘Billy Joe’ but it represented a definite
step forward in its musical ambition.  A multi-faceted album, where
each track blurred, dreamlike, into the next, the songs evoked the
melancholy adolescent world of Gentry’s childhood in Chickasaw County
while further deepening her fascination with loss illusion, and the
often comic absurdity of the conventions of everyday life.  Even the
albums name was pure Gentry, the ‘Sweete’ in the title punning on both
Gentry’s southern belle good looks (a pretty girl in the South might be
referred to as a sweete) and the album’s musical song structure.  The
artwork also poetically evoked the music it contained, featuring a
double exposure of a contemplative black and white image of Gentry in
tight close-up, superimposed onto a color photo of a run-down shack
taken on her grandparents’ farm where she grew up.  On July 31, Capitol
Records will release an expanded edition of “Delta Sweete” on 2CD and
deluxe 2LP vinyl.  The expanded CD edition features a new stereo mix of
the album. There is a bonus  of ten tracks to treasure, including a
previously unreleased original demo “The Way I Do” and a special
instrumental version of “Okolona River Bottom Band” featuring the great
Shorty Rogers on bass trumpet. 

danger of COVID-19 continues.  Steel player Johnny Cox reports on the
Steel Guitar Forum, on June 12, that he tested positive while in
Nashville for the Jimmy Capps memorial service.  He writes, “I started
having symptoms this morning and when my fever reached 102.9, I went to
the E.R.

petition started last week on has gathered more than 5,000
signatures to replace Confederate statues in Tennessee with statues of
Dolly Parton.  “History should not be forgotten, but we need not
glamorize those who do not deserve our praise,” the petition states. 
“Let’s replace the statues of men who sought to tear this country apart
with a monument to the woman who has worked her entire life to bring us
closer together.”

statement from famous ‘folkie’ Bob Dylan in an interview with the New
York Times.  “Bluegrass music is mysterious and deep rooted and you
almost have to be born playing it.  Just because you are a great singer,
or a great this or that doesn’t mean you can be in a bluegrass band. 
It’s almost like classical music.  It’s harmonic and meditative but it’s
out for blood;.  If you ever heard the Osborn Brothers, then you know
what I mean.  It’s an unforgiving music and you can only stretch it so

in the hills of Ohio County in Kentucky sits the homeplace of Bill
Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass Music. The address is 6210 US Highway 62
East in Beaver Dam, Kentucky.  The home was built in 1917 when Bill was
around 6 years old.  The house he was born in was not too far from this
house.  The Bill Monroe Homeplace is on an 800 acre farm that was used
to raise tobacco, corn, cattle, chickens, and much more.  James
Pendleton Vandiver, also known as Uncle Pen, would often visit the
family whenever he was playing a dance nearby.  Bill Monroe often said
that Uncle Pen was who he learned how to keep time and rhythm in music. 
As time went on, the Monroe Homeplace would sit aging.  In 2001, the
home was restored with much effort to make it like how it did while Bill
Monroe lived there.  There is furniture, family items, and photos to
make you feel like you have stepped back in time while touring the home.
One of the notable people that should be mentioned that helped in the
restoration efforts of the Homeplace, as well as the Jerusalem Ridge
Bluegrass Festival, would be Campbell Mercer. Campbell was known as Doc
Mercer to many as he was a Veterinarian.  If you ever visit the area you
will want to visit the Rosine Cemetery where Bill Monroe and his family
are buried. There is also a Bill Monroe Museum that was built in 2018
that you can visit.  The address of the Museum is 55 Amelia St in
Rosine, Kentucky.  You can also enjoy music at the Rosine Barn Jamboree
at 8205 Blue Moon of Kentucky Hwy (US 62) in Rosine.

Grant, 59, wife of Vince Gill, had open-heart surgery last week to
correct a condition from birth the doctors discovered during a heart
checkup earlier this year.  Partial anomalous pulmonary venous return is
a condition in which a pulmonary vein returns blood to the right atrium
instead of the left atrium.  Oxygen-rich blood then flows back to the
lungs instead of out of the body.  Amy’s surgery, under general
anesthesia corrected the condition by redirecting blood flow.  Ten days
later she called her recovery ‘miraculous’ and posted on Instagram a
photo that showed her scar. 

Turner will celebrate his musical heroes on his upcoming album,
“Country State of Mind,” which will be released on August 21.  The
12-song collection features popular tunes and deep cuts from many of
Josh’s influences, including Randy Travis (Forever and Ever Amen), John
Anderson (I’ve Got It Made), Johnny Cash (The Caretaker), Vern Gosdin (I
Can Tell By The Way You Dance), Hank Williams (Alone And Forsaken), and
more.  “I’ve always said that any song you hear coming from my voice,
you’re going to hear bits and pieces of those aforementioned five guys,”
says Josh.  “They taught me how to be Josh Turner.”  

newest book from Bobby Braddock will be available July 6, “Country
Music’s Greatest Lines: Lyrics, Stories & Sketches from American
Classics” discusses the lyrics and writers of more than 80 classic
country songs, reports MusicRow.  Artist Carmen Beecher brings the
stories to life with illustrations of -songwriters, singers, and song
characters.  “As a decades long inhabitant of Music Row, I know a lot of
the stories behind the songs and have had the privilege and honor of
stumbling into more than a few songwriting sessions where music history
was being made,” Bobby says.  “I often thought that those
attention-getting lines that are an important part of country hits would
be an interesting topic for a book.

a price tag on “13,000 square feet of memories,” Tanya Tucker held a
four-day warehouse sale last week in Columbia, Tennessee, about 45 miles
south of Nashville.  She sold stage outfits, designer fashion, jewelry,
antiques, toys furniture, bedding, and home decor.  A portion of the
proceeds benefited two organizations that help musicians and industry
workers during the pandemic: Music Health Alliance, and the Academy of
Country Music Lifting Lives.  “We’re all struggling now,” Tanya told the
Tennessean.  “Some more than others. I thought, “Why shouldn’t I do
this thing and contribute? “I know so many people are having a hard
time.  It’s a perfect scenario to do it, to unload some of these things
that are just weighing me down.” Tanya wasn’t at the sale, she was in
Texas for the 2020 Concert for Love and Acceptance, an online event
scheduled for June 30.   AND, more recently, Tanya was bestowed with
three 2020 Americana Honors and Awards nominations, including Album of
the Year, Song of the Year, and Artist of the Year.  “This is the first
time I’ve ever been up for Americana Honors and Awards.  I went to the
awards last year with Brandi and the Twins.  Any accolade that Brandi
gets is more than deserving.  I’m so proud of her.  And I’m really
excited about being up for these awards myself.  I could never imagine
all these things happening with this album.  I’m so thankful to the
Americana Music Association and the fans.” 

is a story about Vernon Oxford.  You may not have ever heard of him,
but I’ll tell you about a personal experience at the end of this story
which is from Sara Mellow of Stone Cold Country………..

   Just when you think you’ve heard all the best honky-tonk singers the
universe reveals yet another golden nugget just waiting to be
discovered.  That was the case for me with Vernon Oxford.  I had never
heard of this stone cold country singer, whose vocal intonations are
raw, but soulful, and harken back to early Hank Williams,  I know that
is a big statement, but trust me, I do not draw the comparison lightly. 
But first, some background information.  Vernon grew up in Wichita
Kansas a favorite stop for cattlemen driving longhorns up to the Wichita
railhead.  That’s important to note.  Originally, the honky tonks
started springing up all along the cattle drive trails.  These
establishments provided work for the locals, and influenced the
culture.  By the way, Vernon’s dad was a fiddler.  Vernon got his first
break in 1960 at a Utah club, and spent several years cutting his teeth
in the Kansas honky-
circuit.  Now seasoned by the rough and tumble dive bars throughout
Kansas, he made the big move to Nashville in 1964.  It wasn’t exactly a
warm reception as the Nashville Sound was full throttle, but talent
sometimes has a way of reaching the right pair of ears.  For Vernon,
those set of ears belonged to Harlan Howard.  Harlan and Jan were
already established in Nashville.  Some of the hits Harlan had under his
belt were “Heartache By The Numbers,” “Tiger By The Tail,” “and Patsy’s
“I Fall To Pieces.”  If you are not familiar with the late great
Harlan’s artistry, I would recommend picking up “Waylon Sings Ole
Harlan”  All the songs are great, and well it’s Waylon, how can you go
wrong?   Harlan Howard took a liking to Vern, and gave him a couple of
songs to record.  By 1965, Vernon landed a label deal with RCA Victor
thanks to Harlan Howard.  The Honky Tonk crowd loved Vernon’s
hard-driving stone cold country music.  However it failed to produce any
hits, and RCA dropped him.  Vernon continued recording, and performing,
and finally had a breakthrough when a compilation of his songs was
released in the United Kingdom in 1974.  By 1977, RCA Victor Records had
signed him again to tour overseas.  Vern continued to record, and
released several albums through the Rounder imprint.  He also dabbled a
bit in acting.  Vern appeared in “The Coal Miner’s Daughter” “Country
Gold” and “A Thing Called Love.”  Vernon was an incredible talent that
sort of slipped through the tracks.  Timing is to blame as Vernon’s hard
country sound was not the flavor of the moment.  But, as is often the
case, he was able to collect his fifteen minutes of fame.  Vernon’s
popularity in Great Britain flourished and his last album was released
in 1982 titled appropriately “Keeping It Country.”  By 1977, he took an
extended hiatus.  He re-emerged as a born-again Christian with a focus
on Gospel music.  He also resumed recording in Great Britain.  NOW….
Here’s Bob Everhart’s experience with Vernon.  “Vernon was not a very
big guy.  He was a fairly handsome man, but he was a also a typical good
looking cowboy-country singer.  Both he and I regularly went to
Nashville, once a year at least, to attend Fan Fair.  This was an
exceptionally good gathering of ‘real’ country music fans and artists. 
It was huge. Even the biggest ‘stars’ participated in this event, and
yes Bob Everhart did too.  So did Vrnon Oxford.  We were both performers
on lots and lots of various shows, there was so many shows they didn’t
always have room for any walk-on new performers, which were always
waiting in line to go on.  Both Vernon and I were pre-booked, and our
favorite show was the “Texas Proud” show.  That show focused right into
traditional and old time country music and a lot of honky-tonk, which
Vernon did so well.  Vernon was also a pretty good drinker back then, he
could sometimes get one too many, not sure that was the ’cause’ of this
incident, but as I was coming in to the main room where “Texas Proud”
was being staged, I had to walk past the cloak room before going into
the main room.  There on the floor, with a rather ‘huge’ lady fan on top
of him, was Vernon Oxford.  Whaaat?  I didn’t exactly know what to do,
he wasn’t hollering for help or anything, and they were pretty busy, so I
just went on in to the main room and took care of business.  I didn’t
even see Vernon again that night.

general store Johnny Cash purchased in Bon Agua in the 1970’s is for
sale as is a music studio and event venue.  He held concerts and used it
as a songwriting retreat.  Brian and Sally Oxley created Storytellers
Museum.  The 2,825 square-foot building on 3.7 acres is on the market
for $790,000.  It includes a 55-car parking lot, sound and lighting
equipment, an outdoor stage, gazebo and waterfall.

Properties, which is affiliated with the Roy Orbinson Family Trust, has
asked the Metro Nashville Planning Commission to deny a developer’s
application to build a 25-story apartment complex with 440 apartments
and a seven-story parking garage next door to the historic Orbinson
Building on Music Row.  The company insists the proposed development
would diminish the value of the historic building and the well-being of
its occupants.  “Since our mother, Barbara Orbinson, bought the Orbinson
Building in the 1990’s, the building has been about one thing and one
thing only: music,” Roy Orbinson Jr. told the Tennessean.  He and his
brother Alex, own the Orbinson Building at 1625 Broadway.  “It is listed
as worthy of conservation in the National Register of Historic
Buildings, it’s a destination on every Nashville tour trolley journey,
and it’s also exactly the music rich history that Music Row is dedicated
to preserving.”  Roy Orbinson, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, was best known for “Oh
Pretty Woman.”  He died of a heart attack at his home in Hendersonville
in 1988.  The Orbinson Building houses his memorabilia and also leases
space to music industry personnel.  A Roy Orbinson Museum in down town
Nashville is planned for next year.

Sonny Osborne talks about David ‘Stringbean’ Akeman in a recent “Ask
Sonny Anything” column in Bluegrass Today.  “One of the nicer people I
met during my career.  I knew him well enough that when he was brutally
murdered it hurt.  Really hurt  We were sitting at a truck stop a few
miles west of Warrenton, VA and heard Grant Turner announce their
deaths.  We had seen them the night before at the Opry and just like
that they were gone.  Bean had approached me the night before and asked
if I would be interested in buying some property with him.  He would
find out on Monday the actual information we needed.  We had been
members of the Opry 11 years when he was killed…he and his wife
murdered.  Guess what, the SOB who did it is walking the streets of
Nashville now.  Paroled.

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