BREAKFAST WITH THE STARS OF COUNTRY MUSIC
by Christian Lamitschka and Marty Martel for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) was the initial beginning for CMA Music Fest Week, and what a kick-off it was, with “R.O.P.E.’s Breakfast With The Stars.” It was not the official kick-off of CMA Festivities, but it was considered the best country music show to open the week here in Nashville, Music City USA, home of the Grand Ole Opry and Traditional Country Music. If you missed our show, then you missed pure country music at its best. The following is the list of artists who were in attendance:
Mel Tillis Brenda Lee Jean Shepard Charlie McCoy T.G. Sheppard George Hamilton IV Geo. V Jim Ed Brown Moe Bandy Mac Wiseman Jan Howard Ronnie McDowell Freddy Weller Roni Stoneman
Bobby Lewis Bobby G. Rice Exile Karen Wheeler Helen Cornelius Leona Williams Robyn Young Kelly Lang Rattlesnake Annie Jett Williams Johnny Moore Dianne Sherrill
Just so everyone knows, R.O.P.E. does not stand for retirement of professional entertainers and never has, the definition been so wrong by so many. Gathered in the New Nashville Nightlife Theatre as you can see from above, were a group of artists, including 5 Grand Ole Opry Legends, and 4 Country Music Hall of Fame Members, along with some of country music’s great names.
These artists attended this breakfast to be with their fans, and you would have to have been there to understand this gratifying morning of camaraderie, picture taking, autograph signing, and a healthy breakfast. No road managers or personal managers telling the fans to step back and not to get too close to the stars, just great fans paying honor and enjoying their favorite artists. The band was awesome and the artists were as awesome as they ever were in the prime of their careers. No ego’s were brought into this theatre, and the fans were in true form, loving every minute of this super show by having time together to spend with their favorite artists. It was an event of importance because of the attendance which was a sold-out crowd. Fans from Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, and other countries, gathered to be close to these great artists.
For me to give you a run down on who sang what, and how the fans enjoyed each artist, and all of the pictures, handshakes, autographs, and hugs, etc., would be lost by my memory, because all I could do was watch and listen as each artists, and I truly mean each artist was greeted by the entire audience as they sang one of their most successful songs.
I want to mention how the program began. Ron Elliott, member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame played an instrumental version of “America” to pay tribute and honor to our military men and women, those we have lost and those who are still serving, and all of the veterans, the widows and widowers of those who have passed.
Host for our breakfast was who it should be, Keith Bilbrey, and as usual he carried the program from start to finish with his knowledge and history of each artist, and their place in country music. Keith is missed so much by all on the radio airwaves, and we were proud that he accepted our invitation once again to host Breakfast with the Stars. Thank you Keith-you are the best of the best.
Missing from the line-up were Dickey Lee, who had called me the night before our June 6th event to advise me that his brother had been killed in an automobile accident and he was leaving to go to Mississippi to be with his family. Please keep Dickey and his family in your thoughts and prayers. Also, Jeannie Seely’s husband, Eugene Ward, who is R.O.P.E.’s legal counsel, was hospitalized overnight and Jeannie and Gene could not be with us. Razzy Bailey was a no-show, and T. Graham Brown had lost his voice from a concert the night before and his doctors advised that he not sing or talk for a couple of days. We understand these things happen, but we sincerely hope that Eugene and T. Graham are doing better.
One of the best parts of my morning was that Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry Legends, Jean Shepard and her husband Benny Birchfield came to the breakfast because they wanted to see their longtime friend Mac Wiseman, and to be with their fans. When Mac arrived he asked to be seated right beside Jean & Benny, and then that is when all of the talking started. I never seen three friends try to catch up on old times, memories, and all were making sure that they got all the news they could from each other. Mac looked great and this event was one of the first ones that Mac has attended for many months, and it was so great to see him with his artists friends, and his fans. He has been so important to R.O.P.E., and is still a member of our Board of Directors.
Brenda Lee and Mel Tillis spent time together getting caught up on the country music news, and their long friendship. I could go on and on about how the artists, who were seated together in the middle of the room, wasted no time in greeting each other and sitting down and talking about how long it has been since they had seen each other. Like I said, you would have had to have been there to witness the excitement in that room.
We were extremely grateful to Ch. 4 news for covering our event, and for the fine article written by Peter Cooper of The Tennessean, which appeared next day in the paper.
I hope this short article with some interviews, will give you an idea of how great the feeling was to see these artists mingling with their fans-it was as good as it gets. No loud music, plenty of steel guitars and fiddle, and just plain pure traditional country music. I hope you will feel that you missed a super show, but I want you to know that it will happen again next year, so make your plans to come to Nashville 2013 for the country music week, and I can promise you that you will not regret your choosing to come and enjoy our Breakfast with the Stars.
A special thanks to all of the artists who gave of their time and talents to attend this show. It gives hope that country music is alive and well and in the good hands of what country music was meant to sound like. There is “NOT DOUBT” in my mind that we are seeing a turning point in what we hear on country radio, because of the stations who have grown tired of playing music called country, but in reality there are few and far between great country records out in today’s so called country music. I am wondering when our industry will no cater to artists such as Lionel Ritchie, (I love his pop music) to use our country music as a stepping stone to success because they cannot keep their careers alive in their own genre of music, so they come over to country, and the record labels embrace them as big names that will only help country music. That is hogwash. REAL COUNTRY MUSIC WAS SEEN AND HEARD THIS PAST JUNE 6TH AT THE NEW NASHVILLE NIGHTLIFE THEATRE WITH R.O.P.E.’s BREAKFAST WITH THE STARS.
Before I end this article, on behalf of our Board of Directors, we want to thank Kenny and Diana Jansen for making this one of the most memorable functions that R.O.P.E. has ever had. If you have not been to the New Nashville Nightlife, I urge you to make a stop there when you get the chance to do so. It is right down the street from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Music Valley Drive. They helped make our event, one that will be continued each year because of the requests from the fans who said they would be back if we would have another Breakfast with the Stars, and that is exactly what we are going to do.
Writer: Marty Martel©
Video Interviews: Christian Lamitschka