Country Music News by Bob Everhart


There’s quite a bit happening in the world of traditional, classic, and old-time country music.

RAY PRICE is back in the hospital in Nashville.  All
prayers are appreciated.  Like Naomi Judd, he is very aware of the
integrity of the word “country” as it should mean in the form of music. 
He just had a kidney stone attack, probably caused by his recent
dehydration.  We will keep you posted on how he is doing.
NAOMI JUDD speaks out about CMT’s complete disregard for
country music fans.  I mentioned in our last newsletter about ‘what’
exactly is ‘country’ about CMT’s award show?  Marty Martel (who by the
way is going into America’s Country Music Hall of Fame this year,
hopefully along with Naomi Judd) recently let us all know about Naomi’s
‘letter to the editor’ that she wrote.  Here’s Naomi’s letter, under the
banner “CMT Awards did a disservice to country fans, and George Jone’s
legacy.  “George Jones is to country music what The Beatles are to pop,
the Rolling Stones to rock, Elvis to rockabilly, Mozart to classical,
and Aretha to soul.  Yet, the “COUNTRY” Music Television awards show
allowed only a “by the way” mention of Jones’ death and legacy. 
Incongruously, they chose alternative music group the Mavericks to
perform their very short version of George’s “The Race Is On.”  True
country music fans are a loyal bunch and are passionate about our roots
and heritage.  Every year, CMT includes artists of unrelated
genres, many of whom some country music fans don’t even know.  I
suggest the CMT Awards show change its name.  Perhaps to “the
Multi-Genre Awards Show Featuring Artists under 30.”  I realize speaking
out will cause me to now be forever banned by CMT.  But I’m tired of
folks messing with my country music.  Especially when it involves my
dear friend George Jones.  Naomi Judd, Leiper’s Fork 37064″………
Marty Martel went on to add to Naomi’s perfectly legitimate statement,
which I on behalf of the entire National Traditional Country Music
Association endorse. 
“Naomi’s letter brought attention to the fact that CMT who
has annually stunk up the television with their so-called awards shows
and their rock n Roll grouping of names that do not even belong on this
show, but I guess when you are in dire need of better ratings, you will
do anything.  Thank you Naomi for speaking out and for standing up for
what country music stands for.  Now, where are the other artists who
have been a part of the country music industry for the good years, when
paying tribute to artists who had passed on was a part country music
history.  George Jones got a short remembrance, and Jack Greene was
totally ignored.  And to have the Mavericks sing any version of “The
Race Is On” was not right.  CMT has been shaming country music for years
with their awards show for loud music, funky artists that don’t have a
clue how to spell country music let alone sing it.   Their show is so
bad that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of country music, but it
jacks up the ego’s of many of the new artists, not all of them, but a
bunch of them.  The attendance at these shows is large because the fans
come to Nashville to see their favorite country music stars, but no one
flies the banner of the legends, the veterans, or those who have passed
on.  CMT’s producers and talent directors will have to come up with a
much better production plan before they can compete with CMA or ACM.  If
Naomi Judd is worried about what the effect of her letter will have for
her future appearances on CMT, she need not worry.  Being banned from
CMT is not her loss.  The change in country music has been drastic over
the past 5-10 years and the price we are paying is evident in what we
see on these award shows.  Marty Martel”
I couldn’t agree more, and we are now trying to get Naomi
to let us induct her into America’s Country Music Hall of Fame.  Marty
Martel too.  She should join the many who have made the trek to Iowa to
participate in this wonderful opportunity to honor those that ‘really’
have made a contribution to this musical genre that is so much a part of
rural America.  Of all the acts that were on the CMT award show, I can
not see any one of them knowing anything about rural America from whence
country music came.  Can you?
Here’s a classic country genius.  MERLE HAGGARD was (and
still is) an outlaw in country music, but his standards, his songs, his
style, his voice, his being, has continually been a ‘from rural America’
creation.  We call him the “Hag” but now we can call him ‘Doctor Hag.” 
Haggard was presented an honorary doctorate June 14th by California
State University in Bakersfield.  The ‘doctor of fine arts’ honor was
conferred during School of Arts & Humanities commencement ceremonies
that also celebrated the late Buck Owens.  The university does not
bestow honorary doctorates posthumously, so Owens was instead awarded
their President’s Medal.  The music of both Haggard and Owens
exemplifies country music’s “Bakersfield Sound” which to most of us is
definitely a ‘Rural American Creation.”  I suspect both Buck and Merle
would agree with that.
Do you remember the ‘Wilders?’  I suspect many of our upper
Midwesterners do, they were a fantastic acoustic traditional country
group that also played some bluegrass.  The Wilders came to our festival
while we were still in Missouri Valley, and they performed brilliantly,
and continued to do that until 2011 when they decided ‘they were going
on an indefinite hiatus.’  That means they broke up.  Do you remember
that incredible fiddler they had in the band.  Her name is Betse Ellis. 
She has just announced that she is going to try ‘going solo.’  Probably
going to be difficult after playing with the Wilders for fifteen years,
but still, she is one fantastic fiddler, and I for one will definitely
be looking forward to what she will be doing.  Betse announced “I can
play a whole evening – two sets of solo material.  I travel around with
two fiddles, and then I play my tenor guitar and sing – sing with the
fiddle as well.  Between that and storytelling, a night goes by pretty
quickly.”  I’ll just bet it does, and I’d definitely like to see that. 
What that also probably means is that she now has to take some chances,
especially performing with musicians she doesn’t even know.  But she
says taking these kinds of musical risks keeps things interesting. 
“There’s that fear factor of doing things that I’m not sure if its gonna
work out, but it’s kind of important to me on an ongoing basis to put
myself in a place where I’m not quite sure,” she said.  “And that type
of challenge -maybe that’s a bit addicting.  I think.  So, most of the
time it works out great, and that’s the other thing about live music,
too: if it doesn’t work out great, it’s OK, it’s just a moment.  It’s
past.  It’s gone.”  While Betse grew up in Arkansas, she didn’t listen
to or play Ozark Mountain music.  She grew up listening to a lot of rock
and even some punk music.  Her new CD “High Moon Order” is about
hearing the love stories of people she meets on the road and turning
them into music.  She says this kind of songwriting method was inspired
by the founder, the patriarch of the legendary Carter Family Band. 
That’s what A.P. Carter did,” she explained. “He drove the mountains
there in Virginia and surrounding states, just in his region and met
with people and collected songs from them.  And then turned them into
the songs that the Carter Family recorded and so many people throughout
this country and beyond just absolutely loved.
Randy Travis is back in the news, he has just delivered a
hit with the surprise debut of the George Jones tribute song “Tonight
I’m Playing Possum.”  According to Travis, “It was an honor when I
received a request to record this tribute to George Jones, and after I
heard how well Keith Gattis had written it, I was excited to record
it.”  Travis sang the song for his fans at the CMA Music Festival, which
happened during the “Remembering George Jones” segment on Friday of the
festival, which included Nancy Jones (George’s widow). The record
should be out this fall.
Joining Randy Travis at another spell binding performance
at the Ryman, was Lisa Matissa, as she entertained fans with the Johnny
Cash classic “Home Of The Blues.”  According to John Carter Cash,
“Lisa’s performance to honor my father was amazing.  This was the first
time I met her, and from a quick rehearsal to hitting the stage of the
Ryman she had us all listening intently from the first note.”  Lisa
shared the stage with Randy Travis, Carlene Carter (she came to be with
us when we were in Missouri Valley), the Oak Ridge Boys, and John Carter
I’ve been following the business of Century II Records in
Nashville, and it’s pretty astonishing.  One of our good friends, Allen
Karl, from Maryland, created Century II Records, and he and Donna
Cunningham have turned out some absolutely delightful classic and
traditional country songs.  Something is happening here, they are
garnering some incredible European chart action, and adding other
artists to the mix has created some interesting observations.  Bobby
Rice’s new release “Down In Texas” has been doing amazingly well, and I
can tell you, if you don’t already know, the Rural Roots Music
Commission has selected this project for their “Classic Honky-Tonk”
Single of the Year. According to Allen, not only is he and Donna coming
to LeMars for the big festival, he’s doing everything he can to make it
possible for Bobby Rice to be there.  Now get this.  One of our favorite
singers of great classic country music is Jim Ed Brown a monumental
favorite of the Grand Ole Opry.  Jim Ed has joined the cast of artists
on Century II Records, his new release “In Style Again” is not only up
on all the music charts, especially in Europe, it too is under
consideration by the Rural Roots Music Commission.  He just sang his new
hit on the Grand Ole Opry, and did a number of interviews with the
European Radio Stations confederation.  Wouldn’t that be something if
the RRMC gave him a CD of the Year award.  He was just with us in LeMars
in 2011, and he did a magnificent job.  Just him, an acoustic guitar,
and a stool, and it was absolutely incredible.  Boy did that huge
audience love him.  Keep your fingers crossed.
Billy Ray Cyrus and his wife Tish are getting divorced
after 19 years of marriage.  Tish filed the papers this time citing
irreconcilable differences.  Billy filed three years ago for similar
reasons but then withdrew them.  They have five children, among them
Miley Cyrus who worked for Walt Disney for quite awhile. This time
around Miley is showing support for her mother, and plans to be a pillar
of strength for her. 
You know that John Rex Reeves (Jim Reeves nephew) is one
super Jim Reeves song singer.  He will be at the Oak Tree on October
11th.  He will also be at the Fremont Festival at the Christensen Field
House on October 4-5-6.  He has been a constant favor on RFD-TV as you
probably also know, and you also probably know that David Church is a
favorite RFD-TV performer.  Church has a song out called “The Old Red
White & Blue” which is climbing the charts on 
This is a very popular music website, and his song is now resting at
#45, and #47 on Globel Country Charts.  Church wrote the song, inspired
by a story he heard about some of the struggles the veterans are having
after returning from recent wars.  He wanted to write a song to thank
them for their service.  He is making a huge connection with fans of
what they now call ‘Retro Country Music” which is a definite return to
traditional and classic country music and the sounds that kind of music
makes.  He is ‘Midwest Country’s’ most requested artist , and is
broadcast on Dishnet, DirecTV, and thousands of cable networks to over
60-million viewers every time he appears.  He was with us at our
festival when we were in Missouri Valley.  His wife Lisa, is a terrific
Patsy Cline style singer.  David does some classic Hank Williams.  Aside
from RFD-TV, David and Lisa have also appeared on other television
shows, including ‘Kelly’s Kountry Junction’ and ‘Video Jukebox.’
If CMT doesn’t get to it, looks like WNSH-FM in New York
City is prepped to do some country music.  Hasn’t been a country station
in this huge city for quite a few years, and this station, according to
Lady Antebellum (they do do some classic country occasionally don’t
they) say they feel proud to be country on this NYC station.
Have to get in a little about me since it’s my birthday.
BIRTHDAY…yes, birthday.  A production company making a documentary
about the song “Happy Birthday To You” is challenging the copyright to
the famous song.  “Good Morning to You” productions is working on a film
tentatively titled “Happy Birthday” and it argues in a lawsuit filed
June 13, that the song should be “dedicated to public use and in the
public domain.”  I couldn’t agree more.  The company is seeking monetary
damages and restitution of more than $5-million dollars in licensing
fees collected by Warner/Chappel Music, Inc.  The Guiness World Records
calls this song the most famous song in the English language.  The film
company filed the lawsuit after having to pay Warner/Chappell a $1,500
licensing fee and sign an agreement to use the song in a scene or face a
penalty of $150,000.  That means anytime you sing this song to your
grandma or grandpa or anybody, you could be asked to pay this corrupt
company $1,500.  Of course it’s in the public domain, have they
forgotten what the public domain is?  Public domain is constant use by
the public.  If that song doesn’t qualify, I don’t know what does.
OK, here’s my complaint.  I wrote and recorded a song I
called “Time After Time” for Moses Asch and Folkways Records (which
would become Smithsonian-Folkways) in 1980.  Published by Royal Flair
Music, BMI, my own publishing company in garnered a Grammy nomination. 
In the tag-line that the Smithsonian wrote about that album, they said
“Everhart is a traditional country singer with an ensemble  of banjo,
fiddle, dobro, dulcimer, mandolin, and bass.” 
Then along came Cyndi Lauper who recorded a song called “Time After
Time” (quite a bit like mine) in 1984, and she just recently sang it in
concert in a Broadway production called “Kinky Boots” and she was
playing the dulcimer. That’s not fair.
Bob Everhart –

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