Dick Flood Interview Part 3

Dick Flood Interview Part 3

by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

 

Lamitschka: Do you have any interesting stories about how fans have been affected by your music?

Answer: In 1989 -1990 as ‘Okefenokee Joe’ I hosted and narrated three hour length documentries for Georgia Public Televison. One of which entiled simply “Swampwise“ won an Emmy award. It was aired five or six times a year at prime time on Saturday nights for the next ten years. And almost everywhere I went someone would recognize me as Okefenokee Joe. Sometimes a fan would buy my dinner, or just want to shake my hand, or procure my autograph, have their picture taken with me, tell me how much they enjoyed or learned from my GPTV documentaries, tell me how much I have influenced their life, or show me a song or poem that they had written. The list goes on and on. And my alter ego by the name of “Okefenokee Joe“ very apparently became a folk hero and just very temporararily a household word throughout the state of Georgia.

Even now every many years later I often receive an email from someone who remembers me from those days.

And through the years I have been made aware of many men and women who have taken up careers in music, forest management, wildlife education, veterinary medicine, game law enforcement, some have even become lawyers because of somethings they had learned from one of my Okefenokee Joe “Earth Day Every Day“ presentations at their school when they were yet children. So yes I do know that my alter ego Okefenokee Joe with both his message and his songs most certainly has had a positive effect on many people. Dick Flood? Who knows? One thing about all this; I am now recording ‘people’ songs again and I am once again DICK FLOOD. Old Okefenokee Joe is taking somewhat of a backseat for a while. Or maybe he’ll just coast along on the coat sleeves of DICK FLOOD. Or maybe vise versa… Who Knows?

By the way along with my DICK FLOOD autobiography, “My Walk Among the Stars”, my alter ego OKEFENOKEE JOE has written his autobiography of his life in the great Okefenokee Swamp. It’s title; “Swampwise”. Look for both books and all my CDs at my website; www.okefenokeejoe.com

Here is one of Mr. Okefenokee Joe’s favorite slogans

“Streetwise is Cool~~ Swampwise is Awesome.” ~~ Okefenokee Joe

And here is an example of just one of Okefenokee Joe’s powerful messages in song. The song itself is titled; “It’s Only a Tree“

“The graceful whitetail deer nibbles on the leaves

Of the purple flower growing in the shade

Take away the tree the flower grows no more

The deer must find another place to graze

Tiny insects dwell in the shelter of its bark

Grateful song birds flock each day to feed

Take away the tree their shelter will be gone

The insects and the birds will have to leave

It may be just a tree

But it amazes me

How much would be missing

If that tree should cease to be”

And the very last chorus;

“It adds beauty to the Earth

Cleanses air for all to breathe

Asks nothing in return

From those it shelters and it feeds

It’s fallen leaves enrich the soil

With fertile energy

And all of God’s creation

Depends upon that tree”

Lamitschka: Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

Answer: I suppose the best answer I can give to the question as to just who inspired meios that I was and still am inspired by many people and many sources. Let me give you just a few examples here;

Please permit me to go back in time for a moment. Way back in the 1940s and during the summer following the end of the Second World War I was a 15 year old junior counselor at a summer camp in the Blue Mountains of Pennsyvania. Mr. John Bodie, one of the counselors that had served our country in the U. S. Navy all during the war played a four string guitar and sang a few songs around our campfires at night. I remember watching him strum that four string, and I loved that sound as I listened to his songs. It looked so easy and I began to wish I had a guitar. He let me hold his guitar several times, and he showed me a few chords to the song “Jealous Heart“. That was all it took. I was for certain sure hooked.

The moment I got home from my job at that summer camp, using my paycheck I immediately found and bought a four string Harmony (tenor) guitar. And I began to learn how to play and sing “Jealous Heart“. I also began to drive everyone around me a little crazy by insisting on playing “Jealous Heart“ for them. I of course soon graduated to dozens upon dozens of other songs. Most of them ‘hard core’ 50’s style country. And I loved it. As I said, “I was for certain sure hooked on country music.” And so that is how I was first inspired to become a country music artist.

And here is another story of someone who truly inspired me.

For a boy growing up in the city of Philadelphia in the 1940s it was very difficult to find a radio station that played country music. It took me a while until I found radio station WKDM in Camden, New Jersy. Believe it or not that station played the latest country music every weekday morning and played it during the time that I’d be getting dressed for school. I could listen only for few minutes and you better believe I listened. My ears would be glued to that station ’til Mom called me to breakfast. And I’ll never forget the first tiime I heard Hank Snow’s recording of “Movin’ On“. Even to this day that recording still turns me on and I cannot help but stop everything and listen to it all the way through.

It took a while but I finally found a way to purchase my own RCA Victor 45 RPM recording of “Movin’ On“. And I listened to that record over and over again. What really got to me was Mr.Hank’s style of playing rhythm and the lead parts in the breaks with his acoustic guitar. Both the rythmn patterns in the arrangement and the guitar riffs that Hank played on his acoustic guitar in that recording really knocked me out. To this day It still does just knock me out big time.

Well I learned the words and with my four string I learned the chords to “Movin’ On“. But I found that I could not get the sound that song needed. It needed the sound of some lower strings. So I found a pawn shop and for just $10 I bought a very much used six string Harmony guitar. I then began to teach myself how to take advantage of those two extra strings. But for the life of me then, and even now to this day I have never quite mastered Mr. Hank Snow’s technique of strumming rhythm guitar.

I kept on trying though, and again I was driving all of my famiy and my friends ‘bonkers’ with my playing and singing. While all along subconciously in my own mind I was learning how to really play that big six string guitar and sing, getting myself ready for the ‘BIG TIME’.

And by the way years later after I had moved to Nashville, Tennessee, long about 1961, I finally met Mr. Hank Snow in person. It was quite a memorable experience for me for several reasons, and my story is best told in this excerpt from Chapter 11, Page 74 in my Dick Flood autobiography “My Walk among the Stars“;

“We would hang out there at the studio in hopes of cornering one or more of RCA’s recording stars like Mr. Eddy Arnold, Mr.Jim Reeves, Homer and Jethro, or Mr. Porter Wagoner, and possibly pitch our songs to them. Every now and then we’d get the chance to talk to one of them and do just that.

One evening that great and famous Canadian country music star Mr. Hank Snow dropped by. This was my long awaited opportunity to meet in person one of my favorite country music idols. I knew and sang every one of his great hit songs and most of his lesser recordings. I had been trying to sing like him and even tried my best to play my big jumbo flat top Gibson guitar like he did. But to no avail.

As I was telling him that I had been a fan of his ever since I could remember and that I had been singing his hit songs, just by chance a truly phenominal experience occurred.

One of RCA’s executives walked in and Mr. Hank Snow graciously introduced me to him using these unbelievable and astonishing words, “And this is Mr. Dick Flood one of the two Country Lads from the Jimmy Dean Show and Nashville’s newest and most promising up and coming young song writers.”

No words could ever explain what a thrill hearing those words really was. Not to mention how proud that made me feel. Here was one of my all time favorite country music stars whom I had truly admired yet never met before, bragging to someone about me. I was totally taken aback by what he had just said and it took me a while to fully digest it. I had no idea he knew so much about me and as long as I live I shall never forget that night.”

You’ll have to get my book ”My Walk Among the Stars” to find out the rest of that story.

Lamitschka; What do you think about today’s music scene versus its post and where do you see it going in the future?

Answer; I am sure music will continue to progess ever onward. As it has and without me. Today because of the advent of the internet there are so many new ways for an artist to get his music heard. I for one would like to know more about that. My problem is that being a dinosaur I do not yet speak computer language. Aside from all that I still like the country music of the sixties. But I can live with the modern trend in country too. Remember I am an 88 year old dinosaur.

Lamitschka: What do you think about today’s music industry?

Answer: Even a dinosaur like me can like it all to a certain degree. One thing I see; I believe there are more genres in music today than ever in history. And because I am a dinosaur I do not really understand a lot of it. But I can live with it as is. Of course country music has always been my favorite choice. Most fo the new age country is little too much uptown for me. I still prefer the music of the ‘Golden Era of Country Music.“

Lamitschka: If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

Answer: Again I am so far removed from today’s music I cannot offer much of an opinion on that subject. But one more thing I can say as an outsider is this; I’d like to see it making more sense. With so many different genres now a days in many cases it’s hard for me to distinquish one from the other.

Lamitschka: As an artist, you so many tasks such as recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best, what’s your favorite activity?

Answer: For many years my favorite activity has been performing live as Okefenokee Joe in concert, telling my stories and singing my songs, Second choice would be recording those creations. Third; Pitching my songs to major recording artists. Fourth; Creating new songs.

Lamitschka: Are you doing anything to take music beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?

Answer: Way back in 1973 when I left Nashville and the world of country music behind I also left behind the opporunity to stay up with the changing trends of both the music and the business end of music. Now as a dinosaur at 88 years old I find my own music more or less stuck in a ‘time warp’. The songs I write, the melodies, the chord changes, the feelings protrayed in my songs are all reminicent of 60s style country. And I would have a most difficult time trying to write any other type of music.

So in answer to your queston; I do not believe at ths point in my life I would be capable or for that matter even able to take music any further or in a different direction… Except possibly backward to a much simpler time and simpler era. And that would most probably not be the right thing to try to do. So I guess I’ll have to be happy right where it is.

Lamitschka: What was your big break that got you into the music business?

Answer: Here is my dinosaur answer to your question; As DICK FLOOD way way back in the late fifties and all through the sixties I made my living as a not so well known country music singer/songwriter/entertainer. I had devoted my entire musical career to the entertainment of our U. S. Military forces wherever they might be stationed. My travels took me all over the the USA, and all over the globe several times. It’s all in my autobiography “My Walk Among the Stars“.

In 1959 my Monument Record’s cover version of “The Three Bells“ had risen both in the pop and country charts to # 20, and to my knowledge in just three month’s time it sold over 600,000 copies world wide. And I believe that it is well worth mentioning here that this particuar recording was responsible for three firsts in the country music business;

It was the first time ever that the Anita Kerr Singers and the Jordinaires sang back up together on a recording.

2. It was the first time that the Nashville Symphony Orchestra played on a country music recording.

3. It was the very first time that a cover version of a song rode separately in both the pop and the country billboard and Cashbox charts.

All during 1960 til 1962 on the strength of that recording and the fact that I had been a part of the “Country Lads“ duet, regulars on the world famous daily CBS Jimmy Dean Morning Television Show, I was invited to be a featured guest on the Grand Ole’ Oprey almost every saturday night that I happened to be in town.

Again let me explain that my book “My Walk Among the Stars“ tells that story and a whole lot more in it’s entirety.

Lamitschka: Before you became a star, were your friends and family supportive or was it a struggle?

Answer: Wow! You have some questions about me and my life that are not answered in my autobiography “My Walk Among the Stars“. First please let me state that I do not feel that I ever really became a star. For a while I was very popular. That part is true. But in answer to your question; My mom and dad were very disappointed when I decided to go full time into the country music business. It was 1955 and I was fresh out of the U. S. army. Mom and dad of course wanted me to go to college and further my education. I stayed home til my army buddy Billy Graves got out of the army. We became a duet, calling ourselves “The Country Lads“. And the rest of that story is told in its entirety in my autobiography “My Walk Among the Stars“.

As time went time went by my mom and dad both began to encourage me to go further with my musical career.

During the early 60s the situation between me and my new wife was much much different and never did get fully resolved. There were times when she would throw absolute tantrums over my need to leave town for a paying gig or a promotional tour. The times that I could take her with me there were always arguements about which motel to stay in, or find a different restuarant etc.. Then when the money started rollng in our situation changed a little. But it was by no means ever easy.

 

Dick Flood Interview
Part 1 by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International
Magazine & Radio Show

 

Dick Flood Interview
Part 2 by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International
Magazine & Radio Show

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