We put a few more miles on the car this week, had lots
of things to do, visit, inform, and be informed.  Before I get too far
along this week, I want to tell you that one of our very favorite
country performers, who came and performed with us at the Oak Tree Opry
many many many times, has passed away.  Marvin Rainwater even performed
for us at the little Oak Tree long after he had stopped working the
bigger clubs and casinos.  He had a terrific time when he came to Anita,
and came back frequently.  He’s in our Hall of Fame, and we even have
one of his guitars which he so gallantly autographed for us.  He enjoyed
talking about his career with us, why he moved to Minnesota, and the
fact that even though publicists kept calling him a Native American
because of his last name, he told us (he told the same thing to mutual
friend Sherwin Linton) he was definitely not Native American, he was a
Scotsman through and through.  We will surely miss “Gonna Find Me A
Bluebird” this time around.  He wrote that song for his mom, and now he
gets to sing it for her personally.
     We’re a little concerned about our LeMars Festival, it
was down a bit this year, mostly because of the six days of incredibly
hot weather, the index in the 100’s all week.  So, Sheila and Bobbie
Lhea and I have been visiting lots of shows elsewhere trying to gather
together some new folks and ideas.  We definitely want to expand arts
and crafts, flea market and antiques, so there is more to see and do
than ‘just’ music at LeMars.  We went to Nebraska City where they were
celebrating their Apple Fest.  It was extremely crowded at the Morton
Farm, and we made contact with about 100 vendors there.  We also went to
Irwin on Sunday, to visit the promoters of their steam engine show. 
It’s some gravel road to get to, but we were quite impressed with how
they are saving the old ‘farming’ traditions of Iowa.  Much the same as
Sheila and I are struggling to save Iowa’s old-time country music. 
Hopefully we have acquired a lady who weaves as well as spins the
old-time way, as well as some quilt makers, and even some new music
makers.  Same day we went to Missouri Valley (just north a ways) also on
a gravel road to the Sawmill Hollow Aronia Berry Festival.  It’s a
beautiful place, but the aronia berry is just about the same as a
choke-cherry.  If you grew up on a farm and were anywhere near a creek,
you probably know what a choke-cherry is.  We tasted their wine, and
probably wouldn’t do that again, but they did have some nice baked
goods, entertainment, and vendors which we of course tryed to coerce
into coming to LeMars.  Hopefully the weekend will be fruitful.
     There’s an Arby’s in Missouri Valley, and the TV is
swamped with ads about their new ‘brisket’ sandwich, so off we went. 
There is onion rings, lettuce, and cheese on this sandwich, so we
decided to drop the cheese for fear it would take away from the 13-hour 
smoke-cooked brisket.  The brisket was good, very tender, but very
fatty.  We had to trim off the fat, but the end result wasn’t bad.  At
$5.37 each, we had a great budget-lunch as well as a serving of
curly-fries and a couple of drinks.  Not bad for good brisket.
     We had a terrific show at the Oak Tree featuring the
Johnson Strings and Betty Rydell.  The Johnson family, mom, dad, and six
children are just magnificent on their bowed instruments.  They played a
terrific “Beaumont Rag” and a little later a terrific “Orange Blossom
Special.”  They also play some incredibly good classical music, and even
though you might think it doesn’t blend well, it does when this family
plays.  Betty Rydell was also on (she will be at Fremont with us Oct
4-5-6) along with her husband who is a sitting judge in Minneapolis. 
She is an incredibly gifted performer, and her classic country music was
a sure hit.  The judge joins her on a number of songs, one of them
about seafood, which turned out super funny.  Don’t miss our next Oak
Tree Show, Oct. 11 with John Rex Reeves, nephew of Jim Reeves, keeping
the music alive.
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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