The OAK TREE OPRY is closed for the season, but the April 20-21-22 SpringFest is sure shaping up to be a good one.  Bill Hedren is going to help out.  He’s the guy whose CD I just reviewed.  You probably have seen him perform, he’s a nice looking older guy with gray hair, dresses incredibly snappy, not real tall, and has a kind of Ray Price Eddie Arnold style voice.  He is very popular at the Fremont Festival.  Also, the news is out all over town…..Dale Eichor and Bobby Awe are the first celebs to perform next year at the Oak Tree.  Their date is May 4th, and we already have reserved seats being arranged.  You can do that by calling 712-762-4363 and leave a message….please wait until the beep, OR you can call us on our cell phone at 712-249-5989.  This is going to be a great way to open the season officially at the Oak Tree, so come early, spend some time at the Lake Anita State Park & Campground, and enjoy a steak dinner at the Redwood Steakhouse.  We’re going to have the great steel player Curt Shoemaker later on, I think, if we can match a date.  So, the next year season is already looking really good.

This month of December is showing a stellar line up for the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, which broadcasts live at midnight every Saturday night.  I’ve already told you about my experience on the Jamboree, but this December, expect to see special hosts like Mel Tillis, Leona Williams, Dianne Sherrill, and Jett Williams.  Boy, that sounds like fun.  If anyone gets to see one of these shows, please give us a report.
Expect to see a brand new country music festival on the horizon in Iowa next year, July 20-21.  Although they say they have superstars booked but cannot reveal who they are until after the 1st of the year, I suspect it will be more like rock stars than country stars, or maybe rock with a steel guitar.  Anyway, the concept is a good one.  Loren Arp, a physical therapist as well as a good Iowa farmer, died November 9th from the explosion of a combine he was operating.  His son Michael Arp, is carrying forward his dad’s idea of creating an amphitheater on property they own near the intersection of I-80 and I-280 near Davenport.  It will hopefully be a 3-stage operation, and any money raised over and above expenses will go to the newly created ‘Loren Arp Memorial Fund’ which will work with the University of Iowa Hospital to provide funding for the expenses of families with children being treated for burns.  The amphitheater concept is still in the planning stages, so the 2-day festival will be held at Centennial Park in Davenport.  Young Arp says it will expand to 3 or 4 days if successful.
I just had to include this quote from the quiet giant, Don Williams…..”I don’t think today’s country music is country.  It is more like rock n’ roll to me.  I really enjoy songs that have a good melody and real good lyrics.  I believe this is what makes a good song.  There have been many songs from my younger days that have stood the test of time.  I am not sure the songs today will experience this kind of longevity.”
One of our Hall of Famers, from Missouri, Frank Ray, a tremendously good mandolin picker and vocalist in bluegrass music, is asking for prayer for his wife Vicki, who  has a cancerous tumor on her kidney.  Your intercession in prayer to Jesus Christ will be greatly appreciated.
Southwest Community College in Coos Bay, Oregon, is looking for a part-time music instructor.  Must have a BA in or relevant degree.  Go to http://www.tinyurl.com/8y8rjtk for more information.  You can visit the same website for information from Roaring Lion Energy Drink who is looking for a sports and music manager.
Johnny Cash’s sister, Joanne Cash, has a new CD out….”The Christmas Collection.”  She continues to tour worldwide, and makes weekly appearances at Cowboy Church in Nashville, which she and her husband founded there.
You’ve probably never heard of Jason Aldean.  Well, then again maybe you have.  He’s a very successful ‘Rap’ artist.  He has, according to the reviews, a tremendously great ‘Rap’ album out too, called “Dirt Road Anthem.”  The peculiar part of all this is, it’s up for a Grammy in no less than “Best Country Solo.”  WHAT?   But….’country solo???’  Wow, ain’t life interesting.  The Grammy’s didn’t do bad by Dr. Ralph Stanley, his album is up for best bluegrass.  Properly so.  He’s already won four Grammy’s, and promises to make up his date he missed this year at LeMars when he got stranded in NYC from the hurricane that went through there that day.
David Allan Coe is back in the Iowa news.  You might remember he was tossed out of the Prairie Meadows Casino in Des Moines.  He was pretty badly dressed, apparently had won a slot-machine jackpot, put his girl-friend in charge of the machine he had just won on so he could play other machines while waiting for the jackpot???  Anyway, he has since married her, and sued the Casino mostly because he is a celebrity, and deserved better treatment than being escorted out by security guards after an altercation.  The judge decided since he was tossed by Sheriff’s Deputies rather than casino employees, no dice.  So he tossed the entire case.  You might remember that Coe wrote “Take This Job and Stuff It” for Johnny Paycheck.
I’ve heard in a round-about way that Harriette Andersen, the remarkable acoustic bass player for Rick & Harriette is still suffering from what she calls the ‘crud.’  Does this require a get-well card???
Charlie Douglas is in the Disc Jockey Hall of Fame.  He worked on WWL in New Orleans, and on WSM in Nashville.  He passed away on Thanksgiving Day.  This is the guy who created the great all-night radio show for truck drivers.  Lots of people tuned him in because he played ‘real’ country music.  He had a huge following.  I’ll bet Roger Kenaston knows who I’m talking about.

     Hutchinson, Kansas…..”Wow, did I say President Eisenhower was born in Abilene, Kansas?  No, he wasn’t, he was born in Denison, Texas, but he grew up in Abilene, and that’s where he and his wife Mamie are buried.  I’m sorry if I said he was born there, he wasn’t.”  Old time rural music performers Bob & Sheila Everhart are ‘on the road’ in Kansas.  “We had such a delightful day there,” added Sheila, “and then we went on to Hutchinson, Kansas.  This was a very important visit for me.”
     “Of all the places for a space center to be, it’s located in Hutchinson, Kansas.  The Cosmosphere is an incredible place,” Bobbie Lhea, the 15-year old daughter of Bob & Sheila said.  “It’s a very special place to mom, because they have a lot of stuff on Neil Armstrong.  Mom’s maiden name is Armstrong, and there is a relation-connect there, but kind of far along the shirt tail I think.”  Sheila piped up, “I remember so well when Neil Armstrong stood on the moon and talked about his one big step for mankind, and it’s all in the Cosmosphere in Kansas.  They even have the ‘real’ Apollo 13 capsule.  That wasn’t the one Armstrong was in, he was in Apollo-11.  They even have the under-drawers he wore while he was in the capsule.  It’s pretty incredible to see all this ‘space’ stuff, and it’s so well labeled, even the huge display about the ‘space-race’ with Russia.   They even have a chunk of the Berlin Wall there, it’s absolutely amazing.”
     “Once we had our ‘Mission Passport,” Bob added, “we could spend the whole day exploring this huge center.  The thing that attracted me right off the bat, was the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.  They had one in the lobby, a real one.  According to the guide, they built the lobby around the Blackbird, because it is so huge.  The wing span is 55 feet, and the length is 107 feet, so it’s pretty big.  This was also a tremendous attraction for Bobbie Lhea, because she is a tremendous fan of the “Transformer” movies, and the Blackbird jet-plane has been in that movie.  It was called “Jet-Fire,” and you should have seen Bobbie’s eyes pop out when she was standing right beside a real one, having her photo taken.”
     “The Cosmosphere is also a Smithsonian Institution Affiliation Program, so because mom and dad record for the Smithsonian, we could get in for free,” Bobbie added.  “Dad took us to the Crackerbarrel for lunch, and by careful planning, we managed to make it a budget-lunch.  Seafood was the special for the day, so we managed to stay within our $20, but dad made us drink water.  Well, I guess water is ok, but I like Sprite, and that’s not the same as water.  Dad had fish n’ chips, and me and mom had catfish.  It was all pretty good.”
     Next stop for the Everharts is a huge salt-mine in Kansas.

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