Lots of things going on in the country music world of
‘real’ country, not so much in the ‘plastic’ country, well yes there is
lots of it, of course, but not so interesting.  Kenny Rogers and Dolly
Parton have received their 3rd Grammy nomination for “You Can’t Make Old
Friends,” for Best Duo Performance.  We’d like both of them in
America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame, but getting through the
plastic-face-factory on both of them is pretty hard to do at least
getting in communication is what I mean.
Don’t have all the details yet, but the results are in for
the “Goldner Country Star 2013” – “Best Of” list has been announced. 
This is an incredibly prestigious event that covers all of Europe,
usually emanating from Germany, and is sort of a competition with
participants performing for judges.  This is a ‘professional’
competition, so you won’t hear very many first-timers in it.  It’s also
an International Competition, which means the participants come from all
over the world.  It creates incredible ‘press’ all over Europe,
especially when the final ‘winners’ are announced.  That just happened,
and lo and behold, many of you have met this man and his daughter from
Holland, Ben & Carmen Steneker who won the competition for 2013. 
This is a remarkable feat, and a most deserved one.  Ben of course is an
incredible performer, a beautiful vocalist and yodeler, and very good
on stage.  His daughter Carmen is also a gifted vocalist, and together
they make a pretty good package.  Ben’s beautiful wife, Irene, is the
‘power behind the throne’ constantly promoting, constantly keeping the
music alive, and constantly supporting Ben’s career as a very successful
country singer in Holland, where he is known as “Holland’s Godfather of
Country Music.”  What a nice surprise, and so deserved.
Willie Nelson has canceled his appearance at Sea World in
Orlando, Florida, apparently over a flap concerning a recent documentary
that raises questions about the effects of captivity on killer whales.
Other news from Willie concerns the song he wrote, and sold for $50 to
Claude Gray, I’m wondering if he eventually got it back.  “The Family
Bible” is going to be featured in a new family friendly film “Angels
Sing.”  Willie, now only 80, stars in the movie alongside Connie Briton,
Lyle Lovett, and Kris Kristofferson.  The sound track is already out
early, and will be available beginning December 17th.  The movie comes
If you live in Nebraska, the Cass County Tourism Committee
is looking for an outgoing people-oriented individual for a part time
Tourism Director position in Plattsmouth, Nebr.  Estimated 20-25 hours a
week. Have a Marketing degree and/or background required as well as
experience in facilitating social media efforts.  Strong computer,
communication and budgeting skills needed.  Occasional daytime travel. 
Salary dependent on experience.  E-mail a cover letter and resume (PDF)
to committee chair by December 30th.
     I love the great Dave Van Ronk story about Greenwich
Village….way back when.  He said, “The Village, located in New York
City, had lots of coffee houses which had long lines of people around
the street waiting to hear the ‘beat poets.’  So the coffee houses were
trying to figure out how to turn over the crowd, to get more in, so what
they did, was to hire folk singers to sing three songs between poets. 
If they didn’t empty the house after three songs they got fired.”  Hmmmm
I hadn’t thought of that.
     There’s a new movie coming out about Van Ronk “Inside
Llewn Davis” that looks pretty good.  Van Ronk goes on to tell another
story about his arrangement of a song he did called “The House Of The
Rising Sun.” Bob Dylan went to him and told him he wanted to borrow Van
Ronk’s arrangement of the song.  Van Ronk said, “No, I’m going to record
it on my next album.”  Bob Dylan said, “Ooops,” meaning he had already
recorded it.  (I’ve heard this original version by Dylan, and if you’ve
ever thought he wasn’t such a really good singer, this song will justify
that opinion).  Anyway, after Dylan’s version came out, everybody
started accusing Van Ronk of stealing it from Dylan, so he finally quit
playing it.  Then, later, Eric Burdon and the Animals released their
version of it, and the same thing happened to Dylan, so he quit playing
Billy Dunbar, DJ, movie star, Emcee, bluegrass promoter,
etc., has agreed to be with us in LeMars on Monday to help us with the
Bluegrass Show that will feature David Davis and the Warrior River Boys
from Alabama.  It’s going to be a fantastic Monday, several other, not
quite confirmed, activities planned as well.
A bit early, but never stopped me from promoting ‘real’
country music.  A big show is coming to the new Performing Arts Center
in Central City, Nebraska.  I don’t have all the details, but it’s
promoted by Elton and Connie Flodman, so it’s going to be good.  Takes
place April 13 at 2pm.  Don’t know the participants, but  watch for it.
As you already know, John Carter Cash has agreed to be with
us in LeMars next year.  He just let us know that he’s going to release
an album of his dad’s (Johnny Cash) that was recorded for Columbia but
was never released.  It’s called “Out Among The Stars,” and was recorded
over a period from 1981-1984 along with Waylon Jennings and Marty
Stuart.  It’s already been ten years since Johnny Cash’s death (what,
ten years already), and John Carter Cash said, “We found the original
tape stashed among mom and dad’s vast archives of recordings and random
souvenirs from their lives.  We were like, my goodness this is a
beautiful recording that nobody has ever heard.  Johnny Cash is in the
very prime of his voice for his lifetime.  He’s pitch perfect.”
Ray Price was back in the hospital in Texas with his
problems stemming from pancreatic cancer.  This past week was pretty
rough for him, but he decided to opt out of the hospital, stop the
treatments and return to his home in East Texas, with the knowledge that
stopping the cancer treatments means sure death.  He said, “I love my
fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them.  I appreciate
their support all these years and I hope I haven’t let them down.  I am
at peace.  I love Jesus.  I’m going to be just fine.  Don’t worry about
me, I’ll see you again one day.”
I could go into a great story about how Sheila and I opened
for Ray Price on Midwest Country TV show for RFD-TV, but there’s
nothing left to say.
The girl WE (you and I) labeled the “Queen of Bluegrass
Music” diamond studded tiara and all when we were still at Missouri
Valley, will have a new album out in late January, next year.  Rhonda
Vincent will put out a double-disc that includes some traditional
country as well as bluegrass.  Willie Nelson is helping out on the title
track with acoustic guitar and vocals.  Willie said “Rhonda’s voice is
beautiful.  I am thankful for her letting me be a part of it all.”  Tim
Crouch is playing some fiddle on it, which means it’s gotta be good.
Charlie Daniels, the devil who came down from Georgia, is
off on a new twist by “reading” the historical children’s poem about a
man who hears Santa Claus on his rooftop on Christmas Eve.  Just in time
for this year’s Christmas, Blue Hat Records will release “Twas The
Night Before Christmas” read by Charlie.  It’s digitally on iTunes,
Amazon, and other outlets.  This reminds me that in LeMars next year
we’re also going to do some ‘readings.’  Should be fun, it will be at
the Tipi Village stage, and is for those who don’t sing or play.  We’d
like to have you ‘read’ from the works of Carl Sandburg, our great upper
Midwest poet and storyteller that left behind such a massive amount of
work about living on the prairie.  Give it a try, you might be
Ralph Stanley and Ralph Stanley II are about to launch a
project that combines the ancient and the modern in a new album called
“Side By Side.” with fourteen new and traditional songs which will be
released February 18.  Expect to hear Ralph the elder do some clawhammer
banjo.  Interesting to note that Ralph Sr., will turn 87 a week after
the release.
Christian Scholl is known as the “Irish Cowboy” from South
Dakota, is going to appear on “America’s Got Talent,” on January 25th.  I
think he has to go through an audition first, then a panel of judges,
and then the competition.  Good luck Irish Cowboy.
Ricky Skaggs is going to Washington DC next week to address
the National Press Club, sharing memories of his 50-year career in
country and bluegrass music.
Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebr, just won a decision in the
Nebraska Supreme Court to keep their 501(c)3 tax exempt status.  The
exemption isn’t on the museum however, it’s on the restaurant, motel,
and RV park attached to the museum.  The State of Nebr. argued they
weren’t included in the reason for the existence of the non-profit,
which is mainly an educational institution.  Harold G. Warp, son of the
founder Harold Warp, of Chicago, who owns Pioneer Village, said the
museum probably couldn’t stay open without the exemption status for the
motel and RV park.  He went on to say the Village has been in decline
the last few years and has lost money the last two years.  It opened in
1953 under his father’s guidance and has attracted over 6-million
visitors since then with over 50,000 artifacts and a collection of
historical buildings that tell the story of American progress.  Sheila
and Bobbie Lhea and I have visited the Pioneer Village, and it is
without a doubt the ‘largest’ display of historical progress in America,
except for the Smithsonian, which has much of it’s artifices in
Kris Kristofferson will be honored with the Recording
Academy’s “Lifetime Achievement” award during the Grammy Week Ceremonies
January 25th.  The award recognizes performers who have made
contributions of outstanding artistic significance, similar reasons why
he is on the list to go into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of
Fame next year.

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