Life is still a little slow in the fast lane, not much
happening for the ‘real’ country music world.  Lots of bought and paid
for awards, etc., for the so-called country artists on the charts.  I
try to follow the news of these artists, many of them quite good, but
none of them ‘country,’ and it is discouraging to see what money can do
to a musical art form.  It was super terrific to hear that Little Jimmy
Dickens took over the stage at the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night, and
sang his little heart out, and did it well, which brings me to the
‘fact’ that there are ‘real’ country artists all over the United
States.  Certainly not in Nashville, but ALL OVER THE UNITED STATES,
young and old alike, that keep the identifying characteristics that was,
and still should be, the creation of country music.  As it was in the
first place, still IN place.  Anyone who ever listened to country music
in the past (before this God-awful transitional imitation that doesn’t
even imitate) all the way back to the beginning of America, especially
in the hills of Appalachia, will instantly recognize that the poignant,
down-to-earth, heartfelt, very very ‘real’ efforts at placing true
‘feeling’ in the music, does not exist today in so-called country
music.  Not even a whisper.  Well, if you want the real-deal, make your
plans early to be at LeMars, that’s the last oasis we have in the upper
Midwest at least.
Kenny Rogers canceled his February 14-15 dates at the
Schermerhoin Symphony Center due to an unknown illness.  Wynona Judd
apparently filled in for him.
Deering Banjo, the Great American Banjo Company recently
celebrated the building of their 100,000th banjo, a Deering Sierra
5-string with chrome plating, highly figured curly maple, engraved
hardware, as well as an engraved armrest that says “100,000.”  The
Deering Company proudly presented it to Stan Werbin, the owner of
Elderly Instruments during the 2014 NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif.
This from Samantha Stephens of CMT News.  “Did you catch
Brad Paisley during the February 9th incredible salute to the Beatles? 
In case you missed it, he was fab – just like the fab four.”  In other
words, very un-country.  How about that salute to Hank Williams Brad, or
Ernest Tubb, or Jim Reeves…oooooh that is a very very very long list.
As reported earlier, Garth Brooks actually did a pretty
good job sounding ‘country’ as Jay Leno’s last music guest on the
Tonight show.  This week a U.S. District judge will decide if Garth
Brooks is due $223,000 from former friend and employee Lisa Sanderson. 
This is a money story.  Last year she sued him for $425,000 in unpaid
bonuses and salary (along with punitive damages of course).  This is a
separate trial, set to take place in L.A. Superior Court, no date set
yet.  Anyway, Brooks suit has to do with taking care of Sanderson’s
legal fees incurred over a custody battle of her son.  According to
Sanderson, Brooks said she’d never have to repay the money which was
transferred between his lawyers and her lawyers.  This all sounds like
the only ones making any money here is the lawyers….FLASH… HERE’S THE LATEST..
The Federal Jury ruled in favor of Brooks after one hour of
deliberation.  Now, Sanderson not only has to repay the loan (with
interest), she has to pay the court costs as well as Brooks legal
expenses. Hmmmm.
Willie Nelson and Allison Krauss & Union Station
(featuring Jerry Douglas on Dobro) announced they will be on tour
together this spring and summer for a 35-city schedule beginning May 1
in Murray, Kentucky going through July 18, final show in Toledo, Ohio.
Randy Travis getting better, made his first public
appearance after his serious illness, at the “Smiles for Life” concert
in Dallas, Texas.  You won’t read anything about this in the ‘so-called’
country music news out of Nashville.
U.S. radio broadcasting is in the news again, and appears
to be just another way to prevent local and regional recording artists,
especially ‘real’ country, folk, and bluegrass from getting air play. 
It is called the “Local Radio Freedom Act,” a regurgitation of the
previous “Performance Rights Act HR 848.” Gist of it all is should AM-FM
radio stations in the United States be required to pay performers for
broadcasting their sound recordings over the air? Of course the National
Association of Broadcasters and Public Service Radio are against it. 
Big money record companies and their recording stooges are for it. 
Guess who will get the money?  Looks to me like the little ones gets the
shaft again.  Still, this might pop up in a ballot of one kind or
another that you might have access to.  Best to check it out for more
Pat Boilesen appeared on the Roadhaven Variety Show in
Apache Junction, Arizona (at the foothills of Superstition Mountain) to
an audience of 600 who gave her a standing ovation for her song ‘Broken
Angel.’  We hear all the time about the ‘so-called’ country artists
selling out, why don’t we hear this news from the Nashville crowd?
Our very own Iowa songstress, Sarah Davison (she’s from
Braddyville) has been out here in California, taping the Craig Ferguson
show.  His is the “Late Late Show” on CBS, following Dave Letterman. 
The show she taped will air on February 19, so please tune in, and send
in something to somebody, I don’t know who, what you think.
You might remember me talking about Whispering Bill
Anderson a lot.  He just absolutely broke our record when he was at
LeMars (you wouldn’t read about that in the Nashville rags), invited a
bunch of his friends to a party in Nashville (Vince Gill, Roy Clark,
Dallas Frazier, John Conlee, Jim Ed Brown, John Anderson, Lynn Anderson,
Jean Shephard, Con Hunley, Neil McCoy, Don Wayne, B. J. Thomas,  Bobby
Bare, and a whole bunch more) and Larry Black (you know of Larry’s
Diner) video taped all of it.  The 5-DVD series is nearly seven hours
long. SEVEN HOURS, which is a lot of time spent on traditional and
classic country music.  It’s a real collector’s item, and costs $79 for
the 5 DVD’s, plus another one shot back-stage.  It’s called “Country’s
Family Reunion” available at 800-820-5405.
May 17 is the release date for the Okee Dokee Brothers new
album “Through the Woods.”  May 17, 10:30am, at Black Bear Crossings on
the Lake in St. Paul, Minnesota.  These guys are really good, they just
got the children’s music Grammy you know.  They played a couple of times
for us at the Oak Tree Opry.
Greg Cahill and his bluegrass group “Special Consensus” who
has also been with us several times over the years, has joined forces
with some other bluegrass artists to create “Country Boy” a tribute to
John Denver.  It’s set for release March 25th.  Producing for Compass
Records is Allison Brown, who owns the label, and is a very very good
banjo player.  They had additional help from Rob Ickes on Dobro, Claire
Lynch on vocals, John Cowen on banjo, and Jason Carter on fiddle.  Even
Michael Cleveland and Buddy Spicher (probably the best known fiddlers in
the bluegrass world other than Mark O’Connor) also participated on an
instrumental called “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” (and quite frankly
really ‘shames’ the so-called ones in Nashville).  Greg Cahill and
Allison Brown do the same thing with the banjo.  Also included are other
great renditions by Dale Ann Bradley Jim Lauderdale, Peter Rowan, and
Rhonda Vincent.  This one has to be a good one, so Allison please send
it to me for a record review.
Jay Kelly, one of our really good upper Midwest ‘country’
fiddlers, got hit with pneumonia in the Rio Grande Valley last week with
a trip to the hospital and missed several Terry Smith shows he was
scheduled to do.  We’re going to do a special Jay Kelly Road Trip this
summer, join him (and us) at the Oak Tree Opry in Anita, Iowa, along
with Mark & Sue Jenkins on Friday, May 30th, showtime 7pm.  On May
31st join Jay, along with Bobby Awe, Dale Eichor, and Bob & Sheila
Everhart at the Civic Auditorium in Tekamah, Nebraska, for a Saturday
‘Night With The Stars’ concert, showtime 7pm.  Please help us ‘sell it
out’ so we can brag back at those Nashville wanna-be country artists. 
AND THEN, join Jay and Dale Eichor, Paul Burnett, and Bob & Sheila
at a special Sunday matinee at Lalley’s East Side Restaurant in LeMars,
Iowa for a 2pm afternoon show on June 1st.  It’s a good weekend for
‘real’ country, and good going Jay Kelly, get better and join us ‘on the
Unbeknownst to us, as we made our trip to Las Vegas couple
weeks ago, we drove right by a huge almost alien looking group of three
huge towers with all kinds of mirror-like plates surrounding all three
towers.  We all agreed it was some kind of solar power station.  And
then in the newspaper on Feb. 14, they announced that indeed this is a
solar power station, the world’s largest one, which started creating
electricity for California on Valentine’s day.
Look for a new album from Carlene Carter.  Remember her,
she came to be with us when we were in Missouri Valley. She has a new
album out April 8 on Rounder Records.  All 12 songs have a direct Carter
Family connect, including some Carter Family original compositions. 
The songs cover three generations of Carter Family music.  Both Willie
Nelson and Kris Kristofferson guest on the recording, as does Vince
Gill, Sam Bush, and a host of other ‘real’ old-time country music
In that same mind-set, 15-year old Melody Williamson, of
the Nashville based family band “The Williamson Brand” is also
struggling to keep ‘real’ country music alive.  She has just released a
new song she wrote called “There’s No Country Here.”  Guess how many of
those Nashville rags will print her story?  For the same age-group
record buyers Nashville is so desperately trying to attract, this
15-year old is going to beat them to the punch, and she’s going to show
them how phony they really are.
Sheila and I are going to stay pretty busy this summer, one
especially nice concert we are looking forward to is at the Maquoketa
Art Experience in Maquoketa, Iowa on June 8th.  If you type into your
computer… Maquoketa art experience … click up events, then upcoming
events, scroll down to the June 8 concert.  You’ll see our concert data,
along with some neat photos, one of them taken behind the Oak Tree Opry
when our apple trees were in bloom, and just right of that photo is one
of us performing at the Willows Theatre in Boca Raton, Florida, to a
sold out house and a standing ovation.  Take that you Nashville
phonies.  And then, there’s another photo of us playing at one of the
many festivals we did in Florida last year.  Well, just thought you
might like to have a look-see.  Come see us this summer as we perform
our Smithsonian ‘Traveling Museum of Music’ you might enjoy it.
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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