Quite a bit of news this week, so we’ll get right to it………..
John Denver never lived in West Virginia, but his song that
uses the name….”almost heaven, West Virginia,” in it’s lyrics, is now
West Virginia’s official state song.  The state legislature has adopted
Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads.”  It was a hit in the 1970’s. 
According to KHAZ radio, “The song has been a part of West Virginia
psyche for decades. Oddly enough, the effort to make Denver’s song a
state song was launched by the widow of “Gilligan’s Island” actor Bob
Denver, but the two Denvers are not related.   “Denver” is not John’s
real name, it’s Duseldorf or something like that.
Mel Tillis is recovering from heart surgery, conducted last
weekend in Nashville.  The 81-year old country singer required a
routine heart procedure and is expected to make a full recovery. 
According to his daughter Pam, “He’s already cutting up and cracking
jokes with his nurses.”  He left the hospital on Friday, March 14.
Wow bluegrassers, better check your wallets.  The IBMA in
collaboration with the American Steamboat Company is producing two 9-day
“Bourbon & Bluegrass” riverboat cruises on the Mississippi and Ohio
rivers, from St. Louis to Cincinnati – Aug 29-Sept 6, and then back to
St. Louis Sept 6-13.  Rhonda Vincent & Rage, Chris Jones & Night
Drivers, and Storefront Congregation are doing the entertaining. 
Here’s the good news, the cheapest ticket is $3,699 per person.  Well,
it goes up from there.  Lots of extras of course which you can pay for
as you travel along.  Tell you what, come see David Davis & the
Warrior River Boys, Larry Gillis and Swampgrass, and Bluegrass
Playground on Monday, Aug. 25th at LeMars, Iowa, at the fairgrounds,
plus nine other stages of acoustic entertainment going, and we’ll let
you see it for a mere $15 per person.
Some new developments at the LeMars Festival.  The One on
the Mountain stage is going to change.  It’s difficult to sit in the sun
to watch the show for one thing.  They will move to another stage.  We
will use the stage that was theirs, now called the Round Barn Stage
exclusively for workshops, meaning we will have two workshop locations.
And when the workshops are over, we are going to ask Freddy Larson to
take his ‘late-night jam’ to that location.
Tex and Mary Schutz have announced their headliners for the
Hastings, Nebraska, festival at the fairgrounds there.  Set for Sept.
4-5-6, it features Ron Williams (the son of Leona Williams, he was at
Wahoo last year), Al Weekly, fiddler Terry Keefe, Van Bradley, A Little
Bit of Heaven, and Eichor and Awe as the mainstays.  Tex and Mary also
perform. Mary had been working closely with Roger Tibbs from New
Zealand, an incredible yodeler and vocalist of the first order,
attempting to get him on a regular show in Branson.  This was
materializing when Roger’s daughter became desperately ill, is now
receiving treatment in Australia, with mom and dad present, so no tour
to the USA at this time.
Nashville’s biggest record selling artist, Taylor Swift,
who by the way started her career doing some pretty decent country
music, has slowly drifted away from what even Nashville calls ‘country’
these days.  All of this, much to the distress of many of us who hear no
connection of any kind between their ‘country’ and our ‘country.’ 
Those big push-aside CEO’s from New York City that piled their money on
changing country music and it’s sound, are now stirring in their
camelback chairs, somewhat worried about the aforementioned Taylor
Swift.  She’s dumping her long time publicist Paula Erickson.  Why? 
She’s moving even further away from the country-pop that she is
currently doing, and worse, moving completely away from Nashville.  Now
those same great money spenders can’t put Taylor in their media mill and
bask in the lovely glow.  It won’t be there anymore for them, and we’re
talking 26-million albums sold, with 75-million downloads on the
Internet.  31 top-40 country singles with 13 of them hitting number one.
Whew.  I’d be worried too, the hillbillies are coming, the hillbillies
are coming.  No doubt to take country music back, which they own of
course.  They’re going to reclaim their word ‘country’ and I’d be
worried too, since the most discriminated music in the USA, is that
musical genre.  A financial ‘tip’ to the money-worriers.  Try your money
on bluegrass.  That’s where the former fans of Taylor will probably go,
back to the ‘real-deal.’  Even unpretentious folk music who sing
without the ‘box’ why yes, they can ‘really’ sing, is going to be better
than the ‘lets pretend we’re country’ who are now the old timers.
Good friend Mark Brine has a neat song on Face Book called
“A Tribute To Ernest Tubb,” which he wrote.  He got to sing it on
Ernest’s ‘Midnight Jamboree’ when Ernest was still on it.  Tubb passed
away two months after the experience.  This is a remarkably well written
song, with a very attractive yodel at the end.  You should be able to
just go to Facebook and type “Mark Brine” in and find it.  Mark says
‘it’s like it is.”
Just in………Sherwin and Pam Linton will be at LeMars on
Monday, August 25th, backing little Delaney Johnston, along with a few
other tunes from Sherwin and Pam. They’ll be on between two power house
bluegrass bands, David Davis and the Warrior River Boys and Larry Gillis
and Swampgrass from Georgia.  Fantastic Monday I call it.
There’s a new video out on Johnny Cash “She Used To Love Me
A Lot.”  This is a strange kind of song, one of those he did with
T-Bone, but I believe the video demonstrates what Johnny is singing
about.  He’s singing about America.  The ‘she’ in the song is America. 
Not sure this will work for you, but you can try it.  If you know what
he’s singing about it makes more sense. 
This is the same song that David Allan Coe took to the number 11 spot
on the charts in 1985.  The Cash version is gripping, haunting, and an
incredibly sad rendition with ‘America’ as the one that used to love him
a lot.
Heads up on your festival calendar this year.  There’s a
lot of good ones out there, but we’ll be telling you about the ones
Sheila and I are on first.  The 10th annual Heritage Music Fest is held
at the Jefferson School Gym in Elk Point, South Dakota.  Well managed
event by Elaine Peacock, herself a very vibrant singer and promoter. 
The gym is air conditioned, and you’ll find some exciting entertainment
there all day, Saturday July 19th, 11am to 8:30pm.  Along with Bob &
Sheila, you’ll be especially well treated to music  by Terry Smith,
that master songwriter from Nashville who wrote “Far Side Banks of
Jordan’ for Johnny & June Carter Cash.  Clarence Hayden from
Missouri, Pat Boilesen from Nebraska, Rick & Harriette Andersen from
Iowa, The Bumblebee Polka & Variety Band from South Dakota, Nathan
Wheeler from Iowa, Wilbur Foss from South Dakota, and DJ Langel from
South Dakota.  And you will also get to hear Elaine Peacock too, as well
as a couple of songs by her and her husband.  The proceeds of the
concert go to the Elk Point Masonic Lodge which hosts high school
scholarships and child identification programs.   Bring lawn chairs for
your own comfort, and stay for a delicious roast beef dinner.  There’s a
jamming area if that is your desire, and there are also concessions and
baked goods available.   Country, Old-Time, Gospel, and Variety at it’s
Question to Harriette Andersen???? If Rick refuses to take a nap, is that resisting a-rest?
Jake Simpson, our favorite Oklahoma fiddler flew to
Sarasota, Florida to put some fiddle leads on a studio session of June
Webb.  Remember June?  She’s a lovely blonde lady who came to LeMars a
couple of times.  She’s got a magnificent country voice, one of those
lucky few with the ‘gift’ of music.  She was Roy Acuff’s lead vocalist,
the only female he had singing with him, and also worked a lot with Hank
Williams, Sr.  Jake filled in the fiddle parts, and as he listened to
the studio tapes, he took the time to comment on some other missing
parts, consisting mostly of guitar licks, which he promptly added to the
session.  He was in Sarasota for a couple of days, and then flew back
to Oklahoma so he wouldn’t miss any of his regular gigs.  According to
the Sarasota ‘June Webb Headquarters’ they are immensely pleased with
how Jake played, how he acted, and how he helped.  Thanks Jake, good job
well done!
Old Timers Musicians Reunion and Jam Session Saturday April
19 at the American Legion, 1511 South Union, Des Moines, Iowa. 
11am-5pm  All welcome!
April 11-12-13 SPRING-FEST at the Oak Tree in Anita.  Mark
your calendar, it’s going to be a wonderful weekend of great music. 
We’re already getting a lot of reserved seats, some are coming 12 at a
time, so if you are wondering, it might be a good idea to make a call
and see how we are doing.  712-249-5989
is our cell phone while in Texas. Lots of incredible talent on this
show, actually there are four shows.  You can get a weekend pass for all
four for $20, or it’s $7 a show regular admission, $10 a show if you
reserve your seat.  Friday 7pm; Saturday 1pm and 7pm; and Sunday 10am. 
Friday night expect to hear Bobby Awe and Red Johnson as special
guests.  A full line up of super talent on the Saturday afternoon show,
and Saturday night a special performance by Curt Shoemaker and his band
from Kansas.  Then at 10am on Sunday expect to see Cowboy Church with
Scott Davison and his special guest Brook Turner.  Wonderful weekend,
join us for a great time.  Full concession stand with hot-dogs,
polish’s, popcorn, candy, drinks, and some surprises.  Redwood
Steakhouse open for evening meals; Weathervane Café (just across the
street) open for great Farmer’s Breakfast and Lunch.  Pioneer Music
Museum and America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame open free of
charge all weekend.
The last recordings of Ray Price (he passed away in
December of 2013), are being released for sale.  Name of the album is
“Beauty Is,” released on AmeriMonte Records, and available at Wal-Mart,
Crackerbarrel, and other similar outlets.  They’re going to release it
starting April 15.  Wonder why they wouldn’t do this before Mr. Price
died?  According to Fred Foster who produced the session, with help from
Vince Gill and Martina McBride, “Ray called me in 2012 and said, ‘I
think I have one album left in me, I’m not well you know.  I want to do
one last one and I want to do it with you.”
Acoustic Music Jam, March 22nd, noon-6pm at the Community Center, Boelus, Nebraska
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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