I’m back in the saddle again, back where a friend is a
friend, where the long horned cattle grow, where the….forgot the
words.  Remember Gene Autry and those great old-time cowboy songs he
used to sing?  The ‘let’s pretend we’re country’ recording artists today
just don’t have it today.  They just don’t get it.  What’s so
remarkable about remembering a few words that Gene Autry used to sing
fifty years ago, isn’t really about being, or becoming, old, it’s about
harboring in your breast some beautiful memories of those kinds of
songs.  Does anything called ‘country’ today do that for you.  I don’t
care how old you are, is there anything on the so-called top-ten country
songs that will be so incredibly meaningful that you will remember
anything about them at all fifty years later?  Or forty, or twenty, or
ten, or tomorrow?  And the money interests just never cease, keep on
keepin’ on, even though it’s an insult to every rural person in America.
One new development that has really blew me away, is a
little 9-year old girl, Emi Sunshine, that I saw on FaceBook, who sings
and yodels Jimmie Rodger’s songs.  She plays the ukulele really well,
and she sings and yodels with such force, integrity, and honesty, it’s
impossible not to like what she is doing.  I started trying to track her
down, I believe she is from somewhere like North Carolina, not sure
about that I only have an e-mail address.  Anyway I fired off an invite
to be at LeMars, and lo and behold, the little girl made an appearance
last week on the national “Today Show” singing up a storm.  By then my
e-mail had made it to her, or at least to someone who takes care of
her.  I promised to award her with a “Rising Legend” award if she could
get to LeMars.  Can you imagine how much it would cost to get a national
televised act to come, and in our case ‘on the cheap?’  Well, here’s
the gist of it all, she’s coming.  At least that’s what her mentors
say.  She will absolutely blow you away when she does her show.  She is
still in school, so Saturday is her only ‘best’ day, so plan on seeing
this happen, you will be stunned by what she can do with a Jimmie
Rodgers song.  She also writes some of her own songs, and I can
truthfully say to you right out, they are better than the ‘make believe
country’ songs we hear on radio today.  I just got a short piece on the
Today Show Emi did.  When asked who her favorite artists were, she said,
“I’ve been singing since I was four, and I’ve been playing about a year
and a half.  Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris are my idols, but I also
like Buddy Miller.”  She did the show with her band, family members dad,
uncle, and brother.  They’re called ‘Rain.’
April 18 in Iowa – Fans of country legend George Strait
won’t want to miss this final opportunity to see him perform his live
show, featuring many of his 60 No. 1 hits on his “The Cowboy Rides Away
Tour.”  7:30pm at Wells Fargo Arena, 730 Third St., Des Moines .  $71.50
and $91.50 more info at  
OR, you can come to the Oak Tree in Anita, April 11-12-13 and look at a
picture of George Strait and myself in concert together, and I’ll tell
you the strange tale of how that happened.
April 19 in Iowa – It’s the first night of the thoroughbred
racing season at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Des Moines. 
Post time for the first race is 6:30pm, so catch a few races before
heading to the Meadows Event Center to see the 8pm live show by the
Charlie Daniels Band.  Charlie is promoting his newest album, a tribute
to another legendary artist, Bob Dylan.  $35-$55 on the ticket prices,
more info at  You’ll be seeing Charlie on a lot of ‘media’ coverage as he promotes his new album
Bob Dylan, he just seems to stay in the news.  I never ever
thought he was much of a singer, BUT he stayed on tune and walloped us
with some incredible songwriting.  All this time he’s been doing his
‘thing’ he’s not changed much in his vocal abilities, and his writing is
still some of the best we’ve ever seen or heard.  A trove of two dozen
unfinished Dylan songs written around 1967 (whew, that is a long time
ago), during his ‘Basement Tapes’ period are being completed by an
all-star band assembled by none other than producer T Bone Burnett (he
did Johnny Cash’s last sessions).  Burnett said… “These are not
B-level Dylan lyrics, they’re lyrics he just never got around to
finishing.  Among Dylan’s songs, we’ve never had a chance to hear, are
“Florida Key,” “Card Shark” and “Hi-De-Ho.”  A spokesman for Dylan said
he has offered no explanation of why he decided to offer the unfinished
songs to T Bone Burnett to complete.  It’s hard not to speculate that
the decision is at least partially driven by his experience helping to
bring lyrics left unfinished by Hank Williams at his death in 1953 to
life by having a variety of artists set them to music and record them
for that 2011 album “The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams.”
This from former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson.  “Do you
know the difference between naked and nekkid?  If you’re naked, you
don’t have any clothes on, but if you’re nekkid, you don’t have any
clothes on, but you’re up to something.”  It’s amazing in America how
the discrimination against our very own ‘rural’ music is still in tact,
all the way back to when ASCAP refused to license it for radio air
play.  Amazing, isn’t it?
KSIB-FM Radio in Creston, Iowa, can’t take anymore of the
‘let’s pretend we’re country’ recording artists.  Chad Rieck, the
general manager, reported they are dropping their modern country music
format in favor of a news talk format. 
Maybe if you watch the ‘Tonight Show’ with Jimmy Fallon,
you got to see actor Russell Crowe visiting Thursday night.  The two of
them took to the stage, performing an old Australian folk song (that
Johnny Cash once did), with Fallon on harmonica and Crowe on guitar and
vocals.  Pretty good stuff to be on national television.  Don’t forget
Susan Crowe (Russell’s step-mother) is planning on being at LeMars this
year.  She doesn’t like to talk much about how that all happened, but
she’s a good country singer, though a little demanding at times, but
still a good one.
I missed it, but apparently this weekend Ricky Skaggs,
Larry Gatlin, and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, discussed
their recent visit to Israel on the Fox News Channel.  Last month,
Skaggs and Gatlin ventured to the Holy Land, traveling alongside
Governor Huckabee for a weeklong tour of the region.  Governor Huckabee
travels to Israel each year to guide a tour of the region and provide
historical commentary.  The bluegrass and country legends accompanied
him as personal friends and to perform in many historic locations along
the way. If you got to see it (I believe it aired on Saturday), give us a
I had pronounced the Rathbun Country Music Theater a ‘done
deal’ last fall as the owners decided to close up shop after many many
years.  If you are from the Rathbun Lake area, you should be excited to
know that the theater has new owners. John Bain, Sr., and his son John
Jr., will operate the musical landmark.  The Bain’s are a musical
family, and they hope to keep the traditional country music intact. John
Sr. plays guitar, banjo, piano, and pipe organ; his wife Karen and two
young daughters Sylvia and Sophia will also be performing.  John Jr. is
an electronics repair man, and will be manning the sound board.  Should
all fall into place, if you are from the area, or nearby, go see a show.
SPBGMA (The Society for preservation of Bluegrass Music of
America) is celebrating it’s 40th year this year.  I can’t begin to tell
you how fortunate I’ve been (and Sheila too) to be able to play for
Chuck and Diane Stearman who have manned this organization through all
40 years.  I even wrote a song about Chuck in my early days, when he
wouldn’t let me sing on one of his bluegrass festivals because I didn’t
have a bluegrass band.  It was called simply “Bluegrass Blues” and ended
with “Rank Strangers.” He eventually relented, and I teamed up with
several bluegrass bands to do his festivals, including trips to Ireland
and Czechoslovakia in the deal. Unlike some bluegrass clubs/associations
today, Chuck created a ‘policy’ that he has retained since the very
beginning, and has done more to keep bluegrass as a specific musical
genre than just about anyone else I know.  The original goals, as they
are today, consisted of: Preserving the spirit and art form of
bluegrass; offer management service to any community desiring to hold a
bluegrass festival; organize and conduct bluegrass band competitions;
keeping traditional acoustic instruments (no electric permitted, not
even bass); encourage professionalism in appearance and showmanship by
SPBGMA performers; encourage the support of bluegrass publications and
associations.  I believe Chuck and Diane Stearman have done more for
bluegrass music in Mid-America, if not the entire USA, than anyone else
in the business.  I remember so well when the IBMA (International
Bluegrass Music Association) rolled it’s carpet out, almost in defiance
of Chuck’s already ongoing enterprise.  The IBMA immediately set about
‘capturing’ a whole new participatory audience creating new
opportunities, new enterprises, new sponsors, etc etc.  They called
themselves “international’ but did extremely little in that respect.  I
joined them in their first year, and Eddy Adcock (banjo player from
Washington DC) suggested to them that I assume the post of
‘international representative’ especially since I had been traveling
Europe for some 25 years, working with every bluegrass band of any
notoriety of any kind, in just about every country that had a bluegrass
base from which to work.  IBMA said ‘nix’ we’re appointing Dick Kimmel,
from Minnesota, our international rep, even though he has never been out
of the USA. Doesn’t matter, I’m still a member.  I believe I even
joined IBMA before Kimmel did.
A man who is claiming he is married to Taylor Swift (you
know the one that started out being pretty country and then switched to
everything but country), and threatening her family was ordered to stay
away from Swift for three years.  Timothy Sweet was given the order by
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carol Boas.  Swift said in court
filings that Sweet threatened anyone who interfered with his perceived
relationship with her.  Swift swore in court documents that she feared
for her safety in public and at home.  It’s so interesting to see this
information come out on the Internet…immediately following this story,
is a complete list of Taylor Swift CD’s for sale?
New ‘news’ from John Carter Cash who has said he will be
with us in LeMars this year.  He recently said there are 4 or 5 more
albums of his dad, Johnny Cash’s, unreleased songs.  Johnny Cash passed
away in 2003, but his music continues to live on.  A new album of lost
songs, “Out Among the Stars” was released earlier this week, and now his
son says there are several more albums of previously unheard tunes
still in the archives.  “There are a few things that are in the works
right now, probably four or five albums if we wanted to release
everything,” John Carter said.  “There may be three or four albums worth
of American Recordings stuff, but some of it may never see the light of
day.  My mom and dad never threw anything away either, they kept
everything in their lives.  They had an archive that had everything in
it from the original audio tapes from ‘The Johnny Cash Show” to random
things like a camel saddle, a gift from the Prince of Saudi Arabia.” 
May 13th is going to be special for Dolly Parton.  It’s the
day she will release her latest album “Blue Smoke” in the USA.  It’s
also the day she will be performing as part of the Today Show ‘outdoor
concert series.’  Dolly’s career has spanned nearly five decades, and is
showing no signs of slowing down.  She is the most honored female
country singer of all time, recently topping the New Zealand all-genre
album with an advance release of “Blue Smoke.”  If we had our way, we’d
like to see her come and help us give a “Rising Legend” award to little
Emi Sunshine, and at the same time, We’d put Dolly in the Hall of
The Oak Ridge Boys are celebrating their 41st anniversary,
and who better to celebrate it with, none other than the 41st president
of the USA, H.W. Bush.  The Oak Ridge Boys have been favorites of
President Bush, and over the years they have performed for him many many
times, including special concerts at the White House.  More recently
they performed for him and wife Barbara just a few weeks ago in
Galveston, Texas. 
I keep talking about Curt Shoemaker, the steel player for
Martina McBride (at least in the studio) who is going to be doing a
special concert at the Oak Tree in Anita on April 12th, 7pm.  Well,
Martina is joining the likes of the Roys (they’ve played at the Oak Tree
too), Charley Pride, Larry Gatlin, Lorrie Morgan, John Anderson, Aaron
Tippen, Asleep At The Wheel, and a ton of other pro country artists on a
7-day cruise Jan 18-25, 2015, from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau, St.
Thomas, St. Croix, and a private island, Half Moon Cay.  Lorraine Crook
(of Crook & Chase) will be doing the hosting.  Sounds like a fun
cruise.  More info at
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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