Author Archive

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 15 June 2022

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022


Steel guitarist Doyle Grisham grew up wanting to be the next Carl Smith. Instead, after a long career as a musician, he is now a Coral Reefer with Jimmy Buffet. When I called him the other day, they had just returned from a two-week tour. At age eighty, he is “happy doing what I’m doing.” Jimmy Buffet and his Coral Reefer Band tour about ten weeks a year, playing three shows a week. “We travel to a lot of neat places, and it doesn’t take up a lot of my time, so it’s a perfect job for me,” Doyle says. “And the kind of music I want to play.”


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 1 June 2022

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022


Tickets go on sale today, June 1, for The Music of Randy Travis Concert at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. The show takes place Sunday afternoon, August 28, at 2 pm, to conclude the annual Corn Palace Festival. James Dupré will be singing Randy’s songs, backed by Randy’s band. Randy Travis can no longer sing, due to aphasia and aftereffects of his 2013 stroke, but he and Mary will be there. So will Jeff Davis, who has been Randy’s tour manager for 35 years. I’ve talked to most of the group while doing my research for Randy’s biography, and I’m excited to be able to meet them all.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 18 May 2022

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022


Gene Watson finally gave his concert at the Sisseton Performing Arts Center. He told us the May 7 show had taken so long to happen he didn’t think they would ever do it. It was two years in the making. “We drove all the way up here from Texas,” he said, “because we were determined we were going to make it this time.”


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 4 May 2022

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Happy birthday to Randy Travis. He celebrates his 63rd birthday today.


Naomi Judd (1946-2022)

One day before being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Naomi Judd, 76, died on April 30. “Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” daughters Wynonna and Ashley Judd said in a statement. “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief.” Naomi died in the hospital at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, surrounded by her family. Born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky, in 1946, Naomi married young, gave birth to Wynonna and Ashley, divorced and was working as a nurse at a hospital in Franklin, Tennessee, when she and 19-year-old Wynonna got their record contract in 1983. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 20 April 2022

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022


When the 90s Country Rewind Tour comes to Sioux Falls on June 25, I will be in the front row at the South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance to welcome T. Graham Brown, Doug Stone, and Terry McBride. I recently spoke on the phone with T. Graham Brown. He said he’ll be flying in the day of the show and flying out the next morning, so he couldn’t accept my invitation for a tour of the Battleship South Dakota Memorial while he’s here.

He is writing his autobiography, I Tell It Like It Used To Be, and expects to have it published later this year. (more…)

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 6 April 2022

Wednesday, April 6th, 2022


C.W. McCall (1928-2022)

William Dale Fries Jr. (pronounced “freeze”), 93, an advertising executive who became C.W. McCall, died April 1 at his home in Ouray, Colo. He had announced in February that he was in home hospice for cancer. The Washington Post reports he was born Billie Dale Fries on November 15, 1928, in Audubon, Iowa. His parents played musical instruments, and he wanted to be a classical musician. He played the clarinet while at the University of Iowa and later studied art and film production. He joined the Bozell & Jacobs advertising agency in 1961 and became creative director and vice president. When asked to devise an advertising campaign for Old Home bread, he created the characters of trucker C.W. McCall and a waitress named Mavis at the Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep On-a-Truckin’ Cafe. As recording artist C.W. McCall, he had hits with “Convoy,” “Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep On-a-Truckin’ Café,” and “Wolf Creek Pass.”  He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Rena Bonnema Fries, three children, and their children.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 23 March 2022

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022


The first time I saw Reba McEntire in concert was in her early cowgirl days, in Oklahoma in the late 1970s. A decade later, when she gave a concert in Virginia, she had gone uptown. Her fancy gowns and choreographed movements made it appear she’d practiced posing on a certain spot of the stage at a certain time. We’ve both traveled a lot of miles since then. I was happy that she came to the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls this January. She told the crowd she’d been waiting two years to do this show, which was the beginning of the tour. They’d worked it up in 2019, and it had been postponed three times due to the pandemic.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter –9 March 2022

Wednesday, March 9th, 2022


After reading an article where Scotty McCreery said, “Little Scotty used to sit on the end of his bed with a guitar playing three wooden crosses, forever and ever amen, 1982, diggin’ up bones and so many other Randy Travis songs till 2 in the morning,” I knew I wanted to talk to him. When we connected, he told me he grew up as a kid from North Carolina who loved country music. “That’s all my mom was ever playing in the house was that good ol’ country music,” he said. Scotty, 28, is from Garner, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh. He won the 10th season of American Idol, at age 17, in 2011.


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 23 February 2022

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022


When I typed “girl with the blue fiddle” into an internet search engine, it brought up Jana Jae. She had told me in our recent phone conversation how she acquired that title. First, a bit about her background. Born in 1943, Jana started playing violin at age two. Her parents attended New York City’s Juilliard School, a performing arts conservatory with an acceptance rate of eight percent. “I was their first child,” she says, “and they couldn’t wait to get me started. At age five, I played Hungarian Dance # 5 on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.”


Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 10 February 2022

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022


It’s been almost eight years since I spotlighted Gene Watson in my newsletter ( When I arranged a phone interview recently, I asked about his health, as he had cancelled his November show in Sisseton due to illness. “All the illnesses I’ve been through finally culminated in double pneumonia, and I’m trying to get over that,” he told me. He takes a stool onstage so he can sit down and catch his breath between songs. “But we’re doing it,” he says, “and we’ve been playing sell-out houses and the jobs just keep coming in.”