Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 12 January 2022

January 12th, 2022

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – ERIN ENDERLIN

Erin Enderlin made her first trip to Nashville at age 16, when she attended Fan Fair in 1998. She carried a backpack containing a Trapper Keeper full of songs she’d written. “Just in case, y’know, somebody needed a song,” she explains. “I carried it all over the fairgrounds with me.”

She told me that story when I called her last week. I’d been so impressed with seeing her at the Bill Anderson songwriter session at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum that I wanted to introduce her to my Spotlight readers who hadn’t heard much about her.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 29 December 2021

December 29th, 2021

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – BOBBY TOMBERLIN

After missing the opportunity to meet Bobby Tomberlin during our Nashville trip, I requested a phone conversation–and found the songwriter relaxing in his hometown of Luverne, Alabama, during Christmas break.

My first question was about the song Jeannie Seely recently recorded, “If You Could Call It That,” an unfinished Dottie West song that Bobby Tomberlin and Steve Wariner completed. I asked, “How do you go about finishing somebody’s song?”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 15 December 2021

December 15th, 2021

TRIP TO NASHVILLE – BILL ANDERSON: AS FAR AS I CAN SEE EXHIBIT

Our four days in Nashville went by way too fast. I’m so glad I accepted Bill Anderson’s invitation to attend the opening of the Bill Anderson: As Far as I Can See exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Perry Steilow and I flew out of Sioux Falls on Wednesday morning. A United B737-800 took us from Chicago to Nashville. At one point, we were above 37,000 feet and traveling 599 miles an hour. It’s hard to fathom being seven miles up in the air and moving that fast. It was a precursor of the amazing experiences awaiting us in Nashville.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 1 December 2021

December 1st, 2021

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – AL SHADE

“We’re Country and Proud of It.” That’s the theme of Al Shade, 94, who has been performing and promoting country music in Pennsylvania for seven decades. He is the oldest entertainer to appear at any county fair in the state of Pennsylvania. He still performs annually at the Lebanon County Fair. “I’ve been on radio for 70 years,” he told me when I called him for an interview. He currently records three one-hour shows per week in his basement studio, to be played on Radio AM 1510. He had been doing 70 shows a year at assisted living centers until COVID hit.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 17 November 2021

November 17th, 2021

NEWS

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville opens the Bill Anderson: As Far as I Can See exhibit on December 3; it will run through March 19, 2023. Bill Anderson turned 84 on November 1. According to The Tennessean, the exhibit begins with his Georgia youth as a baseball player, radio DJ, and budding musician and follows his 60+ years in Nashville. The exhibit title comes from a line in the song “City Lights,” which Bill wrote at age 19 in Commerce, Georgia. Bill says in a press release, “I grew up dreaming of the day they’d put my ball glove into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, never dreaming that one day it would end up in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 3 November 2021

November 3rd, 2021

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – JOE NICHOLS

“What’s A Guy Gotta Do (To Get a Girl in This Town)” is my favorite Joe Nichols song. It’s wonderful dance music and pleasing to my ears. Joe’s three quite-familiar number one Billboard hits are “Brokenheartsville,” “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” and “Gimmie That Girl.” When I requested a phone interview, it took three attempts before we finally connected. “It’s been a really busy year,” Joe said when he called from Pueblo, Colorado, where he was doing a show that night. He’s been on tour mostly since June. He’s looking forward to having “a little bit of peace and quiet” in December, with his family.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 20 October 2021

October 20th, 2021

NEWS

Legendary lap steel player Billy Robinson, 90, died October 15. According to Saving Country Music, he was the youngest ever Opry staff musician, when he was hired in 1949 at the age of 18. He backed Hank Williams on the Opry when Hank received multiple encores for “Lovesick Blues.” His session work included George Morgan’s “Candy Kisses,” Carl Smith’s “I Overlooked an Orchid,” and Red Foley’s “Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy.” The Nashville native was then drafted into the U.S. Army, where he played steel guitar for Special Services. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 6 October 2021

October 6th, 2021

IN THE SPOTLIGHT TRACY LAWRENCE

“I was ate up with it.” That’s how Tracy Lawrence, 53, describes his youthful quest to sing traditional county music while growing up in Arkansas. When he called me last week for our scheduled interview, he told me he learned how to sing and play guitar by listening to singers like Merle Haggard and Randy Travis. “I really worked hard at trying to hit all those notes,” he explained. “When I would sing those songs with a band, I would always make a point to do it in the key on the record, so I could get all those little inflections and everything in it. I really studied the way they sang, and the spots they breathed in, and where they did their vibratos. I was a big student of their phrasing. I would try to emulate every minor detail of the way they sang on those records.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 22 September 2021

September 22nd, 2021

NEWS

The last surviving member of The Maddox Brothers and Rose, known as “the most colorful hillbilly band in America,” has died, reports the Mail Tribune in Ashland, Oregon. Don Maddox, 98, died September 12 in Ashland. His sharecropper family migrated from Alabama to Modesto, California, in 1933. His siblings—Cal, Fred, Rose, and Harry—began performing western swing in California’s Central Valley. After serving with the Army Signal Corps in central Burma during World War II, Don joined their band as fiddler and comic relief and gave himself the nickname “Don Juan.” The Maddox Brothers and Rose wore brightly embroidered Western suits, inspired by the silver screen actors in Hollywood. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 8 September 2021

September 8th, 2021

IN THE SPOTLIGHT – DOUG STONE

I’d been waiting for an opportunity to spotlight Doug Stone in my newsletter ever since his show in Sisseton almost two years ago. Our conversation finally happened when he called me on one of his days devoted to doing phone interviews.

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