Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 7 September 2022

September 7th, 2022


I finally met Randy Travis!! I’ve been his fan and have followed his career ever since first hearing “On the Other Hand” on my car radio while driving to Susie’s Nashville East in Virginia Beach in 1986 to go dancing. After getting my University of Illinois Press contract in 2019 to write his biography, I’ve corresponded with Randy and his wife, Mary, via email.

So I was excited to learn the Music of Randy Travis Show was coming to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, on August 28. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 24 August 2022

August 24th, 2022


My last newsletter mentioned the McCall family (Darrell, Dennis, Diane, and Dee Jee) had been inducted into the Ohio Country Music Hall of Fame, and that Dennis received his plaque during the Heart of Texas show we attended while we were in Nashville. I introduced myself to Dennis McCall that afternoon and asked if I could call him for a newsletter spotlight. He agreed. During our telephone conversation this past weekend, I said I’d often heard the story of Darrell and Donnie Lytle (Johnny Paycheck) moving from Ohio to Nashville. I asked how Dennis ended up in Nashville.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter

August 10th, 2022


The day before flying to Nashville, I received an email from United Airlines that suggested changing my flights to avoid weather congestion in Chicago. But rescheduling before knowing there was a problem seemed like an unnecessary hassle. Kayo Paver, Perry Steilow and I showed up at the Sioux Falls airport on Friday morning and checked in for an on-time flight. Then it slid. And slid again. By the time we got off the ground, we knew we couldn’t make our connection in Chicago. However, our flight from Chicago to Nashville had also been delayed. We rushed from the far end of Terminal F to Terminal B and found our flight had been delayed even further. Time to relax. We arrived in Nashville only one hour later than originally planned.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 27 July 2022

July 27th, 2022


Janie Fricke came to the Sisseton Performing Arts Center in Sisseton, South Dakota, last Friday evening. Brother Keith and sister Kayo were there with me for the show. Janie came onstage at 8 p.m. and kicked off with “Somebody Else’s Fire,” a song she said came from “my new greatest hits album, called Complete Hits.” I looked it up later, and the title is It Ain’t Easy–The Complete Hits, released in 2019. The song was a top ten hit in 1985.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 13 July 2022

July 13th, 2022


The Deadwood Mountain Grand, a Holiday Inn Resort that overlooks Historic Deadwood, South Dakota, is the only hotel I can recall–and I’ve stayed in many of them around the world–that has no front entrance. We crossed the street from the parking lot and entered the casino, then took an elevator to the third floor and exited from the back side of the elevator to get into the hotel lobby. This made me curious to learn about the building’s history.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 29 June 2022

June 29th, 2022


The McCarters were a sister trio who recorded traditional country music for Warner Bros. in the late 1980s. Jennifer sang lead, with twin sisters Lisa and Teresa singing harmony. Their debut album, The Gift, produced two Top Five singles, the title track and “Timeless and True Love.” When I called Jennifer McCarter several weeks ago, she told me she didn’t think she’d ever sing again after the group broke up in 1996. She wanted her sisters’ harmony and didn’t like singing alone.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 15 June 2022

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.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 1 June 2022

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.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 18 May 2022

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.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 4 May 2022

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. Read the rest of this entry »