Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 10 September 2014

We sang happy birthday to Mark Chesnutt (age 51) Saturday night during his show at the University of Sioux Falls. He sang his hits for ninety minutes and joked with his two guitarists and the audience. Although I was disappointed he didn’t have his band, the tradeoff was the personal touch where he could talk to the audience and take requests. Several requests were for 20-year-old album cuts he didn’t know. He promised to learn the words now that individual songs can be downloaded. Someone asked for “Friends in Low Places,” and he sang that one, although insisting he didn’t like the song. He said many of the songs he recorded in 1989 were from demos sung by Garth Brooks. Both singers recorded “Low Places,” although Mark’s was solely for an album. He’s been working for nine months on a CD that will be released early in 2015. He ended the concert with “Too Cold At Home” and came back to sing “Going Through the Big D” for an encore. It was my first opportunity to see him in person, and I hope there will be another.

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Country Music Nation reports that the hometown of Randy Travis has removed his name from its welcome signs. The old signs contained the slogan, “Home of Randy Travis & Country Living.” The new ones simply say, “Welcome to Marshville, North Carolina.” The town manager said the old signs were falling apart and the new ones are easier to read.

Before his August concert in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Merle Haggard talked to reporter David Menconi of newsobserver.com. When asked about new releases, Merle said, “We’ve got four different album projects that are all almost finished, and we’ll bring them out in continuity. We’ve got a brand-new studio and we’ve been recording right along all the way, although the lack of radio play for the new stuff makes it difficult. You know, if they put on a new song of mine, they’ve gotta take off ‘Mama Tried.’ So I’m kind of fighting myself on new releases.”

If you want to hear how British actor Tom Hiddleston will sound as Hank Williams in the movie, I Saw the Light, that begins filming next month in Louisiana, watch this fan video of his surprise performance at Michigan’s Wheatland Music Festival: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/tom-hiddleston-hank-williams-wheatland-music-festival-20140908#ixzz3CmLlZkej

Loretta Lynn postponed last week’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa, concert because of her daughter’s medical emergency. Cissie Lynn was scheduled to undergo surgery on September 5th.

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert turned down a $1 million offer from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to perform three shows in one weekend. According to TMZ, they wanted $1.25 million. The venue is trying to fill its 4,300 seats after Celine Dion postponed her engagement while her husband is ill.

The Musical Event of the Year category of the CMA award nominations includes Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton for “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” their first joint nomination since 1986 and their fifth overall. Vince Gill and Paul Franklin are nominated for “Bakersfield” in the same category.

Margo Smith was injured in a head-on collision the afternoon of August 26. She was taken to the local hospital and then transferred to the Trauma Unit at Ocala Regional in Ocala, Florida. “She was not at fault,” says husband Richard Cammeron. “Originally they were concerned she may have internal bleeding and some bleeding on the brain, but thanks to the Good Lord, that was not the case.” He explains, “They operated on her and successfully implanted a steel plate in her shattered wrist and put screws in her ankle. She is in a considerable amount of pain and she is black and blue over most of her lower body. The seat belt cut into her shoulder and abdomen but according to the Florida Highway Patrol, there is NO doubt that had she not had her seat belt on, she would more than likely not have survived. I am saying this because I NEVER wear a seat belt. I dislike them immensely!!! BUT after seeing what happened to her and her Mercedes, I WILL be wearing one from now on.”

Nearly 20,000 fans attended the opening night of the Garth Brooks World tour in Chicago last week. The 24-song concert lasted more than two hours and included songs that ran from Garth’s first single, “Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old,” through his newly released single, “People Loving People.” Mark Guarino wrote in theguardian.com that tickets for the Chicago shows are a flat $65.50, slightly below last year’s average ticket price of $69.52. This tour was programmed to eradicate the secondary market. “Brokers — that’s a nice name for it,” Garth told reporters. “Scalpers — that’s the name we kind of grew up with. All the sudden they’re competing with you. So my thing is put more seats than there is demand out there. The ’96-’98 world tour was all about sellouts. This one is all about making it affordable, making sure anyone who wants a ticket can come.” Kurt Wolff reported on Radio.com that Garth returned to the stage for a second encore, with just his acoustic guitar, and called his wife out to join him: “He seemed struck by a last-minute idea. ‘How about you sing my favorite Trisha Yearwood song, just for me,’ he said. This turned into a sweet, low-key rendition of her 1992 hit ‘Walkaway Joe,’ accompanied only by Brooks’ acoustic guitar and harmonies. It was a standout moment that ended the show quietly but brilliantly.”

Sherwin Linton and the Cotton Kings performed every day during the South Dakota State Fair in Huron. Sherwin invited me to be his guest on Sunday afternoon, August 31. I talked about my Marty Robbins and Faron Young biographies. If you want to know what I said, you might be willing to give this a try: https://dianediekman.com/media-room/. And here’s a photo of the band during the Gospel Show that morning:









Rick Johnson, Pete Brooks, Pam Linton, Delaney Johnston, Sherwin Linton, Kenny Wilson

Elroy Severson writes, “’Do you think singers are more likely to hit it big if they write their own material.’ I think it all depends on a combination of things. For example: The material itself and how well the singer adapts to the material. The singer must have good singing abilities regardless of whether it’s his or her material. The singer must have good entertainment talents. To me, a few great songwriters are/were Hank Williams Sr., Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson. Songs they wrote made them famous, but additionally, their songs were also recorded by many others. Tom T. Hall is a different situation. Songs he wrote and recorded made him famous and seems to me anyway that he is the only one that recorded most of his material.”

Jo Wenger proudly announces that Marty made the front page: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_cfbf87be-2c7c-11e4-bc79-0019bb2963f4.html. She says, “I got to see the plaque and it is really nice. I am glad he finally got it but it should have been here years ago. Glendale is finally beginning to honor him and that is a step in the right direction. I will be at the dedication ceremony on Marty’s birthday. A Marty Robbins Annual Festival before the first Phoenix NASCAR race is the next thing the city should do. Music, cars, racing and the old west, what more could anyone need to draw a crowd and bring folks to Marty’s hometown?”

Marlene Nord says, “I truly enjoy your letters. Have you heard any more news about how Dawn Sears from the Time Jumpers is doing with her cancer treatment? She is a fantastic singer, and it is certainly sad that she’s had to deal with this tragedy.”
Diane: Her Facebook page says she is hosting a benefit concert for lung cancer research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center on Sunday, November 30. You can contact her at DawnSearsandFriends@gmail.com.

Terry Beene writes, “Just thought you might like to see what we are doing: http://terryawards.com. Love your newsletter–keep up the good work.”

Jim Glaser posted on Facebook: “After 52 days in the hospital, Jane is back home. She’s been receiving in-home care and exercise, and she’s doing great. I was so worried about Jane for so long, and for a while we weren’t sure she was going to make it. The local hospital here in Murfreesboro admitted to me they thought she was dying, so I transferred her to another facility in downtown Nashville. Her recovery there surprised even the doctors and nurses on staff. . . . I haven’t even thought about performing, or any aspect of my music career, since Jane was admitted to the hospital on June 21. . . .Thanks again to each and every one of you for all of your wonderful support during this very difficult time.”

Terry Counts writes from White Bluff, Tennessee, “Diane!!! Superb issue!!! Tommy Cash was telling me the other day how moved he was at the old home site, he had tears in his eyes, it was so perfectly restored….what a great family they are, I am so honoured to be a friend of almost 40 years….I also liked Alan Potter’s remarks, I have hundreds of CDs and NOT ONE is this new crap they call country. I listened to ole Bear last night! Keep up the great work!”

Bubba Clark says, “I am a country music fan, musician, and songwriter. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.”

Jack Cole of Ray Griff Enterprises writes, “Ray asked me to send this along to you. Please check out his website for a list of Ray’s music available: www.raygriff.com”

Jane Key Seymore writes from Cullman, Alabama, “I am proud to say that WQAH 105.7 radio in Hartselle, Alabama, is dedicated to playing the legends of classic country music. You can listen online at http://www.wqah.com/. They play bluegrass on Saturday night and country gospel on Sunday morning. Tune in and ENJOY!

Kent Kotal of Forgotten Hits says, “You may want to direct your readers to our salute to Kenny Rogers. Not only does it offer a view of his biography (I loved it!), but it also offers a 4-part series on Kenny’s history dating back to before The First Edition. You’ll find a complete recap page here: http://forgottenhits60s.blogspot.com/search?q=kenny+rogers. Meanwhile, I’m happy to provide your recent coverage in our next edition.”

Linda Elliott Clark says, “Great update! Especially like the section on Reba, Loretta and Bobby Bare. I always liked his songs – especially ‘I Wanna Go Home,’ probably better known as ‘Detroit City.’ Interesting about Merle Haggard’s son. I remember seeing Merle and Bonnie Owens (his wife then) and the band in an outdoor concert in Lancaster, PA, back in the good old ‘60s. Love your updates. Keeps the memories alive!”

Johnny Western writes from Phoenix, Arizona, “Love the newsletter. I sure wish you had contacted me before you wrote your Marty Robbins book. I knew him for 30 years and did lots of tours with him, in the ‘60s, for Hap Peebles. When I was doing things in Nashville, he would call me and we would stay up all night, singing old Gene Autry and Eddy Arnold songs, so he could play his lap steel guitar when I sang. I had a hundred stories on him. He was a crown jewel! Keep the good stuff coming. As I said before, with the passing of Loudilla Johnson, Tri-Son News was lost and you have really filled the void.”
Diane: I must have tried to contact you and couldn’t get in touch, for some reason. I went through all my Faron contacts in search of those who knew Marty. I wish I had been able to talk to you.

Janet McBride tells her story, “Because of Faron Young”: “I don’t remember exactly when or how I began receiving the Faron Young Newsletter but I was excited to receive those tidbits of Faron’s career. I have been a fan since the beginning of his recording career. The heading of this email is my story of what happened in my life in 1955. I entered the Cliffie Stone Hometown Jamboree Housewife Talent Show that year. The show was televised each Saturday night. By the finals I looked ‘WAY PREGNANT’ and in 1955, it was not cool to be seen on TV in that shape but with the WINNING PRIZE BEING A HOUSE FULL OF FURNITURE, I WENT FOR IT. The other ladies were talented but I was the only one who sang country music. With the crowd packed into that ballroom to see FARON YOUNG, none of the other ladies had a chance. My husband was a sailor stationed on a ship and I was living with my Mom and furniture was going to make it possible for me to move into an apartment. I am sure all of that helped. I recorded for at least 6 record labels in my early career before moving back to Texas where I live today. We bought an old theatre in Mesquite and ran a successful COUNTRY MUSIC SATURDAY NIGHT SHOW for nearly 15 years. I found I loved to be a mentor to kids who wanted to learn the art of yodeling and that became my LIFE. The first kid who made it in the music business was LeAnn Rimes which gave my name a boost and with the emergence of another mentee named Kacey Musgraves. My book STILL LOVIN’ THE RIDE is available on amazon.com or from me at jmcbride.yodeler@sbcglobal.net. For it all I have always thanked FARON YOUNG and The Good Lord Above because he had a way of always putting the right people in my path at the right time. I still perform some. I will appear in Hastings NE for a book signing and festival on 11-12-13-14 of Sept. I am a retired Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputy and still working with kids in the Fort Worth Stockyards with the Cowtown Opry Buckaroo’s Program. THANK YOU FOR KEEPING US INFORMED ON SO MANY OF THE OLDER PEOPLE WHO PIONEERED COUNTRY MUSIC. MOST OF THEM NEVER GOT THE RECOGNITION THEY DESERVED. I read every word of your newsletter and I know I am not alone.”

I bought Jan Howard’s 1987 autobiography, Sunshine and Shadow: My Story, at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop during one of my research trips to Nashville about ten years ago. I always searched through the books there to find mention of Faron Young. I was fortunate to later meet Jan and interview her about her memories of Faron. She autographed the book, too. It’s hard to believe that this classy lady with her great sense of humor had such a difficult life. She survived abuse and betrayal and the death of two sons in her first forty years. Jan wrote the entire 490-page book, without the co-writers most celebrities use. It’s a story of determination and survival and overcoming heartbreak. She has my admiration and respect. And she’s a great entertainer, too.

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