Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 12 October 2016

Al Dean (1931-2016)
Al Dean, 85, leader of Al Dean & the All Stars, passed away in hospice care in San Antonio, Texas, on October 3. “Al had been battling cancer,” Heart of Texas Records president Tracy Pitcox announced. Al formed his first band in 1952 and played dances all over Texas. He is best known for “Cotton Eyed Joe,” an old fiddle tune he recorded in 1967. “It was a song I heard as a kid,” he once said in an interview. “I had a cowboy from South Texas come up to me and ask if I knew ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’ I said I did, but I had not sung it in years. We sat down and taught the guys in my band, note for note, how I remembered the ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’” Dancers began requesting the song, and it inspired a new dance. “It started to spread from there and now everyone does the ‘Cotton Eyed Joe,'” Al said. The song became a standard all over the United States and brought fame to Al Dean and the All Stars.

On September 30, 2016, Jean Shepard was laid to rest in Hendersonville, Tennessee. According to the Tennessean, this was exactly 64 years after her first recording session. Near the end of the funeral service, Eddie Stubbs asked everyone to give Jean one final standing ovation. He said she had once told him, “I want to be remembered as an honest person and a darn good country singer.” Her recording of “Satisfied Mind” played in the background as friends and family filed past her casket.

Harold Bruce Traywick, the father of Randy Travis, died at home in Marshville, North Carolina, on October 8. He was born in 1933 in Marshville and spent his life there. He ran a meat route, owned a construction company, raised cattle and horses, and owned a turkey farm. His wife and Randy’s mother, Bobbie Rose Tucker, died in 1998. His obituary says his passion was horses, and “he spent many years breaking and training them with his sons and grandson.” Harold is survived by his six children, Ricky, Randy, Rose, David, Linda Sue, and Dennis, and their families.

Over 10,000 tickets have been sold for the upcoming Charlie Daniels 80th Birthday Volunteer Jam at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on November 30, and more seats are being made available. The Charlie Daniels Band will be joined by Charlie’s musical friends and favorite entertainers. This year’s event will celebrate his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and all concert proceeds will be donated to worthy causes. He began his volunteer jams in 1974.

A new Grosset & Dunlap picture book, Coat of Many Colors, will be released October 18. The book contains illustrations by Brooke Boynton Hughes and a downloadable new song by Dolly Parton, “Making Fun Ain’t Funny.” The book, based on Dolly’s famous song, tells the story of a young girl who needs a winter coat. Her mother sews her a coat made from rags but with “love in every stitch.”

The living estate of Tom T. Hall and his late wife Dixie Hall is being sold at an estate and antique auction on Saturday, October 22 at the Northgate Gallery in Brentwood, Tennessee. The gallery’s website says, “There will be items ranging from exquisite furniture to collectible memorabilia. You will find tables, chairs, linen press, breakfronts, chests, 18th and 19th century furniture, mirrors, oil paintings, prints, bronzes and much more.” The sale includes instruments Tom T played on stage: “a 1961 Martin guitar, 1966 Fender Mustang, 1974 Dobro Brand Dobro, some fiddles, trumpet, saxophone, and other musical instruments.” Thanks to Diane Jordan for sending me this information.

The 2016 recipient of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award is Dolly Parton. The award recognizes country music artists who have achieved international prominence through concerts, record sales, philanthropy and humanitarian efforts, as well as overall public reputation. Dolly will receive the award during the 50th Annual CMA Awards show on November 2. The show will air on ABC-TV live from Nashville. Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Johnny Cash were previous recipients of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Soul2Soul The World Tour 2017 will take Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on a 65-city joint tour that kicks off in New Orleans on April 7, 2017. It will mark the 10th anniversary of their successful Soul2Soul II Tour, and the first time Faith has toured since then.

This past Sunday evening, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted four new members during a celebration at Nashville’s Music City Center: Bob Morrison, Aaron Barker, Beth Nielsen Chapman, and the late Townes Van Zandt. Five members who died last year were remembered with a moment of silence: Guy Clark, Merle Haggard, Ted Harris, John D. Loudermilk, and Kim William.

Pneumonia brought down Tanya Tucker this past weekend. She canceled a sold-out show at Dakota Sioux Casino in Watertown, South Dakota, on Friday because she felt sick. The next day she was airlifted to a Nashville hospital. Her remaining tour dates have been canceled. Monday, October 10, was her 58th birthday.

Shania Twain, 51, will receive the “Artist of a Lifetime” award at the 2016 CMT Artists of the Year event. The show honors artists who have dominated country radio and CMT and have sold out arenas. Leslie Fram of CMT told PEOPLE, “CMT wanted to honor a living legend who is not only the biggest selling female artist in the history of our format, but one of the best-selling artists of all time. She is and continues to be an inspiration to artists across generations and genres.” The previous two recipients were ‪Kenny Rogers and ‪Merle Haggard. The annual special, recorded at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, will air October 20 on CMT.

Bill Mack writes from Fort Worth, Texas, “Thanks again Diane for your very informing column and books on two my favorite friends whom I miss very much. Faron the unpredictable star with a heart of gold (some might disagree, I never will disagree with that statement). I can’t believe Marty would be 91. He set a perfect example of determination. I just completed a tribute today, September 27, to Jean Shepard. Many radio stations have requested MP3 or CD copies. Most of those tributes have been played since we lost this precious little pal a couple of days ago. Some stations are replaying those tributes because of the fans who loved Jean asking for repeats. I do have copies of the tributes if radio stations will contact me at bmack4@sbcglobal.net. Yep, just another note of thanks you deserve.”

R. MacMillan in Arisaig, Inverness-shire, Scotland, writes, “So sad to hear of Jean Shepard’s passing. I only met her once, back in 1995 in Glasgow when she & Jan Howard & Jeannie Seely toured the UK. My tape recorder was acting up so BBC Radio Scotland’s Gerry Ford helped out, lending me his recorder so allowing me to interview the Grand Ole Opry legends. You made use of my interview with Jean Shephard in Twentieth Century Drifter with Jean telling me the story of how Marty Robbins wrote the song “Two Little Boys,” gifting the royalties to her two young sons following the death of her husband Hawkshaw Hawkins in the air crash that also claimed the lives of Patsy Cline & Cowboy Copes in 1963. I have fond memories of meeting the ladies who were all gracious in giving of their time to talk to me.”

Terry Counts writes from White Bluff, Tennessee, “Got the sad news about Jean Shepard and have been so depressed all week…I’ll miss her so much. Her songs were some of the first I learned off the radio almost 70 years ago. I started learning songs when I was about 5 years old and my favourite was one called “Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone.” Mom hated it because it was so sad, but I thought it was kinda neat. I was so tickled when Deaton signed her so I could work with one of my absolute fav’s I almost jumped up and down; met her and we talked several times at the ROPE events…you know I think I can count on 2 hands the greats we have left…sad, sad, sad… Thanks for keeping me posted! I guess by now you know your newsletter is our only source of news about the great country acts we have left…everyone else writes of Tim, Garth, and the rest of what’s their names…you have kinda taken over what Marty Martel, God Bless him, had done for us for years. Keep it up, we need ya! Good to hear George Owens finally said hi (or high), I love ole GO, he and I are good buddies…I hope.”

Ray Harrison in Phoenix, Arizona, writes, “Again as usual, you have a really great newsletter. Enjoyed each and every article. We performed a Marty Robbins Tribute show in Phoenix, on Sat. evening 24 Sept. to honor his birthday. Great turnout and lots of Marty’s music. Carry on and keep these informative newsletters coming.”

Mary Knapp says, “I went to the Tribute to Marty Robbins last Saturday night. It was great, as always. Monday I went to the dedication of the street to Marty. It was also a great event. Always nice to see and visit with Ronny. I put mostly short videos on my Facebook of some songs done Saturday night. It is always so sad to hear the loss of a country singer. Jean has always been my favorite lady singer. Your newsletter is always a welcome read.”

Tony Byworth informs us, “Just to let you know that another two Marty Robbins albums, on one CD are being issued by Morella (Cherry Red) in the UK on October 14. They are real classics – R.F.D and MY KIND OF COUNTRY. The packaging includes the original LP details plus notes by me. Keep up the good work.”

Larry Dodd writes, “I wanted to say thank you so much for your book on Faron Young. I loved Faron and his stories and music. My Dad committed suicide May 14 1983. When Faron died another part of me died as well.”

Denise Crawford says, “I would like to be subscribed to your country newsletter. I saw a copy of one that was sent to a group I’m on.”

Bill Kendrick in Bedford Heights, Ohio, requests, “Please sign me up.”

Chuck Becker writes, “Thanks, Diane…..sure appreciate receiving the Newsletter!”

Nelda Buchanan requests, “Please sign me up for your country music newsletter. This was shared with me by a friend.”

Linda Ward writes from Jacksonville, Florida, “Please add me to your newsletter. My introduction to this newsletter came from Nancy Linn and from a list she shared the entire letter with.”

Mary Lorefice requests, “Please add me to your mailing list.”

Robin Henry says, “I have just been forwarded your email, from my Country loving cousin in Perth, Western Australia. We have both loved Country music for most of our lives–we are in our mid-seventies now. My favourite singers are George Jones, Waylon, Merle, Gene Watson, and Lorrie Morgan. I live in a small town called Foster, which is in the state of Victoria, Australia. I would be pleased if you could sign me up for your emails, this first one of which I found most interesting. Thank you, in anticipation.”

Peter Neilson writes from Somerville, Victoria, Australia, “Please include me on your newsletter list.”

“Big Al” Townley, from the great state of Arizona, says, “Great Newsletter Diane. I live in the Phoenix area and I really enjoy your newsletter. Keep up the great work. As a ‘senior’ country music lover, I am saddened to hear when our stars pass on. I am almost 83 and played a jam session in Overgaard, Arizona, today. I still love to play and will as long as the Lord allows me to.”

Vicky Stacknick requests, “Please add me to your email list. My favourite artist was Conway. I was heartbroken when he passed away.”

Donald Blackwell says, “Clem Schmitz forwarded your newsletter to me and I really enjoyed reading it. Please sign me up to receive your letter.”

Sam Wellington of The Four Guys (Grand Ole Opry retired) writes, “Good stuff, Diane! Got your newsletter from a lifelong friend, Dave Barton. Please include me on future issues. . .. Glad to be on board.”

Moragh Carter from the UK writes, “Marty Haggard has toured the UK at least twice during the last couple of years. Twice he has played at a venue near where I live and I went to hear him both times … and thoroughly enjoyed his show each time. I loved it when he told us the stories behind his dad’s songs. Another part of your newsletter that caught my eye was the one from John Allen from central Florida. I had heard of the programme, JAWS, from an English country artist, Hayley Oliver, who is also totally blind and has been from birth. She is very popular over here. She sounds uncannily like Dolly Parton. She, too, uses the Jaws programme to use her computer. I was also amazed that she was able to send me a beautifully written, hand-written letter, with writing neater than many sighted people’s. I hadn’t realised, until then, that blind people, even those who had never seen paper and pen, could learn to hand-write at all, let alone so well. I love reading your newsletters, though I admit sometimes I have to do catch-up when I’ve saved them till later when I’ve been too busy to read them there and then.”

Stacy Harris, Publisher/Executive Editor of Stacy’s Music Row Report, says, “Re: your question ‘Do you like your favorite entertainers to be politically active, or would you prefer they be apolitical?’ My first thought is that Americans have never been as politically polarized as we are during this presidential election cycle; so much so that if a favorite entertainer is politically outspoken, then a fan with similar views will be glad to find such opinions reinforced, while a fan with differing views will likely find a different favorite. Personally, I’ve always welcomed differing opinions, political and otherwise, because they force me to think.  If, in the process of that thinking, my opinions can’t withstand such challenge and scrutiny, they’re invalid. Let me add that I find politically outspoken entertainers, favorites and otherwise, often disappoint when it comes to supporting particular candidates or election officials–whether they mirror my support of these same folks or not. The reason is far too many of these fellow ‘private citizens’ don’t appreciate their obligation to be informed when they use their public platform. Far too many get on their soapboxes and, when questioned about why they make such endorsements, don’t cite issues and policy matters. Rather, they essentially point to friendship, flattery or some other kind of ego/mutual career-booster that is at the heart of too many of these exchanges. Here’s a test: How many country music entertainers have claimed to be friends of say, George H. W. Bush or Jimmy Carter? Now read Bush and Carter biographies/memoirs in which those they view as their respective friends are mentioned. If you find the country stars mentioned at all, sometimes it’s merely name-dropping. I guess if that passes for true friendship these days, so be it…Happy, happy birthday! (And, as they say, ‘Vote early- and vote often!’)”

“Chet Atkins once told me the world is full of great singers but the only ones who are successful are those who have a supply of great songs to sing.’ –Whisperin’ Bill Anderson in his new autobiography, An Unprecedented Life In Country Music.

I learned the “Cotton Eyed Joe” dance in 1976 in Oklahoma City, where it was always followed by “Sweetheart Schottische.” I was pleased to find the original 1967 LP, KICK’N With Al Dean & The All Stars, which I still have. I’m playing it as I write this. It’s one of my very favorite albums, even though all songs are instrumentals. What wonderful dance music. When I moved to Jacksonville, Florida, it was danced there, too, but on the wrong foot. Over the years, it unfortunately acquired the nickname “the bullshit song,” when dancers thought it cute to yell “whoop whoop” and “bull shit” as they danced. I’m sure they still dance it correctly in Texas and Oklahoma. Farewell, Al Dean.

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