Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 16 July 2014

“What I see in my future is exactly what I’m doing right now,” Janie Fricke told me when she called the other day in response to my request for an interview. “I get surprised all the time with new offers and new possibilities.” She credits Kirt Webster with finding those opportunities for her. She started working with him years ago when he came to Nashville as a new young publicist. He now owns Webster & Associates LLC and represents many top artists.

I asked about seeing Randy Travis at Dolly Parton’s concert, and she said, “That’s the most recent exciting happening.” Kirt told her she needed to go to Dolly’s concert in Oklahoma because Randy would be there, and she drove up from Dallas. Randy came in his tour bus, which Janie thought was a great idea because it allowed him to travel comfortably. He pulled into the backstage area where Dolly’s buses and semis were parked. “It was just a wonderful time,” Janie says about hanging out backstage. She knew Dolly from years ago in Nashville when she sang backup on Dolly’s albums. She says Randy’s health has improved greatly.

Janie performed at last year’s George Jones tribute in Nashville, “which was an absolutely wonderful experience,” she says. She told me about being invited by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to go to Camp David and entertain the president of Mexico. She and her band flew there in the Presidential helicopter, and they did their show out by the swimming pool. The Secret Service checked every piece of equipment while they were setting up.

“We have a studio here at our ranch in Texas,” she says, and she records there now. Her CDs are available on her website at http://janiefricke.com/. Her most recent album is Roses and Lace. She also has Songs of the Silver Screen, consisting of classic movie hits such as “Over the Rainbow” and “Singing in the Rain.” Her gospel album is titled Crossroads. Some of the older ones on her four-page list were recorded in Nashville.

Something many fans might not know is that Janie designs a collection of fabric pieces. They are her own handmade creations and can be seen on her website under the tab titled “Collection.” She shows them at the World Trade Center in Dallas, and people can order from those ideas. Every piece is individually made. “I precut each item and get it prepared for the seamstress,” Janie says. “Little pieces of art, I call them.”

“I appreciate the chance to get in your newsletter,” she told me. And I appreciated the opportunity of a conversation with Janie Fricke.


The 44th Anniversary Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame & Induction Ceremony will be held October 5 at Music City Center in Nashville. John Anderson, Paul Craft, Gretchen Peters, and Tom Douglas will be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. John Anderson, being inducted in the Songwriter/Artist category, wrote his hits, “Swingin’” and “Seminole Wind.” Paul Craft’s songs include “Dropkick Me, Jesus” by Bobby Bare and “Brother Jukebox” by Mark Chesnutt. Gretchen Peters wrote George Strait’s “The Chill of an Early Fall” and Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” Tom Douglas co-wrote “I Run to You“ by Lady Antebellum and “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert.

The five-show Garth Brooks Comeback Special Event scheduled for July 25-29 in Dublin, Ireland, has been cancelled. When three shows at the Croke Park Stadium sold out so quickly in April, two more were immediately added. A total of 400,000 tickets were sold. Now, in early July, the Dublin City Council refused to license the final two, citing fears of noise, traffic disruption, illegal parking and “potential antisocial behaviour.” Garth Brooks responded, “For us, it is five shows or none at all.” He said his team was blindsided by the refusal, and that his staff had been in daily contact with the city council. He sent a letter on July 7 that stated, “I cannot begin to tell you how badly my heart is breaking right now. I hope you understand that to play for 400,000 people would be a dream, but to tell 160,000 of those people that they are not welcome would be a nightmare.” His crew was still en route and Garth asked for one last chance to salvage the five planned concerts. The next day, his promoter issued a press release that said, in part, “No concerts will take place. The ticket return process will be outlined tomorrow. Aiken Promotions have exhausted all avenues regarding the staging of this event.” The Irish Independent reported that 50 diehard Garth Brooks fans from all over Ireland took to the streets of Dublin on July 12 in a march to protest the council’s decision. The Irish Times reported on Monday that ticket refunds have been postponed for a week, and there are rumors that some of the residents’ names in the objections against granting the licenses were used without those persons’ knowledge.

The six-month Blue Smoke World Tour ended Monday night when Dolly Parton performed her final concert in Locarno, Switzerland. The European leg, which followed those in the United States and Australia, also included the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The estimates of the crowd for her Glastonbury appearance in England have increased from 100,000 to more than 150,000, and BBC reported its largest viewing audience ever of its Glastonbury live broadcast. When workers began cleaning the acres of land after the Glastonbury festival, they found a fluffy white dog they named Dolly. As word spread in the search for its owner, reporters nicknamed the dog “Doggy Parton.” Dolly said she would adopt it if the original owners weren’t found. The animal shelter has since reunited “Doggy Parton” with its original owners.

Band of Brothers, the new album by 81-year-old Willie Nelson, debuted at number one on the Billboard Country chart and number five on Billboard’s 200 Best-Selling Albums chart. Willie’s last number one album was The Promiseland in 1986.

Loretta Lynn, age 82, is on a 15-show 2014 summer tour that began at her Hurricane Ranch with a show dedicated to Conway Twitty. She will go as far as San Antonio, Texas. Her ranch also will host a two-day gospel music festival in September.

When Jody Nix and his Texas Cowboys returned home to Big Spring, Texas, after playing a 4th of July dance, Jody’s defibrillator went off. He was rushed by ambulance to Scenic Mountain Medical Center in Big Spring. By the time he was in ICU and a defibrillator technician turned off the machine, it had zapped him 42 times. He was then transferred to the University Medical Center in Lubbock, and the Texas Cowboys played their Saturday night gig without their leader. Jody was released from the hospital Monday afternoon, and he wrote on Facebook, “Friends, it wasn’t my heart, it was a malfunction in the device. A wire shorted and caused it to fire. Had 4 doctors watching and CICU nurses monitoring me at all times. They did an electrocardiogram to check the function of my heart and it is working good.”

Vic Lawson, former employee of the late Bobbe Seymour, has reopened Bobbe’s steel guitar store, Steel Guitars of Nashville, Inc. It is in the same location, 123 Mid Town Ct. Hendersonville, Tennessee, with the same phone number, 615-822-5555. The new website is http://www.steelguitarsofnashville.com.

Judy McCulloh, retired executive editor of the University of Illinois Press, died of cancer on June 13. When I was searching for a publisher for my Faron Young biography in 2005, Eddie Stubbs suggested I contact Judy. He said she was involved with the annual International Country Music Conference (ICMC). Judy responded to my email with a long note of helpful suggestions, and she eventually referred my manuscript to one of her editors. She said she was getting ready to retire. I met her two years later when I attended my first ICMC—to promote Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story, published by the University of Illinois Press. Farewell, Judy.

Tommy Cash writes from Nashville, “I truly enjoy the newsletter. You are so good to us and we appreciate what you do for country music. I will be celebrating 50 years in the business in December this year. I recorded my first record in Dec. ’64 with Pappy Daily for Musicor. It’s so sad about Glen Campbell. What a talent!

Tracy Pitcox of the Heart of Texas Country Music Association sends this note from Brady, Texas: “Always love your newsletters! I am so happy you expanded to include more news from various artists. I really appreciate what you are doing to promote Traditional Country Music. We all have to do our part and thanks again for loving the real stuff.”

Brenda Kaye Perry says, “FINALLY THERE IS SOMEONE giving the country music community what they crave ….good honest and very informative info on country music ……..and the legends that have made it so. Thank you.”

Mike O’Neill says, “It’s interesting to read the European reviews of American performers. The writers are usually 20 or 30 year olds that have their own Music. Dolly Parton is their parents’ or Grandparents’ music. Most of the concert goers are the same age with the same music likes. When 100.000 people show up to see Dolly she’s got a lot of new fans.”

Diane Jordan writes, “I thought you may want to mention in your newsletter that former recording artist Lois Johnson passed away July 7th in Nashville. Lois had one of the most beautiful voices in country music. She was well-known in Nashville music circles during the 1960s through the ’80s and was regarded by some as one of the best vocalists in the genre. (See www.loisjohnsonmusic.com.)

Marilynne Caswell writes from Canada, “Just thought you might be interested in the fact that ‘The Old Man and his Horn’ as well as the classic ‘Paper Rosie,’ both huge hits for Gene Watson, were written by Dallas Harms, a fellow Canadian. He lives about 30 miles from me in Hamilton. I booked Dallas a bit in the ‘70s. A most talented man. Another bit of information, the wonderful song, ‘Farewell Party’ was originally recorded by Little Jimmie Dickens. He gave me a copy of the 45 rpm record during a visit to our home in May 1963. The flip side ‘Talking to the Way’ was actually the bigger hit.”

Alan Potter in England says, “All so wonderful informative stories. I did a radio tribute to JC Newman. Gene Watson’s article was great. I’ve known him over 40 years & interviewed him 3 times. We talked & laughed about how Mike Storey worked him to death & other things. He’s great to interview, down to earth & friendly.”

Terry Counts writes from White Bluff, Tennessee, “I have heard it all my life that ‘Goin’ Steady’ was written by Faron and I’ve heard him say he wrote it in conversations over the years. Faron was NOT the kind of guy to say that unless it was true. I loved Hank 1 and cried like the baby I was when he died. I respected him, I wished he would quit drinking and doping but I didn’t get my wish. I guess God saved it for someone else. Gene Watson is a true gentleman, country music lover and my fav is (of course I forget the proper title, duh) about the lady selling Roses…Paper Roses…makes me bawl every time.”

Andy Williford, Faron’s boyhood friend, reminisces, “I seem to recall having a conversation with Faron about ‘Goin’ Steady’ and I asked him if it was for Carol Wickes and he said no. I could be wrong because it has been so long ago. Always love your letter and just to let you know, I did meet George Edwards one time on Faron’s bus. Also, Faron’s hero Coach Clem Henderson is still alive at 90.”
Diane: Carol and Faron broke up shortly before they graduated from high school in 1951, more than a year before Faron wrote “Goin’ Steady.”

Jane Key Seymore writes from Cullman, Alabama, “Great newsletter as usual! I especially enjoyed the update on Gene Watson. I heard Marty Robbins comment once that Gene Watson had the true country music sound and I have to agree. In response to Linda Elliott Clark I agree there should be more about Marty Robbins in Nashville – there used to be a great exhibit at the Opry Museum that included a replica of Marty’s office but the flood in May 2010 destroyed this and the Opry Museum never reopened. This makes me sad!:( Perhaps Marty’s family will open a Marty Robbins Museum in Nashville someday soon. (There used to be one several years ago that I remember visiting as a child.) Some Memories Just Won’t Die.”

Sandy Jennings says, “Thank you so much for your article on Gene Watson. He is one of my all-time favorite country music performers. He has a wonderful voice and a genuine love for the classic country music style. I have seen him in concert only one time but it was an unforgettable experience.”

Linda Elliott Clark writes from Virginia, “Nice update as usual. Good article on Gene Watson also. Sorry to hear about Jimmy C. Newman. I’m sure I saw him in the ‘50s when I visited the Ryman Auditorium. It was such a long time ago I can’t remember who was on the Opry the night we visited.”

Ron Hogan, a former Country Deputy, says, “A note on George Edwards. Being that he and I go way back in the music business and both played steel for Faron, we try and get together about every two weeks. We drink coffee at his house (I tease him because it’s freeze dried) at the kitchen table. We laugh, tell stories of the music business, show old pictures, compare stories. Then we move down to his den and play a little steel, watch old music videos, mostly of steel guitarists. I’m going to try and get several to surprise him from past bands he and I have played with in Nashville. That always spawns great Nashville stories & fellowship. We are getting ready to watch/listen to a Ray Price concert from the ‘60s in the next several weeks.”

Dixie Grass writes from San Antonio, Texas, “Thanks so much for interviewing Gene Watson! You did a fantastic job on your write-up. He’s a true country singer and one of the nicest around!!!! I love his new CD. I attend as many of his shows as possible (including the Grand Ole Opry the 11th of this month). He’ll also be on Larry Black’s Alaska Cruise 19 thru 26 July. I, too, like ‘The Old Man and His Horn’ song. I enjoy Gene’s Farewell Party Band. Love watching his bass guitar player – he really gets into the songs. Glad Mickey Gilley is back performing. He mentioned recently on RFD’s Larry’s Country Diner that he was back in Branson but I didn’t understand that his show would be recorded for TV. Will miss seeing Jimmy C. Newman on the Opry. Saw him there on May 17th. Growing up, his song ‘Cry, Cry, Darling’ was one of my favorites. HA! HA! I liked the song but I agree that 29 lines of ‘I Love A Rainy Night’ is definitely a bit too many. Always look forward to your Newsletters! Thanks again.”

Carolyn Babin writes, “There is so much in this last newsletter that I must get around to reading every word, but it is late and I am pooped right now. I must tell you and your readers about an old friend of mine that I lost touch with so many years ago. Jewel House died in 1971 at only 51 years of age. She was a songwriter and entertainer from Texarkana, Arkansas, and one of the sweetest people I met in the business. She wrote along with Hank Williams, ‘My Son Calls Another Man Daddy’ and it was a big hit for him. She wrote several hits for country artists, among them Red Sovine and Jim Reeves.”

Gary Presley, one of my writing buddies, offers, “One of those periods when Ledbetter’s song was popular must have been around 1950. That’s my brother’s birth year, and I can remember my Dad sitting in an older fabric covered rocker singing it to my brother to quiet him when he was fussy. Easy lyrics, I suppose. Dad wouldn’t let Mom get rid of the rocker even though the springs wore out over the years. It’s probably stored away in my brother’s barn. . . . Funny how music marks life, isn’t it? The first song I remember singing around age 6 to 10 is ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ by Frankie Laine. The first song as a teen, maybe age 12 or 13, was ‘Unchained Melody.’ That might make for a good question for your newsletter.”

What is the first song you remember singing?

I don’t remember singing songs myself, but I do remember three that Mom sang. In the 5 February newsletter I talked about “Rock All My Babies To Sleep.” She also used to sing, “At the bar, at the bar, where I smoked my first cigar, and the nickel in my pocket rolled away.” Imagine my surprise to run across a hymn a few years ago with a chorus that began, “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away.” The hymn was written by Isaac Watts in 1707 as “Alas! and did my Savior bleed.” Ralph E. Hudson apparently added the chorus in 1885 and changed the title to “At the Cross.” An Internet search shows “At the Bar” to be a “trail-driver’s parody” of the hymn. I don’t know when Mom would have learned the song. Perhaps from the same place she learned “Cowboy Jack,” which I’ll save for another week.

Danny Naccarato writes on Steel Guitar Forum: “This is my 3rd year with Gene Watson and I/we are having an absolute blast. He sings as well as he ever has, we have a great time on stage, and the music is a steeler’s dream to play. The crowds at the shows have been boisterous to say the least. A lot of the stuff that goes on, on the bus, has somehow made its way onto the show. We play to many sellouts, and a number of venues are now booking us for multiple nights. We did 75 dates last year, and so far this first half, are ahead of that, although I’m not sure we’ll hit that number this year, but dates are still coming in. Out of all those dates, we might do less than 6 club dates. We’ve added a couple more tunes from the new album, in addition to the ones we were already doing that became part of it, and they are a pleasure to play. Another interesting twist has been our being accepted at bluegrass shows. We’ve played many the last few years, as the final act on the final night, and folks have been ‘crashing’ the festivals for Gene’s part of the show. We usually get Rhonda Vincent and a couple of her guys up, and it is truly a blast.” Danny has a website: http://dannynacc.com/

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