Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 22 January 2014

Here’s an email from Holly Dunn: “I will attempt to give you a brief overview of where I have been and what I’ve been up to since I left Nashville in 2003 and totally retired from the music business. There were many factors in that decision, but mainly, I had been in the business for 25 years, recorded for 3 record labels, and realized I had had all the big success I was going to be allowed to have. I had an epiphany one night while standing back stage at the Grand Ol’ Opry… I thought, do I want to still be standing here singing ‘Daddy’s Hands’ when I’m 80, or do I want to get out while I’m ‘young’ enough and still have the energy to re-invent myself? It wasn’t easy to walk away from a career I had given my heart and soul to, but I haven’t regretted that decision.

“I first moved back home to Texas and opened an art gallery. (My mother was a wonderful painter and I am now a professional artist as well.) Not ready to sit still in one place yet, I closed the gallery after a year and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to help run a gallery for an artist friend of mine, where I also showed my work. In 2007, by total happenstance, I was hired by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to help in the Marketing/PR Department. I was Director of Public Relations until 2009 when I moved back to Texas to be closer to my Mother, who was not in the best of health. My Mom passed away in 2011. Since that time, I have continued to make and sell my artwork in galleries and at art shows throughout the Southwest. I split my time between Texas & New Mexico and have recently gotten a place in Nashville, where I am at the moment. I am a diehard Texan, so I will probably settle down there again permanently before too long.

“I had an incredible experience as a songwriter and recording artist in Nashville, and I feel blessed to have gotten to do all that I got to do, for as long as I got to do it. The only thing I really miss is not getting to tour this great world of ours and meet the wonderful folks who love Country Music. I don’t have words to say how much I appreciate all the folks who came to my shows, bought my records and supported my career. You made my dreams come true!”

Holly’s website is http://www.hollydunn.com. Thanks to Loudilla Johnson for the connection.

Bob Everhart provided a report on Randy Travis, saying “he is still recuperating from his stroke.  He is paralyzed on the right side, he cannot walk, and can barely speak. His daily medical care continues with a nurse that visits every day as well as having long-term caretakers that take care of his daily needs. He has to wear a helmet to prevent the chance of brain injury and is still confined to bed or wheelchair.” If anyone can connect me with someone who’s close to Randy or his family, for regular updates, I would appreciate that.

Les Leverett returned home from a six-day hospital stay, He says, “I had atrial flutter, congestive heart failure and pneumonia. They ran wires up my body and down my body from my neck and blasted it, which cleared the flutter away.” Sadly, he will soon lose his wife, Dot, who has had dementia for almost two years and is now near death.

Bill Anderson has just released a new CD. It is called Life and is available on iTunes, Amazon, and all other digital outlets. In the next few months, he will be touring in Canada and participating in cruises in Alaska and the Caribbean. You can keep up with him on his website at http://billanderson.com/wired/

Bonnie Blose says, “I love this change. Often years pass without hearing a word about an artist we love. How wonderful it will be to hear about concerns and positive changes in their lives as they are happening. If I may suggest a candidate for an update, I’d like to suggest Holly Dunn. I would love to hear what she is doing now. I think of Holly often with fond recollections of many hours spent immersed in her beautiful voice.”
Diane: I hope you enjoyed the “Featured Artist,” Bonnie, and thanks for the suggestion.

Jody Nix writes from Big Spring, Texas, “Great reading, my friend, and the picture of Ray Price and Mel Tillis is worth the whole message. Thanks for all you do, please keep writing.”

Red Freeman in Little Rock, Arkansas, says, “I continue to enjoy your news about the great country entertainers and their back-up musicians. Always brings back lots of memories when you mention folks I had the pleasure of meeting when I was working with Sherwin Linton’s band out of Minneapolis and South Dakota in the 60s and 70s. Thanks for all your hard work.”

Theresa Harter writes from Florissant, Missouri, “I found your pages while researching some of my mom’s photos from the summers of 1954, 1955 and 1956, from a number of music venues she attended in the St. Louis area. Mostly I am trying to find info on the musicians she has identified. Mom was especially enamored with Teddy and Doyle Wilburn.  My brothers and sisters loved hearing her sing her favorites. She even taught herself to play the guitar. Mom would listen to the radio, write down the words to songs in Gregg shorthand and go back and figure out what chords to play. I have all these photos and can’t find any others like them. I am coming up short on information and am becoming more intrigued all the time. Of course I know who Faron Young, Marty Robbins, Ray Price and the Wilburn Brothers are, but there are other names that I can find very little about, if anything. I am wondering if these photos would be interesting to others.”
Diane: Theresa can be reached at tmh417@gmail.com if you want to help her in this quest.

Patty Walley, who lives in Hesperia, California, and shares a birthday with me, says, “I would love to get your letter. I enjoy reading them.”

Stuart Weiss wants readers to know about his Internet radio show called Midnight Country: “I play the real old country from the 50s with a touch of 40s and 60s in it. Every Friday night as we approach midnight (Eastern Time), it is time for ‘Midnight Country.’ It’s 90 minutes of the way country music used to be. You’ll hear the greats like Ray Price / Marvin Rainwater / Faron Young / Marty Robbins / Kitty Wells / Patsy Cline / Hank Williams / Johnny Cash and so many more. It all happens at www.oldiesyourway.com.”

Sandra Nicholson writes, “You posted a list of the newsletters and I was enjoying catching up on all I had missed. I must have deleted them ’cause I can’t find them. I would appreciate if you would send the list again. This time I will make sure I don’t delete it. I do hope you will receive stories and pictures that relate to Marty and Faron. These two should never be forgotten.”
Diane: My newsletters are all in the “Newsletter and Blog” section of my website at https://dianediekman.com/?page_id=6.

Doris Pape of “Marty’s Army in the 70s” says, “It is good to hear about some of our oldies but goodies. Keep up the good work.”

Jeanette Creamer, a long-time friend in Jacksonville, Florida, writes, “Very interesting letters. Shows that you are well known and admired by many people, who are interested in your writings. It is an honor to know you, not only as a very good writer, but a wonderful friend. Ed was so proud of you as a member of the US forces and a wonderful friend. Keep it up.”

Alan Potter sends this note from Great Britain: “Wonderful reading all those letters in response to your news letter. Great to know there are so many fans of the golden era of country music still supporting the stars. You do a wonderful job, Diane, please keep it going. I’ve made so many friends in country music & they are genuine friends.”

Marge Hemsworth writes from Nova Scotia, “Always enjoy your newsletters SO much, Diane! As well as your books! I think Jimmy Dickens would be a GREAT book. He’s a great man, love his sense of humour, and we have him to thank for Marty!!!!!! We have a wealth of country music here in Nova Scotia. We have a 4-day tribute we pay to Hank Snow the 3rd weekend in August. This will be the 24th year. The weekend of May 9th there’ll be a 3-day bash celebrating Hank’s 100th. His son Jimmie and wife Sheri are planning to come back home. The headliner will be Larry Gatlin; his opening act is a local fellow who does a great job, Matt Balsor. We’re hoping Hank might make an appearance!!”
Diane: Marge, I’m curious to know what sort of appearance you think Hank might make.

Linda Clark says, “Thanks so much for including the photo of Mel and Ray. Mel really looks great and looks to hold his age very well. This is a great news letter. Another question for you. Do you know where Bob and Sonny, the Osborne Brothers, are now? Used to see them at shows a lot in the DC area also back in the 60s. What a great walk down memory lane.”
Diane: Sonny retired about a decade ago, and Bobby stills tours with his band. Both have websites. Sonny’s is http://www.sonnyosborne.com/sonny.html and Bobby’s is http://www.bobbyosborne.com/

And from Jeannie Seely: “Thanks Diane for the mention….it’s scary sometimes to think who all reads my web message……  I never dreamed you did!!  Good luck on the new newsletter….I think it’s a wonderful idea!!”

I first heard “Your Old Used To Be” while working on Faron’s biography, and it became one of my favorite Faron Young songs. It’s listed on the BMI website as “BMI Award Winning Song” and written by Faron and Hilda. When I asked Hilda about it, she told me, “He was working on it, and I did help him finish it. In fact, I still get royalties. That was the only one I actually did help write. Some of the songs they put into the publishing company, I don’t know why they put my name on them.” Listen to this wonderful song with harmony vocals by Donny Young (aka Johnny Paycheck): http://youtu.be/Xr32lmDePdU

My four books are available as e-books and you don’t need a Kindle to read them, so I’m told. You can download a free Kindle app — available for every major Smartphone, tablet, and computer: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=pe_390220_111845380_sa_menu_karl?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771. I would like to hear from anyone who has tried this.

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