Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 March 2014

Courtney Cash, a granddaughter of Tommy Cash, was stabbed to death and stuffed inside a large wooden box in her home near Nashville a week ago. Her boyfriend, who received multiple stab wounds, managed to take the couple’s 20-month-old daughter and drive himself to a hospital. He provided the information that led authorities to arrest a suspect and charge him with first-degree murder. Detectives think the two victims invited a friend to their home late Tuesday night. They then got into a fight and the stabbing took place. Tommy posted a note on Facebook that said, in part, “Courtney and her boyfriend are beloved members of my family and like you we have a lot of questions and emotions that we are beginning to sort through today.”

The recognizable name of Tammy Wynette is once again on the singer’s crypt at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Nashville. Tammy’s stepdaughter, who owns the mausoleum space, agreed to replace the married name of Virginia W. Richardson. Tammy’s four daughters were rounding up public support for a court order. Jackie Daly, the daughter notified of the decision, thinks perhaps the media attention and fan Facebook page convinced her stepsister to restore the original name.

Kris Kristofferson, age 77, is suffering from a form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s disease. His severe memory loss comes from years of head injuries from boxing and football in his youth. According to New Scientist, “The condition is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), previously called punch drunk syndrome, boxer’s dementia, or dementia pugilistica. This causes progressive memory problems, personality change and slowness of movement. It afflicts many former sportsmen, mostly boxers.” A former Rhodes Scholar and Oxford University student, Kris noticed his memory worsening several years ago. He told an interviewer he’s lucky to be able to remember his song lyrics so he can keep performing. At the 2014 Grammy awards show on January 26, he and Willie Nelson sang “Highwayman,” and then Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton joined them for “Okie From Muskogee” and “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” You can watch the performance here: http://youtu.be/SspAWnLvUFc

Mickey Gilley is returning to touring after recovering from an accident that paralyzed him in 2009. He was helping a friend move, when a sofa fell on him and crushed four vertebrae. He was paralyzed from the neck down. He is now walking and singing, after several years of intense physical therapy.  He says, “The outpouring of love and concern from the fans, my fellow artist friends, and the music community has kept me fighting to walk back on that stage, so I am glad that time is finally here.”

George Strait gave a sold-out performance at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena this past weekend, with Cheryl Crow as his opening act. He is on his retirement tour, “The Cowboy Rides Away,” which ends June 7 in Arlington, Texas. He plans to still record and play occasional concerts. He has been making number one hits for more consecutive years than Hank Williams was alive. (I knew that but hadn’t thought about it that way. I saw my first George Strait concert in 1982.) He is the only person to be chosen as CMA Entertainer of the Year in three decades. Peter Cooper offers other details in the Tennessean: http://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/peter-cooper/2014/03/20/george-straits-career-endured-like/6676485/

A new Johnny Cash album, Out Among The Stars, has just been released. The songs were recorded in 1981 and 1984, with Billy Sherrill as producer, but never issued by Columbia Records. Johnny kept the masters, and they were discovered last year by his estate.

Willie Nelson has given his voice to the Natural Resources Defense Council effort to protect Appalachian communities from mountaintop removal. He made a video in which he sings “America the Beautiful” while mountains are blasted into sludge. The House of Representatives is currently discussing a bill (HR 2824) that concerns mining regulations.

Dolly Parton appeared via satellite on the Today show to promote a new ride at Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Fire Chaser Express, a roller coaster, has a firefighter theme and is built so small children can go along with their families. A portion of the ride moves in reverse.

Radney Foster, songwriter and former member of the singing group Foster & Lloyd, has recorded a new album, Everything I Should Have Said. Dockside Studios, where he recorded, is located on the site of an abandoned brothel in the Louisiana bayou. Radney told an interviewer the site gave a “swampier” approach to the album, which will be released May 13 by his Devil’s River Records. He has written hit songs for artists such as Keith Urban, Sara Evans, and the Dixie Chicks, and was instrumental in getting Kacey Musgraves to move to Nashville. She said in a Country Weekly interview that she’d met Radney in Austin, Texas, and he told her, “You’ve got to be present to win.” It struck a chord with her, and she decided to move.

BOBBE SEYMOUR (1939-2014)
Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member Bobbe Seymour died last Wednesday evening at his home near Nashville. He’d been ill and could no longer walk or play steel guitar after developing spinal stenosis in 2012. During his long career, he toured with numerous major artists, recorded 28 of his own albums, and contributed to thousands of albums and commercials as composer and arranger. He was involved in the development and manufacture of several steel guitar brands. He loved sharing his knowledge and teaching young people about steel guitar, through his email “Tips” articles, numerous books he published, and visiting with those who came to his store, Steel Guitar Nashville, in Hendersonville, Tennessee. There seems to be no published information on a funeral.

Johnny Seay responds, “Thanks Diane for including me in your Music Newsletter. Great job on writing about Johnny Seay with what little help I give. You are first class.”

Tommy Overstreet writes, “I read your newsletter and was happy to see you included my friend Johnny Seay. Please put me on your newsletter email list. I’ll look forward to getting your newsletter.”

John Seay says he has “a record done in the 1930s by the Cajun father of my once lead guitar player Gerry McGee. If you get time, I think you will find researching these people very interesting. Gerry’s fiddle playing dad lived to be 97. The black man Amede Ardoin was murdered by white men for an incident that happened at a dance where he was asked to perform. Gerry McGee is doing a movie about this unlikely team of a black and white man working together in the 1930s Louisiana.”

Mike O’Neill says, “The newsletter is getting better every week. I like reading the reviews of other countries on American performers. The Garth Brooks reviews will be interesting–tour starts in Dublin 7/21/14. Brooks does a spectacular show–lights sound and effects.”

Tom Robinson writes from Nashville, “Thanks for keeping me on the newsletter email list. Really good stuff. Read with great interest your piece on 40th anniversary of the Opry House. Came here for that as a young newspaper reporter from Pensacola to cover it with a photographer. The photographer–now retired from the Atlanta newspaper–and I talked about it on the phone this weekend. Incredible to believe 40 years have passed. It was an incredible weekend, closing the Ryman with the Friday Night Opry and if I recall a Grand Ole Gospel Show that included Johnny Cash, June Carter and Mother Maybelle. It was cold and rainy that Friday evening. What struck me, among other things, was the crowd of people who couldn’t get a ticket stood outside in the rain peering in through the back windows of the Ryman to get a glimpse of the show. Then the opening on Saturday night with a packed house, the cast and President and Mrs. Nixon in attendance and Roy Acuff showing the President his yo-yo tricks. Your newsletter is always so informative. Continued success with it. Hope all is well with you and your family.”

Bobby Wynne says, “I own and book the Kings Of Western Swing Band. I just received a copy of your news letter. I would appreciate it if you would add my name to your mailing list. I played with many of the great stars of the 50, 60, and 70s. I started with the Hank Thompson Band just out of high school in 1954. I like your news letter.”

Linda Elliott Clark writes from Alexandria, Virginia, “What a great update. Hope Mel Tillis is doing much better now. Brings back memories when you talk about the Old Ryman Auditorium. I first went there when I was about 10 in the mid-50s. There was no air conditioning in the auditorium and it was very warm that summer. Went back again when I was in my 20s–last time I visited that area. Thanks for your hard work.”

Mary Mitchell says, “Love your Newsletter. Question of the Week. Carl Smith has a voice, band and great songs.  Never any scandals.  He was a GREAT HUSBAND, FATHER so devoted to his family and fans. I started to listen to his radio show when I was nine years old.  My father made sure that our old radio battery was charged.  I am seventy-six and he is still my favorite. Took forever to get into The Hall of Fame. I felt that it took so long as he gave up his Singing Career to do what he loved to do and spend more time with his family. RIP Carl, I still love you.”

Alan Potter in the U.K. writes, “I’ve interviewed loads of country artists including Johnny Cash/Reba McEntire/Don Williams/Moe Bandy/Larry Gatlin/Gene Watson, but I’m always being asked by my listeners, ‘Have you ever met or interviewed Dolly Parton?’ & the answer is no. So it’s got to be Dolly so I can finally say YES.”

Andy Williford writes from Texas, “I would like to meet Willie Nelson and talk about Faron and our old times. Faron told me one time that if I had a chance to meet Willie, I should try.  My wife and I go to Austin for our grandbaby and we pass Carl’s Corner and Abbott on our way.”

A reader named Ross says, “I would like to meet (the late) Johnny Cash. I’d been in class with his son, John Carter Cash, in college. As you know, the father was quite a train aficionado. He even had moved the (former) L&N Tower located at Amqui to his property in Hendersonville, TN. I have several train songs which I’ve written, and that is a man from whom I’d like to have gotten an honest opinion.”

Hermann Lammers Meyer writes from Germany, “Just a quick hi and a thanks for your infoletter..  always very interesting to read… danke.”

Which three people should be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year? Unless the categories have changed, there will be one “Modern Era Artist” (with at least 25 years in the business), one “Veterans Era Artist,” and either a songwriter or a pre-1980 musician.

2 Responses to “Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 March 2014”

  1. Maurice Blackwelder Says:

    Please put me on your newsletter list.

  2. Brenda Kaye Perry Says:

    FINALLY THERE IS SOMEONE “Diane diekman” 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 …..bremda Kaye perry

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