Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 8 February 2023


The last time I saw Wade Landry was in July at The Troubadour in Nashville, with Mel Tillis Jr. and his Memory Makers band. So imagine my surprise when I called him two weeks ago, and he’s now living in Louisiana. Kayo and I had first met Wade in 2021, at the Music City Bar and Grill in Nashville, where he was playing fiddle and singing Mel Tillis songs. Kayo caught him on a break and asked if he’d been with Mel Tillis at the casino in Flandreau, South Dakota, about 15 years earlier. She remembered Ernie Reed telling her before the show that it was the other twin fiddler’s first night with Mel. “Was it on New Year’s Eve?” Wade asked. Kayo said yes. “That was me,” he said. Kayo introduced me as the author of Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story, and Wade brought his copy several nights later for me to autograph.

Wade and his wife, Teresa Bowe Landry, moved in October back to Wade’s hometown of Abbeville, Louisiana. I asked why they left Nashville, and he said it was mainly because he doesn’t enjoy the music of most modern bands. “It was getting depressing for me to have to play it,” he says. One day, Teresa suggested, “Let’s just move to Abbeville.” Wade responded, “Well, hell, yeah, let’s go.” His sister, Denise Ardeneaux, told them she had plenty of room for them in her house. They have now found their own home and are in the process of moving in.

“I miss my buddies in Nashville,” Wade says. “I have a lot of friends there. Tears were shed for some of them, on my part and theirs. You always say, ‘I’ll see you again,’ and then thirty years go by without seeing them.”

Wade began playing fiddle at age ten. He and his younger brother, Chuck, sons of musician Duliss Landry, started their musical careers in their father’s band in South Louisiana. They moved to Nashville in 1980, where Wade replaced Rufus Thibodeaux in Jimmy C. Newman’s band. Chuck joined the band as the drummer. Both brothers worked with a variety of country entertainers in Nashville and in Branson, Missouri. Chuck joined Mel Tillis and the Statesiders in 1998, and Wade followed several years later. Chuck worked with Mel until a house fire took his life in 2015, at age 46. Wade continued playing in various bands in Nashville.

Now back home in Louisiana, Wade has formed a harmony trio with wife Teresa and sister Denise. “She’s always had the talent but never really jumped up there and did it,” Wade says about his sister’s recent decision to start singing in public. I asked if the trio has a name. “We’ve been looking for one,” Wade says. His partners have suggested the Wade Landry Trio, and that sounds good to him.

He plays the fiddle and sings, while featuring the two women. “We do a lot of the traditional country music, the older stuff from the ’60s and ’70s,” he says. “Teresa will sing some of the pop stuff from back then. I will keep doing the Cajun music as well, cuz the people want to hear ‘Jole Blon,’ and I do my daddy’s music.”

I asked where they perform. “There’s a lot of restaurants that have bands and dance floors,” he says. “Cajuns can’t eat without drinking, and drinking leads to dancing, and for dancing you gotta have a band.” In addition to having fun playing music, Wade is enjoying reconnecting with friends from years ago. “People I recognize and people I don’t recognize,” he says, “some from school, and some relatives. I run across a lot of relatives in Walmart.” Abbeville is just south of Lafayette, way down in Cajun country. “Vermillion Parish is the most Cajun spot in the world,” he says. “I’m at home.”

Teresa’s dad was a stage comedian, similar to Speck Rhodes, and he went by the name of Cousin Pudd. Teresa has written several children’s stories about Cousin Pudd and Nellie the horse. She and Wade are figuring out how to get them published. I suggested they self-publish and sell the books along with CDs at their shows.

“Holler if you ever want to come down to Louisiana,” Wade told me. “Come on down and visit with us.” I would love to travel to Abbeville, experience the hospitality, dance with the Cajuns, and enjoy the music of the Wade Landry Trio.

Diane Diekman, Wade Landry, and Kayo Paver at the Music City Bar & Grill in Nashville


The 65th Grammy Awards aired live from Los Angeles on CBS this past Sunday. Willie Nelson won Best Country Album for A Beautiful Time, which was released last year on his 89th birthday. “Live Forever” from the album won Best Country Solo Performance. Shania Twain announced the Best Country Album, giving a thrilled gasp before reading the name. Because Willie wasn’t there, Shania accepted his award on his behalf. Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde won Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Never Wanted To Be That Girl.” It was the first Grammy win for both women. They were also the first female duo to win the award since its 2012 debut. Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton were nominated in that category for “Does He Love You — Revisited.” Best Country Song went to songwriters Ben Stennis and Matt Rogers for Cody Johnson’s “Til You Can’t.” Willie Nelson’s recording of “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die,” written by Rodney Crowell and Chris Stapleton, was also in that category. Best American Roots Song went to Aaron Neville instead of to Bill Anderson and Dolly Parton for “Someday It’ll All Make Sense (Bluegrass Version).” This was Bill’s first Grammy nomination as an artist. He has been nominated four times as a songwriter: “Once A Day” recorded by Connie Smith, “Cold Hard Facts of Life” recorded by Porter Wagoner, “Two Teardrops” recorded by Steve Wariner, and “Give It Away” recorded by George Strait.

“I was going to be really sad to hit the road and leave him behind,” Scotty McCreery says about returning to work after paternity leave. “So we got a baby bus for the tour, and we’re bringing Avery out.” He and his wife, Gabi McCreery, a pediatric nurse, welcomed their first child, Merrick Avery, in October. Music Mayhem reports they spent Thanksgiving with his family in North Carolina and Christmas with hers in New Orleans. “Randy and Mary Travis sent Avery a little gift for Christmas,” Scotty says. “Avery’s nursery is Winnie the Pooh-themed. They sent him a little memory box that had all the Winnie the Pooh quotes on it and Avery’s name. Really special, really sweet.”

Fourteen artists have been announced as 2023 nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — and Willie Nelson is one of them. Others include Sheryl Crow, George Michael, The White Stripes, and Cyndi Lauper. According to CMT News, an artist must have released a commercial recording at least 25 years ago (by 1998) to be eligible for nomination.

The NFL has chosen Chris Stapleton to sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LVII, to be played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (hometown of Marty Robbins), on Sunday, February 12. It will be broadcast on FOX. Oscar-winning actor and Arizona native Troy Kotsur will perform the National Anthem in American Sign Language (ASL). To commemorate 50 years of Women Flying in the U.S. Navy, there will a flyover during the National Anthem. The formation will be composed of an F-35C Lightning II from the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, two F/A-18F Super Hornets from the “Flying Eagles” of VFA-122, and an EA-18G Growler from the “Vikings” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129.

Luke Bryan has scheduled a 36-city Country On Tour, beginning June 15 in Syracuse, New York, and ending in Charlottesville, Virginia, in late October. He will be at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls on October 12, the next night in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the following night in St. Paul, Minnesota. CMT News reports he will be a judge on American Idol when the new season begins in two weeks.

Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90 is the title of the two-day all-star concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, scheduled for April 29-30 to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Willie Nelson. He will share the stage with a group that includes Lyle Lovett, Roseanne Cash, Miranda Lambert, Billy Strings, Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Sturgill Simpson, The Chicks, Tom Jones, and many, many more. Willie also has a new album coming out next month. I Don’t Know a Thing About Love features songs written by Harlan Howard, who wrote over 4,000 songs and, like Willie, is in the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame and The Country Music Hall Of Fame.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will host a celebration of life for Peter Cooper, who died December 6 at age 52. It takes place in the CMA Theater on February 24 and is open to the public. “The thing my brother did better than most was to gather people together and help them create something beautiful,” his brother, Chris, tweeted. “So, we are going to do just that — this time in his honor. If you were Peter’s friend, or moved by his words or music, you are invited. It’s going to be pretty special.”

Outkick posted a TikTok video of the crowd serenading Randy Travis at Dickies Arena during the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Randy and Mary were watching the show from a suite above the crowd. During intermission, one of the songs that played over the loudspeaker was “Forever and Ever, Amen.” When the song began playing, the crowd began singing. Soon, every person in the arena–including Mary–was singing “Forever and Ever, Amen,” as Randy absorbed the moment with a big smile on his face.

The Grand Ole Opry unveiled a new stage during the Saturday Night Opry on February 4. This is the first major set change since the 75th anniversary more than twenty years ago. MusicRow reports, “The new staging is part of more than $4 million in venue upgrades to the set, audio/visual technology, and auditorium, including a new Barn with new lighting elements and capabilities, a 52’ w x 27’ high resolution Ross/D3 video wall upstage of the barn set, a completely new JBL A Series PA system, and more.”

Jon Pardi performs on new Grand Ole Opry stage. Photo by Chris Hollo.

Reba’s Place in Atoka, Oklahoma, is a new bar and restaurant owned by Reba McEntire. She gave a special live performance during its recent grand opening, reports Wide Open Country. Constructed in an old Masonic Temple, it features two stories of dining space and a live music stage. There’s a restored antique bar on the first floor and a curated collection of Reba’s personal memorabilia. “The Choctaw Nation and the city of Atoka are wonderful partners, and I can’t wait to welcome our first guests to Reba’s Place,” she said in a press release. “We are working very hard to create something not only for the local community, but that will also bring in folks from across the country.”

The legendary Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas, Texas, will soon be reopening. Asleep at the Wheel with Brennen Leigh and Joshua Hedley will perform on opening night, March 30. “We first played the Longhorn in 1974, and for a bunch of young Bob Wills fans, it was a thrill,” Wheel frontman Ray Benson says. “I have seen the ups and downs of the Longhorn over the last 50 years and am very excited and relieved that Edwin and his team are going to continue to honor the tradition of this special place. To be the first band back on the Longhorn stage for the reopening is an honor and an opportunity I take great pride in having. You can bet the dance floor will be packed and Bob Wills music will be played!” Dave Barton, who sent me the news report, says, “I remember playing there with Billy Walker. It was Dewy Groom’s Longhorn Ballroom; it was really something. I was just a young guy, and I’d never seen a country band with horns.”

The three surviving children of Lisa Marie Presley–daughters Riley Keough, 33, and Harper and Finley Lockwood, 14–will inherit Graceland and its 14-acre property, according to TODAY. Lisa Marie, the only child of Priscilla and Elvis Presley, inherited Graceland at age nine, after Elvis’s death in 1977. She was married four times and had four children. She shared Riley and Benjamin with her first husband, Danny Keough. Benjamin died by suicide in 2020 at the age of 27. Michael Lockwood, her forth husband, is the father of twins Harper and Finley. Husbands two and three were Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage. Lisa Marie died January 12 at age 54 after experiencing cardiac arrest.

Lisa Marie Presley, second from left, with daughter Harper, left, mother Priscilla, center, and daughters Riley and Finley, on June 21, 2022, in Hollywood. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic.


Zach Farnum writes from Nashville, “Love the Casstevens interview. I was at the show in Foxborough where he showed up. Pure magic – you could tell how happy he was and how happy him being there made the G-man. Love country music.”

Beth Petty of the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, writes, “Open House on Sunday, February 12, 1-4 pm. Free Admission. Plan a visit to see all things Hank while we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Hank Williams Museum. Here is some great news. I am pleased to inform you that the book, Hank Williams’ Discography: The Enhanced Version, by Ed Guy and edited by Beth Petty, has been nominated for the 2023 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research. The goal of the ARSC Awards program is to recognize and draw attention to the finest work now being published in the field of recorded sound research. The winners will be announced by September, and the awards will be presented during a banquet at ARSC’s annual conference in May 2024.”

Mark Casstevens writes from Nashville, “When I met Joe Don Rooney years ago, I asked if he was named after the storied Oklahoma football player Joe Don Looney. The answer was yes. Rascal Flatts followed Carrie Underwood on this Grammy broadcast: https://youtu.be/-moe-BcE1a. I was glad to get to spend time with Johnny Gimble…he accepted the job on the condition that his son Dick play bass. Sonny Garrish played steel since Buddy Emmons did not fly. Two days before the gig I had a tablesaw kickback accident, which fortunately did not send the offcut into my eye or heart. I was careless and now wear a full mask and stand outside the line of possible kickback. As my left ring finger was getting stitched up, I was thinking what I would say to the contractor about my cancelling at that late date. Then I started thinking that ‘San Antonio Rose,’ the Bob Wills song we were performing, only had major chords…sixths and sevenths. The show must go on. I wore a flesh-colored bandage, tuned the fancy archtop Citation guitar that Gibson was lending me to an open chord and made all barre chords up and down the neck. The Eagles were in the front row and possibly wondered what kind of new Nashville voicings I was using. Or not. Carrie did win her first Grammy that night. Ray and I were briskly escorted through the audience after our live broadcast portion. The Grammy intern usher got lost and we had a Spinal Tap moment wandering through the Staples center. I thought it was funny although Ray Benson did not.”

Gerry Wenner says, “I have read your Faron Young book. His was the first concert I went to as a kid in Fargo.”

Jane Key Seymore writes, “Gordon Edward Burns, known as Country Boy Eddie, died January 13, 2023. He was a country singer, fiddler and guitarist who hosted the long running Country Boy Eddie Show on WBRC-TV in Birmingham, Alabama. The show ran from 1957-1993. He was 92 years old. Country Boy Eddie discovered a star in the young Tammy Wynette. She was a hairdresser and Burns encouraged her to go to Nashville. He also interviewed Dolly Parton, Roger Miller, Pat Boone, Chet Atkins, and Eddy Arnold. Burns was a former member of Bill Monroe’s band and performed at the Grand Ole Opry. He was a true country music legend from Warrior, Alabama.”

Paul Potter of Dottie West Remembered says, “Firstly, I wanted to congratulate you on your wonderful newsletter, it’s very informative and an enjoyment to read. I noticed some people have asked about my Dottie West book in your newsletter, most recently Don Ewert. It’s called Forever Yours: The Dottie West Story. I am the author of this book and will be publishing it. It’s going to be a complete biography, covering her life and career and containing a lot of new information, plus never-before-seen photos. The book was supposed to be published last year, but due to family problems including my mom, aunts and uncles passing away, and so much more turmoil, I was going through so much pain and depression, it was impossible to publish the book. I can confirm to all Dottie West fans that the book will be officially released mid this year. I advise all fans to go to my book website, www.dottiewestbook.com, to subscribe to receive updates about the book. There will be a limited run of a collector’s edition for fans, so that goes to who’s first on the list. Please contact me if you are interested in normal hardback or the limited-edition collector’s one. Also, please visit my website dedicated to Dottie West at www.dottiewestremembered.com. It contains tons of rare photos, loads of info, and even an online museum dedicated to Dottie’s clothing.”

Bobby Fischer in Nashville says, “Captain Diane, I find myself watching for your newsletter to catch up on the happenings.”

Andy Williford wonders: “Faron’s memorial headstone, or some type of memory, was put on Johnny Cash’s property and the property has been sold.  Do you know anything about it?”

Diane: I saw the Faron garden while the house was empty, and here is a photo I took. I don’t know what happened after the fire.


Joe Allison, one of the founders ofthe Country Music Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, was a Texan who served in the Air Force during World War II and then began a career as a radio disc jockey and songwriter. Born in 1924, he moved between Texas, Los Angeles and Nashville in a variety of influential positions over the years, including leadership roles in the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music, the Recording Academy (NARAS), the Tennessee Performing Arts Council, and the Nashville Songwriters Association International. He managed record labels and publishing companies, and his many songs included “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young” for Faron Young and “He’ll Have to Go” (written with wife Audrey) for Jim Reeves. He moved from Los Angeles to Nashville in 1965 and was inducted into the Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1976. Shortly before his death, I visited him at his house to talk about Faron Young. Joe died in 2002, in Nashville, at age 78.
Tom T. Hall, born in 1936 in Olive Hill, Kentucky, quit school to support himself and his dad, while also playing guitar in a bluegrass band. During his Army service in Germany, he started to develop the storytelling humor that became his trademark. Back at home, his first two Top 10 country hits as a songwriter were “D.J. for a Day” by Jimmy C. Newman and “Mad” by Dave Dudley. Then came 1968 and “Harper Valley PTA,” sung by Jeannie C. Riley. His own hit singles included #1 songs such as “A Week in a Country Jail,” “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,” and “(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine.” He wrote eight books–novels, a memoir, and a children’s book. He retired from performing in 1996, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008, and received a BMI Icon Award in 2012. He died by suicide at age 85, in 2021, in Nashville.
Hank Snow had 840 commercial recordings, with many songs written by others, but he wrote several of his biggest hits, including “I’m Moving On” in 1950, which spent 21 weeks — more than a third of a year — as the #1 country song in the land. Born Clarence Eugene Snow in 1914 in Nova Scotia, Canada, he was raised in poverty and abused by his stepfather. He learned to play a mail-order guitar, and he fell under the spell of Jimmie Rodgers. He escaped his home by working on a fishing boat, and he sang on radio stations as Hank the Yodeling Ranger. He had several hit records in Canada but yearned to find a U.S. audience. Ernest Tubb got him a spot on the Grand Ole Opry in 1950, shortly before the success of “I’m Moving On,” which was followed immediately by two more #1 songs he wrote, “The Golden Rocket” and “The Rhumba Boogie.” His recording career with RCA lasted 45 years, from 1936 to 1981. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979, the year following his Songwriter HOF induction. Hank died at age 85, in 1999, in Madison, Tennessee.
Don Wayne is perhaps best known for writing “Country Bumpkin,” a #1 for Cal Smith and the winner of three major country songwriting awards in 1974. A publishing executive had dismissed his songs as too down-home for the contemporary market, saying, “Nobody wants to hear about that frost on the pumpkin.” Don filed the comment away for a few years, until writing a song about an awkward young bar patron who is told, ‘Hello country bumpkin. How’s the frost out on the pumpkin?”  Don was born in Nashville in 1933 and raised on a farm in White Bluff, Tennessee. He began playing guitar as a teenager, was drafted in 1954, and had a song recorded by George Morgan — “Lonesome Waltz.” In 1963, he signed a songwriter agreement with Tree Publishing Company. The following year, he and Bill Anderson wrote “Saginaw, Michigan,” which Lefty Frizzell took to #1. He wrote songs for Jean Shepard, Del Reeves, David Houston, Hank Williams Jr. and others. He and Walter Haynes wrote “It’s Time to Pay the Fiddler” for Cal Smith. Don also served as president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. Brain cancer took his life at age 78, in 2011.

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