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We're busy as usual, but Easter is a special time for us, and even though it's Saturday as I write this, we are all geared up for one of our 'saved money for a special' meal', this time it's Easter Brunch at the Le Jardin Restaurant in Des Moines.  Le jardin is French for 'the garden' and we've never been there, so it will be a new experience for us.  I was going to mention some of the menu, then thought no, then thought what the heck, here's some of it.  Baked crème brulee French toast; smoked ham, crab omelet, lobster Newberg, Greek omelet, Omelet Lorraine, Crepe Bayonne, smoked salmon, and lots of unusual 'sides.'  Does any of that appeal to you?  One of our favorite big cities we've visited and performed in, is Paris, we've had many great adventures there, so this 'one' time we thought, oh well, let's see how close it is?  It's just our little family, but we are so thankful we can be together for an Easter repast.  We hope your family is all with you, all of you also celebrating the 'real' reason of Easter, the Risen Christ who has redeemed all of us of our sins, and makes it possible to be with Him. Hopefully it will be Grandma that has the Easter ham in the oven, and ready for a big family gathering dinner.
This just in, Loretta Lynn will be performing in Des Moines on July 7.  One of country music's leading women for generations is bringing her collection of iconic songs to the Hoyt Sherman Place at 7:30pm. The picture that was in the Des Moines Register showed Loretta with Bart Hansen in the background. You might remember Bart is an Iowa boy, his dad still sings and plays traditional country music.  Loretta is one of the most awarded musicians of all time.  She has been inducted into more music halls of fame than any other female recording artist.  A staple in country music since the 1960's, Loretta is known for her performance on timeless singles such as 'Coal Miner's Daughter' 'Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' and more.  She was last at Hoyt Sherman in 2011.  Legacy Records will release "Wouldn't It Be Great" the new studio album of Loretta's. Won't come out until August 18, and is one of the most deeply personal albums of her career.  It is comprised entirely of songs written by Loretta, premiering new compositions nestled alongside select soulful reinterpretations of enduring classics from her catalog.  You can get it now via pre-order by going to her website. 
You can find an interesting 'regional' story on Loretta on Storm Seymour's Facebook page. On one of his many trips to Fan Fair, he sat elbow to elbow with Loretta and signed autographs and she continually told him jokes until his face hurt from laughing so much.  He also opened shows for Loretta and has been a guest at her Double L Ranch in the past.  According to Storm, "With Loretta, what you see is what you get.  She even cleans her own toilets even though she is rich enough to hire a maid to do those types of chores.
On a lighter note, Storm and his niece Stephanie Snow will be making a concert appearance at the Oak Tree Performance Center in Anita, Iowa, on June 30, a good show to mark your calendar for.  Storm and Stephanie have been busy working on their new album.  They got a late start due to illness shortly after the first of the year.  Storm came down with influenza-A and was sick for over a month which really got them behind on the recording project.
I had a chance to catch Lillie Mae and Frankie (Rische) Carter on the Conan O'Brien show, Friday night, April 14.  I've not been a big fan of Conan, mostly because I think his humor is so adolescent, but he does have interesting guests on, including this family of incredibly gifted writers and performers.  Known as the 'Carters' they came many many times to both our Avoca and Missouri Valley festivals, almost growing up within our arena of affordability.  Frankie was always an incredibly gifted guitarist, and still is of course, grinning broadly when they finished their Conan performance.  Lille Mae was just a little girl at Avoca, but she too has grown into an attractive young woman, like her sisters.  Amber I believe was the fiddler of the family, and Grace I believe performed harmony singing on the Conan show.  Frankie played an electric guitar and Lillie played an acoustic one.  I even kind of liked the song, not exactly traditional country, but not too far off.  Lillie is known as a country music maverick, and her hair was sort of in a Mohawk-curly style.  Whatever works.  Tommy Buller hangs with them all the time, and if I'm not mistaken, he brought Lillie to LeMars last year.  I last saw Frankie, I believe two years ago at the Kenaston Family Wahoo Festival in Nebraska.  Sure, you can count on support from all of us for our upper Midwest music makers.
The Kenastons stay very busy, working on the ranch of their deceased dad, fiddler Bob Kenaston. They are in the process of getting ready for the 49th annual Jamboree (Bob started it all those years ago) at their ranch up by Ainsworth, Nebraska.  You'll need to visit Sharon's website to get the exact location.  The Jamboree will be held on May 26, and is a fund raiser for the Keys Paha County Historical Society.  This year all of Bob Kenaston's trophies (fiddle and otherwise) along with his wife Arvilla's, son Roger's, daughter Vanessa's, daughter-in-law Sharon's will be donated to the museum to be placed on display there.  Please go if you can, it's a wonderful opportunity to get out in the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska, and share in the beautiful scenery and music of the Kenastons.  It's an exciting trip back in time and feelings, and music.
Keyboardist Kathy Dovel of Omaha has been staying busy too.  She's involved with a benefit show for the Humane Society which is a concert-dance April 22, also includes performances by Alex Vanderbeek at the Eagles Club #38 in Omaha.  It's free at the front door, but donations are hopefully accepted.  Food service starts at 5:30pm featuring homemade chicken and noodles, then a raffle, bake sale, and the band for dancing on the lover level.  Should be over by 10pm.  For those that are interested, the Eagles in Lincoln have a jam every Tuesday night.  Same good band backing for anyone participating. They are located at 500 W Industrial Drive.
The National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress adds 25 titles every year to its National Recording Registry.  This year's list of 'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant' recordings was announced on March 29.  It included Don McClean's 'American Pie' and the 1959 'Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs' album by Marty Robbins.
Jeff Cook, the fiddler and guitarist for 'Alabama' has announced he is suffering from Parkinson's disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that causes tremors and affects movement.  He was diagnosed four years ago but he and bandmates Randy Owen and Teddey Gentry kept it private until now. "This disease robs you of your coordination, your balance, and causes tremors," Cook read in a statement to USA TODAY Network journalists.  "For me, this has made it extremely frustrating to try and play guitar, fiddle, or sing....I'm not calling it quits but sometimes our bodies dictate what we have to do, and mine is telling me it's time to take a break and heal."
One of our favorites, Bill Anderson (who did such a wonderful two-concerts at LeMars a few years ago), writes on his website that his grandson, for the past several years has been battling a rare type of cancer.  "Gabe is now 12 years old, and a straight-A student in middle school, in spite of the fact he misses at least one week every month as he deals with his chemo treatments. He has had 29 of them."
Our own Rick Andersen, great guitarist, harmonica player, and recording studio engineer, is also suffering from a cancer in his lungs.  He had a biopsy done (do it from the front Harriette says, is best), which indicated the need for the use of some chemo treatments.  According to the doctors this should let Rick have a whole big bunch of years to look forward to.  He's been busy in the recording studio (see Record Review), and he and Harriette are getting ready for SpringFest at the Oak Tree in Anita.  They will be on both the Friday and Saturday night concerts.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 6 opened the new Patsy Cline Museum, located on the second floor of the Johnny Cash Museum on Third Avenue, not far from Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, in Nashville.  Museum co-founder Bill Miller, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, and Patsy's daughter, Julie Fudge, were among those present.  Many of the artifacts had been saved by Patsy's widower, Charlie Dick; they include awards, furniture, ashtrays and a still-running refrigerator.  The Tennessean reports, "Stage costumes (many of which were designed by Cline and sewn by her mother), correspondence and record albums line the walls.  Cline's wedding photo album and scrapbook are behind glass; visitors can page through them on computer screens in front of the display.
Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan are set to perform on a tour based on the country icon's curated Outlaw Music Festival.  Blackbird Presents and Nelson announced that the Outlaw Music Festival Tour will play six cities, including New Orleans and Dallas, from July 1 to July 16.  Willie Nelson & Family will play each night, while Dylan and his band will perform July 8 in Detroit and July 9 in Milwaukee.  Other performers include Sheryl Crow, the Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell, Margo Price, and My Morning Jacket.
"Taste of Country" reports on an interview at SiriusXM's Music City Theater in Nashville where Willie Nelson shared a song from his new album "God's Problem Child." He and Buddy Cannon wrote "Still Not Dead," as a response to all the online stories about his death.  "I woke up still not dead again today," the song begins.  "The internet said I had passed away.  If I died, I wasn't dead to stay, I woke up still not dead today." He says those fake stories began when "On The Road Again" was a hit.  "Somebody came out with the joke, well you know Willie was out singing on the road again and got hit by a truck," he explains. "That was what, 30 years ago, so every now and then somebody comes up with another Willie's dead story.
Kern Pioneer Village in Bakersfield, California, finally opened the boyhood boxcar home of Merle Haggard to the public on April 8.  This inaugural Boxcar Festival drew over 2,000 people, and an additional 11,000 watched a live video stream of the ceremony on the internet.  Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard thanked the three women who helped get the project off the ground, as he remembered his doubts when they'd approached him about their plan: "I thought, I don't think that's going to happen after looking at the house in Oildale." It was that dilapidated by 2015.  Joe Hughes, chairman of the museum foundation, recalled when his own father came for a visit, and asked, "Do you know where Merle Haggard's boxcar house is?"  Hughes had no idea.  His father said, "How can you live in Bakersfield and not know?" Now everyone can find the restored home.
Just in case....if you are into yodeling, Bart Plantenga, author of the book "Yodel In Hi-Fi" is now officially out of print.  Plantenga is not happy about this, especially since the publisher reassured him back in 2006 that the book would stay in print forever.   The reason it's gone is poor sales. There are some 200 unsold copies of the book that were headed for the shredder, but were saved and placed with Plantenga who hopes to sell some of these last ones.  If you are interested, and by the way this is a pretty darn good book about yodelers in country music, you can go to Bart's e-mail and order one at ninplant@xs4all.nl   He doesn't say how much they are, but his e-mail will surely answer that.
Don't forget SpringFest at the Oak Tree in Anita, a super good show with a ton of beautiful performers coming to raise money to do some repair work on the theater.  April 28-29-30, all four concerts for only $20, or $10 apiece reserved seats.  Bobbie's Little Bakery open for business.  We've been missing you all winter, so please come see us if you can.
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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