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COUNTRY ...on the move November 20. 2017

COUNTRY ...on the move   November 20. 2017

     Boy Willie Nelson sure had it right, "On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again."  Which is a certainty among dedicated musicians.  It can be incredibly tiring, boring, and difficult.  Or it can be fun, surprising, and beautiful. Since I'm an old-timer at being 'on the road' I find the second choice best.  Changing scenery can be a constant surprise, and in most instances absolutely beautiful.  America has an amazing beauty about it, not just the scenery, but the people who accommodate it.  Traveling musicians have that 'bent' for traveling, whether it be in a bus, an RV, or a small Volkswagen, it's still 'on the road' with your music.  Over the years I have met a number of traveling musicians, big-time stars, and bigtime talent that aren't stars yet, and they both have one thing in common.  The 'music' drags them on the road, and like or leave it, it's part of their everyday experience.  Also, it doesn't matter what 'kind' of music you play, it is that particular attraction that keeps musicians 'doing what they do best.'  There's an old saying that the musician is the only person in the world who puts several thousand dollars worth of beautiful musical instruments in the car, spend several hundred dollars in gas, food, and lodging, to go hundreds of miles to receive $50 to play a gig.  I've done that many times, but not so much in recent years.  I'm 81 and not all that capable of 'doing' all the things that have to be part of 'on the road again.'  Willie is a couple of years older than I, and he's still very active, though perhaps not so much as in the past.  He's also got a little 'pot' along to see him through the long tiring drives and the many different kinds of restaurants and cafes to 'try' the food.  Since I use neither drugs or alcohol to get through the 'tough' times, I tend to be a little more grouchier or maybe considered not as pleasant as I should be, but still, I keep on trying, and being a recording artist for the Smithonian Institution has helped my wife Sheila and I over some of the tough spots, keeping on the road.  The 'pay' sale for Smithsonian artists is quite a bit higher than most gigs, which we certainly do appreciate, but we take the smaller gigs too, especially if it doesn't cost more to do them than it costs to get where they are.  We don't do bars anymore, that's a very loooooong gig usually, and we've spent most of our time preparing and perfecting a program that is not only entertaining, but requires some degree of 'quiet' because of the narration that goes along with the program.  Still, it's fun, even at my age, to be 'on the road' and sharing the music I love, and trying like crazy to make it our creed - "Saving the musical treasures that connect rural folks everywhere with their historical past." It's not a big paying adventure, to be sure, but it sure is a satisfying experience being able to help country folks 'remember' their musical past.  It's fun and satisfying, and a good enough reason for us to sometimes just play for free at a senior citizen abode, whatever it might be, and certainly we'll find someone who not only wants to hear "You Are My Sunshine" but even more pleased in our Smithsonian research that tells the 'story' behind the song.
     There have been a ton of 'experiences' I've had 'on the road' which lots of folks sometimes like to hear, but sometimes they (or at least I do guiltily) consider it a form of bragging.  I grew up on the doorstep of the sandhills in Nebraska, a son of a share cropper.  Bragging was not tolerated.  Milking cows by hand, and picking corn tossed at the bang-board of an old wooden wagon hitched to a team of mules was allowed to be talked about however.  That was my introduction to early country music.  Even more so as my dad hooked an old radio up to his car battery to listen to the Louisiana Hayride (I was the only Iowan made a regular on the Hayride, but that would be considered bragging, so we'll not mention it), or the Grand Ole Opry.  That share cropper life-style also assured us of a lot of 'on the road again' just about every two years it seemed, the whole family and all the shabby belongings moving on to another small farm, mostly during the ides of march, and me seated high on the top of a hay wagon, probably sitting on part of a bed stead, watching the world go by.  So it seems to make sense that I was really 'on the road' at a very young age, though I hadn't started playing country music until about age seven.
     I guess that's why it is so important to me that 'country' music really be 'country.'  And, that's just not the case today. Superstars like Garth Brooks lip-syncs his concerts and television shows, and even bigger super stars like Blake Shelton wants you to not be angry with him because he has been labeled the 'most sexiest country singer in the world.'  What that has to do with milking cows and picking corn does seem sort of forlorn doesn't it?  The question remains, even if it isn't a very 'country' song, why do they so persistently call it 'country' when it isn't.  Sure 'progress' younger people singing and playing and on the road, BUT saving the musical treasures that connect them to their own past, is a little difficult if their 'past' does not include anything 'country.'  I'm sure to them, raking the leaves on their large front lawns is considered 'country' but boy are they off the mark.  Even 'farm-life' today is very different.  No more milking cows by hand, and certainly no more picking corn by hand.  The machinery developed for all of this activity has really really changed.  BUT, it's still 'rural' America we're talking about, and the folks who live there are very very different than the folks who live, and grew up, on the 92nd floor of a New York City apartment building, who call themselves 'country.'
     What it means to someone like myself, the 'true' country spirit, especially in song and music, is the telling of a story, the sharing of a heart break, the revealing of a terrible accident.  "Real" country music is simple. Yes, three chords was, and still is, all it takes to tell the truth, and in 'rural' America that is still the standard.  Probably not the case in situations of today's 'urban' country artist, who knows nothing of what the original meaning of 'true' country music consists of.  Join us at our website www.music-savers.com  Tell us your likes and dislikes about country music.  Help us 'save' some of it.  Become a volunteer in our efforts at doing that. 
     One of the last things that has become so 'difficult' for me being 'on the road' is the incredibly terrible and disgusting situations that develop getting WiFi and on the internet.  I'm on it right now as I write this, but it took two hours to accomplish that.  So, off we go, 'on the road again' and you're invited to be part of that.  E-mail still works, kind of, and you may still find a way to 'talk' to me at bobeverhart@yahoo.com  Don't forget our big festival in LeMars, Iowa, over the Labor Day weekend, where we definitely still keep 'country' as real as it can be.
 
 By: Bob Everhart, Pres., Nat. Traditional Country Music Assn., www.music-savers.com for Country Music News International

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