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I'm back in the saddle again, back where a friend is a friend, where the long horned cattle grow, where the....forgot the words.  Remember Gene Autry and those great old-time cowboy songs he used to sing?  The 'let's pretend we're country' recording artists today just don't have it today.  They just don't get it.  What's so remarkable about remembering a few words that Gene Autry used to sing fifty years ago, isn't really about being, or becoming, old, it's about harboring in your breast some beautiful memories of those kinds of songs.  Does anything called 'country' today do that for you.  I don't care how old you are, is there anything on the so-called top-ten country songs that will be so incredibly meaningful that you will remember anything about them at all fifty years later?  Or forty, or twenty, or ten, or tomorrow?  And the money interests just never cease, keep on keepin' on, even though it's an insult to every rural person in America.
One new development that has really blew me away, is a little 9-year old girl, Emi Sunshine, that I saw on FaceBook, who sings and yodels Jimmie Rodger's songs.  She plays the ukulele really well, and she sings and yodels with such force, integrity, and honesty, it's impossible not to like what she is doing.  I started trying to track her down, I believe she is from somewhere like North Carolina, not sure about that I only have an e-mail address.  Anyway I fired off an invite to be at LeMars, and lo and behold, the little girl made an appearance last week on the national "Today Show" singing up a storm.  By then my e-mail had made it to her, or at least to someone who takes care of her.  I promised to award her with a "Rising Legend" award if she could get to LeMars.  Can you imagine how much it would cost to get a national televised act to come, and in our case 'on the cheap?'  Well, here's the gist of it all, she's coming.  At least that's what her mentors say.  She will absolutely blow you away when she does her show.  She is still in school, so Saturday is her only 'best' day, so plan on seeing this happen, you will be stunned by what she can do with a Jimmie Rodgers song.  She also writes some of her own songs, and I can truthfully say to you right out, they are better than the 'make believe country' songs we hear on radio today.  I just got a short piece on the Today Show Emi did.  When asked who her favorite artists were, she said, "I've been singing since I was four, and I've been playing about a year and a half.  Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris are my idols, but I also like Buddy Miller."  She did the show with her band, family members dad, uncle, and brother.  They're called 'Rain.'
April 18 in Iowa - Fans of country legend George Strait won't want to miss this final opportunity to see him perform his live show, featuring many of his 60 No. 1 hits on his "The Cowboy Rides Away Tour."  7:30pm at Wells Fargo Arena, 730 Third St., Des Moines .  $71.50 and $91.50 more info at www.iowaeventscenter.com   OR, you can come to the Oak Tree in Anita, April 11-12-13 and look at a picture of George Strait and myself in concert together, and I'll tell you the strange tale of how that happened.
April 19 in Iowa - It's the first night of the thoroughbred racing season at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Des Moines.  Post time for the first race is 6:30pm, so catch a few races before heading to the Meadows Event Center to see the 8pm live show by the Charlie Daniels Band.  Charlie is promoting his newest album, a tribute to another legendary artist, Bob Dylan.  $35-$55 on the ticket prices, more info at www.prairiemeadows.com  You'll be seeing Charlie on a lot of 'media' coverage as he promotes his new album
Bob Dylan, he just seems to stay in the news.  I never ever thought he was much of a singer, BUT he stayed on tune and walloped us with some incredible songwriting.  All this time he's been doing his 'thing' he's not changed much in his vocal abilities, and his writing is still some of the best we've ever seen or heard.  A trove of two dozen unfinished Dylan songs written around 1967 (whew, that is a long time ago), during his 'Basement Tapes' period are being completed by an all-star band assembled by none other than producer T Bone Burnett (he did Johnny Cash's last sessions).  Burnett said... "These are not B-level Dylan lyrics, they're lyrics he just never got around to finishing.  Among Dylan's songs, we've never had a chance to hear, are "Florida Key," "Card Shark" and "Hi-De-Ho."  A spokesman for Dylan said he has offered no explanation of why he decided to offer the unfinished songs to T Bone Burnett to complete.  It's hard not to speculate that the decision is at least partially driven by his experience helping to bring lyrics left unfinished by Hank Williams at his death in 1953 to life by having a variety of artists set them to music and record them for that 2011 album "The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams."
This from former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson.  "Do you know the difference between naked and nekkid?  If you're naked, you don't have any clothes on, but if you're nekkid, you don't have any clothes on, but you're up to something."  It's amazing in America how the discrimination against our very own 'rural' music is still in tact, all the way back to when ASCAP refused to license it for radio air play.  Amazing, isn't it?
KSIB-FM Radio in Creston, Iowa, can't take anymore of the 'let's pretend we're country' recording artists.  Chad Rieck, the general manager, reported they are dropping their modern country music format in favor of a news talk format. 
Maybe if you watch the 'Tonight Show' with Jimmy Fallon, you got to see actor Russell Crowe visiting Thursday night.  The two of them took to the stage, performing an old Australian folk song (that Johnny Cash once did), with Fallon on harmonica and Crowe on guitar and vocals.  Pretty good stuff to be on national television.  Don't forget Susan Crowe (Russell's step-mother) is planning on being at LeMars this year.  She doesn't like to talk much about how that all happened, but she's a good country singer, though a little demanding at times, but still a good one.
I missed it, but apparently this weekend Ricky Skaggs, Larry Gatlin, and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, discussed their recent visit to Israel on the Fox News Channel.  Last month, Skaggs and Gatlin ventured to the Holy Land, traveling alongside Governor Huckabee for a weeklong tour of the region.  Governor Huckabee travels to Israel each year to guide a tour of the region and provide historical commentary.  The bluegrass and country legends accompanied him as personal friends and to perform in many historic locations along the way. If you got to see it (I believe it aired on Saturday), give us a review.
I had pronounced the Rathbun Country Music Theater a 'done deal' last fall as the owners decided to close up shop after many many years.  If you are from the Rathbun Lake area, you should be excited to know that the theater has new owners. John Bain, Sr., and his son John Jr., will operate the musical landmark.  The Bain's are a musical family, and they hope to keep the traditional country music intact. John Sr. plays guitar, banjo, piano, and pipe organ; his wife Karen and two young daughters Sylvia and Sophia will also be performing.  John Jr. is an electronics repair man, and will be manning the sound board.  Should all fall into place, if you are from the area, or nearby, go see a show.
SPBGMA (The Society for preservation of Bluegrass Music of America) is celebrating it's 40th year this year.  I can't begin to tell you how fortunate I've been (and Sheila too) to be able to play for Chuck and Diane Stearman who have manned this organization through all 40 years.  I even wrote a song about Chuck in my early days, when he wouldn't let me sing on one of his bluegrass festivals because I didn't have a bluegrass band.  It was called simply "Bluegrass Blues" and ended with "Rank Strangers." He eventually relented, and I teamed up with several bluegrass bands to do his festivals, including trips to Ireland and Czechoslovakia in the deal. Unlike some bluegrass clubs/associations today, Chuck created a 'policy' that he has retained since the very beginning, and has done more to keep bluegrass as a specific musical genre than just about anyone else I know.  The original goals, as they are today, consisted of: Preserving the spirit and art form of bluegrass; offer management service to any community desiring to hold a bluegrass festival; organize and conduct bluegrass band competitions; keeping traditional acoustic instruments (no electric permitted, not even bass); encourage professionalism in appearance and showmanship by SPBGMA performers; encourage the support of bluegrass publications and associations.  I believe Chuck and Diane Stearman have done more for bluegrass music in Mid-America, if not the entire USA, than anyone else in the business.  I remember so well when the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) rolled it's carpet out, almost in defiance of Chuck's already ongoing enterprise.  The IBMA immediately set about 'capturing' a whole new participatory audience creating new opportunities, new enterprises, new sponsors, etc etc.  They called themselves "international' but did extremely little in that respect.  I joined them in their first year, and Eddy Adcock (banjo player from Washington DC) suggested to them that I assume the post of 'international representative' especially since I had been traveling Europe for some 25 years, working with every bluegrass band of any notoriety of any kind, in just about every country that had a bluegrass base from which to work.  IBMA said 'nix' we're appointing Dick Kimmel, from Minnesota, our international rep, even though he has never been out of the USA. Doesn't matter, I'm still a member.  I believe I even joined IBMA before Kimmel did.
A man who is claiming he is married to Taylor Swift (you know the one that started out being pretty country and then switched to everything but country), and threatening her family was ordered to stay away from Swift for three years.  Timothy Sweet was given the order by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carol Boas.  Swift said in court filings that Sweet threatened anyone who interfered with his perceived relationship with her.  Swift swore in court documents that she feared for her safety in public and at home.  It's so interesting to see this information come out on the Internet...immediately following this story, is a complete list of Taylor Swift CD's for sale?
New 'news' from John Carter Cash who has said he will be with us in LeMars this year.  He recently said there are 4 or 5 more albums of his dad, Johnny Cash's, unreleased songs.  Johnny Cash passed away in 2003, but his music continues to live on.  A new album of lost songs, "Out Among the Stars" was released earlier this week, and now his son says there are several more albums of previously unheard tunes still in the archives.  "There are a few things that are in the works right now, probably four or five albums if we wanted to release everything," John Carter said.  "There may be three or four albums worth of American Recordings stuff, but some of it may never see the light of day.  My mom and dad never threw anything away either, they kept everything in their lives.  They had an archive that had everything in it from the original audio tapes from 'The Johnny Cash Show" to random things like a camel saddle, a gift from the Prince of Saudi Arabia." 
May 13th is going to be special for Dolly Parton.  It's the day she will release her latest album "Blue Smoke" in the USA.  It's also the day she will be performing as part of the Today Show 'outdoor concert series.'  Dolly's career has spanned nearly five decades, and is showing no signs of slowing down.  She is the most honored female country singer of all time, recently topping the New Zealand all-genre album with an advance release of "Blue Smoke."  If we had our way, we'd like to see her come and help us give a "Rising Legend" award to little Emi Sunshine, and at the same time, We'd put Dolly in the Hall of Fame???
The Oak Ridge Boys are celebrating their 41st anniversary, and who better to celebrate it with, none other than the 41st president of the USA, H.W. Bush.  The Oak Ridge Boys have been favorites of President Bush, and over the years they have performed for him many many times, including special concerts at the White House.  More recently they performed for him and wife Barbara just a few weeks ago in Galveston, Texas. 
I keep talking about Curt Shoemaker, the steel player for Martina McBride (at least in the studio) who is going to be doing a special concert at the Oak Tree in Anita on April 12th, 7pm.  Well, Martina is joining the likes of the Roys (they've played at the Oak Tree too), Charley Pride, Larry Gatlin, Lorrie Morgan, John Anderson, Aaron Tippen, Asleep At The Wheel, and a ton of other pro country artists on a 7-day cruise Jan 18-25, 2015, from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and a private island, Half Moon Cay.  Lorraine Crook (of Crook & Chase) will be doing the hosting.  Sounds like a fun cruise.  More info at www.countrymusiccrusie.com
Bob Everhart for Country Music News International

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