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JOHN McEUEN's new book,The Life I've Picked: A Banjo Player's Nitty Gritty Journey, is a real sleeper.    I haven't seen a news release about it, let alone a review copy, (and my fellow authors wonder why their books aren't reviewed!), but here are a few highlights: John recalls that, on one occasion,  the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND was booed when it toured with, and appeared on the same stage in advance of, the headliner.

BOBBY SHERMAN was one the hottest pop acts of the day, so, after the humiliating experience, NGDB figured out a way to do damage control. have their own hits heard and, in the process, possibly make some Dirt Band fans from Sherman's minions:  "We learned to ask after almost every song 'Are you all here to see BOBBY SHERMAN [emphasis, McEuen's]? '

"Here's one of this favorite songs..."

John adds that Bobby had a remarkable grasp of what his heartthrob status status meant to his screaming audience, primarily of teen-aged girls when McEuen asked the dreamy hunk about the screamers:  "'Well, I know something they don't.  I'm not a very good singer.

"'When they stop screaming they'll figure out, and my career will be over.  I figure I have about a year-and-a-half run and I'm going to make the most of it."  (Self-effacing Sherman's time-frame was off, his chart life extended beyond his estimate and he branched out as an actor, before taking a "real job," but Bobby articulately made his point.)
 

Then there's the time when, during the course of the NGDB's adventures, it received a threat from HENRY MANCINI.  The famed composer held the band responsible for its roadie's transporting Mancini's underage daughter, MONICA (who said she was 21) across state lines.   

And how about the time John was nearly arrested at the Grand Ole Opry?  (Spoiler alert: It was none other than a call to LOUISE SCRUGGS- at 868-2254- and, as NGDB co-founder McEuen writes, Louise's intervention that saved John from arrest after an Opry security guard threated to call the Nashville police.)  
 



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As I prepare to update my Internet Movie Database (IMDB) listing (a tenuous process which appears much easier than it is) I'm grateful for not auditioning for a role in Ticket to Nashville after a published report that checks for those who have may not be in the mail.

It's not clear if "background players" are the only ones feeling a pain these days is thought to be reserved for victims of the government shutdown, though I'll assume that since neither has raised a stink (at least not publicly) LEE GREENWOOD and Report reader T. GRAHAM BROWN have been paid by a production company that bills itself as "committed to the development, production and distribution of high-quality family, faith-based and patriotic films" (the assumption being that the commitment extends to the espousing and practicing corresponding values, but, in any event, certainly not behaving in a way that flies in the face of such implied, fair play and good faith responsibilities).




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Thanks to 
JASON ASHCROFT for the complimentary invitation to attend AVA ROWLAND's January 14, 2019 showcase at the Listening Room Café.  (Ava will perform songs from her debut EP, Polaroid Picture at the venue, which is part of the BILL DILUGIO's Nashville Emerging Songwriters' Showcase.
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GET.TV aired it multiple times in December, 2018, so the special will likely air again in December, 2019.  But the 1976 JOHNNY CASH Christmas Special was "the worst in the history of history of television."

No, that's not my opinion (I've seen a lot worse).  It was Johnny Cash's!

In an interview with BILL HANCE, published in the December 8, 1976 edition of the Nashville Banner (and republished, most recently, in the Nashville Retrospect) Cash took it a step further, adding "I'm through with television, I've had it."

From the days of his eponymous hit ABC-TV series, Cash brooded about not being able to feature the performers with whom he felt most comfortable.   He felt the discomfort in being paired with network favorites, especially those with whom he lacked chemistry, showed in the interaction between host and performer(s),

Though TONY ORLANDO's being tapped to appear on the special most was likely not the Man in Black's idea, Cash's biggest beef about the 1976 Christmas show bearing his name was that, even with a cameo by BILLY GRAHAM, with whom there was a lot of mutual (if only figurative) back-scratching, most of the songs were not about the reason for the season.  

Cash, of course, was not through with television and, for that, his fans could not be more grateful.




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Nashville is now more than one year out from the dissolution of Webster PR.   KIRT WEBSTER has retained an unusual relationship with Nashville media, best characterized by private interchanges and public silence.

Webster's former employees are not of the same opinions as to whether or not their loyalty to Kirt was -or, as the case may be, is- deserved.  

But anyone who has been keeping up with AUSTIN RICK (media, as a general rule, being terrible on followup) has been kept waiting for Rick to make good on his threats against Webster.  And, as for Austin's book, it's not even close to Amazon pre-order status.

As I previously wrote back in February 2018, "Wouldn't you think Out& About would have been all over this?  It's been what- three months?  And nada- zilch!"

Same goes for Out & About's companion TV show.  And what about JESSE KNUTSON?  (I guess Jesse still wants to eat lunch in this town.)




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I was a constant presence on the Hee Haw set at Nashville's WLAC-TV and that was when I first saw ROY CLARK
 
But I didn't actually meet Roy at Channel 5.   It was actually elsewhere when, briefly, during show's CBS years, when I was dating TED RAY. (Ted took me to an upscale Nashville restaurant and who should walk in when we were dining but Roy Clark)!
 
"Oh, so you're with a young lady," was Clark's opening greeting, as Ted followed by making introductions. 
 
This would have been during the early '70s.  Since Roy didn't live in Nashville I never got to know him well, though he was exceedingly friendly to me when I would run into him backstage during an occasional Grand Ole Opry appearance.
 
And, thanks to CAROL ANDERSON (whom I would later interview in Carol's capacity as an author when I co-hosted a weekend WLAC Radio show), I was fortunate to interview Clark on more than one occasion, most memorably for the January 1989 issue of Country Song Roundup.
 
The article, titled Roy Clark: He's On a Friendship Tour, referenced Clark's 12-month tour of Bulgaria and the U.S.S.R.
 
Roy's final words during that interview (or at least the portion with which I concluded the article) summarize his feeling about the tour and life itself.  They could easily serve as his epitaph: "My belief is that if you go through life with your arms outstretched nobody's going to hurt you.
 
"But if you put your hands up in a defensive gesture, a preacher will throw a Bible at you."

 

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