congratulations to JOHNNY COUNTERFIT, cast as an announcer
introducing LORETTA LYNN (played by JESSIE MUELLER ) in the forthcoming flick, Patsy & Loretta, premiering October 19,
2018 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on
October, 2019's email contains JEREMY WESTBY's invitation to attend the OAK RIDGE BOYS October 4, 2019 news conference in Tulsa as the quartet unveils a public service announcement; part of a social media campaign calling attention to attempts to defraud the elderly, while BEV MOSER has requested my backstage presence at the annual DOTTIE WEST (posthumous) birthday bash (benefiting the Nashville Musicians' Association's Musician Emergency Relief Fund), this year on October 9th at 3rd and Lindsley.
Since this year the West birthday bash
honored BILL ANDERSON, it was only fitting that Bill's
musical legacy be acknowledged. Anderson, still actively
performing less than a month before his 82nd birthday, was perfectly
capable of performing- and did perform- his own songs but Bill watched
in appreciation as TIM ATWOOD treated the crowd to his version of the
Anderson-penned, VINCE GILL hit, Which Bridge to Cross (Which Bridge to Burn).
Before the show, Tim told me that his fourth
album It Matters To Me is about to be released.
Also during the time set aside for backstage
interviews prior to show time at the West tribute, after receiving a
hug from the multi talented PETER COOPER (another of the evening's performers)
I spotted JIMMY CAPPS.
I told Jimmy how much I enjoyed reading his
recently-published autobiography (ghosted by SCOT ENGLAND)
and Capps told me that he had known Dottie since she sang in a house
band long before West became a star. That memory was not Jimmy's
favorite. As he put it: "If you read my book then you know my favorite
Dottie West memory."
This is true. Capps, noting that he
played on "all of Dottie's duets with KENNY
ROGERS and on all of her solo albums," backed up all of the stars
in this West birthday bash tribute lineup, including his wife, MICHELLE.
During yet another pre-show interview, Dottie's granddaughter, TESS FRIZZELL (ALLEN FRIZZELL's and SHELLY WEST's daughter), gave me the scoop that she would be singing her grandmother's sassy hit, Lesson in Leavin' with Dottie's original backup singers, NANETTE BOHANNON and VICKIE CARRICO.
Tess' favorite memory of her grandmother was not the photo I took of the two backstage at the Grand Ole Opry a week before Dottie was tragically killed in a wreck en route to the Opry (she'd never seen the unpublished photo), but of Tess' first national TV appearance.
Ironically, millions will remember the event, but, strictly speaking, not Tess, a native Nashvillian, who was only a day old at the time. For Shelly having not yet given birth when Dottie left for Los Angeles to host the 1982 Academy of Country Music Awards.
That meant Dottie's first glimpse of her granddaughter came when a videotape of Shelly holding Tess to the camera from a hospital bed was rushed so that Tess' national network TV debut, and resulting emotional surprise for her first-time grandmother, was available by airtime to be incorporated into the "live" ACM Awards show!
After I spoke briefly with birthday bash
sponsor GUS ARRENDALE, about the joy that he
receives from traditional country music and helping the Musicians' Fund
(joking with him about Vice-President MIKE PENCE's touring Tyson Foods'
Nashville processing plant a couple of days earlier), the Springer Mountain Farm president was clearly
dreaming big when I suggested that next visit Springer Mountain Farm's
His response? "Yes, or even President Trump!" (BTW, Gus, thanks for the
unsolicited gift of high-dollar Springer Mountain Farm coupons.)
Arrendale's company's three-year West birthday tribute sponsorship is equaled only by JEANNIE SEELY's three-year tenure as host of the show. In fact, Dottie's birthday tribute show exists because of Seely's effort to honor her friend in that manner, not to Jeannie and RON HARMON's tireless campaign to right a wrong that ended only when West was finally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Jeannie stressed that, unlike the Grand Ole Opry
Trust Fund (of which she is also a tireless supporter) and MusiCares,
the Musicians' Fund enables a musician in need to receive a check
"right now." She adds that people should realize that even if a
musician becomes sick with the flu, which could be, as it is with
non musicians, a pretty common occurrence, "it could mean the end
of a tour."
Seely added that apart from sporadic
individual donations and the union itself, proceeds from Dottie's
birthday bash keep the musicians' fund afloat as its primary source of
income: "There's no other outside funding of this magnitude."
During the show, Jeannie performed, sang
background and led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to Dottie.
Egos, to a large extent, were checked at the door. KELLY LANG cheered T.G. SHEPPARD on as he summed up the evening's vibe, singing his hit, Party Time with RUDY GATLIN (one of the evening's auctioneers)
singing backup, while JOHN RANDALL (who sang Whiskey Lullaby) took a turn backing Peter
Cooper's performance of 3 A.M.
DAVE POMEROY noted that the Musicians' Emergency
Fund is able to make individual grants for up to $2,500 and, thanks to
the collectively generous funding, the "third largest union in the
United States, despite Tennessee being a right-to-work state" has
distributed more than $409,000.
The auctioning of three celebrity-signed
guitars and posters, along with the evening's ticket sales, have
already added $28,000 to the emergency fund's coffers with, according
to Bev Moser, an "exact amount still being counted as last minute
donations came in."
KEN BURNS' Country Music
has resulted in a spike in music sales of several of the artists
featured in the documentary and an anticipation of a boost in tourism
by those who are attuned to such possibilities, coinciding with the
publication of Country Music: An Illustrated History.
May 23, 2016 announcement of the funding, in an unspecified amount,
resulted in my publicly-stated opposition to the move, given that these
incentives were "proposed after Burns
committed to produce a country music documentary."
In a Letter to the Editor a tennessean.com copy editor chose to title Burns should seek balance for documentary, I went
on to write
"It is impossible to cover country music's history without covering the
tax-exempt lobbying organizations that have shaped it- and not always
for the better.
can't do that unless he is directed to knowledgeable sources, which
would be counterproductive to the desires of not only the mayor's office and Nashville
Chamber of Commerce, but, more importantly, to the Country Music
Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame...
"Word is Burns is already being led by the nose as he navigates what, for him, are uncharted waters. He's not receiving production incentives without the expectation of further control over the project."
I suggested that Ken Burns and his production team "will retain their integrity and resist such temptations if they understand the manipulation and actively seek out voices to balance the agenda-driven recommendations they assume they're receiving in good faith."
the time I wrote those words I was the same big Ken Burns fan I remain
today and was frustrated by my inability to obtain direct contact
to inform Burns (or someone else involved in the production) of same,
as well as my interest in serving as one of the series' advisers given
the knowledge I've accumulated over my five decades of observation and
involvement; my tenure as the "Doyenne
of Music Row."
I heard that interviews for the series had begun, I latched on to a
couple of names and, on September 26, 2017 I sent a generic email with
the names KATY HAAS and CHRISTOPHER DARLING in the subject line, sent to
their attention requesting corresponding email addresses. Receiving
no response, but not sensing time constraints, having heard no more
about the project from anyone, I waited awhile before asking an
industry colleague, whose interview had just been filmed, for a better
email address for Haas, with whom she had worked. (Any footage obtained
was ultimately not used and- unless I missed it- as the credits rolled
each time over successive installments of the series, my associate
never received any credit; an omission not remedied in the
acknowledgments nor index found in Country Music: An Illustrated History - the
hardcover book based on the series).
Once the industry veteran gave me Katy's direct email address I used it to contact the series' associate producer on September 4, 2018.
Having yet to received a
response to that email, on September 26, 2018 I reluctantly used
email address. It was at that point that I first heard of DAYTON DUNCAN- the person whom I should have
Dayton (as my fellow native Midwesterner prefers to be addressed) was responsive from my first contact. Unfortunately, by the time I was able to reach him, in February, 2019, Duncan informed me that production had concluded.
But Dayton saw the value in copying JOE DePLASCO, "which has handled the promotion of our films... He can provide you with a fuller description of the film."
Maybe so, but DePlasco chose not to, so I was glad when Dayton gave me permission to quote him as we continued our email correspondence in advance of the country-music series airing.
Anticipating the criticism that come from those who were not aware of the writer's (and production company's) self-imposed limitations on the scope of the documentary, Dayton clarified that the series was "eight episodes. 16 and a half hours in length and it covers the history of the music from its roots to the late 1990s.
"We're historians and not journalists, so for a series like this (as with Jazz, Baseball, and even National Parks) we need to have a better feel between what might seem popular and important in moment, versus what emerges as the important milestones over time.
"Ours is a story-telling narrative, not an encyclopedic list of names and songs, and our series is our best collective effort at telling the history of a uniquely American art form that itself tells stories through songs; and we try to focus as much as possible on the lives of people who made the music, and give some breathing room as well for the songs themselves (and sometimes the stories behind those songs.
"We fully realize that others might make different choices, and we fully anticipate that some folks will have complaints about what's not there (probably more than what's there).
"With passage of time, maybe Florentine will return to [the] topic (we did that with Baseball, not in any others),but there's plenty of opportunity for someone else to bring things into the the 21st century as well."
program advisers beginning with the buddy-buddy "Oermax twins," not to
IVEY and PAUL KINGBURY, it became obvious why the otherwise
unaware Burns crew
(like most "outsiders" who approach the familiar 501s, admittedly the
seemingly logical place to start), relied on those
to the exclusion of people and source material that would have
industry-directed detours are by design.)
And while that is disappointing (industry bullies continue to be emboldened), I will be the first one to say that I thought the result was so good that once the series concluded, as with past Florentine productions, I was the closest I'll ever be to a drug addict forced to go cold turkey.
So what might have been different had STACY HARRIS been consulted?
Well, a promotional reel referencing The Singing Brakeman (to whom Ken Burns referred as Burns was being interviewed by JEFF GLOR on the September 14, 2019 edition of CBS This Morning Saturday) might have shown him rather than the Honeycomb singer.
I refer to my notes on the series, beginning with the first episode (OAD September 15, 2019).
During the opening sequence, in which KATHY MATTEA reminisces about her time as a Country Music Hall of Fame tour guide, a photo of FRANK JONES (my ex- GARY's dad) and DOROTHY RITTER appears. I appreciate that there wasn't time to identify either by explanation, but a photo caption might have at least sent the curious to Google.
My reaction was the same when clearly identifiable images of an otherwise unidentified ROD BRASFIELD appeared in separate episodes of the series.
My wish list would have included some mention of our industry's characters, ranging from JERRY SEABOLT to HENRIETTA DARR-JOHNSON, but, here again, the episodes had to have continuity and conform, to some extent, to viewers' attention spans.
And why was DAVID COBB, who was referenced, not identified by name?
By Episode Four viewers learn that PATSY CLINE appeared on a Washington, D.C. TV show, but why wasn't the show's host, JIMMY DEAN identified by name? Additionally, I imagine that any description of Cline's famous cigarette lighter (found at the scene of her storied death, chronicled by Burns and Duncan) would have ignited- no pun intended- yet another discussion that music historians under time constraints might dismiss as a digression.
Amid detailing of the founding of the Country Music Association, viewers should have been introduced to JO WALKER (rather than JO WALKER MEADOR as Mrs. CHARLES WALKER, as she was known during the time of the narrative, later became), the documentary's depiction of the organization's first and only member made it appear that Jo's ascendancy was an industry nod to feminism that would have, historically, been ahead of its time.
The truth was exactly the opposite. As I wrote in my 1998 CMA chronology The Country Music Association: What Is It Afraid Of?, "CMA Executive Director HARRY STONE, who had assumed his position in February, 1959, left his post later that year, most likely due to a combination of ill health and the fact that the cash-poor CMA couldn't afford to pay both his salary and Jo Walker's.
"Funds were so scarce that, during at least one board meeting, the hat was passed in order to pay Walker, who, after Stone left, assumed the executive director's responsibilities for some time before she ever received the job title."
Some random thoughts: Where was some sort of context, or otherwise an explanation of, color home movies of LORETTA LYNN at a time when the lower middle-class, of which the singer was then a member, could not afford pricey movie cameras and the expensive color film that was part of the equation?
And why was there no effort to identify BILL ANDERSON'S "wife of a dear friend" (and her spouse)?
I was pleased that by Episode 5 an early identification of BUD WENDELL as the (insurance) salesman that he once was, was updated to reflect the reasons why the Grand Ole Opry's parent company eventually named a building after him.
A rare factual error about ROY ACUFF occurred in that same episode: "When Acuff was in his mid-60s," it was said, his days of having "big hits were behind him."
Surprisingly, Burns documentaries' requisite narrator, veteran actor PETER COYOTE (whose dulcet tones remind me of HENRY FONDA) had a penchant throughout the country-music documentary for mispronouncing the given middle name (and stage surname) of the First Lady of Country Music during episodes six and seven. That's understandable given that it's the same mistake made by, among the proverbial "many others", a former First Lady of the United States who famously apologized to TAMMY WYNETTE (but, like Coyote, not for her mispronunciation of the phonetically-correct Winnett as Why-net.)
Episode six also referenced EUPLE BYRD, but not by name. Any husband of
Tammy Wynette's worth referencing is worth being identifying by
name. Historians need to take the time.
The mention of
Wynette's alleged "kidnapping " should have opened up a can of
worms. As someone who was in Green Hills at the time, and close
to the scene of the alleged attack, I can affirm that the police were
not interested in what I had to say about the incident at the time and
it stands to reason that anyone with knowledge of the facts was also
dismissed in favor of the more convenient explanation (which wasn't
really cited in segment seven either).
A decade or so ago, JOHNNY CASH's niece/office manager, KELLY HANCOCK told me that Cash's erstwhile ABC series would likely never air on 21st century televisions since getting clearances would be a bureaucratic nightmare; Sadly, many of the guest stars had passed by that point, which would mean dealing with their estates, not to mention company mergers and takeovers which produce other rights issues.
That's why I was surprised when GET TV added the Cash show to its Sunday night
nostalgia lineup a couple of years ago. But then it's clear that
GET doesn't own (or is otherwise not exercising its right to licensing
rights of) the entire series, because it keeps airing, and re-airing,
same handful of episodes. Enter Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan,
country-music documentary featured excerpts from the Cash show that
apparently had not aired since the original air dates.
And when detailing Columbia Records' (chief RICK
BLACKBURN's) decision not to renew Cash's recording contract
OERMANN's headline worldwide exclusive detailing same), an
opportunity was missed to tell the story of how only an intervention by
Oermann's boss, JOHN SEIGENTHALER (and a forced apology from Oermann for violating basic
journalistic principles), along with considerable ego massaging, convinced a furious and self-described ambushed
Blackburn and an equally angry, embarrassed and humiliated Man in Black
to cease pressure they were piling on Seig to fire his entertainment
It was interesting to see JAN HOWARD's shocking comments in the aftermath of
her son JIMMY's death reprised in Burns' country-music
documentary (a sequence that first aired in The Viet Nam War), but in the portion of the
interview reserved for the PBS country-music documentary, Jimmy's
who were referenced should not have gone unnamed.
Episode seven touched on the dissension within the country-music community caused by the Country Music Association bestowing its honors on OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN's (Female Vocalist of the Year) and JOHN DENVER' s (Entertainer of the Year) without even a mention of the Association of Country Entertainers (ACE) that formed as a result, to say nothing of the story behind ACE's subsequent dissolution.
HAZEL SMITH's being identified as a "journalist"
and presumed authority figure was interesting in light of Smith's
glaring grammatical lapses, to say nothing of her mispronunciation of SHEL SILVERSTEIN's surname.
The doc gets high marks for its explanation of TOMPALL GLASER's contribution to country's music first platinum-selling album, but there was no mention of his status as the lead singer of the highly-successful country-music trio, TOMPALL and the GLASER BROTHERS.
Kudos to Dayton and Ken for omitting the "goat story"from their JOHNNY RODRIGUEZ segment, thus not further propagating (the myth of) an event that never happened).
Episode eight marked the conclusion of the most ambitious project of its kind, to date, but not without a bit of hyperbole that seemed credible (unless examined) if only because of how well, overall, each episode of the presentation delivered what it promised. I refer to the "over the top" presumption of the assertion, presented as fact, that REBA McENTIRE "would come to speak for women everywhere."
I hope Messrs. Burns and Duncan will return
to Nashville and not so much update what they've done as focus on the
history of the country-music business, the end of handshake agreements,
the demise of country-music's print media, the endless abuses of power,
the abandonment of Music Row as the industry's business district, the
fizzling of #MeToo as quickly as it surfaced (despite some historically
significant, pre-Internet disclosures dating back decades that were
dismissed because they were ahead of their time), etc.
ALLEN FRIZZELL's son, CAGNEY ALLEN FRIZZELL, is a country-music singer in the family tradition of his famous father and Frizzell uncles LEFTY FRIZZELL and DAVID FRIZZELL and half-sister, TESS MARIE FRIZZELL (daughter of Allen Frizzell and SHELLY WEST).
Unfortunately, Cagney, 25, is the latest Frizzell to make unfortunate headlines. He has a January, 2020 court date, having been charged September 10, 2019 with a DUI; his second.
First charged with DUI while in Dickson County, Tennessee during November of 2012, Cagney's court date early next year stems from being caught driving 90 mph (the interstate speed limit was 70 mph). . .
This time around, claiming he drank two beers, Cagney failed a sobriety test. Refusing a blood alcohol test, Cagney was then taken into custody by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the trooper adding speeding, violation of the implied consent law, and a traffic violation (crossing the fog line) to the DUI charge.After being booked in the Wilson County Jail, Cagney was released on a $3,000 bond.
(runoff) race for mayor has captured Music
Row's attention- and wallets.
As incumbent Mayor (CLIFTON) DAVID BRILEY (grandson of BEVERLY BRILEY, the first mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and brother of former Tennessee state Representative ROB BRILEY) and JOHN COOPER (brother of Tennessee's Fifth District Congressman JIM COOPER and son of former Tennessee Governor [WILLIAM] PRENTICE COOPER ) await the results of the September 12, 2019 general elections, we'll show you the money: MIKE CURB and his wife, LINDA have contributed $1,600 (the maximum individual contribution allowed by law) each to Briley's campaign.
to Cooper's campaign coffers include KIX BROOKS- who lists his occupation on campaign
contribution form (as required by state law), as "self-employed"- and BILL MILLER. Brooks has donated the max
(i.e., $1,600) while Miller's calculated contributions are credited to
the JOHNNY CASH museum ($1,600) and the PATSY CLINE museum ($1,600).
The 36th annual Nashville Home Show runs September 6-8, 2019 at the Music City Center. LAURIE SMITH, YACHECIA HOLSTON and TRACE BARNETT will be on hand, joining over 250 vendors offering services from A ( Aaron's Garage Doors ) to Z ( Zingas Home Solutions ).
In addition to the exhibits, the family-friendly event features seminars, lessons from the cooking stages, interactive arts and crafts and activities for children. Show times, ticket prices, directions and parking information are available here.
As CRYSTAL GAYLE’s publicist some 45 years ago, I was delighted to receive an invitation from the singer’s current team (JEREMY WESTBY and JASON ASHCRAFT) to join the trio for a listening party at the Grand Ole Opry September 5, 2019.
The celebration spotlighted the release of the platinum-selling songstress’ new album of country standards, You Don’t Know Me.
ZACH FARNUM read off a list of RANDY TRAVIS’ lengthy career-long milestones achievement faster than we scribes gathered in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater September 5, 2019 could write them down, by way of (re)introduction to the man of the hour. (2 p.m.)
The occasion was a press conference announcing The Music of Randy Travis Tour; a tour that, if you’re stateside, is hopefully coming to a city near you beginning with an October 16, 2019 performance in Indianapolis.
Obviously, with Randy’s voice having been largely silenced, with his gait unsteady in the wake of a massive stroke, this tour will not be anything like Travis’ most recent tour, of some years back now. But, in the tradition of “the show must go on,” accommodations worth the price of admission have been made.
As Randy and his wife, MARY took the stage, Mary, in her role as Randy’s spokesperson, disclosed the details of the 16-city tour. No holograms, here, thank you.
Mary then introduced Dupré, after which James spoke about his relationship with Randy before entertaining the members of the fourth estate with James’ version of Diggin’ Up Bones.
Q-A session followed in which I asked a question about the length of the tour: Was it coordinated in such a way as to accommodate Randy’s physical limitations and to accentuate his stamina?
Historically, and even with the advances in transportation over the decades, touring is often the most strenuous part of an entertainer’s job. Still, Mary insists that from the first concert to the last (in Green Bay, Wisconsin on November 2, 2019) “James will be doing most of the work.”
And, “Will the dogs be joining you?”
My second question, about the pets who had been a very special part of the couple’s life as of the last time I saw them only a couple of months before, was prompted by somewhat of an inside joke.
Mary’s answer? “Yes, of course.”
True, Erica performed songs from Antidote, but publicizing her new music was not Stone’s only mission. Those on hand for the “private music industry event” were also treated to Erica’s “sharing stories” from “her new best selling book, and the film that’s made about her work in Sierra Leone on behalf of orphans and children” (sic)… Her #1 bestseller Gray will also be available on site.” (Look for my review of Gray here!)