on October 27, 2019, Raleigh faces charges of assault, domestic bodily
injury (bond $5,000) false imprisonment (bond $2,000) and
vandalism $1,000 or less (bond $1,000) resulting from allegedly beating
his girlfriend, SKYLAR
MADISON TALLEY (no relation, I presume, to LEAH RAE TALLEY HALL).
told police Raleigh's mother, MARY asked her to "apologize for
making a scene" but JASON
STEEN reports Mary's unnamed publicist confirming
Mary was referring to both her son and his girlfriend.
HOT SPOT NASHVILLE's DONNA CALDWELL and MATT "MT. MATT" ALVAREZ, joined BETH GWINN, yours truly and a host of CONNER McKIEVER's other invited guests at Nashville's Agency for the Performing Arts' (APA) downtown headquarters October 28, 2019.
The occasion? The 25th anniversary celebration of the opening of APA's Music City office.
guests JIM MESSINA, DAVID NAIL and THE SCOOTER BROWN BAND joined
the fun as STEVE LASSITER, APA's co-head of Worldwide Music
proposed a (spiked, if partiers so chose) apple cider toast to "another
(APA, with offices not only in Nashville, but also London, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, began in 1962 with MCA's divestiture of assets.)
From APA's offices the invited flocked to join host JOEY AMATO for a benefit performance of THE HIT MEN at City Winery. An undisclosed portion of the profits are earmarked for the Nashville's W.O. SMITH Music School.
That's one of the teased cover story headlines from the October 22, 2019 edition of the Washington Examiner offered free (along with the magazine's sturdy pens) to registrants at Politicon, the annual two-day Unconventional Political Convention, celebrating, October 26-27, 2019, its fifth year, in a new location: Nashville.
Music City Center played host to the nonpartisan
event featuring a lineup of Music Row's
favorite partisan pols,
former pols, impressionists, impersonators, Sunday morning talk show
talking heads and other media types as well as the C-SPAN
LADY LIBERTY, ABE LINCOLN and UNCLE SAM could be seen meeting and greeting registrants carrying blue or red bags (or, as a comped press person, in my case both!) And where else could you watch a live podcast, get your picture snapped next to a RICHARD NIXON cardboard cutout or standing in front of a podium speaking into a microphone against a backdrop replicating that of the White House press secretary? Or a look at Baby Trump?
it wasn't just the Democrats and Republicans who were vying for the
Independents' attention. The Green Party was
also on hand as was U.S. Term Limits,
whose supporters were handing out bright pink checklist notepads, with
the first order of business listed being "Pink slip Congress."
1 in 3 Campaign representatives were handing out booklets informing takers that "1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. these [sic] are our stories."
of swag, you couldn't beat the C-SPAN 2020 water bottles, the official
C-SPAN pocket-size copy of the Constitution of the United States (not
necessarily in that order), a Women for
Tennessee's Future Koozie, a copy of the Fall,
2019 issue of Sword
& Scales, a Pacific League
Foundation combination bottle opener and key
chain or (my favorite) a Keep It Kind button.
we "VIPS" were treated to a spacious press room and an invitation-only
after-hours ("open bar") "VIP Party" at Honky-Tonk
After hobnobbing with YAMICHE ALCINDOR, it felt like old home week when my fellow Minnesotan (and STEVE FRANKEN's cousin), AL FRANKEN (who would have been my classmate had he not attended private school) shared memories of growing up in St. Louis Park. Security was tight at all of the of forums, debates and book-signings but it was especially appreciated when Al Franken was accosted by a heckler- who was subsequently ejected.
No hecklers, just an otherwise jaded, gushing fan (yours truly) who never dreamed in a million years she would ever meet her fellow published author (and longtime celebrity crush), JOEL STEIN (at Politicon- nor anywhere else). I brazenly told Joel (the only concurrently-scheduled Politicon speaker for whom I would miss the opportunity to hear JAMES COMEY speak) of Stein's status, suggesting that if I were 20 years younger...
was a good sport.
the other hand, SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS played it
cautiously safe when JAMES CARVILLE, frustrated by Sarah's repeatedly
failing to back up her broad statements of opinion, kept on
insisting she provide specifics when he questioned her for the better
part of a half-hour.
the audience Q-A time that remained, I stepped up to the microphone
asking Sarah what she would say directly to the Country Music
Association and/or JASON OWEN about her father's
ouster from the CMA Foundation Board.
MIKE HUCKABEE opined on April 7,
got booted off the CMA Foundation Board because
my faith conflicted with some people in the music industry who were
anything but tolerant of my faith and certainly didn't think diversity
was all that good of an idea."
Mike's daughter's response to my
question was that she was so proud of her father and his contributions
to music education over the years and that she thought it unfortunate
that the Board would not be the beneficiary of his expertise and
passion for the cause.
When I followed up by asking specifically what she would say to Owen and/or the CMA Board, as Sarah indicated she wasn't going to go there, prompting Carville to interrupt her, advising "She's not going to answer your question."
If you couldn't make it, check out the following glimpses of what you missed
All in all, I really enjoyed the
"convention for political nerds" and I hope Politicon will return to
Nashville in 2020.
Like "The Possum" himself, GEORGE JONES' siblings have passed on, leaving a bunch of estranged nieces and nephews.
One of Jones' nephews, BRYANT, the son of George's brother, HERMAN misses his departed family members and is reaching out to George's children: "Although I do not have hardly anymore family left, I do ask that if anyone reads this to please reach me at (409) 550-7210...
the concert happens for me in Heaven, I will continue to play my drums
and hope that one day I will see all of you in Heaven."
Column's congratulations to JOHNNY COUNTERFIT, cast as a Grand Ole Opry announcer introducing LORETTA LYNN (played by JESSIE MUELLER) in Patsy & Loretta, premiering October 19, 2018 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Lifetime. (Had Director CALLIE KHOURI worked with a scriptwriter knowledgeable of the subject matter, rather than ANGELINA BURNETT, GARRETT KRUITHOF's repo man character would have been named ANYTHING other than "Delwood."
years after her passing, DEL
WOOD, the Opry's own "Queen of the Ragtime Pianists" and music's
first female million-selling instrumentalist; a woman who, unlike
Lifetime's production team, actually knew PATSY CLINE and Loretta Lynn, is
likely spinning in her grave.)
October, 2019's email also contained 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 headquarters.
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."
to 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 September
2019 publication of Country Music: An Illustrated History.
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."
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
information 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."
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 another generic email
address. It was at that point that I first heard of DAYTON DUNCAN- the person whom I should have
contacted all along!
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."
With male-dominated program advisers
beginning with the buddy-buddy "Oermax twins," not to mention BILL 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
they did, to the exclusion of people and source material that would
have otherwise been available. (These industry-directed detours are by
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
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, the same handful of episodes. Enter Ken
Burns and Dayton Duncan, whose 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
brothers, CORKY and DAVID, 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.