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Stacy's Music Row Report  All Rights Reserved


A Los Angeles-based writer (whose name I do not know) is reportedly scouting Nashville sources for a book about GLEN SHERLEY.  If my fellow author wants to contact me, I have a photo and a reminiscence that might be of interest. 

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Country Music Association-financed propaganda to the contrary, MICHAEL RAPINO tells CHARLIE ROSE that while country music is "on fire" in America, it continues to be "slow" to gain an international following,

"I'd like to tell you I know why... It really has replace rock in many ways.  Country has become the story-telling music that rock used to be.  

"You go to a LUKE BRYAN show and a KENNY CHESNEY show or a JASON ALDEAN show- it's a rock show of the past.

"Now, the challenge, I think, with those artists is- Luke Bryan can sell out 60 stadiums in America.  Now, if you bring him over to London he might be playing a theater or a small arena."  

Rapino concedes that while country music's popularity "hasn't translated" beyond the lower 48,  he's not ruling out potential international growth.

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I've been invited to the previous six Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD) Honors Galas but, for some reason always had schedule conflicts, as I thought I might when NATD's current Membership Chair ZACH FARNUM and BEV MOSER emailed my most recently received invitation to the 7th of these annual events at the historic Hermitage Hotel the evening of November 14, 2017.  (That evening was my opportunity to interview DAN RATHER at the nearby War Memorial Auditorium- or so I thought).

Frankly, I didn't feel up to either one, due to what is best described as some uncharacteristic, but, at times, excruciating lower back or spinal cord  pain that made it an effort stand up straight and to bend my knees to sit down if I was standing.  I knew if I took an opiate not to drive, so, after briefly helping my friend, STU SHOSTAK, as he ran some tests, I chose to drive (after dark, which I try to avoid, due to age and congenital eye disease), grin and bear it.  

One of the first familiar faces I saw was that of RUTH ELKINS.  As Ruth and I talked for awhile I was ill-prepared for the change of subject when Zach joined us.  It wasn't Ruth's congratulating Zach on the formation of 117 Entertainment Group but rather the subtext that turned the conversation in a different direction as I tried to do a lot of listening, as is probably the best course of action when blindsided (though the chorus of KRIS KRISTOFERSON's To Best the Devil came to mind, proving, I suppose, among other things, that there is no such thing as an original thought.)

Before running into Ruth I had gone, as directed, into the ballroom where talent directors, honorees and celebrity guests were eating.  Bev had previously indicated that the awards presentations would begin after dinner and that, once honored, the honoree (an an occasional presented) would slip into an outside are where, after an official photo was taken, they would spend a whatever time they had speaking with media.

It being impossible to be two places at once, decisions had to be constantly made in order to provide optimal coverage.  As if that weren't enough, honorees, presenters and performers were so enthusiastically received that standing ovations were the norm at virtually every opportunity.  That meant the dreaded, constant standing up and sitting down when I wasn't a whirling dervish- normally not such a difficult means of showing the proper appreciation, courtesy and respect for those who represent the best of what our industry has to offer.

The NATD's 2017 honorees included DAVID CORLEW, SEAN HENRY, BARBARA HUBBARD, CHARLEY PRIDE, BOBBY ROBERTS and JEANNIE SEELY.  

Emcees STEPHANIE LANGSTON and SHAWN PARR kept the proceedings moving for speakers and/or registrants who included BOB ROMEO, CHARLENE TILTON, DON MURRY GRUBBS, BILL ANDERSON, PRESCHIAS HARRIS, DEAN TUBB, PAULA SZEIGISTONY CONWAY,  GENE WARD, CHAZ CORZINE, BLAKE McDaniel, DON McGHEE, STEVE TOLMANTRAVIS ROBERTS, LANCE ROBERTS, SALLY WILLIAMS,T.G. SHEPPARD, KELLY LANG, BOB OERMANN and MARY BUFWAK while video tributes came from DOLLY PARTON,  GARTH BROOKSSCOTT SHANNON, SYLVIA,  NEAL McCOY, MIKE HUCKABEE, REBA McENTIRE and AARON TIPPIN

Performers included  JOHN ANDERSON (who sang Seminole Wind)  LORRIE MORGAN (who paid tribute to Jeannie Seely by performing Seely's signature song, Don't Touch Me) and  BOBBY BARE who paid tribute to Charley Pride by singing Bare's favorite Pride recording, (I'm So) Afraid of Losing You Again

Managing to speak briefly and separately with Bare, Seely and Anderson,  (and T.G. and Kelly, long enough to learn that each was attending the NATD Honors for the first time) in the midst of coming and going from the ballroom to the makeshift media area, I encountered the most memorable line in a night of many memorable lines and stories.  Asking a millennial bartender, at one point, if she had seen Charley Pride depart the ballroom, she told me, in all serious, "No- I don't know who that is."

But it was Charley Pride who never forgets a face as he greeted me, not long after, saying "I know you."  Pride and I share an interest in astrology, a subject that, at the time his records dominated the charts, Charley told me his record label didn't want him to discuss.  At the time, Pride delighted in surprising acquaintances by guessing their sun signs.  

As Charley repeated the gratitude he expressed in the ballroom for receiving recognition from the NATD,  we reminisced about those years leading up to this latest achievement, while  Pride, who is still in mourning for a brother who passed away just days before, told me his accuracy as a seer has decreased.  Charley says he is only now able to guess astrological nativity about 50 percent of the time.

As we spoke of Pride's recent appearances with ill-prepared TAVIS SMILEY and the ladies of The View, Pride was charitable as he switched topics prevailing on me to help him remember the name of a former female Tennessean entertainment reporter. Prior to the two ladies who can currently claim that distinction, I am only able to remember a couple of others, each of whom at the was the newspaper's only female entertainment reporter.  Neither of whom met Charley's description.

I told Pride we would find Bob Oermann who would surely know.  Oermann could only come up with the same names I did, as I asked him "Was there a female entertainment reporter at The Tennessean before JACK HURST? (Hurst was at the helm when I arrived in Nashville in 1972.) 

"I don't know,"Oermann replied, explaining he didn't begin working at the morning daily until 1982.

Readers, Pride gave me his contact information, so if one of you is able to refresh my memory or educate me  (ruling out LAURA HILL- later LAURA EIPPER- and SANDY NEESE), kindly let me know and I will pass the information on to Charley, giving you the credit.

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As I have written, the apology ostensibly issued by AMBER WILLIAMS, the Country Music Association's vice-president, communications and talent relations, on behalf of SARAH TRAHERN and the CMA Board, mentioning neither by name, but delegated to the patsy with the highfalutin title, "may be an historic first."

If not, I'd like to know about it.  Please contact me if you know more than I do and are able to provide/lead me to verifiable written documentation.   Compensation will be provided.

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Weighing in on an earlier incarnation of the current "casting couch" accounts shortly before the current country-music scandal exploded, JON WALMSLEY wrote "A few years back, I was extremely dismayed to read a quote form a top Nashville producer."  Paraphrasing what he read, Walmsley contends it was on the order of "'These days when a female singer's photo comes across my desk, if she doesn't look like a model, I don't even bother to listen to her demo.'

"While this doesn't constitute sexual harassment, it does reduce women to an object. (Sic)  

"With this kind of attitude, some of the greatest female recording artists of the past, women with enormous talent, wouldn't have stood a chance, simply because they didn't happen look like a real-life BARBIE. (Sic)

"Score: Music Business 1.  Music 0."


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When I received an emailed invitation reading "KRIS KRISTOFFERSON invites you...," well, such a specific form of flattery, to understate, will always get my attention.  

Needless to say,  following RSVP instructions, confirming availability to attend the October 26, 2017 album release of The Life and Songs of Kris Kristofferson: All-Star Concert Celebration  at The Steps at WME, were not directed to Kris, but rather to ASHLEY JOB, who issued the invitation which would be her last on Ashley's Webster PR email account.  (Let me pause to clarify that my #MeToo narrative preceded AUSTIN RICK's declaration by several days, giving me the dubious distinction of having been the first member of the Music Row community to come forward,  mine having been the first and- so far- the only media outlet to expose the allegations against BILL IVEY some 14 years before that.

(When I wrote "Some colleagues are expecting me to name at least one other name:  I believe I've covered reasons for that omission(s) as explained above," my reference was not to KIRT WEBSTER.  I had never heard of AUSTIN RICK at that time, but now realize that my last email from Kirt, which was not fully responsive to my query about Kristofferson, was probably written following Rick putting Webster on notice and Kirt trying to do something to that time he had otherwise done so well to that point: damage control.  Little did I know the dissolution of Webster PR was in its beginning stages.

(Anyone who knows me well and has followed my career- or even knows how to Google- knows where my finger points.  The better we know each other, the better you understand why.)

In any event,  Kris and I first crossed paths at The Cellar Door in  1970 (where Kris shared the bill with IAN & SYLVIA), meaning I've known Kristofferson longer than anyone in the room, including Kris' wife, LISA.   This was before I had ever set foot in Nashville and before the release of Kris' first self-titled album.  I gave Kris a stick of chewing gum at one point (foolishly trying to wean Kris from his nicotine habit), and my business card at another.  There’s an amusing story about Kris' making an apologetic call to me, which I took on the communal floor phone at my La Plata Hall women's dorm (now co-ed dorm) at the University of Maryland, as my fellow residents lined up to eavesdrop.  

There’s another story about my introducing Kristofferson to my first real serious boyfriend (No, it wasn't MIKE HITTLEMAN), also a songwriter, in the hope that Kris would give LARRY some advice about the craft and bolster Larry’s confidence.  (Had I only known how insecure Kris was at that time...!)

Success on the level Kris has enjoyed it over time is such that I was not alone among those at WME who have their Kristofferson stories.  These include the all-male program panelists; producer DON WAS and KEITH WORTMAN who joined Kris as moderator JOE HUDAK  questioned the other three about their varying contributions to the concert, the album and the 90-minute concert film that first aired on CMT on October 27, 2017.

(Amid all of this testosterone, my only unspoken question was how did  Webster wrestle Kris away from the clutches of Kristofferson's longtime gatekeeper and Webster's longtime nemesis, TAMARA SAVIANO?  I assumed they had not reconciled since the CHARLIE DANIELS imbroglio and I was evidently right:  Leading the list of Music Row notables who have donated to Rick's GoFundMe page, including CLINT HIGHAM,  Saviano's donation was accompanied on the page by a nasty name-calling comment directed toward Webster that, for whatever reason, has apparently since been removed.

(I am probably among the few in the room who recognized Kris’ mention of VERNON WHITE and surely would have been the only one had Kristofferson mentioned BERT BLOCK.)

Kris sang Me and Bobby McGee and Why Me to the delight of a crowd that included Kirt Webster, JEREMY WESTBY, JANICE GRAY  SHANNON McCOMBSJIMMY CARTER, VERNELL HACKETT, PRESHIAS HARRIS and the proverbial many others.  

I thank Kirt Webster for copying ROB RAUFFER on my Kristofferson inquiry and to Rob for responding to the relevant portion involving the differing performances culled from the original tribute.  As Rob wrote, "LADY ANTEBELLUM (Help Me Make It Through the Night) and DARIUS RUCKER (Under the Gun) are on the broadcast, CD and DVD.  MARTINA McBRIDE (Here Comes That Rainbow Again) is on the CD and DVD but not the broadcast."   

Look for my review of the Kristofferson tribute album here soon.

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Speaking (writing?) of  LADY ANTEBELLUM, thanks to SAM CITRON for the invitation to the trio at The Country Music Hall of Fame November 10, 2017 when the group will perform "exclusively for  Hilton Honors members as part of Hilton's music program, Music Happens Here.  


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Host 
JOEY AMATO welcomed my fellow broadcaster JUSTIN REED, TYLER CAIN, J.T. HODGES and a studio full of others to join  MEGHAN LINSEY at Meghan's November 7, 2017 industry album launch party at Cain Productions' Berry Hill recording studio.

Greeting guests and introducing us to her proud mother, ROBERTA MOORE and "DOUG the Pug," Linsey, accompanied by ROBBY HECHT, sang a few selections (including the title song) from her new album, Bold Like A Lion and also screened her Mr. Homewrecker music video.  
 

In an exclusive interview, Meghan said she had no regrets that interviews she and other artists gave to KRISTIN M. HALL precipitated the Country Music Association's now-famous "2017 Media Guidelines" and the backlash that followed.  Meghan instead applauded   BRAD PAISLEY, whom Linsey regards as a kindred spirit, for
for speaking up.

Meghan brought some originality to the swag presented to departing guests.  In addition to a copy of
Bold Like A Lion and an autographed 8 x 10 glossy, the black, drawstring tote bag, imprinted with the singer's signature and title of the CD (lest we forget) in gold-like embossed contrast, contained a Nature Valley Sweet & Sour Salty peanut granola bar, a mini-bottle of Deer Park found with which to wash it down, a 20 percent discount coupon for a Nashville Studio Tour and a presumably one-size (tagged medium) fits-all-identifiable-genders official pair of Meghan Lindsey shorties.

It occurs to me that I could raise some serious money (for charity) by posting a photo of yours truly donning these BELLA brand black undies with Meghan's gold-like embossed name on the front and "This Ain't Counterfeit" in gold-like print on the back.

It would have to be serious money...  Maybe I can coax JOHNNY COUNTERFIT into replacing me.

Look for my review of the Meghan's album here soon.




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ROSANNE CASH gives MARGARET RHODES an exclusive:  Cash, the self-described "worst seamstress in the group," along with friends (philanthropist LISA FOX,  documentarian GAEL TOWEY, author-illustrator MAIRA KALMAN and former Federal prosecutor KAY GARDINER), have formed a tight-knit (no pun intended) monthly sewing circle Rhodes has dubbed a "stitch and bitch."

 

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If I were to tweet,  I would tweet #MeToo. 

Like KARI REEVESDIANE JORDAN and others (many of whom have relayed similar experiences in private conversation), I have never been afraid to name names, sparing some whose inclusion would require explanations too complicated to summarize.

In fairness to anyone who is accused, an accusation is just that.  I do not believe everything I am told nor that I read.  Some well-meaning people misunderstand, others, unfortunately, refuse to take responsibility for their own, sometimes provocative actions.  Others lie or otherwise defame.

Those reflecting on events to which I am not a party are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves.

To paraphrase:  I report, you decide.  In matters of opinion, I believe mine is informed, but, where mine is not a personal experience, my views are only as good as the sources that inform them.  My readers are equally capable of distinguishing between speculation and fact; of separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff.  Whether they choose to do so is up to them but it's an important, long overdue, entertainment industry conversation.

I am confident in my reporting of what I have experienced (and have had the occasion, as a plaintiff, to testify to it in open court) re: these matters over the past four decades: For instance, JERRY LEE LEWIS'  response to an impromptu request for an interview was to grab and French kiss me.  (As with the following documentation,  I mention it because current events, which may cause a sea change, make the reporting as timely as ever.  If not now, when?)

Further,  I have been on the receiving end of boorish behavior from Music Row veterans ranging from CHIC DOUGHERTY to MARK WRIGHT.   As  PORTER WAGONER's publicist, assigned the task of damage control at the time of  Porter's metaphorical dustup with ELLIS NASSOUR, I never dreamed, years later when I returned to music journalism, that Wagoner had other ideas when he agreed to an interview at Fireside Studio.

The scariest of these intimidating situations was perpetrated by "Colonel" TOM ANTHONY

Anthony was not a colonel.  Though I didn't know it at the time, his real name was JOHN CALVIN BECK

Beck/Anthony (undoubtedly less like JOHN CALVIN than [DAVE] BECK), was a record promoter. But I'm not sure he was a job-creator, as I had been led to believe he was by an employment agency (JANE JONES, if memory serves),  I contacted in response to "Colonel" Tom's telling the agency, I thought had checked him out before referring me to him, that he wanted to hire a "talent scout" for a major label.  (Anthony/Beck likely did not disclose to the employment agency- and he certainly didn't tell me- that his previous employment had been as an evangelist and carney.  I assume these were two different jobs.)

The idea that I could be, what today we would call, a tastemaker sounded intriguing to a recent graduate who was job-hunting and liked the idea of taking in the club scene, having my judgment as a live performance critic trusted and getting paid for this "glamor job."  

Never in a million years did I think meeting with Anthony/Beck would put me in danger, let alone how lucky I would be, on what I gambled (as I was being overpowered by "Colonel Tom"'s 250-pound frame), would be my ability to talk him out of his intentions, if only his worst intentions.  ("Colonel Tom" was later the subject, for  different, but equally nefarious reasons (he was a federal parole violator), of a MIKE WALLACE 60 Minutes investigation).   

Some colleagues are expecting me to name at least one other name:  I believe I've covered reasons for that omission(s), as explained above.

I'm working on another book right now, but...

 

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BALSAM RANGE fans don't have to wait for Santa Claus:  The group's six-song EP, It's Christmas Time may be preordered now.

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RICKY SKAGGS will be on hand for the October 29, 2017 Music City For MARSHA (BLACKBURN) fund raiser at the home of JOYCE and WILLIS JOHNSON, 1301 Moran Road, Franklin, Tennessee 37069.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to "bring the whole family for a Sunday BBQ lunch and gospel music."  

Door open at 12:30 p.m.  The event begins at 1 p.m.

RSVPs and campaign contributions ("$50 per person, $100 per family maximum") should be made here.

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DOUG HALL is first with news, for those whose late October, 2017 plans include being in Nashville,  of where to catch ERIN RAE and  KASHENA SAMPSON.

Kashena plays The Basement October 23rd while Erin gives her fans two admission-free opportunities to see her.  First, Erin  joins an all-star lineup in concert on Heal the Music Day (October 20) at Centennial Park.   A week later Erin greats fans at Third Man Records during a 5 p.m. October 27th in-store appearance.

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KISSI BLACK has issued an invitation to a "private screening" of the October 24, 2017 "full-length Director's Cut" screening of A Tribute to John D. Loudermilk at the Franklin Theatre (the same venue where it was filmed in March, 2016 for a PBS special).

The special screening, a benefit for MusiCares, features "a live Q & A with the film's producer, DIXIE GAMBLE, and the event's musical director, JOHN JORGENSON," a first-round, 2018 Grammy nominee, whose credits include the engineering and mastering of the PBS special's "companion homonymous CD."
 

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With possible apologies to THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS, it's time to go California Dreamin  (sic) with DENNY STRICKLAND.   California Dreamin is Denny's latest album (featuring the title song and with nine or 10 others, depending upon whether the acoustic version of the same song, Close My Eyes, counts).

The occasion is "a private album launch party," according to KELLI WASILAUSKI's invitation to "join us for an open lounge party, complimentary catering + open bar" on  October 19, 2017 at 3rd and LINDSLEY.

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Pearl Point Cancer Support  (formerly the MINNIE PEARL Cancer Foundation, before it inexplicably removed the Grand Ole Opry comedienne's name from its marketing after her passing) is apparently not above having second thoughts, if not remorse:  "Let's Put Cancer through the Grinder Switch" (sic) is the message being sent potential PearlPoint donors: "Honor the legacy of Minnie Pearl, and put cancer through the Grinder Switch (also Minnie Pearl's hometown), with the purchase of a limited edition (sic) print of Minnie's iconic hat.

"The limited edition print, from artist CHRISTINA CRUIKSHANK, is available now.  A portion of the proceeds benefit Pearl Point."  (Don'tcha love the lack of precision?)  

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 LEROY VAN DYKE is celebrating his 88th birthday as the voice of Subway's current TV advertising campaign. An excerpted version of Van Dyke's smash recording of The Auctioneer provides the soundtrack for the ad.

In other news about Leroy, noting Van Dyke's October 19, 2017 celebration of what would/should be Leroy's 55th anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member, KIRT WEBSTER is befuddled about Van Dyke's Opry status.

Kirt writes:  "I have included the letter from WSM's OTT DEVINE kicking Van Dyke out of the Opry membership, but if you go backstage today... his name appears on the gold plates of the Opry members.

"Very confusing, I know... The coming [October 19, 2017] appearance would allow him to celebrate 55 years since becoming a member of the Opry... now, wait a minute, is he a member or not?  I was told membership into the Opry is like being a cast member of Saturday Night Live, although the cast members may change you are always part of the cast."

Devine sent his November 25, 1965 pink slip, written on official letterhead, to the singer who, two years, later would host the very first CMA Awards, by certified mail after it became mathematically impossible for Van Dyke to meet the minimum number of appearances then annually-required by Opry members to remain in good standing.   Ott conceded that Leeroy was not the only Opry member to fall short of expectations and to receive such a letter.  

I'm happy to send a copy of Devine's letter to Van Dyke, as an email attachment (replace "at" with "@"), to anyone interested in receiving it, in exchange for putting Opry Pink Slip in the subject line and the sender's full name, city and state (province and/or country if outside the U.S.) in the body of the email.

 

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October 3, 2017 proved to be a very special evening for PAUL BOGART’s media friends, courtesy of ZACH FARNUM and BEV MOSER.  Paul was on hand at The Studio in Nashville for a listening party performance preview of songs from Paul's new album, Leather, including the album’s first single, All That Cowboy Jazz

 Look for a review of Leather here.



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Premium subscribers are aware of a post-Mandalay Bay Music City murder not being publicized as indirectly affecting a well-known member of the music industry,  my observations about DON WILLIAMS’ funeral and other "extras."

Having no wish to be repetitive, I did not broach the subject of Don's death and its aftermath here.   As it turned out. I needn’t have run such a risk.  There was little first-hand reporting because network news virtually ignored Don's passing, not to mention the sendoff that followed.  

Don deserved better. 

All of that made the “reserved seating” at Williams’ “Celebration of Life” especially presumptuous.  But, in fairness, given the venue, there was probably an internal battle among organizers on how best to assure a production not become a circus.  Ultimately, a late afternoon time slot was chosen, successfully minimizing the turnout to a respectable number of mourners/celebrants.

Curiously, emcee BILL CODY appeared to have phoned in his apparently pre-recorded introductions of event speakers and performers, apparition-style.  (Why are these "events" ALWAYS emceed by men?  This is, after all, the 21st century!)

Attendees were advised the “memorial service” would be “commencing promptly at 4:30 p.m.”

Running late, I arrived just as I thought the doors to Country Music Hall of Fame’s CMA Theatre were about to close.  An audiovisual retrospective had already begun, but I arrived in time to see whatever I had missed in the way of the slide show, if not the musical accompaniment of Don's hits that wouldn't have been new to me, through to completion.  

In reality, I needn't have worried,  because BOB McDILL, ALLEN REYNOLDS, KEITH URBAN, LLOYD GREEN, RAY STEVENS, MARTHA MOORERORY FEEK , THE ISAACS and all the rest of us were kept warming chairs until 4:45. That pushed the ending of the service close to 6:30 p.m.because the preacher (Don was a Church of Christ elder), whose initial remarks focused on Don rather than bible-thumping,  chose to make a return appearance to pick up where he apparently left off. 



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Visitors to Nashville's GEORGE JONES museum (which recently offered free admission in celebration on the day of what, had he lived, would have been The Possum's 85th birthday), will notice that among the tourist attraction's memorabilia is a great article written by my late colleague, BRUCE HONICK and a copy of Jones' delayed birth certificate.

Delayed birth certificates were mostly issued during the mid-twentieth century when Americans, born before it became a legal requirement that the states in which they were born issue birth certificates, had to verify their identity in order to obtain employment, apply for Social Security, obtain a passport or enlist in the military.

The state of Texas has issued birth certificates since 1903, so why was there no official recording of George's birth some 28 years later?   Apparently because George was not born in a hospital.

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DIANE JORDAN informs me that, 14 years after JOHNNY CASH's passing, JOHNNY WESTERN is the focus (no pun intended) of a British TV film crew filming a new Cash documentary.  

Western reveals "We filmed for over five hours of my four decades of life on the road" with the Man in Black.  

"The director, PATTY, and the cameraman, GREG, were wonderful to work with, the whole time being directed from London on Skype by the executive producer.

"My life on the road with Johnny [is] among my fondest memories.  I miss him every day!" 

  

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Thanks to  JOEY AMATO for the invitation to attend BARRON RYAN's September 22, 2017 Nashville showcase at Rudy's  Jazz Room.

 

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From the emailbag: ZACH FARNUM and BEV MOSER write: "We would love it if you would join us on [September 19, 2017] in Nashville for a celebration with LOGAN MIZE and Budweiser at SOUTH with a BIG announcement."

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LOGAN ROGERS and JANICE GRAY handled the invitations and RSVPs to join THE OAK RIDGE BOYS and DAVE COBB at RCA Studio A September 13, 2017 for a unique opportunity to hear the Oaks "perform songs and discuss their new Dave Cobb-produced album at the studio where it was recorded."

PETER COOPER moderated the conversation with the five-time Grammy-winning group about their, as yet, untitled gospel album (to be released in early 2018).

Peter's probing led me to wish I'd brought a tape recorder instead of a notepad.  I thought I knew the ORB's history like the back of my hand but, given this "newest" incarnation's collection of stories and anecdotes (not to mention the career retrospectives freely volunteered in response to Cooper's questions), interspersed between album sneak peeks, I conceded it's impossible to ever know it all.  

As always, DUANE ALLEN spoke with warmth, great candor and gratitude about the Oaks' ability to change with the times while remaining true to themselves.  RICHARD STERBAN shared his experience touring with my late neighbor J.D. SUMNER and the STAMPS QUARTET, as they sang backup for ELVIS PRESLEY..

Lucky listeners were treated to the Oaks' unorthodox recordings of BRANDY CLARK's Pray to Jesus (Play the Lotto), WILLIAM LEE GOLDEN singing lead on Brand New Star and a "live" a cappella performance of Life's Railway To Heaven

Prior to the festivities, multi-talented Cooper entertained KATHY HARRISDEBBYE SCROGGINS, gregarious JOE BONSALL and yours truly with Peter's hilarious LOUISE SCRUGGS impersonation.   (Yes, there was  context but, as it turns out, you didn't need to be there.  Peter provides the background in my fellow author's latest book, Johnny's Cash and Charley's Pride: Lasting Legends' Untold Adventures of Country Music.)

Cooper has graciously honored my request for a review copy, so look for my take on Peter's findings here shortly.


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CHARLIE DANIELS is never lost for topical words.  Most recently he echoed comments RAY STEVENS expressed to BILL CODY's audience nearly a year before (September 28, 2016) during a radio/TV simulcast.

"I think the world needs DONALD TRUMP," Stevens proclaimed at that time.

Referencing ISIS' ongoing purging of the Middle East's ancient monuments, Daniels, likens the August 2017 copycat destruction of Confederate statues to "what ISIS is doing... There were pieces of history that they didn't like, they were tearing them down... Where does it stop?" 

After Daniels advised RITA COSBY, "You don't have to condone what happened in the Civil War. ...  ROBERT E. LEE, for instance was one of the most honorable people in our history... He fought for the confederacy against the union, but he was also asked to lead the union troops...

"I walk past movie posters I don't like... I'm not going to go over and tear 'em down... I just don't look at 'em."

Similarly, Charlie defends the 45th president of the United States against increasingly harsher criticism:  "The guy's a human being, and he's not a politician... he's not a diplomat.  

"I just wish you'd give the guy a chance,"  Daniels adds, citing the president's handling of North Korea's agitation.  "That's the first time I've seen KIM JONG UN, or any of these Jungs... ever back down from anybody."

 

  ****



"The black chairs are for the adults," explained the young woman guiding me into a dimly lit entrance to the Centennial Boulevard recording studio within Nashville's CTK Management/NOVE Entertainment office complex, where I was invited to attend a DOLLY PARTON news conference on  the afternoon of August 15, 2017.

The directive made more sense once I saw light in front of the black chairs on which increasing numbers of adults seated themselves after arriving, as instructed, around 3:30 p.m. for the press event scheduled to begin a half-hour later.  Closer to the makeshift stage set, on which Dolly would appear in front of the controlled flames of a fireplace, were semicircles of, to that point, unidentified small children.

The hush-hush agenda (even the venue was secret, revealed to invited media only after each accepted an invitation knowing only the time, place and that Dolly would be on hand), hinted at by youngsters' presence, became clear once, introduced, Parton made her entrance at 4:08 p.m.

At that point, Dolly greeted the crowd, proudly announcing the September 29, 2017 digital release of a children's album she has written and recorded.  I Believe in You, (not to be confused with DON WILLIAMS' classic recording of the same name) with its 14  songs meant to teach and encourage the younger set, is a departure for Parton, whose first album was released 50 years ago.  These topical songs address children's concerns, ranging from bullying to chronic illness, in a positive, uplifting manner.

Parton told those gathered- including local school children sitting on the studio floor stage right of Dolly while Parton's nieces and nephews were seated stage left- that the children's album- Dolly's first- will be available in CD form worldwide on (Friday) October 13, 2017.

With all proceeds from I Believe in You, earmarked for Parton's two-decade-old Imagination Library, Parton noted that the album's success will increase the number of children with access to books, noting that her once hometown (Sevierville, Tennessee) project, having gone state, national and now worldwide, has already "seen 100 million books get into the hands of children."

Prior to and after reading her Coat of Many Colors book to the little ones- and we once-little ones- Dolly debuted three of her songs from I Believe in You  (the title song, Makin' Fun Ain't Funny, and Brave Little Soldier), taking a few media questions before taking family photos with her youngest fans and their parents.

Unable to break the logjam of the photo line, in order to make my exit to another engagement, at one point my patience gave way to the necessity of finding an alternate means of departure, preferably one as close as possible to a restroom.  As I found my way back to the building's entrance, I asked for both permission and direction.  

Once the receptionist provided both,  I saw that my destination was a restroom large enough for only a single stall.  It's closed door was covered by a photo of Dolly, a star befitting a luminary of her stature and a terse instructions noting that the facilities were for Dolly's use only.

When I balked at the intimidating written warning, I was assured that I should ignore it.  At that point, I didn't have much choice, but was grateful for the encouragement I received from one of the company's employees:  "It's OK.  There's nobody in there."

There are some additional details that might be of interest but, in the interest of space, I'm making those available, on request, to readers via the email address listed here.  Please put the PARTON POTTY in the SUBJECT LINE and include your name, city, and state (or country, if outside the United States) in the BODY of your email.

****


Attention OAK RIDGE BOYS fans:  Want to support the Oaks, gift yourself AND contribute to a good cause?

Then place your bid on a Hatch Show Print Poster autographed by all of the ORB.  But you'll have to do it quickly:  This one's going fast! 

Place your bid here.


    ****


Pensacola News Journal Correspondent LINDA A.B. DAVIS (not to be confused with LINDA DAVIS- I am reasonably sure neither is familiar with the other), citing her "soft spot for one-hit wonders," is guilty of a bit of overreach.

The writer prefaces her mention of JEANNIE C. RILEY as a "Southern one-hit wonder," citing her source as a 2016 list "at the al.com website, where all things relating to the state of Alabama are covered."  And then some. Obviously...

Davis reports that her source defines "a one-hit wonder as any song belonging to an artist or group that only had one single hit in the Top 40 list of the Billboard Top 100 chart."

Indicating that "This list from al.com is a lot of fun,"  Linda A.B. Davis confuses her readers by missing the point:  While Riley meets the list's criteria, Harper Valley PTA was not marketed by a pop division of a record company.  It was  a country song, that like several other country songs released prior to, during, and after the time, managed to cross over to the pop charts.  

No one ever suggested Riley was not a country singer, though, once established as such,  Jeannie did enjoy modest success recording gospel music.

But, to call the singer a one-hit wonder, by any standard, misleads anyone accepting that designation, as it diminishes Jeannie C. Riley's country chart success that includes five other Top 10 country singles as well as nearly 20 other chart singles.

             ****



Thanks to C-Suite Network Chairman, Primetime Television and Podcast Host JEFFREY HAYZLETT for including me among his contact list of "leading venture capitalists and corporate investors, along with the most successful entrepreneurs" Jeff's invited to this year's C-Suite Investors Summit at Silicon Valley, in partnership with The Hero Club, to be held at The Glass House in San Josť, September 11-12, 2017.

The event, an opportunity to meet over 100 corporate investors, will begin with an evening cocktail reception.  "Then, get started with us early" the next morning, "as the conference will begin at 8 a.m. and include interviews, panels and breakout sessions until 5 p.m.  The Summit will conclude with a last evening reception until 7 p.m."

             ****



How does a rich and famous Nashville songwriter, who turns 60 in November, 2017, spend her money?

GRETCHEN PETERS, the Caucasian, cis-gender mother of a 33-year-old transgender son, tells ERIC PATTON that she donates to favorite organizations including the "ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Transgender Law Center [and The] Southern Poverty Law Center."

             ****



"Limited media seating available- first-come, first-served."

So reads the invitation from one of Nashville's top publicists, DON MURRY GRUBBS to "media friends."

The occasion? "RICKY SKAGGS & KENTUCKY THUNDER will be performing at the Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman concert series on Thursday, July 27 at 7:30 P.M....

"We welcome your coverage."

             ****


Nashville's music media are marking their calendars for October 25th, 2017- and now we know why.

A month shy of his 79th birthday, KENNY ROGERS' grand entrance at a 10 a.m. news conference precluded Rogers' partaking in a sumptuous continental breakfast awaiting invited guests (then under a media embargo) at WME (lead anchor in Nashville's Demonbreun Street office tower) July 18, 2017.

The Gulch summons, answered with an elevator ride up to the 15th floor, turned out to be, after some introductory remarks by Blackbird Presents  CEO KEITH WORTMAN, for the purpose of Kenny's taking a limited number of questions about plans for the 7 p.m. CDT Wednesday evening staging of All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

With guests yet to be announced (Rogers says just about every entertainer he's ever worked with has been invited), the confirmed lineup includes at press time includes DOLLY PARTONALISON KRAUSS, THE FLAMING LIPS, LITTLE BIG TOWN, JAMEY JOHNSON, ELLE KING and (JOHN TRAVOLTA's "favorite,") IDINA MENZEL.

Kenny, in fact, credits Dolly as having inspired the singular celebration of Rogers' 60-year career.   Noting that "it had been 13 years since she and I had been on stage together, " Kenny said Dolly's response was "Are you really doing your farewell tour?  You can't leave without me and you going on stage for the very last time and singing something."

The news conference seemed like deja vu all over again since it marked a decade since Webster PR issued an invitation to a Nashville news conference at which Rogers announced the lineup for Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years.    Like the MGM Grand tribute concert announced at the  2007 news conference, the Bridgestone event is also being filmed in anticipation of a commitment from one of the television networks.  

The former event ended up on GAC and it remains to be seen if a major network will see what is sure to be a sold-out concert as a potential ratings winner.  In any case, multi-platform distribution is being planned "for distribution throughout traditional media (worldwide broadcast,music and digital)."  

And event promotion doesn't stop there:  Press conference attendees received a regulation-size playing card.  While it wasn't missing from THE STATLER BROTHERS'  "deck of 51," on one side of this delightfully unique collectors' item was the concert's logo and website, while the face side features a K above a red heart in the upper left-hand corner and an upside down R below an upside down red heart in the card's lower right-hand corner.  In between an image of Kenny's upper torso is painted behind scrolls announcing the concert's date and venue, a guitar neck in Kenny's left hand and a couple of aces (spades and hearts) in his right hand above the motif's reversed image of Rogers.

Proving, if proof is needed, that K(enny) R(ogers) and amiable event host KIRT (WEBSTER) are never "out of aces!"

            

****


ROBYN COLLINS reminds us that JEANNIE C. RILEY's recording of Harper Valley PTA "sold over six million copies as a single" making Riley "the first woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and U.S. Hot Country Singles charts with the same song."  

Chart positions are verifiable.  Pre-SoundScan sales stats, even those repeatedly quoted, not so much...

So should we take Robyn at her word that "the single's jump from 81 to 7 in its second week on the Billboard Hot 100 in late August 1968 was that decade's highest climb into the Top Ten"- without looking at every weekly chart from the dawn, to the close, of the '60s? 

I ask because Collins writes that TOM T. HALL "got the idea for the name of the song when he passed the Harpeth Valley Elementary School in the affluent Nashville suburb of Bellevue, Tennessee."   While Tom links the idea for the song to a trip that took him past the school, a description of Bellevue at that time as being "affluent" would probably be true only when contrasted with the Tom's net worth during those days.

Further, Collins credits Hall with the writing of Riley's 1984 recording of the sequel song, Return to Harper Valley.  While the melody of both the original and the sequel are the same (i.e., Tom's), it is clear from "Return..."'s lyrics that Riley is correctly credited on the vinyl label as lyricist. 



****


"Save the date."

So reads the beginning of  BRIAN RUBIN's offer of media credentials for the Academy of Country Music's ACM honors to be held at the Ryman Auditorium on August 23, 2017.  The event will be taped for broadcast at a later date on CBS-TV.  



****

Some country-music fans believe the first time CONWAY TWITTY made legal history he did so posthumously as a result of a well-publicized blended family fight over Twitty's estate.  


However, Conway, who told me during a 1972 interview that he was embarrassed by the closing of Twitty Burger Fast Food Restaurants (a business venture to which Twitty lent his stage name) the year before, ended up suing WILLIE NELSON's pal, the Internal Revenue Service,  in a case Conway won on appeal in United States Tax Court.  

In 1968 Twitty financed Twitty Burger Incorporated with $100,000 he borrowed from about 75 friends and business partners (including MERLE HAGGARD, SONNY JAMESBOB NEAL, SONNY NEAL, DON DAVIS and HARLAN HOWARD).

However, it seems that the restaurant chain's signature hamburger concoction (a quarter-pound ground sirloin burger topped with a deep fried  graham cracker-crusted pineapple ring, mayonnaise, cheese and two slices of bacon, sandwiched within a hamburger bun) was not winning over (McDonalds?) customers.   Financial difficulties developed in 1970 resulting in nearly all but one of the restaurants closing by the end of 1971.

Though Twitty would go on to invest in other businesses, he told the court the obvious; that he was not a businessman and that, after repaying his fellow investors with future earnings, he didn't have the assets with which to pay the corporation's debtors.

"I'm 99% entertainer," Conway explained at the time, adding "That's just about all I know."

Thus, when Twitty and the second of his three wives, MICKEY, were sued, amid allegations of "fraud and something to do with the security thing, " Twitty pleaded with the court, insisting his reputation as a man of integrity within the country-music industry was on the line (particularly if he were to be sued by Merle Haggard, Sonny James or other investors) and, were his "fans to give up on me, it would warp me psychologically. I couldn't function any more because I'm the type of person I am."

BILL IVEY testified in Conway's defense and the circling of the wagons resulted in the United States Tax Court ruling that Conway could write off payments he made to investors, deducting them as ordinary and necessary business expenses incurred as a result of Conway's being a country-music performer.

If that defense, predicated on the "motive of the taxpayer in making the payments" and "a sufficient connection between the expenditures and the taxpayer's trade or business," seems a little squirrelly, consider that Ivey underscored Twitty's opinion that a country-music artist's success is dependent on that person's image as being "morally right."

Thus "celebrity justice" was doled out for reasons that might not have past muster in the "outlaw era" that dawned shortly after the proceedings.

Further evidence of special treatment, not available to most moonlighters, was provided by The Tax Court in the form of a Court Order that included the lyrics of a song Judge LEO IRWIN penned just for the occasion: Ode To Conway Twitty.  The song, likely not heard most places outside the courtroom name-checks Haggard and James, which I'm sure Merle and Sonny appreciated!  

Not to be outdone, the IRS' legal reps offered their own musical response, title "Ode to Conway Twitty: A Reprise."

Complete lyrics to either or both songs as well as the names of investors and the amounts they contributed are available upon request, via the email address listed here.  Please put the information you are seeking in the SUBJECT LINE and include your name, city, and state (or country, if outside the United States) in the BODY of your email.



****



On June 21, 2017, about six months after NAOMI JUDD committed to appearing at a (subsequently canceled, "due to illness," but not rescheduled, as was the announced plan, "at a later date") January 30, 2017 ticketed talk and book signing, as part of an ongoing authors' series, most often held- as Naomi's was to be- at the Nashville Public Library's main, downtown Music City location, I received an invitation from JANICE GRAY in anticipation of the June 30, 2017 release of The Judds' All-Time Greatest Hits, a 21-song set featuring "the duo's top ten hits, as well as a 2011 recording, You Can't Go Home Again (Flies in the Butter)."

The invitation read "We are organizing a virtual press conference with Naomi Judd this Friday, June 23 at 1:30p CST.  A virtual press conference is just like a press conference, but on a telephone conference line.  If you're interested in participating, please respond and let me know so we can send you call-in details.

"Naomi will call into the line as well and be available for questions. We will moderate the call like a press conference. While we cannot guarantee you a chance to ask a question, it's a great opportunity to be on a phone call with Naomi Judd. Once the call is complete, we will send you audio from the call so you can transcribe it or use the sound as needed."  

No offense intended, but as one of the first reporters to interview Naomi (at an RCA Records Vandyland news conference, introducing the mother-daughter duo to Nashville media prior to the release of the Judds' first recording) and one who deals in exclusives, I have to prioritize my time.  It may be "a great opportunity" for the starstruck "to be on a phone call with Naomi Judd," but, as this is not the first provisional invitation I've received, at least one reporter, who regards journalism as a business, must take a stand for allowing time for every journalist invited to a news conference- virtual or not- to ask a question.  
It's simply a matter of respect.  

My question would likely be about why Naomi is only taking questions by phone.  Due to the singer's fragility, as Judd candidly expresses in  River of Time..., I don't think a truthful answer would be forthcoming.

A legitimate phone interview occurs when news is breaking and the interview subject is geographically unavailable (such as when an artist is on tour).

In my nearly half-century of covering music, I have rarely accepted invitations to do phoners.  I have often been asked to do them- the worst are with groups.  

Which voice belongs to whom?   Is a comment being made seriously- or is it to be taken in jest? (Please don't make me guess...)

After interviewing EDDIE RABBITT a few times over the course of his career, Eddie asked me to do a phoner.  I refused, though it may have made history as the last one he gave.  (Rabbitt did not want anyone to see him because he knew, by the spring of 1998, he had only days to live; a secret Eddie successfully kept from everyone, other than family and friends, throughout the progression of his battle with lung cancer.)





 

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