September 30 2020

It’s Hard to Be Humble

Sometime in the nineteen eighties I discovered country music. My little brother and I would drag out the parents record albums and pretend to be radio deejays. We would introduce each singer and their song. Sometimes we would record this on cassette tape. Sometimes this taping would go on for days.

Sometimes it went somewhere like this.. “All the way from Lubbock Texas here’s one by Mac Davis”

Other times it went more like this 

Tequila Sheila: 

songwriters Mac Davis/Shel Silverstein 

I feel like old’ Pancho Villa, Sheila

I need a fast horse and a friend.

So pour me another tequila, Sheila

And I’ll ride for the border again 

However it went, most every radio show we ever did included Mac Davis. I still have the Album today.

Mac’s manager confirmed today,  that he died in Nashville following a heart surgery late yesterday. Mac Davis was 78 years old.

Mac had a music career that spanned decades. He enjoyed crossover success in that he wrote and performed in both country and pop genres and did well in both areas. During his career he released 19 studio albums and 38 singles. Of his singles,30 charted in Billboard between 1970-1986.

Mac grew up in Lubbock Texas. He moved to Atlanta Georgia soon after graduating high school. By his twenties he was writing music and performing music. 

Davis worked for a radio station by day and played his music at night. Through the station he made it out to L.A. There he met Nancy Sinatra and went to work for her and her company.

Davis songwriting peaked in the 1970 he was recorded by dozens of artists – Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly were a few of the country musicians who covered his stuff. In the Pop circuit, he had Blaine Larson, Liza Minnelli, and even Elvis Presley.

Although he had achieved some success in the song writing world, Mac Davis scored big when Elvis recorded his songs “In the Ghetto”, “Memories”,  “Don’t Cry Daddy”, and “A Little Less Conversation”.

Priscilla Presley tweeted earlier today, “Thank you for your beautiful songs which will keep your spirit in our hearts, my dear friend.” 

Mac reached his peak as a performing artist in the eighties with songs like “Hard to be Humble:” , and “Baby don’t get Hooked on Me

Mac once told a reporter that he wrote the song “Baby don’t get hooked on me” in 1972 after a record company had asked him for a tune with a “hook”.

The song reached #1 in Billboard top 100 in September of 1972. Some hook if you ask me.

Davis was an inductee in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame as well as the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Mac Davis once wrote “And when I die, You can bury me in Lubbock Texas in my Jeans

I hope they do…

Pancho

September 29 2020

When I get to Heaven

PBS will begin airing, “The Best of John Prine” on Saturday October 3rd 2020. This is the premiere episode of Austin City Limits season 46.

Watch it here: https://www.pbs.org/show/austin-city-limits/

Austin City Limits is the longest running music series in television history. ACL  features artists from every musical genre in a live concert setting. The first episode was aired on PBS on January 3rd 1976.

The show helped define Austin, Texas as the “Live Music Capital of the World”

John Prine made eight appearances on the show during his career span of over forty years. His ACL debut was during Season 3 in 1978. John’s final ACL performance was during Season 44 in 2018.

During the Season 44 episode, John played a setlist of his career spanning songs. The episode also included a guest appearance from long time Prine disciple Tyler Childers.

ACL executive producer, Terry Lickona, stated “John Prine was so integral to the essence of Austin City Limits, and few artists graced the ACL stage over the years and decades more than he did.”

John wrote country-folk songs with an unpretentious, aw- heck demeanor

Roger Ebert

John would sing magical lyrics like – “That’s the way that the goes round. You’re up one day and the next your down. It’s half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown. That’s the way that the world goes round.”

In 1998 Prine had surgery to remove squamous cell cancer from his neck. In 2013 he had part of his lung removed as treatment to lung cancer. The operations altered his vocals and gave him a gravelly voice but six months later he was touring again.

“that’s the way that the world goes round”

During his career, Prine received six awards from the Americana Music Honors Awards: The Lifetime Acheivement Award for songwriting(2003) Artist of the Year(2005,2017,2018), Song of the year for “Summers End”(2019) and Album of the Year for “Tree of Forgiveness”(2019).

In 2019 Prine was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2005 John Prine became the first songwriter to read and perform at the Library of Congress.

Prine’s lyrics are simple yet phenomenal. He goes places other song writers only dare to go, and he goes there with his own style.

John felt that his success was created only out of dumb luck. Luck like that day Kris Kristofferson walked into an empty club in Chicago and heard him play.

I think his success was out of his wide imagination and the ability to paint a picture through his song. The Prine song “Lake Marie” is a perfect example of this ability.

John Prine passed away last April due to complications from the corona virus. He leaves a void in the music industry that no one else can fill.

One of John’s final recordings was a song called “When I get to Heaven”. I am most certain that he lives there now.

When I get to heaven, I’m gonna shake Gods hand

Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand

Then I’m gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band

Check into a swell hotel, ain’t the afterlife grand

John Prine, you certainly had a grand career. Thanks for the music and the memories.

I will see you when I get to heaven,

Pancho

September 27 2020

Folk Fest

Today at Noon Central time I was able to tune into Tom Russell’s First International Folk Festival. This Facebook Live event was just one of many live shows that Tom has done in this season of social distancing.

Tom opened the show with a version of “Railroad Bill” and went into a medley of hits by other remarkable folk musicians. He covered Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty” along with Guy’s “L.A. Freeway

I felt that the show was successful with 2.6K viewers watching with me and Facebook comments streaming into my feed from around the globe. Tom has been a light in the darkness by finding new and innovative ways of promoting his music and that of others in this uncertain time.

Tom wore his signature bandanna around his neck a purple one on this day.. one commenter weighed in that Tom Russell was wearing masks before wearing a mask was cool. The masks have been the new normal as this global pandemic continues to spread worldwide. I’m so over it already and I hope these wonderful musicians who spend their lives out on the road making music for us to enjoy will have the freedom to do so in the very near future.

Tom Russell’s wife Nadine helped him in making this project possible she filmed him from the beautiful back drops of Switzerland as he told his tales and sung his music for the world to enjoy.Tom told of his song “U.S. Steel” a one armed gas station attendant in Pittsburgh inspired him to write this song.. An end of an era, the man Tom met at the gas station that day had lost his arm in the mill and later would lose his job when the local steel mill had shut down.


The first guest on the show was David Massengill who sang about growing up in an orphanage. The stunning video shot in the beautiful green forest of the United Kingdom.


Tom introduced Australian songwriter Eric Vogel. His rosy cheeks and bubbly smile along with Vogel’s Soprano voice belting out lyrics “Sing while he has a voice/ sing while he has a choice- sing/ sing/ sing
The Vogel song made me smile It seemed I was floating out of my chair in time with the harmonies.


Austin musician, Eliza Gilkyson , daughter of the songwriter and folk singer Terry Gilkyson joined the festival and sang “Take off your old Coat” . This song is a tale of life traveled on a rough path but being able to still expect the gifts and blessings we will receive in the after life.


Three Hat Trio did a great performance from the Zion National Park in the picturesque state of Utah.


“Their musical style is a taste of Africa with a Cowboy Banjo”, Tom described.


I felt that it was the kind of bluegrass string music that would make the late great Bill Monroe want to tap his feet in time.


Songwriter Bernie Taupin , who has spent much of his career writing for Elton John, spoke of his own musical inspirations. Bernie said that he still listened to The Marty Robbins Album “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs” at least once every other week.


“El Paso, had me at Hello” , Taupin explained “ it was the song that made me want to write songs”.

Taupin said that the song “El Paso” took him from the cold in the North of England to the hot deserts of Texas.

Tom reflected from his personal studio in Switzerland.
I love Tom’s space. The studio walls are adorned by Tom’s art work. He paints the most wonderful abstracts of musicians like Townes Van Zandt. His paintings of Indian Teepees, and one of a lone white rooster caught my eye today.


See more at : Tomrussellart.com


Rosie Flores joined in live from her own space in Austin, Texas. She was wearing a Dylan T-shirt and red diamond studded glasses that would make Elton John drool with envy. Rosie did a fantastic cover of the Joan Baez song “Love is just a four letter word”.

Rosie has a new album out now. “Simple Case of the Blues”. You can support her and her music at rosieflores.com


From a front porch in the green hills of Switzerland, Florian Schneider swaps songs with Tom. Tom’s song the “Rose of Roscrae” was recorded in Swiss German by Florian.

And a time to cut the wild dogs loose“, echoed across lush greenery in the background.


Joe Ely joined the festival from Texas to promote his new album “Love in the Midst of Meyhem”


Ely performed his song “Indian Cowboy” .

Joe Ely stated that the song came to him “via Guy Clark and the Wringling Brothers Circus“.


He sang, “When the white horses leap the ring of fire


Visit Joe Ely at JoeEly.com


Tom Russell introduced instrumentalist Fats Kaplan. The introduction showed Tom under an umbrella on a rainy afternoon In a cow pasture near his Swiss home. A red cow could be seen in the video feed grazing away, unaware or unbothered by Tom’s presence.


Tom relayed what Rambling Jack would say about “buskers”. The word comes from the Spanish word “Buscar” which means to seek.


Fats harmoniously played from his accordion a Tex mex sound.


Bill Hearne joined into the festival from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hearne has a new cd coming out called “A very short time”.

Hearne did a wonderful job performing the Tom Russell/Ian Tyson tune “Navajo Rug”.


Catch more of Bill at Bill Hearne.com


Tom sang the Byrds song “He was a friend of Mine

This section of the festival was a tribute to the late Dave Van Ronk. Van Ronk is known as The Godfather of 60s Folk.

Tom told of his time spent touring Europe along with Van Ronk and vocalist Nanci Griffin.


A street in New York was renamed Van Ronk in his memory.


Dave Van Ronk played the outcast role on Tom’s album “Man From God Knows Where


Tom Russell calls Dave “The mayor of folk heaven“.


The festival featured Ralph McTell from the UK. although I am not familiar with this artist , I decided that he looked like somewhat of a pirate as he had a large hooped earring. He strummed a great tune, and i enjoyed heraring him sing with British accent “ it’s a long way from Claire to here”.


I’ll plan to visit RalphMcTell.co.uk in the near future to learn more about this songwriter.


The online folk festival ended with a live feed from Caffe Lena. This coffee house in Saratoga Springs, New York has proudly hosted Folk Music since 1960.

Steve Gillette , who used to open for Ian and Sylvia Tyson , and his partner Cindy Mangsen picked the classic folk song “Darcy Farrow” to end the show.


See Compassrosemusic.com to see more of this talented duo.

I appreciate Tom Russell . His wide variety of songs and his utmost respect for all the other great musicians of the world. Tom is an artist, a writer , and a wonderful performing artist.


I’d like to thank Tom, Nadine, John ,Frontera Records, and all of his guest artists who took the time to entertain us, the fans , on this September afternoon.


What a great Folk Festival… don’t forget to tip your waitress.
Pancho

September 26 2020

Falling and Flying

Growing up in a record store in Ft Worth, Texas owned by his jazz drumming father was just the beginning for a singer- songwriter and actor Stephen Bruton.

Stephen’s father, Sumter Bruton was a highly regarded jazz musician from New Jersey. He would often tell Stephen, “If you are going to listen to music, listen to the best music.”

In my own personal reflection, this statement by Bruton’s father is a reminder of what my own Dad is always telling me.

As long as you are dreaming, dream big

Jerry Wayne “Fathead” Watson

Bruton would spend his teen years recording tracks in a makeshift home studio with musician T- Bone Burnett. He and pals like Lubbock musician Delbert McClinton would pick bluegrass by day and then soak up those soul grinding blues rifts by night on the “other side of town”.

The local clubs in Ft Worth at that time were highlighting guys like Freddie King . King’s power house voice along with a distinct guitar style soon inspired many musicians.

Stephen would soon set his sails East to Woodstock. By chance , while on his way to a gig in Manhattan he’d run into old friend Kris Kristofferson. He was offered the guitar gig in the rising stars band , launching two decades of roadwork with Kris.

Stephen would also tour with Bonnie Raitt, Christine McVie, and others.

As a studio artist, He would record with Raitt, Delbert McClinton, the Wallflowers, Ray Wiley Hubbard and too many more to list.

Stephen Bruton was inducted into the Texas Heritage song writers Hall of Fame.

Through Bruton’s long association with Kris Kristofferson, he took up acting. Appearing in films “A star is born”, “Heaven’s Gate”, and “Miss Congeniality”. He appeared alongside Kris in the movie “Convoy”. Stephen would appear on TV in a mini series titled “Amerika” and on the series, “Matlock.”

Stephen Bruton co-wrote many of the songs from the soundtrack of the movie “Crazy Heart”. He consulted Jeff Bridges and was a guitar teacher to him on the set.

Sadly , Stephen Bruton lost his battle to cancer shortly after the movie was made. “Crazy Heart”, was dedicated to this Ft Worth artists life and influential music.

My little brother turned me onto the song “Fallin’ & Flyin’ ” , not long after I sobered up. I believe the song paints a perfect picture of the insanity my life had become because of my addictions.

It’s funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’
For a little while
Funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’
For a little while

Song by Colin Farrell and Jeff Brides
Songwriters:Gary Nicholson / Stephen Bruton

September 25 2020

HAPPY BIRTHDAY IAN TYSON

Ian Tyson was born September 25, 1933 to immigrants in Victoria B.C. Canada. Ian’s impeccable career has earned him numerous awards and recognitions.


This Canadian Singer Song-Writer was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Mariposa Hall of Music. His song “Four Strong Winds” was deemed one of the most influential songs in Canadian history. CBC radio named it the greatest song of all time. On American soil , the song was recorded by Johnny Cash and Neil Young.


The Western Writers of America placed two songs penned by Ian among the top 100 western songs of all time. “Summer Wages” and “Navajo Rug
Navajo Rug” has been recorded by Outlaw Country singer Jerry Jeff Walker, and Singer Songwriter Tom Russell does my personal favorite version of the song.


Tom Russell describes Ian’s Music as Nova Beat.

Nova Beat : characterized by “different beat” that altered the harmonies with the introduction of unconventional chords and an innovative syncopation of traditional samba from a single rhythmic division. Therefore, the “bossa nova beat“, then, is characteristic of a samba style and not of an autonomous genre.

Webster’s Dictionary

Per Wikipedia, Ian’s genre is classified as Country Folk Western or Americana , but as I listen to his music and yodel , He is most definitely Nova Beat.

A real life rodeo cowboy and ranch hand. Ian learned to play the guitar in his late twenties while recovering from a fall. His songs are soulful cowboy ballads and true confessions of the Wild West and the cowboys way of life.

Bob Dylan and the Band released a version of his song “One Single River” in Woodstock NY in 1967

From 1970 to 1975 Ian and his partner Sylvia hosted the Ian Tyson Show. A public broadcast in Canada. The show earned the nickname of Nashville North as it helped spread music from Nashville and Beyond across Canadian Soil.

Even into his 80s Ian is still a writer and producer of western music. He has written several works of literature and poetry on the subject as well. Most recently he published “La Primera” and has a song of the same title about the origins of the Wild Mustang.

Pancho

September 25 2020

Starting Over

I was trying to wake myself this morning and going through my normal blah of scrolling through endless Facebook posts and came across a video on Facebook Watch.

Those who know, know that I am not a fan of the modern country on today’s radio. I caught a video this morning however, that I will endorse. “Starting Over” a new song by Chris Stapleton. The official video release was just this week, September 19, 2020.

This video directed by Becky Fluke gives viewers a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to make music in RCA’s historical Studio A in Nashville.

The video features the song “Starting Over” another masterpiece written by Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson. The duo is previously known for songs like “Broken Halo” , and “Midnight Train to Memphis”.

The video also features Stapleton’s wife Morgane Stapleton on backup vocals. Morgane, a song writer herself, made her own space on Music Row writing songs like “Talk is Cheap” for Alan Jackson, “You Ain’t Right” for LeAnn Rimes, and Reba’s, “Ain’t Got Nothin’ On My Pain”.

Don’t go looking for the song anywhere soon. “Starting Over” isn’t set to release yet. Chris Stapleton tweeted that he is releasing 14 new tracks on his 4th Studio Album on November 13th.

I appreciate the way Chris writes and performs his music. His music is a reminder of the outlaw country that I grew up on.

Stapleton is an amazing performer. His ability to jump across Multiple genres of music is a bonus. He can be a Rockstar, a blues man, and a rockabilly all in one set.

Looking forward to hearing the new stuff. Maybe it will help promote today’s country radio into “Starting Over”.

Let’s get back to real old fashioned country music. If I wanted to hear rap rhymes, I would just read poetry.

Pancho

September 24 2020

You Didn’t Dance

“‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Pretty certain that Ol’ Matthew would have been a folk singer if he were alive today.

One of these days I’m going to write my own song. I’m pretty certain that it will have these Lyrics in it somewhere.

September 23 2020

Spooky Wagons = Shakey Graves

After Some drunk guy yelled “spooky wagons” during a night of drinking and picking around a campfire during the Old Settlers Music Festival in 2007, a friend had the idea to give each other Native American Guide names.  Alejandro Rose-Garcia will forever be Known as Shakey Graves.

Shakey Graves  is  an Austin based up and comer in the Americana Genre . His groove consists of his unique voice coupled with country, folk, and bluegrass roots. He has already received an award for Best Emerging Artist at the Americana Music Awards in 2015. I see him growing into something greater than he already is.

Shakey can be a bit unpredictable at times, but his music is refreshing to the soul in this age of poor tastes. He is known for his one man band set up. A refurbished suit case becomes a kick drum and tambourine stand. A tap of his foot keeps the time while he belts out powerful poetic lyrics and plays amazing tones on his Gibson ES guitar.  He has performed on the Conan show, Late Show with David Letterman and on May 6, 2015 he performed on an episode of Austin City Limits.

Shake’s 2011 self released album Roll the Bones , features him most entirely performing solo. He is a singer, lead guitarist, bassist and rhythm section packed all in to one vinyl case. Shakey said he got the idea for the set up because he got tired of asking to borrow kick drums and high hats.

Multiple labels have hoped to work with him, however he has contracted with Dualtone Records. Since working with them he has added other musicians to his recordings and on stage.

On June 30, 2017 the band released “The Donor Blues “ and “Nobody’s Fool” as a collection titled The Horse He Rode in On. In 2018 Shakey Graves released the album Can’t Wake Up. This year, he is proud to have released Look Alive EP.

All these Albums are worth a spin and I am definitely adding them to my ever growing collection. I am personally looking forward to a light at the end of the tunnel when the Earth returns to some form of normalcy and great musicians like Shakey Graves will be back in the saddle, touring in a city near you.

Pancho

September 22 2020

King of Country

Dean Dillon says, “country music is going to hell if it don’t change it’s ways.”

Who is this Dean Dillon you ask? Dean Dillon is the man responsible for most of George Straits biggest hit songs. To date, he has written 62 songs for the King of Country Music. Dean is, in a sense, to George Strait who Bernie Taupin is to Elton John. The Man behind the music.

“The end game for songwriters today is just to get a song on the radio.” Dillon explains “I just want to write a great song.”

In Dean’s words he lives, eats, and breathes songwriting. He started writing his songs at the age of seven. He starts by looking for a great hook. He mostly finds his hook just by listening to other people’s conversations. This is where the country song originates.

This talent for finding the right hook scored him his first hit when George Strait recorded “Unwound” a song that almost instantly landed at #6 on the country charts.

Since then Dean has written “The Chair”, “Marina Del Ray”, “Ocean Front Property”, and many more. Hit after Hit he writes, time and time again.

Besides just writing for the King of Country, Dean Dillon has written for recording artist Brooks and Dunn, Toby Keith, Vern Gosden, and Pam Tillis.

Dean wrote the song “Tennessee Whiskey” and originally pitched it to George Strait, but he declined. Another George however decided to record it, George Jones. The song was recently re-recorded by Chris Stapleton.

A documentary detailing the story of Dean Dillon produced by Cole Claassen and released in 2017 is available now on Amazon Prime Video. It is called Tennessee Whiskey: The Dean Dillon Story.

In George and Dean’s 36-year history they have created fans from all walks of life and have created the most wonderful music and lyrics together.

Twenty-two thousand fans watched as George Strait called Dean Dillon onto stage at “Strait to Vegas” in 2016 to thank him for an amazing partnership.

George was planning another “Strait to Vegas” tour in 2021 at the T-Mobile Arena but as of now has postponed as he is prioritizing his fans’ safety through this ongoing pandemic.

~ And this is where the Cowboy rides away ~

Pancho

September 20 2020

The World Needs More RWH

I recently received a copy of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s newest creation the album CO-STARRING for my 45th birthday from the in-laws. There’s not a bad song on this album, and yes, it’s a real live album (vinyl record and all) CO-STARRING, released July 10 2020 by Big Machine records gets its name from an impressive lineup of stardom including Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, and country great Ronnie Dunn.

Ray Wylie Hubbard is a Poet. Ray Wylie told Pete Gile and Carley Evans on the “Troubadour” a podcast that he was featured on, that his father an English Teacher who preferred reading him The Raven over the Three Little Pigs, taught him that lyrics were important. Ray went on to speak of learning to fingerpick at age 42. This is when his musical career began to change direction for the better.  “I was able to mix deep heart felt lyrics with a deep groove of blues.”, Ray says.

 Ray who is now in his seventies, got sober at age 41 along with the help of the late blues artist Stevie Ray Vaughan. One of the first things that drew me to this new album was a video for the song “Bad Trick.” The song inspired by Ray Wylie’s wife Judy after he had come home from a gig that didn’t go so well, is Co-Starred by Ringo Starr originally a Beatle and Joe Walsh of Eagles fame, both of whom are also sober. Ringo helped select the lineup for this chart-topping sound. The song also features Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes and bassist Don Was.

 The video was created by Brent Carpenter and most of the artists who appear on the video were not anywhere near each other while the actual filming was being done. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak that we have all been experiencing.

Ray is ready to get back on the road and hopes the virus will soon pass. I hope he can begin a tour someday soon myself. I have his name on my personal bucket list as someone I want to see live in concert.

My mom knew Ray Wylie Hubbard from her youth. She said “He was just this guy we (my mom’s cousin Deb and her) hung out with in Red River. He was just called Ray then.”

RWH grew up in Oak Cliff, a neighborhood in Dallas County.  It was there he created his first band. Three Faces West. They eventually ended up in Red River, New Mexico working odd jobs by day and playing their folk music by night. It was in Red River that Ray wrote his first big song “Redneck Mother”

Ray is among my personal top five favorite songwriters. He includes two of my favorites in his own favorites list (Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark). I would encourage radio stations everywhere to play More Ray Wylie Hubbard. The world needs more poetry and less political B.S.

Pancho