December 31 2020

Wake Up America

As I write this, there is less than 7 hours in this 2020.

Oh what a strange and wild year this has been. First, I learned of the corona in March of this year. Only weeks after my Wedding. We traveled into New Mexico because I wanted to be wed in Lincoln County. I originally asked her to marry me at the state line between Texas and New Mexico and since we have been together New Mexico has been our home away from home. Don’t get me wrong I’ll always call myself TEXAN, but I do love the New Mexico landscape. Sandy desert and sage and cactus and rock and in a matter of minutes I can view the most lush and beautiful evergreen and the majestic snow- capped peaks.

Besides the “rona” there has been crazy times even somewhat scary times. Our economy has been unstable. The politics of this country have been insane. 2020 was an election year. I voted too. Everybody has a point of view. All have picked sides. Ok I will say it. I voted Republican. I had my reasons. And the Democrats have their own. I truly don’t care who you voted for because it was your right and your freedom. I am not here to justify or debate my own reasons. The Republican party claims that the Democrats cheated. That things are not being fair. The Democrats are blaming the Republicans for everything that has gone wrong. The way the government has handled the virus, the economy. It doesn’t really matter. What is done is done. Right now we need a solution not more pollution. Until the left and the right can see through the same pair of glasses my fear is that the struggles will continue. I am proud of my country. I served this Nation. I am not proud of the way Americans are acting today. Things have got to get better. Things WILL get better. How can they not. If they don’t we are all gonna be screwed it will not matter anyway. We will probably all end up dead or worse. In a bloody battle to the end of time. Only the strong, only the chosen will survive. Does anyone remember Earl Pitts? “WAKE UP AMERICA!”

As I write this, I have faith. Faith in our nation. Faith that the virus will become controllable. Faith in the great state of TEXAS and New Mexico. Faith in the Republicans and the Democrats. Faith that one day we will all just get along again Most importantly I have faith that GOD has a plan.

Enough of my rant….

As I write this, I have gratitude for the life I am building. I am grateful for God, Country, and my Sobriety. As of May 19, 2021, I will have 12 years sober. This New Years Eve is my 11th New Years to be sober. I am grateful for the music and the ones who make it. I am grateful for the release and the escape that music has given me from these troubled times.  As I write this, I am grateful for the friends and my family. MY FAMILY- a loving, tolerant wife. Two beautiful daughters and a son. A mom and dad who are still active and alive. Wonderful in laws. Countless cousins, aunts, and uncles. As I write this, I want to thank each of you who have taken time to read and support this blog in these trying last few months.

As I write this, I want to wish each of you the happiest of New Years. I hope you all can be safe and healthy this New Year’s Eve. I hope each of you can be reminded of what you can be grateful for as well.

Wake Up America,

Pancho.

December 29 2020

Songs about home

The Panhandlers is my favorite musical group of 2020.

Four seasoned Texas Country musicians who make up this group from the flatlands of West Texas, William Clark Green, Cleto Cordero, Josh Abbott and John Baumann. All four of them make great music by themselves but the four of them together is a phenomenal sound.

My current favorite song is “West Texas in My Eye.” I cant stop hearing this rolling around in my head!

Where the Llano Estacado rises up into the sky I ain’t crying that’s West Texas in my eye

There entire debut album is world class, and the entire album is themed around my home. West Texas.

My pick for album of the year is The Panhandlers.

There is talk of a second album coming out in 2021.

Josh Abbott tweeted today:

“Covid ruined our entire debut tour”

Josh Abbott from Twitter

The band is planning shows in Lubbock, Amarillo, El Paso, Marfa, and Alpine at some point.

I hope I can catch up with them live sometime sooner than later.

This Covid has got to pass!

Sunny 69 degree day here at home today. There is a forecast of snow tomorrow night. I have always heard “If you don’t like the weather in West Texas wait a minute and it will change.”

Maybe the snow will run the Covid to the ground! The West Texas sunshine sure hasn’t beat it. Keep your heads up and keep moving forward. With the vaccines and the new medical treatments I know we are going to beat this thing!

I ain’t crying that’s West Texas in my eye.

Pancho

December 28 2020

Legend/Underwood #1 Holiday Song

Many of us watched recently as John Legend coached his team on the voice. Besides coaching he has been recording some new music this season. One of the projects that John has been working on was a duet with Carrie Underwood.

As of December 26th, Carrie Underwood and John Legend’s holiday duet is at the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs Chart.

The song “Hallelujah” replaced last weeks #1, “Favorite Time of Year,” which is also performed by Underwood.

Hallelujah,” appears on Underwood’s latest album, My Gift. The album was Carrie Underwood’s first full length holiday project. The album was released 3 months before Christmas giving fans plenty of time to enjoy their Holiday favorites, as well as some original songs by the artist. 

Special guests on the album include John Legend and Underwood’s own son Isaiah.

Pancho.

December 27 2020

Hiding in plain sight

Have you ever climbed up a hill, just to see what was on the other side? Ever taken a walk in the woods and wondered if anybody else had ever been there before you? Or is it just me? Since the beginnings of time, men have wanted to know more about what was laying beyond. Perhaps just out of reach of their norm. We were made with curiosity and wonder.

‘ll fly a starship

Across the Universe divide

And when I reach the other side

I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can’

sang Johnny Cash in the “Highwayman.”

Sure, Space is where exploration is being focused and with today’s technology more is being discovered than ever has. I still would like to think there are undiscovered places in today’s Earth. Has man covered every inch of this planets land mass? Not to mention all of Earth’s oceans. Of all the miles and miles of water and every inch of sediment, I still think that there must be something left to find.

Last night as I was resting in my bed, I watched the movie, The Lost City of Z. It is the true story of British Explorer Percy Fawcett who discovered evidence of an advanced civilization in the middle of the Amazon.

Like Fawcett, I too believe that man, animal, and plant life have existed on this earth much longer than modern people first imagined. More evidence to support this idea has been found in recent years.

I live on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. I also could say that I live in the Permian Sea. In my own lifetime I am proud to state, that I personally have found evidence of sea life in my own back yard. A weathered and gray limestone faced rock once turned over, revealed hundreds of trilobites.

Trilobites are one of the earliest known groups of arthropods. Extinct marine life found in the middle of a desert.

This discovery at a young age inspired me to keep my eyes open to what else might just be hiding in plain sight. Will science someday find the cure for modern diseases like cancer? It might just be under the next rock someone takes the time to look under.

Modern medicine created a vaccine for the Covid-19 in a matter of months. Why are we unable to solve mysteries like cancer and aids? The answer is out there if only we just look beyond our own noses.

“No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.”

― Isaac Newton

Keep climbing those hills and you just might discover what is on the other side.

Pancho.

December 25 2020

Feeling Christmasy

Santa came by yesterday. AKA my Father in law. And he makes a damn good Santa at that. He and my mother in law have the most giving hearts. They have always done their best to support us on this journey called life, unconditionally.

In a socially distanced sort of way, He left Christmas gifts for the wife and I.

This morning bright and early we opened our gifts to see what Santa had brought.

I was surprised by the plain white album cover and the simple type of the title page.

Chris Stapleton Starting Over.

I am currently listening to the first of the double record enclosed. I have heard most of the content before and even wrote about it not long ago in my attempt at some review. The music sounds so much better this Christmas morning playing on vinyl and coming through the speakers in my living room!

It’s a mean old world out there and the world has gotten sick. These songs are just what I am going through and what the rest of the world is going through to. I think that idea gives me some hope as I realize that I am not alone in any of this.

Well, if I was recording an album amidst a pandemic, I would most likely do it the same way. No frothy emotional appeal by some staged up photo shoot on the cover of the album. Isn’t It supposed to be about the music anyway?

Stapleton gives encouragement as I open the album flap. Inside he has written:

“In my life when I’ve needed strength, love, peace, joy, friendship, focus, courage, understanding, hope, or healing I’ve found these things in music. As you listen, I pray you find some of these things here. May we all look to the best of who we’ve been & the promise of who we can be. Here’s to starting over.”

Chris Stapleton

So far, my wife has decided that “When I’m With You” is her favorite from the album. I can sure relate to the lyrics of the song. The lyrics tell a story of gratitude throughout this storm we call life. I am glad I have someone like her by my side. She is the best thing that has happened to me. Her strong temperament teaches me to be stronger. When I am with her, I have the will to do better than I have ever done. I work harder and try my best at doing the best I can do. When you do something do it with excellence is something that she has instilled in me.

Merry Christmas to all. This year has been different, I know that I have even complained recently how it didn’t feel like Christmas. But reflection this morning I am starting to re- think that statement. What is Christmas supposed to feel like anyway? Remembering the reason for the season. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus. Without the birth, there would have never been the death that day at Calvary. For God gave his son to die for me and my sin. Because of him I am free and have eternal life. I pray that whoever needs to hear it hears Jesus in their hearts and minds today. Heaven’s just a prayer away.

Perhaps 2020 and the Pandemic is the way that God is showing us the wrong from right. Did God not give us a rainbow after the flood? Just because there isn’t that pot of gold at the end of it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth it.

Pancho.

December 24 2020

Merry Christmas Eve Ho!Ho!Ho!

Today is Christmas Eve

It’s been the strangest year ever I do believe

 Mom and Dad are in an Enchanted Land

I’m listening to Christmas music by an Australian band

It’s not Christmas in Prison, yea I am doing just fine

I am not talking either about the song by John Prine

It’s been 12 years since I went to jail the eve of Christmas time

This year I’ll drink only Topo Chico, I may add some lime

So maybe this Christmas really will not be that bad

There are a many things that still make me glad

March of 2020, I got married to the love of my life

I am amazed every day that she is really my wife

I have a good job that I get paid to do

I have a nice car and two trucks too

This time last year I built a house in my backyard with my own hand

If the corona goes away, I am having a party back there next year- I’ll make a big stand

Whistles and sleigh bells and lots of Christmas cheer

There will be Santa Clause and the Misses and all the rein deer

Cowboy Drive might fly in from Denver to give us a show

I’m sure they won’t mind the break from the snow

There will be boots hangin’ from the trees

Old Glory flappin’ in the breeze

If crude goes up or if it stays down

It’s still Christmas in Texas! Wear a smile and not a big frown

Merry Christmas Eve… Ho!  Ho!  Ho!

Spread the Christmas love wherever you go!

–  Pancho

My brother in law J Graves and his lovely wife.. AKA COWBOY DRIVE- this was filmed at the last Christmas party we had in the days before the world went to hell.

December 23 2020

Vampires at the Campfire

I am always in search of music. Besides just listening to my favorite tunes, I enjoy when I can find a really great song that I haven’t ever heard before. My favorite tunes are those that stand out in a crowd. So many songs sound the same today on the hot country playlists. The other day I was streaming music on Spotify and came across Les Marcott.

Les was like finding that needle in a haystack. His style of Americana with country roots caught my attention in a big way.

I was excited when I realized that this is the same guy who I follow and who follows me on Twitter. Les always has great posts. I have learned a lot about music in general just by following this guy. His tastes are very similar to mine and his sound is just the kind of music that I want to hear. He can play the harmonica better than most people can walk. His lyrics are truly impressive.

I have had the privilege to listen to a lot of this guy’s stuff recently. I have also enjoyed reading what he has had to write. I think everybody needs to stop whatever they are doing and give his songs a listen! I hope you become a fan as quickly as I did!

I purchased Les Marcott’s single, “Vampires at the Campfire” on Apple music. I was able to message him on Twitter and ask him how he came up with the unique lyrics of the song.

“I was at a video store. Wasn’t looking for anything in particular. Stopped at some point and found a Western and some flick about vampires side by side.”

Les Marcott- via Twitter

And with that, he came up with this amazing song!

And if I had a six gun I’d shoot them all to hell!

Vampires at the Campfire They join in to sing along.

Besides being a singer/songwriter, Les Marcott is also a Senior Writer for Scene4 magazine. Scene4.com. His education includes degrees from West Texas State University, Baylor and Texas A&M University.

Les Marcott plays down home true to Texas Music by a true Texan.

Pancho.

December 21 2020

Kay T. Oslin dead at 78

Kay Toinette Oslin, better known as K.T. Oslin died today at the age of 78. The award-winning singer/songwriter had battled Parkinson’s in the last few years and was residing in a nursing home. She had been diagnosed with Covid-19 recently, but at this time medical authorities are unsure if this was a factor in her death.

Although she was born in Crossett, Arkansas and spent the latter part of her life in Nashville, Tennessee, K.T. Oslin said she would always consider Texas home. Oslin’s mother moved her to Houston as a young child. The sudden move came after the singer’s father died when she was only five years old. K.T. attended college, majoring in drama, at Lon Morris in Jacksonville, Texas. She played in a folk music trio with Texas songwriter Guy Clark and David Jones. The trio recorded an album, but it was never released. K.T. was inducted into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014.

In 2018 She was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

K.T. was most widely known for writing and recording her hit song “80’s Ladies.”The song was released in April 1987. It was the second single and title track from Oslin’s debut album 80’s Ladies.

The single won Song of the Year at the 1988 CMA Awards. K.T. Oslin was the first female songwriter to ever win the award.

Oslin who had previously made her living writing commercial jingles and acting in New York City musicals began writing songs in her New York apartment. Oslin was already 45 years old when she made it big in Nashville.  She had first visited music city to sing backup for her old friend Guy Clark on his 1978 self- titled L.P.

K.T. Oslin is yet another in a long list of artists that we have lost this year. This was the music I grew up on. K.T.’s songs are catalogued in the soundtrack of my life.

‘A’ my name is Alice

I’m gonna marry Artie

We’re gonna sell apples

And live in Arkansas

‘B’ my name is Betty

I’m gonna marry Bobby

We’re gonna sell beans

And live in Brazil

‘C’ my name is Connie

I’m gonna marry Charlie

We’re gonna sell cars

And live in California

80’s Ladies – Songwriter: K.T. Oslin

Universal Music Publishing Group

P my name is Pancho

I’m gonna marry Pinkie

We’re gonna sell Perspectives

And live in Paradise

Pancho

December 20 2020

Ballads of Guns and Love

When Marty Robbins wrote the song “El Paso,” He said he was inspired to do so by seeing the city at night. As well as the lights of El Paso, he also could see the twinkling of the city lights just across the Rio Grande river into Jaurez, Mexico. From the first time he saw the lights, he knew he wanted to write a song about it.

The storyline of the song was a mixture of a gunfighting ballad and one of the greatest love stories to ever hit the country music charts. It is perhaps known as Robbins most successful single as it was a major hit on both the country and pop charts in 1959 and 1960.

Columbia Records originally did not want to record the popular song. They felt that the song was too long. The original recording of the song was a little over four and a half minutes. Most of the pop and country hit recordings of the time were done in under three minutes. Marty Robbins said he had tried to shorten the song, but that he just couldn’t tell the story the way it needed to be told in less time. I am glad the record company left the length of the song alone.

Besides the two cities of the song, did the other places and characters exist? Marty Robbins said in an old Newspaper article I read recently, that Rosa’s Cantina was based on a place he used to hang out in as a kid, growing up in Glendale, Arizona. However, there is a real Rosa’s Cantina in El Paso. The place was made famous by the song. Feleena, the Mexican Maiden, was inspired by a school mate of Marty Robbins.

The song has been an all- time favorite of many including my own. Bernie Taupin, songwriter for Elton John has even admitted that when he needs inspiration to write he often listens to Marty Robbins. More specifically the album, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.

If I could choose to live in any other place and time, I would choose the “old west.” These cowboy tales of gunfights and cattle trails have always fascinated me. I listen today and still imagine being mounted atop a trusty horse. My sidearm and my quick draw to protect me and to keep the bad guys at bay.

When I was younger, I would often visit Old Mexico. Places like Jaurez and Ciudad Acuna were like stepping back in time. These Mexican cities and their distinct culture have fascinated me my whole life. Today I can recall these places through song and book. I also enjoy the occasional Western Movie.

The Rio Grande river flows from central Colorado all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The river has supported life for many years before modern man ever walked upon this earth and It is going to continue to flow even after we are gone. I have hopes that soon I will plan for a road trip following the river from it’s beginning to end. I believe the river itself and the cities that border each side of it contain a huge array of history.  You can bet Marty Robbins will be some of the music of choice on my travel playlist.

Marty Robbins cowboy songs will be a part of my way of life for the rest of it.

Pancho.

December 19 2020

How to Make Gravy

In this non-traditional Christmas season, I have found joy in my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs. Robert Earl Keen’s, Merry Christmas From the Family and John Prine’s, Christmas in Prison have been annual traditions for me at Christmas time.

My Wife has sometimes been known to call them “stupid” songs. Stupid is not a word I would use to describe such wonderful works of art! These songs bring happiness and good will to all! We even themed our Christmas party a few years ago “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee” in celebration of REK’s Christmas hit. Listen for yourself and I hope you enjoy!

This year I have added a third song to this Christmas set. How to Make Gravy by Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly.

I stumbled onto this song entirely by accident. I googled Prine’s Christmas in Prison but was led to an article about a different Christmas song. Much like my Christmas pick from Prine, How to Make Gravy is also set in prison. The main character of the song, Joe is writing home to Dan. It is December 21st and Joe who is stuck in prison is sending his family his Christmas Cheer. He is also a little concerned about how the Christmas dinner is going to turn out without him there to over see the kitchen.

Who’s gonna make the gravy now? I bet it won’t taste the same.

Just add flour salt a little red wine and don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang.

In 1996 Paul Kelly was asked to record a song for an annual charity album. Organizers notified Kelly that the song he originally chose to cover had already appeared on a previous year’s compilation. They encouraged him to write an original.

With no shortage of Christmas music out there Kelly wanted to pen something that was entirely of his own making.

“Why Can’t they get there? Maybe they’re overseas and they can’t get home. Then I thought, oh he’s in prison.”

-Paul Kelly

He says the song sort of wrote itself from there.

To be honest, before hearing this song, the only things I knew about Australian Prison was what I learned by watching Wentworth on Netflix.

How to Make Gravy was originally released on November 4 1996. Now over a decade later the song still gets played at all of Paul Kelly’s live shows.

Fans of the song have dubbed December 21, How to Make Gravy Day.

After finding this guy I started listening to some other songs by him. He is a talented singer and one of the better songwriters that I have come across recently. So what if he’s Australian? Paul Kelly would fit right in with the Austin Music Scene.

“Song writing is mysterious to me. I still feel like a total beginner. I don’t feel like I have got it nailed yet.”

-Paul Kelly

Paul, I think you nailed it a long time ago! I just have one question, Did Joe ever get out on good behavior?

Pancho.