Country Reunion Magazine, August 2021

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Country Reunion m a g a z i n e

August 2021

Don Ellis Gatlin Connie Smith Keith Bilbrey

Wally Fowler Marshal Chapman

Cowboy Bar Jeanne Robertson Pete Wade Graves of the Stars

… and more

June 2021


Country Reunion Magazine Who’s inside? Don Ellis Gatlin, p. 3 The Bilbreys, p. 4 Jeanne Robertson, p. 6 Connie Smith, p. 8 Music Row Songwriters, p. 9 Cowboy Bar, p. 11 “America”, p.13 Banana Pudding, p. 15 Pete Wade & Jimmy Capps, p.16 Star Grave – Jennings, p. 17 Diner Chat, p. 18 Nadine, p. 19 Wally Fowler, p. 20 Marshal Chapman, p. 21 Published monthly by Country Road Management 710 N. Main St., Suite B Columbia, TN 38401 Larry Black, Publisher Paula Underwood Winters, Editor, Print Layout & Design Claudia Johnson, Writer, Online Layout/Design Online Subscriptions $15 per year http://countryreunionmagaine.com/ Annual Print Subscriptions $29.95; renewals $24.95 To subscribe or renew call 1-800-8 20-5405 or mail payment to PO Box 610 Price, UT 84501

November 2020


Meet Don Ellis Gatlin Don Ellis Gatlin, singer/songwriter, could be considered one of the most unfamous famous singers around. He and his brother Darryl were nominated for Duo of the Year seven times…and seven times they lost out to Brooks and Dunn. He and his brother grew up in Beaver Falls, PA. In 1986 they came in second on the Nashville Network’s “You Can Be A Star.” Since there was already a group called The Gatlin Brothers, the boys recorded as Darryl and Don Ellis. Their albums never took off, and when they were dropped by Epic Records they began to write. They played around Nashville for a while and then moved to Las Vegas where they were regulars at The Sahara and The Tropicana. Don went on to work with Kenny Rogers and Kenny even recorded his song “I Won’t Forget.” Don now performs solo and will be on “Larry’s Country Diner” on August 26 and again in rerun on the 28. Page 3

Click here to watch Don’s show on YouTube.

"No Sir” Video Don Ellis along with brother Darrel released their highest charting single, "No Sir," which peaked at No. 58 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, in 1992. Watch it above with featuring a very young Don and Darrel. August 2021


Friends Surround the Bilbreys as they Process Loss of their Home by Claudia Johnson

The Countr y music community has come together to support Keith and Emmy Jo Bilbrey who lost their home in a devastating fire on June 23. One of the most recognizable voices in country music broadcasting, Keith is a member of the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame and a former radio personality on WSM and the Grand Ole Opry, where he also hosted TNN’s Grand Ole Opry Live. He is currently announcer for Trinity Broadcast Network’s “Huckabee, and fans of “Larry’s Country Diner” know Keith Bilbrey as co-host of the syndicated show. “When I started looking for an announcer for ‘Larry’s Country Diner,’ I needed someone that could react quickly, intelligently and that knew the history of country music,” said “Diner” host and creator Larry Black. “Keith Bilbrey was all of those things; we could not have asked for a better co-host. As a matter of fact, it could just as easily be named Keith’s Kafé instead of ‘Larry’s Country Diner.’” A spark from an outdoor grill ignited the Bilbreys’ historic Victorian-era home in Williamson County, Tennessee, giving the couple only seconds to escape. “I’m sure if I had just had an inkling of what that night would have been like, I wouldn’t have just hung out in my recliner all day,” said Emy Joe. “I would have gathered up family Bibles, baby books and taken lots and lots of pictures of the things that were dear to our hearts….but I didn’t. But a very important thing DID happen. WE SURVIVED and our dog SURVIVED!” Firefighters were able to save Keith’s musical instrument collection, but they were unable to rescue his Grand Ole Opry memorabilia or his collection of cowboy boots. The couple’s vehicles were badly damaged, and all their electronics and almost all their personal photos and effects were lost. Page 4

The Bilbrey home before and after the fire

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August 2021


“God put perfect strangers in our lives to help me get down the steps to a safe place,” Emy Joe said. ”HE knew the timing of our neighbor being outside to hear our pleas for help. HE spared Keith’s life from being blown away in the explosions! And HE guided and protected the 94 emergency, fire and rescue folks that worked to save some of our things.” Friends of the Bilbreys participated last month in a live stream event on Country Road TV from the Huckabee studio. Hosted by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Larry Black, “Coming Home: Rebuilding the Bilbreys” featured artists from every era in Country music with participants like Country music artists and industry peers who p a r t i c i p a t e d include The Bellamy Brothers, Bill Anderson, Charlie McCoy, Chonda Pierce, Craig Morgan, Darin & B r o o ke Aldridge, Deborah Allen, Devon O’Day, The Bilbreys Doyle Dykes, Exile, Larry, Steve & Rudy: The Gatlin Brothers, Gene Watson, Gus Arrendale, The Isaacs, Jimmy Fortune, Janie Fricke, Jeannie Seely, John Berry, Kelly Lang, Lacy J. Dalton, Lee Greenwood, Lorrie Morgan, The Malpass Brothers, Ma r k Wi l l s , Ma r t y S t u a r t , Mo e B a n d y, Nadine from “Larr y’s Country Diner,” Nan Kelley, The Oak Ridge Boys’ Duane Allen and Richard Sterban, Rhonda Vi n c e n t , T. Gr a h a m B r o w n , Te e a G o a n s Melted Car and T.G. Sheppard. “ Ke i t h B i l b r e y h a s countless friends and no enemies," said Governor Mike Huckabee. “He’s been a friend, colleague and confidant to the biggest names in entertainment as well as to the folks who swept the floors and opened the doors of the fabled Grand Ole Opry where he served as announcer for 35 years. When the historic Page 5

The Bilbreys are thankful their dog survived

home in which he and his beloved Emy Joe lived burned to the ground, the common question among those who love him has been ‘What can we do to help Keith?’” “Coming Home: Rebuilding The Bilbreys” on Jul y 15 brought together artists, musicians, songwriters, producers, promoters and all the support people of the entertainment world of Nashville to extend their encouragement and financial support. Huckabee, Black, Country Road TV and Gus Arrendale of Springer Mountain Farms Fresh Chicken sponsored the event. Emy Joe and Keith said they feel very blessed. “ E V E RY k i n d o f g e s t u r e h a s b e e n appreciated,” Emy Joe said. “Whether i t ’s been prayers, hugs, clothing, cleaning, gift cards, monetar y or offerings … have ALL been so sweet.” The Bilbreys experienced an unthinkable tragedy in 2018 when their son, Mark, Rings Recovered d i e d i n a n a u to m o b i l e accident during a severe storm in Nashville. A woman of strong faith, Emy Joe said that she and Keith have been thankful for the time they are spending with family after this latest loss. “We have gotten to spend lots of time with our older grandkids that we don’t often get…their hugs and ‘love yous’ are the best meds,” she said. They are taking comfort in little victories, too. The fire marshal retrieved Keith’s wedding band and Opry ring in the rubble, both of which have been cleaned and, as Emy observed, look “brand new.” August 2021


Making People Laugh By Danny Nichols

Finding humor through daily experiences isn’t easy for the average individual. It is even more difficult to take such experiences and turn them into stories that make millions of people laugh. Jeanne Robertson has such a talent and has spent almost 60 years of her life sharing it with the world, including taking the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. “My ability to stay on top of my profession is in writing my own material,” Robertson revealed. “That keeps my performances fresh and people wanting to come back to see me. I look for ideas every day and everywhere I happen to be.” Robertson said her greatest comedic influence was “probably Carol Burnett above all others” while acknowledging that Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Andy Griffith, Erma Bombeck, Jackie Gleason and Bob Newhart also provided her with inspiration in one form or another. She personally adheres to keeping her acts clean and funny, never failing to consider the extensive ethnic, religious and cultural differences of her audiences. “A comedian’s role is to make the majority of people in an audience laugh,” she said, differentiating between a humorist (which Robertson calls herself) and a comedian. “A humorist tries to do the same but without offending people in the audience.” Robertson said that although she enjoyed entertaining her family while young, she wasn’t particularly funnier than anyone else. She just enjoyed humor as most people did when sitting on the front porch of their home with friends or relatives and talking and reminiscing about humorous events. Robertson’s parents, James and Cora Swanner, settled in North Carolina from Alabama seeking to establish a propane business. Robertson and sisters Katherine and Andrea grew up in Graham, N.C. Robertson, becoming the taller of her sisters, excelled in basketball reaching 6’2” by the time she was in 7th grade. In May 1963 she won the title of Miss Graham, N.C. In July 1963 she was crowned Miss North Carolina during the statewide competition, an achievement that opened doors for Robertson that she did not yet anticipate. The titleholder was expected to take a year’s sabbatical from college to tour the state giving speeches in selected communities. “I gave 500 of those little speeches in that year’s time!” Robertson recalled. “Within a week I learned that sometimes what I would say would make people laugh. It really caught my attention. I came to like making people laugh, and I began to work more humor into my speeches. By the time my year’s reign as Miss North Carolina was over, I began receiving invitations to come speak at events around the state. The week after I crowned my successor for Miss North Carolina, I was asked to speak at four conventions.” As winner of the state title, Robertson automatically became a contestant for the title of Miss America 1964, participating in that pageant in September 1963. Robertson said her mother had always taught her to take whatever circumstance she had and to make the most out of it, and that she did. Although Robertson did not win the title of Miss America, she was picked as Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants. Page 6

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The scholarship funds awarded her allowed her to pursue a college education at Auburn University, where she played on the women’s basketball team and graduated in 1967 with a degree in physical education. Robertson returned to North Carolina and taught physical education for eight years. All the while she became an ever more popular convention speaker, prompting her to pursue speaking professionally. “My target was the corporate market which was very different from that of the general public,” she said. “Speaking at conventions requires a message while theatre performances require material written specifically for humor.” Her presentations were broadcast regularly on SM Radio’s Laugh USA, Sirius Radio’s Blue Collar Comedy and Laugh Break. In 1980 she was designated a Certified Speaking Professional by the National Speakers Association and served as the association’s president in 1985. In 1981 she was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame. In 1989 she became the first woman to receive the award of National Speakers Association Cavett Award. She was honored in 1998 with the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award and in 2001 was selected as the North Carolina Press Association North Carolinian of the Year. In 2008 she was invited so speak at the White House for National Volunteer Week to honor the volunteers who donate time to work at the White House. In 2012 Robertson was honored by the National Speakers Association with its Master of Influence Award. Graham, N.C. has honored her by establishing a permanent exhibit on her career in their Graham Historical Museum. Robertson has appeared in such publications as “Southern Living,” “USA Today,” “Time” and “Sports

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Illustrated.” She was also interviewed by Morley Safer on “60 Minutes.” Such recognition does not come easily and reflects the hard work and determination Robertson applies to her profession. Somewhere amid this busy schedule e she has recorded eight humor DVDs and written three books: “Humor: The Magic of Genie,” “Mayberry Humor Across the USA” and “Don’t Let the Funny Stuff Get Away.” The biggest break-through of her career came in 2009, however, when some of her humorous clips from her presentations became viral videos. Robertson admits it was at that point she came to understand and appreciate the power of the Internet. “I embraced it!” exclaimed Robertson. Making the decision to add stage performances to an already bulging convention schedule, Robertson launched a new direction for her career. Since 2009 she has traveled around the country continuing to perform at diverse venues. Robertson is scheduled to perform at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, on Nov. 11, 2018. Husband Jerry Robertson, an educator, has been greatly supportive of her career and is often the subject of her stories, which colorfully point out the humorous differences between them. Jerry is nicknamed L.B. or “Left Brain” in Robertson’s tales, while referring to herself as “Right Brain.” When asked how long they’ve been married, Robertson proclaimed “forever!” Robertson’s professionalism and showmanship make her act uniquely her own. Honed and polished, Robertson presents a brand of eloquent Southern humor that makes her captivating on stage and off. In a world in need of healing, Robertson prescribes a good dose of humor

Buy Jeanne Robertson 2021-22 Tour Tickets

August 2021


Connie Smith Releases “Cry of the Heart” Connie Smith, Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Famer, will release her first new record in a decade. “Cry of the Heart,” produced by her husband Marty Stuart will be released by Fat Possum Records on August 20. “People ask me, ‘What is country music?’” said Smith. “I say, ‘To me, country music is the cry of the heart.’ We all have these experiences in our hearts and I’m trying to identify and communicate with people so they know they’re not alone.” Smith’s career began with the eight-week No. 1 single “Once a Day” in 1964. That song was recently selected by the Library of Congress for the National Song Registry. Smith has since released some 50-plus records including 72 Dallas Frazier songs in her career. “Here’s what I learned about loving and living and working with Connie,” producer Marty Stuart

said. “She makes a record when she’s ready and nothing pushes her in that direction until she’s in the mood and space to do it and the songs are right. One day, a Dallas Frazier song drifted in, and all of a sudden she had that look in her eye, and it was time to go!” Stuar t a ssembled top notch musicians, including piano player Stuart & Smith Hargus “Pig” Robbins who’s collaborated with Smith throughout her career, Steel guitar player Gary Carter also came on board to play. Stuart played guitar, and also wrote numerous originals with Smith for the record. “ We ’ v e h a d s u c h a g r e a t t i m e , ” s a i d Smith. “We’ve written 40 or 50 songs. We’ve been together long enough now that we’re starting to think alike … Marty hears everything. He’s a great arranger and producer.”

“Cry of the Heart” Track List 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

A Million And One Look Out Heart Spare Me No Truth To Pieces All The Time I Just Don’t Believe Me Anymore Three Sides I’m Not Over You Here Comes My Baby Back Again Heart, We Did All That We Could Jesus, Take A Hold

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“A Million And One” is the first release from Connie Smith’s 54th album set to be released this month. August 2021


Memories of Music Row Welcome back to my Memories of Music Row as I share stories and day-to-day happenings through my personal interviews with the “architects of music row” – record producers, songwriters, artists, studio musicians and recording engineers. by Areeda Schneider Stampley

it Starts with the Song No one is more respected within the music industry than the Songwriter! They seem to have a rich insight into our soul – they plant the idea that makes the hit song. We praise the artists who sing the great country songs. Someone said, “George (Jones) had to have written “He Stopped Loving Her Today” because he sang it with such conviction!” Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman But not so. That award-winning song was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman and has been called “the greatest country music song e ver written”! Jo n e s resisted recording it, as he told producer Billy Sherrill, “it’s too morbid”! Howe ver, Sherril l sensed it might be what could revive Jones’ lagging career, and nudged him along until he finally agreed. Curly Putman Jones later commented, & Bobby Braddock “My four-decade career was salvaged by a three-minute song!” Bobby Braddock had the idea for this song, which he said was probably inspired by his love for his wife. He and co-writer Curly Putman implied (in the song) that “the man’s love was so strong that he was

obsessed with this woman and never got over her, until he died”. Braddock, to name a few, also wrote or co-wrote No.1 songs “Golden Ring” by George and Tammy; “Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous” by Johnny Duncan; and “I Wanna Talk about Me” by Toby Keith. Curly Putman wrote “Green Green Grass of Home,” considered one of the best country songs ever written. It was a huge hit for Porter Wagoner and later a hit for Tom Jones. Putman co-wrote “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” with Braddock for Tammy Wynette, “My Elusive Dreams” with Billy Sherrill for David Houston & Tammy Wynette and “Blood Red and Going Down” by Tanya Tucker. Harlan Howard Harlan Howard defined country music as “three chords and the truth”. His big break was in 1959 when Ray Pr i c e recorded Howard’s Heartaches by the Number. In 1961, Howard and Hank Cochran w r o t e “ I Fa l l t o Pieces,” a smash hit for Patsy Cline. Other hits were “I Harlan Howard D o n’t Re m e m b e r Loving You” by John Conlee; “Busted” by Burl Ives, then in 1963 by Johnny Cash and others, including Ray Charles. Howard wrote “I Don’t Know a Thing about Love” for Conway Twitty; and “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail for Buck Owens.” Howard was married to vocalist Jan Howard. August 2021


Hank Cochran Hank Cochran moved to Nashville in 1960. He co-wrote with Howard She’s Got You for Patsy Cline. Hank said “after attending a movie, I was inspired to go home and write Make the World Go Away. Eddy Arnold took it to No.1 on the country music charts and No.6 on the overall Billboard Hot 100 charts.” It became Arnold’s signature song! Cochran also wrote Burl Ives’ “A L i t t l e B i t t y Te a r, ” George Strait’s “Ocean Front Property,” Ronnie Milsap’s “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” and the great classic Hank Cochran country song “Chiseled in Stone” co-written with Vern Gosdin, who recorded it and took it to the top of the charts! Cochran was married to vocalist Jeannie Seely, and wrote her signature song “Don’t Touch Me.” Jerry Chesnut Jerry Chesnut moved to Nashville in 1958 to pursue his career. His hits, too many to list, include Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Another Place, Another Time,” which hit top of the charts and was nominated for a Grammy Award. “A Good Year for the Roses” by George Jones, and was as good an example as any of Jones' ability to deliver an intensely moving vocal. It rose to No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Singles Report in 1970.

Elvis Presley recorded many Jerry Chesnut songs. Jerry shared with Joe (Stampley) and me how he was inspired to write “T-R-O-U-B-L-E.” “My friend, singer Little David Wilkins, used to perform every night at Ireland’s, a local restaurant frequented by music industry folks,” Jerry said. “I’d sit and listen to Little David, often wondering how he might think as he watched folks come and go, especially when a good-looking woman walked through the door causing men to stare and women to seethe with jealousy. I went home one night after hanging out there and wrote ’T-R-O-U-B-L-E.’” It was a big hit for Elvis who recorded it in 1975, and Travis Tritt had success with it in 1992. All of these songwriters have written more songs, won more awards and accolades than we have space to cover. All are in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They are truly our music heroes!

Jerry Chesnut Areeda Schneider-Stampley is a writer, longtime employee of CBS Records, cookbook author and lives in Nashville with husband country music legend Joe Stampley. areedaschneider@bellsouth.net.

August 2021


Iconic Honkytonk Continues to

Plant Musical Flag in the West By Claudia Johnson

In a year dominated by headlines that ranged from depressing to worrisome to downright scary, when people and businesses were forced to reevaluate and pivot all that had been “normal,” The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and its sister bar and live music venue, The Silver Dollar Showroom at the Wort Hotel, found a way to saddle up and keep riding. Prominently situated on The Town Square in Jackson, Wyoming, The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is the venerable honkytonk founded in 1937 and purchased by the new owner, Silver Dollar, Inc. (SDI) in 2018. It’s a venue that during the 1970s, some artists who were "too big" to perform there, including legends like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell, Hank Williams Jr. and others, still did, because of the “cool factor.” While that vibe might have waned in the ensuing decades, since taking it over three years ago, SDI has fast-tracked its own five-year plan to return The Cowboy Bar to its iconic national status. For most touring ar tists, the shutdown wa s immediate and long-lasting. Acts that were used to performing dozens—or even hundreds—of shows per year, found themselves home, with all upcoming shows canceled or postponed indefinitely. “Like most artists, I hadn’t played a show in over a year,” Hank Williams, Jr said. “So many concerts had canceled. When The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar offered us the chance to come up here and do our thing, I jumped at it.”

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The Oak Ridge Boys, another act, long known for performing more than 150 shows per year, suddenly saw something they hadn’t seen in decades: a calendar empty of show dates. “We returned from a show in South Carolina in March 2020, fully expecting the buses to roll out again soon," long -time Oaks’ lead-singer Duane Allen remembers. "But over the next few months we lost more than 100 confirmed shows, all canceled or rescheduled because of the COVID shutdown. Our first public show after the shutdown was at The Cowboy Bar. When it was announced, it sold out so quickly, a second show was added. As far as we were concerned, if a buyer was willing to safely keep a show on the books, it was important to us to be there. We loved The Cowboy Bar and all of the people in this historic place!” Since its “Toast to the Cowboy” event that marked its official reopening in May of 2018 – a show featuring county hitmaker, Jo Dee Messina – The Cowboy has welcomed both legendary artists and exciting newcountry acts. Midland has sold out three shows. The Oak Ridge Boys and Runaway June, two each. Other acts as varied as Diamond Rio, Lee Roy Parnell and newcomer Jenny Tolman have appeared in sold-out performances.

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August 2021


Hank Williams Jr’s return in 2020 marked his first-ever unplugged show, and Randy Owen took a break from his lead-singer duties with ALABAMA to appear in early 2021. Both shows sold out in minutes. And one night, while making an unannounced visit to the mountain town, superstar, Toby Keith walked through the doors of The Cowboy, and before long ended up on stage singing with the house band. Just around the corner, at The Silver Dollar Showroom in the historic Wort Hotel, SDI has introduced three branded series: “The Showroom Sessions” featuring well-known singer-songwriters like Mac McAnally, Steve Wariner, Larry Gatlin and Jenny Tolman; “The Bluegrass Sessions” featuring national touring acoustic acts like Blue Highway and Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out; and “The Jazz Sessions” featuring long-time Luther Vandross guitarist, Doc Powell. T h e M i l l i o n D o l l a r Mu s i c Fe s t , presented by The Cowboy Bar, was held over Memorial Day weekend 2021 with plans to hold the festival annually. “We have some very exciting plans already in place for the very near future,” Baxter said. “We invite folks from all over the country to saddle up and come join us!” The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is committed to continuing its rich tradition of hosting the most iconic names in country music with a full line of live country music Monday-Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and a Countr y DJ on Sundays. Visit milliondollarcowboybar.com for a full schedule of events, a peak at the bar's food and drink menu and information about

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The Cowboy is located at 25 N. Cache Street, Jackson, Wyoming.

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August 2021


“America,” a Country Anthem for Equality and Patriotism by Sasha Kay Dunavant

“Some have said down through history, if you last it’s a mystery” begins the song “America,” written by Sammy Johns and recorded by the legendary Waylon Jennings in September of 1984, who took it to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart. “America” opens with that somewhat doubtful lyric but regains its faith in the next line by asserting, “I guess they don’t know what they’re talking about.” As a songwriter Johns stands up for racial inequality in the beginning of the chorus by writing, “And my brothers are all black and white, yellow too. And the red man is right to expect a little from you. Promise, and then follow through, America.” Patriotism takes a leading role as the chorus moves along with, “And the men who fell on the plains and lived through hardship and pain, America, America.” The writer expresses gratitude towards the amnesty granted to those known in the View Nam era as “draft dodgers” by writing, “And the men

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who could not fight in a war that didn’t seem right. You let them come home, America.” The song informs listeners that the singer’s roots are “around Tennessee” and invites the rest of the country into the mix stating, “It don’t matter where I roam. Tell people that it’s home sweet home.” The songwriter, however, was born in North Carolina. Given a guitar at an early age, Johns formed a band while writing his music. He landed a recording deal in Atlanta in 1973. Working with several record labels during his career such as General Recording, Warner Curb Records and Elektra, Johns had a handful of charting singles such as “Common Man” and “Love Me off the Road” during the 1970s. Much of Johns’ success in the Country music industry resulted from other singers like Sammy Kershaw, Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, John Conlee and Waylon Jennings recording and performing his original songs.

July 2021


“America” was the first single released by Jennings from his 1984 album, “Waylon’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2.” In addition to being a solo artist, Jennings was a member of the Highway Men, an allstart group that also included Kris Kristofferson, Willie, Nelson, Johnny Cash and Jennings himself. Je n n i n g s s a i d t h a t h e chose to record “America” to commemorate the ending of a 20-year partnership with RCA records, having been inspired by the events of the Olympics that year. The 1984 games were boycotted by a total of 14 Eastern Bloc countries, including the Soviet Union and East Germany, in response to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Iran and Libya also chose to boycott the Games for unrelated reasons. Jennings wanted to express his love for the Unites States of America and easily made the

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decision to record and perform “America” in hopes that the song would hit home for all Americans. The music video for “America” featured depictions of people of all colors and creeds living and enjoying life together as one people. Jennings sits outside of a convenience market with a guitar and sings “America” while scenes from around the country are shown. The video was nominated for CMA Video of the Year. He also sang “America” for a celebration of the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. In 1985 the song was nominated for Country Song of the Year. Jennings performed it live in Austin, Texas, in 1989. “America” is a patriotic song for imperfect yet, grateful Americans. It’s a comfortable anthem and a plea for equality, showing appreciation for both American soldiers and American citizens.

August 2021


Areeda’s southern cooking by Areeda Schneider Stampley

Southern Style Banana Pudding A light summer dessert! ½ cup sugar ⅓ cup all-purpose flour 3 eggs, separated 2 cups whole milk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla flavoring ½ stick butter (4 T.) Vanilla Wafers 3 ripe bananas, sliced Combine sugar and flour in heavy saucepan. Add egg yolks and milk, and blend. Cook uncovered on low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and add flavoring and butter. Spread small amount on bottom of casserole dish (approx. 9x9x3). Spread layer of wafers, then layer of sliced bananas, then layer of custard. Repeat layers. Top with meringue. Meringue: 3 egg whites ⅓ cup sugar ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar ¼ teaspoon vanilla Beat egg whites lightly, then add remaining ingredients. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of pudding and bake (not broil) at 350°.

To purchase Areeda’s Southern Cooking, a collection of old-fashioned recipes send $24.45 check (no credit cards) and mailing address to Areeda’s Southern Cooking, P. O. Box 202, Brentwood, TN 37024. Order online with PayPal or credit card at www.areedasoutherncooking.com.

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August 2021


The Sheriff’s Sidekick Releases Life Story

Jimmy Capps’ last wish has finally come true! Just before his death Capps did everything he could to make sure the life story of his best friend got written. In early 2020 Jimmy said, “Pete Wade and I played on thousands of recording sessions together. His resume makes me look like a slacker. He was a legendar y player, but he wa s an e ven greater friend. I think everyone who bought my book will also enjoy reading Pete’s story.” After the success of Capp’s autobiography “The Man in Back,” he asked his co-writer Scot England to also help Wade with his life stor y, titled “Pete Wade – My Life, My Guitar, My God’s Plan.” “I had the honor of going with Jimmy to visit Pete,” said England. “We all shared a meal and I got to ‘be a fly on the wall’ as I sat and listened to these two longtime friends share one memory after another. It was such a wonderful evening. None of us had any idea that it would be the last time Jimmy and Pete would be together.” While you might not recognize Wade’s name, you have heard his work thousands of times. To say that he has played on the biggest hits in country music history would be an understatement. Just a handful of those classic songs include Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn,” Mel Tillis’ “I Ain’t Never,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A” and Jeanne Pruett’s “Satin Sheets.”

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Wade also played guitar on Charley Pride’s “Mountain of Love,” Ray Price’s “For the Good Times,” Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City,” Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue,” Donna Fargo’s “The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.,” Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden,” and John Anderson’s “Swingin’.” Wade’s autobiography takes readers into the studio as he plays on those legendary country hits. He also shares memories of his years on the road with Ray Price, Patsy Cline, Jean Shepard, Kitty Wells and Elvis Presley. The Elvis chapter is quite interesting as Pete shares how he once had to give Elvis the shirt off his own back! The book’s foreword is written by Willie Nelson. That came as one final gift to Wade from his friend Jimmy. “Jimmy was in the hospital, just a couple weeks before he died. But his thoughts were still on his friend Pete and on making sure his book got done,” explained England. “He also wanted to get Willie Nelson involved with the book. Willie and Pete were together at the very beginning of their careers, as they played behind Ray Price. From his hospital bed, Jimmy helped arrange for Willie Nelson to write the foreword. So, this has really become a special tribute to Pete and also to Jimmy Capps.” The hardback book includes more than 100 rare photos from Wade’s personal collection. Each book costs $25.99, including postage. As a special bonus to CFR readers, Wade will personally autograph the first 1,000 books ordered for free! Wade’s “My Life, My Guitar, My God’s Plan”, is only available by mail order or an Amazon.com. Personal checks can be mailed to: England Media 102 Rachels Ct. Hendersonville TN 37075.

August 2021


Where the Stars are Buried by Renae Johnson, Renae the Waitress

Waylon Jennings: 1937 - 2002 Waylon Jennings died Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002, after a long battle with diabetes-related health problems. In December, his left foot was amputated at a Phoenix hospital, where he and his singer wife, Jessi Colter, had moved. He died peacefully at his home in Chandler, Arizona, with Jessi by his side. He was 64 years old. Waylon Arnold Jennings was born in Littlefield, Texas, on June 15, 1937. Jennings became a radio disc jockey at 14 and formed his own band not long afterwards. His success began in the mid-1960s and through the mid-1970s, but Jennings’ list of hits spanned four decades. He made 60 albums and had 16 country singles that reached No. 1. His hits included standards like “Good-Hearted Woman” and “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” His “Greatest Hits” album in 1979 sold four million copies. He won two Grammys and four Country Music Association awards. Other hits include “I’m a Ramblin’ Man”, “Amanda”, “Lucille”, “I’ve Always Been Crazy” and “Rose in Paradise”. Jennings escaped tragedy in 1959, when a plane he was scheduled to fly crashed, killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson. That day was later known as “the Day the Music Died.” Jennings joined the Outlaw movement in the 70s, and released several successful albums. His first platinum country music album was “Wanted! The Outlaws” with Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessi Colter. More success followed when he joined the country supergroup “The Highwaymen” with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash. Jennings toured less after 1997 and spent more time with his family due to health issues. He did team up later with Bobby Bare, Jerry Reed and Mel Tillis to form the “Old Dogs” and recorded a double album. In 2001, he was inducted into the Country Page 17

Music Hall of Fame, but chose not to attend the ceremony. Jennings made occasional appearances in TV movies, including “Stagecoach,” “Oklahoma City Dolls,” a Sesame Street movie called “Follow That Bird” and “Nashville Rebel.” T h e s i n g e r ’s deep, sonorous voice was unmistakable. He narrated the popular TV show “ T h e D u ke s o f Hazard” and sang its theme song, which became a million-seller. Celebration of Life Jennings’ funeral in Arizona on Feb. 15, 2002, was a private service, attended by his close friends and fellow musicians, which included Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and Hank Williams, Jr. Jessi , his wife, sang “Storms Ne ver La st.” Among those sending condolences that were read to the crowd were Graham Nash, Kenny Rogers, Billy Bob Thornton, Neil Diamond, James Garner, Metallica and Paul Simon. A private graveside service was held at the City of Mesa Cemetery. A memorial service was held on Saturday in Nashville at the Ryman Auditorium to remember the Outlaw. Shooter Jennings paid tribute to his father in song and story. Nashville disc jockey Carl Mayfield served as master of ceremonies as fans and country music legends packed the auditorium., including Country music artists Travis Tritt, Emmylou Harris, Charley Pride, Hank Williams, Jr., Kris Kristofferson, Kid Rock and Billy Ray Cyrus to name a few. Resting Place City of Mesa Cemetery, 1212 N. Center Street Mesa, Arizona 85201. Grave Location – Inside the entrance, turn left on Ninth Street and stop at the sixth tree on the left. 4th row from the curb. August 2021


Diner News It has been so great to see Nashville back to normal. In fact, tourism here is better than ever. Downtown Nashville is crowded with Country music fans having a great time. It is sad to see some of the smaller businesses that didn’t make it after the shut down, and of course you can still see the destruction from the bomb that went off downtown on Christmas day 2020. But folks are not wearing masks, and you can see happy faces again! We are happy to be going to Branson in October for a week of shows. So, get out of the house and come see us. You can still get tickets by calling the Clay Cooper Theater at (417) 332-2529.

Keith Bilbrey A tragic fire burned Keith and Emy Joe Bilbrey's home to the ground. It was caused by a spark from the outside grill. The fire had already spread to the side of the house before Keith went outside to check on it. It was a miracle their dog and both of them got out alive. Their cars even have fire damage. A benefit show at Mike Huckabees’ where Keith is also the announcer, was taped on July 15. Of course, the Country music community has reached out with love and support just like a family does. I will keep you updated.

Taping New Shows We have taped several new "Larry’s Country Diner Shows.” We've added a few new faces along with some of our favorites, including Gene Watson, Larry

Cruise Store Nadine and I are so excited about a new CRUISE online store at www.cfrcruise.com. There will be CD’s, DVD’s, Books, T-shirts, Mugs and all kinds of merchandise from all of the artists going on the cruise. And you will be able to pre-order a 2 0 2 2 C r u i s e DV D. A l l merchandise will be shipped as soon as it’s available. So check out the store and shop before we sail. For more Cr uise store info contact customer service at 800-820-5405. Page 18

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August 2021


Nadine’s Corner Well, here we are in August and can't hardly breathe outside, it's so humid. We have to stay inside where it's cooler, and I'm praying we make it through August together without killing each other! We got married for better or for worse. He couldn't do any better, and I couldn't do any worse! Our preacher told us we needed to go to a marriage weekend, so we did. The instructor said we need to know the things that are important to each other. He asked the men, "What is your wife's favorite flower?" Homer leaned over and whispered, "Martha White Self-Rising ain't it!" I smacked him with my fan. He told the instructor that if your dog is barking at the back door and your wife is yelling at the front door, let your dog in 'cause he'll shut up once you let him in! I was reading an article to Homer the other day, and it stated, "Man hit by train, Critical." Homer said, "Well, you can't hardly blame him!" I'm telling you, he is driving down the road of life with his hand brake on. Everybody ought to get married. After all, happiness is not the only thing in life! You know, you got to work to stay in love when you're married. Homer said it's like a cigar, if it goes out, you can light it again but it never quite tastes the same! So, get busy. Start remembering why you got married in the first place! Got to be some good reasons why. I'm trying to remember back that far! At this age, remembering is the hardest part. When I come up with some answers, I'll get back to you.

Love y'all, Nadine

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August 2021


Original Oak Ridge Boy was Accomplished Songwriter by Sasha Kay Dunavant

One of the original members of the group that would become the Oak Ridge Boys, John Wallace “Wally” Fowler, made the transition from florist to singer in 1936, when at age 19, he joined a harmony quartet and began writing music. While singing vocals for the John Daniel Quartet, the Adairsville, Georgia, native moved to Lubbock, Texas, when the group relocated. He continued writing songs, and in 1940 his composition, “I’m Sending You Red Roses,” became a hit for Jimmy Wakely. Fowler moved to Nashville, Tennessee, with The John Daniel Quartet and began performing on WSM radio station and the Grand Ole Opry. When Fowler decided to pursue a career apart from the John Daniel Quartet, he formed Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers with Chet Atkins as the new band’s lead guitarist. The group played regularly on a show called “Midday Merry Go Round” on WNOX-AM in Knoxville, Tennessee. From 1946- 1950 Fowler appeared on the “Prince Albert Show” on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1948, he performed in and became involved with the production of all-night gospel singings. He developed a particular format for these shows that became popular in Southern Gospel music and was used throughout the South for two decades. Fo w l e r f o r m e d a h a r m o n y q u a r te t t h a t performed weekly concerts for children near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the town where the atomic bomb Page 20

was secretly developed during World War II. It was only natural that the quartet be named “The Oak Ridge Boys.” The members of the group were Fowler, Curly Kinsey, Johnny New and Lon “Deacon” Freeman. Fowler left the Oak Ridge Boys in 1952. The Oak Ridge Boys eventually became hugely successful in the Country music world as well as remaining active in Gospel music. In the 1950s, Fowler began hosting a syndicate television show called, “The Wally Fowler Show.” The show featured performers such as, The Statemen, The Speers, Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters and other artists. Fowler continued to promote gospel music and variety shows in North Carolina. He had a semipopular gospel hit song in 1984 with the Tennessee Valley Boys called “Lo’ and Behold.” Fowler was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1988. Fowler wrote numerous songs, including five Country hits, such as “That’s How Much I Love You” and “I Couldn’t Believe It Was True,” with legend Eddy Arnold. His song entitled “Wasted Years” is a standard in the Gospel music arena having been recorded by more than 50 entertainers. Singer, songwriter, host and promoter, Fowler, who was born Feb. 15, 1917, drowned at age 77 at Tennessee’s Dale Hollow Lake, when he suffered a heart attack while fishing on June 3, 1994. He was survived by his widow, Judy Moss Fowler, and his daughters, Faith and Hope. Fowler was known throughout the Gospel music world as “The Man with a Million Friends” and “Mr. Gospel Music.” Watch “The Wally Fowler Show” here.

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August 2021


Marshal Chapman, July 2006 by Michael Buffalo Smith, www.kudzoomag.com The following interview appears In the book “My Kind of Country: Conversations with Cowboys, Gamblers, Outlaws and Songwriters” by Michael Buffalo Smith www.kudzoomag.com During the 13 years that GRITZ Magazine existed in cyberspace, we interviewed Nashville singer-song writer Ma r s h a l l C h a p m a n f o u r t i m e s . T h e f o l l o w i n g conversation was our third encounter, back in 2006. Now, before you start thinking we are play- ing favorites, know that Chapman is always doing something new, fresh and exciting. In addition to great albums and having her songs record- ed by an amazing array of artists (Jimmy Buffett recently covered "Call The Lamas") she also authored a pair of excellent books, and is featured a regular spot as commentator on XM Satellite Radio's Bob Edwards Show. At the time of the interview, Marshall had just released a new album called Mellowicious. I met Marshall for a late lunch at Vandyland in the West End area of Nashville. She introduced me to everyone and told me the 1960's style soda shop was one of her favorite hangouts. On the way in, Marshall was stopped by several different peo- ple, including a man she introduced as a "true football hero" from 1960's Vanderbilt University, Christie Hauck, class of '70 defensive back who inter- cepted the pass that set up the win- ning touchdown when Vanderbilt defeated the Bear Bryant-coached Crimson Tide in 1969. What is your favorite place to be in to write? The car is a really good place. Do you know Sam Shepard, the playwright? He's one of my heroes... Mine too. I love him. He used to drive through the desert with a yellow legal pad propped up on the steering wheel and would write while driving. He had to get out of the house to write. I do that too, sometimes I near- ly have a wreck. He's one of my heroes... Mine too. I love him. He used to drive through the desert with a yellow legal pad propped up on the steering wheel and would write while driving. He had to get out of the house to write. I do that too, sometimes I nearly have a wreck.

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Did you ever hear “Brownsville Girl” that he cowrote with Bob Dylan? It’s like 18 minutes long. It’s like one of his plays. Do you think any amphetamines were involved in that session? Well, quite possibly. (Laughs) That’s what Billy Joe (Shaver) was saying one time in this interview. They were talking about this speed that everybody was taking back in the early days. Shaver said, “Come to think of it we did write a lot of up- tempo songs back then.” (Laughs) But we were talking about Sam Shepard... Yeah, Sam Shepard. I got my degree in Theatrical Arts and did a lot of his plays in Spartanburg, Atlanta, Tryon and all around. I did True West. That’s cool. I saw True West in New York a few years ago. Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Riley played the two brothers, one the successful playwright, and the other the alcoholic brother. They were switching roles every other night, can you imagine? Their mother was played by Celia Weston from Drayton, S.C. which is really Spartanburg. Celia and I went to school together and played basketball together. She was also in the movie Junebug with that girl that was nominated for best actor, and I think that was one of the best roles she has done. I want to salute my friend Celia Weston, she played the mother. Anyway, Celia got Chris and me tickets for True West when it played in New York. This was just after Boogie Nights – nobody knew who John C. Riley or Philip Seymour Hoffman were. Chris and I got to meet them backstage. I remember Riley saying he would listen to Hank Williams III to get all pumped up to play the alcoholic brother. Do you only do songs that you write or do you ever do other people’s songs? I have recorded other people’s songs but probably 96% are my own. On my Rounder album (Take It On Home, 1982) I recorded a Check- Berry-esque version of Willie Nelson’s “Pick Up The Tempo.” And on Jaded Virgin (Epic, 1978) I cov- ered “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash and “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger. And also that Waylon and Billy Joe Shaver song “Just Because You Asked Me To.” Right now I do my own songs. I’ve thought about doing a record of songs I love written by other people. You know, like that one Nancy Griffith did – Other Voices, Other Rooms. I love that title.

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August 2021


my Lou Reed/Marianne Faithful “get out the razor blades” phase. I wrote an album’s worth of songs during that time that I never got around to recording. Those were my “missing years.” I was in total agony over this guy - I was just a mess. It was a very dark period. I wrote “Have A Little Faith” back then. But unlike the others, that song had hope – anybody could relate to it – so I dusted it off and recorded it for the new record.

Marshall Chapman One album that I really like is Tony Joe White’s The Heroines.It was all the girl singers that he admired, duets with everybody. That is so cool. I used to compare you to Patti Smith in some ways. Well, thank you. I admire her a lot. She dated Sam Shepard, as I recall. I was into her during a time when I was hopelessly in love with this guy. I was going through

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I re a d t h a t yo u r z o d i a c s i g n i s Capricorn. Did you have any ties to Capricorn Records in Macon? When The Tuckers (Marshall Tucker Band) came out with their first record, I noticed that they were on Capricorn Records. I thought wel l damn, I should be on Capricorn Records, since I’m a Capricorn, like it was my destiny or something. My birthday is January 7th. Phil Walden’s birthday is January 11th and that’s why he called it Capricorn Records. When you attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, what did you major in? French and Fine Arts. Tell me a little about life at Vandy and how it fit in with your songwriting and sports... Well, I was naive and innocent. I had my Martin D-28 with me. In those days, women students had to be back in the dorms by midnight. You had to sign out, and back in, on these cards near the dean of women's office. I remember playing songs for the girls on my hall in the stairwell after hours -- Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Hank Williams, Big Joe Turner. The acoustics in that stairwell were great. Lots of reverb. There was a student in my class named Woody Chrisman. We became friends and played music together. Woody ended up playing fiddle with Riders in the Sky and is now a mem- ber of the Grand Ol' Opr y. Sometimes we'd play offcampus parties. One time we played one and Bob Dylan was there. He was in town to record Nashville Skyline. I remember Allen Ginsburg was there.

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August 2021


guys knew how to write about women. As far as no longer living writers, Willa Cather was one I read as a girl. I think she was a big influence. You know, if I have a good book going, I never feel alone. Right now I’m reading Mad Girls in Love by Michael Lee West, and My Dark Places by James Ellroy. Do you read horror? I read Carrie, when it first came out. I have not read King since then. When I was editing my book I was freaking out and Lee Smith told me to get Stephen King’s On Writing. A wonderful book. As for non-fiction, I really like like Ann Lamott, Willie Morris, and James Frey, whatever he is. Fiction or non-fiction, I don’t care. The guy can write. I just got around to reading Lee’s Fair and Tender Lady. I was embarrassed that I had never read it. It kept me up all night. What a great book. I’m partial to Southern writers. Oh yeah, and let’s don’t forget Pat Conroy and Ellen Gilchrist. Sometimes I feel like those two read my mail when they write.

Thrill of a lifetime! Recently I played my first paying, live gig since Covid. I'd like to thank everyone who came out to Gallatin, TN, for this summer concert series on the grounds of the Sumner County Museum. But the thrill, for me, was being with Jett Williams, the only daughter of the late Hank Williams who was undoubtedly the greatest songwriter ever to come to Nashville. The man who inspired me to write (in 1977). “So thank you, Hank; You know it's a crying shame you're gone but it's the life you live, not the death you died That keeps me rocking on ... Yeah thank you, Hank; Wherever in the hell you are; It’s just a thank-you note; For the songs you wrote; From a girl in a downtown bar ... Rock on, everybody!” Who are some of your favorite authors? I love that question. My favorite is Truman Capote. I love the way he writes. It’s real bare bones. He uses mostly nouns and verbs, not flowery. Just bare bones. I love writers that make me want to scream out loud when I am reading them. Capote does that. My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird. Other favorite writers are Charles Bukowski because he is so brutally honest. I’m crazy about him. Suzanne Kingsbury. Lee Smith. Jill McCorkle. The late great Larry Brown. Silas House, a wonderful writer from Kentucky. William Gay. Jim Harrison and Hemingway, even though neither of those

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Have you ever read anything by Joyce Carol Oates? No, I have not. There is a writer here in town named Ann Patchett. She wrote a book called Bel Canto that is so good. It takes place in a South American country and involves an opera singer who’s been called to do a command performance at the vicepresident’s house, and some terrorists show up and hold people hostage. It’s an amazing book, the way the characters are transformed through that experience. But how creative – to be from Nashville and come up with something like that.

What’s next for Marshall Chapman? Got this new record coming out and I am hitting the road with it and I am still writing commentaries for The Bob Edwards Show (XM Satellite Radio) – the next one airs on tax day (April 15). I recorded “Jesus Was a Capricorn” for a Kris Kristofferson Tribute CD that will be out in June... so I’m staying busy. Where I come from, money is life’s report card. If that’s true, my sisters are making an A-plus and I’m making about a C-minus. (Laughs) •

August 2021


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June 2021


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