Country Reunion Magazine, March 2022

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Country Reunion m a g a z i n e

March 2022

Corey Layne Hot Club of Cowtown Del Wood Paige King Johnson Slim Andrews Ralph Emery Dollywood Nadine Renae the Waitress

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December 2021


Country Reunion Magazine Who’s inside? Corey Layne, p. 4Hot Club of Cowtown, p. 4Country Cooking, p. Kristian Montgomery, p. 6Chess Pie, p. Del Wood, p. 10-1 Paige King Johnson, p. 12-1 Ralph Emery, p. 1 Randy Travis, p. 14-1 Nadine, p. 1 Renea the Waitress, p. 1 Slim Andrews, p. 18-1 Music Notes, p. 20-2 Renea’s Book Club, p. 2

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Taping “Larry’s Country Diner”

March 2022


by Claudia Johnson Sometimes music is in the blood, and Corey Layne says it’s in his. The singer-songwriter’s grandfather played at the Grand Ole Opry, and his father began teaching him to sing and play at age two. That was 34 years ago, and Layne is not stopping “I’ve known all my life this is what I wanted to do,” he said of his profession. “Sometimes it’s hard, b u t I ke e p t h e faith. Pe r f o r m i n g a s early as age ve and writing music as a pre-teen, he’s spent his life honing his music skills as a writer, singer and musician. At age 12 he and his father recorded their own CD In 2003 he won an international singing competition held at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis “I got on that stage very nervous, but when I started singing, I just knew that God had put this dream in me,” he said. “I knew right then and there that it was what I wanted to be doing the rest of my life. As the son of a minister, it was tting that he began his professional career singing background vocals with several prominent gospel artists. When he signed a record deal with MD Records and hit the road promoting his rst album, his life changed suddenly and not in a good way. He was involved in a serious automobile accident that left him with multiple facial scars and a degree of impairment in his hands, which he feared would impede his guitar playing “This was the lowest point of my life until recently when I contracted COVID 19 and was hospitalized,” he recalled. “Though I had a strong faith, the accident and its aftermath made me question everything. What gave me solace was believing there had to be a purpose in life for God to have given me this talent and the belief that I had something to o er country music fans.”

As it turned out, it was music that proved to be the most healing medicine of all. In 2017 Layne became singularly focused on his talent as a writer and putting to words and music to the impact of his struggles. His rst single released in December 2019, "Cold December,” inspires with the resounding sincerity of his soprano voice and searing lyrics. The following year he released “Stay with Me,” which was co-written with hit songwriter and multiplatinum-selling music producer Steve Freeman “Corey doesn’t sound like everyone else in Nashville, which is what initially drew me to him,” Freeman said. “The real, rawness of his voice just cuts through and makes you want to listen.” He released another single, “Excuse Me,” and was poised for ever ything he’d prepared to accomplish when Covid 19 stopped the music industry –and just about everything else – cold.

Watch to Corey Layne on “Larry’s Country Diner” March 10 & 12

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Music in the Blood of Singer-Songwriter Corey Layne

March 2022


is a natural. He certainly had plenty of experience having played throughout the years at bene ts hosted by his parents and at the premier event held every year, The National Cornbread Festival, in his hometown of South Pittsburg, Tennessee “I love South Pittsburg,” Layne said with passion about the small town in the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau. “I love to go up on the mountain and just look down on the town. It’s where I was raised, and letting people know that Listen to Corey Layne’s “Let’s Take Tonight” O cial Music Video South Pittsburg is home is a big deal to me. To make it worse, he contracted Covid in Layne lives in Nashville now to be near the mid-2021, and almost died. In fact, he said the opportunities that can suddenly present themselves doctors were close to putting him on a ventilator to entertainers. He’s found another kind of home in when a miracle happened his wife, Brieanne. “A nurse whispered in my ear and began praying “I am blessed with a wife that supports my for me,” he said. “I felt peace. The next day I was music,” he said. “She says for me to ‘go head on’ feeling better and after that I began to recover with it. She is an angel that has helped me so quickly. God stepped in and said ‘I’ve got other much. plans for you, son’. After several serious struggles, Layne is healing, One of those plans unfolded when Larry Black moving forward…ready for the next good thing called Layne personally with an invitation to “I said to God, “I’m willing,” Layne said, adding, perform on “Larry’s Country Diner. “And I know You are able.” “I had watched the show for years, and it was a Listen to his music at coreylayne.com. dream of mine to be on it,” he said, admitting that he rst did not believe that it was really Larr y himself making the call. Of course, he said yes, and like a whirlwind he found himself performing on the s a m e r o s t e r a s Pa u l Overstreet, The Goldens and Hot Club of Cowtown. His show will run the first weekend in March, which is looking like a busy time for L a y n e . He ’s b o o ke d a t Na s h v i l l e ’s C o m m o d o r e Lounge on March 10 and on March 12 at the Listening Room Café As a live performer, Layne Listen to Corey Layne’s “Stay with me” O cial Music Video

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March 2022


Hot Club of Cowtown – Music for an Old-fashioned Good Time by Claudia Johnso Ho t C l u b o f C o w t o w n i s bringing its distinctive sound to “Larry’s Country Diner. “We’re a rustic act,” said Elana James, ddler player for the Austin, Texas,-based trio. “We do hot jazz, 1930s and ‘40s vintage Parisian hot swing, but we also do western music. In 1994 in New York City, James placed an ad in the music s e c t i o n o f T h e Vi l l a g e Vo i ce looking to join a band, and guitarist Whit Smith answered it. Since then, the music these two have made has always been a secret brew of energy, joie de vivre and a respect for tradition that is often imitated but never equaled. “If rosin were ammable, violinist Elana would be charged with arson,” commented a reviewer on the ink19.com website By 1997, after founding a much larger Western swing orchestra in NYC, and the two pared back down to their essential elements. The duo that began as “Whit & Elana” grew with the addition of a bass player into Hot Club of Cowtown. Joining James and Smith in 2020, Zack Sapunor is the current bass player. The original trio moved to Austin, Texas, and released its rst album, “Swingin’ Stampede,” in 1998 after signing with American roots label H i g h To n e Re c o r d s . “ Ta l l Ta l e s ” ( 1 9 9 9 ) and “Dev’lish Mary” (2000) soon followed In all Hot Club of Cowtown has released 16 albums worldwide. Two of those pay homage to We s t e r n music. “What Ma ke s Bob Holler” arrived in 2011 with Western swing standards made famous by Bob Wills and his Texas P l a y b o y s , a n d i n 2 0 1 6 “M i d n i g h t o n t h e Trail” reimagined cowboy ballads, traditional Western swing and songs by Gene Autry, Cindy Walker, Johnny Mercer, Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan and others “Unfussy and unpretentious, their blend of down-home melodies and exuberant improvisation

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harks back to a lost era of so-called western swing,” wrote Clive Davis in The London Times. “When they plunge into Orange Blossom Special your thoughts turn not so much to runaway trains as to a B-52 tearing up a runway. Celebrating its 25th year in 2022, the trio looks back over an extensive touring career, both domestically and abroad, on their own and with other artists. Among the Country musicians with whom they have toured are Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and the Mavericks The Belfast Telegraph called the Hot Club of Cowtown “a pretty much perfect country trio at the very top of their game. They’ve been headliners at jazz, folk and bluegrass festivals everywhere from the U.S. to Spain, to Scotland, Ireland and England, to Australia and Japan, but they list as a career highlight tra veling a s US State Depar tment Musical Ambassadors to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Algeria, the Republic of Georgia and the Sultanate of Oman “Austin trio Hot Club of Cowtown sounds like it’s spent the last 40 years in tiny rural clubs,” stated a review in The Onion. “The group’s old-fashioned mixture of Western swing and hot jazz leaves all the irony at home, and what’s left is a refreshingly sweet-natured, accomplished, old-school treat, mixing the perky rhythms of swing masters like Bob Wills with the European gypsy music of Django Reinhardt. March 2022


They have been inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame in 2004 and were asked to play at the grand opening of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. They were also included in Midsummer Night’s Swing at Lincoln Center “While its repertoire and style draw from classic western swing and hot violin/guitar jazz of the Parisian 1930s and ’40s, it’s one of the most original groups on the Americana circuit, deserving of attention both live and on record,” Craig Havighurst wrote of the trio in the Nashvi e Tennessean

On “Larry’s Country Diner”

“Perhaps the rst thing one notices when listening to the Hot Club of Cowtown is its lack of irony, self-consciousness and forced hipness in embracing a style of music that so easily lends itself to such things,” wrote Neil Strauss in The New York Times. “Stylistically, the band steps out from the shadow of its in uences to become more than a faithful retro band that likes to raise its tempo every now and then…conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time. Watch for their upcoming performance on “Larry’s Country Diner” on March 24 and 26 and catch past visits to the diner on Country RoadTV. For tour dates visit hotclubofcowtown.com

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The London Times lauded the trio for its “downhome melodies and exuberant improvisation,” while The Independent noted that the band existed “at that crossroads where country meets jazz and chases the blues away.” In demand for television appearances, the trio has appeared on U.S., U.K. and Middle Eastern television shows, among them were “$40 a Day with Rachael Ray,” “Grand Ol’ Opry Live” and “Texas Music Cafe. Their album “Four Dead Batteries” is a compilation of tracks by Whit Smith’s Hot Jazz Caravan and the Hot Club of Cowtown and is the on the soundtrack of the movie “Four Dead Batteries.” Their music also appears on the soundtrack of indie movie “In Search of a Midnight Elana James with Lupa, her new companion Kiss. Page 7 March 2022 countryreunionmagazine.com


Eva was unaware she was not Human By Claudia Johnso Editor’s Note: When Elana James visited “Larry’s Country Diner” recently, she had with her a new dog, Lupa. What happened to Eva, the dog who thought she was a person that was the subject my 2014 interview with Country’s Family Reunion News? According to James, Eva passed away peacefully in her sleep at age 14 on Jan. 16, 2018. In memory of Eva, we are reprinting her story here along with a photo taken of her and the trio at the time the story was published.

It is altogether possible that Eva does not realize she is a dog. And why would she She is the owner of this beautiful human named Elana James. She’s a member of the group Hot Club of Cowtown. She’s traveled throughout most of North America. She’s even toured with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. Oh, and she’ll soon be a published author. At 11, Eva, a Welsh corgi-Australian shepherd mix, has plenty to write about. Her book, “My Life on Tour with The Hot Club of Cowtown,” isn’t quite a tellall, but it does o er a dog’s eye view of the journeys of the Austin-based group that includes Jake Erwin, Whit Smith and James “She really knows how to be one of the band,” James said. “She simultaneously guards us and allows herself to be petted. She rides the razor’s edge. The lifelong and life altering relationship between James and Eva began with what James calls a “failed” attempt at fostering Eva, who was still a puppy “I guess we were a failed foster family because I kept her,” James said. “I’d had several other foster dogs, but I’d never felt the same connection. Eva’s rst experience on the road was a tour of minor league baseball parks with Cowtown opening for Nelson and Dylan. When Eva’s idyllic summer of plush, green elds and adoring fans ended, she and Nelson were photographed together – she wearing her Willie braids and the pair wearing matching smiles “ S h e ’s a d a p t e d w e l l , ” Ja m e s s a i d . “ S h e understands ‘the hang’.” If we play at a performing arts center, she’s like a little hostess. She brings people together, gives them a little kiss on the ankle.

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She evokes this sweet, earthy vibe that is so precious. Sometimes Eva sleeps onstage, completely at peace, despite the excitement and passion of Cowtown’s lively music, but sometimes she’s o stage, working the crowd, allowing fans to pet her “I see people go into this meditative state,” James observed. “You go see a band and have no idea you’re going to get to pet a little Buddha dog. Sometimes Eva draws as much attention as the human members of Hot Club of Cowtown “I never mind that,” James said. “I am as enamored by her as much as everyone else. Besides, I don’t think you can be upstaged by a dog. If I am, I need to practice more! James said Eva’s presence with the group “deepens what we do. “We’re a rustic act,” James said. “We do hot jazz, 1930s and ‘40s vintage Parisian hot swing, but we also do western music. Animals are part of Western life, and who would not want them to be? Despite Eva’s star status, personally for James, Eva is a companion and a friend. With many of her nights spent far from her Austin, Texas, home, James has learned to create a peaceful space in an unfamiliar room through use of her own pillow, quilt and other personal items strategically placed. And, of course, there’s Eva “I always appreciate what this sweet, loving, constant creature brings,” James said. “It is hard for me to ever articulate her in uence in my life.

March 2022


Areeda’s southern cooking by Areeda Schneider Stampley

Chess Pie This traditional Southern pie is a Tennessee State Fair Blue Ribbon winner

1/2 cup butter, room tem 1 & 1/2 cups sugar 1 tablespoon all-purpose ou 1 tablespoon cornmea 1 & 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla 3 large egg 1 & 1/2 teaspoons white vinega Pinch of sal 1 teaspoon grated lemon rin Pie crust, unbake Cream together butter and sugar. With a spoon mix in remaining ingredients, adding eggs one at a time (beating after each one). Pour into unbaked 9” crust. Put on lowest rack in preheated 350° oven, then reduce to 325°. Bake 40-45 min. Test doneness by piercing with sharp knife

To purchase Areeda’s Southern Cooking, a co ection 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. March 2022

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Queen of the Ivories Spent 35 Years as Opry Pianist by Sasha Dunavan

“A man’s name is good for a record artist,” Wood said in a 1962 interview In uenced by what she heard on the radio as Wood’s rst “music” job was selling sheet a child during the post-World War I era, Del music as a demonstrator in a record shop, where Wood grew to love ragtime music and honky she played the latest hits and popular classics on tonk music. However, it was Country music that the piano. It was there she developed her style, made the accomplished pianist unforgettable which she later learned was a combination of Though her parents originally tried to ragtime and Dixieland. persuade Wood to perform Classical music when Wood became a sta pianist for WLBY in she showed talent on the piano as a preschooler, Bowling Green, Kentucky. The job led to her d u r i n g h e r t h i r t i e s Wo o d a d m i t te d t h a t work with a group called Hugh “Baby” Jarret and performing on the Grand Ole Opry stage was her his Dixieliners after they heard Wood play “Down real dream. Yonder.” "The classics are such “When I learned that my that you are playing chances of having a child someone else's material and were slim, I felt I had to do you must play them something more with my perfectly,” she stated in a life than just keep house,” 1984. “In ragtime, you can she said in an interview give it your own She found more secure i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . To m e , employment as a clerk for ragtime and country music the Tennessee Department are the only true American o f He a l t h , b u t s h e music forms we have. continued practicing piano Ragtime has so much getand trying to break into the up-and-to that i t 's music business for 10 long infectious; it's part of our years heritage." Out of the blue an Once while Wood was executive who was playing with numerous launching a record company Del Wood musicians in a vacant studio remembered her from located above a grocer y working at the music shop store, the police showed up during a particularly and hired her to become professional pianist lively jam session believing they had identi ed an She began recording sessions with the operating brothel. They quickly realized they had Tennessee Records label in 1951. “Down Yonder” stumbled upon a handful of great musicians and a was Wood’s most successful hit causing her to few instruments that created so much music that become the rst solo instrumentalist to sell a it lled the room million copies of a record. Wood was awarded Born Polly Adelaide Hendricks on Feb. 22, with a gold disc and the national hit made the 1920, the pianist married Carson Eugene Billboard chart for Pop and Country music. Hazelwood. In 1941 and shortened her rst name The success led to Wood’s performing on the and her married name to become “Del Wood.” Grand Ole Opry. By 1953 Wood was a full-time performer on the Opry.

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March 2022


While recording with RCA Victor Records for eight years in the 1950s, Wood was able to express her love for music through Honky Tonk and Country stereo recordings, resulting in six bigselling LPs along with her mega-hit, “Down Yonder.

Justin Tubb, Del Wood, Pete Drake, Jan Howard

In a 1988 interview Wood revealed that she had hated her health department job, saying that “Down Yonder” had liberated her “from the typewriter keys to the 88s. Wood was often interviewed on and o camera. She was usually introduced as “The Queen of Hillbilly Music,” “The Queen of Ragtime,” or “The Queen of the Country Music Piano Players.” In the early 1960s she signed with Mercury Records and released “Ragtime Goes South of the Border. In 1988 Wood celebrated her 35th anniversary as a star of the Opry and still held the record as the only million-selling female instrumentalist in Pop music history. Along with Kitty Wells and Lorrie Morgan, she was at that time one of only three native Nashvillians to have been Opry cast members “I remember my rst guest spot on the Opry because it was the day after my birthday in February 1952,” Wood said. “I couldn’t believe it when they started calling me back each week. All of a sudden I became a regular. Wood performed in Viet Nam, S o u t h Ko r e a , Au s t r a l i a a n d t h e Philippines, but she was glad she

Click to watch Del Wood play

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stayed with the Opry and her hometown. In an interview she recalled having turned down a twoweek stint at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami making $2,500 per week “I have never regretted my choice,” she told the reporter. “I’d rather eat for a long time than eat high of the hog for just a little while. Country fans are so loyal. You don’t nd that in any other eld of music. Although, none of her other hits had the same fame as “Down Yonder,” Wood recorded and sold many records during her lengthy music career. In 1968 Wood toured with the Grand Ole Opry package tours during the Vietnam war. Wood consistently perform of The Grand Ole Opry stage until shortly before her death from a stroke on Oct. 3, 1989, at age 69. She was no longer married at that time and was survived by her son, Wesley Carson Hazelwood Her tombstone at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville has a piano keyboard with the words “Queen of the Ivories.

March 2022


Industrious Young Artist Carries Country Tradition Forward Country music singer-songwriter Paige King Johnson proves that no amount of clever tricks and games can lure her into falling head over heels with the release of her music video for her latest single, “Baby Don’t. Johnson is pictured holding on to an apple throughout the video, but unlike Eve, she doesn’t give in to taking a bite. The video shows how tempting it is to be blinded by charm, recognizing the lack of feelings involved. Directed by Pam Tillis and Whitney Wolanin, the video’s concept comes to life through over-the-top visuals, colors, and costumes. “Shooting this video was a project like I’ve never done before,” Johnson said. “Having Pam at the wheel and sitting in the passenger seat was one of the most fun and most creative things I’ve done so far in my career! I love the direction this video took for ‘Baby Don’t,’ highlighting the themes of temptation in an all-too-familiar Adam and Eve tale.”

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Born in a quiet North Carolina town just 22 miles south of Raleigh, as a young 9-year-old girl, Johnson spent her summers under the crepe myrtles imitating the styles of Loretta, Patsy, Waylon and Merle. Having a grandpa as her biggest fan also meant receiving the gift of her rst guitar – a baby Taylor – and enrolling in lessons. After her grandpa passed, the bright-eyed dreamer carried on his memory by taking her newfound discovery to local fairs, festivals and any other stage she was allowed to stand on As she grew older, Johnson added “opening act” to her resume, supporting chart-topping artists like Kane Brown, Joe Nichols, Gabby Barrett, Jimmie Allen, Scotty McCreery, Neal McCoy and James Otto With high school graduation came the realization that this was more than a hobby. The Angier native traded in horse pastures and back roads for the bright lights of Music City in 2015. March 2022


Watch “Baby Don’t”

Watch “Just Like You”

Upon starting school at Belmont University for Music Business, Johnson honed in on the magic that had heavily in uenced her as a child – the art of storytelling through songwriting The famous Bluebird Café was just one of many writers’ circuits around Nashville that provided a safe space for Johnson to meet other writers, try out new tunes and get feedback. In return, Johnson began captivating audiences with her down-home stage presence, cut straight to the bone stories and raw country voice, reminiscent of the classic country era. In the last four years, Johnson has traveled back and forth between Nashville and the Carolinas, playing shows like the North Carolina State Fair and running her dinner theater, Country on the Outskirts of Town, that she founded in high

school. Johnson’s quarterly show, “The Country Yard Party,” provides an atmosphere for locals to enjoy Southern cooking, fellowship with friends and the sounds of classic and current country music with some gospel thrown in. A three-time Carolina Country Music Awards Winner for Female Vocalist of the Year, Country Emerging New Artist and Tour of the Year, Johnson’s devoted homegrown fan base continues to expand farther than just her backyard. With a conviction to write and record genuine songs she can be proud of for years to come, Johnson says that she is ready to go down any path that calls her name – as long as she can walk it in her favorite pair of boots For more information or to watch her videos,

Paige Lends Support to Mid South Liver Alliance Initiativ Paige King Johnson put her mic aside and shared her 2,500-step daily walk with The Mid South Liver Alliance’s WALK WITH ME annual fundraiser Recognizing that just getting in a few steps every day can prevent and even repair some amount of liver damage, Paige is one of the celebrity walking buddies on the month-long push to get people in the Mid South to make walking a daily part of their lives Click to Walk with Paige “Our goal is to get people moving,” said Teresa Davidson, Executive Director of Mid South Liver Alliance. “We know that the Southern states rank between 1-11 as the unhealthiest states. Walk With Me lets people walk with grab a family member or friend – or walk with celebrities like Paige – to gradually increase steps during the month and to make walking part of a daily event. Money raised by the initiative will help build patient services funds for states served by the Alliance. Click here to register. “We are so grateful to Paige for her support for Mid South Liver Alliance,” Davidson said. “Paige taped a wonderful 2,500 step walk through her own neighborhood. She talks the entire way and tells you when it is time to turn around. Davidson noted there are no excuses about not having someone to walk with. With the Walk With Me video collection, participants may pick someone new each time or repeat walks with a favorite WALK WITH ME walking buddy

Click to Listen

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March 2022


by Country Community by Claudia Johnso

Country music radio legend Ralph Emery passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Jan. 15, 2022. The 2007 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee was born March 10, 1933, in McEwen, Tennessee, and rose above his difficult childhood with dysfunctional parental relationships to become known as “the Dick Clark of country music” and “the Johnny Carson of cable television. “Radio became my surrogate family,” he once said Emery worked as movie theater usher and a Kroger stock boy during his teen years to save enough money to enroll in a broadcasting school taught by John R Richbourg, a legendary DJ in his own right “I practiced and practiced, in school and at home,” Emery recalled, “talking and listening real hard to myself to rid my speech of its horrendous regionalism. Richbourg recommended Emery for his rst broadcasting job in 1951 at WTPR in Paris, Tennessee, where he made $39.50 a week and his rst assignment was a 15-minute newscast. He soon moved back to Nashville and signed on at WNAH, but soon found himself at WAGG, in Franklin, Tennessee, where he interviewed country stars Webb Pierce and Marty Robbins

“I suddenly felt,” he later explained, “that being in radio was unequivocally the right thing for me after all.” In late 1953 Emery joined the sta of pioneering Nashville radio station WSIX, which was his rst station of more than a thousand watts ( ve thousand), his rst station with network a liation (ABC) and his rst full-time job in radio. Emery’s rst television experience came in 1954 at WSIXTV as an announcer for live studio wrestling In 1956 he spent a month working for WLCS Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On his return to Nashville he worked at rock & roll radio station WMAK Emery started the graveyard shift at Nashville’s fty-thousand-watt radio station WSM, “the Air Castle of the South,” in November 1957 at age 24, where he remained as an all-night disk jockey from 1957 to 1972. Emery welcomed newcomers as well as seasoned artists into his WSM studio. “My old friend, and he was a friend, Ralph Emery, was a real piece of work, as we’d say in Texas,” said Larry Gatlin. “Not long after I left Texas and hit Nashville, Ralph took Dottie West’s advice / hint / order to put this upstart Gatlin boy on his TV show. Well, old Ralph did just that and that Gatlin boy’s life was forever changed.

Click to watch the all-star salute

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Ralph Emery’s Loss Felt

March 2022


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It was not uncommon for his guests to perform music but also brought to life the stories on the show, and sometimes there were even surrounding the singers and the songs through his impromptu jam sessions with some of Country’s interviews and TV programs. He really helped take biggest stars like Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, our format into people’s living rooms and broaden Willie Nelson, and Marty Robbins. the fan base with integrity for the art and humor. “It breaks my heart to learn of Ralph Emery’s Emery became a national star on TNN and was passing,” said Lynn. “Ralph and I go way back. He even voted Favorite Cable Personality in Cable Guide w a s a Na s h v i l l e o r i g i n a l a n d y o u c a n n o t magazine at the time. underestimate the role he played in the growth and “He did more to promote country music than success of country music. He made you feel at ease anyone I know,” said Ricky Skaggs. “First of all, his and interviewed everyone just like an old friend… he late-night radio show on WSM was heard from was one of the best. coast-to-coast and border-to-border, but his Emery, who announced on the Grand Ole Opry ‘Nashville Now’ television show on TNN was the from 1961 to 1964, was elected to the Country biggest boost country music ever had. People were Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1989 buying satellite dishes all across North America just “He helped introduce a whole galaxy of country so they could watch Ralph’s TV show. All of us artists to the world, myself included, and I will be wanted to be on his show, and if you were lucky forever grateful,” said Pam enough to be asked to host the show, Tillis. “His contribution to which I did quite a few times, that Na s h v i l l e a n d b e y o n d i s was a big deal…Thanks Ralph.” nothing less than country Emer y’s close friend, Barbara music history. Mandrell, organized a televised all-star W h e n a Na s h v i l l e salute to Emery in 1990, during which television producer named 70 top country stars paid him tribute. Elmer Alley heard Emery on When he passed, she shared a video the radio, he thought the of her favorite interview with him on engaging disc jockey would be social media good on television. Emery’s Emery recounted the story of his rst local show, the early life and career and shared stories of Emery’s Best-Selling Book morning “Opry Almanac,” the many country stars and celebrities began in 1963 on WSM-TV he has known in best-selling volumes and featured Emery in front of a mock sink, as if in beginning with Memories: The Autobiography of a kitchen having co ee and chatting with viewers. Ralph Emery (1991), which spent 25 weeks on the He moved to afternoons with “Sixteenth New York Times bestseller list. He followed Avenue,” which ran from 1966 to 1969. He then left with More Memories (1993), The View om local television for three years before spending early Nashvi e (1998) and 50 Years Down a Country mornings from 1972 to 1991 hosting the “Ralph Road (2000) Emery Show.” Emery also hosted the nationally In 2007, Emery returned to TV, hosting an syndicated weekly TV series “Pop Goes the interview show, “Ralph Emery LIVE,” on cable Country” from 1974 to 1980, and the live weekly channel RFD-TV. A mammoth collection of his show “Nashville Alive” 1981 to 1982 on cable many past interviews, “Emery’s Memories,” was superstation WTBS o ered for sale as a set of 46 audio CDs and two When The Nashville Network launched, DVDs Emery was tapped to host its rst primetime “I’ve always tried to bring respect to country show, “Nashville Now.” During its 10-year run music,” Emery has said. “I’ll be very content if from 1983 to 1993, Emery brought new stars and people can look on me and say, ‘He brought dignity country legends together for music and talk in a to his craft,’ or, ‘He brought class to the business.’ setting reminiscent of his radio talk show He is survived by his wife, Joy Emery, three sons, “Ralph was one of the best friends country ve grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren music ever had,” said John Anderson. “He loved the Page 15 March 2022 countryreunionmagazine.com


Nadine’s Corner

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RENAE THE WAITRESS New Shows New shows are airing this month and I hope you are enjoying them. They were so much fun as you can see!! We had some changes in our guests due to Covid. Here are the Artists coming up: Rhonda Vincent, Corey Layne, William Lee Golden & Family, Hot Club of Cowtown, Paul Overstreet, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Bill Anderson and Teea Goans.

Country’s Family Reunion Magazine The Country’s Family Reunion Magazine book, Year 10 - 2021, should be available this month. It was submitted for printing on Jan.15 along with Phil’s Funnies. Everyone who has preordered will have their orders shipped rst. Two Nashville snowstorms along with lack of help have added to the delays, but hang in there. It will be worth the wait. Order here. Sadness Phil and I will be in Arizona this month for Phil’s sister’s Memorial service. Peggy died on January 26 do to complications from an earlier stroke. Some of you met her on our Cruises. I know one couple (Kim and Gerald Wilson) became such good friends that they kept in touch for years after the cruise. There has been much support from so many artists that also loved Peggy. One of Peggy’s favorite Christian/Country artists, Gordon Mote, will be singing and helping with the music. Many of you have also lost loved ones during these Covid years and also were not allowed to be with them during their ill- ness and passing. May the peace of God sustain us until we see them again. I hope to nish taping Nashvi e Memorial Tours DVD Volume 4 soon. I will be adding the nal resting place of Ralph Emery to this volume.

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Remembering Slim Andrews, a Maine Country Music Icon by Maria Ho owa photo by Lauryn Hottinger

The Maine Country Music Hall of Fame bids farewell to Slim Andrews, Hall of Fame co-founder and country music legend. He was born Leonard “Slim” Andrews Huntington, Jr. in Boston, Massachusetts. On January 15, 2022, the Maine country music icon went to “sing and strum with the angels” at the age of 90. Most recently Slim Andrews resided in Auburn, Maine with his wife, Carole Ann. Slim was a lifelong country music singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist. He co-founded the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978 and in 2008 was instr umental in establishing the Hall of Fame Museum in Mechanic Falls, the only museum of its kind east of Nashville. He was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002. Until very shortly before his death, Slim was very active in the day-to-day business of the Hall of Fame serving as Chairperson of the Induction Committee and museum tour guide, par excellence. He made several recent appearances on local television including Maine Public and WMTW Channel 8

I cherish sweet memories of Slim -- a kind, warm, gentle man with a sharp wit and bright sense of humor. He had a way of making those he met feel like an old friend. He putting people at ease and valued, respected and appreciated them. His in nite knowledge of Maine country music history was astounding Slim was forever dedicated to family, work, and music. He was a man who faced many life challenges and losses but who bravely soldiered on, giving it his all, no matter the circumstances. “I’ve been blessed,” he would say through it all, as one door closed and another opened. Jim Flynn of Lewiston, a good friend of Slim Andrews’ who himself passed away in 2019, was a notable Maine country music songwriter and educator.

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Slim Andrews, of Auburn, Maine -- Co-Founder of the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Maine country music icon, father, husband, friend. On Jan. 15, 2022, Slim Andrews went to “sing and strum with the angels” at 90

March 2022


The excerpt below is from a tribute Jim wrote in 2018, highlighting Slim’s life and legacy Slim Andrews will be remembered by the Maine Country Music Community as a dedicated country music artist and as a leader and catalyst for growth in Maine country music during the 70s and 80s and in the rst two decades of the 21st century. Slim Andrews' in uence on Maine country music has made it one of the most popular of the performing arts in the State of Maine As a dedicated country music artist, which was always Slim's rst love, he spent seven decades on sta ge performing. It all started in 1942 when Slim gave his rst public performance at age 11 when he won a talent contest at the Community Theater in New Auburn, Maine. Seventy years later Slim is still actively engaged in Maine country music Slim was born on June 14, 1931, in the Roxbury area of Boston, Massachusetts. After spending the rst six months of his life in Boston, Slim and his family moved to Auburn, Maine, and remained there until the death of his beloved mother in 1944. In 1946 he moved back to Dorchester, Massachusetts, and that's when Slim got his life into second gear. After his high school graduation, and later subsequently his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army where Slim entertained fellow troops on special assignments occasionally while stationed in Germany, he returned home and married his high school sweetheart and fathered ve sons and one daughter. From 1952 to 1954 he played mostly in churches with an accordion player on Sunday evenings. In 1958 he put together a group called The Berkshire Mountain Boys based in Brockton and for the next 13 years Slim and The Berkshire Mountain Boys played a whole lot of country music Slim returned to Maine in 1971 and began to in uence the direction that Maine country music would take. He and Gini Eaton, who later became his second wife, ran a country music establishment in Windham, Maine named The Silver Spur o ering live country music and dancing. Soon Slim and Gini formed the Slim Andrews Enterprises Booking Agency, which brought many well-known acts from Nashville into the State of Maine, other New England states, and upstate New York. Slim and Gini introduced the rst State of Maine Country Music All Star-Review of Top Maine Talent that included other New England award-winning acts. In 1977, along with Barry Deane, they founded the Maine Country Music Association, the rst of its kind in Maine. Slim became its rst acting president. In 1980, Slim was recognized by the Maine Sunday Telegram as one of Maine's most in uential drivers of country music With the leadership Slim continued to provide, the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame was established in 1978, followed by the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in 2008, now located at The Silver Spur in

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Mechanic Falls. If you have never seen it, you're missing out on an outstanding display of the history of country music in Maine In addition to Slim lending his strong administrative skills to the advancement of country music in Maine, he was still performing as many as 70 plus live appearances a year. He was also recording albums of songs he had written and others he had written with his son, Jamie Huntington. Slim Andrews is one of the most popular independent country music artists on the International Independent Country Music Radio Network and the Joyce Ramgatie International Mainstream Top 200 Artists Chart and Top 40 Single Chart. In 2017, Slim's songs were played 85,139 times on Indie Radio, he appeared on 95% of the Top 200 Artists posted that year, and he also appeared on 45% of the Top 40 Single Charts. He recorded a new song called, "In My Old Pickup Truck", a tribute to Johnny Cash, which was released to radio in early January, 2018. What's so special about this recording is that it was Slim's rst new recording in seven years, that it was recorded at the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and that because of Slim's loss of vocal power resulting from his throat cancer battles, he decided to recite the lyrics of the song instead of singing them. That took courage because he had never done a full recitation before on any of his recordings Each of Slim's songs averages 14,000 plays a year. The fact that Slim, at the age of 86 is generating more air play than ever before in his life and reaching millions of listeners in the process, is absolutely astounding. It's an achievement never before equaled by any 86-year-old Maine country music artist in the history of Maine country music. Before 2018 is over, it is predicted that Slim will have a three-year record of having his songs played 200,000 times on Indie radio Slim Andrews is one-of-a-kind. His courage and perseverance over the years is extremely admirable. He has had several bouts with cancer, including throat cancer. He has lost two wives and three sons to various illnesses, and yet somewhere along the way he found the strength to write a song called "Born To Win". He also wrote an awardwinning song called "The Autumn of Our Lives", a tribute to his present wife, Carole Ann, who is loved not only by Slim but by everyone who knows her. Where God nds these inimitable men like Slim, I can't say. I can say that Slim Andrews is in a class all by himself.” For booking call 207-654-2227 o m a r i a h o l l o w a y 2 0 7 @ g m a i l . co m Donations in Slim’s memory may be made to the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, PO Box 62, Athens, ME 04912

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Jeanne Pruett’s Son Passes Jack and Jeanne Pruett’s son, Jack Jr., died on Feb. 1, 2022. In 1955, when Jack Pruett returned from the service, he and Jeanne married. The pair moved to Nashville in 1956 so that Jack continue performing in Price's band. The couple lived in a trailer park and were neighbors to country performers. While still living at the trailer, Pruett gave birth to their rst child, Jack Jr. on Feb. 27, 1956. Shortly after t h e b i r t h , Ja c k Pr u e t t accepted a job playing guitar in Marty Robbins’ road band. After accepting the position, the family moved into a two-story house in Nashville. At their new home, the couple were neighbors to The Wilburn Brothers. In 1958, the couple welcomed their second child, Jael, and moved to a larger estate in the Nashville area. In later years, Jack Jr. and Jael became musicians themselves and often performed with Jeanne onstage.

Dollywood Supports Education Dollywood is encouraging its employees to pursue their education. Dollywood Parks & Resorts announced in February it will cover 100% of tuition, fees and books for any employee. The signi cant investment in employee education will be made through Herschend’s GROW U., a new program piloted by Herschend Enterprises, Dolly Parton’s operating partner in Dollywood. The program makes it exponentially easier for employees, or hosts as they are known at Dollywood, at all levels to pursue their personal and professional dreams through education. The program officially launches Feb. 24, for all seasonal, part-time, and fulltime employees at Dollywood Parks & Resorts Hosts can enrol l in the program on their rst day of employment. “Our goal at Dollywood Parks and Resorts is to provide the best possible experience for both our guests and our hosts,” said Eugene Naughton, President of The Dollywood Company.

“We know when our hosts are happy and feel cared for that they are going to pass that along to our guests. The creation of the program allows another avenue for us to care for our hosts. One of The Dollywood Foundation’s key tenets is to “learn more. This program is created with that very tenet in mind. “We want our hosts to develop themselves through advanced learning to ful ll the foundation’s other tenets: care more, dream more, and be more,” he said. “When our hosts strive to grow themselves, it makes our business and our community a truly better place. We care about our hosts’ development and we want their future to grow because of love—not loans.”

“A Team” Musician Hargus “Pig” Robbins Hargus "Pig" Robbins, was part of the group of Nashville musicians known as “The A Team” and played on recordings by numerous artists Hargus Melvin Robbins was born on Jan. 18, 1938, in Spring City, Tenn. He died on Jan. 30, 2022, at age 84. He learned to play classical piano by ear at age seven while studying at the Tennessee School for the Blind. He lost his sight at age three in an accident involving a pocket knife. He later developed his own style after discovering jazz and pop pianists. "I got [the nickname] ‘Pig' at school,” Robbins told the Country Music Hall of Fame "I had a supervisor who called me that because I used to sneak in through a re escape and play when I wasn't supposed to, and I'd get dirty as a pig." Some of the songs Robbins played piano or keyboard on include Cline's "Crazy" and "I Fall to Pieces," Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors," Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter," Lynn and Conway Twitty's "After the Fire is Gone," Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," Dolly Parton’s "Coat of Many Colors," Roger Miller's "King of the Road," Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," Tammy Wynette's "D-I-V- O-R-C-E" and Tanya Tucker's "Delta Dawn."

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Reba’s Son Marries at Disneyworld

Shelby Blackstock, the son of Reba McEntire, and longtime love Marissa Branch married at Disneyworld on Feb. 12, 2022. Brandon’s father, Na r v e l B l a c k s t o c k , h a l f - b r o t h e r, B r a n d o n Blackstock, and his mother and her co-star on “Young Sheldon” and boyfriend, Rex Linn, attended. Shelby posted the photo above on Instagram, who noted that the day “brought family together who haven't been in the picture for 4+ years and starting a new family tradition all at the same time. So blessed and happy it all came together as it did!

Songwriter Scotty Wray Passes Miranda Lambert’s songwriter, Scotty Wray died on Feb. 18, 2022. The following morning she posted the following on Instagram along with the photo above: “Heavy heart post💔 . Last night I lost one of my most treasured friends, band mates and road family members, Scotty Wray. We met in 2001 in Greenville Texas. I was 17 . That was the beginning of our journey together. We went through so much life together on and o the stage. We wrote songs, played gig after gig, fought, cried, laughed and even got matching arrow tattoos after we made it out of some rough patches together . He was one of the most talented guitar players I’ve ever known and I’m so thankful I got to witness his genius seasoned laid back blues man style on stages all over the world for over 20 years. He was the one I could count on. Always. No matter what. If he was there on my right side I felt like I could take on the world. Scotty Wray was family to me and I’ll never sing a note without him because I know he is there with me. He always has been. I love you my sweet Bud Wray. Heaven is lucky cause that honky tonk band up there just gained another guitar’pickin’ angel. Rest easy my love.”

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Order here

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2022about Click on the video above to March learn more Country Road TV.

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Country Music Star Mickey Guyton Sings the National Anthem at Super Bowl LVI. Click to Listen.

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June 2021


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