Country Reunion Magazine, September 2023

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Country Reunion m •a • g• a • z • i • n • e

September 2023

Toby Keith

Buddy Jewell Ronnie Milsap Bobby Osborne Barbara Mandrell

Tim Gianni

Larry Mahan Pat Boone Western Music Jimmy Fortune Ray Stevens … and more December 2021


Country Reunion Magazine

Who’s inside? Toby Keith, p. 3-4 Buddy Jewell, p. 5-6 Southern Cooking, p. 7 Pat Boone, p. 9-10 Ronnie Milsap, p. 10-11 Nadine, p. 12 Barbara Mandrell, p. 13 Tim Ghianni, p. 14–16 Larry Mahan, p. 17-18 Renae the Waitress, p. 19 Western Music, p. 20-21 Ray Stevens on the Diner, p. 22 Jimmy Fortune on the Diner, p.23

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September 2023


A Brave Journey of Music and Triumph for Hitmaker and Philanthropist by Claudia Johnson Last summer singer-songwriter Toby Keith revealed a deeply personal battle with stomach cancer, with which he was diagnosed in fall 2021. However, his indomitable spirit shone through, and he persevered, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation while maintaining a desire to return to entertaining. Recently, hundreds gathered to witness his pop-up concerts at Hollywood Corners in Norman, Oklahoma, where he resides. The 1920s roadhouse, which Keith transformed into a deli, bar and music venue, played host t o Ke i t h a n d h i s E a s y Mo n e y B a n d , entertaining the crowd for two and a half hours each night. Despite the health challenges, Keith remains hopeful and determined, sharing that his tumor has already shrunk by one-third, and he plans to tour again by the end of the year if he has enough energy for a full show. B o r n o n Ju l y 8 , 1 9 6 1 , i n C l i n t o n , Oklahoma, as Toby Keith Covel, passion for entertaining was ignited in his grandmother's supper club as he witnessed many talented musicians perform. His early life was marked by a blend of interests, including working in the oil industry and playing defense in the USFL football league. However, it was music that ultimately won his heart. In the early '90s, Keith signed with Mercury Records, and his self-titled debut album, released in 1993, quickly achieved platinum status. The albums that followed, such as "Boomtown" (1994) and "Blue Moon" (1996), were equally well-received, featuring chart-toppers like "Who's That Man" and "Me Too." In 1997, Keith collaborated with Sting on the Grammy-nominated song "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying.” his father, H.K. Covel, in a tra c accident. This deeply personal event, coupled with the profound impact of the September 11 attacks, led him to create the powerful and controversial anthem "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)." The song struck a chord, particularly among military personnel, and brought Keith accolades, including being named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 2002 and 2003. Page 3

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Keith continued to make waves with his music, releasing albums like "Shock'n Y'All" (2003) and "Honkytonk University" (2005). His singles "American Soldier" and "As Good As I Once Was" soared to the top of the country music charts, cementing his status as a country music superstar. Keith has released 19 studio albums, two Christmas albums and ve compilation albums, totaling worldwide sales of more than 40 million albums. Alongside his musical achievements, Keith received recognition from his home state as he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2005. The entertainer established The Toby Keith Foundation in 2006 to provide no-cost housing for children with cancer. In 2014, the foundation opened OK Kids Korral, a costfree, convenient and comfortable home for pediatric cancer patients receiving treatment at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center, Stephenson Cancer Center and other Oklahoma facilities. Through his Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic, Keith has raised in excess of $15 million for the OK Kids Korral over the past two decades. This year's event raised more than $1.8 million for the cause, with the live auction alone bringing in $1 million of that total. In 2007 Keith's family was awarded $2.8 million in a wrongful death lawsuit in which a jur y concluded that the accident that caused his father’s death could have been avoided if the owners of a charter-like bus had replaced their brakes after inspectors had told them that they "urgently" need to be xed. Despite chal lenges and life- threatening encounters, like facing mortar re during a U.S.O. Tour in the Persian Gulf in 2008, Keith remained resilient, returning to the stage and continuing to share his music with the world. As a recipient of the Spirit of the USO Award in 2014, the beloved

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artist has demonstrated his dedication to the troops with 11 USO tours, spanning 18 countries and more than 280 events to date. Keith released "American Ride" in 2009 and "Bullets in the Gun" in 2010, but it was 2011 that brought the singer even more critical acclaim. His 2011 album "Clancy's Tavern" featured the hits "Made in America" and "Red Solo Cup," the latter written by The Warren Brothers, along with Brett and Jim Beavers—the only song not written by Keith. After Keith heard the viral song on YouTube, he collaborated with the ensemble to record a version and include it on his album. Continuing his hot streak, Keith released another album the following year, "Hope on the Rocks." While the album d i d n't f a r e a s w e l l a s h i s previous works, the title track s t i l l p e a ke d a t 2 9 o n t h e Bi board country music charts. In 2013, he released his next album, "Drinks After Work," which featured the popular single "Shut Up and Hold On" and debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2014, Keith released the single "Dr unk Americans" f rom the album "35 MPH Town," which was released in 2015, the same year he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the National Medal of Arts award in 2021 and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame that year. Keith will receive the country icon award at the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards on Sept. 28, 2023, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and Peacock from the Grand Ole Opry House.


In the early 2000s, a new reality show hit the airwaves, promising to uncover the next big country music star. The show was "Nashville Star," and it captured the hearts of viewers across America. Among the talented contestants vying for the title, one artist stood out from the start: Buddy Jewell. With his genuine charm and remarkable voice, he won over the nation, claiming the title of the very rst winner of "Nashville Star" on the USA Network. From the beginning of the competition, Jewell proved to be the true viewer favorite, earning an astonishing 65% of the nationwide vote. In a nailbiting nale, he outshone 11 other contestants, notably beating Miranda Lambert by a staggering 2 million votes. It was a de ning moment that marked the beginning of Jewell's love a air with America. Following his victory, Jewell wasted no time. His self-titled debut album, released under Columbia Records, soared to the top of the Billboard Top Country Album charts. Notably, it achieved GOLD

certi cation in the same year, a testament to the album's widespread appeal. Two of his hit singles, "Sweet Southern Comfort" and "Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song)," both earned spots in the top ve on the charts and reached the milestone of one mil lion radio airplays, recognized by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Jewell's talent and dedication did not go unnoticed. Over the years, he garnered recognition and acclaim from prestigious institutions like the Grammy Awards, the Academy of Country Music (ACM), the Country Music Association (CMA), ABC Radio Networks, International Country Music Association (ICMA), International Country Gospel Music Association (ICGMA) and Country Music Television (CMT). His exceptional skills as a songwriter were also celebrated, with his song "When Mama Prayed" securing the number one spot on the ICMA charts.

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Buddy Jewell: From Reality Show Winner to Music Mainstay


In a d d i t i o n to h i s n u m e r o u s a w a r d s a n d an ideal candidate for the Arkansas Walk of Fame. On nominations, Jewell remained an active advocate for a special day in May 2023, Buddy, along with ve other various causes close to his heart. He lent his support esteemed recipients, received this honor for their to organizations like The Minnie Pearl Cancer signi cant contributions in their respective elds, Foundation, Compassion International and St. Jude national recognition and connections to Arkansas. Children's Research Hospital, showcasing his Grateful and humble, Jewell expressed his dedication to giving back to the community and appreciation for the honor, thanking God, his wife, b e y o n d . Mo r e o v e r, h e s e r v e d t h e n a t i o n b y and all his family and supporters for their unwavering entertaining and supporting the troops both at home support. It was a poignant moment as Jewell joined and abroad, participating in USO tours to remote the ranks of roughly 100 in uential names in civil for ward operating bases in Iraq, Kuwait, and rights, wrestling, aviation, kickboxing and country Afghanistan. music on the Walk of Fame. Jewell's impact and in uence extended well Jewell continues to captivate audiences with his beyond the borders of the United States. In 2011, he musical prowess and genuine personality. As a devoted received international recognition, winning the ICMA father and husband, an outspoken follower of Jesus awards for "Entertainer of the Year" and "Crossover Christ and a proud American, Jewell remains an Artist of the Year." His heartfelt Christian Country inspiration to many aspiring artists and a symbol of hit, "I'm There," earned the prestigious ICMA "Song success, hard work, and giving back to the community. of the Year" award in 2018, followed by the "Male For those who wish to keep up with Jewell's Vocalist of the Year" award in April 2019. journey, his o cial website, buddyjewell.com, serves As his career progressed, Jewell's talent and as a valuable resource. Additionally, fans can follow versatility as a musician were further acknowledged. him on various social media platforms, including His song "When I'm Good and Gone" gained Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. To enjoy attention from renowned artists like Ricky Skaggs and his music, Jewell's songs can be streamed and Sharon White, who considered recording it. Notably, downloaded from popular platforms like Spotify, in 2019, Randy Travis released "One in a Row," a song Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, and YouTube co-written by Jewell with Thom McHugh, marking Music. Travis' rst new song in more than six years. From a reality show winner to an esteemed In 2020, Jewell continued to impress with the country music icon, Jewell’s journey serves as a release of his newest album, "Bluebonnet Highway." reminder that with passion and determination, one The album received critical acclaim from industry can achieve greatness and touch the hearts of many. insiders and fellow musicians, including praise from Robert K. Arkansas Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony O e r m a n n , Ma r t y R a y b o n o f Shenandoah and Patty Loveless. The album's lead single, "Teardrop in the Gulf of Mexico," debuted at an impressive No. 19 on the Bluegrass Today Top 20 Singles Chart, while "Bluebonnet Highway" itself reached No. 20 on RMR's Americana Chart. Amidst his achie vements, Jewell has never forgotten his roots. A native of Lepanto, Arkansas, he has remained deeply connected to his home state throughout his career. His commitment to his values and community made him

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Areeda Schneider Stampley's

Southern Cooking

Bobby Burger A delicious alternative to hamburgers/hot dogs You will be amazed at how tasty and easy this is! I normally double the recipe and have some to freeze.

1 large onion, diced. In large pot, cook onion slightly in butter. Add meat and gently cook just until done. Pour into strainer and drain 10-12 min. While draining, mix: 1 bottle Heinz Chili Sauce (12 oz) 1 teaspoon Hot Sauce 1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I use Dijon) 1 teaspoon chili powder In large pot, return meat and mixture, mix well, and simmer on low for approx. 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve on hamburger bun (no dressing) topped with shredded lettuce, dill pickle and onion slices. Serves 4

To purchase Areeda’s Southern Cooking, a collection of old-fashioned recipes, send a check for $25 and your 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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magazine.countryreunionmusic.com

September 2023


A Spirited Ode to a Southern

Comfort Food

In the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry, certain luminaries shine brighter than the rest, transcending generations and leaving an enduring mark on the hearts of fans. One such luminary is singer Pat Boone, 89, whose latest music video, "Grits," is a delight to watch. Directed by the talented Preston Leatherman for Tu Contender, the video premiered on People.com, setting the stage for a lively spectacle that now graces YouTube for all to enjoy. Set against the historic backdrop of the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon, Tennessee, the video captures Pat Boone's spirited line dancing to the infectious track. Complementing the dynamic visuals, the video features the remarkable choreography of Jamie Marshall, known for her exceptional talent and creativity.

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Joining Marshall on the dance oor are skilled performers from across the Southeast, infusing the performance with their boundless energy and passion. "Grits" is more than just a song; it's an ode to the beloved Southern food staple, exalting its virtues and declaring its supremacy over other fancy foods like escargot and pâté. The catchy chorus celebrates growing up in the country, relishing hearty dishes like turnip greens and black-eyed peas, with Boone insisting that nothing compares to the satisfaction of a warm bowl of grits. For those curious about the lyrical prowess behind the track, the "Grits" lyric video is also available for streaming on YouTube. Penned by Boone himself and produced by Jimmy Nichols and Frank Myers, "Grits" exudes high-energy, with line dancing woven into its very fabric. September 2023


Adding to the star-studded a air, the song features contributions from country music luminaries such as Ray Stevens, The Gatlin Brothers, Lorrie Morgan, Deborah Allen and Dean Miller, son of the legendary country gure, Roger Miller. Filming the music video was an experience of pure delight for Boone, who expressed his excitement at bringing the spirit of the song to life visually. Under the skilled direction of Preston Leatherman, line dancing proved to be the perfect complement to the infectious energy of the t r a c k . Ja m i e Ma r s h a l l 's exceptional talent and creativity added an extra layer of excitement to the video, creating a memorable synergy on screen. The joy of the dancers from across the Southeast coming together for a good time was palpable, radiating through every frame of the video. Beyond his musical endeavors, Boone runs his own record company, The Gold Label, dedicated to legendary artists with undeniable talent and millionselling gold records to their credit. This illustrious roster includes names like Debby Boone, Glen Campbell, Jack Jones, Cleo Laine, Patti

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Page, Sha Na Na, The Ventures and Roger Williams, among others. With more than 30 Gold Label albums released to date, the label celebrates its 20th anniversary with unmatched achievements in the industry. Boone's multifaceted career is nothing short of remarkable. Rising to fame in the 1950s after winning TV's rst national talent contest, he brought his smooth, wholesome style of music to captivated audiences worldwide. Starring in 26 movies, including hits like "April Love" and "State Fair," Boone's talents extend beyond music. Recently, he showcased his acting prowess in "The Mulligan," earning the Grace Award for Most Uplifting Performance in Movies at the esteemed Movieguide Awards in Hollywood. Now celebrating his 70th anniversar y as an entertainer, Boone continues to charm audiences as the weekly host of his own SiriusXM radio show, "The Pat Boone Hour," and embarks on a book tour promoting his 28th publication, "IF-The Eternal Choice We All Must Make.” Boone's legacy in the music and entertainment realm is rmly cemented, and with "Grits," he rea rms his status as a true American treasure. To stay updated on his latest ventures, fans can visit his website and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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Milsap Ends Performance Career at 80 with Nashville Star-Studded Concert

by Claudia Johnson Country Music Hall of Famer Ronnie Milsap is presenting his nal performance in Nashville this fall with a star-studded lineup coming together to pay tribute to the legend who celebrates 50 years in the music industry this year. The once-in-a-lifetime tribute event is set for Oct. 3, 2023, at Bridgestone Arena.

Milsap with his grandmother, Phenia Colvin Frisby.

“I’m so excited about my last show in Nashville at B r i d g e s to n e A r e n a a n d t h e a m a z i n g l i n e u p of artists,” says Milsap, 80. “This night will be so special for me and all the fans. I love Nashville and the amazing career my fans have given me. ‘I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.’” Milsap is one of country’s most successful artists, with six Grammy awards for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, four Country Music Association awards and 35 No. 1 hits. An exemplar of the countrypop sound of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the energetic and versatile performer kept scoring hits into the youth-driven country boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s. As of 2014, Milsap had six albums certi ed gold by the Record Industry Association of America

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(RIAA). “Greatest Hits Volume 2” was platinum, and “Greatest Hits” went double-platinum. Milsap was born Jan. 16, 1943, in Robbinsville, North Carolina, with congenital glaucoma, which left him completely blind in his right eye and mostly blind in his left eye. According to his 1990 autobiography, It Was Almost Like a Song, his mother, Thelma Grace Calhoun, regarded his blindness as divine punishment and asked his father, James Lee Millsaps (the singer changed the original spelling later), to take the infant away. Milsap was born Jan. 16, 1943, in Robbinsville, North Carolina, with congenital glaucoma, which left him completely blind in his right eye and mostly blind in his left eye. According to his 1990 autobiography, It Was Almost Like a Song, his mother, Thelma Grace Calhoun, regarded his blindness as divine punishment and asked his father, James Lee Millsaps (the singer changed the original spelling later), to take the infant away. "I was deserted by my mother," he told The Oklahoman in a 1989 interview. "I remember when I was around seven, she came to see us. She brought her new daughter with her and told me that the child's eyes were clear and that her daughter hadn't shamed her the way I had. I guess it was psychologically pretty scary. But I have no bad feelings towards her. I'm a very positive person.” He was raised by his paternal grandmother, Phenia Colvin Frisby, whom Milsap called “Mommy,” and her second husband, Homer Frisby. Milsap's life took a transformative turn at age six as he entered the Governor Moorhead School for t h e B l i n d i n Ra l e i g h , No r t h Ca r o l i n a . Hi s grandparents, hoping to provide him with a better chance at life, entrusted him to the care of the school. Despite facing harsh treatment, including a devastating slap from a schoolmaster that destroyed what little sight he had in his left eye, young Milsap’s musical talent began to blossom as he delved into the school's classical techniques while also exploring R&B, rock and roll and jazz through the radio.


Milsap and wife Joyce before their wedding.

DAfter leaving North Carolina, Milsap initially set his sights on a career in law, enrolling at Young-Harris, an Atlanta junior college. Diligently studying for two years, he was soon offered a prestigious law scholarship to Emory University. However, life had other plans in store for him. By 1962, having taken music classes in college, Milsap released his debut single, "Total Disaster," in 1963 on Atlanta's Princess Records. Fueled by his unwavering passion for music, he chose to forgo law school and instead delved into the world of R&Btinged pop music, recording for the renowned Scepter label in New York by 1965. That year, he enjoyed a minor hit with the soulful R&B track, "Never Had It So Good,” and he made two fateful decisions that shaped his future forever. He chose to pursue his budding musical career and also to follow his heart by marrying the love of his life, Joyce. Re ecting on the serendipity of their meeting, Milsap fondly recalled, "I met Joyce at a dinner party. It was love at rst sound. We had a certain chemistry.” In 1968, Milsap and Joyce made the move to Memphis, Tennessee, where he found himself at Chips Moman's renowned American Studio and secured a regular gig at the vibrant T. J.'s nightclub. During this time, his musical journey intersected with that of Elvis

Editor’s Note: Part II of the Ronnie Milsap story will appear in the October issue.

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Presley, as he played the piano and lent his vocals to Presley's "Kentucky Rain" in 1970. It was during these sessions that Presley famously requested, "More thunder on the keys, Milsap." while recording "Kentucky Rain." As a studio musician in Memphis, Ronnie explored the low-rent nightclub circuit, garnering marginal success. However, by 1972, he found himself facing the depths of depression. A serendipitous encounter with Charlie Pride led to a transformative suggestion to make the move to Nashville, the heart of country music, for one last shot at pursuing his musical dreams. In 1973, Milsap heeded this advice and began his journey in Nashville. His rst stop was the Roger Miller King of the Road Motel, where he worked tirelessly to make his mark in the vibrant music scene of the city. Fate intervened once again, and he found himself sharing the stage with illustrious artists like Ray Charles and James Brown, performing at prestigious venues like the Howard Theater and the Royal Peacock. During this pivotal period, the legendary Ray Charles recognized Milsap's prodigious talent and wisely observed, "Son, I can hear the music inside you…" This profound statement settled Milsap's destiny, rea rming his calling to pursue music wholeheartedly. It was in 1974 that Milsap truly hit his stride, delivering his breakthrough number one hit, "Pure Love," a masterpiece that showcased his ability to e ortlessly blend country and soul. The song's success marked the beginning of a meteoric rise to stardom. Another chart-topper, "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends," solidi ed his status as a star on Bi board's country charts. The Country Music Association recognized his undeniable talent, crowning him Male Vocalist of the Year in both 1976 and 1977, a testament to his runaway popularity in the late '70s. His string of hits continued with numerous chart-toppers, including "Daydreams About Night Things," "(I'm A) Stand By My Woman Man," "It Was Almost Like a Song" and "Only One Love in My Life.”


Nadine – “Born To Be Riled” Have you ever wondered the story behind Nadine, the sassy church lady on the hit RFD-TV show “Larry’s Country Diner?” Who is she, REALLY?? The character of Nadine, played by Mona Brown, began as something of a “shtick” at her local Tennessee church. Mona employed the character of Nadine comical way to welcome fellow church members for their annual Valentine’s Banquet – playfully greeting and gossiping about them as they arrived. Larry Black, the creator of “Larry’s Country Diner,” is also a member of the church and loved her performances. Black recognized her natural comic talent and extended an invitation to join him on the soon-to-be hit television show. Mona credits her upbringing as a minister’s daughter as a major inspiration for her character. She claims Nadine is a compilation of various personalities she met at the various churches she has attended throughout her life. Much of Nadine’s charm comes from her ability to make folks laugh about life and church-related topics and that she is not afraid to share her opinion in any conversation. Nadine never fails to nag the other characters and special guests on the show in a light-hearted comical manner. Mona appears as Nadine not only on “Larry’s Country Diner,” on television, but she also performs on the Larry’s Country Diner/Country’s Family CFR cruise each year and travels with the cast for the occasional road show. Mona also performs as an inspirational solo comedian, sharing a powerful testimony about how faith carried her through the hard times of losing her father early in life, living through divorce, remarrying and adjusting to mixed family and surviving breast cancer. Mona has also created a number of Nadinerelated merchandise items, including a dessert cookbook, CDs, DVD and a book lled with Nadine’s favorite church signs. More information can be found at LarrysCountryDiner.com.

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Country Music Icon Honored for a Remarkable Career

How do you say goodbye to someone who is woveInc. (CRB) Artist Career Achievement Award found its deserving recipient in singer Barbara Ma n d r e l l . Re c o g n i z e d f o r h e r e x c e p t i o n a l contributions to the music industry, Mandrell was honored during the prestigious Country Radio Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on July 10 at the Virgin Hotel Nashville. Kurt Johnson, the CRB/CRS Board President, expressed the organization's deep admiration for Mandrell, describing her as a true icon. Born into a musical family in Houston, Texas, Mandrell's musical prowess became apparent at an early age. She began playing the accordion before she could even read and, at age 11, was already a steel guitar prodigy. Her extraordinary abilities soon caught the attention of "Uncle" Joe Maphis, who promptly invited her to join his show at the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas, having been awe-struck by her performance at a trade show. This marked the beginning of a promising journey as she went on to tour with “The Johnny Cash Show” and embarked on a successful tour across Asia alongside her family band. Despite a brief hiatus from the music industry after her marriage in 1967, Mandrell's love for music never waned. With an unyielding passion for the stage, she returned as a solo artist and rapidly rose to stardom in Nashville. The country music charts were graced with a series of No. 1 hits, solidifying her position as one of the most-awarded country acts in history. She has won more than 39 awards and has been nominated for more than 35 more. She has received nine nominations from the Academy of Country Mu s i c a n d h a s wo n s i x a c co l a d e s f r o m t h e association. For winning the Top New Female Vocalist, Top Female Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year awards, Mandrell was given the Triple Crown accolade in 2005. From the Country Music Association, she has been nominated 17 times and has won four awards. This includes winning back-to-back Entertainer of the Year trophies in the early 1980s. In addition, she has also won two Grammy awards for her work in

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the gospel eld. In the 1980s, she was given nine People's Choice Aw a r d s . Alongside her sisters, she also embarked on a celebrated television career that took ight in the 1980s with the NBC variety show, "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters.” In 1997, Mandrell o cially bade farewell to the music industry, leaving behind a legacy that earned her inductions into multiple halls of fame, each recognizing her remarkable career. Throughout the demands of show business, Mandrell remained steadfast in her devotion to God, family and country, embodying the essence of a consummate entertainer. The CRB Career Achievement Award, an esteemed honor, celebrates individuals or acts whose leadership, enga gement and creativity ha ve significantl y contributed to the development and promotion of country radio and country music. Past recipients include Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill, Randy Travis, George Strait and the Judds, among others. Mandrell’s award stands as a tribute to her outstanding musical journey and the indelible mark she has left on country music. Alongside the recognition bestowed upon Barbara Mandrell, six exceptional radio professionals were also honored during the Country Radio Hall of Fame. Four distinguished o -air broadcasters, namely Pam Green, Charlie Morgan, Wade Jessen and John Willyard, received well-deserved accolades for their outstanding contributions. Additionally, tribute was paid to two on-air personalities, Trish Biondo and Dollar Bill Lawson, for their commitment to country music. For those seeking more information about this prestigious event and a comprehensive list of past inductees, visit https://www.countryradioseminar.com. The Country Radio Hall of Fame continues to celebrate the vibrant spirit of country music, paying homage to the legends who have shaped its enduring legacy. September 2023


Memories of Pilgrims, Pickers and HonkyTonk Heroes

by Tim Ghianni

Hank Williams died Jan. 1, 1953. I was only 14 months old at the time, so I never got to meet and befriend the prototypical honky-tonk hero. I did get to meet and befriend friends and acolytes of his, from Little Jimmy Dickens to Kris Kristo erson. Hank wrote “Hey Good Lookin’” for Little Jimmy, whom he’d dubbed “Tater” … but decided the song was so good he should record it himself. Kristo erson, one of music’s most revolutionary wordsmiths, is known for “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” and “For The Good Times.” But he tipped his gurative hat to Hank’s poetic songwriting when he wrote “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams (You Can Kiss My Ass).” Those two great gentlemen are among the friends I spent time with, and lived to write about it, in my new book, Pilgrims, Pickers and Honky-Tonk Heroes. Others include great artists like Bobby Bare – who wrote the preface and is among my best friends – to Johnny and June Cash, Mac Wiseman, Earl and Louise Scruggs and great Nashville R&B stars like Bobby Hebb, who wrote his way out of despair with the classic song “Sunny.” Jimi Hendrix even makes an appearance, thanks to his friendship with bassist and bandmate Nashvillian Billy Cox. From what I read about Hank and what he crammed into his 29½ robust years of heartache, heart-lift and honky-tonking and, most-important, lyrics that were like so many nicotine-stained, whiskey-washed, wrinkled sheets lines of poetry, I know I would have liked him. Hank doesn’t have a chapter, but the short paragraphs about him illustrate the loving-the-human, faults-and-all, attitude that One of the many photographs in his book has author Tim Ghianni joining his friend, drove me to write the book. Hank’s life remains the greatest legend and tragedy in a music Bobby Bare, in 2022 when the Country Music Hall of Famer got his star in the form lled with “Lullabys, Legends and Lies,” as my favorite Music City Walk of Fame. The two rst country singer, my pal Bobby Bare, relished and embellished in a met 51 years ago, and that friendship is one o f t h e m a n y d e t a i l e d i n Gh i a n n i 's half-century-old collection of songs written by his running buddy, book, Pilgrims, Pickers and Honky-Tonk Heroes. the late Shel Silverstein. I met Bare (and Shel) 51 years ago in a desolate corner of Nashville’s Lower Broadway (the encounter sets the stage for my book) at an after-midnight hour t only for the red-eyed pilgrims, pickers, prostitutes and barkeeps who felt semi-safe down there.

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You’ll need to read the book to get the full story of my rst encounter with Bare, whose friendship and advice I cherish. Let me add simply that the meeting in Lower Broad’s shadows really was the rst night of a still-unsated love a air with the people who created Music City, as well as with Nashville itself. The city’s evolution is a major character in the book. The brick-paved, whiskey river and girls of the night that populated the Lower Broad I rst met transforms to today’s bright lights, big city version. Now bachelorettes, expense-account cowboys and tourists load up on sweet and strong concoctions and “buy-onepair, get-two-pair-free boots” beneath a soundtrack equal parts Eagles and Bu ett covers mixed with imitation doses of Garth and a Luke or two. Only the fortunate will hear a steel guitar. Lower Broadway has become a Honky-Tonk Disney World. Willie Nelson 50 years ago demonstrated personal and nancial despair by lying at out in the street in front of Tootsie’s. He had nothing to worry about, really, since few cars rolled through the cracked-neon district. Bumper-to-bumper tra c would make a quick snack of such a desperate pilgrim nowadays. I’m glad the neon lights are bright on Broadway, as throngs bring piles of cash to the city. But I don’t go down there unless I’m meeting a friend from out of town or I’m going to a concert or event at Bridgestone Arena or Ryman Auditorium. Hank Williams’ spirit is pretty much forgotten, even though he and wife, Audrey, for a brief while, had a store on Lower Broadway. Hank and Audrey’s Corral, where they tried to sell Western wear and recorded a radio show, was two doors down from Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop, a ghostly landmark that lasted almost forever. I salute that era of Nashville not only in the stories I tell in my book but even in my “author photo” taken by great photographer John Partipilo of me in front of a then-vacated record store with “Thanks A Lot” – the title of one of ET’s great songs – on the marquee. ‘Course Tubb also was known for ashing the Martin guitar loaned him by his hero Jimmie Rodgers’ widow – ET was a Rodgers disciple – with “Thanks” on the back. The store, a treasure for lovers of country music recordings and for shows staged in the back third of the main oor, had closed the day before our pre-dawn photo shoot. As a young man, I used to hang out in the back room of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, where Tubb, Little Jimmy, Lefty Frizzell and the like soaked up beer between acts across the alley at Ryman Auditorium, home then of the Grand Ole Opry. I didn’t bother those fellows, but I relished hearing them laugh and swap Songwriter Shel Silverstein stories. Most of these folks are at least mentioned in my book, as I tried to recreate the avor of the old downtown district while documenting the metamorphosis. Pilgrims, Pickers and Honky-Tonk Heroes pays tribute to Nashville, then more than now. And some of the folks who were drawn to Lower Broad and who helped turn the city into a recording mecca populate the 34 chapters. September 2023

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In addition to the previously mentioned, Stonewall Jackson, Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins, Mac Wiseman, Grandpa Jones and Earl Scruggs (and his wife, Louise) are among the folks who ll the pages. Waylon and Willie and the boys – like Billy Joe Shaver and Funky Donnie Fritts – are here, as are Charlie Daniels, Carl Smith, Tom T. Hall, George Hamilton IV and Uncle Josh Graves. George Jones and I watched TV westerns together while he talked about his more-sober later days. Cash, Kris and Bare were the people who brought country music to my heart as a teenager in Chicago, and it is gratifying to say I got to know all of them well enough to write chapters in the book. Cash has been gone two decades, but Kris and Bare, two special friends, live the best lives age allows, surrounded by their families. I am proud to call them friends… and fortunate to say the same about the others populating the pages. E d i to r ’s n o te : Ti m Gh i a n n i h a s b e e n a professional writer since 1974, when he began a 34-year s t i n t a s a n a w a r d - w i n n i n g e d i t o r, r e p o r t e r, photographer and columnist for newspapers in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. During that career, he began cultivating the friendships with musicians that eventually led to this book. Since 2007, Ghianni has been a freelance journalist for newspapers, magazines, web sites and an international wire service. A regular blogger, he also is author or co-author of books about his newspaper career and the decline of that industry, an alien invasion of a tiny Kentucky town, his mother’s death and an e-book about his struggles with government and big insurance after his house was ooded in 2010. He has published long e-examinations on such topics as The Beatles’ ties to Nashville and another asking Nashville Cats guitarists to evaluate their contemporaries.

timothy.ghianni@comcast.net. September 2023

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He also has served as journalist-in-residence at two Nashville universities. Born in 1951, the 1973 Iowa State University journalism graduate considers himself a prototypical Baby Boomer, with all the good and bad that entails. He and his wife, Suzanne, live in the middle of Nashville, where they have raised two children (now grown) they adopted from Romanian orphanages in the 1990s. Purchase Pilgrims, Pickers and Honky-Tonk Heroes from Ghianni at


Larry Mahan at the Diner

Ten years ago this month Larry Mahan visited “Larry’s Country Diner.” Mahan’s name that would forever be etched in the annals of rodeo history, came into this world on November 21, 1943, under the vast skies of Salem, Oregon. From the moment he could walk, it seemed he was destined for a life unlike any other. At 1 4 , Ma h a n s t e p p e d i n t o t h e r e a l m o f professional rodeo, a world of dust, adrenaline, and heart-pounding challenges. He rode the currents of the Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, a place where courage and determination carved champions out of ordinary men. As the years unfolded, he became a force to be reckoned with, mastering the art of bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and bareback riding. Each victory etched his name deeper into the hearts of rodeo enthusiasts. The world held its breath as Mahan’s's six allaround world championships illuminated the rodeo stage. From 1966 to 1970, he reigned as the World AllAround Champion, a feat so remarkable that it would take years for others to even come close. The thrill of his victories reached its pinnacle in 1973, as he seized his sixth title and marked an unforgettable comeback, a journey that would later inspire the acclaimed documentary "The Great American Cowboy.”

T h i s d o c u m e n t a r y, a masterpiece of stor ytelling, captured not only his battles within the arena but also the erce competition and camaraderie that de ned rodeo life. It was this very lm that clinched the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film in 1974, forever immortalizing Mahan's grit and determination on the silver screen. But Mahan's legacy wasn't con ned to the rodeo ring alone. In 1979, the ProRodeo Hall of Fame opened its arms to embrace him, honoring his achievements in the all-around category. A testament to his greatness, he was again enshrined as a Legend of ProRodeo in 2010, solidifying his place among the pantheon of rodeo gods. Yet, Mahan was more than just a cowboy conquering the wild beasts of the arena. He was a man who seized life by the reins and led it on a journey of his own making. Beyond the arena's dust a n d r o a r, h e v e n t u r e d i n t o t h e w o r l d o f entrepreneurship. With the same spirit that drove him to victory, he established the Larry Mahan Boot Collection and a clothing line that bore his name. His cowboy spirit infused the rugged style of the West into each piece. The line became available from the Milano Hat Company and Cavenders. In the 2007 movie “No Country for Old Men,” Josh Brolin's character buys and wears a pair of "Larrys". Mahan's talents didn't end there. He strummed the chords of life in the realm of music, a king both in the rodeo arena and on the stage. The song "Ramblin' Jack and Mahan" immortalized his name in the t a p e s t r y o f m u s i c , a t r u e te s t a m e n t to h i s multifaceted nature. In 1976, an album titled "Larry Mahan, King of the Rodeo" found its way into the world, a humble yet unforgettable record of his shortlived musical escapade.

magazine.countryreunionmusic.com

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Larry Mahan: Cowboy, Singer, Actor, Businessman

September 2023


Movies too saw the glint of Mayan’'s star. From his appearance in "The Honkers" alongside James Coburn to his role in "Sixpack Annie," Larry's cowboy spirit graced the silver screen. And in a heartfelt nod to his roots, he co-starred in "The Good Old Boys," a TV movie that echoed the essence of the West he held dear. His voice reached the airwaves as well. He lent his colorful commentary to televised PRCA rodeos, becoming a familiar presence in the homes of rodeo enthusiasts. And as the years owed on, he became the a able host of RFD-TV's "Equestrian Nation," sharing his love for the equestrian world with audiences far and wide. Type to enter textRodeo Honors But as the sun sets on every legendary tale, it too • 1966 Rodeo Hall of Fame of the National set on Larry Mahan's life. On May 7, 2023, at the age Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum[18] of 79, he bid farewell to this world, having waged a heroic battle against cancer from his home in Valley • 1972 For the 1971 Film/Television – View, Texas. As his journey came to an end, the rodeo Western Documentary – "Rodeo," world mourned, but his legacy burned brighter than Concepts Unlimited, Inc and ever. Contemporary Films/McGraw Hill; Gaby Mahan is survived by his daughters, Lisa Renee Monet, Producer; Carroll Ballard, Mahan and Alli Eliza Mahan, and his sisters, Susan Director; Freckles Brown & Larry Mahan, Stockton-Simpson, Jody Thompson and Dana Mahan Hermreck. His son, Tyrone, died in 2020, and his Actors. Bronze Wrangler at the Western wife, Julanne Read Mahan, died last year. Heritage Awards of the National Cowboy Larry's journey wasn't merely a collection of titles & Western Heritage Museum and accolades; it was a story of unyielding passion, • 1974 Golden Plate Award of the American relentless courage, and an unbreakable spirit. He Academy of Achievement wasn't just a cowboy; he was the embodiment of the • 1979 ProRodeo Hall of Fame American frontier, a man who wrangled challenges and roped dreams, leaving an indelible mark on the • 1985 Oregon Sports Hall of Fame hearts of all who knew his name. And so, the saga of • 1998 Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Larry Mahan, the rodeo legend, lives on, forever Canyon Hall of Fame inspiring the next generation of cowboys and cowgirls • 1998 St. Paul Rodeo Hall of Fame to chase their own dreams, no matter how wild they may be. • 1998 PBR Ring of Honor

• • • • • • •

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2001 Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame 2002 Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame[26] 2005 Texas Trail of Fame 2007 Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame 2007 Received the Ben Johnson Memorial Award 2010 ProRodeo Hall of Fame Legend of ProRodeo 2015 Bull Riding Hall of Fame September 2023


Renae the Waitress RenaetheWaitress.com

Looking Ahead… It's not much cooler here in Nashville, but I know it’s coming. Rio and Sedona are nally back in school. Both of them were so ready! We are excited and r e a d y f o r “ L a r r y ’s Country Diner LIVE” shows in Branson, October 2-6. I hope you already have your ticket for one of the shows. The week’s line-up includes: The Texas Tenors, Gene Watson, Rhonda Vincent, The Malpass Brothers and The Isaacs. This will be our last show in Branson, so don’t miss seeing your favorite artist and the cast of Larry’s Country Diner.

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“Gone But Not Forgotten Revised” book is back in stock. And for the holidays grab “Phil’s Funnies.” It is a book of “Diner” pictures with funny captions. Phil will even sign it for you! The pages in the newspaper are being reduced so if you need a list of all of the books in my book club and “Larry’s Country Diner” merchandise, just give me a call. I can add it with an order. Some of my books are almost out of stock, including the Newspaper Books, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. So don’t wait. I am adding a Co ectable section to my website. This will have items that are rare, autographed or one-of-a-kind. Like signed posters from the “ C o u n t r y ’s Fa m i l y Re u n i o n” s e r i e s , m u g s autographed by the cast including Jimmy Capps, “Country’s Family Reunion” photo books, signed photos and magnets signed by the cast and more. There may be only one or two items available. So check it out. More items will be added. Learn more at renaethewaitress.com.

September 2023


Bluebird Hosts Night of Western Music

The local chapter of the International Western Musicians Association held an event at the Bluebird Cafe in August featuring Bobby Marquez, Rex Allen Jr., Ranger Doug Green (from Riders in the Sky) and Juni Fisher, hosted by Gary Holt. The International Western Music Association is an organization that encourages and supports the preservation, performance and composition of historic traditional and contemporary music and poetry of The West. Members are from the United States, Australia, Canada, England, Spain and Switzerland. Western Music is the folk music of the Western life style and vista. Some Western Music originates from roots in English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh ballads, as well as musical in uences from the European countries of immigrants who "went west" and some carries jazz and blues origins. While "Cowboy" music is an important part of the history of Western Music, the stories and lifestyles of the larger populations of Western culture are equally important: settlers, farmers, ranchers, horsemen and women, soldiers and the women who accompanied them into the west, miners, opportunists, gamblers, saloon keepers, school

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teachers and other town folk who populated the great American West are all subjects of modern-day Western Music. The year’s International Western Musicians Association convention will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Nov. 8-12 and it is open to the public. Registration fees for non-members ranges from $125 (single basic entry) to $695 (couples VIP tickets). The convention features entertainment, panel discussions, workshops, dances and more. Guests are always welcome but membership will sa ve attendees money and help suppor t the preservation of Western Music and Poetry. More info about becoming a member can be found a iwesternmusic.org.


Juni Fisher

Rex Allen Jr.

Ranger Doug Green

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Gary Holt, Host

Bobby Marquez

September 2023


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September 2023


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