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priceless -– take one



november 2013






-HIIHUVRQ History Haunts & Legends November 2

The Cemetery Club




Nov. 7, 8, 9


Toys for Tots

Casino Night November 9

Christmas Belles Nov. 14, 15, 16, 17 21, 22 & 23

Upcoming Events Rail of Lights Christmas Train - Nov. 28, 29, 30 & Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays in December Christmas Tree Lighting - Nov. 29, 5:30 PM

Candlelight Tour of Homes - december 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14

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“A Artt iss defi fine ed as a p pro rodu d ct du c of de delibe era ate ely ging ele ements in a wa ay th hat appea e lss to arrrang the e sen nsess orr em motions ns. Pin ns neyy Woo ods Livve is an n exp xpresssio on of the h com omm mun nity ty it serr ve es.”

priceless -– take one



november 2013

by Tony McCullough Join Tony McCullough as he tells the story of how the Chinn Guitar Project formed and how it is taking not THE KüL

only East Texas by storm but has gone national. It’s


founder, Ken Chinn, explains how the idea behind




the organization came about and what all it takes to keep guitars in the hands of smiling children.


Local M Music usic The eK KüL üL 6 Local


by Jeremy G. Butler

Brendan Glover (left) received a bone marrow transplant at Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Ken Chinn and Richard Bowden of the Chinn Guitar Project present Brendan with his very own new guitar.

Dorothy Craverr 7 Dorothy

by Jan Statman

Southern Cross 9 Southern Benefit Benefi by Dawn-Renée Rice

Harold Coats 12 Harold

by Robbie Goodrich

The A Alan lan Fox Ba Band and 18 The

by Tony McCullough

Mobilizing the 20 Mobilizing Community Community by Crystal Davis

Dirty Rotten Rotten 21 Dirty Scoundrels Scoundrels Gifts F From rom The H Heart eart 22 Gifts Artists N Nation ation 29 Artists

by Cori Stanley

Christmas Open n 30 Christmas House House Artis st Pro st rofi file les s

Ar istt’s Arti sW Wor o lld d by Jan Statman

Cent nter er S Sta tag ta ge Cuis isin ine

Th T he “B B” Si Sd de e of Mu us sicc

by Claudia Lowery

by Randy Brown

november 2013 - page 3

STAFF Publishers / Editors Tracy Magness & Gary Krell ging ng E Editor Managi Ben Valencia



Ben Valencia

november 2013 - page 4

Grap aphi ap h c Ar Arti tis ti sts Jeremiah Shepherd, Joni Guess, Tracy Krell, Ben Valencia, Andrea Johnson Sales Ben Valencia, Andrea Johnson,Carolee Chandler, Kathy Hollan, Cookie Bias, Suzanne Warren, Lori Martin, Shea Vogel, Tracy Stopani

How to reach us: 903-758-6900 or 800-333-3082 Fax 903-758-8181 100 W. Hawkins Pkwy., Suite C. Longview, Texas 75605

Sign up for our newsletter by going to our website: m om/P Pin neyWoodsLLive e © 2013 by Piney Woods Live. All rights reserved. This publication, its associated website and their content is copyright of Piney Woods Live. Any reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form without the expressed written consent of the publisher is prohibited.

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When I think of November, I think of fall colors and caring, thankfulness and giving. Managing Editor I can remember how exciting Thanksgiving was when I was a child, with the food, the constant chatter and the feeling of togetherness and love. My granny’s house was always full of laughter, the smell of delicious home cooking and the talk of eating her coconut pie. And still, to this day, granny’s house is the place to be for Thanksgiving. Family is the one thing that is forever. It is in this season I think we realize it the most. Community is also family, and in this issue of Piney Woods Live, you will find several articles that involve organizations that are giving back to the community in some fashion. So, during this “I want you to time when families come together, we want to spotlight a few groups that are bringing the community together. understand that your First, we meet Longview’s Ken Chinn, founder of the Chinn Guitar Project. Ken’s vision to provide guitars to first duty is to humanity. children has become a huge affair. His story, and how the project was formed, will bring tears to your eyes. I want others to look at Next, we visit a newly formed group, Artists Nation, that has provided help and services to up and coming us and see that we care artists all over East Texas. We speak with organizer Matthew Martin, who tells us of the importance of this new not just about ourselves group to area artists. Tyler’s Gretchen Martens gives us the scoop on a new but about others.” art exhibit that will coincide with the City of Tyler’s annual Veterans Day event. Martens also explains how she uses art - Madam C.J. Walker as therapy in a program with the local VA. After reading up on the local groups that are giving back, check out Center Stage Cuisine, as staff writer Claudia Lowery takes us on an eating extravaganza to local restaurant Mi Casita, where the cuisine is magnifico! (CAUTION: If you have the fish tacos, you may become addicted after one bite!) Planning ahead for Christmas, we’ve also included some hand picked artsy gifts for those on your gift list. In the spirit of family and togetherness, we welcome three new writing talents this month to the PWL Family: Crystal Davis, Cori Stanley and Jeremy G. Butler. Our PWL readers are our family too, and as always, we want to hear your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions about the magazine and about art topics in general. You can comment on individual stories at or at Email us at, or just give us a call at 903-758-6900. With all of this and much more, I personally welcome you to the pages of Piney Woods Live. Join us in celebrating the season of giving and fellowship. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the magazine. Until we meet again my fellow art and entertainment lovers, Happy Reading!

Public Publ icis istt Andrea Johnson ert rtis isiing Di is Dire r ctor re Adve Suzanne Warren Co onttri ribu buting Wri r terrs Cori Stanley, Jan Statman, Tony McCullough, Randy Brown, Crystal Davis, Claudia Lowery, Robbie Goodrich, Jeremy G. Butler

Farewell Friend

We are saying goodbye to one of our own, Melissa Morris. Melissa has been a contributor to PWL since it’s beginning. Farewell Melissa, and goodluck in your future endeavors!

No matter the medium, we’re pleased to support the Arts in East Texas. “There is incredible power in the arts to inspire and influence.� Julie Taymor American Director




3700 Gilmer Road 202 Hollybrook Dr. 903-759-0751


november 2013 - page 5

by Jeremy G. Butler

Photos courtesy of Dane Manshack

Dallas-based rock-n-roll outfit The Kül (pronounced “cool”) aren’t necessarily newcomers to the Texas music scene - having spent a few years making the rounds on the festival circuit and spending more than a little time in the studio – but they’re still waiting for their one Big Breakout Moment. That extra time, however, might have ended up doing them some favors. When it comes to their sound, the most recognizable (and most oftencited) inspirations are Jimi Hendrix and Lenny Kravitz; with lead guitarist Dane Manshack, a Longview resident, taking the majority of his cues from Kravitz and frontman Johnny Lenix’s aggressively soulful vocals. But it doesn’t take more than a few minutes for any listener who’s paying attention to recognize the little touches and tangents that invoke other artists. The Black Sabbathcallback riff on “Every Day,” the stripped-down, punk-rocky “Kronic Kastles” that owes as much to Iggy and the Stooges as anyone else (com-

november 2013 - page 6

plete with Lenix’s own version of the iconic Iggy Pop primal scream) and several other little flourishes that serve as respectful nods to everything from Texas Blues to 70s Funk to 60s free-love psychedelic trip-rock. But while pastiche* is certainly the theme of the day with The Kül, their originality stems from the way that they’re able to touch upon a large, varied catalog of inspiration that brings them into one cohesive whole and keeps them from tumbling over into being a glorified cover band. Keeping them from falling over that cliff are founding members Manshack and Lenix, who serve as the creative core for the group – sharing songwriting duties and dictating the creative direction for their sound. And while performance videos on YouTube are a poor substitute for actually seeing the band (or any band) live, even in that tiny playback window their chemistry together on stage is palpable. But for all of Manshack and Lenix’s enduring creative influence, it’s the support staff that seems to al-

ways be in flux. The band’s official bio lists six members: Manshack and Lenix, naturally; plus keyboardist Mike Kelly; rhythm guitarist Brett Sharp; bassist Kevin VanMeter and drummer David Wyatt. This particular lineup is far from the original with several members having come and gone since the band’s inception. So, while having time to figure out your sound is always essential for every band, The Kül’s current lineup seems to stand to benefit the most from the extra time spent waiting to be discovered. With the new lineup seeming to be locked in for the foreseeable future, the band is gearing up for another big push – lining up some festival gigs that span both coasts and planning some local East Texas shows, all while working to re-release their first album Soul 4 Gold with not only the original material but a few extras as well. This is a re-release, by the way, that Manshack says will hit all of the standard online outlets. But in the meantime, the band does have a couple of singles on iTunes, you can

see plenty of videos on YouTube, and there’s been some new life pumped into their Facebook page, Facebook. com/TheKuL, which is something that Manshack says we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the time to come. So, at the end of the day, the worst thing you could probably say about The Kül’s genre-blending, heavily-influenced style is that it belongs in the record-collector-rock subgenre, but even that seems a bit condescending; more than anything this is a group of musicians who are fond of the emotional connection that both they and their fans share with certain eras in rock history. And while their music may never set the world on fire, they definitely remind us of a time when the genre – which continues to be mired in a never-ending lack-of-identity crisis - had the tangible power to do exactly that. *A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists.Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates.

There’s no place like home... And Dorothy knows that best Staff writer, Jan Statman, interviews Dorothy Craver, one of Jefferson’s lifelong and dedicated residents about her journey through life, her many careers and how she has seen life in the small town evolve. By Jan Statman Dorothy Craver titled the book she wrote I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing. That sums up the philosophy of this remarkable Texas woman. She has been a fashion model, a magician’s assistant, a columnist and a staff judge advocate for a government legal department, among her other careers. Now, at one hundred plus years, the centenarian is as computer literate as any teenager. She keeps up with her own Facebook page. She writes a weekly newspaper column. She was a member of Texas Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women, and she currently serves as President of the Opera House Theatre Players, Jefferson’s Community Theatre. Born and educated in Jefferson, with her husband Ken Craver, she took off with the United States Air Force and spent thirty-five years traveling around the globe before returning to her beloved home town. She insists that her creative energies come naturally because she was born into a family of creative people and grew up surrounded by interesting and loving relatives. “My whole family was in Jefferson,” she said. “They were early settlers and pioneers.” George W. and Daisy Welch Brown were Yankees who came to Texas from Pennsylvania by way of Tennessee in the early 1880s. “He was in the iron ore trade. They built the Gingerbread House,” she said. “It was an elegant Victorian structure, which later had many owners. Last known as The Pride House, it was the first Bed and Breakfast in Jefferson and possibly in the state of Texas. Sadly, my daughter Marcia Thomas, my sister and I stood out on the street and watched the fire as that beautiful house burned to the ground.” Charles & Texana Harris Graham were builders of the house where Dorothy now lives. “When it was restored, they found a sign board with the date 1885 on it underneath the old wallpaper,” she said. “My grandfather, George Washington Brown, had an identical twin named Benjamin Franklin Brown, so you know the family was not only patriotic, but they had to be creative … and they were red-headed to boot! My dad was a twin also.” Her mother’s family were the Grahams who were originally from North Carolina but migrated to Texas in 1835. Charles Gibbs Graham was a captain in the Confederate Army. He was wounded at the battle of Mansfield in Louisiana, and the bullet was surgically removed on the battlefield using no anesthetic. He survived, but he spoke with a hoarse whisper all the rest of his life. Captain Graham and a brother came to Jefferson in the early 1840s, and he established

Graham & Taylor, a commission house on the riverfront. He was one of the few businessmen who did not get put into the notorious stockade during the occupation of the city during Reconstruction. “Captain Charlie was well thought of in the community,” Dorothy commented. “The story goes that he told his much younger wife to ‘Cross over to the other side of the street when you see General or Mrs. Buell coming.’ General Buell was sent here to take charge of the town. He did terrible things, and he and his wife were ostracized totally by the locals, as you can imagine.” She explained that Jefferson was a much different place when she was a young girl. “I thought Jefferson was great because you could go barefoot everywhere in town since we didn’t have any paved streets. In the summertime, we all went to a pond that was about five or six blocks across Highway 59 from the house I live in today. It was our town’s swimming pool,” she explained. “Everybody in town went there. My mother would always go, and all the kids would go with her because their parents knew she would look out for them.” She went on to describe the swimming suits they wore. “They were much different from the bikinis young people might want to wear these days. They covered up a lot more, but we all thought we were true bathing beauties.” Dorothy made sure to add that they didn’t have any radio or television to entertain themselves back then because those things had not been invented yet. People couldn’t just stay alone in their own homes. People had to get out and get together to make their own fun. “When I was a little older, we had wonderful parties and dances and ice cream socials,” she remembered. “Jefferson people didn’t have cars, so we had to ride on trains. They weren’t as convenient as automobiles, but they got us where we were going.” Dorothy’s memory is long and true, and she uses it to great advantage for her weekly newspaper column, “Craver’s Corner.” She explained that one of her first real jobs as a young girl was working for the Jefferson Jimplecute newspaper. In that male dominated time, she was the only girl in the newspaper office. “When I write ‘Craver’s Corner,’ I use information about social events that were written up in the really old newspapers – from 1895 and 1902,” she said. “People find them fun to read, and sometimes they even remember knowing or hearing about the people I write about in the stories.” Although she traveled extensively in Europe, her experiences as a magician’s assistant didn’t happen in a far away place or in an exotic location. “It happened right in Jefferson,” she laughed. “I was still young.

We had a new preacher at our church. He was a very good and very handsome young man. He came to Jefferson from Shreveport, Louisiana, with his wife and baby, and they lived about a block away from where I live now.” The young man didn’t earn much money as a preacher during the dark days of the Great Depression, but he had an interesting past. He had worked his way through seminary first as a magician’s assistant and later as a magician. “He decided that if he could work as a magician part of the time, he might be able to make ends meet and feed his family,” Dorothy said. “Of course, we wanted to help him. He was able to do all kinds of magic tricks. There were the kinds of tricks where you make handkerchiefs appear and disappear. He could make all sorts of things disappear. He did some of his other tricks with doors and mirrors.” She described one of his favorite magic tricks. “He had a magic box that was five or six feet tall. It not only opened in the front but it also opened in the back. It had a double door in the front so that when the door seemed to open, there was nobody there, but when the front door opened, the person hidden on the inside could step out.” If that trick wasn’t magical enough, he said he needed a small person he could saw in half. “I was the smallest person we could find who was willing to be sawed in half,” Dorothy admitted. “We went to a warehouse in Dallas where he told the people how to fix up a bench that was just my size. It had two planks with just enough room for me to lie down on. That was not a lot of room. There was a series of three boxes. One box opened at one end for my head. The middle box was open at both ends, and the third box was open where your feet would show. They covered me with a sheet. When they came to saw me in half, they used a terrible looking five foot meat cleaver! It didn’t touch me because I’d draw myself up into a ball so it couldn’t reach me. It fit exactly into the slots so that it actually never came near me. But a magic trick is supposed to be a magic trick. So, when that meat cleaver got down into the slot, I would scream like it was killing me. The men who had volunteered to do the sawing were horrified. People in the audience screamed as loud as I did. Nobody in the audience dared to breathe until it was over, and I came out all in one piece.” When she lived in England, Dorothy worked at an old RAF base on the grounds of the Hampton Court Palace. It was called Bushy Park. It had been General Eisenhower’s headquarters during the D-Day invasion. She worked in the legal department as a staff judge advocate. This was

not long after World War II, and the British still had rationing for food and clothing and all kinds of things. “They still burned coal,” she explained. “In their damp, cold climate, you had to burn coal or you would freeze to death. This was when they had the ‘Killer Smog.’ In those days, you rented half a house to live in. That horrible fog came right inside the house so that you could sit in your little tiny living room, and you couldn’t even see the little tiny black and white TV across the room!” In spite of the unpleasant weather and in spite of the fog, she had one of her most delightful experiences during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. “We were standing in the huge crowd at the palace,” she said. “My daughter Marcia Thomas and I were these two little, short ladies jumping up and down, trying to see over all the people. A tall man in front of us turned around and said, ‘Lady, would you like to see the parade?’ He didn’t wait for an answer. He just lifted Marcia up on his shoulders so she could see. Then after awhile, he put her down, and he lifted me up.” While they were watching the parade, they heard a little voice behind them asking, “Is that Dorothy from Jefferson up there?” Much to their surprise it was a schoolteacher friend from home. “It was Miss Ellie Mae!” Dorothy laughed. “Can you imagine two people from Jefferson finding each other in that amazing crowd? It was a cold, miserable, cloudy day, but the Royal family looked beautiful. The queen had the loveliest complexion.” Dorothy Craver has a wide world vision and a visionary’s hope for change. “If there is one big change I would really like to see, it would be to have a civic center for the City of Jefferson,” she said. “We have needed one for as long as I can remember. Everybody else has a civic center, and we should have one too!” She has seen many changes in her home town over the years. “The biggest difference in Jefferson is that the roads are paved now. There is no more walking barefoot down the dusty streets of town,” she said. “There are more people here than there once were, but Jefferson was a small town back then, and it is a small town now. It has always been a small town but that is a good thing because we still carry on.”

november 2013 - page 7









RED BARN EVENT 12685 Hwy. 323 W. | Overton, TX 75684

Join us as we share our unique, one-of-a-kind creations Jo and re-creations from vintage and found items.

DECEMBER 7 - 1:30-4:30


Chalk Painting g Demonstration at 2:00 p pm.

10% DISCOUNT on paint & products for those attending the demonstration

For more information please call (903) 753-8103.

DECEMBER 8 - 1 1:30-4:30 30 4

Bring your ticket from the Queen Price Garden Club Annual ual Christmas Home Tour and receive 10% off your purchase. e.

Start your Home Tour, Sunday, December 8 from 1:30 - 4:30pm pm at the Club House, 200 Garden Club Drive, Overton, TX 75684. 684 Tickets $5

Call november 2013 - page 8

903-504-7755 For additional information

Southern Cross BENEFIT

by Dawn-RenĂŠe Rice

Johnny Riley


usic and art fans are encouraged to come together for the Southern Cross concert event taking place November 8, 9 and 10 at the George H. Henderson Expo Center (Angelina Expo Center) in Lufkin. The concert will benefit the Winnie Berry Humane Society of Angelina County. Over 50 musicians and 50 artists will converge to perform on three stages across three days, providing the perfect place for music and art lovers alike to check out their favorite musicians and artists and to discover new acts to follow. Event goers can watch performances on three different stages: the Expo Arena Stage, the Outdoor Stage,

ANew Revolution

and the Pavilion Stage. The Expo Arena stage will have a comedy VIP party on Friday, country music performances on Saturday and rock and roll on Sunday. The Outdoor Stage will have alternative rock on Saturday and acoustic on Sunday, and The Pavilion Stage will have karaoke/Latino on Saturday and karaoke/party on Sunday. This fall fundraiser is a music and arts festival hosted in Lufkin featuring the best of local and regional musicians, national tributes and headliners and local comedy and visual arts. Festival goers will see and hear such acts as Tim Banfield (Comedy), Anew Revolution (Austin Alternative Rock), Johnny Riley (Southern Blues/Rock), Dime-A-Dozen (Country) and Almost McGraw (Tim McGraw Tribute). The festival also includes a barbecue cook-off, karaoke, a black light dance party, a movie night where

the public picks the flick and much more. This is the first year for the Southern Cross benefit concert, which finds its inspiration from other fusion festivals such as SXSW and Musikfest. The festival benefits the Winnie Berry Humane Society of Angelina County where the staff strives to stop the suffering and death of unwanted pets. They also work towards preventing pet overpopulation, educating the public, providing services to improve animal care and welfare, and providing shelter and support to homeless animals. The humane society is also a 501c3 nonprofit, which receives no tax or other state or national revenues. They exist only through donors, grants and fundraisers like Southern Cross. For more information on the event and the extensive list of musicians who will be performing, please visit

november 2013 - page 9



Leeanna DiGruccio

Leeanna DiGruccio started with just a dream that one day her sister Tawnee and she would be photographers together and travel the world capturing anything that sparked their passions. Sadly, her sister died on September 6, 2011. After many long days and lots of soul searching, Leeanna decided to pursue her dreams in hopes that it would give her more peace. She says, “I am more about the story and art. I continue to find new and creative ways to express my story and help others express theirs. I’m a mother of a beautiful little boy, an artist, and I’ve played many instruments in my life, including the piano and the drums. I work with a number of different groups that have the same passion as me. “I recently helped open an art gallery in Tyler called Juventus. We host different events each month supporting local musicians and all kinds of artists out there. We are able to give artists a place to call home and to share and support each other. I also work with Artist Nation, a non-profit organization created to help the community and compose all creative individuals from all walks of life that share the same objective. That objective is to see a successful and unified ‘art scene’ develop throughout local communities.

november 2013 - page 10

“I also help manage two different bands: Colors and Reakt!on, both very talented and determined groups. Together with the help of all the local artists, venues, and events, we are making Tyler a more artsy and fun place to live. To me, it’s about taking all the negative in our life and turning it into something beautiful. Our goal is not to live forever but to create something that will. “I hope that everything I have done will inspire my son and give him many options to become whatever he wants. With the strive, determination, passion and love and support from all my friends and especially my boyfriend David (the one person that has helped me through all of this and the co-owner of our photography business), I feel like I can do that. Since all that remains of my late sister are the photographs I have of her, I feel that the only thing that makes us immortal is a photograph. This is my life: to help people capture the best of memories, to help motivate all artists and to keep this passion for our arts forever.” 903-714-7370 or 903-424-8967



Suzan Chapman SSuzan zan once watched atched a 15 min minute te demonstration of Viking Weave at a gem & rock show and ran with it. With innovation and imagination, she creates a variety of different pieces using silver, copper, or brass wire of several different gauges. She may include stones, beads, crystals and pearls in her work as well as incorporating techniques for different diameters within the same piece. One cold winter day during a power outage, she sat down next to the fireplace with a book and taught herself the Byzantine Chain Maille weave. That was several years ago – today she enjoys creating jewelry with a variety of different weaves, some including crystals or semi-precious stones. Suzan was asked to create a diplomatic gift for the City of Tyler to present to the mayor of its sister city, San Miguel de Allende. She has been asked by other jewelers to create chains for their work and also accepts commissions for custom work - particularly for a customer who has a special heirloom article they wish to wear on a special, custom created chain. Dr. Thomas Stringfellow, a nationally known art jeweler, has been her mentor for many years and has influenced much of her work, which includes cabbing, bezel sets, etching and wire work. He has encouraged her to stretch her imagination and create new uses for old techniques. Suzan can be found with her work at art shows throughout East Texas. 903-570-5190

november 2013 - page 11




Heading Coincidence or Destiny?


Love of Nature Evident in His Art






by Robbie Goodrich





Come visit Von Vogel and the Crew at the origninal Jucyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s location on Hwy 80 in Longview

Check out the new freestyle Coke Machine Mix ďŹ&#x201A;avors yourself!


november 2013 - page 12


series of unlikely coincidences may have caused Nacogdoches artist Harold Coats to become the person and the artist he is today. Or maybe there was a greater power guiding him all along. Regardless, he is someone who is grateful to be alive, who appreciates the natural beauty that surrounds him and who so greatly respects that beauty that he pays extra attention to the details that sets each and every one of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s creatures apart. Coats is a survivor, literally and figuratively. As the recipient of a heart transplant in 2010, Coats fought his way back from deathâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s door. An unfortunate set of circumstances nearly 30 years ago forced him to re-evaluate his livelihood and eventually face the fact that he was destined to make a living doing what he loves - painting and drawing. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also a man of many talents and interests â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a well-read Jack of all trades, so to speak. But in all his adventures in life, the overriding joy and passion is his art and how it has allowed him to provide for his family. An eye for detail and an uncanny ability to commit those details to memory and transfer them to canvas sets his work apart. And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a portfolio of work as beautiful and diverse as nature itself. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have an ability to look at my surroundings, and if I concentrate a little on them, my memory recall is extremely good,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When you paint, you are constantly doing that - looking at something and transferring that from your brain to your hands.â&#x20AC;? A self-described â&#x20AC;&#x153;realist artist,â&#x20AC;? Coats began displaying his artistic abilities as a small child. In school, instead of listening to the teacher, Coats found himself â&#x20AC;&#x153;doodling.â&#x20AC;?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was constantly with a pencil or whatever medium I had in my hand, sketching things,â&#x20AC;? he said. Growing up in the northern Houston area, Coats was active in Boy Scouts and ROTC in high school, activities of which he believes instilled a profound love of nature and wildlife and taught him discipline and respect. In 1968, he married Linda, his wife now for more than 45 years. In those early years, he worked at the Houston Public Library part time and obtained an Associate of Arts degree. He joined the Houston Fire Department where he soon made captain. He continued to take college courses while serving as a firefighter. Because of a college research paper on the future fire department, the Houston Fire Department chief had Coats drafted from his station to the administrative offices. Coats began illustrating scenes promoting the department, along with making charts and graphs and illustrating procedures and equipment. On occasion, he was required to escort and entertain visiting musicians and actors, astronauts, government leaders and foreign dignitaries at the request of the mayor. Later, as a side business, he became a real estate broker and owned his own company. He returned to the fire station scene, and after a few years, took early retirement. In 1981, Coats felt it was time for a change in his life, so he moved to Nacogdoches where he and Linda could live in the country and raise their family. At one point, he commuted for about five years to Houston working for an engineering firm, which also tapped into his artistic talents and his ability to problem solve.

But his love of art kept beckoning him. So, after developing a portfolio of his prints, he began traveling around Texas and across southern states. He sold â&#x20AC;&#x153;cold canvasâ&#x20AC;? to galleries, print shops and other outlets interested in displaying and selling them. He sold prints to hundreds of galleries during this time. Although he had a natural artistic tendency, Coats is self-taught in art and other areas of his varied career. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I never had any lessons in art,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I learn by looking at other peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s art.â&#x20AC;? Coats was ill for more than ten years leading up to his heart transplant three years ago. He was still painting, working, â&#x20AC;&#x153;doing things I probably shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have been doing,â&#x20AC;? he said, referring to working on his farm and raising longhorns before making the trip to Houston to await the life-saving transplant. Following surgery and recuperation, he continues today to take the medications that help keep his body from rejecting his new heart. He knows how lucky he is to be alive and doing what he loves. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve said before that I should not be sitting here,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I came within hours of death.â&#x20AC;? A big fan of Norman Rockwell, Coats says one of his greatest compliments is when

someone compares his work to that of Rockwell. “He was able to create emotion in people’s eyes, and that’s what I like to do,” he said. “You look at this scene, and you can picture yourself there. I want to express what I actually see with as much detail as I can put into it to make it real.” He travels extensively taking thousands of photographs of the scenes he wants to eventually paint. He’s started selling some of the photographs, “because there’s no way I can paint all of these.” Coats enjoys spending time in the woods and countryside that he paints so often “that it’s hard to pull me out of them.” “It’s not that I’m anti-social,” he said. “But if I had my choice, I’d rather be in a blind with my camera, or painting.” His work is extremely diverse, ranging from country scenes to images from the Civil

War, western scenes and illustrations of wildlife, florals, portraits, still life, and much more. He’s produced many originals and has published more than 150 prints. The book, One, Two, Hullabaloo! written by well-known author Dr. Cindy King Boettcher of College Station was illustrated by Coats. Linda runs Coats Gallery, an art gallery displaying Coats’ extensive art works and a frame shop, in downtown Nacogdoches. Just recently, Hanson Brick Company of the United Kingdom needed five artists from North America to represent their newly acquired regions, including one from Canada and four from the United States. The company chose Coats as the artist for the Southwest Region. He was asked to create a painting of his choice that would become the signature print at an event Hanson planned to host for that region’s contractors. Coats painted the Old Nacogdoches University, the image of which

can be viewed on his website at haroldcoats. com. Coats often donates his work to auctions that raise money for children with life-threatening diseases. It’s another way of “giving back” in return for the gifts he’s been given, the greatest of which was a second chance at life. “Some people never discover what they can really do,” Coats said. “I want people to get an emotional sense of what I do.” Today, Coats is content to “continue to create” art in his favorite mediums: oil, watercolor and pencil. At home, he and Linda enjoy an unpretentious life of farming, growing vegetables and living as simply and as selfsufficiently as possible. “If we can pay our bills,” he says with a contented smile on his face, “and we’re able to sit on the porch with a green Tupperware glass of tea, then we’re okay.”

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these companies printed and sold prints, postcards, calendars, and the blank-backed trade cards that were used in advertisements. As late as the 1980s, it was still possible to buy laminated cards depicting the paintings. While he enjoyed the reputation as a “historical painter,” he was anything but a careful historical researcher. He painted his historic scenes without doing any research about what actually happened or what they really should have looked like. He just made it all up. For instance, The First Thanksgiving shows a splendid outdoor feast where the pilgrims are wearing their typical black and white clothing and the Native American Indians are bare chested and wearing feathers. Heavy coats and hats would have been a better choice. This lovely scene was supposed to be in New England in late November. It would have been freezing. Despite the fact that we have accepted the idea of an outdoor celebration, late November is not a particularly good time for an outdoor dinner party. For some reason, Ferris has the Native American Indians wearing the long feath-

AArtirtist's World by JANSTATMAN

We have all heard about how “art imitates life.” We see paintings and sculptures of fruit and flowers or people and landscape scenes, and they almost always look just like fruit and flowers or people and landscape scenes. The problem is, we never stop to think about how “life imitates art.” Sometimes our whole idea about events that happened in the world come from an artist’s painting or sculpture that has made its way into our group consciousness. It has become so familiar to us that we believe that what it depicts is true. Sometimes those ideas are one hundred percent correct. Sometimes they are one hundred percent all wrong, but everybody has looked at that particular work of art so often that the wrong story becomes our reality. Thanksgiving is everybody’s favorite holiday. It is as American as mom, baseball, and pumpkin pie, yet our images of that first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts near Plymouth Rock actually came from a picture we saw when we were children. And since nobody had a camera back then, no photographs were taken to show us what really happened. Think about that first Thanksgiving. When those nice Pilgrims and Native American Indians sat down to dinner, did they eat the same sorts of things we have at our own Thanksgiving celebrations? Wasn’t their harvest table set with turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie? Of course they had cranberry sauce and hot biscuits with jelly and sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, just like we do. We know it for a fact. We have seen a picture of them all sitting down to that dinner. The picture that has become part of our memory is titled The First Thanksgiving. It was a very popular painting all through the twentieth century. Reproductions of it hung in classrooms all over America. It was even printed in our history textbooks. An American painter, Jean Louis Gerome Ferris, painted the happy, cheerful composition in 1915. It was painted a long time after the first Thanksgiving in 1621, and it gives exactly the wrong idea about what the celebration could possibly have been like. Jean Louis Gerome Ferris was born in Philadelphia, the son of portrait painter Stephen James Ferris, and nephew of Edward Moran and Thomas Moran. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

november 2013 - page 14

and later at the Académie Julian. He was actually a rather unexciting artist. His work has been described as being “extremely dry in execution and rather monotonous in composition.” This is not a great comment about an artist who painted such a popular work. He might not have been an artistic genius, but Ferris was a fantastic promoter and a smart businessman who came up with a wonderful idea, which worked well. He developed his reputation as a “historical

The First Thanksgiving (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930)

painter” by doing a series of paintings about American history, which he called The Pageant of a Nation. He did this at a patriotic time when historic subjects were popular. When he sold one of the paintings from the series, he realized that the set would not be complete if the separate paintings could not be kept together, so he never sold another one. The complete series was shown at Independence Hall in Philadelphia from 1913 to 1930 and then moved next door to Congress Hall. In later years, it was shown in a number of locations, including the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Even though he didn’t make any money by selling the original paintings, he did quite well for himself by selling the reproduction rights, and he sold them to several different publishing companies. In that way, the work became amazingly popular because

ered bonnets and breechcloths of the Plains Indian tribes. While these outfits are colorful, the Wampanoag people were not Plains Indians. Their basic clothing was a soft deerskin breechcloth with flaps in the front and back. Women also wore skirts. Men, women and children wore a deerskin jacket, which was fastened at the shoulder and was wrapped around the body and tied at the waist with a decorative woven belt. They would also wear moccasins made of deer, moose or elk skin to protect them from the elements. Since we are so familiar with this painting, we all know that Pilgrims wore black and white outfits with big white collars and cuffs and buckles on their shoes and hats. However, this was 1621. Buckles to decorate clothing didn’t become popular until the 1700s. More than that, it was hard to

find black fabric since synthetic dyes had not yet been invented. The Pilgrim’s clothes would have had natural wool and cotton colors or been dyed with natural dyes so they would have been in brown, yellow, blue, and tan. If they owned any black clothing, they would have saved it to wear for worship on the Sabbath. Does any of this really matter? The colors of the painting have colored our idea of what the Pilgrims and the Indians wore. Thanks to Ferris, we will always think of Pilgrims in black and white and Native American Indians in feather bonnets. The menu might not have been exactly what is served up in the painting. The food would have included whatever they had available. They lived at the edge of the ocean, so their meal would have included the gifts of the sea. There would have been fish and shellfish, cod, eel, clams, crabs, lobster and mussels. The wild fowl would have been any of the larger birds they could bring down. There might have been roasted geese and ducks, probably swans and eagles and possibly even a turkey or two. Red meat would have been venison. The side dishes would have included beans, squash and dried corn. Other vegetables might have bean peas, wild onions and carrots, and pumpkins, but not in a pie. Dessert would have been dried fruits and berries. About a century later, on Oct. 3, 1789, President George Washington proclaimed and created November 26 as the first official Thanksgiving Day. Washington proclaimed the holiday in order to give thanks to God for the new country being born. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln changed the date to the last Thursday in November. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday of November. Congress finally made it a legal holiday in 1941 and set the date as the fourth Thursday of November. However, Thanksgiving falls on a different date each year and so the President must proclaim that date as the official celebration. So, the painter told us the wrong story, and we all saw his painting so often we believed it. Of course there are important differences, but what difference do all those differences really make? Is it important to know exactly what they wore or exactly what they ate, or whether they actually did eat their picnic outdoors in late November? What we do know for a fact is that they made it a special time and a special occasion to share their abundance with neighbors and to give thanks for plentiful harvests. Whether art is imitating life or life is imitating art, when we sit down to our modern day Thanksgiving dinners in the warm and inviting comfort of our homes, let us all remember what the holiday is really all about. Let us all look across our beautiful tables and give thanks for the true and lasting blessings of home and family and friends and the joy and honor of living in the greatest country this world has ever known.

Jan Statman’s paintings are owned by museums in Europe and by public and private collections across the USA. She is author of several books and is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women, and various other professional publications.



















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The Chinn Guitar Project by Tony McCullough


ongview resident Ken Chinn never set out to start an organization that would o benefit children all over the country. He never set out to be a musical Santa bringing guitars to talented boys and girls whose families may not be able to afford them Somehow, â&#x20AC;&#x153;It just happened.â&#x20AC;? them. november 2013 - page 16

A year ago, Longview resident Ken Chinn would never have dreamed he would be joining forces with the renowned Ryan Seacrest to assist in motivating and rehabilitating young people confined in children’s hospitals. Just six months ago, Ken would have scoffed if someone told him the president of a world renowned guitar manufacturer was holding for him on the phone. But that has all changed. On a Friday last May, Ken sat with his 16-year-old daughter Tara in a children’s hospital, which he had often done over the past seven years, witnessing many young people bravely fighting to be healthy. He silently prayed that one day his daughter would no longer need to come for another long session to monitor her epilepsy, which was why they were there. The monitoring goes on for hours, with sensors wired to her body - a boring prospect for any teenager. Because Tara had done this many times before, she decided to take her guitar, a gift from her father. As Tara sat in the epilepsy monitoring unit, she played her guitar to pass the time. Ken explains, “A nurse came in and saw the guitar and said that she should see one of the musical therapists.” Ken had never heard of a musical therapist. The next morning, the therapist came to Tara’s room, bringing along her own guitar. Together she and Tara shared songs while playing guitar for over an hour. As the therapist explained the soothing results of music therapy and the role of a musical therapist in the medical field, Ken was moved by what he heard. When she told him there were several musical therapists on staff, Ken made the comment that they must have a lot of instruments. She hung her head and said, “Mr. Chinn, I wish that were so. We only have our personal guitars.” Ken was silent as his daughter Tara looked at him with an expression that said, “Dad … do something!!!” On the spot, Ken Chinn told the therapist that he would send her not only 10 guitars, but also guitar picks, straps, tuners and music books. Tara was very proud of her dad’s commitment. Ken and Tara returned to Longview. Ken, satisfied with what they had accomplished at the hospital, thought that was the end of that charitable deed, but his daughter had bigger plans. On Sunday, Tara came to her father and told him she wanted to start a social media page and name it the Chinn Guitar Project. Within the first week the page had 3000 visitors. As word spread quickly of the Chinn Guitar Project, requests started pouring in. Ken was contacted by the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. Seacrest

has obtained worldwide fame as host of American Idol and his nationally syndicated radio program. Understanding the importance of musical therapy for young patients, Seacrest began to build studios within children’s hospitals for local broadcasts of music. As the Seacrest Foundation builds more studios in hospitals across the nation, they are inviting the Chinn Guitar Project to visit in order to introduce Ken’s program. Chinn has plans to visit the newest Seacrest Studio in Atlanta, Ga., this month. As press releases went out with word of Ken Chinn’s incredible act of kindness and work with the hospitals, Ken began receiving requests from local school districts who are interested in starting their own guitar programs. Realizing his program would soon grow too large for one man, Ken needed help. He turned to his friend, recording artist and Linden resident Richard Bowden, for assistance. Richard quickly joined the team. Together, they approached Clark Mundt, owner of Mundt Music in Longview, and explained how their program worked and of the many requests they were receiving. Clark agreed to help with the project by personally donating some guitars and offering discounts when possible. With Clark’s help, Richard and Ken began donating to the school programs as they were able. Not only have they given the school programs as many guitars as they can, they have also provided guitar picks, straps, tuners, and music books. They are also looking for local musicians to dedicate their time to go into the schools and help with instruction. Many area schools already have Chinn guitars, including schools in Longview and Spring Hill, St. Mary’s and many more. Chinn, who still works as a financial advisor at Wells Fargo in Longview, is now receiving calls from major national corporations wanting to be involved or wanting to help sponsor the Chinn Guitar Project, including some of the most well-known guitar companies in the world. “I never know who is going to call or email me anymore,” Ken explains. “I know this thing is going to go national real soon.” However, he wants to do as much as he can on a local basis. “I know a lot more of the schools in our area could use our project … and Clark Mundt has been so great to work with that I don’t want to go to some big franchised national music chain. I want to keep doing business with him as long as I can.” Ken explained that Clark Mundt is currently talking with guitar companies to get their support. Throughout history, East Texas seems to be blessed with the ability

to produce quality, and often famous, musicians and performers, with many moving on to performance avenues such as Nashville, Los Angeles, or New York City. The talented bands that play in our area venues every weekend are evidence. The Chinn Guitar Project will help provide guitars to talented children who otherwise might not be able to afford them or might not be in the environment to be exposed to them. With the help of the guitar project, there may be several famous musicians to come out of this area … or it could produce the next musical therapist that may be the person who helps children control and conquer their illnesses. In less than five months, 16-yearold Tara Chinn’s idea has made an impact on our society. But as the Chinn Guitar Project prepares for national attention, help is needed. Ken Chinn paid for the first ten guitars for the hospital, but with so many requests coming in daily, donations are needed badly. “If someone could donate a decent guitar, it would be wonderful. Monetary donations are greatly needed too. We must buy a lot of our guitars, guitar picks, tuners, guitar straps, and music books.

We also need guitar players to go to the schools and hospitals and help get these kids started. Even if you’re not a super guitar player and can just strum a few chords, it’s more than a lot of these kids know now, and they are so appreciative. We’re not asking for hours a week, just maybe an hour a month. Every little bit helps.” Undoubtedly, the project will also need volunteers to assist in administrative and organization processes. The Chinn Guitar Project is a nonprofit organization, and donations may be tax deductible. If you would like to help or donate time to the Chinn Guitar Project, please contact Ken Chinn of Longview, Richard Bowden of Linden, or find them on Facebook page as Chinn Guitar Progect. I personally would not only like to invite and encourage, but I challenge our East Texas musicians to donate an hour here and there to help work with these kids. Whether you are just a strummer or are an advanced lead player, please remember that someone helped you learn along the way. It’s our responsibility as musicians and human beings to give back and pass the gift on to the next generations.

november 2013 - page 17


Alan fox band

rocks los angeles

by Tony McCullough

he llast 12 months have been an exciting year for East Tex Texas’ Alan Fox Ban Band. Commonly ack acknowledged as som some of the best musicians in the area, the Alan Fox Band consists of Alan Fox of Carthage, Donnie Pendleton of Fort Worth, Donny Hart of Arlington, Greg Cagle of Palestine and Terry Salyer of Kilgore, and they have been performing at festivals, special events, and clubs in East Texas over the last decade. However, their focus has recently shifted by taking Los Angeles by storm at the LA Music Awards.

november 2013 - page 18

When the East Texas Music Awards announced their nominees for 2012, the Alan Fox Band was excited to see Donnie Pendleton nominated for “Guitarist of the Year,” Donny Hart nominated for “Male Vocalist of the Year,” Greg Cagle for “Bassist of the Year,” and the Alan Fox Band was up for the “Blues Band of the Year.” Votes were cast by many of their local fans, and Cagle was announced as a winner. The band members agree that Cagle’s award brought a lot of attention to the band. Soon after the awards were presented, Alan was contacted by Aaron Ave Records in Arlington. The record company nominated and sponsored the Alan Fox Band at the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Music Awards. The nomi-

nations are open to any independent musician or band not currently signed with a major recording company. Impressed by the musicianship of the group, Aaron Ave Records brought the guys to Arlington to record four original Alan Fox Band songs to submit to the competition. When the award nominations were announced, the band had been nominated for “Music Group of the Year” and “Hard Rock Band of the Year” with Hart nominated for “Male Vocalist” and Pendleton nominated for “Guitarist of the Year.” It was time to start packing bags and preparing for a trip to Los Angeles, where magical music deals are made. The Alan Fox Band performed at the LA Music Awards on September 23

for the first of the California competition. The September appearance and the music awards evening took place in the world renowned Whiskey A Go Go club, considered to be the home for rock music in Los Angeles. Its stage has been graced with names like Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Motley Crue, and many more. With excitement in his voice, Alan said, “It was so great. The performance came off without a flaw. You could just feel the energy in the room.” He added that it was even more exciting when he was told Madonna’s guitar player and tour manager would be watching the performance. “They were so nice and complimentary.” It was a night many musicians never get to experience. The votes advanced the Alan Fox Band to the second competition.

The second and final performance for the Los Angeles Music Awards is scheduled for November 14 at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood, located on the famous corner of Hollywood and Vine streets. The Alan Fox Band will be one of only nine bands to perform for the red carpet gala complete with press coverage and attending celebrities. So often a musician’s life is a roller coaster of emotion ranging from disappointing performances in less than favorable venues to adrenalin pumping concerts with standing room only, but the Alan Fox Band members are on fire with excitement after standing on the very spot where legends have performed. “My goal is for the audience to feel our emotion and know what it feels like to be a musician,” says Fox. The band hopes their performances and national attention will lead to a future recording contract as a blues band. “Hopefully Aaron Ave Records will offer us a deal.” They are also optimistic that other record companies will be interested.

Alan Fox, who first picked up a guitar over forty years ago, wants this incredible experience for the Alan Fox Band to be an inspiration for other musicians. “My dad gave me a guitar when I was 10 years old, and I started playing along with the radio and teaching myself,” says Fox. “There were many times when I could have quit. Then I would never have had the thrill and excitement of playing the Whiskey A Go Go and the Avalon.” He adds, “Never give up on your dreams.” The Los Angeles Music Awards will be decided by popular vote. Voting can be done by phone (there is a fee to cast your vote). If you would like to see the list of nominees, you will find them and more information at www.lamusicawards. com/nominees. And for all of the Alan Fox Band fans, the band will be keeping you up to date at www.alanfoxband. com. We wish the Alan Fox Band the best of luck as they represent East Texas in the Los Angeles Music Awards this month.

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This year’s City of Tyler’s annual Veterans Day event will have an added artistic twist by commencing the occasion with its first ever art exhibit, which will have a patriotic theme. The exhibit, held at First Baptist Church and beginning at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, will consist of art contributed by local East Texas veterans. Among this year’s artists are Diana Carter, a nature photographer, and David Schaub, a painter, whose patriotic murals have already received international acclaim. Schaub served for 20 years as an avionics mechanic in the U.S. Air Force. He draws inspiration from World War I “nose art,” which was used to identify friendly fire and generate bravery in the most dire of circumstances. As part of the new generation of military artists, Schaub has painted everything from plywood, to barracks, to the A-10 Thunderbolt II – a fighter jet also known as the “warthog.” “That took a lot of gumption to ask [my TI for permission to paint the barracks]. My first mural was of two B2 bombers and a U.S. flag,” said Schaub, who currently has several pieces on display at the Bentwaters Cold War Museum in Suffolk, England. Gretchen Martens, a published author and veteran art advocate, has been coordinating the November art exhibit and has been proactively initiating a consistent art therapy program with the local VA in what she calls, “an attempt to mobilize the community.” Martens explains that by bridging the communication barrier between civilians and military, we will make our community more aware and appreciative of our local veterans. “Art can be a very powerful communication tool,” said Martens. “When soldiers are deployed, they often use art to keep morale high. Morale is your sense of optimism, confidence, and hope.”

According to her, veteran art gives a voice to some of the experiences and emotions our soldiers face that they might have difficulty explaining to someone who hasn’t been under similar circumstances. “It expresses what some might lack words for,” she said. Working with the city, Martens has implemented a strategic veterans plan in conjunction with the Rebuilding Main Street Through the Arts program to continue efforts spotlighting local veteran art. According to Martens, they have already contacted a few schools and are preparing a more extensive exhibit for April’s Art Walk. Tyler is just one community in a growing national effort to encourage the artistic talents of those who have so bravely served our country. Veteran art programs are emerging nationwide, state to state, with assistance and resources to help propel the intentional artist who has set aside their career to serve our country. There is an annual competition – this year’s was held in Reno, NV, in October. Any veteran artists interested in submitting their work for recognition and competition should

contact the local VA office where they’re registered or visit www. and click on the Creative Arts Festival link for more information. Following the local art exhibit in Tyler this Veterans Day will be a Freedom Walk from First Baptist Church to the square where the community will hold a special ceremony to honor all of our local veterans. This is a free event, and all who can attend are invited to pay tribute to those who’ve fought bravely defending our freedom and our country.


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tars are shining brightly this fall at the Pine Tree High School Theatre Department where the stage is set for the much-anticipated musical performance of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. This smash hit musical is based on a popular 1988 film by the same title featuring music and lyrics by David Yazbek and characters made famous by acting greats such as Steve Martin and Michael Caine, among others. “We are very excited about Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and the opportunity to host in our newly renovated facility,” said director Travis House. “The new equipment and environment is an excellent place for students to practice the craft of theatre. Returning students are especially grateful since we were moving constantly last year. It’s nice to be back in our home!” Don’t miss this tuneful treat, which will run for six performances. Evening performances are November 7, 9, 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. with two special matinees on November 10 and 16 at 2 p.m. Performances will be held at the Pine Tree High School Theatre located at 1005 West Fairmont in Longview. Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 903452-5096. Online ticket purchases are available at www.ptisd. org/theatretickets and also at (scroll down to the “Pine Tree High School Theatre Boosters” link). Keep up with all the drama by liking us on Facebook at Pine Tree HS Theatre.



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How did I go a year and not cover a Mexican food restaurant? Yes, it has been a year since I began writing this column, and frankly, I’ve enjoyed almost every bite along the way. Whether for work or pleasure, trying new places has been interesting and eye-opening. I’ve learned that small things can turn me off completely to an establishment and simple things will keep me returning like a boomerang, but it’s the total package that turns hungry guests into loyal customers. When asking for a Mexican food referral, my friend and Piney Woods Live, staff member Ben Valencia, recommended his favorite stop, Mi Casita. I don’t live in Longview, but found myself in the city twice in two weeks, so I popped in to check it out. REALLY? They have FISH TACOS? I laughed at the memory of my first column last year, which showcased my love for fish tacos eaten at another Longview sports bar and grill. I decided it would be nice coming full circle back to my first love. Mi Casita does not have a fancy exterior. In fact, it’s rather nondescript at first glance with only a vinyl banner draped casually across one end of a beige building trimmed in rusty tin. So, keep an eye out for it, or you might pass it. However, when you get inside, the interior is just as cool as any Austin or hip city hangout with corrugated metal ceilings, giant chalkboard menus, and music themed artwork. On my first visit, I arrived about 11:30 a.m and went straight to the counter to order from the overhead menu. It’s a bit daunting at first glance, but it was pretty clear that the food was affordable and of good variety, including a breakfast menu on one end and a lunch/dinner menu on the other. Lots of choices and plates, but my eyes were on that treasure hunt for – you guessed it – fish tacos, and there they were in great, big letters standing out like the catch of the day … FISH TACOS. Made with tilapia (grilled or blackened) and freshly grated cabbage. They were generous and filling. I opted out of the plate version, but had I ordered it, beans and rice would have been included. After ordering, I helped myself at the condiment and chips station where several options for pico, salsa, plus cute, tiny lime quarters and drinks were available to customers for selfservice. Other items like quesadillas, burritos, and nachos were available with my choice of meats, including chorizo, barbacoa (that’s barbecue for Texas gringos), tortas, chimichanga, and fried avocado. I could see that there will be plenty to try over the course of our future, secure relationship. While eating, I noticed it was

CenterStage C|U|I|S|I|N|E

A Taste from Near or Far with Claudia Lowery

“Mi Casita”… and welcome home.

now high noon and there was a line of men and a few women waiting to order. The line moves very fast, and for those on limited lunch breaks, that’s a good thing. I’ve always thought that if large groups of men patronize a café, then there is a decent chance that it’s good food. I was right. Owner Eric Dean paused in flight to answer a few questions about Mi Casita. He worked hard during that lunch hour delivering food, cleaning tables, working the counter, and checking on guests. He was not a silent or invisible entity. His hands-on approach is one of those “things” I quickly notice, and it’s the mark of an owner who truly cares about the restaurant’s reputation, quality and customer experience. His place has a great front porch for outside eating. They have a drive through, and they cater. Their health inspection was rated an A. If ever there was a restaurant that gives you great food in a clean, caring, casual atmosphere, Mi Casita is the whole enchilada. The next week, I returned with my brother who had recently been through a triple bypass. He ordered the Chuck Norris burrito that was more than he could eat in one sitting, so he carried home the rest. I had run into his surgeon the week before when dining alone. I joked with my brother about the idea that it would be funny if his surgeon were there this time on a completely different day of the week and my brother would be “caught” eating there. We rationalized that even a heart surgeon could eat healthy at Mi Casita because there are many healthy choices. Guess what? He was there. I’ve decided that if HE thinks it’s good, then we are okay. Do I need to tell you what I ordered? Again … customer loyalty. The words Mi Casita translate to mean “my house,” and it can be your house; the place you can depend on for well-prepared, tasty food, a comfortable atmosphere, and a gathering place for family and friends. Make it your house by calling a friend and saying, “Let’s eat at my house…. Mi Casita.” Mi Casita is located at 408 A N. Spur 63 in Longview. Prices range up to $10. Phone: 903-758-8226 (TACO). Hours: Sunday 7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., Monday 6 a.m. - 2 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday 6 a.m. - 10:00 p.m., Friday 6 a.m. - 12 midnight, Saturday 7 a.m. - 12:00 midnight. Find them on Facebook at pages/Mi-Casita.

The opinions expressed here were based on the writer’s personal experience. Please be sure to visit and form your own opinion.

november 2013 - page 25

“B si ”



by Randy Brown

Do The Tighten Up Tighten it up You can get it Move to your left Move to your right Tighten it up now Everything will be outta sight Come on and tighten it up Tighten it up now Written by Archie Bell & Billy Buttier “Tighten Up” is a 1968 song by the Houston based R&B vocal group Archie Bell & the Drells. It reached #1 on both the Billboard R&B and pop charts in the spring of 1968. It is ranked #265 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is one of the earliest funk hits in music history. This was back when there were no genre lines on the radio and stations would play most anything they liked. The song was quite infectious; although lyrically, it was pretty lame. If you haven’t heard it, you really should. Here is a Spotify link to it: album/5zsOpnZyZidaZo5KXL0xzr I know you are wondering what this has to do with the business of music. Please be patient, and I will explain. It is November, and the holidays are upon us. My gig schedule slows up some with summer behind us, the yard doesn’t need mowing so often and somehow I feel inclined to dig in and clean up, clear

november 2013 - page 26

ofmusic then through the big category of miscellaneous. Whatever I have goes in my contacts or in the trash, along with notes about where we met and any special stuff I need to keep – if I can remember it or wrote it on the card. This really should be done weekly, but I am an artist and not an organizational expert. Next I try to assemble receipts for taxes and organize them as much as possible. A big thing in the last few years is that plane ticket receipts, online mail order receipts, as well as a lot of others, are in my email bucket. I go through my email folders printing out what I need for taxes and other important stuff. I change passwords on most accounts and save those in an encrypted file so I only have to remember one password. I sure hope I don’t forget that one. I find throughout the year I am often too scattered, hurried or just plain lazy to test the various cords I use, such as microphone cords, patch cords, guitar chords and wall warts to name a few, to make sure everything is working. A frayed cord or loose connection can cause you a lot of problems at showtime. I find I perform better when everything works. Other stuff that I tighten up includes my PA, speakers, microphone, stands and anything else I haul around.

out a n d generally tighten up my little music world. I like to take songs I have written since my last recording and really put them through the wringer – fixing clumsy lines, weak melodies and in general focusing or tightening up everything about them. If I am smart (not always the case), I record a demo so I can remember the melody because I can’t read music and print out chord charts and lyric sheets that I keep in a master songbook I have compiled over the years. I find it useful when going to perform in a new area to review what I have and pull out old songs that might have some relationship to where I am going. For example, I am headed to Portland and Seattle the first week of November, and in my search, I found a song I had written about the Oregon Trail probably ten years ago. I am Setting goals and reviewing them helps now relearning it to peryou figure out where to spend your time form there. I also try to categorize my songs by and where not to waste your time. I season. I don’t normally personally want a little bit of time left over want to do spring songs in the fall or winter songs in to create and expand on my creations. the summer. I make notes about songs that might relate to certain times: 9/11, autumn, that A huge thing in my world are batteries. kind of thing. While I am organizing, I My guitar, preamp, tuner and foot pedlike to plan what songs I am going to do als all have them. I change them all out videos for (YouTube is the number one at least once a year. I put fresh spares for way music is discovered these days) and everything in my gig case along with exset up deadlines for them on my calendar. tra strings, picks and anything else that Speaking of my calendar, it needs to has been used up or disappeared. be weeded and cleaned so I can see what I have combed through my stuff, inquiries have turned into shows and and I feel a little more organized. Now which ones need to be revisited or forgotplease don’t get me wrong, you can ask ten. I go through all the business cards Barbara, my wife of 40 years, I certainly I have picked up from venues, DJs (yep, don’t always manage to do this even the niche world of Folk/Americana still once a year. But I try, and I know what I programs itself), fans, other artists and need to do.

So, we are almost finished doing the “tighten up” except for the most important part. This part requires only thinking, unless you just want to write it down formally. I promise it will have a big impact on your career. Take stock of where you are relative to where you wanted to be with your career goals – things like getting that new CD released, making new videos, getting booked into that dream gig, or co-writing more with others. Those are just a few examples, but goals can be anything. What makes this such an important step is that it lets you know if you are on the right journey. I don’t expect to be famous. Besides, I am old, but I do want to be respected by my peers and appreciated for my talent. Isn’t that what we all want in the end? How can you know where you are going career wise if you don’t plan and set goals? Furthermore, this independent artist stuff is time consuming. Setting goals and reviewing them helps you figure out where to spend your time and where not to waste your time. I personally want a little bit of time left over to create and expand on my creations. A little planning and goal setting can keep you from wasting a lot of time chasing things that don’t serve your goals. So take Arche Bell’s advice and do the “tighten up.” It sure can’t hurt, and I bet it helps you become a better artist. You have spent five minutes reading this, but trust me, it helps me way more than it does you. But if you get any benefits from it or have a beef with any of it, I would really love to hear about it. I enjoy your feedback, both good and bad, as well as your topic suggestions. So shoot me your thoughts and/or complaints at I promise to read it and respond within a decade. Just kidding, remember the “Communication Breakdown” column in September? I will get back with you very quickly, and who knows, you may find yourself in a column. As always, thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you next issue.

Randy Brown is retired from a real job, though he still manages to function as a singer/songwriter living in East Texas and has been involved with many sides of the music business over the years, from being a sideman, a sound man, touring songwriter, operator of a venue, and a recording studio owner/engineer. At his age even tightened up he is still pretty loose.

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4 Nov 23 - Dheecs,1TX


Non-profit art organization launches in East Texas by Cori Stanley If you are an artist in East Texas, Artists Nation is here for you! The brainchild of the organization is director Matthew N. Martin. Artists Nation is a non-profit organization created by artists, for artists. Based in Tyler, Artists Nation became a reality in July 2013. “We’re a community composed of creative individuals from all walks of life that share the same objective. That objective is to see successful and unified ‘Art Scenes’ develop throughout local communities.” Headed by Martin and a team of directors: Sam Fontenot (Visual Arts), Whitney Warren (Fashion), Logan Stephens (Music), Leeanna DiGruccio (Film & Photography), Josh Carpenter (Performing Art), Laney Glover (Artisan Creations), Tye Jackson (Media) and Kevin Young (Public Relations), their mission is “to provide local artists and organizations with the tools, resources and exposure needed to be successful while building and strengthening local ‘Art Scenes.’” Artists Nation launched its new website October 10 at www.artists They offer a variety of resources such as coaching, learning the business, how to price and sell art work, educational classes and much more, all designed to help artists gain exposure and build successful careers. “It is essentially a big umbrella where all artists can work together. … We want to put an end to the starving artist myth by providing resources … to help our members become more successful and to reach a wider audience in an effective manner.” They want all artists “to have the ability to market themselves and their artwork for the world to see” and are currently building an online store and gallery where artists can display and sell their work. Their web section, called “Art/Biz,” is a place where “artists, art collectors and business owners can get down to business. It’s a job board for our mem-

bers to find jobs, careers, commission opportunities and freelance work.” Artists Nation relies on donations, sponsors and proceeds from the sale of art work. One of their main attractions is their “Local Love” events and showcases. According to Martin, “Some events will be specific to an Art Scene and style/theme, and other events will showcase mixed Art Scenes and styles to form an amazing one night aweinspiring show of creativity. … These events are all about supporting our local businesses and our local community. The events are free to attend, but we ask that you show some “local love” to the business by giving them some of yours.” Some of the benefits of attending a showcase include a personal photo shoot; viewing an independent film, fashion show and musical performance; attending an art gallery; watching performance art and much more. “You’ll get a little taste of everything.” All this is designed to promote upand-coming artists. “We are working

ing artists and poets, live painting, a poetry slam, and “great food and great fun.” On October 4, they celebrated “a BEAUTIFUL and intriguing new exhibit” for the opening of The Rose City at Gallery Main Street in Tyler, which featured traditional rose paintings, as well as “very cool contemporary interpretations of the theme.” The reception featured the art, artists and DJ Shayne Payne. On October 19, Artists Nation took over Cork Food & Drink in Tyler “for the first Monster Ball Art & Music Show.” The event featured monsterthemed original artwork by local East Texas artists Sam Fontenot, Heather Wobbe and MK Northum and live music performances by Logan Steve with DJ Said Perivan “spinning some of the best music you’ve ever heard.” There were also “some of the best monster movies” playing throughout the night. Next year, they plan to offer a major event or showcase every quarter. Artists Nation is free to all artists. Artists will receive a free portfolio page to showcase their work, take advantage

Matthew Martin of all of the resources it offers, and be in-the-know regarding all the different Art Scene events. The directors will also be able to reach out to the artists regarding participation in the events. There are currently more than 800 members via Facebook and growing rapidly. If you are an artist or a supporter of the arts, Artists Nation encourages to join and invite others in an effort to “work towards a closed and more supportive community.” Right now Artists Nation is focused on East Texas, but one of their goals is to reach out to other non-profits in the arts and partner with them to promote their events as well. Matthew N. Martin is a freelance artist and designer and owner of Just N Designs ( Cori Stanley, Ph.D. is a freelance writer and entrepreneur living in Longview. She is a retired educator.

towards creating group meetings, both fun and educational, where artists can get together, meet each other and discuss things that artists need to know.” In September, Artists Nation sponsored and hosted two local events: The East Texas Third Annual All-Star Showcase in downtown Tyler spotlighting the growing music and art scene in East Texas, and Local Love at What About Kabob in Tyler featur-

november 2013 - page 29



ollowing last year’s highly successful first open house, twenty visual artists in the Marshall area will again share their creations of handcrafted gifts and art with holiday shoppers at the second annual Christmas Open House at the Marshall Visual Arts Center. Last year artists displayed items that reached beyond usual Christmas and holiday offerings found at the mall. Uniquely creative, the artwork this year includes pottery, jewelry, paintings, journals, felted fiber art and more. There will be something for everyone on your list. East Texas is blessed with an abundant number of art-


ists who want your Christmas gift-giving to truly be oneof-a-kind, as well as affordable. Whether it is a handmade bookmark, a finely created ceramic vase, a hand bound journal, or a watercolor landscape, the variety will amaze shoppers who appreciate creativity and art. Save the date now for Friday, December 6, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 7, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The Marshall Visual Arts Center is located at 208 E. Burleson (one block south of Hwy 80). However, the entrance marked Art Center is located on the side of the building on Lafayette Street. For more information, please call Claudia Lowery at 903-926-0440.

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priceless -– take one

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The Casey Donahue Band performs at Graham’s in Longview

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winne r i a F , ine eval W n Jefferson i d e M The ress i and p

The Winn Morton Tyler Mus Exhibit at the eum of Ar t

Charlie Robison performs at Charlie’s BackYard Bar and Grill in Marshall

t knocks it out of Arrested Developmen River Revel the park at the Red

L adies wa Longview it anxiously for t h Habitat f or Human e “studs” at ity’s “Stud Show”

at efferson J f o s t e e e the str t Bikes lin Boo Run Benefi e h t

The Edom A rts Fest crowd from ival draws a all over

Check out all of our photo galleries at or scan the QR code BORED AND WANT SOMETHING TO DO? CHECK OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE PINEY WOODS AREA AT PINEYWOODSLIVE.COM/EVENTS Correction to October issue. On page 21 the picture on the top left of the page is supposed to say Alter dedicated to Leopld Aldo at the University of Dallas by Phillip Shore.

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november 2013

Piney Woods Live November 2013  
Piney Woods Live November 2013  

A monthly magazine of artists and artistic happenings in the Piney Woods region of Northeast Texas.