Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lorene Mann Dies

Category:  Obituary

Country singer and songwriter Lorene Mann died in Nashville on Saturday after suffering a stroke earlier in the week.

Born January 4, 1937, Lillian Lorene Mann was a founding member of the Nashville Songwriters Association and coined their slogan "It All Begins With a Song."  Her biggest hits as a songwriter were "Don't Go Near the Indians," a hit for Rex Allen, and "Left to Right," a hit for Kitty Wells.

Mann was also a recording artist, performing "Hurry Mr. Peters" with Justin Tubb (the answer song to "Yes, Mr. Peters") and recording an album of songs with Archie Campbell, Archie and Lorene Tell It Like It Is.

Lorene Mann was 76.

Lorene Mann's Tennessean obituary

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thirty Years of ICMC

Category:  News

The annual International Country Music Conference (ICMC) will be held this week in Nashville at Belmont University.  This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the three-day event, which began in 1983 in Meridian, Mississippi as a commemoration of the anniversary of Jimmie Rodgers' death.  The conference occurs annually on the week prior to Memorial Day.

This year's conference will include an opening presentation by author, educator and ICMC co-chair Don Cusic on Roger Miller.  Other presentations will feature lectures on Norman Blake, Merle Haggard, the effort to preserve Johnny Cash's boyhood home in Arkansas, southern California's country music scene in the 40's and 50's, and the winner of the best title this year:  "Hank's Yoko:  Audrey Williams on the Radio."  

The 2013 ICMC book of the year award will be presented to Diane Diekman for her biography of Marty Robbins, Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins.  The panel discussions for this year center around the legacies of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, and Friday night at Studio B will be highlighted by a panel discussion on the 100th anniversary of the Georgia Old-Time Fiddlers' Convention.

I will tweet the conference on Twitter (@KFRaizor) again this year.  The entire line-up for the 2013 conference is available at ICMC's web site.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dates of Note in Country Music, May 16-31

Category: News
(Hall of Fame members in bold on birth/death date, followed by hall[s] of fame in which they are enshrined and the year enshrined.  CM=Country Music; BG=Bluegrass; NS=Nashville Songwriter; SG=Southern Gospel)

May 16:

Rick Trevino born in Austin, Texas, 1971 (now 42)
Laura Lee Owens, the "Queen of Western Swing," born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1920 (died 1989)

Wallace Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) died in Washington, Georgia (complications of Parkinson's disease), 2007 (was 78)
Doug Dillard of the Dillards (BG 09) died in Nashville, Tennessee (lung infection), 2012 (was 75)

May 17:

Penny DeHaven born in Winchester, Virginia, 1948 (now 65)
Pat Flynn of the New Grass Revival born in Los Angeles, California, 1952 (now 61)
Grant Turner (CM 81) born in Abeline, Texas, 1912 (died 1991)
Paul Warren born in Lyles, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1978)
Arthur Lee "Red" Smiley (BG 92) born in Marshall, North Carolina, 1925 (died 1984)
Wiley Walker of Wiley & Gene (NS 71) died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (cancer), 1966 (was 54)
New Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building opened, 2001.  Nearly every living Hall of Famer was present at the opening ceremonies, and the audience was treated to a tour of the new facilities for free.

May 18:

Leon Ashley born in Newton County, Georgia, 1936 (now 77)
Rodney Dillard of the Dillards (BG 09) born in East St. Louis, Illinois, 1942 (now 71)
Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1948 (now 65)
Gary Scruggs born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 1949 (now 64)

Tom Shapiro (NS 08) born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1950 (now 63)
George Strait (CM 06) born in Poteet, Texas, 1952 (now 61)

May 19:

Martha Carson born in Neon, Kentucky, 1921 (died 2004)
Rex Gosdin born in Woodland, Alabama, 1938 (died 1983)
Mickey Newberry (NS 80) born in Houston, Texas, 1940 (died 2002)

May 20:

"Lonesome George" Gobel born in Chicago, Illinois, 1919 (died 1991). Although many may remember him as a comedian and regular on Hollywood Squares, one of Gobel's earliest jobs in entertainment was on the WLS National Barn Dance when he was a teenager in the 1930s.
Jack Cash, brother of Johnny Cash, died in Dyess, Arkansas (injuries from accident with table saw), 1944 (was 15)

May 21:

Henry Glover born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, 1921 (died 1991). The R&B songwriter and pioneering black record company executive co-wrote "Blues, Stay Away From Me" with the Delmore Brothers and Wayne Raney in 1949.
Charlie Poole died in Spray, North Carolina (alcohol-related heart failure), 1931 (was 39)
Billy Walker died in Fort Deposit, Alabama (car wreck), 2006 (was 77)
Vaughn Monroe died in Stuart, Florida (post-operative complications), 1973 (was 61). Among the pop singer's many hits was "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky."

May 22:

Miggie Lewis of the Lewis Family (BG 06) born in Richmond County, Georgia, 1926 (now 87)
Buddy Alan born in Mega, Arizona, 1948 (now 65)
Rich Alves of Pirates of the Mississippi born in Pleasanton, California, 1953 (now 60)
Dana Williams of Diamond Rio born in Dayton, Ohio, 1961 (now 52)
Ralph S. Peer (CM 84) born in Independence, Missouri, 1892 (died 1960)
Royce Kendall died in LaCrosse, Wisconsin (stroke), 1988 (was 63)

May 23:

Mac Wiseman (BG 93) born in Crimora, Virginia, 1925 (now 88)
Ken Irwin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in New York, New York, 1944 (now 69)
Misty Morgan born in Buffalo, New York, 1945 (now 68)
Shelley West born in Cleveland, Ohio, 1958 (now 55)

Leroy Troy born in Goodlettesville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 47)
Rosemary Clooney born in Maysville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 2002). The legendary pop singer recorded a number of country songs, including covering Carl Smith's hit "If Teardrops Were Pennies."
Rex Gosdin died (heart attack), 1983 (was 45)

May 24:

Mike Reid (NS 05) born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 66)
Rosanne Cash born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1955 (now 58)
Billy Gilman born in Westerly, Rhode Island, 1988 (now 25). Gilman's "One Voice" hit #1 when he was 12, making him the youngest person in Billboard country chart history to have a #1 song.
Gene Clark of the Byrds and Dillard & Clark died in Sherman Oaks, California (bleeding ulcer), 1991 (was 46)
Vivian Liberto died in Ventura, California (cancer), 2005 (was 71). Vivian was Johnny Cash's first wife and Rosanne Cash's mother.
Jimmie Rodgers recorded "Old Love Letters (Bring Memories of You)," "Mississippi Delta Blues," "Somewhere Down Below the Dixon Line," and "Years Ago" in New York City, 1933. Ravaged with tuberculosis, they would be the final recordings of the Father of Country Music.

May 25:

Tom T. Hall (CM 08, NS 78) born in Olive Hill, Kentucky, 1936 (now 77)
Jessi Colter born in Phoenix, Arizona, 1947 (now 66)
Dr. Humphrey Bate of the Possum Hunters born in Castallian Springs, Tennessee, 1875 (died 1936)
Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman (CM 08) born in Monarat, Virginia, 1893 (died 1968)

Hal David (NS 84) born in New York, New York, 1921 (died 2012)
Dick Curless died in Bangor, Maine (stomach cancer), 1995 (was 63)

May 26:

Lance LeRoy (BG 00) born in Tingall, Georgia, 1930 (now 83)

Randall Hank Williams Jr. (NS 07) born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1949 (now 64)
Richard Leigh (NS 94) born in Washington, DC, 1951 (now 62)
Levon Helm born in Marvell, Arkansas, 1940 (died 2012). The actor and drummer/singer for the Band made his acting debut in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Jimmie Rodgers (CM 61, NS 70) died in New York, New York (tuberculosis), 1933 (was 35)
Onie Wheeler died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1984 (was 62). He died on the Grand Ole Opry stage during a performance of the post-Friday Night Opry show, Grand Ole Gospel.
Judy Lynn died in New Albany, Indiana (congestive heart failure), 2010 (was 74)
The first International Country Music Conference held in Meridian, Mississippi, 1983. The three-day event began as a memorial to Jimmie Rodgers and coincides with the anniversary of his death.

May 27:

Don Williams (CM 10) born in Floydada, Texas, 1939 (now 74)
Redd Stewart (NS 70) born in Ashland City, Tennessee, 1921 (died 2003)
Kenny Price born in Florence, Kentucky, 1931 (died 1987)
Slim Bryant died in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania (long-term illness), 2010 (was 101)
Opryland opened, 1972 (closed 1997)

May 28:

John Fogerty born in Berkeley, California, 1945 (now 68). The leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded an album of country songs under the pseudonym Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973, hitting the country chart with his rendition of "Jambalaya," and several songs Fogerty has written have been recorded by country singers.
Jerry Douglas born in Warren, Ohio, 1956 (now 57)
Phil Vassar born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1965 (now 48)

Gary Stewart born in Jenkins, Kentucky, 1945 (died 2003)

May 29:

Carl Story (BG 07) born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1916 (died 1995)

Danny Davis (ne George Joseph Nowlan) of the Nashville Brass born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1925 (died 2008)
Doc Watson (BG 00) died in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (complications from abdominal surgery), 2012 (was 89)
Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family became members of the Grand Ole Opry, 1950
Hank and Audrey Williams divorced, 1952

May 30:

Mike Snider born in Gleason, Tennessee, 1960 (now 53)
Lewis Crook of the Crook Brothers born in Trousdale County, Tennessee, 1909 (died 1996)

Don Wayne (NS 78) born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1933 (died 2011)
Karl Davis of Karl & Harty died in Chicago, Illinois (cancer), 1979 (was 73)
Bobby Harden of the Harden Trio died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 2006 (was 70)

May 31:

Vic Willis of the Willis Brothers born in Schulter, Oklahoma, 1922 (died 1995)
Johnny Paycheck (ne Donald Eugene Lytle) born in Greenfield, Ohio, 1938 (died 2003)
William "Red" Rector died in Knoxville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1990 (was 60)

Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers (CM 80) died in Burbank, California (complications of heart surgery), 1977 (was 60)

Good News - Update on Ray Price

Category:  News

Here is the Facebook post from Ray Price's wife, Janie, regarding the Hall of Famer's hospitalization for severe dehydration:

Hello Everyone, 
I promised Ray that I would keep all of you updated on his stay in the hospital this week. 
Ray was admitted last Thursday night due to severe dehydration. 
A medication he had to take for Post Radiation Syndrome caused him to have extreme diarrhea that resulted in loss of too much body fluid.
Dr. Red Duke just upgraded Rays condition to "GOOD AND IMPROVING DAILY". He is so much better today and is alert and talking.
We have to remain in hospital for a few more days until his strength is better.
Ray said to thank you all for your prayers. I am reading him your messages and I can tell you that he is moved by your love and concern for him.
So am I. Ray and I have been together for 45 years and I am not about to let go now!!!!.
I will return to keep you updated.
With Great Appreciation, Janie Price

Thanks for the update, Janie.  Please tell Ray that we're all praying and pulling for him!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sick Call (Again): Ray Price

Category:  News

Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price is in the hospital, suffering from dehydration.  The 87-year-old legend posted this announcement on his Facebook page this morning:

Hi Folks, Just to let my Facebook Friends know that I have been admitted to the hospital because of severe dehydration. Doctors are pouring the fluids to me and I am feeling much better. I wanted you to hear from me before you hear it from the media. I have asked my wife, Janie, to keep you all posted. Thanks for your prayers and support. Ray

Price underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer last year.

Please keep him in your prayers.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Second Coming of Country Music

Category:  Concert Review

One week ago I said country music could be laid to rest with George Jones.  After seeing Dale Watson's show Friday (5/3) I realize that not only did I speak too soon, but country music is alive and well and in loving, capable hands.

Newton, Illinois isn't exactly the biggest city in the state, but Dale Watson transformed it to the the center of country music.  Watson packed the lodge of the local Fraternal Order of Eagles for a magical night of pure honky tonk music.  A few decades ago people like Hank, Lefty, Buck and Jones toured everywhere to take their music to their fans (not just the big cities with the large arenas).  Country was the music of the "common people," and given that most people didn't live in a big city the country singers went to the county fairs, high school gyms and bars/nightclubs in the tiny towns in order to accommodate their fans.  Watson knows the history and traditions of country music, and that includes hitting the Newton, Illinois-sized towns as well as the big cities (the previous evening's show was in Memphis).  That is part of his appeal.

The other main attraction is Watson's music.  Dale Watson is the second coming of country music, and that is not an exaggeration.  No voice-correcting, pyrotechnical, gyrating gimmicks with this man.  Vern Gosdin once had an album titled Warning: Contains Country Music, and there's no question that a similar label should be on Watson's tickets.  It's country music, pure and simple (the band consists of just four people:  Watson, stand-up bassist Chris Crepps, steel guitarist Don Pawlak and drummer Mike Bernal).  And, if you have any doubt about what should be defined as "country music" (in these days of Kid Rock getting a Nashville Walk of Fame star or people wanting Lynyrd Skynyrd inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame), Mr. Watson will be quite happy to set you straight.  "Most of these people," Watson said after singing "Old Fart (Song for Blake)," the song he wrote after the controversy earlier this year, "who do what they call 'country music' these days suck."  Blunt, to the point, and deserving of the loud round of applause he received.

Dale Watson (center) enjoys the enthusiasm of the
Friday night crowd
c. 2013 K.F. Raizor

Watson doesn't just verbally badmouth the pop/rock music passing itself off as country, however.  He lets his music serve the indictment with its honky-tonk purity.  He opened with "Sit and Drink and Cry" and continued with a balanced blend of his own well-crafted originals and covers for nearly three hours.  His only "breaks" came when members of the audience sent shots to the stage for the band ("I don't drink normally," Watson joked after receiving each of the gifts, making no effort to hide the bottle of Lone Star at his feet) or when someone walked up to the stage to request a song.  Watson even signed a couple of autographs from the stage during a song (something I've only seen happen one other time, at a George Strait concert in the early 80s, leading me to believe this must be a Texan thing) and jovially demanding someone who took his photo during a song's introduction retake the picture because "I was blinking."  

Other than that, it was all about the music -- and all country music.  Highlights included his two-step lesson song "Quick-Quick, Slow-Slow," "Broke Down in Birmingham," one of many truck driving songs he's written and recorded over the years, a stunning rendition of George Jones' "Walk Through This World With Me" followed immediately by a new song Watson wrote after Jones' death in which Watson proclaims he is "Jonesing for Jones since George is gone," "Legends (What If)" (another Watson original that pays homage to the rapidly-depleting number of living icons), and great covers of "For the Good Times" and "There Stands the Glass."

The show-stopper was "I Lie When I Drink," which Watson introduced with the announcement that the song earned him a new fan, TV host David Letterman, and because of the song he will appear on The Late Show With David Letterman on June 24th.  When a fan who had requested the song told Watson she had missed the song because she was elsewhere when he sang it Watson merely shrugged and said, "We'll do it again."  And he did.

Dale Watson could single-handedly save country music from itself, if only country music would let him.  And he will certainly entertain the socks off of you, if only you will let him when he comes to your town.

Dale Watson's web site

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A Statement and a Tear on Behalf of All of Us

Category:  Tribute

Before singing at George Jones' funeral today, Vince Gill referenced Jones' hit "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" by saying, "It's my belief they don't make those shoes anymore."

He then proceded to cry his way through "Go Rest High on That Mountain," so overcome with emotion that duet partner Patty Loveless had to momentarily sing solo and comfort Gill during the instrumental break.

Vince spoke for all of us.

And he cried for all of us, too.

We didn't stop loving George Jones today.  We never will.