Sunday, October 31, 2010

Second Chance Sunday: Ghosts and Two Georges for One Buck

We've made it to Halloween Day and here in New England we are actually having some autumn weather. It's 35 degrees with a wind chill of 27 and snow is falling about 40 miles from my living room and it could be headed our way. We'll see. At any rate, be extra careful tonight if you get out and about and watch for all the little ghouls and goblins seeking treats and tricks - unless the kid is too old to be trick or treating. If that's the case, then slip the little fooker some tofu, it'll serve 'em right.

Lots of football going on today, but the real game for my friends in Texas is Game 4 of the World Series, with San Fran leading the Rangers 2 games to 1, after another great outing for Colby Lewis last night. Tonight Madison Bumgarner takes the hill for the bad guys and Tommy Hunter will try to even the Series for Texas. The first pitch is scheduled for 8:20 EDT tonight in Arlington.

Thanks to you, our Country Music Month Tribute was a big success. I want to thank you for all the kind words and the time you took to pay us a visit. I am, indeed, very grateful. I went through the Three States Plus One archives and picked out three of the most popular posts for the month, and decided to give them an encore presentation. There are a thousand memories to relived, so let's get to it.
  • George Strait - Even after thirty years-plus as a major Country Music star, this guy is still cranking out Number 1's and continues to sell out venues all over the world. And he's still country. Can I get an "amen" from the readership?
  • George Jones - With a career entering its seventh decade, there still ain't another soul on God's Green Earth that can sing 'em like The Possum.
  • Buck Owens - I remember hearing Buck Owens songs on the radio, KBOX-1480, when I was a little boy in Fort Worth. Buck and Don Rich gave us harmony that is still some of the best ever in Country Music.
Over the past few days, I also posted some good, spooky stuff about some haunted places in the Three States. For the scary details click here, here, here, here, here and here. That's a good day's worth of reading right there, so whenever you get a minute and you want something to do, just click away. If you dare.

**Photo from The Regina Leader-Post**

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Texas Tidbits: Lone Star Spirits

Real ?**
Twas the night before Halloween, ghosts and ghouls are waiting to be seen
Children with their costumes pulled up taut, looking for treats and homes to haunt,
Grown ups dressed up, both sexes, And here's a post about haunted Texas.

This post will link to a page with several places in Haunted Texas. Some have videos and of course, there are lots of photos. If you don't have time to look at them all, you can always come back another time or two to finish up, but make sure to check out as many as you can.

For my friends in the Metroplex, one of the stories is about the Lady of  White Rock Lake, an oldie but a goodie.

Have fun learning about Haunted Texas.

**Photo from**

Friday, October 29, 2010

Maine Minutiae: Haunted Maine - Seguin Island Lighthouse

Being a lighthouse keeper in the late 18th on into the early 20th Century had to be a lonely ass job. It's not like the lighthouse keepers of the day were able to catch I Love Lucy reruns on a flat panel TV or plug in a computer to keep themselves and their family entertained, especially when the winter came. Winters up here can be brutal. Even a "normal" winter ain't exactly a walk through the park. Which leads us to our story.

Seguin Lighthouse is situated 186 feet high on the rocky cliffs two miles off the Maine coast at the mouth of the Kennebec River. As the crow flies that's about 50 miles from where I sit. Getting supplies to the island back in the 19th Century was a tedious task. Summers in the area were great, but when Old Man Winter came, not so much.

On one occasion, a guy took a job as the Seguin Island Lighthouse keeper and with him he took his young wife. Needless to say, she became bored in a very short period of time. So, the husband, wanting to keep his wife sane and happy had a piano shipped to the island. This does not end well. Here  is where you can read the whole story.

Lighthouses are usually thought of a beacons of hope and guidance, but in some cases, such as the one in the story above, lighthouses become places of loneliness and despair.

Texas Tidbits: Haunted Texas - The Alamo

Sacred Ground
Yesterday when I wrote about the alleged spirits at The Menger Hotel in San Antonio, which is adjacent to the Alamo, I was curious as to why there was no mention of ghosts at the most Sacred Ground in Texas, the Alamo itself. I employed the use of my legendary Google-Fu and came up with some very interesting stories about just such a thing - ghosts at the Alamo.

Rather than give you a synopsis of each ghost story related to the Alamo, I'll give you the link to them and let you read them at your leisure. There are several of them and they are fairly short, so reading a couple at a time shouldn't present too much of a problem. After the links, I will have a final word on my thoughts about what the stories have to say.
Confession: I am a Catholic, so I guess "confession" is a good choice of words. :) I believe in the paranormal. I think that we mere humans must bore God to pieces sometimes, so, in my mind, there has to be something else out there - some kind of "bridge" between life as we know it and the afterlife, Angels and demons and all that. I obviously have no proof of this "bridge" between the living and the dead, it's just something I believe. Having said that, it comes as no surprise to me that there would be ghosts, apparitions, spirits, pick a name, at the Alamo. I mean the Battle of the Alamo is a historic event of mammoth proportions - a symbols of man's yearning to be free and what he is willing to do to live free, even if it means certain death. Surely when Colonel William Barrett Travis saw 4000 Mexican soldiers awaiting the order to attack the Alamo, he had to think, "We may all die here today, but our sacrifice will inspire men everywhere to stand up for their freedom, no matter the odds." I think that God allows us to see these spirits at places like the Alamo to remind us, amongst other things, that freedom ain't free and sometimes we must make incredible sacrifices to keep it, like the sacrifice that Jesus made so man could eventually be at the right hand of The Almighty. Dieing for freedom is not a choice of life or death, so much as it is a choice to live, not only today, but forever. God bless the defenders of the Alamo and God bless Texas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Colorado Chronicles: A Haunted Mine Story

I have written many stories about Colorado on this blog, and there's a recurring theme to most of them - something to do with mines. On two other posts today, I wrote about a haunted hotel in Texas and a haunted lighthouse in Maine. I think each of those topics are appropriate for the state they are located in - Texas, Wild West, Hotel and Maine, Lots of coastline and a lighthouse. So what could be more fitting as we near Halloween, than a haunted mine in Colorado? The best way to tell this story is to let the old time newspaper articles speak for themselves.
  • Here's an excerpt to a newspaper article dated October 13, 1840. Read it the click on the orange "McDygut Journal" link at the bottom left of the story.
  • The "McDygut Journal" link above takes you to a new page with a replica of the journal in question. When you get to this point, the bottom right hand corner of each page of the journal is "dog-eared". Click on the "dog ear" and turn the page by dragging the dog ear to the left. The journal features the original writing of Mr. McDygut on the right hand page, and a transcription on the left hand page. 
This is real stuff and it's real good. let me know what you think in the comments.  :)

Maine Minutiae: A Haunted Lighthouse

Haunted? Wood Island Lighthouse c.1858*
With Halloween only days away, I thought I'd get to posting some spooky stuff. Like they say, the early bat gets the blood. Or something like that. A ghostly story that has been around for more than a century continues to haunt the residents of Wood Island , Maine. This tale begins in 1896 with a murder-suicide near the lighthouse at Wood Island where a drunk lobster fisherman (imagine that! a drunk fisherman!) , Howard Hobbs, and a buddy (also a drunk) were renting a chicken coop from one Frederick Milliken, who just happened to be a part-time Sheriff at Wood Island. After a night on the mainland getting FUBAR'ed Milliken invited the two drunks to his home to discuss some overdue rent on the chicken coop. Hobbs took a rifle to the meeting and you can guess, nothing good was gonna come from that. Hobbs shot and killed Milliken and then ran to the nearby lighthouse where he proceeded to blow his own brians out. But! The story does not end there. It is said that ghosts, presumably Milliken and Hobbs, haunt the lighthouse to this very day. As a matter of fact, one lighthouse keeper was so distraught by the hauntings, that he, too, commited hari kari. has the story in great detail. It's pretty spooky and just in time for Halloween.

 **Photo courtesy of**

Texas Tidbits: Haunted Texas - The Menger Hotel in San Antonio

The Menger Hotel - Does It Have Ghostly Guests?
We are just three days away from Halloween, so I thought it would be kind of cool to post some ghost stories and what have you for the next few days.

I did a little reading to find out some things about the haunted history of Texas. I was surprised to learn that Texas is one of the most haunted states in the nation. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised considering that all my exes live in Texas. I'm just sayin'. That said, it doesn't surprise me that a place as large as Texas would have over 200 ghost towns within its borders and a large number of haunted hotels as well.

The World Famous Menger Hotel in San Antonio has been a part of Texas almost since Texas was granted statehood. located adjacent to the Alamo and built in 1859, the Menger has hosted Presidents, Buffalo Bill, Geronimo, Babe Ruth, Robert E. Lee and more than one ghostly apparition. In fact, the Menger is considered to be one of the most haunted hotels on the globe and is believe by many to house at least thirty-two spirits from beyond.

One of these alleged spirits is a man who is dressed in a military uniform who is suspected of being Teddy Roosevelt, who as Secretary of Navy in 1898, recruited some his famous Rough Riders in the hotel bar. Bully!
Another suspected ghost is that of Captain Richard King, founder of the historic King Ranch. captain King fell ill while staying at the Menger and spent his final months there. He is said to be frequently seen standing in the doorway to the King Ranch Room. Of the many alleged spirits roaming the halls of the Menger, the most-seen is a lady named Sallie White. Sallie was a chambermaid at the hotel and was murdered there by her husband in 1876. Sallie is seen wearing an old gray skirt and a bandana, carrying towels that she never delivers. Her footsteps are reportedly heard in the hallways of the Menger, to the delight of many of the hotel's guests.

The Menger would be a great place to spend Halloween, in search of the spirits of  the long departed. and if you fail in your quest to see these ghosts, a few shots of tequila from the Menger Bar and you'll have all the spirits you need.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Plus One: The Wrap Up to Country Music Month - Bocephus

It's been a great Trip Through Time and Country Music over the last four weeks, but like all things, this too must end. We began our tribute with a bang with Garth Brooks, and now we're gonna end it with a BOOM! 

My favorite artist from any genre of music, bar none, is Hank Williams, Jr. I am very familiar with Hank's trials and tribulations over the years. He has told me about many of them in person, during the three times I had a chance to talk with him. As we drank shots of whiskey and nursed a few beers, Hank related to me one great story after another. Most of them were just general stories about the music biz, his role in it, his Dad (of course) and some other stuff. The one subject that Hank told me about was when on Augusta 8, 1975, he fell almost 500 feet down the side of Ajax Mountain in Montana. He went over the accident that nearly killed him in chilling detail. He probably would have fallen further down the side of the mountain except for one thing - a BFR. A Big Fuckin' Rock. He smashed into it face first into it and it opened his skull like it was on a door hinge, his brain exposed to the elements. Hank was hiking with his buddy, Dick Willey and Willey's son, Pete (I think, his name escapes me) when the accident happened. The senior Willey had to hike several miles back down Ajax to get help, while his son, who was about 10 years old, IIRC, tried to keep Hank awake and alert. The boy prove to be a hero. Hank told that if it hadn't been for the cold weather, he probably would have died right then and there. Two years of reconstructive surgery and rehab, including learning how to talk all over again, followed the fall down Ajax. Amazing story.

Already recorded prior to Hank's accident, was an album called Hank Williams, Jr and Friends. The link provides only clips of the songs, but I urge you to take a minute to listen to them. this album, in my opinion, is the single greatest album ever recorded. It was the single most influential album that initiated the Outlaw Movement in Country Music. I know, I know, Willie and Waylon and all that. I agree that W & W were the ones that popularized Outlaw Country, but Hank, Jr and Friends was before all that. Hank and Friends consists of nine songs that are my life set to music. It's the ultimate Country record. It's that great.

We know what many of Hank's hits are. Below I will list some of his better-known songs and some that aren't. But I promise you, they will all be good, and maybe you'll look at Hank from a different point of view.
What a great way to end our tribute to Country Music Month. Hank Williams, Jr, who once had NINE albums in The Top 75 at one time (!), has a ton of YouTube pages with his music on them. Make time to listen to some of Hank's songs that were never released as singles. There's a treasure trove of kick ass Country tunes and songs that paint a vivid image in your mind that I think you'll really like.

New Sidebar Content!

On the sidebar to the right, I have included a new page element! It's an Open Invitation to YOU to be a contributor to Three States Plus One! It's a simple process. Write up something about one of the 50 United States and send to me at: threestatesplusone AT gmail DOT com. That's all there is to it! I'd love to see what you, the reader and aspiring writer, have to add to the blog's content. You DO NOT have to be a pro, just write an informative and/or entertaining article, send it to me and I'll look it over. That's it. Join the staff of Three States Plus One (that's me) and have some fun and share your knowledge with our ever-growing worldwide audience! Send your submission today!


Plus One: Country Music Month Tribute - Alan Jackson

Every so often Country Music seems to lose its focus and veer toward the Pop side of things. To clarify, when I said "Country Music" in the opening sentence, I meant the dumbasses in charge of the record companies who make the decisions as to what's going to be released. At the same time, there always seems to be an artist or two who remain loyal to their country roots and play, you know, actual Country Music. Imagine that. One such artist who has done exactly that for over two decades and is still going strong answers to the name Alan Eugene Jackson.

Alan Jackson burst on to the Country Music scene with his first major release, Here In the Real World and has never looked back. As of this writing, Jackson has had over 50 singles in the Billboard Magazine charts and twenty-five of those have been Number 1's. And every damned one of those chart singles have been COUNTRY. Alan and another Country Legend, George Strait, lambasted the idiots who pour out all this Pop pablum and try to market it as Country in Murder On Music Row. Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Between Strait and Jackson, they have about 75 Number 1's and probably 100 million album sales, plus over 50 years combined as major Country stars, and the dumbasses in Nashville just don't seem to get it. Simply amazing.

The following songs are why Alan Jackson records will be played on the radio long after we leave this world. Classics, every damned one of them. Because I said so.  :)
After listening to the songs on the list above, I realized that I need to crank up some Alan Jackson way more often. The man is incredible. His song writing is outstanding and the people who do his back up vocals are mo' betta than good. In case you couldn't tell, I really like this guy. :) For another 40 or 50 hits by Alan Jackson, here's the YouTube page for you. Listen to 'em all. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Plus One: Country Music Month Tribute - The 2nd Best-Lookin' Redhead from Oklahoma

I wanted to wrap up our tribute to Country Music Month with a series of (2 or 3) "Plus One" features, so we could salute some country artists who are not from Texas. There is a boatload of outstanding singers I could pick from, but I wanted to pick a couple of my personal favorites to end things with.

I could not look myself in the mirror tomorrow if did not include one of the most influential and successful females in the history of Country Music, who just happens to be a very nice, down-to-Earth lady who, despite the demands on her time, always makes times for her fans. I have had the extreme pleasure of meeting this woman on three different occasions as part of my job as a radio personality. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the second best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma, Reba Nell McEntire. There's a story behind the "2nd best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma" bit. Here's the deal: One of my radio listeners was a little old lady from Waureka, Oklahoma. Her name was Thelma Schaffner and yes, she was a redhead - the best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma. Thelma and I became very dear friends and I loved her with all my heart. She was kind of like an adoptive mother to me. I told Reba that story and she said that, in this case, she was honored to be the "2nd best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma". Reba is a great gal.

Reba started settin' the Country Music World on fire in the late '70s and in the ensuing thirty plus years, she hasn't slowed down a bit. Besides her singing career, she has been in movies and her TV series Reba did very well for her. That lady you saw in that TV show. That's Reba in real life. No wonder the show was a hit. She got play herself.

Making a list a great songs by Reba McEntire would be like trying to pick out which of your kids you like best - it can't be done because you like 'em all, but in different ways. So here's a partial list of a few of my personal favorites from the lady who has sold over 56 million records, the 2nd best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma...Reba McEntire.
The rest is up to you. Here's a YouTube page that can be a starting point for your search for your favorite Reba songs. When you get home from work, cue 'em up in your media player on your computer and turn the volume way up. It's very cathartic.  :)

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - Jim Reeves

Let's , for a moment, look at Texas as a metaphorical Mother. She has given birth to so many Country Music stars that if all the states in the country spawned no more country music talent, Country Music would still have a pedigree rich with history and tradition. Just in the past four weeks we have written a veritable Country Music History Book filled with nothing but the Legends of Country Music from Texas. A quick recap of our star-studded roster:  Waylon, Willie, Tanya Tucker, George Strait and about twenty others. There is one name that, I'm a little ashamed to admit, that almost slipped my mind. Though his career in Country Music was a short one, he's still one of the most recognizable names in Country Music and has a singing voice as cool as the other side of the pillow. His name? Shame on me for almost forgetting about Gentleman Jim Reeves.

Jim Reeves was born in Galloway, Texas in Deep East Texas near Carthage. At one time or another, Jim was a student at the University of Texas, a radio DJ, a shipyard worker and a pro baseball player in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system. Not exactly the typical foundation of a Hall of Fame music career. While a DJ, Reeves ended up in Shreeveport at KWKH, home of the Louisiana Hayride. When a performer was late for the show once, Reeves was asked to fill in. We all know what happened from there. Oh, by the way, the guy who was late for the show? Hank Williams. Go figure. There's good Jim Reeves bio here if you'd like to dig a little deeper into his short life. The story about the plane crash in which Reeves died is especially compelling even though it's only a few sentences long. You should take a look at it.

The Music of Gentleman Jim Reeves:
I was a little surprised that YouTube has a nice selection of Jim Reeves music. For a guy whose career was so short, his impact on Country Music almost fifty years after his death, is still felt. Just think about, this is one time that Hank Williams being late for a show benefited us all. His tardiness gave us another Country Music Legend, Jim Reeves. Thanks, Hank.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - Larry, Steve and Rudy

There must be something in the water in Seminole, Texas. Something good. That small West Texas town has turned out two of the biggest Country Music acts of the late '70s and the '80s. Earlier this month we featured a young lady from Seminole, Tanya Tucker, and today we are going to take a look at three brothers from Seminole who harmonized their way to the top of the country charts - Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin. The Gatlin boys' three part harmony propelled them to the pinnacle of the Country Music world with songs like their biggest hit, All the Gold in California. With all their success, the Gatlin Brothers had only three Number One songs, a fact that surprised me a little bit. However, they were consistently in the Top 10 on the Billboard Magazine Country Charts with some great songs like these:
I was having such a good time listening to these Golden Oldies, I wanted to list them all, but I find it easier to just link to YouTube and let you pick and choose your favorites. WARNING: You could easily spend a couple of hours listening to to them, but you are at work and you wouldn't wanna be a slacker, would you? Hell, it's Monday, go for it!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Texas Rangers: American League Champions!!!

American League Champions 2010
Late October in Texas is when the sports-minded Texan is full throttle into football, any kind of football - pee wee, High School, college or the NFL. Basketball season is just beginning and the NHL is in the first few games of its season. Pro sports in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have produced World Championships galore. The Dallas Cowboys have played in eight Super Bowls, winning five of them. The Dallas Stars have appeared in two Stanley Cup Finals and brought home Lord Stanley's Cup in 1999. The NBA entry in the Metroplex, the Mavericks finally made it to the NBA Finals a few years ago. The Texas Rangers? Let's just say that October for the Rangers usually means planning a long vacation to Mexico or the Bahamas. Until this year! I am going to write a sentence that until about 11:15 EDT last night was nothing more than a fantasy- or a drunken dream. The Texas Rangers are going to the World Series! I didn't stutter and your ears ain't flappin'. The Rangers are the American League Champions and as such, will travel to either Philadelphia or San Francisco in their quest to win the Fall Classic.

As I was watching the last couple of innings of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees last night, a flood of memories rushed through my mind. I was at the third game the Rangers ever played in Texas, at old Arlington Stadium in 1972. I don't even remember whether they won or lost, I was just excited that Major League baseball had finally come to the Metroplex.

Here are some of those memories:
  • The '72 Rangers sucked. Bad. I think this was the team that was so bad they were called The Strangers by local Media. It was that bad.
  • Jeff Burroughs was the MVP of the American League in 1974. 
  • Jeff Burroughs vs Reggie Jackson pre-game Home Run Contest. I'll tell that story another time.
  • Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland in 1974. Hilarity, beer-tossing and a riot ensued. Ten Cent Beer Night never happened again.
  • Burn a Disco Record Night in Chicago. I don't remember the year, but on paper it looked like a good idea. It wasn't.
  • Rangers pitchers wife-swapping. BTW, the guys who did the wife swap came to Texas from, you guessed it, the Yankees. 
  • David Clyde.
  • Eddie Chiles
  • Eddie Stanky - Manager for a Day.
  • Nolan Ryan. I was lucky enough to have seen Ryan pitch as an Astro and a Ranger. The meanest SOB to ever chunk the rock, except maybe Bob Gibson.
  • The ball bouncing off Jose Canseco's head over the fence for a homer.
  • Oh, yeah! The guy who went into a catatonic trance in the locker room! Roger Moret? Help a brutha out with that one.
  • Eric Nadel. The Best Baseball Announcer I Have Ever Heard. Period. The guy is amazing.
If you've got a memory of the Rangers you'd like to share, please do so. As always, the comments are open

After 39 years of mostly ineptitude, weird plays and weirder players, the Rangers are the American League Champions. And they beat the Damn Yankees to get there. The sight of A-fraud's knees buckling when Neftali Feliz froze him with a curve ball to end the game is Shakespearian in its drama.

Other than the game itself, one moment stood out to me like a Klan member at a Juneteenth celebration. When Josh Hamilton accepted the ALCS MVP trophy from Mrs. Autry, he thanked God for his success and the crowd cheered! Loudly. God bless Texas and kick some Philly/San Fransissy ass!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Plus One: Boring, Gas and Ding Dong

The Sign Says It All
Every once in a while, especially on a Friday, I'll use a little Google-fu and come up with some of the funnier and most unusual names of towns across America, like here and here. According to the feedback I've gotten on these posts, you guys seem to get a kick out of them. It's been several weeks since I've done a funny town names post, so I figured it must be time to do another one.

I write about this topic about every six weeks or so as a way to take a little break from the seriousness of everyday life. Believe it or not, there's a guy who's a photographer for a New York magazine who actually traveled around the country to the tune of 38,000 miles and 40 states and found a bunch of towns with odd names. Needless to say, the dude wrote a book about his travels and it's called, "Passing Gas: And Other Towns Along the American Highway. The "gas" in the book's title refers to Gas, Kansas. I found an excerpt from the book and thought you might get a chuckle out of it. I'll cite a couple of towns here, then to read more about Gas, Kansas and other oddly-named towns.

Here are a couple of my favorites:
  • " The people of Ding Dong, Texas, don't know how they became Ding Dongs. And
    they're not the only ones."
  • "And some towns can't live up to their reputation. A resident of Nice,
    Calif., was accused of being particularly nasty. Jay Leno once held up a
    Nice Man Arrested for Beating Wife".
It's an easy read, so if you've got a few minutes to burn (it is Friday and this is as good a time killer as anything),
click here to get a load of some of the places this guy came across. It's worth the time.

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - Oom Papa Maow Maow

Most people who read this story will associate the Oak Ridge Boys with Tennessee and rightfully so. However, there is a Texas Connection with the Oaks. That would be lead singer Duane Allen who was born in Taylortown, Texas. This current iteration of the Oak Ridge Boys has been together for at least thirty years, except for a few years when William Lee Golden left the group only to rejoin them later. I met these guys when I was the emcee for their concert in Wichita Falls in about 1980 or '81. They were a great group of guys just to sit and talk with and they couldn't have made things easier for me because at the time I was a baby DJ. They put on a good show and the audience loved them and the guys loved the crowd right back. A more detailed bio of the Oaks can be found here on wikipedia.

I was lucky enough to have emceed their show just before the release one of the biggest songs of the year, or several years for that matter. The song? A remake of an old Dallas Frazier hit called Elvira. when the Oaks sang that song at the show, the crowd went ape! Elvira went on to become a super smash hit. The four guys we know as the Oak Ridge Boys today, Joe Bonsall ( a very funny man), Duane Allen, Richard Sterban and William Lee Golden, had some great songs in the '70s and '80s that should be staples on any Classic Country radio station in the USA. That they are still together after all these years is a testament to not only their talent, but to the quality of music they sing and they way they relate to their audience. They are plain old good guys who are happy doing what they do and it shows.

Some of my personal favorites by the Oaks are:
  • Thank God for Kids - Written by Eddie Raven, recently re-made by Kenny Chesney, this is a timeless song. I sing it to my little girls sometimes and, like the song says, "I look down in those trusting eyes" and realize how much God has blessed me and what a great job I have as a father. 
  • Y'all Come Back Saloon - Any song that has the phrase "late night benediction" in it is classic to me. Damn good song.
  • I Guess It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes - Remembering a lost love. Joe Bonsall sings and you feel the sense of loss.
  • Dream On - Because I like it.
  • I'll Be True to You - Lost love found again...but too late. Mucho el sad-o.
  • Sail Away - "go to sleep together with the rocking of water"...I am all in on that.
Other than the Statler Brothers, I can't think of another group that has done what the Oak Ridge Boys have done for Country Music. And I don't include Rascal Flats and all those "boy bands" that claim to be country. I don't mean to disparage Rascal Flats and groups like them, but who will be listening to Rascal Flats' music in 20 years? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maine Minutiae: Take a Walk on the Wild Side

I have covered Maine Huts and Trails before. It's a great resource for the outdoors-minded during the long, cold, damn-I-miss-Texas winters. But when in Maine, do as the Mainers do. That's where Maine Huts and Trails come in. Their web site gives us an idea of what they're about, "Maine's newest, year-round outdoor adventure destination. We're located in the beautiful and wild, western mountains region of Maine. In time, our system of backcountry eco-lodges connected by people-powered trails will stretch nearly 200 miles from near the New Hampshire border to the Moosehead Lake region." The Moosehead Lake region of Maine is an astonishingly beautiful place.

These huts, while modern in their construction, take you back to a time when snowshoeing and the like was the only way to get around during the harsh Maine winter. I'll let the folks who run Maine Huts and Trails tell you more, "Each hut is "off-the grid" and features state-of-the-art utility systems that generate and store their own power through a combination of alternative energy sources. Each facility will accommodate up to 42 guests plus 4 staff in a variety of room sizes. The huts each provide sleeping accommodations, with a soft mattress and a pillow on each bunk, hot showers, toilets and healthy, homemade meals. These amenities at remote locations along the trails help to manage human impact and provide accessibility for those seeking a 'comfort camping' experience."

This is one of the coolest things I have ever seen for enjoying the outdoors and still have some creature comforts like electricity and a good strong shelter in what can be a brutal climate during the winter months in Maine. Hiking to one of the cabins and drilling a hole in the ice on the lake to do some fishing for some pan size trout to cook for supper sounds like a great experience. I have done some similar things back in Texas, but I'd like to take my two little girls on a trip like this. The things they would learn about surviving in the wilderness would be a valuable lesson for them to carry with them for the rest of their lives. Plus the scenery ain't bad either. :)

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - The Pride of Wink, Texas

The guy we're gonna talk about today is one of those rare artists whose music crosses over from pop to country to rock and roll and back again. Roy Kelton Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas on April 23, 1936 and as a young child moved to Wink, where he grew up the son of an oil driller and car mechanic. Roy received a guitar on his sixth birthday, and by time he was seven, he knew he was going to be a musician. By the age of eight, Roy was singing on a local radio show and in no time at all he became the host. Destiny had called and Roy Orbison answered and little did he know that he was on his way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It was 1960 when Orbison caught a break. He pitched a song to Elvis and the Everly Brothers and both acts turned him down, so Roy decided to record it himself. The song? Only the Lonely . The song shot up the Billboard chart all the way to Number 2 and Orbison was noticed by everybody in the music business, namely Dick Clark, who, in wake of the success of Only the Lonely, invited Orbison to appear on American Bandstand. Other smash hits soon followed, Crying, Blue Bayou and others. Roy Orbison had come a long way from Wink, Texas and was now a star.

Orbison was very shy man who actually suffered from severe stage fright. Here's where the dark sunglasses come in. the story from wikipedia, "He had no publicist in the early 1960s, no presence in fan magazines, and his single sleeves did not feature his picture. Life magazine called him an "anonymous celebrity".[29] After leaving his thick eyeglasses on an airplane in 1962 or 1963, Orbison was forced to wear his Ray-Ban Wayfarer prescription sunglasses on stage and found that he preferred them. His biographers suggest that although he had a good sense of humor and was never morose, Orbison was very shy and suffered from severe stage fright; wearing sunglasses helped him hide somewhat from the attention. The black clothes and desperation in his songs led to an aura of mystery and introversion.[6][30][31] Years later, Orbison said "I wasn't trying to be weird, you know? I didn't have a manager who told me to dress or how to present myself or anything. But the image developed of a man of mystery and a quiet man in black somewhat of a recluse, although I never was, really."[32] Read the rest of the bio, it reveals a lot about Orbison that few people at the time knew.

Here's the obligatory List of  Roy Orbison hits:
  • Pretty Woman - People will still be listening to this song in a hundred years. Enuff said.
  • Crying - Listed above. Hauntingly beautiful.
  • It's Over - Depressing as hell, but I want to listen to it again.
  • You Got It - One of his last hits and my favorite Roy Orbison tune.
I remember as kid that my parents had a stack of Roy Orbison records. The thing that caught my eye was his last name. I'm thinking at the time, "that's an odd name", so I played the records to see what an "Orbison" was. I soon found my answer. An Orbison was something that made even a small child "feel" the songs it sang. That's a very rare talent, making a kid "feel" a song. I also recall going out to eat with my family at places that had the small "jukeboxes" at the booths, more like jukebox remotes actually, where you put in a dime and could play three songs. I spent a lot of dimes playing "Orbisons". And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - The Gentle Giant of Country Music

One of the interesting facts about Country Music to me is that so many of its stars come from very small towns and meager backgrounds. Some of Country Music's legends hail from towns called Butcher Holler (Loretta Lynn), Abbott (Willie) and Floydada, Texas, Don Williams. Known as the Gentle Giant of Country Music, Williams was one of the genre's biggest stars in the '70s and '80s with hits like Amanda and You're My Best Friend. Along with those two hits, Williams released a total of 46 singles and only four of them failed to make the Top 10. That's what you call consistency. I was honored to have emceed four Don Williams concerts and I gotta tell ya, the guy you saw on TV is the exact same guy in person - a quiet, unassuming Gentle Giant. I remember one show of his that I emceed in Wichita Falls. I did the intro, the curtains opened and Williams started singing and sang two or three songs. The crowd applauded generously and Williams said three words with that smooth as silk baritone voice of his, "Well, thank ya". The crowd went nuts! It was the weirdest thing. I think the audience liked Don Williams so much because he was one of them - dressed in blue jeans, a faded as hell denim jacket, boots and a well-worn cowboy hat. He looked like a guy you might run into at the Floydada hardware/pharmacy/general store instead of a star musician who had racked up 17 Number 1 hits.

Some my personal favorite Don Williams tunes include:
  • I Believe in You - One of his biggest, if not the, biggest hits. It was a monster smash.
  • Good Old Boys Like Me - Good song with excellent imagery.
  • You're My Best Friend - I listed this one above also, but this probably the most-requested Don Williams song over the 15 years I was a DJ-type guy. During his show, the crowd joins in on the chorus and it was like being at Church. Pretty neat stuff.
  • Tulsa Time - This one was written by Danny Flowers, Williams' lead guitarist. In the video at the link, Flowers is easy to spot, he's the very young man wearing all red. He's a good guitar picker, too.
As I was looking up some of Don Williams hits for this post, I got thinking that I can't recall a single song of his that I didn't like. Jump on this link to a YouTube page jam packed with the musical velvet that is the Gentle Giant of Country Music, Don Williams.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - Mac Davis

I was a Mac Davis fan the minute I heard, what was for me, his first song on the radio on KLIF, The Mighty 1190, in the early '70s. That song was Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me - a damn good tune. I don't know what's in the water in Lubbock, but it must be something good. Besides Mac Davis, Lubbock has given such superstars as Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings. That's a trio that Lubbock has so kindly shared with the rest of the world and we should be thankful for it.

Scott Mac Davis is one of my personal all time favorites. Besides his great musical abilities, when I saw him in a movie, he was so damn slick. (Audience shouts: How slick was he?) He was slicker than greased owl shit on a glass doorknob. I mean the guy oozed "cool". I remember watching his Emmy-winning TV show back in the day and it was a riot. Great music, some real funny stuff and, if memory serves me right, eefin' and eiffin'. One of my favorite parts of the show was when Mac let the audience give him a subject for a song and out of the blue WHAM! Mac would ad lib a verse that was flat funny. I tried to find some clips of the show, but my search proved futile. Dammit.

Not only was Mac a great singer, he was also a helluva songwriter. You might recognize one of these songs written by Mac - a guy from Memphis did OK with Memories and In the Ghetto. And let's not forget Don't Cry Daddy, another Mac Davis penned tune. Bobby Goldsboro also had a hit with one of Mac's songs, Watching Scotty Grow. The story I heard about Watching Scotty Grow was that Goldsboror wanted to record the song in the worst way, but wanted to change it from "Scotty" to "Brian" or whatever his son's name was and Davis said "No way, Jose. This was written for my son Scottyand that's the way it is". Bobby relented and it turned out pretty damn good for both guys.

In addition to the songs scattered throughout the post here are some other Mac Davis songs I really like:
I wish I could list all the great songs by Mac Davis, but that would take a while. I do have for your listening pleasure a YouTube page of them. Look around that page and a flood of memories will come gushing to you. Like Mac wrote, "memories pressed between the pages of mind, memories sweetened through the ages just like wine....sweet memories".

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blog Heads Up for Tuesday, 10/19 - Live Blogging the Birth of a Baby? UPDATED (scroll down)

I am not sure about new blog content for Tuesday. Ashley the Cousin By Marriage Who Could Have Been My Next Ex Wife But Chose a Young Handsome Guy Instead is going into to labor with her first baby. We could get a call at any minute saying that we need to head to the hospital to be part of this big event. We know that the baby is a boy and his name will be Cooper, we are just a bit iffy on the time of arrival. If it looks like a go for tomorrow, I'll probably have my laptop with me and if it's OK with the parents-to-be and the hospital staff, I'll do as much as I can to live blog the arrival of my new fishin' buddy. Obviously, I won't be in the delivery room, but I'll be in close contact with those in the know. In the meantime, I'll just play it by ear to see what is going on. Say some prayers, if you will, for Ashley, Shawn and Cooper as well as the first-time grandparents to be, Arthur and Mary Ellen. Hasta la baby, y'all.

UPDATE:  Baby Cooper is still hidin' out in his Mama's tummy. No word yet this morning on the progress (or lack thereof) of Ashley's labor pains and all that baby-havin' stuff. We (me, wife & kids) are on stand-by to make a mad dash to the horse pistol in Waterville, about 25 miles from here. When this all happens, I will try to post from the horse pistol as events unfold. If I can find my laptop battery. :)

UPDATE #2- Just got a phone call from Grandma-to-be. She told us that Ashley's water broke and she was administered something to induce labor. The Miracle Express with baby Cooper aboard will arrive late this afternoon or early this evening. Much fun and ooo's and ah's will ensue.

UPDATE #3 - Baby Cooper came in kickin' and screamin' a few minutes ago! (It's 6:25PM EDT now) 6lbs. 8oz, 20in. long. Congrats to the parents, Shawn and Ashley and to Grandma and Grandpa, Mary Ellen and Arthur!

Country Music Month; The Texas Connection - The Gambler

One of the biggest Country Music stars of the '70s and "80s hails from Houston, Texas. The dude had what seems like thousands of songs that hit the top of the Country and Pop charts, making him one of the most successful crossover artists ever. Kenneth Donald Rogers has been a star singer/songwriter/actor for more than forty years. Overall, his career has spanned six decades. Rogers was one the first Country singers to make hit movies in addition to his songs being featured in the soundtracks of major motion pictures. such as Convoy, The Big Lebowski and Urban Cowboy.

In 1967, as a member of The First Edition, Rogers cranked out some great records including Reuben James, Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town) written by Mel Tillis, Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In and Something's Burning. Great songs, all, but my favorite out that bunch is Reuben James.
Rogers also released smash hits as duets with partners including Dolly Parton, Islands in the Stream, Sheena Easton, with the Bob Seger classic, We've Got Tonight, and several hits with the late Dottie West, What Are We Doin' in Love. Click on any of those links and explore the music of Kenny Rogers. I had forgotten just many smash hits and awards the man had to his name. It seems almost impossible to be that successful.

Here's a list of Kenny's songs that are my personal favorites along with Reuben James that I previously mentioned.

  • The Greatest - this one brings back a flood of memories from my childhood. It also reminds me of my Dad. 
  • The Gambler - one of the biggest Country hits ever, later made into a movie or two. Another one my Dad liked a lot.
  • Lucille - who doesn't know this song? Gotta include it.
  • Morning Desire - the title says it all. I really like this one.
There are, of course, dozens of other songs I could list  here, but Wikipedia has already done that for me and they also have a good bio on Kenny. For a man who as a child shared a room with something like eight siblings and whose father made only sixty dollars a week, I'd Kenny Rogers ended up doing OK for himself. Rogers has never forgotten those poverty-stricken days and has donated and help raise millions of dollars for the needy. Kenny Rogers is The Greatest.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Will You Be My Daddy?

Here I am all alone in the room at 6:23AM, EDT. My better half took the girls and they are all snuggled up on the bed in mine and Heather's room. We woke up at about 5:00AM to send my mother-in-law off, back to her cave where her caldron is probably at full boil. It was kind of cool when the Swamp Thing left this morning. I learned two things - 1) brooms really do fly and 2) flying brooms don't leave a contrail.

This week is gonna be hectic for us as there are some very important things happening, possibly all on the same day. Tuesday the 19th is Isabella's eighth birthday, the Wii I bought on eBay may arrive on that day and my newest fishin' buddy, Coop is due  to take a ride on The Miracle Express at any time. Even at 54, I get excited about some things like I was a kid again - I can't wait for the Wii to get here. I'm just kiddin' about that, although I do plan to play on it a lot.

I don't know why, but I have quite sentimental for the last week or so.  Much of it has to do with my oldest daughter, Isabella. When I first arrived in Maine 4 1/2 years ago, she was a blonde haired, blue eyed fireplug. Now, at age eight minus two days, I see her making the transition from little girl to something else, a teenager I guess. She's kind of in between stages, not quite a teen but no longer a little girl. Does that make sense? I think about the future when she's in high school and beyond, and the boys who'll take notice of this beautiful young woman. Does eBay sell shotguns and rock salt? Issy has grown enough that I can't pick her up and swing her around like a helicopter, and that makes me sad. She doesn't help me in the garden as much as she used to, friends are all over the place, riding bicycles and skateboards. Think about it. If you were eight years old which would you choose? Handsome boys on bikes and skateboards or an arthritic old fart talking to tomato plants? What use to be Daddy and Issy time has been reduced to Daddy teaching tomato and pepper plants simple Spanish. I'm surely the only man in New England who has bi-lingual vegetables. Next spring I'll be teaching the squash pig Latin.

Will You Be My Little Girl?
I've always heard about the special relationship that Dads and daughters share, but I was ill-prepared for what was to come when Issy became part of my life. The bond between us is something that I can't put into words other than to say, she's my little girl, and always will be. I remember a time about six months after I moved here to be with Heather and Issy. I was washing some dishes minding my own buidness when my little blonde fireplug came into the kitchen. She was four years old and said, "Toby, I have a question". "I've got an answer", I replied. I was not expecting this particular question. She asked, "Will you be my Daddy?". Wow!! Talk about being knocked over with feather. All of the sudden, I got something in my eyes that made them water. Dish water or something. (cough, cough). I told her that it would be my honor and privilege to be her Daddy. A large hug between us and more dishwater got into my eyes ensued. Damn dishwater! Now she's stuck with me! hahahahahahaha All you guys out there with little girls, I am jealous of you. I am jealous because it took me nearly fifty years to get a little girl and you guys have had them for so much longer. :) I gotta tell ya, that one little question, all five words of it, changed my life forever. I thank God for my little girl, and those five little words, everyday. Now if you'll excuse me, I got some dishwater in my eyes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Coop: My Newest Fishin' Buddy

Special Delivery
I think it was Isaac Newton who said "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". Turns out that not only does that fact apply to science, but to every day life as well. Just as the Cloud of Doom and Despair (metaphor for my mother-in-law) was about to envelop the Toby Dome, the silver lining of said cloud suddenly appears, as if by Divine Providence. Even the presence of  the Swamp Creature (another metaphor for the MIL) can't dampen the spirit of what is about to happen. My cousin by marriage, Ashley, is in labor and about to bring forth into the world Cooper Dow. Cooper is Ashley's first baby so this is an exciting time for her, Shawn (the baby Daddy) and her parents, Arthur and Mary Ellen, who will be first-time grandparents. My wife, Heather, is very close to Ashley so she is elated as well. Me? I am very excited too in anticipation of a new fishin' buddy. Me and Coop are gonna be big time buds. As I type this, it's just shy of 11AM EDT, so by tonight we could have a new addition to our extended family.

I am the father of four kids and have seen two of them being born. It's an amazing thing to witness the birth of a child and to anticipate how he/she will turn out years down the road. Will Coop be a doctor, lawyer, baseball player, Priest? Where ever life leads Coop, I know he'll be a helluva fisherman because he'll learn from the best, me. :) Looking a few years ahead, Coop will be known as FishFearMeToo. I will be honored to be your fishin' buddy, Coop.

Coop, you are coming into the world with something that nobody can take away from you, your family. You have a great Mom who will continue to love and nurture you for the rest of your life, no matter what. She's a good chick who earns the Redneck Seal of Approval. :) Your Dad is a good young man who will guide you through life's journey with the strength and assurance that you'll pass on to your son someday. Your Grandma and Grandpa are two of the finest people I've ever met, and believe me, Coop, I've met millions of people. They are rock solid folks with great values and an unconditional love for their family. I guess what I'm trying to say, Coop, is that you'll be a member of a family of good, decent, God-fearing people.

Coop, you're getting a good start to your life with so many of us who love you. But I think all of us are the ones who are getting the good end of the deal - we will have you in our lives. Welcome aboard, Coop. Now let's go fishin'.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Personal Note: My Glass is Half-Empty

It Came From the Swamp

Today is a glass half-full and half-empty kind of day at The Toby Dome. It's a glass half-full day for my wife and kids because my mother-in-law is coming to stay for the weekend. It's a glass half-empty day for me because my mother-in-law is coming to stay for the weekend! The wife and kids enjoy the old lady's Grandma's visits for obvious reasons. My wife likes it because she doesn't get to see her mother very often and when the MIL visits us, the two of them go shopping and practically bankrupt me find lots of goodies for the house and stuff. The kids love it when Grandma invades my home and breathes my air stops in because she always has a little gift for them. And by "little gift" I mean something like the siren of a police car. You Grand parents out there understand what I'm saying. Give them kid something that makes noise like a Pantera concert and send them home with it, or in this case, Grandma has a four hour drive back home and gets to laugh at all the "fun" the kids are having while Dad (me) gives the kids an education in how to cuss in English and Spanish! Meanwhile, I try to stay positive during all the ruckus by thinking good thoughts. Thoughts like: my wife is an only child and someday not soon enough, she gets to choose Grandma's nursing home while I sympathetically help her do so. I have the phone number to "Satan's Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth Assisted Living Center" on speed dial. It all evens out in the end.

The point of all this time wasting crap award-winning literary screed is this: I'm not sure how much posting I'm gonna do this weekend, since the old battleaxe dear, sweet (you have no idea how hard it was to type those two words) mother-in-law brings joy and love to my wife and kids and I keep my finger on the "speed dial" button. it may not be so bad, though, because I have a big ass TV upstairs and the Rangers and Yankees kick off the American League Championship Series tonight at 8:07 EDT. You also have no idea how weird it is to write the words "Rangers" and "Championship Series" in the same sentence. Combine that (Rangers & ALCS) and the MIL's visit and I may start drinking again. Heavily.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - Steve Earle

The story of Steve Earle is one of "what could have been". Here's a guy with so much talent to offer as a singer and a songwriter. Unfortunately, Earle also had an affinity for drugs and what could have been, never was. Very sad.

During my radio days, I remember playing a new song and I said to myself, "This guy is the next great Outlaw of Country Music". That song was Guitar Town. Whoa! "I love to hear the steel belts hummin' on the asphalt' and "a two pack habit and a motel tan". To a guy like me who spent most of my adult life single and ready to hit the road at a moment's notice, this song was written for me. I was a Steve Earle fan, hook, line and sinker. He released a few more songs (I'll get to those in a minute) that kicked ass and then POOF!, he was nowhere to found, except jail. I don't want to get into Earle's drug and legal problems, so if you want to learn a bit more about him wikipedia has more. One thing, however, I would like to say at this point is Steve appeared on the HBO show The Wire in which he was an addict addressing a 12 Step program, "I pawned my bike, my pickup truck, a National Steel guitar, a stamp collection that my grandpa left me; lost a good wife, a bad girlfriend, and the respect of anyone who ever lent me money." Autobiographical perhaps?

These are a few songs that made Steve Earle a star and the tunes that "could have been" the foundation of a brilliant and prosperous career for the man who grew up in Schertz, Texas.

Steve Earle was a rare talent who succumbed to the demon of addiction and a prime example of "what could have been".

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - Jerry Jeff Walker

You've no doubt seen the t-shirts or bumper stickers that say, "I Wasn't Born In Texas, But I Got Here As Fast As I Could". One such transplanted Texan is Ronald Clyde Crosby. Who? These days, he answers to the name Jerry Jeff Walker. Before getting to Texas as fast as he could, Walker was born in Oneonta, New York, where he introduced to music by his grand parents. After high school, JJ joined the National Guard, but the lure of the music business was so strong, that he went AWOL from the Guard and roamed the country, eventually ending up in Austin, where the freedom to do his music his way was exactly what he wanted.

You can probably name a dozen Jerry Jeff Walker songs, but not one that was a "hit". A loyal following, however, has been the backbone of Walker's audience for the better part of forty years, them and of course new fans picked up along the way. My first taste of JJW's music came in the early '70's when I listened to an album called Viva Terlingua. The album included these songs: Gettin' By, Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother, and the classic Gary P. Nunn song London Homesick Blues. The album also contains probably the only song in the history of the English language that pays homage to wine and Mexican food in Sangria Wine. Viva Terlingua is one of the most fun albums ever. Buy it if you can or at least give it a listen or re-listen. Jerry Jeff also wrote on of the most familiar songs ever recorded, Mr. Bojangles.

Let me toss out a few more Jerry Jeff Walker tunes to you:
  • Navajo Rug - ay ay ay Katie!
  • LA Freeway - Clip from an old Dinah show. Features Dandy Don Meredith with the intro of JJW.
  • Jaded Lover - About an undercover Queen for a Day.
Jerry Jeff's home page is here if you wanna get some tour information and the like. A good bio of JJW can be found on wikipedia as well. The music of Jerry Jeff Walker is great on a roadtrip or at a poker game or bar b que. Crank it up when you get the chance! ay ay ay, Katie!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection:Two Words - The Possum

George Glenn Jones, The Possum, was born seventy-nine years ago in Saratoga, Texas, destined to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, country singers in history. My only argument with that is a man named Hank Williams. Still, Jones is easily in the Top 5 of the Greatest All Time Country Singers. Jones has the God-given gift of interpreting a song like few others can. A prime example is He Stopped Loving Her Today. Please take about four minutes of your time to listen to that performance. In my lifetime and during a fifteen year radio career, I have NEVER heard someone sing a song with such power, emotion and the feel of experiencing the song as it's being sung. Pretty much everybody who has listened to Country Music for any length of time, knows about the personal demons in George Jones' life - alcohol, drugs, so on and so forth. Jones finally beat those demons, thanks to his fourth wife Nancy. One quick story, then on to his music. During his marriage to Tammy Wynette when he was a booze hound, Tammy took the car keys away from George so he couldn't go to the liquor store. But, the Possum is a crafty creature and can find ways to do things that others can not. The solution to Jones' dilemma? The riding lawnmower! Liquor store here I come! Jones was nothing if not an inventive drunk on this occasion. There's a hell of a lot more I could write about George Jones' life, but I'll leave that to Wikipedia. I want to delve into his music.
For over fifty years, the man called The Possum has been crankin' out hits, so any effort to list them here would prove futile. I, therefore, highly encourage you to pay a visit to this YouTube page of George Jones songs. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a riding lawnmower.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Country Music Month - The Texas Connection: Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr.

As a small child, I spent many a Saturday night at my Grandparents' house. After one of Grandma's home cooked meals like only a Grandma could make, the evening's entertainment consisted of crowding around the black and white TV, tuned to Channel 11 in Fort Worth. Saturday night's TV fare in the Shoemaker household was all about Country Music. We watched Porter Waggoner and Dolly Parton, The Wilborn Brothers, Live shows from Panther Hall in Fort Worth, where Willie Nelson was a regular guest, and a show from the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas. Another regularly featured singer of the day was Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr, Buck to his fans. I saw Buck Owens on TV a thousand times before Hee Haw was ever thought of. I knew all the words to almost every one of Buck's hit songs like Tiger By the Tail, Love's Gonna Live Here, My Heart Skips a Beat and Together Again before I was even in school.

In my opinion, the harmony between Buck Owens and his guitarist, Don Rich, is unmatched by anyone before or since. Their connection to the music and the story of the song should be the standard by which any musical performance is measured. If you want to spend about an hour listening to honest-to-goodness country music and the emotions that go with it, go to this link to a Buck Owens YouTube page. The man from Sherman, Texas and his Buckaroos won't disappoint you. Guaranteed.

Wikipedia has a pretty good bio on Buck Owens if you'd like to check it out. As for me, I am gonna get a pocket full of imaginary quarters and drop them into an imaginary jukebox and fall under the musical spell of Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. and the Buckaroos.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Maine Minutiae: More Fall Fun!

Fun Times!**

I was looking at the weather radar for Maine a little while ago and for the first time this fall, I saw the Dreaded Light Blue Images on the radar map. The Dreaded Light Blue Images, DLBI for short, represent SNOW! It's already October 10, so we could conceivably get snow at any time now, though October snow in Augusta tends to be light and sporadic. I bring this up because, despite the cooler weather, there are still plenty of festivities going on here in New England. The one that caught my eye reminds me of my home state of Texas. It's a Chili Cook Off! The Great Western Maine Chili Cook Off  takes place this coming Saturday, October 16, at the Waterford Town Square. For more information you can call (207) 647-3472. Waterford is only seventy miles from Augusta, so a day trip is certainly a possibility and I do have some home grown jalapenos to take with me.
More autumn action in Maine includes:
There's plenty more going on in October throughout the state, so click here to find an event near you that fits into your schedule. Have fun and be safe, y'all!

**Photo from**

Country Music Month - The Texas Connection: Clint Black

I was driving through the Metroplex in about 1990 on my way to Puerto No One Knows when I heard this song. I thought to myself, "Damn, Haggard's done it again." One problem. It wasn't Merle Haggard singing that song. It was some new guy named Clint Black. Whoa! This guy was good and I was hooked. As Clint cranked out the hits, I was amazed at the way he told a story with the lyrics of his songs, like the phrase "Puerto No One Knows" (from When My Ship Comes In) That's great stuff.

Clint was born in New Jersey, but moved to his Dad's hometown of Houston when he was less than a year old. The story from there is a familiar one where boy teaches self to play guitar, writes songs, gets recording contract. But unlike many others who traveled a similar path, Clint went on to become a star. His first album Killin' Time was a smash, selling over a million copies. Black was consistently in the Top 10 with his albums and singles, when, in May, 2001, he became a Daddy to a little girl and took a three year break from the music industry. People in the industry told Clint he was committing career suicide, but he stood by his decision saying, " ended up not being a smart career move, but it was a real smart Dad move..." Now, I like this guy even more.

Here are some of my favorite Clint Black tunes:

With over twelve million albums sold, I am in good company with 11,999,999 other Clint Black fans who really like the man's music. If you wanna flash back to an earlier time, here's a Clint Black YouTube page for your viewing and listening pleasure. Until next time, I'm off to Puerto No One Knows.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Country Music Month Review...So Far

As some of you may have read, my oldest little girl is not feeling too well and she needs her Daddy. So, here's the deal: We are nine days into our salute to Texans (and others) who have made Country Music what it is today. We have assembled thus far a collection of names that anyone would be hard pressed to argue with, and there's still more to come. Below, you'll find a list of the artists we have covered and just in case you missed out on them the first time around, here's another chance to see what we said about each one on the list. In addition to a short bio on each singer, I have embedded links to some of their greatest hits as well. It is truly a walk down Memory Lane. Grab a cold one and some popcorn, hop into The Country Music Time Machine and feel like you are twenty-five again with our review so far of Country Music Month.

By Invitation Only

If you've been away from your computer and missed the last couple of days, we've got some great stuff on Tanya Tucker and George Strait !

Have a great time looking back on yesteryear and two steppin' around the room! Oh, yeah, pull the shades down...the neighbors may not understand. On second thought, invite 'em to join in!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - George Strait

I started in the radio business in November, 1979. A little over a year later, in 1981, I played a song called Unwound and it was at that moment that I became a George Strait fan. Damn, this guy from Poteet, Texas was country - honky tonk sound? Check. Fiddle? Steel guitar? Lyrics about drinkin' and lost love? Check, check and check. My faith in real country music had been restored. That restoration of faith was confirmed when Strait followed Unwound with the release of  Down and Out. Here we are thirty odd years later and George Strait is still making hit records. Early in Strait's career, a songwriter named Dean Dillon was the genius behind many of Straits hits. A partial list of those songs include the previously mentioned Unwound and Down and Out plus: Easy Come Easy Go, I've Come to Expect It from You, Ocean Front Property , The Chair and more. I think it's safe to say that George Strait and Dean Dillon made each other wealthy men - and Country Music Legends. The collaboration between these two men is so historic that I couldn't, in good conscience, not link to a Dean Dillon song actually performed by Dean Dillon.

George Strait has achieved a status in country music reserved for few men and women. He's earned Entertainer of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year, Album of the Year and Everything Else of the Year awards without compromising his integrity and belief in what country music and its traditions are all about for over three decades. I am going to link to a George Strait YouTube page that features many of his hits, the songs that have set the standard for the Country Music stars of tomorrow. You can read more about George's rise to fame and some of the hurdles, including the death of his daughter, he overcame to be the man and artist he is today at this link.

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker