And welcome to our February newsletter.
I just hope this month is as full of music and fun as January turned out to be.
We kicked off the new year with a fantastic swing through Texas, stopping in Kenney, New Braunfels, Victoria, and Kerrville. When the tour was over, I told my band members that trip reminded me of why I got in the music business to begin with….great venues, great promoters, and some of the nicest fans in the world! Each place we went the bookers told us they wanted us back, so hopefully we’ll be back down that way again soon.
From Texas we went to Oklahoma for a show with our buddy, T. G. Shepherd, back home for a day in the recording studio, and then out for a week on the 2020 Country’s Family Reunion cruise. Those cruises are always fun, but I wasn’t smiling when the ship’s captain interrupted our first show with the announcement of an earthquake that had just hit the area where we were headed. For a minute I had visions of tsunamis and all kinds of problems, but things turned out to be all right and we kept right on sailing and singing.
If you’ve never been on one of our CFR cruises you don’t know how much fun, fellowship, and good music you’ve missed. It’s truly a “family” event with shows, autograph sessions, and artists hanging out with fans. We’re going to do it again in December, and I hope you’ll consider giving yourself an early Christmas present and coming along with us. The dates are December 6th to the 13th.
We only recorded one song on our day in the studio, but I’m excited for you to hear it. We cut “It’s A Good Day,” which is the up-tempo song we’ve been opening our concert dates with this year. We plan to film a video later this month and to record five more songs in March. I hope to release an EP of six new songs shortly thereafter. Stay tuned.
The Opry is back at the Opry House this month, and we’re scheduled to be there on Valentine’s night, as well as on the 15th, 18th, 22nd, 28th, and 29th of February. From what I’m told, we will remain at “home” the rest of 2020 and not return to the Ryman until January, 2021.
I also have several songwriting sessions booked with some of my favorite co-writers this month.
On the personal front, I was a proud PawPaw when I got a message on the cruise that my grandson, Blake, had hit the game-winning free throws with two seconds left on the clock to give his high school basketball team a victory over one of their biggest rivals. Granddaughter, Hallie, made the basketball homecoming court while I was away as well.
Have a fabulous February and continued thanks for all you do for me. Stay warm, stay healthy, and we’ll see you back here next month.
1) My question is about Miss Jan Howard. How is she doing? Is she still doing Opry performances or has she retired?
Jan’s health has not permitted her to perform for some time now, but in spite of a few limitations, she seems to be doing all right. Last time I saw her she was in good spirits and was her normal feisty self. If you know Jan, you know that nothing keeps her down for very long. And the word “retire” has never been a part of her vocabulary!
2) What was the last year that you did full time touring? Say 100 dates or more? Just curious.
Your question made me curious, too, so I went looking back through some old date books. As best as I can determine, it would have been sometime in the mid-seventies before I began doing the television games shows, soap operas, and appearances at our PoFolks restaurants. I was away from home as much or more with those other activities, but they cut into my concert dates considerably. I doubt that I’ve done as many as 100 concerts in any one year since about 1976 or 1977.
3) Would you ever record the song you opened and closed the Country’s Family Reunion concerts with in Branson? Is it called “Family Reunion?”
Yes, that’s the title, and I recorded it many years ago. The song was written by the great husband and wife team, Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, and was originally cut by Little Jimmy Dickens back in the late 50’s. My recording was first issued on a long-play album called “A Place In The Country,” and later on a CD titled “Out In The Country” back in the eighties. I’m not sure either of those can still be found, but the song is perfect for our live shows.
4) Are you planning to come to Dallas, Texas, anytime soon? Any chance you’ll becoming to Canada (Toronto) this year?
Obviously these are two separate questions from two separate fans. The closest we’ll be to Dallas, as of now, will be on April 10th in Granbury, Texas, which is a little southwest of Ft. Worth. We don’t have any Canadian dates on our schedule just yet, but my agent told me last week that some are in the works. Stay tuned.
And stay curious. Ask me the things that are on your mind. I’ll do my best to answer. We’ll do it again next month, but we can’t do it without you. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to me at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, Tennessee, 37076, and we’ll see you back here in March.
I thought you might like to see a few pictures from the shows we did on the Country’s Family Reunion cruise. It was so much fun working alongside my friends, Gene Watson, who is about to become the Grand Ole Opry’s newest member, and Jeannie Seely, who always entertains the crowd. In the bottom photo, she and I have just finished singing, “When Two World Collide,” which will be a track on her new album coming later this year. You can see folks like Rhonda Vincent, Mark Wills, Ashley Campbell, Mo Pitney, Tea Goans, Jimmy Fortune, and others in the background. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
I was extremely saddened by the news of Mac Wiseman’s passing over the weekend. My relationship with him went all the way back into the late fifties when he was an executive with Dot Records and called me at WJJC in Commerce wanting to buy my master recording of “City Lights” for his label. When I told him Ray Price had just covered it for Columbia Records, he laughed and said, “Well, never mind!” I worked with Mac when he ran the Wheeling Jamboree, toured with him on many occasions, and welcomed him several times to the circle on Country’s Family Reunion. He probably knew more songs than anyone in country music, and he loved to share them with his friends. He was truly a gentleman in every sense of the word. We’ll miss you, Mac. Thanks for blessing us with your music…and for allowing me to be a small part of your world.