I hope everybody had a great 4th of July weekend and that you’re settling back into those hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer!
Nobody has time to be lazy here in Whisperville with our big 55th Grand Ole Opry Anniversary celebration just around the corner. We’ve been busy getting all the last minute arrangements made, all the souvenirs manufactured and ready to be put into the goodie bags for our fans, and trying our best to make sure it’s a fun weekend for all of you who are coming to celebrate with us. I’m sure we’ll forget something along the way, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
Two of our longtime fan club members from New England, Joan Perrotelli and Dodie Goguen, have volunteered to fly into town a couple of days early to help with the set-up and the logistics. You’ll be seeing them when you check in, and I hope you’ll take a minute to thank them for all their extra efforts.
By the way, if you can’t be here to help celebrate my Opry anniversary in person, I hope you’ll tune in and listen. As always you can hear the Opry on WSM-AM650, at www.opry.com or at Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius/XM satellite radio.
I had a great time at CMA Music Fest back in June, especially taking part in a mock version of the old Match Game television show that I appeared on many times back in the late 70’s. Lorrie Morgan, Mark Wills, Kristan Bush, J. T. Hodges and others made up a panel about as wacko as the original group back in the day. It wasn’t music, but the fans seemed to love it. For a few minutes there, I felt like I was back in Hollywood again!
I have finished recording the acoustical CD which will be released as part of my audio book package, and I really hope you’ll like it. It’s ten of my best known songs done in a way they’ve never been done before. They are very simple instrumentally and sound a bit more intimate than you’ve ever heard them. They are definitely “country,” with no intent of them being anything else. I did two songs I’ve never recorded before, “I’ll Wait For You,” and “Which Bridge To Cross (Which Bridge To Burn).”
The audio book will now be released October 1st, but we’ll start taking pre-orders on August 1st. As we did with pre-orders on the print version of the book, we’ll offer free shipping on all orders received during August. Keep watching our website for further details.
I’m going to be part of a very special day on the 22nd of this month when I fly down to northeast Georgia to take part in helping dedicate a stretch of highway to my lifelong friend, Billy Dilworth, who passed away last year. Billy was a well-known newspaper writer, radio disc jockey, and television personality in that area, and he spent most of his life riding up and down the byways of Georgia and South Carolina bringing local news and entertainment to the people of that area. I thought nothing could be more appropriate than for the state to name a road in that area in Billy’s honor, and with the help of my good friend, Gus Arrendale of Springer Mountain Farms chicken, we’ve been able to make that happen. I hope lots of you in that part of the country will come be with us for the dedication.
On the personal side, I had a great Father’s Day with my three children and all the grandkids except one. Gabe had gone to a special camp for children with cancer, a place he loves and where he sang karaoke, did a magic trick in the talent show, and asked a 15-year old girl to a dance. Gabe is eleven. Exactly a week later, on Sunday June 26th, James Freeze, our bass player for the past 25-plus years, lost his father at age 90. Mr. Clifton Freeze, who first began encouraging James in music when his son was not yet a teenager, was buried in Loretto, Tennessee, alongside James’ mother, Helen, who passed away in 1999.
I hope all is well with you and yours, and we’ll see you back here in August. Stay cool. And thanks for everything.