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Randall Franks
of the Fiddle
American Actor

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   Randall Franks
    Actor, Entertainer, Author and Columnist

     Actor/entertainer Randall Franks is best known as “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s "In the Heat of the Night," a role he performed on NBC and CBS from 1988-1993 and now on WGN America. He was part of cast of three other TV Series including Robert Townsend's "Musical Theater of Hope" which aired on UPtv (Gospel Music Channel). In his latest film “Lukewarm” he stars with John Schneider, Nicole Gale Anderson, Bill Cobbs, Jenna von Oy and Jeremy Jones. He starred with Natalie Grant and Billy Dean in the teen drama "Decision" and in "The Solomon Bunch," a children's adventure, Randall does a comedic cameo. As an actor, he has co-starred or starred in 15 films with stars such as “Doc” Tommy Scott; William Hurt, Dolly Parton, Stella Parton and Christian Slater.
     The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky. honored him as a Bluegrass Legend in 2011. He was inducted in 2013 into the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. Franks’ musical stylings have been heard in 150 countries and by more than 145 million people. His musical career boasts 21 album releases, 21 singles, and over 200 recordings with various artists from various genres. The award-winning fiddler’s best selling release, "Handshakes and Smiles" was a top twenty Christian music seller. Many of his albums were among the top 30-bluegrass recordings of their release year. 
      The Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame member shared a top country vocal collaboration with Grand Ole Opry stars The Whites. In addition to his solo career, Franks is a former member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, Jim and Jesse's Virginia Boys and has performed with Jeff and Sheri Easter, The Lewis Family, the Marksmen Quartet, Elaine and Shorty, “Doc” Tommy Scott’s Last Real Old Time Medicine Show and Doodle and the Golden River Grass. 
      An award-winning journalist and columnist, Franks has authored eight books including his latest "Encouragers II : Walking with the Masters," and "Whittlin' and Fiddlin' My Own Way : The Violet Hensley Story."
 Franks shares his time with several non-profit organizations serving as the past president of the Catoosa Citizens for Literacy, which assists area residents in learning to read and pursuing a GED at its Catoosa County Learning Center. He is also president of the Share America Foundation, Inc. that provides the Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship to musicians continuing the traditional music of Appalachia. He hosts a monthly concert series at the historic Ringgold Depot which helps fund the scholarships. (Photo: Copyright 2011, Randall Franks Music by Teryl Jackson)

Randall's Latest Movie and Book

Lukewarm &

Encouragers II : Walking with the Masters

Send $50 for both or $25 for each

Randall Franks, P.O. Box 42, Tunnel Hill, Ga. 30755

Southern Style
 by Randall Franks 
Helping millions smile or reflect since 2001

A leaf of strength
The leaf swayed hanging on to the lonely limb tightly.  As if, to say to the world “I am not done and you are not going to make me fall down no matter what you throw at me.” All of its fellow leaves had given up the ghost blowing in whatever direction the wind desired them to go. Some managed to find a resting place at the foot of the majestic oak tree to spend the winter becoming the woodland blanket upon which the rain would fall before soaking into the ground.

My Grandad sat quietly on the porch staring at the leaf bobbing in the wind.

He had come back from a tremendous stroke that took the wind from his earthly sails. The man who seemed would not bend to nothing could now barely lift himself from the chair in which he sat.

On this fall day though spying that lone leaf seemed to fortify him more than anything that anyone had to bolster his spirits. He stared endlessly watching its fight and as the fight struggled on from one day to two, to a week, his personal strength seemed to grow.

He managed each day no matter how the wind blew or what elements forced themselves past the mountain homestead, he walked himself out to the porch to spend some time sitting, later leaning against the porch post, and then standing as upright as the years would allow. He was always looking off towards the oak tree and its one hold out to the whims of the world saying nothing that revealed the focus of his internal thoughts.

As the winter came on strong, he would rise up and with his cane in hand, he eventually walked off the porch and towards that mighty oak tree going as far as he felt comfortable then returning to the porch. With each trip he got closer to his goal and he soon reached the tree looking straight up towards the hanging leaf.

There were a few times he would take one hand lean against the trunk of the tree and with the other lift his cane as far as he could trying to hit the leaf that centered his focus. He was just shy of reaching it and he would eventually tire and return to the warmth of the fireplace inside.

The light covering of snow did not even dissuade him to making his trek to the oak and returning home and with each passing day he grew stronger.
By the first signs of spring, he no longer limited his walking to just the tree and he was taken on even more of the activities that made his day sing around the farm.

It was on a spring day that the tree had refilled all its limbs and the greenery made it full and majestic. Grandad could no longer see the lone leaf from the porch so he decided to make another trek to see what had become of his now old companion who he fought alongside against the world’s elements.

As he reached the tree, he looked upon the ground to find it to no avail so he turned his gaze upward and amongst the lush green leaves there it was – one brown leaf still holding on to its place amidst the green youngsters around it.

Grandad’s face seemed to change as his face fought back the effects of the stroke moved to show a smile.

He raised his cane, almost in a sense of a salute to the lone leaf, then turned and walked down the trail towards the valley store. Emboldened by the lone leaf, he was figuring to hold on to his place in the world and stand as the man he was inside, no matter what nature threw against him.

We need more people in this world who work to overcome what they face finding the inner strength that God placed within each of His creations.

T.G. Sheppard brings together some duets with friends
It’s been nearly 13 years since country legend T.G. Sheppard released his last commercial album, and now he is back and better than ever with Legendary Friends & Country Duets. The star-studded project features collaborations with icons like George Jones, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Oak Ridge Boys, Crystal Gayle, Lorrie Morgan and many more. Legendary Friends & Country Duets, released via Cleopatra Records, is available on iTunes, Amazon, and in music retailers nationwide.

“It was such an honor to have this multitude of iconic artists joining me on this new album. Every singer always looks for validation in their career, and after recording with these legends and friends, I have finally been validated,” said T.G. Sheppard. “Singing with each artist was truly a magical moment in my career.”
The late George Jones collaborates with Sheppard on “It’s a Man Thing,” which happens to be one of The Possum’s final studio sessions.

 “This album has so much sentimental value to me,” said Nancy Jones. George’s widow. “Not only because T.G. was a dear friend to George, but also because 'It's a Man Thing' is one of George's last recordings. It's a beautiful project.”

Recently releasing a single to country radio, the smooth track of “100% Chance of Pain,” features vocal contributions from B.J. Thomas and Country Music Hall of Fame member Jimmy Fortune. Each artist brings their own signature style to the song, making it one of the standout tracks from Legendary Friends & Country Duets.

“When T.G. asked me to record on this project, I was honored,” Fortune said. “The song had an Orbison-feel to it, and when I found out that it would feature BJ Thomas, I was even more excited.”

Sheppard, who is credited with 21 number one hits, is featured in the latest online syndicated video series, “The Test Drive,” where T.G. cruises through historic Music Row and talks about his brand new album in the must-see episode.

T.G. Sheppard has always had an unstoppable passion for music. This passion along with 21 number one hits and being ranked as one of the top artists in all of country music, has made him one of the most popular live performers on tour today. It's only natural with a show chock full of chart topping hits like "Last Cheaters Waltz", "I Loved 'Em Everyone"," Do You Wanna Go To Heaven", and "Party Time" that TG has developed a reputation as a solid performer who delivers exactly what audiences want. All this and more combined with a steadfast dedication to entertainment has truly made him one of the great Legends in country music.

T.G. Sheppard's ardor for life and unceasing energy allow him to fulfill his unrelenting passion for music. "Legendary Friends & Country Duets" is the latest means by which he shares that passion with the rest of us. For more information, visit tgsheppard.com.

A mouse in the house

In the valley below the Gravelly Spur sometimes life was lost in the living, but at times circumstances would change that for a while.

Billy Thurston lived in a sharecropper’s house with his mother Alma and father Fred. Although Billy was just eight-years-old, he already had performed almost every task it took to help run the farm and help his parents scrape a meager living on shares.

He plowed and planted, tended to animals, and walked a few paces behind his father as they hunted to add a bit of meat to the table.

Each fall when it came time to cut the corn and tie the stalks together, in the mist the stands of corn stalks looked as if an army had left the field and propped its rifles there.

At this time of year an army of mice which made the field a home would tend to run for the cover of whatever building they could find.

This year Billy’s father told him it would be his job to place the mouse traps around the house and keep them clean of whatever they might catch.

Being mindful of his father, he went about his chore and kept each trap ready and waiting for the next offensive.

One afternoon one of the traps did not hold a dead mouse but one whose leg was caught and broken.

Billy did not have the heart to end the little one’s life. So, he cut some small branches and took a few threads from the ragged area of his overalls and tied upon the mouse’s leg a splint.

Billy carefully carried the gray field mouse to the edge of the cornfield which lay between their house and my Grandma Kitty’s and released it.

After a couple of days, my Grandma Kitty was sweeping off the front porch. As she turned and opened the screen door, in scurried a little mouse which she promptly followed with broom in hand. After quite a chase around the old butcher block table, she finally had the little critter cornered.

As she was about to bring the broom down with all her might, she saw the splint upon its leg. The sight of that little splint reminded her that every life has value no matter in what form it is carried. She could not bring herself to end this one.

She reached down, picked the animal up and carried it to the edge of the corn field to release it.

Twice the little mouse got a reprieve. The yellow barn cat Grover was not so kind-hearted.

A story from the book "A Mountain Pearl" Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes by Randall Franks. Order Yours in time for Christmas on the Store Page.

New music from Jimmy Fortune and ICM Awards
Country Music Hall of Famer and Statler Brothers member, Jimmy Fortune, continues his successful career as a solo artist with the release of his latest project, Hits & Hymns, available for purchase now in Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® locations as well as music retailers nationwide. Hits & Hymns is also available online at iTunes, Amazon.

The star-studded project, released via Gaither Music Group, features collaborations with Vince Gill, The Oak Ridge Boys, Dailey & Vincent, Ricky Skaggs and more.

“Teaming up with Bill Gaither has been one of the best moves that I’ve made since beginning my solo career,” said a humble Jimmy Fortune. He adds, “Ben Isaacs did a wonderful job producing this. I hope everyone has a chance to check this out, and it will inspire people the way that it has inspired me.”

Since his start with the iconic Statler Brothers more than 33 years ago, Fortune has transitioned from group member to a successful solo artist. Fortune, who is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and Gospel Music Hall of Fame, looks to build on this momentum with the release of his brand new album Hits & Hymns.

The highly anticipated album is accompanied by a Bill Gaither-hosted TV special and is currently airing on various television networks and channels throughout November (check local listings).

Included in the Jimmy Fortune special are performances off of the new album, including the #1 Billboard self-penned tracks “Elizabeth” and “Too Much on My Heart,” as well as some of Fortune’s favorite gospel songs like “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art,” with special vocal appearances by Dailey & Vincent and Bill Gaither on select songs.

Fans looking to make this special a part of their DVD collection can purchase it at ChristianBook.com, SpringSide.com and FamilyChristian.com, or pick up the CD + DVD combo at JimmyFortune.com.

The 21st Annual ICM Faith, Family & Country™ Awards were held on Oct. 22nd at Cornerstone Nashville.  Bluegrass duo, The Roys took home “Inspirational Bluegrass” Award for the fifth consecutive year.

“To say it was an honor to capture our 5th ICM Bluegrass Artist award in a row is an understatement, said Lee Roy. “We are truly Blessed and honored to have our peers pat us on the back and say your music matters! God is GREAT!!”

The popular Bluegrassers were previously honored with the following ICM Awards: 2014, 2013,2012 & 2011 Bluegrass Artist of the Year; 2012 #1 Inspirational Country Single ("I Wonder What God's Thinking"), and the 2010 & 2009 Duo of the Year.

Winners also included T. Graham Brown for “Mainstream Country Male Artist,” Joey+Rory for “Mainstream Country Duo or Group” and Carrie Underwood, who received the most awards of the evening for “Mainstream Country Female Artist,” “Mainstream Song” and “Video of the Year” for her inspirational hit “Something in the Water.” Inspirational Country winners included Steve Richard for “Entertainer of the Year,” Chuck Hancock, who claimed both “Songwriter” and “Song of the Year,” Wade Hammond for “Inspirational Male Artist” and Kali Rose “Inspirational Female Artist” of the year. Slated for broadcast on the The Family Channel, Heartland, NRB Network, TCT Networks, The Worship Network, Lifestyle/CTN Network and Total Living Network in the upcoming months. For more information on the annual awards show, please visit: faithfamilycountry.com. 

Karen Peck wins Dove Award, Oaks launch Christmas show

Karen Peck and New River won the Southern Gospel Album of the Year for their newest CD titled Pray Now. The Award was presented at the 46th Annual GMA Dove Awards Ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee on October 13th. Wayne Haun produced the project.

"We are deeply honored and thankful,” Karen said. “Pray Now is a very special album that resonates where we have been spiritually this year. Each song is a statement of faith and encouragement. The Lord sent these songs at the right time in our ministry and we are grateful that they are drawing people to Him. We are blessed beyond measure."

The title cut of the album "Pray Now" hit the number one spot on numerous charts and echoes the feelings of so many people dealing with life's struggles. This is the fourth Dove Award win for the group.

"We know what we do is a calling and it’s about seeing people saved and hearts touched and turned toward the Lord, she said. “That’s the number one goal, but nights like tonight was the Lord encouraging us. Next year will mark the 25th anniversary that Susan and I started this group and we’re so thankful we’re still out here after all these years.”

To learn more about Karen Peck and New River go to http://www.karenpeckandnewriver.com or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Peck-and-New-River.

Grammy Award-winning music legends, The Oak Ridge Boys, will once again celebrate the Christmas season with timeless hits and holiday classics on their 26th Annual Christmas Night Out Tour, coming to a city near you. The almost two-hour holiday show transports concertgoers into Winter Wonderland with fan-favorite hits and Christmas tunes new and old, beautiful sets, falling snow—and even a special visit from Santa Claus himself.

“There is nothing quite like an Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Show. This tour has become an Oak Ridge Boys tradition and is a tremendous experience for the entire family. With a revamped stage and a fresh approach, this year’s show will be a dynamic mix of music representing every aspect of Christmas from presents and snow, to romance and Santa Claus, on to the real meaning of the season celebrating the birth of Jesus,” said The Oak Ridge Boys’ Joe Bonsall.

Each year The Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas tour plays to packed houses across America. The 2015 Christmas Night Out Tour will take the group to more than two-dozen cities in nineteen states, from the East to West Coast, mid-November through December 23.

The group — Richard Sterban, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Joe Bonsall — have earned prestigious membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame (2015 Inductees) and Grand Ole Opry, among other designations. Known worldwide as one of recording history’s most extraordinary musical successes, they have charted single after single and album after album, celebrating over 41 million records sold, two double-platinum albums, and more than 30 Top 10 hits, including No. 1 chart-toppers “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” “Thank God For Kids,” “American Made,” among dozens more.

The tour begins Nov. 17 in Branson, Mo. For more information on The Oak Ridge Boys, please visit oakridgeboys.com.



Pat Boone and Ray Stevens have a brand some brand new adventures ahead

Pat Boone is expanding his horizons by recording his first ever R&B album. And not one to do things in a small way, he was thrilled to work with some of the genre’s biggest superstars of all time! He has powerful duets with James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Earth Wind & Fire, The Four Tops, and KC & The Sunshine Band plus members of Kool & the Gang, and Sister Sledge and even Hip Hop legend Kool Moe Dee. By joining with Cleopatra Records, this stunning album now has national distribution is available to his legion of fans worldwide.

"This classic, ultimate party record fulfills a career long desire to record with many of my most favorite artists, bringing me back full circle to my first R&B million sellers,” Boone said.

With a career that has spanned over sixty years, Pat Boone has achieved an amazing number of accomplishments. He has been a successful singer, composer, actor, writer, television personality, motivational speaker, and spokesman. He is one of rock & roll’s best-selling artists and has sold over 45 million albums, had 38 Top 40 hits, and appeared in more than 12 Hollywood films. He still holds the Billboard record for charting consecutive weeks by spending 220 consecutive weeks on the charts with one or more song each week. He has hosted his own TV show and has written a number of books including 2 million - plus sellers that have been translated into many languages. Currently, he continues to perform for an audience of millions on both TV and radio, has just completed 2 films. Find the project on Amazon, iTunes and at cleorecs.com.

Singer, songwriter, entertainer and comedian Ray Stevens will soon add national television talk show host to his career highlights. The Grammy Award-winning comedy and country music legend announced the premiere of Ray Stevens' Nashville, a regular/weekly 30-minute music show debuting on RFD-TV on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 8:30 Eastern.

"I'm so excited about my new show on RFD-TV!" Stevens said. "It's music from some of Nashville's best writers, artists and musicians and it's full of comedy. Hey, music and comedy... it's what I do and I'm having a ball doing it!"

From the heart of Nashville at the legendary funnyman's Music Row television studio, Ray Stevens' Nashville will spotlight some of country music's most well-known singers and songwriters. The first season will feature appearances and performances from many of Stevens' friends including Larry Gatlin, Bobby Bare, Tanya Tucker, Lee Greenwood, Aaron Tippin, Darryl Worley, Steve Wariner, John Conlee, T.G. Sheppard and more.

Of course, Ray Stevens' Nashville wouldn't be complete without performances by the show's iconic host. Throughout the show's first season, Stevens, backed by his ace house band, will perform many of his classic hit songs including "Gitarzan," "The Streak," "Everything Is Beautiful," "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" and more.

 “I hope lots of folks tune in and watch,” he said. “This show is fun to do and I know it’s going to be fun to watch.  I get to perform with great musicians and recording artists and get to introduce America to a side of Nashville they may have never seen or known about.”

For more information visit 
www.raystevens.com or his official Facebook Page.

Steve Martin, the Earls, Vincent and Larry's Diner

I was honored to stand just off stage a few feet to the right of American Icon Steve Martin Oct. 1 as he accepted his IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award. Directing such a moment will be one of my greatest memories. He described his career of playing banjo as an "Oh No" each and everytime someone else innovated a style or technique he needed to learn. The honor is more than appropriate considering that his career has shined a light upon bluegrass legends and current talents. Alongside him receiving the same award were banjo stylist Murphy Henry, banjo stylist Alison Brown, the late Grand Ole Opry star Bashful Brother Oswald, and the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

The Earls of Leicester took top IBMA honors with awards for Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Instrumental Group, Male Vocalist - Shawn Camp, Dobro Player - Jerry Douglas, and Gospel Recorded Performance  of the Year -
“Who Will Sing For Me.”

Rhonda Vincent won her eighth "Female Vocalist of the Year" award.

"Wow...it was a great night, sitting around with family at the lake, listening to the IBMA Awards via the internet, and hearing my name called as Female Vocalist of the Year!" says Rhonda Vincent. "We will be celebrating this weekend in Branson, Missouri at the Starlite Theater," Rhonda continues. "It's been an incredible year, and I am so honored to work with amazing musicians, and travel the world playing the music we love!"  "Special thanks to our friends in the World of Bluegrass who shared their votes for this award!"
Vincent is also gearing up for her brand new holiday album, Christmas Time, set for release on Oct. 30.

RFD-TV welcomes new episodes of "Larry’s Country Diner" this October including country music stars Ronnie Reno, Moe Bandy, Exile, Randy Owen. As the show’s creator and host, Larry Black, progresses in his recovery from a serious ATV accident, additional guests like Bill Anderson, Larry Gatlin, Randy Owen and David Ball will fill in for him in typical Larry’s Country Diner fashion.

Airtimes are Saturday nights at 11 p.m. ET/10 p.m. CT, and Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT on RFD-TV.

Jeannie Seely marks 48 years with the Opry

Grand Ole Opry friend Jeannie Seely celebrated her 48th Anniversary with the show recently.
“The Grand Ole Opry has been a part of my life since I first heard it
at four years old,” she said. “For many years it seemed like an impossible dream to even attend it, let alone be on it. After I started seriously pursuing my career, I made it my goal to, someday, somehow, become a member of the Opry!”

As she arriv
ed at the Grand Ole Opry on her anniversary night, she made her way to her regular dressing room, number 16, the Minnie Pearl room. She changed from her street clothes and comfortable shoes to her sparkly stage clothes and not quite so comfortable high-heeled boots. She touched up her make-up and made sure her hair was just right. She warmed up with the musicians to decide which songs she would perform that night.

While Jeannie considers it a privilege and an honor to perform any night at the Grand Ole Opry, this night was even more special and she wanted to perform a song that is very special to her. “Don’t Touch Me” was her first number one song, and even won her a Grammy award in March 1967 for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

“Although I was of course thrilled with a hit record, once “Don’t Touch Me” topped the charts, I started lobbying to be invited as a guest with membership in the back of my mind. Nothing in my career means more than being a part of that wonderful ‘family’,” she said. “To me, next to the Hall of Fame, your name on that membership wall signifies, more than anything else, your place in Country Music History.”

Jeannie took the stage to the roar of an enthusiastic audience. Not only did she give her
distinctive moving performance on her songs, but also she was fervent in her duties as segment host and gave generous, welcoming introductions to the guest artists in her segment.

“Celebrating my 48th Anniversary reminds me how fast time flies when you are having a wonderful time,” she said. “ I feel my role now is to carry on the tradition as best I can with a helpful eye on the new talent I’m privileged to introduce who will carry this marvelous American treasure into the future for many
more generations to enjoy.”

“Actually I am amazed that my career is still going after all this time,“ said Jeannie. “Every year I have thought it would probably be the last time I would be asked to do...whatever! I never take for granted how fortunate I’ve been to see my dreams come true, and to make a living doing what I love most of all. There’s simply no way I can express my gratitude for the acceptance I continue to receive from the industry, my peers, and country music fans.”

Jeannie Seely is in the sixth decade of her entertainment ca
reer that began
hen she was 11 years old singing on a WMGW morning radio show. She has had success as an actress, author, songwriter, and singer, but mostly she is known as being an amazing entertainer. She has always been known as an individualist. She’s been credited with changing the image of female country performers, and her infectious humor has always been one of her trademarks. When not out touring she can be found hosting and performing at the Opry on any given weekend that she is in town. On a personal note, I always enjoyed the opportunities to share the stage in concert with her through the years. We enjoyed some pleasant visits. To learn more about her career, visit jeannieseely.com. 

A fiddler, a singer and a banjo stylist

As part of the country music family I have been blessed to do shows with these country friends. They are all adding to the fall colors with their latest musical sounds and shows.

Fiddle legend Charlie Daniels brings his career spanning over 50 years full circle with Live At Billy Bob's Texas CD and DVD releasing on October 16, 2015.

"When you record LIVE, you need to ignore the recording equipment and play for the people and that big old rowdy crowd,” Daniels said. “At Billy Bob's Texas, that was easy to do."

Having recorded several live albums in his career, including his latest, military-centered 2007 release Live From Iraq, he recorded on February 20, 2015, this 14-track project. The CD, which allows listeners to feel like a part of the boisterous live audience, and DVD, featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes interview footage with Daniels, will be available in stores nationwide and on iTunes, Amazon and everywhere digital music is sold.

Best known for their fiery fiddle-ridden No. 1 country hit, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which was featured in the 1980 American western drama featuring John Travolta, Urban Cowboy, The Charlie Daniels Band celebrates a decorated career of multiple GRAMMY, CMA, ACM and GMA Awards, and has exceeded 20 million in sales led by his six multi-platinum albums.

On Live At Billy Bob's Texas, Daniels' characteristic Southern attitude and Wild West influences shine through on LIVE, full band versions of country favorites like "Southern Boy," "Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Long Haired Country Boy," "(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks," and 9 others, which make up the highly-anticipated October release.
Visit charliedaniels.com.

Country singer Daryle Singletary has joined forces with Campbell Soups to do a special series of shows around the country at Wal-Marts.

“I have more fun at these shows because I know I am singing for folks that appreciate steel guitars, fiddle and lyrics that paint a picture,” Singletary said. “I’m so happy that Campbell’s recognizes that my music speaks to their customers.”

With influences like Keith Whitley and Randy Travis, the word that bests describes the singing style of Daryle Singletary is authentic. The hard-core traditional stylist will soon entertain loyal country fans in 10 cities on the Campbell’s Soup Country Concert Tour.

Daryle’s new album There’s Still A Little Country Left: “The songs on the collection are as straightforward as the title, with three tunes in particular that lament the dearth of traditional country on the radio: the title tune, “Too Late To Save the World” and the up-front “Get Out Of My Country.” It’s Daryle’s first new record in nearly five years.

The free shows will take place in select Wal-Mart parking lots across the country and is sponsored by Campbell’s, makers of America’s favorite soups.
Visit darylesingletary.net.

Country and Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley plans to mark his 70-year milestone playing a special show in Manassas, Va. on October 9 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. His Grandson, Dove-award winner Nathan Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys will join him for this momentous occasion.

"I've been very fortunate to have been performing for so long and still can make a living at it. A lot of artists don't last 10 years let alone 70 years,” Stanley said. "I still love to travel and perform. It's my life, I don't know what else I would do if I couldn't travel. I'm very thankful to the good Lord for his many blessings."

After seven decades, three Grammy awards and an induction into the Grand Ole Opry, Dr. Ralph Stanley has no intention on slowing down. Visit drralphstanleymusic.com. 

Rex Allen, Jr reflects on a lifetime of achievement

Some of my favorite country music memories relate to events on which I appeared with a host of country music entertainers.

One of my favorite people to find myself in the company of is Rex Allen, Jr. He was a favorite singer of mine and I always enjoyed the visits we shared. I always enjoyed seeing him as a regular on The Statler Brothers. Show on The Nashville Network in the and Yesteryear.

Of course, he was part of an established show business
family as the son of Western star Rex Allen.

The son, who in his own right is an inductee into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame, was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the National Traditional Country Music Association. The prestigious ceremony took place at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa where Allen received a standing ovation and was hosted by founder and lover of all traditional music, Robert Everhart.

 “My heart was full as I looked into the crowd and took it all in,” Allen, Jr. said. “ I’m proud of my roots and I’m thankful there are still so many that appreciate wonderful classic Country & Western music.”

Allen is touring this fall and can be found on several shows including an upcoming TV appearance on the new show hosted by my longtime friend Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame DJ and radio host Keith Bilbrey.

Tune in for an intimate, in-depth interview on the all-new series, “Reflections,” on Sept. 28 on Heartland TV,The Family Channel, Angel Two (DISH TV), AMG-TV, Country TV (New Zealand) and DTC Cable. Check your local listings for times in your area.

Country music fans will love this new intimate sit-down series as it reveals unknown details about the artist, their music and their videos.

Fans will also be able to catch Rex at Rex Allen Days in Willcox, Ariz., the event named in honor of his late father.
Allen will make several community appearances throughout the week for residents This fine gentleman and dedicated artist will also be appearing at his annual “Question & Answer” session to be conducted in Windmill Park on Oct. 3rd at 5 PM where he will then sing his rendition of the National Anthem for the Rex Allen Days Rodeo. Rex Allen Jr. will take part in the annual Parade and will perform two shows on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Willcox Historic Theater. Show times are 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. with all seats reserved. To order tickets to Rex’s shows, call 520-254-2101.

“Rex Allen Days features many of my dad’s favorite events like rodeos, a parade and of course music. We fit in everything we can! So if fans or friends see me out and taking part in the weekend activities, please by all means stop and say hello,” Allen said. “This is my favorite weekend of the year and how lucky am I that I get to celebrate and honor my dad with friends that loved him, too!”

Allen, Jr. was born in Chicago, IL Singing in his signature smooth, rich style he had hits with "Goodbye," "I'm Gettin’ Good At Missing You (Soitare)," "Lonely Street,” "Two Less Lonely People,” "Lonely Street", "With Love", "If I Fell in Love With You", "It's Over,” "Drink it Down, Lady,” "Cup of Tea" (a duet with Margo Smith) and others. He is also the writer and performer of the alternate state anthem of Arizona, titled "I Love You Arizona.”  Following in his father’s footsteps with his speaking voice heard in Disney films, Rex Jr. was the narrator of Jim Carrey movie Me, Myself And Irene; and writer, director and actor in the stage show Gone Country, a Las Vegas hit of the late '90s. 

Don Williams, Dailey and Vincent and more…

Internationally loved country music icon, Don Williams, is set to bring his hits to fans old and new when he kicks off his 2015 Tour in September.

“Mercy, the fans have kept us going for years, and I am glad to share the music with them once again,” Williams said.

Williams’ most recent album was 2014’s Reflections, which earned the singer his highest peak on the Country Album chart in three decades. Known as “The Gentle Giant,” Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

Williams first came to prominence in the 1960s as a member of the folk group The Pozo-Seco Singers. The trio recorded several hit records, with the biggest being “Time.” By 1971, Williams had gone solo, and had signed a publishing deal with Jack Clement. The Hall of Fame producer was so taken with Don’s style that he offered him a recording contract with his JMI Records in 1972. Early hits included “Atta Way To Go” and “Come Early Morning,” as well as “We Should Be Together,” which became his first Billboard top ten hit from 1974. He then moved to ABC / Dot (Later MCA), where the hits increased. Tracks such as “Rake and Ramblin’ Man,” “Tulsa Time,” and “Nobody But You”
helped to make him one of the most-played artists on Country Radio in
the 1970s and 1980s. He took home the Male Vocalist of the Year trophy from the Country Music Association in 1978, and notched his biggest hit in 1981 with “I Believe In You,” which also crossed over to the top-30 on the Hot 100.

He has placed 52 singles in the top-40 on the Country charts in the United States, with 17 going all the way to the top spot. Williams was a member of the Grand Ole Opry in the 1980s, and appeared in the films W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings and Smokey & The Bandit II with Burt Reynolds.

Check and see if Don is coming your way by visiting www.Don-Williams.com
Bluegrass talents Dailey and Vincent will launch their new variety television show brought to viewers on RFD-TV by Springer Mountain Farms,

"Words cannot describe the joy and humbleness we feel as we officially announce our first national TV Show, "The Dailey & Vincent Show." Sponsored by our friends at Springer Mountain Farms, we have been conceptualizing this show for years and it brings happy tears to our eyes now that our dreams have come true,” were the sentiments shared by hosts Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent.

Among the many guests set to appear Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, Flatt Lonesome, The Cleverlys, Dan Tyminski, Jimmy Fortune, Karen Staley, Bill Anderson, Gus Arrendale, The Oak Ridge Boys, Aaron Tippin, Emily West, and David Phelps.
The show includes music, guest artists, interviews, food, and humor.
The first thirteen episodes began airing Saturday Nights at 9:30 PM ET / 8:30 PM CT on RFD-TV Sept. 5.

My long time friend, one of bluegrass music's most respected bands, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, has a new CD available entitled It's About Tyme, featuring Russell Moore (guitar), Wayne Benson (mandolin), Justen Haynes (fiddle), Keith McKinnon (banjo) and Blake Johnson (bass). The project is a wonderful mix of the sound which has places Russell as a bluegrass favorite male vocalist for fans for year.

It's About Tyme is now available via iTunes, music stores or visit www.iiirdtymeout.com.

The cowboy way

I have found in recent years with the barren desert I find on television I tend to gravitate towards the tried and true westerns that dominated the film screen and the television screens.

As I flip through I know if I come to rest on someone dressed in a cowboy outfit generally with few exceptions, I will find a show I can relax and enjoy. Good will always win and the bad guys will get what they deserve.

This is especially true with anything that the Duke may be riding in. For any of those of you under 20, that might not know that nickname, its John Wayne.

As America ushered in the 1970s this type of film and television show became harder to find as the trend towards urban settings began.

After Clint Eastwood his alternate western hero in “Fistful of Dollars” in 1964 then many of the westerns began to have an uncomfortable edge to them, so I tend to lean towards those shot before these.

I was surfing the internet last week and looking at some of the resources telling about some of the great western stars of the past.

As I looked through, I realized that so many of these great performer’s films that could be airing in the mainstream generally are limited to specialty channels.

It’s not likely you will find Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue, Tim McCoy and Charles Starrett riding across your TV screens much anymore.

There were so many great stars that kept the baby boomers entertained as they went to the theaters matinees growing up and so many others that made television the resting-place for much of the western genre and stars well into the 1970s.

By 1974, the western genre on television except for an occasional film was saying goodbye much like it had in theaters 20 years before.

I’ll never forget Ken Curtis “Festus” from “Gunsmoke” telling me how the CBS network just simply forgot to put them on the schedule one year, after 25 years, they just simply forgot. Stations got up in arms and had them put back on but it wasn’t long until we said goodbye to those characters that had been part of America’s lives on radio and then on television for more than a quarter century.
If you have an interest in the early stars of the western films and have access to the internet, I suggest you look at The Old Corral website at B-westerns.com (www.b-westerns.com/)

It has a vast amount of resources on all the stars from Buster Crabbe to Bob Livingston, Monte Hale to Tex Ritter.
Of course, many of those western stars moved onto the little screen with television shows like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Others had their movies repackaged for television and those ran solidly for years to come in syndication.

Many of the old shows were no longer airing when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s. Of course “The Lone Ranger” starring Clayton Moore which ended in 1955 was still in syndication, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Maverick, and some of the other 1960s television sagebrush stories but the old western stars of the matinees were all but gone except in personal appearances at film festivals.

I remember sitting in Gene Autry’s office one-time years ago talking with the late western connoisseur and producer Alex Gordon that worked for Gene. We were discussing many of the old stars about which I had knowledge when he mentioned the name of a well-known western producer Pop Sherman. I found myself in the dark largely because by the time I came along the Hopalong Cassidy films that he created were no longer a television staple. When I told him I had a hole in my knowledge about Sherman, I’ll never forget how Alex reacted “That’s a hole as large as the Grand Canyon itself,” he said in his English accent. That is when I realized there was so much more of the western genre that I needed to know about. If you want to know more about Hopalong Cassidy, visit www.hopalong.com.

Traveling stage shows such as Tommy Scott’s Country Caravan and Wild West Show where you might find Tim McCoy doing his whip act or Sunset Carson doing a shooting act there’s more about this at the Old Corral website.
While some have tried to recreate the western magic in modern day such as the show “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” it wasn’t quite the same.

I visited the set of Dr. Quinn during its second season and walked down the old western street, through the indian village and the military camp. I longed to slip into my western garb and step back in time but in this instance that opportunity did not arise and I was simply able to watch Jane Seymour, Chad Allen and the other actors as they created a different time and place for their audience.

Thanks to Roku channels like Victory Westerns and other providers through satellite and cable, we can find quality westerns at  almost any time we wish to sit back in our brown leather easy chair and ride off into the sunset.
As my old friend Roy Rogers said on our final visit, “Tell all the folks back home I said “Howdeeeeeee!!!” 

A sweeping success

Performing on the road has its great moments and even a few that are less great. Needless to say there are often things to laugh at along the way.

One of my devoted readers said that I have been too serious of late and needed to spread some cheer so here is one of my favorite experiences along the way. Maybe it will bring you a smile.

I was introduced to a large hall of about 1,000 folks gathered to see our show. We were in the midst of singing “Little Girl of Mine in Tennessee” when a older feller about six foot tall in tattered blue coveralls and carrying a broom sweeps his way across the stage in front of the band, facing the band, all the time paying no mind to the crowd behind him or the band in front of him.

His slightly slumped appearance, along with his total disregard for his surroundings and his intense concentration on his task, began to draw some scattered giggles from the audience.

I imagined many were wondering what I or he would do next.
As I realized he was not just passing through but had decided to set up housekeeping in front of us, I stopped the tune and said, “Excuse me, were trying to do a show here,” and the feller replied “A show?”

He turned slowly towards the audience and waved as he smiled from ear to ear, saying “Hello, hello,” not hardly missing anyone as he greeted the crowd.

“Do you mind, these people paid a lot of money to see our show,” I said.
He walked over to me at the mike and looked out in the audience.
“These people paid money to see you?” he asked.
“Yes, they did,” I said.
“Miracles never cease,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said, before realizing what had passed. “Heyyyy.”
“I use to play in a band, a big band. We worked all over New York, Chicago,” he said.
“Really what did you call your band?” I asked.
“The broom boys,” he replied.
“The broom boys,” I said
“Yeah, we really cleaned up,” he said.

“Did you sing with that group?” I asked. He said, “Yes.”
“Would you like to sing with us?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve got so every time I sing I cry,” he said.
“Then why do you sing?” I asked.
“So I can cry,” he said.
“Why do you cry?” I asked.
“Cause I can’t sing,” he said.
“Do you think I could join your band?” he asked.
“Well I don’t know. All these boys had to go through an interview,” I said.
“I can do that,” he said.
I agreed and started by asking, “What’s your name?”
“I was named after my Ma and Pa,” he said.
“Alright, what was their name?” I said.
“Pa was Ferdinand and Ma was Liza,” he said.
“So, what did they name you?” I asked.
“Ferdiliza,” he said.
“Where were you born?” I asked.
“Kentucky,” he replied.
“What part?” I asked.
“All of me. You didn’t think I came in pieces did you?” he said.
“Why did you leave Kentucky?” I asked.
“Couldn’t bring it with me,” he said.
“Where do you live now?” I asked.
“I live with a friend,” he said.
“Where does you friend live,” I asked.
“He lives with me,” he said.
“Where do you both live?” I asked.
“We live together,” he said.
“Where were your forefathers born?” I asked.
“My what?” he asked.

“Your forefathers. Where were they born?” I asked.
“I ain’t got but one father,” he said.
“Everybody has forefathers,” I said. “Mine came from Scotland, Germany and England.”
“Well if I got four fathers, three of them ain’t never been home,” he said.
“So do I get the job?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t know let me think on it,” I told him.
“OK, but don’t hurt yourself,” he replied.
“Hey, that’s no way to talk to someone if you want a job,” I said.
“Your right, I better get back to work,” he said.

I stopped him and asked one more question.
“When you say things like that, doesn’t a still small voice tell you you’re doing something wrong?”
“No, its usually a big loud voice. Have you met my wife?” he said.
“In the future I hope you are more careful about where you try to clean up,” I told him.
“Oh, I will be next time. I’ll bring a bigger broom,” he commented as he glided off stage.

Comedy has always been a key part of performing in live shows: the antics of clowns in circuses; the banter and quips of comics in medicine shows and vaudeville; to the jokes we hear offered in sitcoms today. Country comedians are a special breed; I am honored to in my life played both the comedian and the straight man roles of the comedy team with many funny people. There is nothing funnier than two people working off each other’s comedic timing in front of an audience. I put together this comedy routine originally for the talented comedic actor Sonny Shroyer. I hope that a couple of the lines brought you a smile. © 1992 Peach Picked Publishing. Used by permission.


The creeping doldrums

Do you ever find yourself enjoying a perfectly good day and then before your know what has happened you find yourself in the midst of a spell of listlessness or despondency?

Those energetic goals that were there when you woke up have slipped back down deep under the covers. So you decide to go looking for them only to find yourself shackled to the bedpost and unable to pull yourself back out of the bed.

What about the times you are simply sitting at your desk and there are so many tasks before you, you just seemed baffled at what to do next?

Well my friend, you are suffering from the creeping doldrums. They just come up from out of no where spawned sometimes by a thought; a piece of music; the sound of the rain on the roof; some aspect of your life which seems to pull you down into the mud and keep you stuck.

When I was a boy, we use to go spelunking a lot and I remember one cave we called the peanut butter cave where as you walked through. You were most likely to lose a shoe before getting out. You would fight with all your might to get through it and it would take a lot of your energy. I don’t remember one of my fellow cavers that ever were left there stuck in the mud.

No matter how productive and positive one’s life may seem we all have days where the creeping doldrums invade our well being.

What is the solution?

For me, I find I just have to get up out of bed and trudge forward through the peanut butter cave until I have reached the opening that leads me back into the Light.

Simple tasks will fill the day until our mind and body are ready to once again tackle the big goals.

Now, by my excursion down this road, I am not saying a person does not need some down time to rest and restore, its just when we let the creeping doldrums steal from us even the enjoyment of rest.

Rest in the reading of a good book, rest in watching our favorite TV show or film, rest in talking with friends gathered to watch a sporting event. All of these help us to recharge.

The key to the rest is not to let the creeping doldrums convince us we need even more than we do and before we know it our unoccupied mind is filling itself with negative thoughts.

So, if you find yourself with the creeping doldrums, get out your old shoes and trudge on through the mud until you get to the other side. You will be stronger and next time it will be easier to leave the creeping doldrums behind.


Carolina Cotton’s voice is still bringing smiles

I don’t know whether you enjoy riding across the ranges in the old western films with the stars of yesteryear like I do or not but I have since I was chasing the neighborhood outlaws in my dime store cowboy suit.

Now I must admit probably with the exception of Dale Evans in those early days it was the action on the television screen I wanted to see. Like must youngins, I looked at scenes between the leading cowboy and cowgirl as just something to sit through until the next gun fight, horse chase or fist fight so I seldom paid much mind to the leading ladies.

I must say the exception to that rule was the late Carolina Cotton whose shear presence in a film demanded your attention, whether it was her beauty on the screen, her down-home appeal, or the fact she could ride, sing, and yodel circles around many of her co-stars, she simply charmed her way into your heart.

Her energy on screen was contagious especially when she was singing one of her yodeling songs such as “I Love to Yodel” which she sang in several films including “Apache Country” with Gene Autry or "Yodel, Yodel, Yodel" from Autry’s “Blue Canadian Rockies.”

She also did several films with my friends the late Ken Curtis (“Song of the Prairie,” “Stallion Canyon”), the late Roy Acuff (“Sing Neighbor Sing”). Other films co-starred actors such as Eddy Arnold, Charles Starrett, Smiley Burnette and others.

In the span of a just a few years she did 17 films and performed with some of the most influential bands in the Hillbilly and Western Swing genre including Spade Cooley’s Western Dance Gang, Merle Travis, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Sons of the Pioneers, Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours, Ramblin’ Tommy Scott and his Hollywood Hillbilly Jamboree and others.

The Arkansas native relocated with her family as they moved to California. She began her career on stage and then radio in San Francisco at an early age but soon found her way to Hollywood where film producers immediately recognized her talent and she soon rose to level of leading lady.

Sadly like many of their male counterparts by the mid 1950s the days of the old west for female leading ladies also rode off into the sunset in film and for most practical purposes mainstream western music stars were in the wagon train behind them.

Carolina’s daughter Sharon Marie brought together a CD that highlights some of her recordings entitled “Carolina Cotton-Yodeling Blonde Bombshell – Volume II.”
I was blown away by the clarity of sound in the 20 plus recordings from the 1940s-1950s.

The recording opens with Three Miles South Of Cash with Bob Wills and the enthusiasm continues through a fun-filled adventure down Western streets and hillbilly dirt roads as the musical sounds thrill and bring a smile. Among the recordings are Put Your Shoes On Lucy, Boo Hoo Blues, Lovin' Ducky Daddy, Hoosegow Serenade, I’d Love To Be A Cowgirl, Ragtime Cowboy Joe, Be Honest With Me, You Belong To My Heart, I Been Down In Texas, Yodel Mountain, The Old Square Dance Is Back Again, Chime Bells, You've Got Me Wrapped Around Your Finger, Glad Rags, I'm All Alone, He's A Tough Hombre, I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter), O Dem Golden Slippers, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone and Weary Lonesome Blues. The recording also includes one full episode of her Carolina Cotton Calls radio show.

One footnote to such a wonderful entertainment career is that Carolina left the spotlight, raised her family and decided to become a teacher and spent the rest of her life sharing her love of learning with thousands of young people.

If you are a fan of the great sounds of Western music that made the matinees and radio shows of the 1940s and 50s full of fun and enthusiasm, I encourage you to add this CD to your collection, it will certainly give you a look at one of the greatest yodelers who ever performed and from someone I understand to be one of the nicest individuals to ever grace a stage. You can get the CD or learn much more about her career from carolinacotton.org.


The Dukes “Enos” is hopeful
that good will prevail in TV

I had the opportunity to sit down recently with a long-time friend as he traveled back from a personal appearance where he visited with hundreds of fans that watched him each week on CBS.

"The Dukes of Hazzard" co-star Sonny Shroyer said he is saddened by recent events relating to his show. He said almost everyone came to him expressing frustration over the recent cancellation of the show on TV Land.

Shroyer portrayed deputy “Enos Straite” the good cop stuck between earning a living in a system corrupted by others while steering the outcomes towards good. He also portrayed the character in his own CBS series “Enos” which aired in the U.S., 30 foreign countries and on the Armed Forces Network. He scored two People’s Choice nominations.

Shroyer has also appeared in dozens of classic TV Shows spanning the 1970s through the 1990s including regular roles in “I’ll Fly Away,” “American Gothic,” and recently “Rectify.” He counts among his credits major films such as “Forrest Gump,” “Roots,” “The Rosa Parks Story,” “The Longest Yard,” and “Smokey and the Bandit.”

He said the rural-based comedy “The Dukes of Hazzard” became a legacy of work for many talented performers that continues to uplift viewers in laughter while sharing valuable lessons in life in each storyline.

“I hope that once the spasm of the knee-jerk reaction of some cable TV executives passes that the Dukes will ride again, if not on TV Land, then on some other cable network that appreciates not only the positive storylines of good’s triumph over evil intentions but characters treating others as you would want to be treated – with respect. The series also features a long list of talented stars and guest stars who each week worked their heart out to entertain a worldwide audience.”

Shroyer said if one looks at film and TV show storylines with characters reacting to a tragic situation, there are always those who wish to react swiftly.

“In the westerns, this was often portrayed by the good guy standing off a group of angry townsfolk wishing to forego a trial,” he said. “This is what has happened here I think, unfortunately, there was no man or woman in a white hat standing in the breach of this situation to defend the work of hundreds of show business artisans.

“Generations of youth have watched the show from every nationality, race, creed and religion around the world, sharing in the moral lessons between the laughs,” he said. “For decades my fellow stars from the show and I have made personal appearances meeting these youth and the adults who grew up watching us. They point to our show as one of the beacons of hope in a wasteland of television where people are more interested in self-interests than each other.

“We, the cast members of that show, have raised untold funds for charities to do their works,” he said. “That’s only possible when good is in what you do. That is what ‘The Dukes of Hazzard” was about - doing good and making people happy.”

Shroyer said while he does not know the future of the show on cable, he is hopeful he and the fans will see the General Lee rolling again with him close behind in his Hazzard police car.

“I think a good clean show will in the long run emerge as the victor,” he said. “I am sure cable broadcasters will hear from millions of viewers who agree.”


Doing nothing is an action too

I was out watering the yard the other day when a blonde headed boy rolled up on his blue mountain bike and asked if we needed our yard mowed.

Our yard had just been covered with a brand new batch of fescue sod.

I told the boy it was not ready to cut just yet but he could check back in a few weeks.

He reminded me of myself at his age, trying to find every odd job I could.

Summer should be a time of wonder.

I remember fondly my childhood summers — endless hours of play after completing my chores around the house. Of course, as I got older, I took on odd jobs like mowing neighbors’ yards to earn a little money.

In my neighborhood, we had a great group of children. We all would gather to play and race our bikes down suicide hill.

I’ve had two bikes in my life; my first bike was small and green and well suited me. When I got big enough to earn my own money, I did odd jobs to earn enough money to buy a 3-speed red English racer. Buying that bike meant a lot to me.
On one of our trips down suicide hill, the new racer decided it wanted to go one way and me another. The accident sent me flying through the handlebars and sliding down the pavement for 20 feet or more. That still hurts just thinking about it. I had sores all over me from that adventure.

My friends and I would get in our share of disagreements with each other. Those would lead usually to some hurt feelings and some rolling around on the ground till someone would say “Uncle.” We always seemed to come through it. There really were no children who caused trouble in my age bracket. A few older ones sometimes got into mischief, but we always managed to keep out of trouble.

Do not get me wrong, there were bullies. We were just blessed not to have them on our street, at least for very long. I remember when I was about seven there were two brothers who took great pleasure in picking fights with me. At least, it seemed that way at the time.

A boy my age named Chris Sands moved in. His parents had just divorced, and at that time it was not as usual as it is now. I’ll never forget one meeting with those brothers that had me at the bottom of a wrestling match that I just could not win. Chris was the new guy in the neighborhood, and saw that I was being unfairly targeted for this fight and stepped in to pull the other boys off me. From that moment on, he was my friend — that is until he later moved away, and I lost track of him.

While time has erased many of the memories of the time we spent together hanging out as kids, that one action by the new boy on the block sticks in my mind. He saw something that was not right, and he did something about it. Not knowing the social lay of the land and the dynamics of the neighborhood hierarchy, he stuck his neck out for me. That is bravery.

Now I’m not advocating fighting as a way to resolve issues for children or adults. I was taught that it takes much more courage to walk away than to actually fight. However, when they jump on you, there are just a few hurdles you have to get over before you can walk away.

It is hard to walk away when you are at the bottom of the pile
I learned a valuable lesson from Chris that day.
Folks often do not like to stick their neck out to help other people, but when someone does, it makes our community a better place.


Anybody got a fan?
The heat of the day this time of year sometimes brings me into the summer doldrums.

I know there is so much that needs to be done outside, but I step outside and after a few minutes in the oven, I begin to think “Oh, that will wait,” so I step back inside and let it wait.

What happened to that little boy who could not wait to get out into the summer sun to run and play? I know he is still buried deep inside of me somewhere.

I know that he wants to get out there a run and play, its just adult running an playing is often done largely with a lawnmower, weed eater, hedge trimmer or saw tightly grasp in hand.

In my defense, those activities did not thrill me as a youth either so at least I have not changed that much. However, I do miss that desire to get out, to use every drop of light that can be found and squeezed to steal just a few more minutes from the day before retiring into the house to rest.
I remember leaving home after breakfast, which was served when my father and mother were nearing departure for work in the early morning. I’d play all day and be in by lunchtime to have a bite to eat, and then out again, only to return to be sitting at the dinner table. Once I was old enough, my folks let me go back out to play some more after supper until the streetlights came on. The only deviation from that is if the neighborhood parents were all out enjoying the evening on the porch or in the yard, then the kids might get a game of ball going on the street beneath the lights as the parents cheered their little darling on.

Eventually though the remainder of the day outside would have to be returned to the night air as we stepped inside our homes, windows open, curtains and sheers blowing inward as fans sucked in the evening air to cool the house before sleep.
I remember days so hot you couldn’t sleep; you know those days when folks said you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. I would get up just to go to the kitchen, open the freezer just to breath a few cool breaths. It wasn’t long though; no matter the time before mother would be in the kitchen to remind me I was wasting electricity and letting the food spoil.

Eventually though my folks saved up enough to move into the age of air conditioning. I can’t recall what it cost but they had to run a new breaker and plug to put the big window unit in the dining room.  It worked so well it felt like hog killin’ time in no time in about three rooms of the house. The rest was still hot except for us sitting fans around to move a bit of the cool air down the hallway.
Still though it made a difference, we often found we had guests dropping by to sit a spell.
The increase in power bills soon had us on rationing though, we could only use the air when we had guests or if it was a holiday. Which to me seemed fair, we wouldn’t want those visitors to sweat like we did on days they were not there. Holidays were days we were all home most of the day and folks generally showed up on those as well.
This plan worked pretty good until we saw an increase in visitors and mother realized I was stacking the deck a bit and then guest under a certain age were eliminated from the air conditioning formula.

As I think back on it, it just reinforces for me my original question. I did perfectly well for several years of my life in the heat. All I can figure is that years of air-conditioned living have spoiled me.
Given the choice though, would I rather have better heat stamina and no air conditioning or plenty of air and no desire to spend my day outside? I guess my answer would be neither, I would go back to what I had as a kid if I could enjoy a little of both. I am planning on starting tommorrow that is if I can get this metal rotary fan I pulled out of the attic to work. Now let’s see I think the last time I opened a window was 2003, Where is that hammer? I may need to some help to coax those.

Friends, as temperatures rise, be sure to check in on your elderly neighbors to make sure they are staying cool, if their home is warm, it might be to keep their bills affordable. You might politely invite them over to your house or to go shopping to get them somewhere cooler in the heat of the day. Be sure to enjoy every minute of sunshine you can, but don’t overdo, and drink plenty of water!

Randall Franks, P.O. Box 42, Tunnel Hill, Ga. 30755 rfrankscatoosa@gmail.com
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