of the Fiddle
Actor, Entertainer, Author and Columnist
Click, click, click, click, emanates from my sneakers as I walk along the hiking path ever hopeful that with each passing mile I am a little more fit and well on my way to losing the few pounds I am seeking to shed.
After opening boxes, and pulling jeans up only to find they will not close and a crowbar will be needed to get them back off.
I know there are people all over the world who find this same dilemma as they strive to improve their health and possibly not have to pry into clothes that no longer fit.
The sun shines warm on my face and being in it seems to invigorate my sense of hope that there is more to do, more to try, more to achieve. I walk faster taking longer strides.
Sometimes I wonder what ever happened to the days when the pounds just slipped away easily. Now they just seem to hang in the places I don’t want them to be.
I know that if I can just push ahead, keep walking, they will slowly and surely peel away. Well, maybe not peel away but hopefully the pounds will get less and less.
Click, click, click, click, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 50 minutes and still click, click, click. The perspiration from the sun now has my undershirt soaked, so I press on.
I can feel the pounds being beamed off me by the mythical Star Trek transporter. Well maybe not pounds, more like fractions of ounces, click, click, click, 60 minutes. My, I am getting hungry, let’s see what can I eat? I am almost back to the car. Maybe a salad, no, perhaps protein, after exercise you need protein. A grilled chicken sandwich with a side of fries would be good.
With the bread and the fries, there comes those ounces back as Scotty pulls the switch on the transporter putting them back somewhere else.
My legs feel stronger but I know that I must bring my walk to a close soon, though I want to walk more.
Tomorrow is another day. More ounces to shave. Don’t give up, make a difference in your life, get up and get active.
As the first yellow daffodil lifts the dirt from the formally cold ground. Its green blades protect it as it finds its way rising towards the warmth of the sun. As God paints a splash of colors alongside a variety of beautiful colors against the rolling green hills, I feel a sense of hope. The warmth shines upon my skin warming the depth of my soul as I soak in the blue of the Spring sky.
The depth of the gray of winter begins to fade away from my heart as I seem to be frozen in the moment of time. If only for this moment I revel in the miracles of God’s creation, as hope seems to reach up from the earth through the bottom of my feet reaching throughout my cells.
Amazing how Spring serves as a marker of the renewal of the world each year. With each one, creation gets a fresh coat of colors to enliven all that surrounds us. It also has the ability to enliven our souls if we only seek to share in His gifts.
For myself, I begin with short walks along the creek side, hikes in the mountains, and drives in the country. The rebirth of the greens and the white blooms of the dogwood tree seem to recharge me and allow the grayness to fade away.
Maybe it’s my mountain roots, those pioneer yearnings to head out to new horizons. I remember the stories of my grandfather’s desire even nearing 50 wishing to load up in a Conestoga wagon and head west but my grandmother’s roots could not be pulled from the mountain soil. I could just envision that with them traveling alongside the early automobiles headed westward. Her roots probably saved them from enduring some of the toughest periods of the America’s Great Depression in unchartered territories for them.
With bits of them both in me sometimes I want to stay and other times I want to go. Like my ancestors who stood on the shores of the old world looking toward America, there was hope for the new, hope for the generations to come, hope for the opportunities that could be revealed in the adventure.
That is what Spring represents, an opportunity for new adventures in the expanse of God’s beautiful creation. So, get up, get out, enjoy the world, and find the adventure that God has in store for you. He has painted something special for you, now go and find it
Crystal Gayle honored with some Wabash recognitions
Throughout my career in music, one of my favorite singers is Crystal Gayle. Crystal’s legacy continues to have a lasting impact in her childhood hometown with the unveiling of a theater named in her honor and an exhibit profiling her iconic career.
The Wabash County Historical Museum in Wabash, Indiana named its theater the “Crystal Gayle Theater” to honor her influence and connection to the small town in Northern Indiana.
“It’s so humbling to return to Wabash and feel the love from the community. They always welcome me home with open arms. I’m so proud to be here and be part of this incredible museum,” Gayle said.
The youngest of eight children, including Loretta Lynn, Gayle was born Brenda Gail Webb in Paintsville, Kentucky. As the coal mines closed, her family left the area to find work and moved to Wabash, Indiana.
The updated exhibit features a replica of Gayle’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1986 American usic Award for Favorite Female Country Vocalist, “When I Dream” gold album, tour gown and tour book, 2005 Indiana Living Legend Award along with various pictures and memorabilia.
“Our community has a strong affection for Crystal Gayle and her connection to many local families and this will be a great event for them to reconnect with her and enjoy the museum,” said Mitch Figert, Executive Director.
The expanded exhibit will allow the museum to further highlight Crystal Gayle’s accomplishments which will also include memorabilia to be added inside the theater.
Crystal Gayle is an award-winning country music living legend whose reign in the music business includes 20 number one country hits, six albums certified Gold by the RIAA and the first female artist in country music history to reach Platinum sales with her 1977 album, We Must Believe in Magic. Her her 1977 country-pop crossover hit song, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” became an iconic staple and solidified her as one of the top female vocalists during the 1970s and 1980s. Her list of platinum and gold was to be matched only by her awards and accolades. CMA's "Female Vocalist of the Year," for two consecutive years, she became a Grammy Award Winner for "Best Female Vocal Performance," thanks to her beloved "Brown Eyes" - a song that she today admits she has never grown tired of singing. Crystal swept the Academy of Country Music Awards for three of their "Top Female Vocalist" statuettes. She is the recipient of three "American Music Awards," voted by the nation as America's "Favorite Female Artist."
Perhaps nothing sums up Crystal's career achievements as well as being awarded with a star on the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame in October 2009. Also famous for her nearly floor-length hair, she was voted one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People Magazine in 1983. She is the younger sister (by 19 years) of singer Loretta Lynn, and a distant cousin of singer Patty Loveless. Gayle also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame near Lynn's star. Crystal is making appearances in December in Minn., Iowa and Mo., check her website for more information, crystalgayle.com.
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.
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 will soon add national television talk show host to his career highlights. The comedy and country music legend announced the premiere of , a regular/weekly 30-minute music show debuting on on , at
"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 , , , , , , , 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.