Nashville puts Bill and Jimmy in bronze

From my earliest days in country music International Country Music Fan Fair was an event that many country music personalities loved so they could get up close and personal with fans from around the world. The event is now called CMA Music Festival, and it was appropriate that during this year’s event a couple of the early stars of the Grand Ole Opry were honored during this week with unveilings of bronzes – Hall of Famers Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens.

I knew both of these men, I first met Jimmy at an event at Country Music Fan Fair and I performed for and with Bill Monroe numerous times throughout my career at this wonderful event. Both are featured in various volumes of my Encouragers book series.

Outside of Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, country and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs unveiled a newly installed life-size bronze statue dedicated to his musical mentor, Bill Monroe.

“I don’t know if you ever get another Bill Monroe in a century,” Skaggs said. “There’s not a lot of people that I know of who could be cited as creating a whole new genre of music, but he did. He had the ear to hear it, the talent to play it and the heart to keep it alive because he was strong, he was powerful.

“I don’t know any person who could have withstood, pushed through and made it like him. He had music in his veins. It was the thing that pushed him so much,” he said. “It wasn’t just to make a living. It was to get something out of him and take to people that he loved, and that was the fans that loved this music. I have traveled all over the world into places you would think that bluegrass music would never make it to … and you meet someone there that actually plays the music. So this music has totally gone around the world.”

James Monroe, son of the late bluegrass icon was also on-hand to say a few words about his father.

Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass, was a gifted player, singer, and songwriter. The genre takes its name from his band, the Blue Grass Boys, named for Monroe’s home state of Kentucky.

Monroe formed the first edition of the Blue Grass Boys in Atlanta, Ga. The band eventually featured more than 150 performers including Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt performing career spanned 69 years before he died on Sept. 9, 1996. I am extremely honored to be one of those 150 Blue Grass Boys playing both fiddle and bass contributing to this legacy.

In October 1939, Monroe successfully auditioned for a regular spot on the Grand Ole Opry impressing Opry founder George D. Hay with his energetic stage performance – he soon started recording and developing what would eventually become his signature style with fast tempos, instrumental virtuosity, and musical innovation. His recordings have become classics including “Blue Grass Breakdown,” “My Rose of Old Kentucky,” and Monroe’s most famous composition, “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

Monroe, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970, remained a mainstay at the Opry. There he settled into a role as a musical patriarch influencing generations of young musicians including Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, and the Oak Ridge Boys.

In addition to Monroe’s dedication, country star Brad Paisley unveiled a bronze statue of the late Little Jimmy Dickens. WSM radio personality Bill Cody hosted the ceremony.

Dickens was born James Cecil Dickins, but was world famous as “Little Jimmy.” He was known for his humorous novelty songs, his small size (4’11”), and flashy wardrobe, but his contributions to country music were far greater than his diminutive stature. He started as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983.

Little Jimmy Dickens was a beloved fixture at the Opry, on stage and backstage. He passed away on Jan. 2, 2015. Before his death, he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Dickens recorded many novelty songs including “Country Boy,” “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed,” “I’m Little but I’m Loud,” and his biggest hit, the No. 1 “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.”  His song “Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait)” inspired Hank Williams to nickname him Tater.

Over the years, Dickens made appearances in music videos by close friend and fishing buddy, fellow West Virginia native Brad Paisley. Along with joining on bonus comedy tracks on several of Paisley’s albums, Dickens also joined Paisley and his CMA Awards co-host Carrie Underwood in several show monologues. Upon Dickens’ death in 2015, Paisley lamented the loss of his hero and “the best friend a human being could ask for” and has performed numerous tributes to Dickens’ life and career.

“This was a man who was honing his craft before Hank Williams, who we sort of credit as the father of modern country music in many ways,” said Paisley during the unveiling today. “He saw everything in those decades that he stood on that stage, like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn and Garth Brooks. By the time Jimmy left us, he had become the Grand Ole Opry. On a night that he wasn’t there, you were cheated out of something and he knew that. He realized when he was well enough to do it, he went. He knew that he owed it to the younger generation that wanted to see him, it was another lesson in how you entertain people. He gave them everything that he had on that stage and in this building for many many years. So I think it’s really appropriate that he’s going to be one of the statues that’s a permanent reminder of what we should be in this building.”

This year, the Ryman Auditorium celebrates its 125th anniversary since originally opening its doors in 1892. On July 27, Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder will perform at the historic venue as part of its annual “Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman” concert series.  Tickets are on-sale now at the box office and

He came from Alabama with a banjo on his knee


James Watson appears on stage in at Vines Bluegrass Barn in Woodland, Ala. in the early 2012. (Courtesy James Watson Collection) 

James Watson performs Foggy Mountain Top with the Golden River Grass in 1985 on PBS show “Tonight at Ferlinghetti’s.”

I stood outside the front door of the Quattlebaum Funeral Home in Roanoke, Ala. and watched the hearse pull from the door, drive down the hill and turn left towards Rock Mills. About a dozen musicians had just fulfilled the wishes of country folk banjo legend James Watson sending him off with some of the finest banjo pickin’, singin’ and great stories of his life.

I aimed on loading up and starting back on the three-hour trip back home as soon as the procession was out of sight, but a missed turn carried me right by the cemetery in neighboring Rock Mills, and just before I drove by the bottom fell out of the sky and as I looked at those gathered around the tent, I just thought that God gave one last massive shedding of tears as they lowered one of the men that created such happiness with the talents God shared with him.
James was 81 and shortly after his passing I was called and texted that my former Golden River Grass band mate had finished his time among us. And what a time it was, he had appeared multiple times at America’s National Folk Festival, National Black Arts Festival, 1982 World’s Fair, 1996 Olympics, colleges, numerous bluegrass festivals and folk festivals. He was often seen on PBS in shows such as “Tonight at Ferlinghetti’s” and the Alan Lomax production “The Appalachian Journey.”
All of this from a man from an Alabama mill village who became a painter by trade but whose passion was music.
He became known as the hard-drivin’ musical sideman spending over 20 years of his career with the last old time Georgia fiddle band to be recognized as part of that unique historical segment of the country music genre – Doodle and the Golden River Grass. The band which began as a square dance band in 1963, became a popular folk act featuring comedy, Appalachian folk songs and upbeat tunes centered around several fiddlers – Seals Hicks, Bill Kee, Paul Wallace, Randall Franks, and Jerry Wesley; John “Doodle” Thrower’s harmonica; and beginning in the 1970s, Watson’s clawhammer banjo. Other long-running band members were C.J. Clackum (guitar), Wesley Clackum (guitar and mandolin), the late Lynn Elliott (guitar), and the late Gene Daniell (bass).
His banjo-playing uncle, Jack Edmondson of Wedowee, Ala. was responsible for Watson becoming a banjo player. Watson began his professional entertainment career at age 11 in 1947 with fiddler with Pappy Lee (Farmer) and the Chillun’ moving from banjo to play guitar appearing on WELR in Roanoke. As the children grew, the group became Pappy Lee and the Playboys in the 1950s. In his later career, the band Randolph County was among the acts with which he performed.
James said in anApril 2017 interview that he is amazed where his banjo took him.

“I have played for so many wonderful folks, been places an old country boy from an Alabama cotton mill village could never imagine,” he said. “I knew that there was only one place for my banjo playing and that was with Doodle and the Golden River Grass. Our sound made people happy, whether we were on stage or in the parking lot jamming. It’s amazing to think of millions of folks we reached.”

James Watson (left) and Grandpa Jones appear on stage at a

bluegrass festival near Dover, Delaware in 1984. (Courtesy James Watson Collection)

Watson also said he was so honored that so many of his music heroes became lifelong friends.
One of those heroes was Earl Scruggs, who James met by chance in 1964, when he took a trip to Nashville, drove to Scruggs’ home and found him standing by the mailbox.
“He turned out to be one of the friendliest fellows I’ve ever met,” he said.
Watson said that visit gained him a tone ring from Scrugg’s own banjo that added to the amazing sound which came from his 1950 Gibson bowtie banjo. On the same trip, Watson met the King of Country Music Roy Acuff and Grand Ole Opry star Bashful Brother Oswald.
He said the two gave him a chance to play “Shout Little Lula” on another hero’s banjo, a museum piece of early WSM star Uncle Dave Macon.
His unique stylings drew the attention of numerous performers with whom he made major concert appearances including Country Music Hall of Famer Grandpa Jones who often asked Watson to join him for banjo duets.

James Watson (second from left) appears on stage with the Golden River Grass from left, Randall Franks, Gene Daniell, Doodle Thrower and Wesley Clackum in 1990 at the Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival in Georgia. (Courtesy Randall Franks Media: Ronald Stuckey)

Watson was often the punch line of the jokes shared by Golden River Grass front man “Doodle” Thrower, who died in 1994.
“Doodle was amazing at working a crowd, he brought a smile to everyone’s face and shared the audience’s love with all of us and especially with me with his jokes,” he said. James Watson (second from left) appears on stage with the Golden River Grass from left, Randall Franks, Gene Daniell, Doodle Thrower and Wesley Clackum in 1990 at the Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival in Georgia. (Courtesy Randall Franks Media: Ronald Stuckey)“We both grew up playing those old time tunes and when we got to going, me and him would stand for hours having a good time. It just made people’s hearts want to dance. After Doodle went on, while the music was still there, it took so much away from what we did, it wasn’t the Golden River Grass no more.”
Watson’s recording discography includes 17 albums with the Golden River Grass including the his “Mountain Clawhammer Way Down in the Country” released by Attieram in 1986 and my own Golden River Fiddlin’. Other collections including his work are the Grammy ® winning “The Art of Field Recording Vol. I” (2007), Vol. II (2009), and Sampler (2006) from Dust-to-Digital.
My fellow bandmate Wesley Clackum and I are working with Grammy-winning engineer Michael Graves to restore and compile a Golden River Grass anthology including James’ popular banjo release.
James had an amazing ability to create a rhythm that allowed a fiddler to just go anywhere musically they could reach while he never veered or slowed his steam – ‘no dragging’ as he would say. He was original in what he did, always sharing an intensity and concentration that thrilled the audience. There was no one in folk, bluegrass or country who brought to the stage what he did.
His career is honored with a museum exhibit in his hometown of Roanoke, Ala. at the Randolph County Historical Museum. He also had a feature exhibit in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon, Ga. from 1996-2010 and was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Share America Foundation, Inc., ( P.O. Box 42, Tunnel Hill, Ga. 30755 for its Appalachian music scholarship.

American Grandstand is sure to please traditional country fans

Bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent is teaming up with a country music friend of mine Daryle Singletary for an upcoming duets album, American Grandstand, from Upper Management Music, set for release July 7. The project delivers real traditional country music with a unique American twist.

“I’ve always loved singing with Daryle Singletary. He’s one of the greatest singers in this generation of country music,” said Vincent. “It’s so fun to sing with someone who challenges me as a singer. The songs were given great thought, along with one that was totally unexpected. It’s one of the best projects I’ve ever been part of. I am so proud of this recording, and I cannot wait for the world to hear our wonderful creation, American Grandstand.”

The lead single, “One,” offers the very first taste of American Grandstand. The slow love song takes fans on a musical journey. The track may sound familiar, as it was previously made famous by country legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette, whose demanding vocal duets helped propel both acts to superstardom. Singletary and Vincent first performed “One” together at the legendary Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. Due to the overwhelming response, the pair chose to add the track to American Grandstand.

Other standout songs include the title track, which was written by Vincent. When Vincent and Singletary were first trying to think of a title, American Grandstand stood out, which by definition is “to behave or speak in a way that is intended to impress people and to gain public approval.” This isn’t Vincent’s first venture into country music, as her previous Grammy-nominated studio album Only Me featured a combination of six traditional country songs and six bluegrass tracks, featuring “We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds,” which is also included on American Grandstand.

“Rhonda and I have been singing together since my first CD on Giant Records in 1994. I’ve been a fan of Rhonda’s singing before that, but since then for sure and it’s obvious as she has sung on most of my Indie records as a background vocalist or a duet partner,” said Daryle Singletary. “If you love traditional country music, and remember songs originally sung by well-known duet partners like George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, and Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens, this is a must-have CD that we are extremely excited about.”

Fans will have the chance to experience both Singletary and Vincent together as they play select shows this year. For more information, visit

Keeping one’s word

I placed the call and said, “I know you stole the money, you were the only one that had access to it. It better find its way back here by 5 o’clock or you will be dealing with a greater worry.”

Of course, the person denied the charge, but amazingly, the money found its way back where it belonged and that person was never again welcomed into my home.

Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a shift in honesty that is now reaching into our lives?

My parents, who were part of the greatest generation, taught me plan and simple, as their parents did before them, all you really have in the world is your word. By keeping your word, you show others you have integrity. By having integrity, then you gain the power of others’ trust.

“Your word is your bond,” my grandfather would say. And if someone lied to you, or lied to someone else about you, those were offenses that required quick and stern retribution against the other party.

In my grandfather’s day, let’s just say sometimes that included some fist to cuffs.

Now, let me be the first to say, I would not advocate for violence in this instance, but in my grandfather’s day fist to cuffs was the lesser means of regaining one’s honor considering many still had a gun on their hip or within reach.

Never the less, I carry the same attitude that when someone tells you something, it is the gospel and I am finding more and more as I deal with folks today, that sadly, keeping their word is not a requirement for life. In fact, to many who are part of the millennial generation, the truth is an abstract that moves and flows depending on whatever is best for their situation.

Please do not get me wrong, I am not painting an entire generation with this brush, I have found those who do keep their word, are punctual, proficient in their efforts and desire to have a good reputation.

Sadly, though, there are many who are drawn more to saying and doing what is convenient at the moment.

So I don’t leave anyone out, I am sure that we can find large numbers of baby boomers and Gen-Xers who also are dishonest, just as the childhood acquaintance mentioned above. I just seem in my own personal experience to find fewer of them. Sometimes I wonder if all the generations have adopted these traits as they have watched the permeation of reality TV and the train wrecks of lives that entertain millions often propelled by the drama of a liar, a cheat or some other malcontent.

While these are simply meanderings of my thoughts influenced by my experiences, I hope your life is less impacted by lying.

If you have influence over some younger person, teach he or she by example. Treat others with the respect of being honest and share a lifetime of integrity with them. I pray that for all of you and your families, the truth will always set you free.

Country legends Bobby Bare reflects how “Things Change”

Bobby Bare

Country Music Hall of Famer and GRAMMY® award-winning legend Bobby Bare will releaseThings Change” on May 26 featuring a collaboration with Chris Stapleton. The album is Bare’s first studio project in five years and is available for pre-sale now at and all CD’s purchased through Bare’s website will be autographed.

Things Change” features 10 tracks written by Bare, Mary Gauthier, Guy Clark and the producer of the project, hit singer/songwriter Max T. Barnes. “Things Change” will be released by Hypermedia Nashville and BFD through RED Distribution. The album will include “Things Change,” which will be the first video by the 82-year old. Bare will also return to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, where he was once a member from 1964-1974, on May 27.

The album features a special collaboration on Bare’s iconic hit, “Detroit City” with Chris Stapleton adding vocals. The 1963 song was written by Mel Tillis and Danny Dill. It became Bare’s most highly requested songs and won a GRAMMY® in 1964 for Best Country/Western Recording.

Stapleton, the two-time reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, says working with Bare was too good of an offer to pass up.

“I think it’s important to show up and do things like that. Plus….it’s ‘Detroit City.’ Man, why wouldn’t you do that. I just served as a background singer to Bobby,” he said. “That was my goal. You get to be a kid again in those moments. That was a song that I heard on the jukebox when I was a kid. My dad and granddad liked this song. Those are cool things. That kind of stuff is as cool to me as anything that I get to do.”

Bare said he is excited about the collection of songs he has assembled.

“This is a special collection of songs to me, not just another record,” he said. “Great songs from Mary Gauthier, a song I co-wrote with Guy Clark that turned out to be his last and a song that my buddy Hoyt Axton inspired me to write called ‘Things Change.’ That’s the title of the album and the first single. Things do change but my love for songwriters and the fans never, ever will!”

Bare knows what he’s talking about when he talks about great songs, having recorded compositions from fellow legends as Tom T. Hall (“Margie’s At The Lincoln Park Inn”), Ian Tyson (“Four Strong Winds”), Kris Kristofferson (“Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends”), and several compositions from the late Shel Silverstein – including his 1974 chart-topper “Marie Laveau.”

“I hit the road as a lead guitar player with Bobby Bare when I was 20 years old, ,” said Max T. Barnes, President of HYPERMEDIA Nashville. “To imagine I would produce my hero all these years later is a dream come true. We had so much fun touring the world in the 1980s. We laughed until we hurt! That’s what it was like in the studio with Bare on this album. He has a wicked smart song sense, and a delivery that will cut you to the bone. Bare is a true giant.”

For more information on Bobby Bare visit

New music from bluegrass legends Lawson and Williams

Two masters of bluegrass bring their next installment of the music that helped make them legends. Doyle Lawson and Paul Williams present Chapter 3 from Mountain Home. It’s the style they first learned together as members of Jimmy Martin’s influential band years ago before labels were differentiating Country, Western and Bluegrass music and songs of heartbreak stood side by side with inspirational Gospel numbers
It’s classic Country and Gospel Music with the natural blend of unsurpassed brother style vocal harmonies. Songs of longing over lost love and of hope found by looking to the hereafter. Nearly all from the pen of a single writer, making them deeply personal, and each reminding us of what Country music, in terms of style, used to be.

The lead-off song is a vintage Dolly Parton number, “Til Death Do Us Part.” A cautionary message about vows of love. Next, comes Bluegrass with “I’ll Still Write Your Name in the Sand” and a banjo kick from guest, Joe Mullins, a man skilled in this classic style of the early form. It gives Williams the lead vocal duties and demonstrates that he is still in his prime at 83.

The album continues with selections handpicked by Doyle Lawson from his mental vault of curated rare gems he has always kept in mind for a special recording like this. Duet style vocal arrangements like in the gospel song “I Feel Better Now” and unique rhythmic phrasing heard in “Big Fool of the Year” give these heart-tuggers a treatment that makes evident they were chosen for emotional impact and because they are a natural fit for these two.
It also boasts three tracks written by Williams including the recently penned “What I’m I Gonna Do with This Broken Heart” which shows how naturally this classic style comes to him.

It takes a studio band that can capture the soul of the Classic Country intention and the players here do just that. Tim Surrett on bass, Josh Swift on resonator guitar and drums, Stephen Burwell on fiddle, David Johnson on pedal steel and the aforementioned Joe Mullins on banjo. Lawson and Williams command the two instruments they have mastered, guitar and mandolin respectively.

Chapter 3 is a continuation of a legacy series of recordings that began with Old Friends Get Together (2010) and was followed by Standing Tall and Tough (2014) which included Lawson, Williams, and now retired banjo legend J.D. Crowe. This new release pays tribute to the music that shaped the style as well as the careers of these men. It is this early style that gave form to so much of what today’s Bluegrass and Roots Country music is. Rest assured the story is not over, just beginning a new chapter.


For more information, visit, and

The father of bubblegum pop – Tommy Roe


As I was growing up around Georgia Music Hall of Famer Cotton Carrier, a name which often came up was Tommy Roe, a fellow Atlantan who Carrier had worked with through Bill Lowery Publishing.

Roe is now in his 55th year in the music business, an achievement not many artists can brag about. He celebrated his first No.1 single in 1962 on the Billboard charts with the release of “Sheila,” a song he wrote when he was only 14 years old.

“It’s hard to believe it has been 55 years since “Sheila” topped the charts and after all these years it still brings a smile to the face of my audience when I sing it at one of my concerts,” said Roe, known as being the “Father of Bubblegum Pop.”

Roe, who turns 75 years young on May 9, recently released his autobiography, “From Cabbagetown to Tinseltown,” featuring co-writer Michael Robert Krikorian. The book is available at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, various independent book stores, and online at and

In his book From Cabbagetown to Tinseltown, Roe correlates his journey to Hollywood with the historical events of that time period that were changing and shaping America and, in turn, the music industry. In this autobiography, Roe doesn’t hold back. He uses his down-home humor and unique perspective to share about his years and experiences both inside and outside of music.

“My journey from a working class section of Atlanta called Cabbagetown to the glamour that is Hollywood was anything but easy. I stuck by my principles and values making a name for myself that I could be proud of. Writing this book was sometimes a struggle for me and very cathartic indeed. It took the better part of three years, and brought back a lot of memories, the good and the bad. I have been truly blessed to live this life, and I’m glad that I can look back with no regrets.” said Roe.

One of the most influential and foundational figures in popular music, Roe has had four Gold Records: “Sheila,” “Dizzy,” “Sweet Pea” and “Jam Up and Jelly Tight.” He has also had 4 Billboard top 100 Albums. He is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, The Iowa Rock and Roll Association Hall of Fame, as well as the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Tommy Roe is a multifaceted, international artist who wrote, co-wrote, and recorded six Top 10 hits between 1962 and 1969 more than any single artist/songwriter during that period of the sixties. With a total of 11 records reaching the Billboard Top 40 and 23 Billboard Top 100 chart records, Tommy is considered one of the early pioneers of the American Pop music culture.

In the spring of 1966 with his release of the smash hit, “Sweet Pea,” spring breakers started to hit the beaches in Florida, and they embraced the new sound that Tommy had created called Bubblegum. However, the media was not as receptive as his fans were to the new genre Roe had created. They began voicing their opinion by malevolently labeling him “The King of Bubblegum.”

More recently, Roe scored big with his hits, “Devil’s Soul Pile” and “Memphis Me.” His new music parts ways with his expected style instead showcasing his talent as both a singer and a songwriter.

Roe hasn’t let the success of his career stop him from doing what he loves. He continues to write new songs and perform around the globe.

For more information and tour dates, or to purchase “From Cabbagetown to Tinseltown,” please visit

A little funny never hurts



One of my readers said that I needed to share a bit of comedy in my column to raise the spirits of the folks back home. Well I don’t know if I can do that but I’m willing to take aim at it.
One of my favorite places to find funny comments or situations is in church and sometimes the funniest thing you find relates with youngin’s and church thinkin’
I remember a few years ago my nephew asked me if he had a guardian angel. I told him ‘Sure you do. Your guardian angel is always with you.”
“Does he eat with me?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“Does he sleep with me?”
“Sure,” I said.
“That must have been who kicked me out of bed last night,” he said.
Now I won’t take credit for this next one, its one I heard from an older feller which will remain nameless:
Do you know where radio was invented?
The Garden of Eden.
God took Adam’s rib and made the first loudspeaker.
A little known fact about Noah’s Ark:
There were three camels on board.
The first was the camel many people swallow while straining at a gnat.
The second was the camel whose back was broken by the last straw.
And the third was the one who shall pass through the eye of a needle before a rich man enters the kingdom of Heaven.
Farmer Jud and his wife Jeweldine, a childless farm couple prayed to have a child.
As an answer to the prayer, the couple received the blessing of triplets.
The preacher commented as to how their prayers were answered.
Jud said, “Yep, but I never prayed for a bumper crop.”
A lady searched endlessly to find the love of her life with no success so she finally turned to prayer:
“Oh Lord, I am not asking for a thing for myself but please send mother a son-in-law.”
A father asks a prospective son-in law “Can you support my daughter in the manner she is accustom to?”
He replies “ She ain’t gonna move is she?”
I have always heard that bread cast on the water always returns. Bread cast on the water, may return but all the bread we send overseas sure doesn’t.
Laughter has always been an important part of life in our family mainly because of the nature of our ancestors to lean towards being stoic in their approach in life. That approach comes even more naturally to me than laughter does. I am often asked “Why don’t you smile more.” My answer is sometimes “I am smiling on the inside.” Moments of joys and laughter are even more cherished to me. May laughter always fill your days because God does have a sense of humor otherwise, he would have never made someone quite like us, would he?

The patter of tapping fingers

I can look back just a few years ago to when I had little exposure to the thoughts exposed on the internet. I saw it mainly as a vehicle for research as I sought sources for various topics I was writing about.

Then seven year ago, I realized that as a musical artist and actor, I had to begin the process of making a presence on the web or others would totally define who and what I was as a performer. Another side of that was engaging in social media. Connecting with others, seeing what was important to them in their lives through their posts and interactions and telling others what was important to me. It was like being Jimmy Stewart in the film “Rear Window.”

I could peer into other people’s lives but not through a window looking out into other people’s apartment windows but through the window we all now allow into our lives – a screen connected to the internet. The only difference was what is seen is what people want others to see. Unlike Stewart’s character in the film who was seeing people going through their lives without editing except for what happened outside of view.

As I have watched interaction over social media in recent months, I have seen that people often say things without concern for others. They are sometimes cruel, feeling free to express opinions that might at one time would have been shared with a circle of five or six, that now reach thousands.

Why does this matter? Well let’s think, if someone said something you might consider to be mean spirited or cruel about you or one of your loved ones and thousands of people had the ability to read it, does that matter?

Would it matter if what they said was the truth or an untruth? Would it matter if the words they typed just shared their opinion of you, but to your knowledge, they do not know you, never met you, but based on something they read, something someone else said, they reached a negative conclusion about you and shared it without consideration to its impact upon you?

It used to be public bullying and hate-filled gossip was limited within the reach of our small circle of friends, the school we attended, the business in which we worked, the town that we lived. If something was too much to take, often the choice was leave that group and move on to another group. Beyond that, national meanness or ridicule was left to celebrities, politicians and public figures. Pre-computer tabloids stuffed the ridiculous between their pages and the masses lapped it up like the final drops of spiked punch in the bowl.

Today, no one is immune to a social media attack. Sometimes, we get ourselves into these opportunities but what I find so distasteful, are those who choose to state an uninformed opinion on a subject and then feel emboldened to attack someone else as part of their thoughts who was not even engaged in their social media discussion. Then others pile upon their assertion creating a cascade of a false narrative that then causes harm or hurt to someone else.

The ability to sit and malign others has become a pastime for many. In some cases, it is done in anonymity. The impact of this seen in deaths resulting as a response to online bullying, and even physical actions against others spurred by things said within social media.

If I was not a public person, I would choose not to be engaged in social media. Now that would not stop others from possibly typing something about me, but at least it would not be something I could read without some effort.

We often say we stuck our foot in our mouth about taking the wrong path in something said. I don’t know what could be a proper analogy in the social media age but the tapping of letters into a keyboard can now move public policy, drive people to end their lives and even topple a government. It would seem to me that greater care should be given when letting one fingers do the walking across other’s lives! Next time you are led to tweet or share on Facebook or some other medium, think first then type. Do you really know anything about what you are considering to share? If not, maybe you should let others think you are smart by not typing anything rather than letting your fingers show your real hand.

Bluegrass artist Larry Cordle’s new CD “Give Me Jesus Now”

Larry Cordle, a Kentucky Music Hall of Famer, is also a multi-award IBMA Award Winner, two-time Grammy nominee, and one of Nashville’s most revered Singer-Songwriters penning such hits as “Murder on Music Row” and “Highway 40 Blues.” His songs have been recorded by artists such as Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Diamond Rio, Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins and many others.

He rounded up some of his closest friends to bring the album to life.  He is joined by Carl Jackson, Jerry Salley, Val Storey, Don Rigsby, Bradley Walker, Lethal Jackson Angie La Primm and Gail Mayes on vocals.

“I’ve been working on this new gospel album for about a year and a half,” he said. “I had to practically stop working on it while I was undergoing chemo for my leukemia, which by the grace of God is now in remission. I want to thank you all for the prayers sent up for me during and since my treatment.”

Cordle and Larry Shell wrote three songs on the album including one of the stand out tracks “The Old Thing’s Walkin’ About.”

Shell wrote on the liner notes, “The Lord, knowing that Larry is a songwriter, gave him the words and melodies to many of these songs. In fact, if you listen to this collection, you will literally hear Larry’s personal testimony of his strong and enduring faith.” 

“The Lonesome Road” includes lead vocals by Carl Jackson’s dad, Lethal Jackson and also “God Had A Hand In It,” written by Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley, featuring guest vocalists Carl Jackson, Jerry Salley, Bradley Walker and Chris Latham.

He tours and records with his band Lonesome Standard Time, performs with as a Trio with Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley, and performs every Monday night for New Monday at the Station Inn in Nashville with Val Storey, Carl Jackson and more friends.  In addition to his songwriting and role as a bandleader, Cordle is sometimes featured as a lead and/or background vocalist on some of Nashville’s most awarded and popular music. He’s provided harmony vocals for artists such as Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Bradley Walker, Billy Yates, Rebecca Lynn Howard and co-writing pal, Jerry Salley.

His lead and harmony singing is featured on Livin, Lovin, Losin: A Tribute to the Louvin Brothers, which won a GRAMMY for Best Country Album in 2003 and the 2004 IBMA Recorded Event of the Year Award.  He’s also featured on two tracks of Moody Bluegrass, alongside artists such as Tim O’Brien, Alison Krauss, John Cowan, Harley Allen and again featured as lead vocalist on Moody Bluegrass II.  

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