Dreaming of the new year

A new year is upon us and with its arrival is the promise of another opportunity.

Perhaps it’s the practice of making resolutions, or the celebrations of ringing out the old and ringing in the new. I always see Jan. 1 as a new chance to do things more effectively.

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Lights are flickering and the halls are decked

Flickering lights shimmered in the breeze hanging from trees, light poles, porch eaves and buildings as I drove around my hometown last week.

It is such a heartwarming sight to see the efforts made both by our city staff and individual property owners to raise people’s spirits during the Christmas season. For me the warmth generated within by the beautiful decorations helps to make my hopes swell watching to see the goodness and kindness that so many exhibit during the season.

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Seeing through the masks

Have you ever wondered what is beyond the face someone is showing you?

Is there another series of thoughts running through their head that is different than the words coming out of their mouth or the expression on their face?

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An Evening Among Friends

The sun swept across the dark wood floor forming a light spot in the shape of a heart that I noticed as my mother buzzed around the room with dishes in her hand setting the table.

On the kitchen stove, pans were gurgling as meatballs simmered in a sauce, angel hair pasta boiled with a hint of basil filling the air.

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Don’t watch the world go by, use your imagination

The water whished over the rocks below creating a gurgling sound as I sat dangling my feet off the bridge. I was just high enough above the water where if I could stretch out as far as I could I still couldn’t touch the water but I dreamed of the day when I would be big enough to do so.

As I sat there I counted the leaves that floated beneath the bridge imagining that each one was a ship heading out to an adventure at sea.

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98 Years, still fiddlin’, still creating, Violet Hensley

I am honored to come to know some of the most amazing fiddlers in American history.

Over the past three years, I added to that list someone that when I was a little boy, I saw perform on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Captain Kangaroo.” That fiddler is America’s first woman fiddler of note known to millions through the advent of television and live performances and demonstrations of her craft of making fiddles – Violet Hensley.

On October 21, 2014 she marked her 98th year and throughout that week she greeted fans and friends at theNational Cowboy and Harvest Festival at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. where she has held court for the past 47 years.

Violet Hensley signs a book for Silver Dollar City visitor James Roach in Branson, Mo.
     I am privileged to share this occasion with her in a way as many who have stopped to see her this month carried home her new autobiography Whittlin’ and Fiddlin’ My Own Way: The Violet Hensley Story” which I helped pen.

“I never thought I would be writing about my life, my music and my fiddle makin’,” she said. “I could have never dreamed coming from a farm in the backwoods of Arkansas that the things I learned on that farm would make me a TV personality and gain me fame around the world.”

The Arkansas Living Treasure Award winner from Yellville, Arkansas learned to fiddle in 1928 and make fiddles watching her father George W. Brumley in the community of Alamo, Arkansas in 1932.

It was an amazing experience to work with Violet weekly to refine the experiences from her life and compile a book which not only reflects what many rural families endured in America in the 20th century but what was most unique about Violet as she grew artistically, to find folk music stardom at nearly 50.

She raised a family of nine with her late husband Adren while he moved the family from town to town and state to state.

With the advent of the folk music revival, Violet’s blossoming musical and fiddle-making talents, caught the attention of Grammy ® winner Jimmy Driftwood and the owners of Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.

She joined the crafter’s cast at Silver Dollar City in 1967, becoming part of the City’s celebrities who used radio, television, and newspapers to invite visitors to the amusement park.

Sharing her talents in front of millions, Hensley became one of the first woman fiddlers to reach a large international audience appearing at the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife, festivals, colleges, and on countless local, regional and national television and radio shows such as “To Tell the Truth” and “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee”

“I hope folks will enjoy getting a glimpse at what my near century on this world has been,” Violet said. “It’s been a hoot so far and what’s even better is while the book is written – the story continues. I hope folks will join me for what is yet to come, they can start by reading the book.”

The 258-page soft cover book from Peach Picked Publishing includes 145 photos and is available for $25 including shipping.

For more information about Violet, visit http://violethensley.com. Order the book above. The book can also be liked on Facebook.


Communication is the key to relationships

Communication – the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior.
Most of us begin this process from the first time we point at something to indicate we want it. After we slowly master “Mama” and “Dada,” we eventually grow our vocabulary and with the right training we become equipped for life.

Over time we gain experience and add to the tools that help us establish the ability to in some cases to communicate clearly with a minimal amount of effort.

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Jeff Foxworthy, more than a comedian

After our show “In the Heat of the Night” went off the air, I was looking for an opportunity to move on to another show.

There were not many opportunities for Southern actors at that time, “Walker, Texas Ranger” was on the air, comedian Brett Butler had a Southern base sit-com called “Grace Under Fire.” My friend and co-star Alan Autry eventually found opportunities with both. I was hopeful that I might find an opening with another talented Southerner who was seeing his sit-com revamped for ABC – Jeff Foxworthy.

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World of Bluegrass is coming

My bluegrass excitement always builds this time of year as I prepare for the coming of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass September 30-October 4 in Raleigh, NC.

I am returning this year to assist with directing a portion of the award presentations. There is a star-studded line-up for the 25th International Bluegrass Music Awards, to be held on Thursday, October 2 at 7:30 p.m. at North Carolina’s Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (Memorial Auditorium).

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Bluegrass reigns in Raleigh

There is nothing quite like walking through halls of musicians four or five gathered up close together playing and singing reveling in the blessings that the gift of music brings.

I was honored to attend the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass and Wide Open Bluegrass in Raleigh, N.C. That is what I saw as walked around the convention center, the streets, the nearby hotels. What was most endearing is that many of the players appeared to be college and high school age and younger.

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