Bill Anderson and Charlie Monk reflect on life in the country

Songwriting icon and legendary performer “Whisperin’ Bill” Anderson released his new autobiography Whisperin’ Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life In Country Music recently.

AndersonCompA2.indd In addition, listeners can sit back and enjoy a NEW audio book narrated by Bill Anderson. The audio book bundle also includes a Bonus CD featuring 10 never-before released self-penned acoustic recordings by Anderson, including smash hits like “Whiskey Lullaby” (Brad Paisley/Alison Krauss), “Give It Away” (George Strait), “City Lights” (Ray Price) and seven more.

Whisperin’ Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life In Country Music is a representation of Anderson’s journey, and published by University of Georgia Press. Read by Bill Anderson himself it features eye-opening personal stories from his nearly eighty years of living – from early days of radio broadcasting in Georgia, to standing alongside the greatest country music stars in the world onstage at the Grand Ole Opry, to meeting Elvis Presley, to being named BMI’s first ICON Award winner in the country music genre.

The book is a 360-page reflection of Anderson’s journey includes Peter Cooper as a contributing writer. It includes rare, never-before-seen photos and eye-opening personal stories from Anderson’s nearly eighty years of living – from early days of radio broadcasting in Georgia, to standing alongside the greatest country music stars in the world onstage at the Grand Ole Opry, to being named BMI’s first ICON Award winner in the country music genre.

With the 2015 success of Mo Pitney’s “Country,” Anderson has become the only country songwriter to tally a Top 40 hit in seven consecutive decades, and he stands today a legendary performer, who recently celebrated his 55th Anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
The book is available for $29.95 at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, various independent book stores, and online at and

If you work in the Nashville music business and don’t know the name Charlie Monk, you probably haven’t been around very long.  After all, he is the “Mayor of Music Row.”  This year, Monk is celebrating six decades of blood, sweat and tears in show business.

“When I started out in 1956, I wanted to be a radio or TV star or maybe an actor,” recalls Monk.  “I found out when I moved to Music City that I was a lot better at nurturing other talented people which got me into the management, publishing and production side of music.  I’m proud that I have made a good living for my family, had a lot of fun hanging with super talented folks and doing a lot of different things in the entertainment world.”

Monk recently attended his 60th high school class reunion in his hometown of Geneva, Alabama.  During his visit, the town presented him with his very own roadway, “Charlie Monk Lane.”

“Everybody in Geneva, Alabama, population 4,500, knew that I was the poorest kid in town but they knew that I was a hard worker and many of them gave me jobs and encouragement,” he says.  “It took a village to raise me. I am unbelievably honored with this recognition and thank the mayor and city council for having the ceremony during a reunion of my 1957 high school graduating class. ‘CHARLIE MONK LANE’… that’s pretty cool.”

Charlie Monk may know everyone working in Nashville’s music community. Outside of that community, Monk may very well be Nashville’s most influential unknown. Whether entertaining America on his daily SiriusXM radio show, managing Monk Family Music or hosting a major music event, he is honest and frank in everything he does. It’s his unique personality, combined with 60 years experience in show business, that has made Monk one of the most respected executives on Music Row.

Through the years, Monk has developed strong instincts. In 1983, for example, Monk signed a young singer/songwriter named Randy charlie-monkTraywick — now known as Randy Travis. He signed Kenny Chesney to his first songwriting deal and negotiated his first record contract with Capricorn Records. Songwriters Monk has signed “off the street” include Marcus Hummon, Holly Dunn, Jim McBride, Keith Stegall, Aaron Tippin and Philip Douglas.

Monk Family Music Group published songs have been recorded by Travis, Tippin, Led Zeppelin,  Lonestar, Reba, LeAnn Rimes, Tracy Lawrence, The Mavericks, Cheap Trick, Kenny Rogers, Sandi Patti, Glen Campbell, Otis Redding, Louise Mandrell, Trick Pony, Carolina Rain, Ike & Tina Turner, Jeff Treece, and John Michael Montgomery.

Monk’s entertainment career began in 1956, sweeping floors at WGEA in Geneva, Alabama. He landed a weekend air shift at the station and remained throughout his high school years.
A founder of the Country Radio Seminar, Monk produced and hosted the annual New Faces Show for over 40 years. He is an alumnus of Leadership Music, lifetime Director of the Country Radio Broadcasters, a member of the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music and the Gospel Music Association. He has served as VP of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, VP of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, VP of the Gospel Music Association, Board of Leadership Music, and local President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (now known as AFTRA-SAG).  Monk was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
This year, Monk is nominated for induction into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame as well as the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Cardboard Fox creates some sturdy musical sounds

Often as an entertainer, I get the chance to share some time with other talented musicians. I was afforded that opportunity recently while spending a couple of hours with a talented group of musicians from England.


Cardboard Fox

While I heard them jamming with a different line up than their norm with their bassist playing banjo, the sounds of Cardboard Fox impressed me.

The band is made up of John Breese on double bass and vocals; Charlotte Carrivick on guitar and vocals; Laura Carrivick on fiddle and vocals; and Joe Tozer on mandolin.

Cardboard Fox is fast becoming one of the most exciting young acts on UK the acoustic scene.

The band’s unique blend of modern folk and progressive bluegrass, combined with original song writing and energetic performances, is giving them a growing presence on the UK Folk

and acoustic music circuit.

I was able to listen to the 2015 Spiral Earth award winner’s latest CD – “Out of Mind.”

The project features ten originals and three covers.

While not conventional bluegrass, the music is amazingly offered and sure to appeal to listeners in every age bracket but especially those who look for a unique mix of present and past in their tastes.

Between them, the band have contributed eight original songs and two tunes to ‘Out of Mind’.

The two tunes featured are Joe Tozer’s ‘Gone, Not Forgotten’ and Charlotte Carrivick’s high–‐octane fiddle tune, ‘Hiding in Hi Vis’. Spread across the album are also three covers, perhaps the

Most surprising being Ingrid Michaelson’s pop hit, ‘Girls Chase Boys’. The band have also included a subtly re-harmonized version of Dirk Powell’s ‘Waterbound’ and a bluegrassy cover

Of the famous Bob Dylan song, ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’. The original songs range

From acoustic pop with catchy riffs (‘More Than You and Me’, ‘Out of Sight is Out of Mind’), to

Modern bluegrass, with the addition of John’s banjo playing on ‘Couldn’t Find the Time’ and


Cardboard Fox jams at the IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, N.C.

Twin fiddling on ‘I’ve Gotta Run’. The band’s signature mandolin, fiddle, guitar and double bass line up is augmented on ‘Felicity’ with an electric ‘Fun Machine’ organ, which turned up on the street outside Joe’s house while the band were in the studio.

Recorded and produced by Josh Clark at Get Real Audio (Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston, Damien O’Kane, Nizlopi) in Bath, mastered by Nick Cooke (Kate Rusby, False Lights)

The group has performed at festivals across the UK and Mainland Europe, performing at Glastonbury and showcasing at the English Folk Expo and European World of

Bluegrass Festival. They traveled to the U.S. to appear at the IBMA World of Bluegrass.

I want to encourage you to check out their CD on iTunes, amazon, and Spotify. You can visit their website, and find them on social media,,

Pickin’, singin’ and a lot of grinnin’

While America’s media concentrated upon candidate negatives and battles in community streets, I was honored to spend some amazing hours away from these talking heads and among some of our country’s most amazing people.

They had not gathered over political policies, perceived injustice had not placed them on opposite sides of a demonstration.

Music had brought them together, from seniors to children, black, white, brown, and all shades in between, representing races and people from countries around the world. I stood in the hallways of the Raleigh Convention Center in North Carolina and its neighboring hotel, listening to various languages being spoken as they prepared to jam playing yet another tune or sing another song.


Randall Franks and Grand Ole Opry star Del McCoury pause backstage at the IBMA Awards Show.

They held banjos, fiddles, mandolins, guitars, and basses among others. They sang songs from the repertoire of Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Jim and Jesse, the Stanley Brothers, Alison Krauss, Doyle Lawson and many others.

The International Bluegrass Music Association World of Bluegrass including their annual awards filled thousands of people’s faces with smiles and the hearts with a song. While there was a long list of artists who went away smiling holding awards which makes them the leading of their genre in the coming year, the greatest smiles were on the musicians which simply came to jam and make new friends.

Some key winners were The Earls of Leicester, Entertainer of the Year; Becky Buller, Female Vocalist; Danny Paisley, Male Vocalist; Flatt Lonesome, Vocal Group of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year; Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, Instrumental Group of the Year; and Mountain Faith, Emerging Artist.

Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers took the Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year with “All Dressed Up.” Guitarist Clarence White and Rounder Record founders Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton-Levy and Bill Nowlin were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Achievement Awards were presented to Bluegrass Unlimited magazine; Boston Bluegrass Union; Bill Emerson; Jim Rooney and SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction.

Learn more at

When I left the IBMA event, I made my way to the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.


Randall Franks visits with Mark (right) and Kenneth Bishop at National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Once again I found thousands gathered, smiles on their faces, and a song in their heart as the brightest stars of gospel music shared their latest songs and the biggest hits.

The Singing News awarded this year’s leading performers and the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame inducted their latest honorees. Some of the winners were Ivan Parker, Favorite Soloist;

Goodman Revival, Favorite New Artist; Kingdom Heirs Band, Favorite Band; Collingsworth Family, Favorite Mixed Group; Booth Brothers, Favorite Trio; and Triumphant Quartet, Favorite Traditional Quartet.

Among the new SGMA Hall of Famers were Carroll McGruder, Lari Goss, Peg McKamey Bean, and Ronny Hinson. Music agent Ed Harper was presented the Southern Gospel Music Guild Lifetime Achievement Honor.

Fans visited with their favorites and enjoyed an uplifting song-filled experience that will continue in Pigeon Forge annually for several more years. Find out more at visit

Passion and politics

The election is nearing and we will soon go to polls and choose a vision for the future of our country.

Whenever such an opportunity is at hand, I reflect back on family stories centered around elections.

In the early days of our country, people actually had a passion about the right to vote and exercising thereof. I guess since there were still those who could remember living without that right whether here or in their home country or whose parents’ described the experience of having no such right to them.

By the mid-1800s, the rights were extended beyond property owners, and by 1870s eliminating prohibition on voting due to race, color or previous servitude. But for many the right was still out of reach and that passion re-emerged during the suffrage movement for women and then again insuring the rights already promised were delivered during the civil rights movement for African Americans.

My grandmother joined in the passion of the suffrage movement anxiously wanting to place her vote when the opportunity came after the passage of the 19th amendment, she could not wait for her chance to pull the curtain. After finishing making breakfast for the family, she headed off on foot to her poll where she proudly cast her ballot. It was years later, she told me that part of the joy of that moment was voting for a different candidate than my grandfather wanted to win thus cancelling out his vote. She finally was able to have her choice and not just have to go along.

Today, many treat voting as a nuisance, something that you only do if it convenient, or if you happen to like one of the candidates.

I hope I am not mixing up my stories but as I recall in one branch of our family, one section of the family was so passionate about the candidate running for president in the late 1800s, that when news that another cousin might vote for his opposition, they kidnapped the cousin to keep him from voting. This resulted in his closer kin retaliating to get him back resulting in some passionate exchange of gunfire until the matter was settled. I don’t remember if there were any deaths in this enthusiasm.

However, in another polling place disagreement, a battle erupted between adversary kin outside a local polling place, once again over political philosophies, resulting in, as best I recall, the final deaths in a family feud that spanned two centuries.

Passion and politics have long walked hand in hand. We have seen much passion exhibited during this season. I hope if nothing else occurs in the next few weeks, something that you hear, something you see, moves you not to take this right we have for granted. Exercise it. Be like my grandmother who walked miles to vote. Vote for whomever you feel will lead our country, your community, in the direction you desire us to go.

Men and women fought, marched, and died to give us this right. Don’t let all those sacrifices be for naught.



Actor/Entertainer/Author Randall Franks finds the fiction within for his forthcoming book “A Badge or an Old Guitar”

franksrandall-badge-frontcoverfinal-15Award-winning author Randall Franks, best known as “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” moves his focus into the realm of fiction with his upcoming November release “A Badge or an Old Guitar.”

“After sharing snippets of fiction in my syndicated columns, I am excited to bring an entire story to life between the covers of a book,” Franks said. “Sharing entertaining stories for television through scripts became one of the areas that mentors such as Carroll O’Connor and Alan Autry inspired me to create.”

Order the Kindle or other downloadable version on

Franks won the W.G. Sutlive Award for his very first book “Stirring Up Success with a Southern Flavor” and after authoring eight non-fiction books since 2003, he has been polishing his latest effort with his long time editor/contributor Rachel Brown Kirkland for weeks.

“My first foray in fiction for some of my readers who watched me on television will feel as comfortable as slipping on a well-worn glove,” he said. “Set in the small Southern town of McKinney, Ga., we meet a cast of unique characters that circle around the life of main character McKinney police officer James Randall.

“While he attempts to hold on to his normal routine, his friends and all he has known in his life as an officer is shaken by circumstance, especially after Nashville comes calling to make him a star,” he said.

Thrown into a world he does not know and really does not think he desires to know, Franks said his main character lands in the midst of a classic murder mystery on the streets of Music City.

Franks starred in three TV series and 15 films with his latest film “Broken” starring with Soren Fulton and Joe Stevens. He became a country music personality as a youth beginning appearances at major country, folk, bluegrass and gospel events such as Country Music Association Fan Fair, National Folk Festival, National Quartet Convention, National Black Arts Festival and for the Grand Ole Opry.


Randall Franks (right) receives final editing notes from his editor/contributor Rachel Brown Kirkland for his new work of fiction – “A Badge or an Old Guitar.” (Photo: Randall Franks Media/Marty Kirkland)

“Music City is such a wonderful part of my life, it was fun to create a bit of intrigue winding the musical strings of this murder mystery between the fictional characters that drive our adventure,” he said.

With 24 career albums in four genres, he has performed to over 145 million fans around the world. Musically, he is recognized as an International Bluegrass Music Museum Legend and Independent Country Music Hall of Fame member. His latest CD is “Keep ‘Em Smilin’” featuring Christian music and comedy. He is a syndicated columnist featured in newspapers across the Southeast and Midwestern U.S.

His earlier books include “Encouragers III: A Guiding Hand,”“Encouragers II: Walking with the Masters,”“Encouragers I: Finding the Light,” “Whittlin’ and Fiddlin’ My Own Way” with Violet Hensley, “A Mountain Pearl: Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes,” “Stirring Up Success with a Southern Flavor” and “Stirring Up Additional Success with a Southern Flavor” with Shirley Smith, and “Snake Oil, Superstars and Me” with “Doc” Tommy Scott and Shirley Swiesz.

“I hope folks will enjoy putting on ‘A Badge or an Old Guitar’ and riding along in an old pickup truck for the adventure to see if James Randall’s life spins beyond his control or if the song in his heart reaches out to touch us all,” Franks said.

Like “A Badge or an Old Guitar” on Facebook.

Order and autographed print copy at

A Mountain Pearl: Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes

A Mountain Pearl : Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes

A Mountain Pearl“A Mountain Pearl” follows the adventures of a young, Appalachian girl as she grows up in the secluded valley below the Gravelly Spur Mountain during the Great Depression. She and her family and friends experience the ups and downs of pioneer life in a beautiful valley almost forgotten by time. The stories were inspired by Pearl Franks — late mother of Hall of Fame music legend and actor Randall Franks, who played “Officer Randy Goode” on the television series “In the Heat of the Night.” Illustrated by award-winning artist Cathy Cooksey, the collection includes 39 authentic mountain recipes and 55 country funnies sure to bring a laugh.

In the valley below the Gravelly Spur Mountain, author Randall Franks spins the tales and adventures inspired for “A Mountain Pearl: Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes,” by his late mother – Pearl Franks.

“My mother was a wonderful storyteller,” Randall said. “From my earliest bedtime stories, she mesmerized me with mountain legends, struggles for survival, leaving me often hanging waiting for what the next installment would hold.”

Franks, who played “Officer Randy Goode” on the television series “In the Heat of the Night,” shares stories spanning over a century of Appalachian reflections and experience much of it intertwined hopes and dreams in the almost fabled valley where the tales were spun from the people that called it home.

“In this book, I play tribute to my folks who came before and endured the hardships that came from carving a living out hills and hollers of the mountains,” he said. “It reflects on my mother’s life and the lessons she shared with me that she learned in that valley and applied to life when she left it.”

The 202-page softbound book is illustrated by award-winning Catoosa County artist Cathy Cooksey featuring a variety of full color paintings and black and white drawings.

The collection also includes 39 authentic mountain recipes, most from his mother and grandmother’s favorites.

“Whether it’s a snack like Honey Tastes, Pearl’s Fried Chicken or Oatmeal Pie, there is a recipe here that cooks will sure want to try,” he said. “The featured recipes often reflect something interwoven within the stories.”

Randall also features over 50 lighthearted country funnies depicted through some of his best-known comedy characters such as Uncle Elige Doolittle and his twin boys Will Doolittle and Won’t Do-a-Lot, he said.

“These reflect the spirit and whimsy of Appalachian humor that have made generations crack a smile,” he said.