An Appalachian sight in time – “A Mountain Pearl”

It is amazing how a sight, a sound or a smell can carry you in your mind’s eye to some distant place and time.

I came upon a patch of white daisies this week as I was walking along the back road in my hometown.
All of a sudden I was four years old again walking along the dirt footpath that led by my grandparent’s farmhouse. I bent over picking the very best flowers from the patch to create three bouquets, one each for my mom – Pearl, my Grandma Kitty and my Aunt Norma Jean.
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A little Goober each day is a must

As we watch television classics, there are many character actors that have made their marks and found niches that have allowed them to keep in front of the American public for years and years.

One of those actors was introduced to the American television family in the 1960s.

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Should we ban cable TV?

How many times have you flipped through the 70 or so channels which most basic subscribers receive and said, “There’s nothing on.”

Just imagine — all these choices, but nothing, absolutely nothing to watch.

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Jason Crabb flies with the Doves and the Crabb Family “Together Again”

As an entertainer you spend a lot of nights on the road stopping to catch some rest or a shower in every kind of hotel imaginable along the way.

A few weeks ago as I had come down from an overnight stay to partake of the continental breakfast, I bumped into another gospel music mainstay whose unmarked bus I noticed parked outside when we arrived in the early morning hours.

It was none other than Grammy ® winner Jason Crabb. I have known Jason for several years and enjoy his music as well as his ministry. Some years ago his preaching helped me to let go of some pain that I could not seem to leave laying upon the altar no matter how hard I tried.

The Crabb Family took the gospel music industry by storm a few years ago producing numerous Top 10 hits and 16 number one hits.  After splitting into several ministries, came back together in the last year or so entertaining again. The Crabb Family took home 11 GMA DOVE Awards and garnered three GRAMMY® nominations.

Their latest CD Together Again from Gaither Music Group took the #1 position on the Southern Gospel sales chart when it came out a few weeks ago.  Jason produced the project that landed the #6 position on the contemporary Christian sales chart and at #123 on the BILLBOARD Top 200 list when it debuted.

“This is really an encouragement to us,” Jason said.  “As a family, to be back in the studio and back on stage for a limited run has been a blast.  To see others embrace us and get excited about new music from us, well, that is an honor and it inspires us. “
The Crabb Family is siblings JasonAdam, Aaron, Kelly and Terah.

“We are all doing what we do today because of the support of countless friends and fans over the years.  We are reminded yet again of their encouragement and love to us.  We appreciate them so much.”
With the announcement of the Gospel Music Association Dove Award nominees recently, Jason saw the addition of multiple new nominations for his list of accomplishments.

Jason’s nominations include: Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Country Recorded Song of the Year with “Why Me”, Southern Gospel Song of the Year with “If There Ever Was a Time” by the Crabb Family, Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year with “I Saw the Light”, Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year with “I’d Rather Have Jesus”, Southern Gospel Album of the Year with The Song Lives On and Long Form Music Video of the Year for The Song Lives On.

Jason’s “Who Am I,” written by my late old friend Rusty Goodman is also nominated in the Song of the Year.

“I’m just blown away,” Jason said. “My latest release, The Song Lives On, is a project I’d always dreamed of recording. I wanted to go back to my roots…back to the church where I grew up singing. To see the songs I sang in a little country church be honored in this way is special. This album is something really dear to my heart. I am grateful to the three B’s—Bill Gaither, Barry Jennings and Bill Carter — for making this dream a reality for me.”

You can find Jason’s and the Crabb Family’s latest recordings online and at retail outlets.
For further information regarding Jason Crabb, visit For further information regarding the Crabb Family, visit

Kevin Costner is making music personal

When I think of movies of the last 30 years, some that rise to the top of the list are “The Big Chill,” “The Untouchables,” “Bull Durham,” “Field of Dreams,” “Dances with Wolves,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “The Bodyguard,” “Wyatt Earp,” “Tin Cup,” “The Postman,” “Thirteen Days,” “Open Range,” “The Guardian” and “Swing Vote.”

The common thread of these films is an actor who has made a tremendous mark on cinema history – Academy Award-winner Kevin Costner.

With the recent passing of Whitney Houston, I could not help but be reminded of “The Bodyguard,” the movie in which they co-starred in 1992 and the impact that movie had.
Kevin continues to make strides in film with a new three-part miniseries coming out on the History Channel on Memorial Day 2012 starring with Bill Paxton in “Hatfields & McCoys.”
I have seen the trailer for this portrayal of the American family fued that has become legendary, it will likely be a real barn burner as the old saying goes.
A few years ago, Kevin’s wife Christine encouraged him to reconnect with his musical passion and he co-founded his rock and country band by bringing together two of his 1980s bandmates from Roving Boy – songwriter John Coinman and bassist Blair Forward.
Now they work with Larry Cobb on drums, Park Chisolm singing vocals and playing guitar, Teddy Morgan playing lead guitar and producing. Bobby Yang, Roddy Chong and Luke Bulla rotate with the band playing fiddle.
Kevin said he approaches his musical journey purposefully.
“I always thought that music could build a stronger, more personal moment with people,” he said. “It could create an opportunity for genuine exchange much greater than a movie, TV interview or magazine.”

The revitalized musical passion has taken Kevin around the world performing in Europe, Asia, Canada, South America, and the U.S.
He described his performances in this way – “It would be real, full of mistakes and without apology. But most of all, there would be a chance to have some fun.”
Their first CD “Untold Truths” was released by Universal Records in 2008 and that was followed by “Turn It On” launched in Europe on Edel Records. His latest release “From Where I Stand” on Edel Records came out in 2011.
Kevin and his band feature all original material on their stage shows and are now touring across the United States and Canada. They also share their time performing for the USO and for various charitable causes between their paying gigs.
If you would like to see if they are coming your way or find out how to get one of his recordings, visit

Randy Travis going strong after 25 years

When he came on the music scene years ago, he was heralded as part of the wave of traditionalists that were taking the music industry by storm.
His voice combined with solid country arrangements ushered him into the hearts of true country music fans.

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SGMA will honor The Oak Ridge Boys

One of the most prolific groups in country music history also shares one of the longest tenures in the business – The Oak Ridge Boys.

The group actually began as the Oak Ridge Quartet a gospel offshoot of Georgian Wally Fowler’s Georgia Clodhoppers.

They were a regular part of the Grand Ole Opry ® in the 1940s and Wally helped to foster the all night sings concept as he carried the music in to large auditoriums around the country.

He sold the group to Smitty Gatlin in the 1960s and the group eventually changed its name from quartet to boys while featuring some of the field’s greatest singers such as Willy Winn, Gary McSpadden, Jim Hamill, and Herman Harper.

The group was one of the best known on the gospel music circuit of the 1960s and 70s.

Duane Allen and William Lee Golden became part of the lineup and with the additions of Richard Sterban and Joe Bonsall in the 1970s; the group known around the world took shape.

It was at the urging of Roy Clark’s manager Jim Halsey, they chose to step into country music. Initially, the move distanced the group from its established gospel audience.

Many who are exclusively familiar with their post 1974s career transition to country music may only know them for their songs such as “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue” and “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon.”

Because of their wide platform, they continued sharing the gospel music sound around the world in concerts and recordings.
It is for the impact that the group had to carry the stylings of Southern gospel music to a wider audience due to that bold choice to come to country music that they will be honored this year with the 2012 James D. Vaughan Impact Award on Oct. 3 during a special ceremony at Dollywood at the Southern Gospel Music Association’s (SGMA) annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Singing News Fan Awards.

“It is a huge honor for The Oak Ridge Boys to be presented with the James D. Vaughan Impact Award,” said Duane Allen, lead singer for the Oaks. “Southern style gospel music is the foundation of harmony, which is the sound of The Oak Ridge Boys. We all grew up loving the great gospel quartets and gospel music. We are very humbled to have been chosen to receive this award and look forward to its presentation.”

Group members Duane Allen, William Golden, Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban will attend to accept the award, named in honor of James D. Vaughan, a Southern gospel music pioneer and one of the genre’s founders.

Past recipients include Bill Gaither, James Blackwood, Les Beasley, Bob Brumley, Mosie Lister, Paul Heil, Eva Mae LeFevre, J.G. Whitfield, Lari Goss, BarbaraMandrell, Dolly Parton and the Statler Brothers.

“The name Oak Ridge has long been associated with gospel music,” said Charlie Waller, SGMA Executive Director. “Even today the Oaks are still delivering the gospel sound to their audiences in their own inimitable fashion.

“Their endeavors to persevere have not gone unnoticed,” he said. “Their rich gospel music legacy makes us proud to honor them with the James D. Vaughan Impact Award.”

The Oak Ridge Boys enjoyed 25 top ten singles, including 13 number one hits while continuing to tour and record today, he said.

Their most popular gospel songs included “I Know,” “King Jesus” and the ever popular, “Jesus Is Coming Soon,” written by SGMA Hall of Fame member, the late R.E. Winsett, according to Waller.
The SGMA Hall of Fame Induction  Ceremony/Singing News Fan Awards are Oct. 3, 2012 at DP’s Celebrity Theatre at Dollywood, home of the Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame.

Seating is reserved, and tickets are $75 ($55 for Dollywood season pass holders) and include one-day Dollywood admission, parking and lunch as well as Dollywood’s more than 40 rides, shows and attractions.

Tickets go on sale March 1 and must be purchased in advance by calling the SGMA office at (865) 908-4040.

The SGMA is a non-profit organization that maintains the Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame, the only facility honoring Southern gospel music and dedicated to the historic preservation of the genre’s accomplishments, both for the music and the people. Museum hours coincide with Dollywood’s operating schedule. Donations are tax-deductible. For more information about the museum or its inductees, visit

Larry Cordle and “Pud Marcum’s Hangin'”

Songwriters are the life’s blood of the music industry. They create the tapestry upon which every artist creates their careers and their legacies. Often we never learn their names unless they are also an artist.

One of my favorite songwriters who is also an artist has created some of the songs country listeners know by heart with over 55 million of his songs sold by artists including Ricky Skaggs, Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Trace Adkins and many more.
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The Country Side of Bluegrass with Janie Fricke

In my music career I have had the honor to come to know many of those who have found success on the country music charts. Some have made us think with their lyrics, moved us with their performances; mirrored our lives as they reflected the human condition.

Some years ago, my late mother and I sat at the Music City News Breakfast with a lady whose voice is a friend to any song she desires to wrap within her talents – Janie Fricke.

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Kornfield County has a get together on RFD-TV and DVD

My mom, my dad and me have just finished a wonderful Saturday night meal of slowly cooked pot roast, tender potatoes and carrots, as we sat around the kitchen table, with the evening news on the black and white Zenith.

We hurry through the clean up as we move into the living room and dad pulls out the on button on the RCA color console and sits back in his recliner, mom sits on the sofa and I spread out on the floor looking up at the screen waiting to hear that banjo sound and see the bright animation that guides us into the next hour of down-home country entertainment. If we were home on Saturday night, then at 7 p.m. we were sitting in front of an episode of “Hee Haw.”

Even after CBS chopped down every show on television with a tree in it or a stalk of corn with cancellation, thankfully, the producers of  “Hee Haw” chose to take it into first run-syndication keeping it alive for more than 20 years.

The show allowed our family to see some of our country favorites sing their hits of the year with some old-time country comedy and some outstanding pickin’ and singin’ performed by an amazing cast of entertainers who for 25 years visited us in our homes across America. All the cast could take the corniest routines and bring them life.

As I grew up as a country performer myself, it was always my hope that I would become one of those who became part of the show’s long history with a guest appearance or even joining the cast.

I got my chance towards the end of the show’s run when I met with one of the producers and we discussed me joining the regular cast as they revamped the show for what would become its final season.

I returned to  “In the Heat of the Night” for another season, and sadly “Hee Haw” came to a close and the opportunity did not materialize for me.

But it is safe to say, I learned to love those folks with each and every episode, they were like kin folks, so as my career paths crossed with Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Buck Trent, the Hagar Twins, Grandpa Jones, Minnie Pearl, Mike Snider, or Lulu Roman, I felt like I was among family who were also stars. And then there were those such as Stringbean, Junior Samples, and Archie Campbell that I knew from the stories of others entertainment friends close to them.

Many of the residents of Kornfield County return in January for a special series of new programs on Gabriel Communications’ ever-popular Country’s Family Reunion on RFD-TV airing on Saturdays. Check local listings for times or visit

Among the stars coming back for “Country’s Family Reunion Salute to the Kornfield,” are with Roy Clark, Buddy Alan (Owens) and Bill Anderson.

One of my favorites is Lulu Roman and she is back as part of the special trip down memory lane.
“It had been a number of years since many of us had seen each other and the reunion was joyous,” reflects Lulu Roman, regular HEE HAW cast member.

“Several of the cast were missing and it was a firm reminder that for some of us, it was quite possibly the last time we might see each other. It was a very special get together.”

Also appearing during the “Salute to the Kornfield” are Don Harron, Charlie Farquharson, Ramona Jones, John Conlee, Charlie McCoy, Ricky Skaggs, Victoria Hallman, T. Graham Brown, Gordie Tapp, Mike Snider, Johnny Lee, Barbi Benton, Larry Gatlin, Roni Stoneman, Moe Bandy, Gunilla Hutton, The Nashville Edition, The Whites, Jim Ed Brown, Jeff Smith, Gene Watson and Cathy Baker.

So, if you can tune in check out “Country’s Family Reunion Salute to the Kornfield,” and, if not, it’s available in a 4-disc set at or by calling 1-800-820-5405.