Last weekend I experienced country music history in Wilder Kentucky.
I LOVE the Cincinnati area and I didn’t realize the roots music
movement was so large scale up there until last Saturday night.
I rolled into town about 5 and got to meet C.J. Cumberland host of
crescent Hill Radio a local radio station and Mr.C.J was also the emcee
for the evening. So I was chatting with Cley Reynolds and also got
to meet Jo El and LeAnn Ulmer who are called “2 Country 4 Nashville”.
But more on them later..LOTS more on them ALL later!
Standing in front of Bobby Mackey’s Haunted Honky Tonk was a pinnacle
in my over thirty years of collecting and studying the history and origin
of country music. See at one time Nashville was marketing the ‘Nashville Sound”
and grooming their view of what “stars” should be like.
And much like Buck Owens and Mickey Gilley, Bobby had a style and look
all his own and didn’t “fit in” with what was his peers.
So in the 1970’s he opened his own empire and created a staple place
to showcase Honky Tonk Country Music. Much like Buck Owens and Mickey did.
I will be honest..getting to tell him he had a large part of my youth
was something I will always remember.
I will tell anybody that I AM the man I am today because of country music
and because of it’s impact on my morals and my rehabilitation.
Country Music may be largely associated with booze and fornication,
and I don’t get religious on here hard core but to say I didn’t love
Roy Acuff because he did all things in God’s glory would be a lie.
Inside I spent the first hour looking at the walls and listening
to what they had to say. How much history was on those walls?
Decades. Literally hundreds of 45’s and pictures from as far back
as the 50’s shortly after the death of our first superstar it ever
knew, Hank Williams.
I slowly scoured every inch of artwork and absorbed the dates and
places and people. I have said this many times..EVERY Honky Tonk
is a museum. EVERY stage is a canvas for these people.
It may not be as precious as the hallowed circle of wood on the Opry
but it holds relevance within Country Music.
It’s not just a place to get drunk.
The music series itself is a songwriter-artist series that is
nationwide and going on in every state at selected venues that
represent each state.
I have articles on 13 of the states so far, and I plan to continue
the series. And how they worked the first set was a set of three
roots music artists Chris “Moondog” Hall, Joshua Morningstar
and Daryl Wayne Dasher.
Chris “Moondog” Hall is half of Goode Dawg with John Goode.
I first heard of them in Altamont and got more familiar with
them at the Wayne Mills benefit however their set was cut short.
Chris did a wonderful job and started out the series with the
OFFICIAL song of the series “Land of Make Believe”.
He also played “Better than That” and “what Happened To The Songs”.
I really liked What Happened..I had to listen a few more times
to that song, and it is really well written.
Later that night on the bus he told us all a story about his
tattoos on his chest and their meaning and it was so special
I couldn’t do it justice to TRY to retell it.
I owe him a bunch of gratitude for sharing it with us.
Josh Morningstar I CANNOT say enough good about. I LOVE the man,
and his wife Tess is one of the most beautiful people you’ll EVER
meet. He’s been through hell like me and we BOTH beat the devil.
He WILL NOT have us..I got to witness Country Legend Billy Don Burns
sing “Dark Side Of The Spoon” to us together.
His album with his band the .30’s is really good and for the series
he played “Sellout Celebrity” “Williams, Whitley and Whiskey” and he
played “As long as you ain’t Coming Back” which is so cleverly
written it’s one of my favorite songs.
I owe him thanks for including me in one of his songs..and just for
being such a great brother.
Daryl Wayne Dasher I knew very little about until now.
He had an album on vinyl..I did not get to pick one up
YET. His album Great Big Sky looked to be promising.
He played ‘Yesterdays’ and another good one called
“Mountains of Montana”.
Now MIND YOU everybody..I was taking notes because of
the fact the WI FI was not working correctly because of
some technicalities so WHILE VISITING and taking pictures
I’m trying to take all this music in AT THE SAME TIME!
THIS is NOT easy and making sure I didn’t mess up song titles
C.J. then came back and continued his spectacular job of
emceeing the event.
They brought out one of Country Music’s overlooked legends
Billie Gant. Billie has been head of the Vigilantes for longer
than I have been alive. He resonates history in his songs, and
he started out with “Rueben Dixon” which is one of my favorites.
He played one I have never heard before “The Sadder The Song
The Better I Feel” and I REALLY enjoyed that one.
“No God In Juarez” and he warned the radio people about his
closing song “Stop F’n Up Country Music”.
Legend after Legend at this place on this night.
And these Legends are GROSSLY overlooked and not appreciated
by today’s “normal” society. SHAME ON THEM!
You have my guarantee no other website can even tell you
who Billie Gant or Tom Ghent are..and that pisses me off!
These people MADE country music.
I have a theory and can back it up with FACT:
Country Music has THREE fundamental building blocks..pillars
if you will.
The producers, the songwriter and the steel guitar. You have
ALL THREE you have a classic album, in which you take people
like Vince Gill or Andy Gibson and you HAVE THAT!
One of the highlights of the whole night! Billy Don Burns.
The man has done so much for country music. He wrote he
has produced and he has weathered more miles of road
than anyone I know. He will tell you ‘I buried so many
of my heros”. He opened with ‘Talk About Crazy” which is also
a new documentary in production.
He played “Haggard And Hank”, “Wanted Dead Or alive” which
he wrote at Billy The Kid’s grave.
“Outlaws At The Cross” and Brigitte London came up and sang
“When Waylon Came To Nashville’ with him.
He played “Desperate Men” which was his most successful song
recorded by the late Hank Cochran.
He played “hank Williams Lonesome And Keith Whitley Blue”
and per my request and Joshua Morningstar he played what I
consider the crown jewel of Country Music, a dark tale
of drug addicition and an anthem for survivors “Dark Side
of The Spoon”.
By this time I’ll be honest Iv’e had a few beers.
I stayed with friends and he said “Well get you home”.
So the green light was on..I don’t get much time to
enjoy myself. Health problems be damned the Coors Lights
went down as fast as the music soaked into my veins.
The next set was Brigitte London with Cley Reynolds
and Jill Kinsey. Now I wasn’t familiar with Jill Kinsey’s
songs and I have not been able to contact her on Facebook
so I had to do a little research on her songs. She played
one called “I Love You You Won’t Know” and another about
Jessie Colter, who is widow of Waylon Jennings and mother
of Shooter, Terry, Deanna, Julie Rae, and Buddy Dean Jennings.
Brigitte London..where do I start? She’s got a voice of an angel
and a heart of gold. She works harder than just about ANYONE I KNOW
in the music business. PERIOD!
She does more for roots music and songwriters than ANYONE too.
“Hard Woman” was one of her songs and It’s off her album Thunder.
I have to buy a few more of her albums to fully get the impact of her
long musical career. She also sang part of “Last Honky Tonk” by Wayne Mills
who inspired this series. And it’s named after him.
She also did a new song called “Different You”.
She has a song on her new album Heart Of Highwaywoman that is called
“I Survived” and she said it was written by Roger Alan Wade.
I was listening to her album on I-65 and had to pull over and cry..the song
had that deep of an impact upon my old soul. Only two songs have EVER
affected me that deeply, “Dark Side Of The Spoon” Billy Don Burns
and “Choices” by Billy Yates.
I would do anything for her on a personal level, and she deserves a lot of
love for what she does.
Cley Reynolds is the son of Country Legend Billy Ray Reynolds and he is
a BEAST on stage.
I owe him a debt of thanks for using my picture of him on his album back cover.
He played three songs off his album Live At The Silver Maple”
They were “Hurricane” “Ballad Of A Bad Man” and “Cool Water”.
He and I got to have some pretty cool conversation later on in the night
at the bar. I really enjoyed my time with him on a personal level, he is
really down to Earth and needs to be appreciated for his talent more than he is.
I think the world of these performers and what they are doing NATIONWIDE..
Hell now it’s WORLDWIDE!
Jo-el and LeAnn Ulmer make up the duo 2 Country 4 Nashville and I really enjoyed
their feature too. They played “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” written by Jim Alley
in 1968 and they played “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” which was George Jones 45th album!
Honestly one of my favorite songs was “Call The Wrecker For My Heart” off that album.
This duo REALLY put alot of energy into their set and they frequently play the Nashville
Palace. I FULLY PLAN to come down and do a bigger write up on their show. I PROMISE!
NICE folks and I enjoyed their stage attire!
They brought up Country Legend Tom Ghent to sing “Easy As Dreamin” which was recorded
by Bobby Bare in 1983 off the album Drinking From The Bottle..Singin From The Heart.
And I also got to have a wonderful conversation with Mr. Tom about his ethnic
background and it is really funny. You just gotta ask him sometime!
The WHOLE CAST went up to sing “Good Hearted Woman” . In 1969, Jennings and Nelson were staying
in a motel in Fort Worth, Texas. Jennings was inspired to write the song after reading an
advertisement that promoted Ike and Tina Turner. Jennings joined Nelson during a poker game
and told him about the idea. The singers completed the song while Nelson’s wife, Connie Koepke,
wrote it down according to Shooter who told me that.
The BIG finale! The top of the evening was (and always is there) The man himself..
Country Legend Bobby Mackey. He and his band plays covers and originals..on thing is
for SURE they dont play ANY pop country.
Like the radio plays “What They Call Country”…GOOD original song you MUST look it up!
They started out with “Working Man’s Blues” written by Merle Haggard. And in fact later
that evening he told a REALLY COOL (literally cold) story about how Merle performed there
in his overcoat..he then played “Song About Haggard”.
Another GREAT original song was “That Jones Boy Is Gone” and “How The Story Ends”
and “Poor Pearl” which is written about one of the ghosts that reside in the lower
portion of the Honky Tonk. There are tours of it and we indeed went down there
and got to see some of the violent history of the building.
It was Bobby’s birthday that following Tuesday and some fans came up
and gave him a cake. And THEN was a BIG announcement and presentation
as they presented Bobby with the OFFICIAL LAST HONKY TONK MUSIC SERIES
plaque that was designed by my good friend Kenneth Marr.
It was burned into a wood barstool by the musicians.
He played two more Haggard songs I remembered “Ramblin Fever” and “From Now On
All My Freinds Are Gonna Be Strangers”.
And honestly I was on the ghost tour and visiting with SO MANY friends
and watching people like Eric French ride the electric bull!
I NEVER SAW ONE in person! It really was an exciting time and WELL WORTH
a four hour drive to Cincinnati.
And I’ll be back! And I’ll be reporting MORE for the Last Honky Tonk
Music Series and MORE on these artists and venues involved!