Feb 052017
 

For many many years Country Comedy Legend Ray Stevens has brought laughter and smiles to the halls of venues all over the world. He plays the Grand Ole Opry and Branson equally often and I even witnessed him perform at a few festivals in the past. This above video is form his 2014 film Campin Buddies with Green Acres star, Tom Lester and many other wacky characters make this a funny film. He closed his Branson Mo theater in 2006 and sold it to RFD TV, and began playing his political songs.

He isn’t always for everybody that cannot look in the mirror and laugh at themselves and their own beliefs as he unleashes a barrage of political and religious humor upon the world of Country Music. Ray Stevens in truly one of the last REAL Country Music Comedians left the likes of Jerry Clower, Speck Rhodes and Minnie Pearl have all but been called home to Hillbilly Heaven. If you had a childhood like mine then the name Jeremiah Peabody is very familiar, or the phrase DON’T LOOK ETHEL…or ARE YA NAKEEEEEED?

To be honest Ray Stevens never slowed down at all, and as he celebrates his 78th birthday he appears to be upon another zenith as he announces the legal documents needed to proceed construction of his planned 27,000 square foot entertainment center called “CabaRay” which is slated to debut late 2017. This center will contain a 700 seat auditorium for live shows (of which he WILL book other acts) a dining area full service kitchen, three bar areas and gift shop.

Recording wise we haven’t heard from him since 2015 as he released “Here We Go Again” which included this song
“Taylor Swift Is Stalking Me” which was originally intended to be a part 2 to “It’s Me Again Margaret” but was directed away from that one as he just didn’t want to bring back Willard McBain  to us.

However many people didn’t know the serious side of Ray Stevens as he signed to Monument Records and recorded the original version of Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Mornin Coming Down” which became one of the first two charting hits Ray Stevens ever had.  He did production work for many stars the likes of Dolly Parton and Patti Page and Brenda Lee.

In 1973 he released his most popular hit “The Streak” which was a commercial juggernaut at the time with merchandise sales topping almost 1 million and his other most popular song “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival” which was inspired by a true story. “I Need Your Help Barry Manilow” was another very successful song foe him as was many others. His live shows often contain purposely hokey and out of date props and costumes intended to look redneck and poorly crafted, he continues to perform and you can see him on the Opry in June.

Feb 052017
 

It’s been spring of last year that I have crossed paths with Rockabilly band Little Lesley And The Bloodshots from up there in New York, however I’m pleased to announce that The Muddy Roots Nashville Boogie has added them to their festival list for 2017 as well. Here’s a little rundown of MY MAY for you, I’ll be at Moonrunners in Chicago and also supporting Crooked Smile in spirit the second week, also the Nashville Boogie the third week AND THEN I’ll be hosting my own stage in Kansas City at Westport Roots that last weekend. So I’ll be covering their set this year as well as last year!

They have released a new EP and some videos that I wanted to share with you as I keep an eye on what they do, honestly I do not get the opportunity to cover as much Rockabilly as I’d like to with such a wide coverage of different genres I have. Western Star records have released their new album from the United Kingdom, and you KNOW they ONLY put out good stuff.

Now mind you folks,I’m not into 45’s as much but I shall most likely buy one at the show, I do have it on digital stick and I finally got a chance to sit down and write an article for them because I wanted to wait for the video so I had a little more meat for an article.  This EP has four really good songs on it, they played a few of them last spring during their set.

The band also now bases things out of South Carolina as well and this band just absolutely brings a fury of sound upon you when they annihilate the stage. They have been out on the road playing many shows this fall and winter and I’m truly looking forward to covering their set this spring in Nashville.

Feb 052017
 

Before I go into this article any further I have a story of my own regarding Mac Wiseman and me. You know I have been covering Country Music functions from a journalist’s point of view for many many years now. Some years back, about two exactly in 2015 at the Al Meniah Shriner’s Temple in Nashville, where they hold the spring and fall annual R.O.P.E. functions, we were all blessed enough to witness Mr. Keith Bilbrey bring the Mic over to Mac Wiseman’s table where he performed a song for us in his chair. What a blessed a surreal experience that moment was, if I ever write a book this will be included in one of the chapters of it.

As I filter and shuffle through pictures of the past R.O.P.E. gathering I am reminded of past friends that have long been called home to Heaven, Mac Wiseman is one of those that remain prominently with us and we are honored to have him. We all adore him so very much and we need him around for many years to come.

This past January he released a new album called “I Sang The Song” Life Of The Voice With A Heart on Mountain Fever Records  he releases a new album of refreshing music that will embellish your collection quite nicely as this album already boasts a number one hit .

 

THIS FROM THE LABEL’S WEBSITE:
WILLIS, Virginia—Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce the release of a star-studded concept album celebrating the life and spirit of Country Music Hall of Fame member Mac Wiseman. I Sang The Song (Life Of The Voice With A Heart) is available today. The first single, “Going Back to Bristol,” featuring the International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2015 Male Vocalist of the Year Shawn Camp, was released November 2016 and reached #1 on Bluegrass Today’s Top 20 Songs December 23rd.

What began as a casual weekly visit among friends quickly morphed into an unprecedented album project. Over nine weeks, Country and Bluegrass Hall of Famer Mac Wiseman met with Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz, sharing intimate details of his 91 years, and of his journey from Virginia boy to American roots music icon. That journey is the subject of I Sang The Song, the joyful and poignant album that springs from Mac’s storytelling sessions. In liner notes, Cooper writes, “The stories would have been remarkable coming from anyone. But coming from Mac Wiseman, an acknowledged master of American roots music who earned the nickname ‘The Voice with a Heart,’ the stories began to sound like songs. Thomm Jutz and I sat in small chairs that faced the easy chair, situated beneath a photograph of Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren, Mac’s childhood place of worship. We wrote down the stories, and found them rich with melody and rhyme.”

To begin the recording process, producers Cooper and Jutz assembled an all-star band of musicians including mandolinist Sierra Hull and multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses—both also lent vocal talents—and bassist Mark Fain. Further, featured performers were carefully chosen based not only on artistic mastery, but also reverence for the album’s subject, Mac Wiseman. The result is a collection of perfect performances by John Prine, Jim Lauderdale, Shawn Camp, Junior Sisk, Alison Krauss, Andrea Zonn, Ronnie Bowman, Sonya Isaacs Yeary, Becky Isaacs Bowman, Buddy Melton, and Milan Miller, with special vocal appearances by Mac Wiseman. Cooper says, “Everyone who sings on this album understands the greatness of Mac Wiseman and the responsibility inherent in voicing Mac’s story and interpreting Mac’s words. These artists approached the songs with joyful reverence that is palpable to anyone who listens.”

Track Listing:
1. “The Guitar”—Sierra Hull & Justin Moses
2. “Somewhere Bound”—Buddy Melton & Milan Miller with Andrea Zonn
3. “The Wheat Crop”—Junior Sisk with Sonya Isaacs Yeary & Becky Isaacs Bowman
4. “Barefoot Till After The Frost”—Jim Lauderdale
5. “Manganese Mine” – Shawn Camp
6. “Three Cows And Two Horses”—Buddy Melton & Milan Miller with Andrea Zonn
7. “Simple Math”—Jim Lauderdale
8. “Crimora Church Of The Brethren”—Junior Sisk & Ronnie Bowman
9. “Back To Bristol”—Shawn Camp
10. “I Sang The Song”—John Prine
11. “’Tis Sweet To Be Remembered”—Mac Wiseman & Alison Krauss

In 1993 he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall Of Honor, and in 2014 he was blessed with an induction into the Country Music Hall Of Fame. In 2014 he also released a brand new album of songs inspired by his mother’s handwritten notebooks of songs she heard on the radio when Mac was a child: Songs From My Mother’s Hand.

However from researching this album further I learned that all of the songs on this album were penned over nine afternoons at Mr. Mac’s house with his producers.  He is already looking into the future to pursue more new projects and recording even more new music he has written, Mac Wiseman has recorded more albums and songs than artists I could name that are Legends.