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Over the past few years, Martha and I have published our Melody Trail Newsletter around the first of December, wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. But this time, the Melody Trail is coming to you a little late. As you may recall from my last newsletter, I was going to Texas for some repair work on my left artificial hip on October 31, 2007. That procedure went well. However, the next morning in the hospital, I suffered a heart attack. On November 8, I had triple bypass surgery. Then on November 16, they installed a defibrillator. I then spent two weeks in rehab, returning to Oklahoma on November 30. In mid January, the heart doctors said I was doing great and they released me from the wheel chair. But I will be on crutches for a few more weeks until the hip heals completely. I want to thank each and every one of you for your prayers, thoughts, cards and calls. I received over 300 get well cards and scores of phone calls. We love each of you for your thoughtfulness.
In case you missed the announcement, my 2nd Gospel Album was released in September, 2007. The title is “Where Could I Go?” and it is my 13th album. Thanks for the many orders and compliments on the CD and to the disk jockeys who have given it lots of air play. See the reverse side of this newsletter on how to order the CD.
Gene Autry’s 100th Birthday
In my last newsletter, I told about Gene Autry being born on September 29, 1907. We went to Kenton, Ohio in June of 2007 and paid tribute to Mr. Autry and his career. Gene Autry’s toy cap pistols were all manufactured in Kenton and they continue to celebrate his life each year in June. Then we were invited by Mrs. Autry to come to California in August to be a part of the Gene Autry Fan Club’s tribute to Gene on his 100th. This was the first group ever invited and/or allowed to tour the home of Mr. and Mrs. Autry. My previous newsletter described in some detail the wonderful “once in a lifetime” experiences provided by and hosted by Mrs. Autry, a very special lady. And for the 15th year, I returned to my hometown of Gene Autry, Oklahoma, the last weekend of September to join Riders in the Sky, Johnny Western, James Drury, Dick Jones and many others to celebrate Gene’s 100th birthday.
Oklahoma and Kansas
I want to say a special thanks to the Chamber of Commerce folks in Altus, Oklahoma for being so gracious and allowing my Silver Lake Band and me to entertain their “Pre-Rodeo” Party” in August. Also, our thanks go out to the “Main Street” folks in Ponca City for inviting the guys and me to present a concert for the Ponca City Birthday Bash in September. And I was also privileged to do a concert in Smith Center, Kansas for the Arts Council in September. I always love to go to Smith Center and feel the ghosts of Dr. Brewster Higley and Dan Kelly for it was in Smith Center they wrote “Home on the Range”.
Ardmore High Class of 1957
It was a real pleasure to go out to Tommy Harris’s Ranch near Ardmore, Oklahoma in September to entertain the Ardmore High School Class of 1957. I guess the Statler Brothers were right, “The Class of ’57 had their Dreams”.
A group of real cowboys and cowgirls, and some of their friends, have built a very nice church between Elgin and Apache, Oklahoma on Highway 62. If you are ever in that area on Sunday morning around 10am, you will experience a very special time of worship and then some tasty cowboy grub cooked just outside the front door. I was there on September 30, 2007 to present a gospel music concert and will be returning on September 28, 2008.
Red Rock Guest Ranch
As I have mentioned before, the Red Rock Guest Ranch near Soldier, Kansas is a fun place to go and be fed and entertained. We were there in October, 2007 and will be returning in 2008. Check my schedule on the Internet for the date. Or call 1-866-FUNGRUB for the date and reservations.
Silver Dollar City
My Silver Lake Band and I were in Branson at Silver Dollar City in October for our 11th consecutive year to play for the Barn Dance and had a great time. Almost ever show was standing room only. See below for more information on the plan for 2008.
We already have several bookings for 2008 as shown below. But more will be coming in soon, so please check my website now and then for the latest schedule or give us a call. A few of the public shows already booked are discussed below.
February 24 - Lawrence, Kansas
My band and I will present a concert/dance at “Abe and Jake’s Landing”, 6th and New Hampshire, in Lawrence on Sunday, February 24 for the Humane Society. The dinner will be served at 5pm and the dance/concert will be from 6pm to 9pm. Call 785-841-7978 for reservations.
April 19 – Buhler, Kansas
A new show has been started at the old coop elevator in Buhler, Kansas, called “The Old Mill Theater”. Other artists who have or will perform there include Rex Allen, Jr., Johnny Western and R.W. Hampton. I’ll be there on April 19, 2008. Doors open at 6pm with Jake’s band coming on at 6:30pm. I’ll be on from 7pm to 9pm. For reservations and dinner information, call 620-543-6684.
April 26 – Blue Grass Festival, Wichita, Kansas
The Les Gilliam Trio, (Jeanne, Jerome and myself) will be performing at the “Blue Grass & More” Festival on April 26, 2008. Our friend, Al Hobson, has decided that this year, the “More” will be western music. So on that day, there will be a breakfast show featuring Johnny Western and the Diamond W Wranglers. Then, both the afternoon and evening shows will feature Barry Ward, Judy Coder and Pride of the Prairie, Fred Hargrove, the Blue Stem group from Lawrence and The Les Gilliam Trio. The location will be the 2nd building east of the Kansas Coliseum on I135, north of Wichita. Call 316-755-1488 for more information.
June 14 and December 13 – Winfield, Kansas
Les Gilliam and his Silver Lake Band will be returning to the Quail Valley Fun Barn in Winfield, Kansas on June 14 for the annual June Concert/Dance. And then we will be there in December for our annual Cowboy Christmas Ball. Please call 620-221-0052 for more information and reservations.
June 26-27 – Wahoo, Nebraska
The Country Music Festival in Wahoo, produced by Sharon and Roger Kenaston, is a major event in country music. There will be a host of top country music professionals appearing there from June 26-29. I’ll be there for the Thursday evening concert at 6:30pm, the Friday afternoon concert and the Friday night dance. Please call 402-687-9594 for more information and reservations.
Sept 13 – Jewell, Kansas
Curt Shoemaker was recently inducted into the Kansas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. He is also a great producer of the annual country music festival in Ionia, Kansas. But the folks down the road in Jewell, Kansas have invited Curt to move the show this year to Jewell. Ionia has no alternate location in case of rain whereas Jewell has such a back up facility. Jewell also offers other advantages for the fans. Jewell is located just a few miles north of Beloit, Kansas on Highway 14. Call 785-786-3361 for more information. There will be country music all day long and I’ll be on around noon and 3:30pm.
Sept 27 – Gene Autry, Oklahoma
The annual Gene Autry, Oklahoma Film and Music Festival will actually start on Wednesday night, Sept 24 with the “open mike” show. Then there will be two stages going all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Several Hollywood Movie Stars will be there during the event for panel discussions and autograph sessions. My band and I will be the headliners for the Saturday night show, presenting a 90 minute concert. In case you have forgotten, my Silver Lake Band includes Don Long on drums, Kenny Glasgow on bass, Jerald Ritter on fiddle and the unbelievable Smiley Weaver on steel guitar.
Oct 1-19 – Branson, Missouri
The guys and I are really looking forward to our 12th consecutive year to work Silver Dollar City in Branson. There will be a larger dance floor and plenty of seats so come and join us for a good time. We will do 3 shows per day (except closed on Monday and Tuesday). And we will want you to join us for the “Chicken Dance” every day.
For those of you in South Central Nebraska, I’d like to remind you of Big Al’s radio show on KRVN, 880 AM in Lexington, Nebraska. He is on Saturday nights from 6pm to 11pm. And then on Sunday morning, for his gospel show from 8am to 10am and 11:30am to noon. You might just hear one of my songs played. Also, Big Al is working on a plan for me to do a concert in the Lexington area in early April. I’ll post it on my web site when it is set for sure.
In closing, I’d like to advise you of a big disappointment to me. Due to budget cuts, my good friend Dugg Collins is no longer affiliated with KFTI 1070AM in Wichita. In fact they have replaced Dugg’s 6am to 10am country and western swing show with news. But thank goodness, we can hear country music the remainder of the day with Johnny Western from 10am to 3pm, followed by Gentle Ben and Harold Widup. Also, you may want to check my website to see some recent photos, especially from our trip to California to honor Gene Autry. And I have added some new bookings recently so please stay in touch. Thanks to each of you for your support. Hope to see you soon.
"The Oklahoma Balladeer"
P.O. Box 350
Ponca City, OK 74602