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First of all, I’d like to remind you of two public events coming up in December, 2008
Closing Out 2008
On December 13, my band and I will be at the Quail Valley Fun Barn in Winfield, Kansas for our annual Cowboy Christmas Ball. 7pm – 10pm. Please call 620-221-0052 for reservations. Come join us for good food and lots of dancing and toe tapping fun.
On December 31, my band and I will be at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon in Benton, Kansas for the New Years Eve Dance. 9pm – Midnight. Please call 316-778-2121 for reservations and directions.
My latest CD is now available. The title is “Hank Did It This Way”. It is a tribute to 5 country and western swing singers whose stage name was Hank. The Hanks are Hank Penney, Hank Locklin, Hank Snow, Hank Thompson and Hank Williams. In the title song, which I wrote, I tell you their real names and where they came from. Then I sing some of their songs. This CD is now number 10 on the national Western Swing Album charts. A patriotic song on this CD which I wrote, “What’s Right with America” is currently number 9 on the Western Swing Song list.
I spent the first few weeks of 2008 continuing my recovery from hip surgery and triple by-pass. But then we hit the road and have had a fabulous year. Although we have a month to go, I’d like to review some of the highlights of 2008 thus far. My Silver Lake Band and I had a wonderful time in Lawrence, Kansas playing for the fund raiser for the Humane Society hosted by Jim & Liz Phillips. We will repeat this event in 2009. Then we headed to in Minden, Nebraska where we had a great time with Big Al Weekley, Curt Shoemaker, The Kenastons, Lorraine Worth and others for our concert at the beautiful Minden Opera House. We are working on a return engagement there in 2009.
Our annual show in Reagan, Oklahoma for Johnny Shackleford and friends was a delight and we will return there in 2009. It was cold and blustery at the park in Stillwater, Oklahoma but Amy Jo Frazie loved it so much, she wants me back there in 2009. And the Knife and Fork Club in Lawton, Oklahoma fed us so well and treated us like long time friends. The Old Mill Theater owned by LeWayne and Donna Bartel in Buhler, Kansas is a remodeled historic facility and our show there in April was a great success. And I just returned from there for our November show where my trio, Jeanne Cahill, Jerome Campbell and myself, were a huge hit with every one. Our thanks to Ranger Al Hobson for inviting me to be a part of his Bluegrass & More Show in Wichita/Park City, Kansas. The “More” was western music featuring our trio and many others. Then Jeanne, Jerome and I traveled to Lawrence, Kansas for lots of fun at a private event.
We sure have a lot of friends and fans in Nebraska. In May, I performed at Springview & Norden, Nebraska for a fun filled, and wet, weekend. But those Nebraska folks don’t mind a little rain and they sure turned out for our shows. I had never heard of the African Violet but their National Society held their annual convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I was privileged to entertain them with some stories and songs about a lot of famous entertainers from Oklahoma. But the folks in Lindsay, Oklahoma sure know a lot about our Oklahoma Musical Heritage and made Martha and me feel so at home at the historic and beautifully remodeled Murray Mansion.
We always have a great time at the Quail Valley Fun Barn in Winfield, Kansas. My band and I did our annual summer concert/dance there in June and, as noted above, will be presenting our annual Cowboy Christmas Ball on December 13. Thanks to Floid, Valeta and Marilyn for all the good times we have had and will continue to have there.
The Summer Jamboree at the Gene Autry Museum in Gene Autry, OK has become an annual event each June. This is a fund raiser for the Museum with western music all day long. The admission is free but donations are accepted plus an auction of lots of very nice donated items, both cowboy relics and home backed goodies. One of the highlights of the Jamboree is the performance by many youngsters hosted by Janet McBride. In 2009, the event will be extended to a night show featuring yours truly and then a Cowboy Church the next day with gospel music and an inspirational message.
The annual Country Music Show in Wahoo, Nebraska is produced by Sharon and Roger Kenaston and is an outstanding event. With four stages going all day and a western swing dance at night, the large number of attendees had a “whale of a good time” and enjoyed a wide variety of music including country, cowboy, gospel, pop, bluegrass and western swing. This was our fourth year for Martha and me to travel to Forest City, Iowa to entertain the Winnebago/Itasca Grand National Rally and we will be returning there in 2009.
I was so pleased to be the featured entertainer at the opening of the Silver Screen Cowboy Museum in Newton, Kansas but due to various reason, the museum has been moved to the Old Mill Theater in Buhler, Kansas. Hope you can visit there sometime and see the large collection of memorabilia on display.
Gail and Carol Burns are two of our favorite people. I have worked with Gail and his band many times over the years in Council Grove, Kansas. But due to health problems, he only sang a couple of songs for us this time, but I was privileged to be the featured entertainer for the Lions Club Fundraiser at the fairgrounds. Then we took off back to Nebraska where I was a guest on Big Al’s Radio Show on KRVN in Lexington, Nebraska. From there we went to Trenton, Nebraska to sing some gospel songs for Pastor Johnny Walker at the Church of God and then joined Big Al, Curt, Sharon, Roger, Lorraine, Jim Barnes and Ron Larson for the night concert at the football stadium. Then they ask me to stay over for an appearance on the state wide NTV network show out of Kearney, Nebraska which was a special treat.
Those auctioneers in Kansas are a great bunch and I had a wonderful time entertaining their annual banquet in Winfield, Kansas in August. Wish I could do it like LeRoy VanDyke. Then Merry and Pearl at Wyldewood Cellars invited me to present a concert at their headquarters location in Mulvane, Kansas which was a special evening for all of us. Next, my Silver Lake Band and I were the entertainment for a private event at the Marland Mansion in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
You may not know Danny and Jean Morrison of Gainesville, Texas but this wonderful couple celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in September and my band and I were treated like royalty when we entertained at their big celebration. That same night, I scooted over to Lake Kiowa, Texas with my guitar to be a part of a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society, thanks to Phyllis and Don.
Curt Shoemaker’s annual Country Music Festival has been held in Ionia, Kansas in prior years. But this year, it was moved to Jewell, Kansas and the weather, facilities and hosts were just plain outstanding. And our special guest was Dave Copenhaver, the owner of Studio 7 and Lunacy Records in Oklahoma City. It just so happens that the lineup for the show included Lorraine Worth, Curt Shoemaker, Jim Barnes and myself, all of whom record for Lunacy Records.
Gary Lower and the High School Class of 1953 of Shawnee, Oklahoma allowed me to entertain their 55th Anniversary Reunion and we all agreed not to talk about our ages, but to enjoy our memories of those days. And the elementary school in Wilson, Oklahoma invited me to share stories and songs about cowboys and our state of Oklahoma. Thanks to Superintendent Kevin Stinson and his staff.
The annual Gene Autry Cowboy Film and Music Festival was held in Gene Autry, Oklahoma in September for the 16th year. This great event starts on Wednesday night and ends at noon on Sunday. Not only do we enjoy lots of cowboy music but also panel discussions and autograph parties with some of the top western movie and TV personalities. Gene Watson and his Farewell Party Band were there this year along with Johnny Western, Eli Barsi, Judy Coder, Tex and Mary Schutz, Janet McBride, Jim Garliing, Les Gilliam and his Silver Lake Band and many others. We are looking forward to our 17th year there in 2009.
Then on the final Sunday of September, I made my second appearance at the Elgin, Oklahoma Cowboy Church, located on Highway 62 between Elgin and Apache, Oklahoma. If you ever get the chance, just drop in there on any Sunday morning and you will meet Bill and all the other great cowboys and cowgirls.
It was the 12th consecutive year for my band and me to do the Barn Dance at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. (It was the 13th year for me since I had been there one year prior as a solo act.) We had Standing Room Only at almost every show and the dance floor was full for nearly every song. We did 45 shows and every show was different as we took requests and sang for a host of birthdays and anniversaries. Our thanks to our host D.A. Callaway who has invited us back in 2009, starting September 30 for two weeks. And in 2009 we will be returning to the Red Gold Heritage Hall, the largest venue at Silver Dollar City. And the Live Wire Senior Adults at First Southern Baptist Church in Guthrie, Oklahoma seem to enjoy our cowboy stories and songs.
My thanks to Judy James for having me on her 4 station network Cowboy Jubilee Show in October in Weatherford, Texas. That same day, I sang for a family reunion in Granbury, Texas and then hurried over to Stephenville, Texas to sing on Carroll Parham’s Cross Timbers Opry. The next day, I presented both cowboy and gospel music for the Park Lake Drive Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, thanks to cousin Reta and Dr. Bill Austin.
One of the highlights of the year for me was to open for Riders in the Sky at the Poncan Theatre in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Then Ranger Doug ask if I would close the show with El Paso and let them sing it with me., which we did. Thanks to Ranger Doug, Too Slim, Woody Paul and Joey, the Cowpolka King. And finally, we ended November in Buhler, Kansas with Jeanne and Jerome joining me to entertain at the Old Mill Theater.
We will wrap up 2008 with the Kay County Baptist Christmas Dinner at the Marland Mansion in Ponca City, Oklahoma, the Christmas Banquet for the Westerners Club in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the WillisChild Oil Company Christmas Dinner in Medicine Park, Oklahoma, our annual Cowboy Christmas Ball in Winfield, Kansas and the first annual New Years Eve Dance at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon in Benton, Kansas.
Martha and I would like to wish each of you a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and we thank you for your friendship and support. Hope you can join us somewhere down the trail.