Johnny Bush Dies, Still Sings On My MP3 Player

As I concluded the needed tasks this week so to prepare the flower beds, trees, and lawn for the winter season I had my mp3 player pumping music. I own two of them so that one is always charged and ready to accompany me with the tasks ahead. And on each one there are songs by Johnny Bush. From the classic country-side of your blogger and my past radio days comes the sad news of his death.

The singer and songwriter known for his distinctive operatic voice and for writing the top-10 hit “Whiskey River,” died at age 85. His start has one of those perfectly nostalgic feelings as an uncle who hosted a radio program on Houston’s KTHT-AM encouraged Bush and his brother to perform on the air. So many of the classic country music stars had a radio component to their initial start in the business.

In his later years, Bush was asked whether he’d retire after a remarkable career that spanned decades.

“Retire from what? Breathing?” he asked rhetorically. “People only retire from jobs they hate. Performing is not a job-it’s what I do and what I love.”

When it comes to selecting a song that gives a true feel for the range, tone, and feel of Bush’s voice this is the one I feel does it perfectly.

Ryman Auditorium Gets Major News Coverage From CBS Sunday Morning

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In late June, theRyman Auditorium – a Nashville landmark for more than 125 years, and one-time home to the Grand Ole Opry – reopened for tours after closing due to COVID-19. CBS Correspondent Mark Strassmann looks at the history of the Ryman, which has hosted not just country musicians but also legends of folk, rock and hip hop; and talks with some of the artists (including Sheryl Crow and Ketch Secor, of Old Crow Medicine Show) who have graced its stage.

Jimmy Capps, Grand Ole Opry Member, Dead At 81

In so many performances at the Grand Ole Opry and on reunion videos, Jimmy Capps was a face that always was welcoming. 

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Guitarist Jimmy Capps, a member of the Musicians Hall of Fame who played on such timeless country songs as Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning,” has died at 81. Capps was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry, playing lead guitar in the house band. A rep for the Opry confirmed his death.

Born May 25th, 1939, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Capps began playing guitar when he was 12. In 1958, he auditioned for the Louvin Brothers’ band and was ultimately asked to join the sibling duo by Charlie Louvin. “Thanks to Charlie…I guess I owe my whole career to him,” Capps said in his 2018 autobiography The Man in Black. “That one split-second decision that he made is the reason I am here. That decision made all the difference in my life.”

Capps made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage with the Louvins, performing their murder ballad “Knoxville Girl,” and became an Opry member in 1959. He joined the Opry house band in 1967, playing lead guitar behind the radio show’s guest artists every week up until his death.

Memory Of Saturday Night, WSM, And The Grand Ole Opry!

I am a huge classic country music fan—-mostly music prior to 1970–and love the Grand Ole Opry. I was able to tell the following story, and its meaning to me, nearly 30 years ago on a tour bus as we left Kentucky and headed southwards to Music City. I took the little microphone used by the driver and let my feelings flow.  This story came from my heart then and does so again on this post.

The story goes that a family in West Virginia, which played music at barn dances and weddings almost every Saturday night, finally had a free weekend. So instead of picking up the banjo, lap organ, quill harp, or fiddle instead put some biscuits and fried chicken into a basket and started to walk towards the nearest high hill in their area. With a couple blankets in their arms they made their way to the top of the hill, and while looking down saw friends and neighbors walking up from all points of the compass. They each carried food and blankets, in preparation for a night of fun. When at last all gathered they spread their blankets on the ground, and shared dinner and conversations. As the sun set, one of them who had driven an old truck to the top of the hill removed a radio from the bed of the vehicle and hooked it to the truck battery. The radio was then tuned to WSM out of Nashville, Tennessee, and there under the stars these folks listened, clapped, danced, and sang along to the Grand Ole Opry. If you try you can imagine the scene as the AM signal whistled and crackled in the nighttime air. That same mood is still created these many decades later in homes around the country, and now thanks to the internet, around the world as well though the crackle of the signal is absent.

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Jan Howard, Lady From The Ozarks, Is Now Singing On The Biggest Stage

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The Grand Oe Opry family lost another member today with the death of Jan Howard.

She was not only an independent voice in her own right, with many recordings, but also was one of the classic country ladies along with Jean Shepherd, Skeeter Davis, and others who would band together and make music from the world-famous stage in Nashville Tennessee.

 

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When I was in the third grade my parents had tickets to see Bill Anderson, and his then singing partner Jan Howard, when they were to do a concert in Waupaca Wisconsin. I was going through a severe bout of the flu, and there were real concerns whether or not I could attend the show. But there was a miraculous recovery and I was there in the bleachers to watch, but it was Jan Howard who had come down with the flu and missed the concert!

I did not see her that night but many years later at the world-famous stage of the Grand Ole Opry, I saw Howard, along with the full array of performers.  Tonight she is with so many other legends on the largest stage ever.

Watch The Grand Ole Opry LIVE Tonight From Your Living Room!

Grand Ole Opry closed its doors to a live audience in response to the coronavirus, but country music fans can still enjoy the show.

The Saturday night show for the Opry will be streamed and broadcasted on Circle television. You can check here to see if your television provider carries Circle.

Listeners can also enjoy the Opry on the radio at 650 AM-WSM.

The shows will continue without a ticketed audience through April 4, per a news release from the organization.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. ET / 7 pm CT on Saturday, March 21.

Treasured Autographs Of JD Sumner And The Stamps Quartet

Country music and southern gospel were the sounds I grew up with as a boy in Hancock, Wisconsin.  As a young man and radio broadcaster at WDOR, I was able to turn Sunday mornings from the slow pace of George Beverly Shea type music–which had been aired before my being hired–to the upbeat and infectious harmony of the Speer Family, Blackwood Brothers, and of course, JD Sumner And The Stamps Quartet which I played.

Do not get me wrong.  Shea has a most amazing voice, but when it comes to waking up a radio audience and helping them along as they make coffee and breakfast the Imperials do a far better job.

This past week something most remarkable landed at my home.  A bevy of albums from the legendary gospel groups that once were played at the home of my Aunt Evie and Bob were passed along to me.  Over the decades I have kept updating my turntable and still play the vinyl which has that warm feel to the music that is lacking in other recordings.  The entertainment system almost turned itself on to get started spinning the discs.

So late Sunday night as James and I were putting the new arrivals into piles and making plans on incorporating them into our assortment of music I found something that made me look twice, three times, and then smile broadly.

JD Sumner And The Stamps Quartet are not only among the finest of the gospel music groups to have ever recorded, but also have a close connection to Elvis.  They were the first professional quartet to sing worldwide on Elvis’ famous, “Aloha From Hawaii” concert.  So when I flipped over this album…..

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…notice this includes lead vocalist Ed Enoch who had perhaps the best voice ever to sing this genre of music….

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and this…

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After a trying week, this find was a tonic for the soul.  Why is that so?  Take a listen to what I mean.

And this from the early 1970s.

Music is always the mixture of sounds and words that lifts and comforts, inspires and soothes.  That mixture was enhanced in our home with these albums.   May it always be so.

Dave Obey Brings Smile From Record Bin

While out shopping on the West Side of Madison Monday I walked into Half-Price Books, strolled past the LPs for sale, and stopped cold.  There in the front of a series of albums for sale was one starring Dave Obey.  My first thought was Congressman Dave Obey?

I picked up the album, looked closely at the musicians gathered in front of the United States Capitol, and sure enough, the photo of a much younger congressman was plain to see.   Now I was intrigued, as Bluegrass is a deep fondness of mine, and Obey is one of those favorite sons of the state who has made us proud while serving in the House of Representatives.  As I flipped the album over there were notes of appreciation for Obey and his group from none other than Ricky Skaggs.

How had I never known that Obey recorded an album?  I knew he played music from years back when I tracked his career while he was in office.  But what I held in my hand was most impressive.

From the record section of the store, I walked back to the biography section to look for a  copy of Obey’s biography.  As my luck would have it, not only did they have a copy, but a brand new one at that.  I scanned the index and found a fast background to his Bluegrass playing and was really most pleased to have discovered both items by simply walking into the store for a browse.

I so admire and respect Obey for his political leadership and acumen in the House, and his resolve when it came to the issues facing our nation.  Decades back I was a good friend with the daughter of Obey’s district office administrator.  Seeing the way he kept in touch with his constituents and never lost touch with the ones who sent him to Washington was impressive.

I bought both items.

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