Letter From Home “Vestal’s Handkerchief” 7/13/19

Vestal Goodman, I am sure, is not a topic many of my readers think about with any regularity.  But I do. She still remains one of my favorite gospel singers. At a time of great despair, the loss of a loved one, or times when I am feeling glum her musical styling, and vocals about truths unseen have always made a huge difference for me.  Over the past couple of weeks she has been on my mind as I thought about what to do with a memory from her that needed a new home.

Many years ago I received two signed handkerchiefs from Vestal.  She never took to a stage without that southern adornment held in her hand to gently wipe her face as the heat of the concert lights took hold.  When she started her own online music site there was a window of time when she sent out signed lace hankies.  While one of them was placed in a special photo box, I gave the other hanky to my Aunt Evelyn who enjoyed watching and listening to the Homecoming Friends videos, as did Uncle Bob.

This spring Evie died and the hanky found its way back to me.  The mission was to find it a new home.  After some thinking on a late night walk James and I thought of a friend of mine who lives in Nashville, Tennessee.  He has the same regard for music as I do, and also was heavily involved with the restoration of the Hank Snow Ranch.  But he also works at the famed Ernest Tubb Record Shop.


The Grand Ole Opry Star started his record shop in 1947 and it still is the place to go for the classic country sounds that made Nashville known as “Music City”.  Each Saturday night the “Midnight Jamboree” is broadcast live from the store over WSM radio, AM 650, the “Air Castle Of The South”.  The store also is the home to artifacts and memories from over the decades of country and gospel music.

It was the place I hoped to find a new home for Vestal’s signed handkerchief.  When I contacted Terry he was delighted to have it and will place it for viewing.

The Happy Goodmans and their music connected with me in my teenage years.  The vocals of Vestal set her apart from any other sound I had heard.  By the time I was a young man and taking over the Sunday morning radio show on WDOR in Sturgeon Bay I was loving Southern Gospel.   I wrote about that time in my book Walking Up The Ramp.

I was told to play inspirational music, and was offered suggestions–as if I seemed a heathen unaccustomed to religion. The selections offered to ‘show me the way’ included George Beverley Shea, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. While both of those had merit, if you resided in a poorly managed nursing home where the intent was to keep the old people in bed, then yes, those might have been just the ticket. But what would better suit the lady,  who from time to time delivered a baked good from her oven to me at the station on her way to church? The proposed format I was to follow needed some sprucing up and I had a different idea about the tone of the show I wanted to create on Sunday mornings. I wanted something quite different for those hours when folks get up, start their day, and head to church. I was going to make their day start off on the up-tempo side. Just to be clear: when the broadcast day starts at 6:00 A.M., I think that there has to be a bit of verve to the music. I needed the extra ‘umph’ in my morning as much as the listeners. 

That first Sunday when I opened the broadcast day, I pulled a selection of albums from the station’s collection ranging from the Speer Family to the Oak Ridge Boys, from the Cathedrals to the gospel sounds of the Statler Brothers. I pulled from the shelves music from the Stamps Quartet, as well as the Blackwood Brothers. Things were going to heat up at the nursing home that day!

As I rummaged through the recordings at the station, I came upon a glaring omission in the stack. Something would have to be done. I knew one way or another that Vestal and her piano-playing husband, Howard, were going to be a part of Sunday mornings at the station.

So, off I headed that same week to Ace Records located on Main Street which was one of those (now) old-fashioned, and wonderful stores where anything on vinyl could be found, and if not in stock, it could be ordered and picked up in just a few days. I did a search of the possible selections and ordered a double-album set from a live concert, along with an album with some selections I knew contained just the type of sound I wanted. I paid for the albums with my own money, and still have the recordings, and play them at home on my turntable.

Back at WDOR, armed with my albums I saw to it that Vestal Goodman hit the airwaves the following Sunday.  (In 2003 at a Homecoming Friends concert in Champaign, Illinois, I was able to meet her, and even get a hug as she was slowly walking her way to the stage for the second half of the show which featured a sing-a-long with all the others groups. I hugged her, telling her I loved her, and in true southern style she said, “Bless you, darling.”)

The hanky is on its way to Nashville as I write this blog post.  And I know that if Evie were to have been told of this news she would smile and softly say words akin to “Well that is really something”.  She would have enjoyed hearing it all.

When wanting to take a photo of the hanky so to have some meaning I opened a piano music book of Goodman songs to the one that speaks to the larger connection that Evie and Bob shared in their decades of togetherness.


The Sad State Of Our Nation–This Time From Nashville

At the Riverbend Maximum Security State Prison in Nashville they are planning to execute a man at the exact moment the Nashville Titans kick off football tonight.

Kickoff is at 7:20 p.m.

They will lead David Earl Miller to the electric chair at 7 PM exactly and then strap him in and put the sponges and electrodes on him and let him have his last words. This process should take almost 20 minutes precisely. Then throw the switch!!

People will be celebrating and tailgating before the game. It’s football time in Tennessee. Crazy, crazy, very sad world.

Remembering Roy Acuff

26 years ago today we lost an amazing country music singer and personality.  Roy Acuff was more than just a star who knew how to dazzle while on sate.  He was also responsible for bringing music publishing to Nashville.  This was no small event as it helped to transform the music industry so that writers and singers, including himself, could have their own voice and not be controlled by outsiders in New York and other places who most often took advantage of them.

Acuff was best known for being the face and voice of the Grand Ole Opry for the first 12 1/2 years it was on the NBC Radio Network, and even after leaving the Grand Ole Opry for a period of less than a year in 1947-1948, he came back to serve in an even larger capacity as not only the spokesperson but also the ambassador of the Opry until his death.

If you ever saw Acuff with an audience you well understand that people loved him.  As the Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium from downtown Nashville into its own property in 1974 he stayed in the park meeting and greeting millions of fans.  He even built his home there in 1983 following the death of his wife Mildred.  In a great way, the public he welcomed became a permanent part of his family.

Today CP fondly recalls the man and his music.

Four Dead In Mass Shooting At Waffle House In Nashville After Father Gives Back Weapons To Unstable Son

Police say this is the rifle used in the deadly shooting at a Waffle House on Sunday.  All we can say is here we go again, America.  Who would have thought someone would use an  AR-15 for killing people!

The 29-year-old suspect in a shooting early Sunday at a restaurant in my beloved Nashville that left four dead was arrested last year by the U.S. Secret Service for being in a restricted area near the White House.

Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said Travis Reinking’s firearms authorization was then revoked at the request of the FBI, and four weapons were seized, including the AK-15 that he allegedly used in the shooting at the Waffle House restaurant early Sunday.

Aaron said the four guns were returned to the suspect’s father, who acknowledged giving them back to his son.  The father clearly is mentally deficient in every sense of the word.

This is EXACTLY one of the changes to laws that I have continually argued for in this nation.  The person, in this case the father, who allows for guns to be be made available to a person who is known to be unstable and in violation of the law in previous case(s), needs to be charged. 

Police spokesman Aaron said three people died at the restaurant and one person died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Travis Reinking is pictured below.

Mike Huckabee Resigns From CMA Foundation Board Following Proper Outcry In Nashville

There is no love here for any of the Huckabee family.  But when the news was first aired this week that Mike Huckabee was named to the CMA there was displeasure wide and deep.  No homophobic who stirs hatred and foments divisions in the nation, or has a daughter that lies with a twisted eye from the White House should have a place on the CMA.   The pressure against Huckabee built fast and he took the first exit ramp he could find.

Huckabee’s appointment sent instant shockwaves throughout Nashville, one of the few left-leaning cities in a deeply red state, that some in Music City felt showed the country music industry’s reticence to embrace the social movements gaining steam in other parts of the country. Among those speaking up was Jason Owen, head of powerhouse management firm Sandbox Entertainment (whose clients include country artists Little Big Town and Faith Hill) and Monument Records (Walker Hayes), who sent the CMA Foundation a letter Thursday declaring that neither he nor his artists would support the association in any way going forward.

In response to Huckabee’s resignation, singer, songwriter and producer Shane McAnally, who is on the CMA Board, said he was “glad” to hear the news and hopes “this will prevent any further distractions from the work that the CMA Foundation does in our community.”

He continued, “As a member of the CMA Board, I was disheartened to learn that Huckabee was appointed to the position because his beliefs have not been representative of our country music community as a whole, which is made up of dynamic and forward-thinking creatives. The CMA is an organization that acts as an ambassador for our industry, so it is incredibly important that we are diligent in spreading a message that embraces diversity and love. I hope that the CMA will continue to be governed by progressive and empathetic individuals in the future.”

Total Solar Eclipse At The Grand Ole Opry In Nashville, Tennessee

One of the most historic parts of country music will be celebrating a monumental astronomical event. The Grand Ole Opry will be hosting a celebration in the path of the upcoming total solar eclipse, beginning with a star-studded special Sunday night Opry show on August 20 featuring CMA and ACM vocal group of the year Little Big Town, Darius Rucker, Wynonna and many more.

On Monday, August 21, the United States will experience the first total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States since 1979, and the first one visible from the southeastern United States since 1970. Fans can head to the Opry, which is positioned to be in the direct path of the total eclipse, to begin the celebration with the show on August 20.

Show tickets and total eclipse packages featuring show tickets, Opry House Backstage Tours, food and drink vouchers, Opry Total Eclipse viewing glasses, and a commemorative print go on sale on Friday, July 7 at noon CDT at opry.com and 800-SEE-OPRY.

Grand Ole Opry Total Eclipse 2017 Schedule of Events:

Sunday, August 20, 7p.m.       Grand Ole Opry Total Eclipse Show

Monday, August 21, 11 a.m.    Grand Ole Opry Total Eclipse Plaza Party

August 21 Eclipse Timing:

Partial eclipse begins: 11:58 a.m. CDT

Start of totality: 1:27 p.m. CDT

Partial eclipse ends: 2:54 p.m. CDT

Old Crow Medicine Show And Darius Rucker

Ketch Secor and Darius Rucker at the Mother Church of Country Music in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tonight James and I were out and about with shopping and dinner. WSM was on the car radio with the Friday night Grand Ole Opry coming live over the airwaves. Old Crow Medicine Show was featured on one segment of the oldest radio show in the nation. I love these guys and post one of their Opry performances from several years back. Want to feel the Opry in all its magic then watch at 2 minutes 59 seconds—and turn it up loud!

Kevin Marvin Anderson, Local Man With WSM Radio, Grand Ole Opry Connection, Dies

Hat Tip To Solly.


Kevin Marvin Anderson would have been so wonderful to have talked with over coffee.  From his days traveling with Sonny James, working at famed WSM radio, and standing on the world-famous stage as an announcer for the Grand Ole Opry, the longest running radio show in the nation there would have been no shortage of topics to discuss.   Long-time readers to this blog know why Anderson would be a treasure-trove of stories about Nashville and some of the country music stars he would have come to know over the years.

While there are plenty of words to be found on CP about the ones who stand in the lights of the Opry stage we are all aware that the ones who stand off to the side of the stage and announce the show are very much a part of the event.  To have had that experience  must have been one his shining memories.

My thoughts go out to his family and certainly wide array of friends at this time.    I know there is a sense of deep loss right now.  But without ever meeting Anderson I strongly suspect that he would not want a slow mournful fiddle being played in his memory, but instead want something more sprightly and reflective of the way he loved the music that was so often heard from the Opry stage.

That is, after all, the spirit that resides within a classic country music fan.

Kevin Marvin Anderson, age 56, passed away unexpectedly from cardiac arrest on Monday, May 16, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. He was born in Madison on June 24, 1959, the son of Marvin and Eunice (Bronte) Anderson.

Kevin was a 1977 graduate of Monona Grove High School. His passion for music began in Sunday school at West Koshkonong Lutheran Church in Stoughton, and he was also a member of Don Ring’s Orchestra while in high school. Kevin moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University, but soon left to join country artist Jana Jae’s touring band. A talented musician, Kevin toured the country playing music, first with Jana Jae and then with Sonny James on guitar and backing vocals.

After leaving the road, Kevin returned to Nashville to work at WSM Radio, where he served as a producer for the Bill Cody morning show, then became the WSMFM music director before working as a part-time announcer for the Grand Ole Opry. As a longstanding fixture with WSM, Kevin had the opportunity to meet and befriend many of his country music idols and other entertainers.

Kevin’s love of country music was second only to his love for his family.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 23, 2016, at West Koshkonong Church 1911 Koshkonong Road, Stoughton. Burial will follow in West Koshkonong Cemetery