Stories from the Road #3

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

This is part of a new series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a van full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

This week we are traveling back to the late 40s or early 50s with another tale from Texas Singer/Songwriter, Rick Sikes

New Young Rick

“Here’s another experience I want to relate to you from my early formative years. Back in those days, bands would travel around and stop in every little town at every little radio station to promote their records. Sometimes, they’d do a live show of thirty minutes or so. Once, back in the 40s or early 50s, Webb Pierce came to Coleman. He was on his way somewhere else to play but stopped in at KSTA Radio to promote a record which I believe was “Wondering.” My mom took me and my younger brother out to the station to see him. I can gauge the year by the fact that I wasn’t old enough to drive yet. (A side note…my mom was a helluva piano player and she loved music almost as much as anyone I ever knew.) Anyway, she took us out to the station and we watched their show through the control room window. There was no one else there besides the DJ. I often wondered where everyone was. Perhaps they were working and couldn’t get away, as it was in the middle of the afternoon. At any rate, for whatever the reason, we had exclusive access. I distinctly remember the members of Webb Pierce’s band that were there that day: Jimmy Day on Pedal Steel, Tillman Franks on standup bass, Faron Young on rhythm guitar and fronting for Webb, Floyd Cramer on piano and Tommy Hill on fiddle.

After they finished their show, we got to visit with them. This was a real boost for me to see these guys because by then, I knew this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life – play music. They were driving a brand new shiny Pontiac car and had this nice little band trailer they were pulling. They were looking flashy for those times. I patterned myself after these heroes of mine when I launched my career. And while I never really cared much for Webb Pierce’s voice, I admired the hell out of him as a performer and businessman…”


Webb Pierce was known as the “KING OF HONKYTONK BLING” and this now famous car was lined on the inside with silver dollars while the outside sported a set of longhorns and pistols for door handles.


I hope you've enjoyed this segment of-STORIES FROM THE ROAD-from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES

John, Kris, and Me – Guest Post by, Andrew Joyce…

Because I LOVE music and all stories relating to music, I had to reblog this post written by Andrew Joyce. This is a true story that he’s included in his latest book, “Bedtime Stories for Grownups,” a compilation of short stories. Take a peek at his by-chance meeting with Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson!

Source: John, Kris, and Me – Guest Post by, Andrew Joyce…

bedtime stories

To order this extraordinary book, visit Amazon

Click here for more books from Andrew Joyce

EMPTY CHAIRS – by Stacey Danson – Book #REVIEW! #RRBC

5 star

Empty Chairs

If I could give this book more than FIVE STARS, I would.

Here’s the Blurb For EMPTY CHAIRS: Standing Tall and Fighting Back Book 1

Stacey Danson, lived through and beyond horrific child abuse. This book tells of her brutal beginnings, the streets of Sydney at the age of eleven were preferable to the hell she endured at home. She ran, and those streets became her home for five years. She was alone, ill, and afraid. Stacey also had an unshakeable belief that she would do more than just survive her life. She would not allow her future to be determined by the horrors of her childhood. She reached out for something different; there had to be more to life; if she could only find it. She had a dream of a life where pain and humiliation had no place. She was determined to find that life. Empty Chairs is the beginning of the journey. Now she is living the dream.

And now, my REVIEW:

This true story from Stacey Danson aka Suzanne Burke captivated me from the first word to the last. How could any so-called mother inflict such horrific and sadistic abuse on her young daughter? What kind of sick mind would let her think it was okay to sell her child’s body to soothe her addiction? Sassy-Girl’s mother, that’s who. So, when this child made the decision to run, looking forward to life on the streets as opposed to her current “life in hell,” I cheered for her. Did it matter that she’d beaten her mother severely? Hell no! I cheered for that too. But, this young girl of ten years old couldn’t have been more lost as she struggled to learn the rules of the streets. The daily chore of finding a safe place to wait out the nights proved difficult. Her instinctive distrust of people, in general, was her biggest ally. But, the part of the book where Sassy-Girl celebrated her first ever Christmas broke my heart. As she watched the families play in the park with children who ran and laughed and played, she realized on a small scale just what she’d missed. And the moment she started to think she had a grip of living on the streets, the unthinkable happened. A brutal rape that left her incapacitated for days on end only served to strengthen her resolve to not let herself be vulnerable ever again. And, when she lay sick and unable to move for days, I began to fear she would die. All I can say about this book is that if you think homeless kids on the streets are all thugs or brats, you need to sit down and read this. My heart will never forget this young child and the many others out there today like her. Stacey Danson bared her soul in such a way that at times I almost felt like an intruder for reading. This is a well-written gripping story from start to finish. But, if you are squeamish or faint-of-heart, this book might push you over the edge. And, now I am compelled to read the sequel to this story, “Faint Echoes of Laughter.


For more books by Suzanne Burke aka Stacey Danson, visit her Amazon Author Page

Suzanne Burke is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

Follow Suzanne:

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Mike Blakely – CD Review

Award-winning novelist and singer/songwriter Mike Blakely has published 18 books, released by major New York City publishers.

As a performing songwriter, Mike has released 12 CDs, performed all over the U.S., and made 16 tours to Europe.  His songs have been recorded by Alan Jackson, Gary P. Nunn, Red Steagall, Flaco Jimenez and Raul Malo, John Arthur Martinez, Randy Brown, Geronimo Trevino III and Johnny Rodriguez, Johnny Bush, Pauline Reese, Debbi Walton and others.

And now he has a new CD release which I had the pleasure of reviewing.



Independent Release

 Nothing describes Mike Blakely’s vocal and songwriting style better than straightforward and genuine.

Listening to his new CD, Keepsake, is like going on an easy rambling trail ride. Mike’s “no frills” music touches something deep inside.

Larry Nye (Guitar), Kurt Baumer (Fiddle), Duke Davis (Upright Bass) and Shane Lively (Drums) accompany Mike on Keepsake, while Annie Blakely, Walt & Tina Wilkins and Larry Boyd sing backup vocals.

The album begins with a poignant song, “A Town Called Paradise,” written by Blakely and Ken Garrett. It is the perfect escape song. “My Same Old New Mexican Dream” is a clever play on words. “Easy Ramblin’” is all about slowing down.

Annie Blakey joined Mike in writing “Keepsake,” and it is a beautiful love song that fits the couple perfectly. “I missed you before I met you/I loved you before I knew you/Before we found each other/I was yours/you were mine.”

“Moonlight Colorado,” captured me completely. The melody and words weave a tantalizing dance.

Walt and Tina Wilkins lend their perfectly synced background vocal harmony on “I am Nobody.” The message carried in the lyrics is uplifting. “I am nobody/Nobody’s perfect/Therefore I’m perfect/Perfect for you.”

Written by Jeff Posey and Walt Wilkins, “Skipping Stone” is sweet and tender.

“Miranda’s Warning” is a haunting melody. He should have heeded Miranda’s warning. “The Island with No Name” has a Mexican flare and features Larry Nye on the acoustic guitar.

The album ends with “Don’t send Flowers” and is the longest track on the CD at five minutes. Wistful poetic lyrics weave a wish. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard a more authentically beautiful song about death.

If you enjoy listening to lyrics that have meaning, tell a story or carry a message while the melody flows like a cool mountain stream, you will enjoy Keepsake.


Purchase Keepsake

About Mike Blakely

AND, Mike Blakely will be our speaker and entertainment at the Texas Authors Institute of History Fundraising Gala at The Main Street Gardens in Dallas on October 6th!


#RRBC Pay-It-Forward – Stephanie Collins


One of the most incredible and uplifting benefits of a membership in the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is that other members promote and uplift their fellow authors. And, nothing does it better than a Pay-It-Forward day.

So, today, I set aside all self-promotion to introduce you to #RRBC (RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB) and #RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Author, Stephanie Collins. She has quite a story to tell.


Her book, With Angel’s Wings, is a deeply moving and personal memoir

Twenty-five-year-old Laura resides in Littleton, New Hampshire with her three-year-old daughter, Emily. Her husband, Kevin, a marine, has been called out to sea for six months. Laura has just given birth to her second daughter, Hannah.

“Uh-oh. We’ve got a problem here. I’m hearing a significant murmur.” Just thirteen days after giving birth, Laura’s life was changed forever by those words from the pediatrician.

This is the raw and honest recount of Laura’s unexpected journey into the world of parenting a medically fragile, special-needs child. Will her marriage survive? What about her relationship with her older daughter who presents challenges of her own? Will Laura keep her sanity? What part will Laura’s stepbrother, Daniel, play in the events to unfold? And how does a cow angel fit into this dramatic journey?

Having garnered nineteen separate awards and 139 reviews on Amazon, this book has taken wings of its own.

Even though I don’t know Stepanie Collins personally, I am as proud of her as a mother who just watched her child ace a National Spelling Bee! She shows her support of other authors by promoting their books, blogs, and events. She is the true face of what #RRBC and #RWISA stands for and it is my honor to promote her here today.

She encourages young mothers around the globe not only with her book but with a blog where she regularly posts new updates.

I invite you to take a look at her book trailer.


Then head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy of

With Angel’s Wings

You can follow Stephanie


TWITTER             FACEBOOK          WEBSITE         BLOG

Stories from the Road #2

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

I’m beginning a new series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a van full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

“When I was a very young kid, around sixteen, Hank Williams Sr. played in Brownwood at the old Soldiers and Sailors Auditorium. He was definitely an idol of mine. It was sort of an amateur type show first, and then they brought Hank out as the big entertainment. I did my little part in the amateur show. I don’t remember what I sang. Little Joe Carson was there…some people may remember him. He was quite a musician. Anyway, I did my bit and I got to talk to Hank, which I found out in later years was very unusual. He didn’t talk that much, or at least that’s what I was told by Sammy Pruett, who was Hank’s guitar player. I did some gigs with Sammy years later on down the line and I related this story to him. He said that Hank simply didn’t often talk to people, but that every once in a while, he’d talk to a kid like me. Probably because I was young and sincere and he sensed something in me. Anyway, Hank Williams Sr. told me to go out there and ‘make the audience feel what you feel. You make them hear what you are saying…’

Projecting yourself is what it basically came down to. I watched him that night and I never saw any other entertainer that had the magnetism, or projection that this guy had. He was not flashy and it almost appeared as if he had stage fright. He had a presence. There was something around him beyond himself and it worked. He could captivate an audience with just his presence on stage before he said anything. It really wasn’t that he was all that great of a looking guy or anything like that, it was just something that he did. It was a form of magic and I worked hard to understand it and to learn to do that – to project. I got to where I could bring the audience to my way of thinking. I could make them cry or laugh or feel whatever emotion I wanted them to feel. I think this is probably one of the most important things an entertainer can learn to do.”

Hank Williams, Sr.


A Very Young Rick Sikes



Hidden Gems

I returned from a trip into the heart of the Texas Hill Country with two new must-return-to destinations.

The first is historic Salado, Texas and the Stagecoach Inn.


Talk about history! Set on the south bank of Salado Creek, fed by both fresh and mineral water, Native Americans often camped while hunting bison and other wild game. The Tonkawa Indians established a village on this site. Spaniard explorers who passed through named the small oasis, “Salado” (salty or salted – referring to the mineral waters.)

Most of the north-south travel across Texas from 1860 to 1890 came through Salado, which was both a major stop along the famous Chisolm Trail as well as a Butterfield Stage lines stop. In 1861, one of the area’s first settlers erected the Shady Villa Hotel. Many varied and distinguished guests found food and rest here, including Sam Houston, General George Custer, Robert E. Lee, cattle barons Shanghai Pierce and Charles Goodnight and outlaws Sam Bass and Jesse James.


Sam Houston stayed in this room which still has the original flooring and fireplace.


If this ancient tree could talk!

In 1943, the Shady Villa Motel, in disrepair and abandoned, received new life along with the new name The Stagecoach Inn.

This walk down History Lane was one I’ll not soon forget. And, the food in The Stagecoach Inn restaurant was some of the best I’ve ever had.

The small village of Comfort, Texas is nestled in the southern part of the Texas Hill Country. It has some of the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere on the planet!

Comfort has remained an unincorporated community since its founding by German immigrants known as The Freethinkers in the 1850’s. Some of the residents refer to it as a shire and others as a community but don’t dare call it a town or city. They are quick to correct you.

The Historic Downtown district features authentic nineteenth-century German-style architecture.

It is rich with history, arts of all kinds, delicious food and boasts not only a winery but a distillery.

This was my first time to visit a distillery and the tour taught me a lot.

What is different about this distillery? They make moonshine out of Prickly Pear Cactus. I had a Lemon Drop Martini made from this moonshine and it was delicious!

Texas Hill Country Distillers

Fascinating facts about the process of making high-quality hooch: Did you know that  to make Gin, you must have Juniper Berries? Did you know you can distill wine and end up with a smooth-tasting high-octane liquor? Did you know you can make hooch out of cactus that is not Tequila? Well neither did I, but I learned all those things on the tour.

Of course, I brought home a couple of bottles of the Prickly Pear Cactus Moonshine.


The community of Comfort, Texas, the incredibly beautiful landscape rich with wildlife, and the friendly open spirit of its residents make it a return destination.



Stories From the Road #1


I’m beginning a new series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a van full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.

I hope you enjoy this series, but before we get to the “road” stories, I want to go back a little farther to the beginning.

Rick Sikes got his first guitar when he was twelve years old. He recalls, “My uncle gave me an old Montgomery Ward guitar. The thing was an F-hole guitar and the strings on it were old and rusty. They were more like saw blades than guitar strings when you would run your fingers down them. The neck was warped, but I like that guitar a lot. Some of the strings were two strings tied together. They’d break where you could get up above the nut and tie them back enough to get them wrapped around the key. I loved plunking on that old guitar and trying to sing. I did a lot of it. I was so bad and getting a little braver and louder and finally, my dad asked me if I wouldn’t like to take the guitar down to the barn to the feed room where it was dry. I could go down there and get some practice and sing loud. In other words, he’d had about enough of that damn racket in the house and it was time to take it elsewhere. So, my first real audience was cows.”

Rick Sikes Junior High

(Just an interesting side note. Rick’s family moved to Odessa for a short time and during these years, 1948-1949, Rick attended school with Roy Orbison.)

Now on to the first stage appearance:

“Sometime in the late Forties, at the Coleman City Park, they had a Pavillion where guys would gather to sing and play music on Saturday nights. I would go and listen a lot. Some of the older musicians kept after me to get up and sing with them. So, I finally did. I’ll never forget the first song I sang. All those people were looking at me as I was singing “Your Cheating Heart.” I sang it through. The old guys in the band knew I was scared because my knees were knocking together. They wouldn’t stop and the band played on through the bridge and told me to sing another verse, and another and another. They wouldn’t let me quit. I just kept singing. I came home and stayed awake most of that night because I was a nervous wreck. Then I got to thinking…’Well, if I’m ever going to sing, I’m going to have to get up there and do it. I can’t put it off any longer and I can’t be afraid.’ It took me a few days of kicking it around trying to decide whether I ever wanted to get back up there again. I made up my mind it was what I wanted to do. I copped an attitude that the worse they could do is kill me and they probably wouldn’t want to eat me. So, I got back up there for many, many years afterward. I don’t recall a time during the first minute or two when I walked out on a stage that I didn’t have what I can only call an adrenaline rush. It was a moment of tension until after I got into the first song. By the time I was half through that first song, I was okay…I had it. Five minutes into the gig, I had the audience exactly like I wanted them. They didn’t have me, I had them zeroed in…”


Rick and Bobby 1956_1
Rick Sikes on the left and Bobby Sikes on the right – 1956

I hope you’ll come back each week as I share some of the “Stories from the Road” with Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels!

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CD Review – Sam Baker




Independent Release

 Central Texas music artist, Sam Baker has released his fifth album, Land of Doubt, produced by Neilson Hubbard.

What you’ll hear on Land of Doubt is stunning, beautifully arranged strains of chords and melodies with lyrics deeper than the roots of an old oak tree. Baker is well-known for surviving a violent terrorist attack in Peru in 1986. He suffered some hearing loss in the explosion but has defeated all obstacles to emerge as a respected songwriter and performer.

Land of Doubt opens with simplistic yet complex guitar chords from Will Kimbrough on “Summer Wind.” I am immediately reminded of Willie Nelson’s style of intermingling guitar licks with meaningful lyrics.

“Same Kind of Blue” pays tribute to a shy young soldier named Charlie, who was sent to Viet Nam to fight the Viet Cong also known as Charlie. “It was a long way to go for a boy named Charlie/There was snakes, there was jungle, there was all kinds of gnarly/Fighting somebody everybody called Charlie/Was a mean kind of joke/Charlie fighting Charlie…”

“The Silvered Moon” is a forty-eight second instrumental that begs for candlelight and a glass of wine. A tender love song, “Margaret” is a treasure. “Love Is Patient,” says so much on such a deep level. “She said, ‘Please come home’/It’s so late/I worry/I wait/Love is Patient/Love is Kind/Love is hard/Love is blind…” I was drawn by the sad refrains of “Leave,” as it tells Faith to leave because it’s squandered a man’s trust.

More instrumentals, “Pastures Fit for Thoroughbreds” and “Song of Sunrise Birds” are incomparable music arrangements with Dan Mitchell on Trumpet.

Only clever songwriters like Sam Baker and Mary Gauthier could compose lyrics about a girl with a drug addiction, and bring “Moses in the Reeds” into it.

Another tune that grabbed my attention was “Peace Out,” a break-up tune woven so implicitly that you almost miss the message. “She’s a very nice girl/Going with the flow…Peace out/Letting me go.”

“Where Fallen Angels Go” is another exquisite instrumental that moves with an ebb and flow blending keys and strings that feature David Henry and Eamon McLoughlin.

“Land of Doubt” ends this album with a culmination of every aspect of each song rolled into one. If you’re a fan of incredibly beautiful music and deep lyrics, you are sure to love this new album from Sam Baker. Visit for more!


Land of Doubt is also available on Amazon

Hill Country Writing Symposium


Hello, fellow Texas authors! I want to make you aware of, and invite you to, a Writing Symposium in Comfort, Texas September 14 – 16, 2017.

Yes, that is SOON!!

I will be presenting two separate workshops at this event to be held at the Comfort Public Library. If you are anywhere near this area and wish to hone your writing skills through hands-on workshops, check this out.

Hill Country Writing Symposium – Fall Edition

September 14-16, 2017

Comfort Public Library

701 High St, Comfort, TX 78013

Thursday, September 14, 2017 – Meet & Greet Reception

7 PM to 9 PM

More information on location to follow.

Friday, September 15, 2017

9 AM Nature Writing

10 AM Five Forms to Use to Awaken the Poet in You

11 AM Writing for Non-Fiction

Noon – Lunch on your own

1 PM How Many Ways Can You Say ____?

2 PM Writing for Young Audiences

3 PM Journaling

4 PM Editing 101

Saturday, September 16, 2017

10 AM Writing for Different Media

11 AM Marketing 101 – Renegade Style

Noon – Lunch on your own

1-4 PM Book Festival in Library


Attendee Fees – Check options below for any discounts that may already be applied.

Regular Purchase $65 All Inclusive

10 Sessions plus Cocktail Reception

Plus 1 Free book from a presenter of their choice.

(hotel, food, misc at attendee’s own expense)