Stories From the Road #21

This is part of a 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 bus 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.


“Back in the sixties, marketing yourself was quite different than today. There was a company out of Missouri I used to order these rainbow posters. It was my trademark. They would look exactly like this, only, of course, would say, “Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels” and advertise where and when we were playing. I’d give anything to find one of these posters.


I’d usually give my bass player, Red, a stack and I’d take a stack and we’d canvas the area where we were going to be playing. We’d tack them up on telephone poles, tape them to windows and anywhere folks would let us put one.

I recorded several little 45 rpm records back then and as soon as I’d have a new one in hand, would start hitting every little radio station across the state. That was a time when you’d walk in, meet the DJ, hand him a couple of records and visit with him. Nowadays, you have to have a record promoter to even get in the door of a radio station, but we did it all in those days.

I recorded a song, “Hundred Miles of River,” that was a true story about a Confederate gunboat that was purposefully sunk in the Sabine River during the civil war. I pushed that song hard. I had these cards printed up and got some newspaper coverage on it.

Hundred Miles of River

Then when the DJ’s played my songs, I always thanked them.

I had business cards that I left with every club owner across the five-state area.


I booked my band through Wilson Talent Agency out of Fort Worth, Texas  for a while and they wrote up this nice little promo for us.

Wilson Talent Agency

But, sometimes publicity attempts backfired on me.



I had this crazy idea to do some promo pictures at the train tracks outside Brownwood, Texas and make us all look like outlaws about to rob a train. Little did I know that these two pictures would be used against me in the trials for bank robbery. They were submitted as evidence. So, what seemed like fun at the time, turned into a bad deal.

It was a very hands-on time for marketing and promoting yourself and your art. Without internet, social media or even faxes, it required leg-work and one-on-one connections. And, I was pretty good at it, if I do say so. I kept us booked solid and for the times, drew good pay. So, maybe there is something to be said for old-fashioned communication…”

What do you think would be the best way to market yourself and your books without all the instant internet avenues we have today? 

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


23 thoughts on “Stories From the Road #21

  1. Jan, this is so interesting. I love seeing the old posters, business cards, and especially the talent agency’s letter. Pretty darn cool! I don’t know why you’ve never shown these to me before. But maybe we’re always too busy talking and catching up to think about it. I know you’re nearing the end of these stories from the road and I’ll be sad when you don’t have any more to post. Love you, sister!


  2. I still feel like I’m doing a lot of that old-fashioned legwork,Jan, even though it’s electronic. Dedication and persistence! I love the bandit photos and can’t believe that they were used as evidence at trial. Amazing and absurd. The memorabilia is great. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Valentine’s Day, Jan. I have been on the road all day so this is a little late. Loved the idea of being able to walk in o a DJ’s place and give a few records away. I would like to walk into Barnes and Noble and do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too, D.L.! Thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, I agree that there is still room for personal marketing even with all our social media. It was hard to believe the band photos were used as evidence in the trial, but they were.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a great insight into marketing then and how personal it was. I love you have all the cards and that promotion letter. I don’t understand how they could use a promotional band picture at the trial…that is a shame. I think there is still room for personal marketing now even with all our social media. Happy Valentine’s Day Jan!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have to say, this feature always brings a smile to my heart, for it shows just how much work the entertainment business has always been. You are not only out there, making the music, but having to take care of everything else connected to it. Not for the faint of heart, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, so true, Annette. We look at entertainers and think they do nothing but sit around all day waiting for those few hours on stage when that isn’t the case at all. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I just finished listening to a Hundred Miles of River. I was hooked from the moment I saw the reference to the Civil War. Excellent song.

    It’s a shame what happened with those photos by the railroad tracks later in Rick’s life. They looked like such fun. To think that they were actually dug out and used against him is ludicrous.

    If I couldn’t market online today, I’d resort to a lot of mailing out of the area, and handouts were I live. Maybe I should be doing some of that anyway! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly makes us think about marketing, doesn’t it? I’m thrilled that you listened to “Hundred Miles of River.” I have a newspaper article about the man who discovered the gunboat and his efforts to raise it. Rick was fascinated with any and everything to do with the civil war. Yes, it was absurd to use publicity pictures as evidence in court that Rick was a bank robber. But, it was Texas justice in 1971. Thanks so much for stopping in and leaving a comment! Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. True, Craig. Another reader mentioned newspapers and when I was a kid, the daily newspaper was a BIG deal. It had all the advertisements for everything going on, but in this electronic age, they have fallen by the wayside. Thanks for stopping in and commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I had not thought about it, but yes — marketing would have had a vastly different approach, just to getting things out there. I remember seeing rainbow posters like that one. I enjoyed all the photos, Jan — terrific illustrations. I hope the kids are feeling even better. Happy Valentine’s Day hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Teagan. The boys are doing some better, but still running a fever. This is such a nasty bug going around this year. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. Glad you enjoy the photos and the thoughts on marketing. I appreciate you! Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Jan- another wonderful story. It’s sad that they use that advertisement against him in his trial. That’s a great question, I guess newspapers would be your best avenue along with the radio to get the word out, we have all become very spoiled with the Internet I’m trying to think back when I was a kid how we got advertisements out.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you you have a wonderful day and love you dearly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tonya, for the lovely Valentine’s Day wish. Happy Love Day to you too! I agree that newspapers played a huge role in advertising. I think we’ve forgotten that over the years. I’m happy you stopped by and left a comment. Hugs!


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