#SundaySpotlight – Tommy Alverson (Alverson 5 and 10)

Welcome to another Spotlight Sunday, where I feature talented music artists. Today, I want to introduce you to a Texas music legendary singer/songwriter, Tommy Alverson.

Tommy Alverson could easily be called the permanent face of the independent Texas country music movement. He embodies all the hallmarks of the sound, and the mindset. Rick and I first met Tommy in 2006. Tommy and his band were playing at the Comanche City Park, and a mutual friend had commissioned Rick to do a pen-and-ink-drawing of Tommy. We took it to him that day and heard him play live for the first time. We were hooked!

Pen-and-ink drawing of Tommy Alverson by Rick Sikes 2006

The next day, Tommy and the band came to our home in Coleman and visited with Rick. I’ll never forget the kindness and respect they showed to Rick that day.

At any rate, Tommy has a new CD release that I want to tell you about. When I asked why he felt compelled to release it in the midst of this pandemic, here’s what he had to say:

“I just thought it was time I put something out. It’s been a while. The songs have all been released on other projects but I thought these needed a little more attention. I felt like they fell through the cracks and I haven’t really promoted anything in along time. All this time at home has given us a lot of time to think about what we wanted to do next. We had already backed off on touring anyway, so from that aspect, the pandemic didn’t affect us that much. Our Facebook live shows have really worked out well, and we’re grateful for the support everyone has shown.”

The CD kicks off with If I’m Dreamin’. Written by Roy Robinson, Earl Musick and Mark Meritt, it talks about those times in life where the impossible happens, and if it’s a dream, don’t wake me!

Welcome To Paradise is a ‘take me back to the island’ song. And the song proves that you can have an island party anywhere. All you need is good music, good friends and good food.

One of my favorite tunes on this CD is Be Back Tuesday. Tommy’s father was a barber in the tiny town of Itasca, Texas, and this song is a childhood recollection of when Mr. Alverson would put a sign in the window of his barber shop saying, “Gone Fishing. Be Back Tuesday.” He’d load up the family and head to the coast.

Hard To Say For Sure is a Texas swing tune that will get your toes tapping. “We may have had the time of our life last night, but it’s hard to say for sure…”

A tribute to the road, Lonely Texas Highway always takes you home.

While most Texas songs about liquor consist of beer and whiskey, Tommy sings a Wine Song.

The first time I heard Troubles, I fell in love with it. The emotion, the raw grit and honesty tugged at my soul. “I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I’m walking around blind. I think about you darlin’ nearly all the time. I haven’t punched the clock in three weeks or more. And my ol’ boots are full of holes from walkin’ the floor. Troubles, I’ve got ’em, they’re all over me…”

But my number one pick from this album is How Good a Bad Woman Feels. This song could easily be the intro to a western movie. The powerful imagery the words provide is a rare and beautiful thing. When a writer can depict such a strong scene with just a few well-placed words, it’s pure magic. “Well, his voice was gruff and his boots were scuffed as he entered those swinging doors. With a back that was bent he ordered whiskey straight up, drank it down, wanted more. With a stare as sharp as a razors edge, his vision was not all clear. But he said, “Boys, I’ve got memories of how good a bad woman feels.” If you listen to nothing else on this album, click over and listen to this one! While this is a version from another CD, the lyrics are the same.

Tommy has had the privilege of playing shows with Willie Nelson, and his song, Watchin’ Willie’s Hands shows how far back his love for this man goes.

Another favorite of mine, Lucky Ol’ Sun always gives me a carefree feeling. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just roll around heaven all day like that lucky ol’ sun?

There are love songs and then there are Tommy Alverson kinds of love songs, and Fallin’ Off a Log is one of them. “It’s like a one, two, three, abc, Sunday morning, you and me, it’s so easy, it’s so easy, like fallin’ off a log, it’s so easy…”

Take a trip south of the border for a steamy love affair on Tequila Rose, another of my favorites, and another written by Roy Robinson (aka Amos Staggs.) This song has that same powerful imagery that I talked about earlier.

The CD comes to a close with I Wish I Didn’t Love You.

I sincerely hope my humble opinion of this compilation intrigues you enough that you send for a copy. I know Tommy would appreciate it greatly.

Tommy has not set a price for this CD. He is asking for donations – whatever you think it is worth to you. I’d suggest a price, but I’d rather you choose.

Order your copy of Alverson 5 & 10 through:

VENMO: @amy-alverson-2

PAYPAL: tommy.alverson@gmail.com (Don’t forget to select the “Family and Friends” option!)

Thank you for your support of Texas Music!

SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT – DERYL DODD @Deryl_Dodd

Welcome to another SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT!!

Deryl Dodd is a Texas singer/songwriter that I’ve followed and been a huge fan of for a very long time. And, I am thrilled to turn my blog over to him today and let him share a story a new/old song with you!

Hello friends!!

I want to share a story behind a song, “Let Me Hold You Tonight.

This song is an old-fashioned country waltz. Nothing flashy about it. But it’s pure and it’s honest. And it lends itself perfectly to a cryin’ steel guitar, ( played by my friend and legend, Junior Knight ) and lonesome harmonies ( sung by the great Courtney Patton Eady, and myself ). I wrote it after a break-up at the ripe old age of 19, and man was I feelin’ blue. I had only written a few songs at that time, and the lyrics sound like it. But ya’ know, ya’ just can’t write from that place ever again … that place of innocence … of being 19 years old and having all those feelings. And to me, that’s the charm, and why I wanted to record it and share it with you. It’s how I felt my music was supposed to sound. I used to play this song acoustically in the bars back in the late 80s and early 90s. But I never recorded it until last summer – 2019. Something moved me to finally do it.

And partly because of this: It was 1991 and I had been playing music full time for about 4 years. And at this particular time, it seemed that things had kinda run their course. I thought the music ride I was on was coming to an end. But then my good friend Nancy Davis Clark, who managed a club called Cody’s in Waco TX, asked me if I’d open up for Dean Dillon who was coming to play. And of course I did. It’s DEAN DILLON !! So we did like a 20 minute set and I played this song. It was the only original song I played in the set that night. But apparently Dean was listening. Because after his show, his road manager came over to me and said that Dean would like to meet me. Yes it happened just like that. So I went backstage. He asked me if I wrote this song, and I said yes. Then, he said it was a damn good song and that I should come visit him in Nashville.

WHAT !! So I did. I packed up a few things, loaded up my little red truck and drove there. I hung out with Dean for about a week and I met all kinds of great people. It was so dang incredible. And one of these people happened to be a booking agent who asked me if I wanted a job playing at the Opryland Hotel. WHAT!?! I said yes sir !! So I drove back to Texas. But this time, when I got home, I packed up everything. And like another song I wrote says, “I moved to Nashville back in, 91…”

Never Ever Give Up On Your Dreams… God Bless You All…dd

This is an exciting moment for me! Thank you for allowing me to share with you for the very first time, the new and never before recorded, studio version of “Let Me Hold You Tonight.” Studio – Bart Rose Fort Worth Sound Acoustic – Deryl Dodd Vocals – Courtney Patton Eady Drums – Andrew Raley Bass – Kerry Wilson Steel Guitar – Junior Knight Piano – Frank Hames.

Me and Deryl Dodd several years ago.

I hope you enjoyed this story from Deryl. I’m posting links to his website, facebook, twitter and music below. If you have enjoyed this segment of Sunday Spotlight, please follow him and let him know!

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

MUSIC ON Itunes apple

SPOTIFY

AMAZON

Flowers And Stone – Book Review

I want to offer a HUGE “Thank You” to Rox Burkey for this incredibly poignant review of “Flowers and Stone!”

Honestly, I have known this author for a long time. I’ve listened to her play guitar, heard the sadness when she shared some details of her life and love of Rick Sikes, and cheered loudly at her achievements and awards. I had only read a few of her poems and a short story, until she suggested I consider Flowers and Stone.  

After book one of this first series, I am truly hooked on her writing. In this debut novel, Jan Sikes creates the scenes in a way that makes you feel you are a part of the story. I could hear the music, see characters with their smiles and tears, and more than once had to dry my eyes as emotions coursed through me at different places in this story.

This complex love story centers around Luke Stone and Darlina Flowers, an unlikely couple at first glance. Luke, an experienced musician and older man, and Darlina a young inexperienced woman, learn many lessons from each other. I like how Luke, smitten early on for this special girl, goes to extraordinary lengths to find out if he should be serious. Ms. Sikes details the steps leading up to this meeting, though this meeting touched a chord of sweetness in my heart and kept me until the end of this book.

“             The bell rang, announcing someone’s arrival.  She half turned. “May I…” She paused in mid-question, shocked to see Luke standing there with the trademark crooked grin on his face. “…Help you?” she finished.

               “That is exactly what I’ve been asking myself,” Luke replied.

               “What are you doing here?”

               “I came to see if you were for real or a figment of my imagination.”

               “For real?”

               Luke’s smile widened, “Yes, for real. You see, I thought maybe I just made you up so had to come and see.”

               Darlina didn’t reply, and Luke quickly continued, I brought you a little something.”

               She stood and walked to the open window that separated her and Luke. “Okay, what did you bring me and more importantly, why? After all, you barely know me.”

               She wondered what kind of strings might be attached to any gift from Luke Stone.

               Luke fished the small box out of his pocked and handed it to her. Their hands briefly touched, and an electrical current passed between them. She looked up at Luke, then down at the box.

               “Open it,” Luke encouraged.

               Darlina gasped as she opened the box to find the delicate gold heart necklace. “Oh, Luke, how beautiful. I’m not sure what to say.”

               “Well, you could say thank you, and you could say that you’ll have dinner with me, just me, and you could say that you’ll give a chance to redeem myself.”

From this point forward I was drawn into the story as these people travel down the road of growing up, growing together, and realizing their differences are key to their magic. In many ways he is a rogue and she is naïve, but in the 70s the music and freedom was what they both wanted and needed. Its easy to recommend this love story to college age and above. There is more to the story and thankfully more books in the series.

About the author

Author Jan Sikes

Multi-Award-Winning author, Jan Sikes, has been called a wordsmith by her peers. Jan openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author, but she had a story to tell.  Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation.

She published four biographical fiction books about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love. True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits these stories.

Jan also releases a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.

Jan has published a book of poetry and art and nine short stories.

Author Jan Sikes is widowed, lives in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals, has five incredible grandchildren and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History, and the Executive Council at Rave Writers’ Int’l Society of Authors. She is also a member of the Writer’s League of Texas and Authors Marketing Guild.

Connect through Jan’s website: http://www.jansikes.com
Follow Jan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks
Follow Jan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rijanjks
Follow Jan’s Blog: http://www.rijanjks.wordpress.com    

I want to invite you to visit Rox Burkey’s blog site and if it interests you, please follow her! She is an avid book reviewer!

Looking Back – 2019 Music

As most of you know, I am a staff-writer for Buddy Magazine, The Original Texas Music Magazine. Because of that, I review lots of newly released music CDs throughout the year. This is a look back on some of the best of the best from Texas! The Albums are not listed in any particular order, so this is not a Top Ten list. It’s a recap of music that moved me!

An Indie artist that broke all the rules this year and came out on top was Cody Jinks!

He released an album on October 11 that premiered on the iTunes all-genre chart at #1. Then one week later, on October 18, he released a second album that did the same thing. The most impressive part of this is that, as an indie artist, he has no record label backing him and pouring tons of money into promo. He did it all on his own. So, it is my pleasure to honor these two albums.

“Each album has a theme,” Jinks said. “The Wanting is about the road life and going deeper into your art, while After The Fire is more about the home life, the settling and coming down period.”

Another album that touched me deeply was RIDE ME BACK HOME by the incomparable, Willie Nelson!

Part of this album’s appeal is that the title track, “Ride Me Back Home,” was written by a good friend of mine, Sonny Throckmorton. But, aside from that fact, it’s possibly one of Willie’s best!

Native Texan Bianca DeLeon writes about what she knows, her life growing up in the Texas-Mexico borderland. She’s lived through a lot, and it shows in her music. Her byline is “Texas Songwriter and Troubadour.” I absolutely loved reviewing her album, DANGEROUS ENDEAVOR. The first thing that struck me about this album is DeLeon’s voice. She’s gritty and gutsy with her delivery of the lyrics.

Pint-sized Jack Barksdale is making quite a name for himself in every music circle from the local DFW area to songwriter’s events across the United States. He’s twelve. Not only is he writing original material, but he also releases podcasts where he interviews other artists. Check out his YouTube page. He is one of the most amazing young artists I’ve ever seen! He released a new EP this year, Live From Niles City and it deserves to be on this list!

Here’s a YouTube video. You’ve gotta hear this kid!

Another incredibly diverse album that crossed my desk this year was FOG AND BLING By Shinyribs! It’s difficult to categorize this Austin-based band’s music. I’d say Shinyribs is an eclectic blend between New Orleans Jazz, R&B, Funk, Rock, and Psychedelic Country. It could aptly be called Swampadelic R&B.

Tom McElvain is known far and wide for his vocal prowess. But he is also fast rising to the top of the songwriting spectrum with songs like the ones found on his EP, DRIFTER. As he says, “This time it’s for the music, not the man.”  

On a side note, I am working with Tom McElvain on a book, “Lady In Red,” that will be released in May 2020! Believe me, I will be promoting it here on my blog!

Smile Into Life from Austin-based Blues-Funk Rocker, Hector Ward and his eight-piece Big Time band, is one of the most dynamic I heard all year.From start to finish, it’s solid with not one track that I wanted to skip. Ward is quoted as saying, “Listen to music…it will change your reality.”

I want to share a picture with you because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Let me just say this man is inspiring. That is Hector Ward in the wheelchair. Listen to his music and see if you find one spec of self-pity. You won’t!

The Walk is singer/songwriter, Bonnie Bishop’s eighth album. Produced by Grammy-winner, Steve Jordan, the music connects listeners to the Texas vocal powerhouse in an intimate and personal way. I am a huge fan of her music and her honesty. She is an inspiration to women artists!

I love these two people, Andrew Jr. Boy Jones and Kerrie Lepai Jones! They are perfect ambassadors of the Dallas Blues scene and it was an honor to not only review their new CD, but to interview them for a feature in Buddy Magazine. You can read it here. Jr. Boy has been playing the blues for over five decades and no one does it better! Their new album, Jr. Boy & Kerrie’s Blues is nothing short of stellar! If you love the blues, give them a listen! Kerrie proves that a white girl CAN sing the blues!

I’ll close this post with a single off Cody Johnson’s 2019 Album, Ain’t Nothing To It. In my humble opinion this is the most sensual and sexy song I’ve heard since Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness.” Here’s Cody Johnson with “Nothin’ On.”

Maybe you are already familiar with some of this music but if you aren’t I do hope you’ll take a minute to discover something new! Thank you!

South Austin Moonlighters

It’s been a while since I turned the focus of this blog toward my other passion, MUSIC!

I want to share with you a fabulous group of talented musicians I recently had the opportunity to interview – The South Austin Moonlighters!

L-R Lonnie Trevino, Phil Hurley, Chris Beall, Daniel James

Inside the acoustic room at The Guitar Sanctuary in McKinney Texas, ready to conduct a quiet interview with The South Austin Moonlighters, the first band member comes through the door.

Daniel James oohs and aahs over the vast collection of guitars hanging on the wall, grabs one, plays a sizzling riff, then puts it back on the wall, turns around and says, “I’m just the drummer.”

That scenario set the tone for a lively interview with The South Austin Moonlighters.

The one quintessential thing that sets this group of musicians apart from other bands, is the individual talent each member brings to the table. There is no front man with sidemen backing him. These guys are all in this together on equal footing. Each member plays multiple instruments, writes, and shares in the vocals. Everyone is invested.

I wondered how this group found each other and came together.

“We were playing at South by Southwest eight years ago, and someone just mentioned that we should get together and jam sometime,” said Lonnie Trevino. “So, we agreed, thinking nothing would ever come of it, but it did. Then I booked some gigs at the Saxon Pub, and those were pure practice sessions. Three years later, when we brought Chris Beall in, it really legitimized the band. We decided this was something serious and really, really good, and it took off from there.”

And where did they come up with the band name?

Phil Hurley answered. “We were all working in other bands at the time. So, with a new project, we’d be moonlighting.”

Their newly released album, Travel Light, was recorded at a destination studio in Maurice, Louisiana and produced by New Orleans songwriter, Anders Osborne.

When I listen to any new record, there are certain tracks that stand out to me, and it always has to do with the words. That is very much the case with Travel Light.

Chris Beall, along with Amy Hooper, composed the title track.

“I’ve never been very good at writing fiction. I have to have a personal connection with the things I’m describing,” said Chris. “So, with “Travel Light,” Amy and I sat down and essentially wrote what was happening in our lives.”

Phil added. “I think one of the things that Chris is so good at, and something that we all aspire to, is to have the ability to tell something extremely personal and yet somehow give it a universal meaning that anyone can relate to.”

That describes most every song on this album. I knew there had to be a story to go along with “Machine Gun Kelly.”

“Danny Kortchmar wrote that song,” said Chris. “I wish I had written it. Our record label president heard us playing the song live and wanted us to include it on this album.”

Another song that I found to be compelling was “Dug Down Deep,” written by Chris Beall.  

“It’s a true story, a miracle that happened in my life,” said Chris. “It’s about my dad. He was a motorcycle racer, and he was badly injured in an accident when I was three. The doctor came out to tell my mom that he was deceased when they suddenly got a pulse. So, it was this progression every step of the way. They said he’d probably never come out of the coma, but he did. Then they said he’d never be able to walk again, and he did. So, it’s all about digging down deep and finding that well of strength to overcome anything.”

In this collection of compelling story songs, “Daylight Again,” closes out the album with a fusion of harmony that the South Austin Moonlighters are well-known for.

Phil Hurley said, “This is a song that Crosby, Stills, and Nash closed each set with back in the day. We loved it, so, Lonnie looked around and found a version with more verses. It is very provocative, kind of a civil war story that we knew we had to approach differently. It was early one morning in the studio. Chris picked up this beautiful little parlor guitar that belongs to Anders Osborne, and I grabbed something else, and we started playing. It turned out his guitar was tuned to A432 instead of A440. A432 tuning is known as spiritual tuning. Anyway, we just started singing, and it came together on such an incredible level. That was the base we built the track from.”   

Photo by Darleen McAdams

I had the pleasure of watching the South Austin Moonlighters perform inside the beautiful Guitar Sanctuary venue. While it was a joy to meet and interview this talented group of men, witnessing the magic they make on stage climaxed the entire experience.

If you have a chance to catch a live show, I highly recommend it. If not, at least pick up this new album, Travel Light, and be prepared for pure entertainment.

This song give me goosebumps! The harmony is perfection!

Enjoy!

New Young Artist – Triston Marez

It’s been a while since I featured a music artist on my blog and this young man really got my attention.

I interviewed him for Buddy Magazine, but it has gotten pushed back for the past two months, so I decided to feature Triston Marez here. I hope you enjoy the introduction!

Triston Marez

Not only Sings Country Music – He lives it!

Houston native, Triston Marez is making inroads in the world of traditional country music.

Marez’s sound isn’t just centered around country music; it’s woven through his entire 22 years. Yes, you read that right ― twenty-two years. As a member of a musical family, Marez started playing guitar at the age of six, and his first live performance was a Buck Owens song in a first-grade talent show.

Things changed drastically for Marez when he won the 2014 talent show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

“I had entered the talent competition in 2013 and placed as a finalist but didn’t win. So, I spent the next year working hard and getting ready to enter again. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a big deal in Houston, and to win it gave me the confidence I needed to go ahead and really jump into the music business.”

Marez worked as a ranch hand and even rode bulls to support his music habit while waiting for a break.

It is obvious that he loves country music, but what caught my ear about this young man is the quality of his voice. He reminds me of a very young Mark Chesnutt or perhaps Alan Jackson. Smooth as silk vocals with good looks and confidence, he easily commands the stage with the ease of a seasoned performer.

With his new EP, That Was All Me, he spins sagas of long nights, former flames, and new love with simplistic honesty.

That Was All Me opens with remarkable classic country music that dominates the album throughout with fiddle and steel guitar. But it’s the vocals and lyrics that carry it across the finish line.

It’s hard to believe someone so young could write such compelling tunes. “That Was All Me,” replays a night of honky-tonking and drinking with your sweetheart. “When I said I ain’t drunk/It was the neon buzzin’/I danced all night/It was the jukebox jumpin’/When I let you take my hat/It was whiskey #3/But when I told you that I love you, Baby, that was all me.”

My pick from the EP, “Reservations for Two” with sweet fiddle refrains, had a story.

“I know this is going to sound cheesy, but when I was in school, I had a high school sweetheart,” Marez said. “So, on Valentine’s Day in our senior year, I wanted to do something different. I told her not to dress fancy and that I’d pick her up. Then, I drove us to our favorite spot in the country where I had a table set up with candles and flowers and the whole works. She was surprised, and it was probably the most romantic thing I ever did. It was great, but when it got dark, she got scared, and we left. But it was that scene that inspired the song.”

It ain’t the whiskey making Marez “Dizzy.” It’s a fledgling love found out on the dance floor.

The song from the EP getting a lot of radio airplay, “Where Rivers are Red and Cowboys are Blue” takes us back to the time of poignant rodeo tunes and a former love. With a lone coyote howling in the night, he’s not the only one that feels alone.

The EP ends with “Here’s to the Weekend.” Marez gives his unique perspective on the grind of a work week and living for another weekend.

Triston Marez is a young man with a bright future in country music. His voice is pitch perfect and mature beyond his twenty-two years. To follow and keep up with his tour dates, check out his Facebook and Twitter pages!

Redemption – Tom McElvain CD Review

Redemption

RELEASE DATE JUNE 22!

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER

There is only a hand full of male artists around with the vocal prowess of Tom McElvain. And few who would dare to expose the cold hard facts of addiction and recovery like McElvain does on his new CD, Redemption.

 Recorded at the famed Sonic Ranch in far West Texas, and produced by Joe Austin and Charles Godfrey, the theme running through Redemption is the struggle of a man tumbling to the bottom and the strength and determination it takes to climb back from the darkness into light and love.

McElvain faces his demons head-on with “Lady in Red.” Started during his meth phase, he compared the swirl of blood in the hypodermic needle to a lady in a red dress…dancing, taunting, pleasing. “I’d sell my soul to the devil, Lord for one more night/Lady in red dance for me…”

Written from the point-of-view of a single parent, “Why” is an apology for not being there for the kids. Running from problems comes easy for some and “Anywhere” describes a young man’s need to avoid commitment.

Keeping with the theme, “High” tells the story of a carefree journey down a rabbit hole with a companion that gets lost along the way. “They’re telling us we’re stoned/Like to think we’re just high/But I took your tender heart and gave it a jagged edge…”

Hurt, regret and anger drive “Goodbye.” It’s never easy to say goodbye and McElvain wrings pure emotion from every word.

Facing a desperate darkness, hitting rock bottom is the place where you decide whether to live or die. “Crank Thinking” takes you into that dark place where McElvain sits with a “Bible in one hand and a pistol in the other…” This song stood out to me for many reasons, but the raw and honest lyrics delivered only the way McElvain can, should be a theme song for every drug and alcohol rehab facility.

The entire vibe takes a serious turn with “Miracles.” It is a beautiful flowing and uplifting song. “Miracles are born every day.” The next dip on this rollercoaster ride of songs grabs your attention with raucous laughter and driving guitar licks. “Hands of a Woman” is a love song like no other. McElvain admits that “Whiskey Song” was written for his wife and the salvation she brought into a shattered life. The expression of that love continues with “Damn I Love You.” It is a story of surviving years together with an honest and steadfast love intact.

Written with his wife, Christi, “Here’s To You” is a tribute to the songwriters. “Hard times can make you humble/If you learn from your pain/They say we all make our own mistakes/There ain’t nothing wrong with that…”

Redemption closes with McElvain’s acoustic version of “House of the Rising Sun.” The depth of his vocals will raise the hairs on your arms. I remember hearing him sing this song live for the first time, and I had chills from head to toe. See for yourself.

Superb arrangement, delivery, and production, Redemption is a no-holds-barred must for any music-lover’s collection. If you are not acquainted with the phenomenal writing and vocal talents of Tom McElvain, this album is the perfect introduction!

Redemption is set for release on June 22 through Smith Music Group. The album is available now for pre-order on Amazon.  For more visit http://www.tommcelvain.com.

**PUBLISHED IN BUDDY MAGAZINE, MAY 2018 ISSUE**

McElvain_Tom

Story From the Road #22

http-www.ricksikes.com

This has been a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I have brought 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.  These stories have been told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ve done my best to correct grammar, but I wanted to keep them in his own voice.

This will be the last “Story From the Road,” from Rick. I want to end this series on a positive note. I also want to thank everyone who had ridden this train of stories with me, commented and shared. It was your interest that kept me digging. 

RICK:

“In 1965, the movie Shenandoah sharting Pat Wayne and Rosemary Forsythe came to Abilene, Tx., and they planned a big premiere party. I was hired to provide the entertainment.

You can see me and Red in the background behind Pat and Rosemary. They were two of the nicest folks I’d ever met and I can’t tell you how excited this country boy was to get to meet them up close and personal. The movie was a huge success and stayed sold-out during its entire run in Abilene.

Rick_PatWayne_RosemaryForsythe

Another pretty cool deal I had going in 1964 and 1965 was a weekly live TV show on KPAR, Channel 12 in Abilene every Saturday afternoon.

KPAR Framed

We had show sponsors, one of them being the Key City Sportatorium. I played there almost every Friday night for many months and Benny Barnes, the owner and I were good friends.

But, I would get fan mail at the TV station and would take time to answer each letter I received. A lot of times it would be some gal wanting to hook up and I’d write her back and tell her I was married. Not that it really made a damn to me back then, but I kept all that at arm’s length.

I got to do a lot of amazing things in my music career before I got shipped off to Federal Finishing School aka Leavenworth Penitentiary. I was blessed. The sadness is that I was too stupid to know it. If only I had known then what I learned behind bars, I’d have made a lot of different choices in life. I was right there with all of them that went on to make it big. I’m not saying I would have, but if I’d taken different paths, I would have had a shot at it. I tried throughout the rest of my life to help point youngsters starting out in the music business in the right direction. I hope I succeeded to some degree.

One of the most satisfying things I did later in life, after I’d lost my leg, was to teach young children to play guitar. I loved the look they’d get on their faces when they got a chord down. Some of them went on to learn to play pretty good.”

 

Rick with young Denny and Dillon_1 (2017_11_16 21_30_48 UTC)
Rick’s first two guitar students

I hope you've enjoyed this segment of_STORIES FROM THE ROAD_from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES

Thank you, everyone, for your overwhelming support for these bits of music history!

 

 

 

Stories From the Road #21

http-www.ricksikes.com

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.

Rick:

“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.

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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.

Rhythm_Rebels_Business_Card

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.

Outlaw_Promo_Pic

Rhy_Reb_Train_Guns

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

 

Stories From the Road #18

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

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.

Rick:

“I had a tall skinny bass man that we used to play tricks on. His name was Thomas Jenkins but we all called him Red because he had red hair. He wore glasses with thick lenses. He had a lot of trouble with his eyes. I remember one time we were in a motel out in California when he went to sleep on the floor watching TV with his glasses on.  My brother, Bobby, had some watercolors and he painted the lens on his glasses with red, yellow and orange paint. When it dried on them, after a minute or so, he put a paper sack in an aluminum pan and set it on fire. Once the room filled with smoke, everybody started hollering, “Fire, fire, fire.” Red woke up. He jumped up off the floor and of course, all he could was red, orange and yellow and he could smell the smoke. He was panicking until he pulled his glasses off. Of course, he failed to see the humor in it but we were all rolling on the floor laughing.

Another thing we used to do to him when he would zonk out like that was spray shaving cream on his glasses. He would wake up and couldn’t see anything but white shaving cream and he’d think he’d gone blind. I suppose that was pretty cruel, but it was all in fun. No harm was ever meant by it.

This same guy, Red Jenkins, greased his hair down with Brilliantine oil, that was popular back then. He was bad about falling asleep; one of those guys that nodded off real good, kind of a Rip  Van Winkle sort of guy. So anyway, this time, someone else was driving, Red was in the middle and I was on the passenger side. Three other guys were in the back of the car and we were heading to a gig. I was wearing a white western shirt. Red went to sleep and fell over on my shoulder with that greasy head so I pushed his head back up. He didn’t even wake up. We went a little farther down the road and he fell back over on my shoulder again. I raised his head back up but by this time I was getting a little perturbed. So, the third time he fell over on my shoulder, I popped him upside the head and told him to wake up. He said, “That’s alright, you sonofabitch. You’re gonna want to sleep someday.”  It was kinda funny though. The guys all cracked up when I popped him good.

I will say this about Red Jenkins. He always had my back. I met him when he was hitchhiking through Texas on the way to California. I stopped to give him a ride. He wound up staying with me and playing in the band for many years and even went to prison with me. I felt responsible for him. He wasn’t real bright, but he could play good and he was loyal. I often wonder whatever happened to him…”

Thomas Red Jenkins

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Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels at London Hall – Red Jenkins far right

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Rick Sikes and Red Jenkins