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.”

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Hank Williams, Sr.

 

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A Very Young Rick Sikes

 

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

Road_Sunset

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…”

 

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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!

Website      Facebook     Reverbnation    CDBaby

 

 

CD Review – Sam Baker

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CD REVIEW

SAM BAKER – LAND OF DOUBT

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 http://www.sambakermusic.com for more!

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Land of Doubt is also available on Amazon

Hill Country Writing Symposium

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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)

REGISTER HERE

Infographic: 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead

We all get stuck using the same words over and over again when we write. So, here’s an infographic designed to help you think of other ways to say the same ol’ thing! Thanks for sharing, Nicholas Rossis!

Nicholas C. Rossis

Jack Milgram of Custom Writing | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksJack Milgram is a writer and blogger at Custom Writing. He recently published an Infographic with 28 Boring Words and suggestions of what to use instead. The idea is that, if you practice using these suggested words instead of the plain-vanilla ones, it will become a habit and enrich your writing. You can contact Jack on Facebook and Twitter, plus on Custom Writing’s blog.

Infographic: 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead

Infographic: 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead by Jack Milgram of Custom Writing | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

[tweetthis]Infographic: 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead[/tweetthis]

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Libraries in Hurricane Harvey’s Path

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Hurricane Harvey left SO much destruction in its path and that didn’t exclude libraries along the coast.

Most small libraries have little outside funding and depend on donations to survive.

PLEASE dig deep into your pockets and help these libraries recover. Your donations are tax deductible.

Here is the link: Hurricane Harvey

This is just one of the many ways the Texas Association of Authors helps.

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Watch #RWISA Write – RWISA

As a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, I am thrilled to promote outstanding authors who are also members of the exclusive RAVE Writers International Society of Authors through a blog tour that will run the entire month of August.

Today I introduce to you, RWISA!

Hi!  Welcome to RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS, otherwise known as RWISA  {pronounced RISA or rice-uh, with a silent ‘W’}, a division of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB! (RRBC)

RWISA, the latest brain-child of Author, Nonnie Jules, was founded for the sole purpose of introducing the literary world to some of the top INDIE Authors!  These writers are consummate Professionals, dedicated, committed and driven to continually excel at producing the best-written works possible.  Are they perfect?  No, but none of us are.  What separates them from the rest, is their ultimate goal of giving readers what they are paying for…great, polished reads and writing!

The members of this community have penned works that have garnered high marks and praise for creativity and their dedication to the excellence of the craft of writing.  But, it doesn’t stop there!  Their desire to be the BEST in their writing, is evident in the little things, as well, such as their websites and blogs, their well-written book blurbs and even their Author bios on Amazon.  These writers care about perfection in their writing and it shows across the board!

RWISA is home to some of the most talented INDIE authors around the world!  We invite you to take a look around, visiting each author’s page, as well as their showcases.  If you are an author and think that you have what it takes to have your name placed on the roster of our ELITE members, we invite you to submit a request for membership.

You can’t belong to RWISA simply because you want to.  This community of ELITE writers is not open to the general public.  Although submitting a REQUEST  for possible membership is required, actual membership into the society is by invitation only!  Once it has been determined that your written work, your attention to detail, and your commitment to continually improve and excel as an Author is genuine, it will be an honor to add your name to our roster of other ELITE writers.

On the other side of that coin, if you are a member of RRBC (because we do have lots of great talent there) and your name is not listed here yet, that could simply mean that you are on a list of authors waiting to be vetted, but feel free to submit a request for membership, just to be safe.

For more information, please visit our FAQ page and any of the other informative pages on the site.

**If you are a publisher, news or magazine entity, etc., and are interested in the work of some of the talent showcased here, please feel free to connect with them via the contact info on their Author page.**

Thanks for visiting, and if you truly treasure and appreciate great writing, please tell your friends about us!

APPLY FOR MEMBERSHIP WITH US!

 

Watch #RWISA Write – Nonnie Jules

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As a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, I am thrilled to promote outstanding authors who are also members of the exclusive RAVE Writers International Society of Authors through a blog tour that will run the entire month of August.

Today I introduce to you, Nonnie Jules!

Because of the division that’s going on in our world right now, the hate that’s being stirred up and spewed by these White Supremacist groups, we felt it appropriate and extremely necessary that we share a piece from our President, Nonnie Jules, that needs to be wide-spread.

“DOES MY LIFE MATTER?”

 I am a black woman, and because of the shade of my skin and coarseness of my hair, because of the fullness of my hips, my lips and the bold colors I wear…some don’t find me as attractive as my fairer counterparts.  You see, I’m no longer your house-maid or here for your sexual pleasure; no longer Mamie to your children, I’m now someone’s Mother…a treasure.  But, does my life matter?

 I am a black man, and because of my dark skin and the boldness of my stance, because of the kinky in my hair, the anger in my stare, and the wear and tear shown on my hands…some still don’t see me as a man.  You see, I’m no longer your field property or your whipping post.  I’ve freedom papers and own land now, maybe, more than most.  You build cages to hold me, guilty or not; where you should build institutions of higher learning, you lock me away for little things, then leave me there to rot.  Do you forever see my bed as a cot?  But, does my life matter?

 I am a white woman, and because of my milk dove skin and cute, pinched nose, thin ruby red lips and fair skin that glows…with my pearly whites and prominent chin…some still look at me and despise the skin I’m in.  I was never privy to the pain that was caused.  I was born into that hatred…those God-awful laws.  So, does my life still matter?

 I am a white man, born into privilege and wealth, easy life, perfect health, yet…I’m still persecuted and referred to as “the man.”  I, too, hate the ways of the Ku Klux Klan.  My neighbors are black, white, green and red…still, I haven’t fled.  To be where everyone looks more like me, is not where I want to be.  I, too, would like to one day be FREE. Yes, FREE!  It also applies to me! FREE of the labels that bind because of the color of my skin; I’ve never owned any human or degraded any man. But, does my life still matter?

 I am a brown-skinned woman and because of my accented words, you think I should be silent…quiet and not heard.  I can do more, than clean your windows and floors.  Just ask me what I’m capable of, you’d be surprised, I’m sure.  I may have come here via the back of a truck, or even the legal route, if I was blessed with such luck.  Maybe I was born here, and my parents, too.  In your eyes, would that still make me less American than you?  Does my life matter?

 I am a brown-skinned man and though maybe a bit stocky, I’m no less in appearance, than your brawn and cocky.  I’m not a rapist, a thief or thug…but a man like you, with kids to hug.  I’m not ashamed to tend your lawns and trees, but Executive, also a title I wear with ease; whatever it takes…my family to feed. Don’t dismiss, or overlook my face; I may not have been born here, but I’m here to stay.  And, with that said, does my life still matter?

With all that’s going on, there’s much racial unrest.  It’s time to put differences aside and put real LOVE to the test.  We can’t keep fighting each other, when there are real wars going on.  We must come together in love, heal and stand strong.  There are real enemies among us, and their names we know not.  We must stand on the front lines, together and talk.

The differences between us are fewer than those in our heads; and in the end, until we draw our last breath,  we all still bleed red.  Yes, that small matter is what makes us brothers, and binds us tighter than any other.

That stream of red flowing thru our veins, is what should force us to…
release all blame,
stop the pain,
forge ahead,
no more blood we’ll shed.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan. WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Nonnie Jules’ #RWISA Author Page