Two Amazing Ladies of Music! Claudia Nygaard and Ruby Lovett

One of my greatest joys in life is supporting music artists. I receive a lot of press releases because I write for Buddy Magazine. We are strictly a Texas Music magazine. However, I often receive music from artists who aren’t based in Texas but deserve a shout-out.

That is the case with these two ladies. So, I am using my blog today to introduce you to Claudia Nygaard and Ruby Lovett!

Claudia Nygaard is Nashville based and Ruby Lovett is from Mississippi.

Their music touched me and I want to share!

Claudia Nygaard isn’t afraid to tackle sensitive or difficult subjects with her music. From that aspect, she reminded me of a younger Loretta Lynn. She is a fantastic storyteller, as is shown in the lyrics of the title track of the album, “Lucky Girl.”

It tells the tale of her great, great, great grandaddy, her great grandaddy and her grandmother all on her father’s side of the family. From Norway to North Dakota, it’s a journey of hard times and heartache, a tribute to one family’s ability to survive and thrive. With that kind of family lineage, it makes Claudia a lucky, lucky girl!

“Like a Moth to a Flame,” she relates a story that many of us have experienced. There are times in life where passion draws us too close to the fire and we singe our wings. I loved these lines from the song, “Mama if you need me, you can find me in my room/I’m pulling all the shades down, gonna sit here in the gloom/Mama I’ll be tending to these wings so badly singed/Mama I’ll be praying that he’ll pass this way again…” Sigh…Some lessons are never learned.

With songs like “The Codependent’s National Anthem,” “Tumbling Down,” and “I’m A Little Bit Embarrassed” it’s easy to see that Claudia doesn’t shy away from the raw honest truth.

This just might be my favorite line from this collection of emotion-driven songs. “This isn’t something ladylike to do/But you treated me like trash/So that’s how I’m treatin’ you…” The title of that song is “Me Too.”

If you’d like to sample Claudia’s music, here is her performance of “Lucky Girl.”

You can find her new CD, Lucky Me, wherever music is sold, but for your convenience, here is the Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Girl-Claudia-Nygaard/dp/B07VC1DF79/

Follow Claudia Nygaard:

WEBSITE

Facebook

Twitter

When Ruby Lovett emerged on the music scene in the late 1990s, music critics said, “Lovett’s voice is a refreshing slice of hillbilly heaven. “

When I listened to her new CD, I had to agree. Her voice is authentic and real.

While she didn’t write all the songs on her album, It’s A Hard Life, she chose songs that fit the theme and tell compelling stories.

The first track, written by Nanci Griffith, “It’s A Hard Life,” speaks such strong truths! “If we poison our children with hatred/Then a hard life is all that they will know…” Isn’t that a message the entire world could pay heed to today?

Lovett did write the second song on the album, “A Father’s Love,” as a tribute to her adoptive father. This line says it all, “Some say blood is thicker than water/And tho’ I wasn’t born your daughter/You cherished me as if I were your own…”

“Catfish John,” takes us back to another place and time in history. “He was born a slave in the town of Vicksburg/Traded for a chestnut mare/But he never spoke in anger/Though his load was hard to bear…”

Another written by Lovett, “Straight From My Heart,” drips with genuine emotion and her delivery is nothing less than pure honesty. “Here in this changing world/where nothing lasts forever/A love that you can count on is sometimes hard to find…”

Ruby Lovett’s music is as real as she is, full of honest emotion and real life situations sung with pure grace and power. I’d like to tell you about every song on this beautiful album, but I’ll let you explore, if it has piqued your interest. 

Take a listen for yourself!


AMAZON purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/ItS-Hard-Life-Ruby-Lovett/dp/B07P6YXFRX/

Follow Ruby Lovett:

Website

Facebook

Thank you for allowing me to introduce these two amazing women and their music to you! I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

Taking Texas to Tennessee – Buddy Magazine

Since not everyone gets to see the Buddy Magazine publication, I decided to post a recent article I wrote after my trip to Nashville. So far, it’s getting some good attention and feedback!

A Tale of Two Music Cities Divided

By Jan Sikes

On the heels of the Ken Burns sensational documentary about the evolution of country music on PBS, the one undisputable fact is that country music has been and is a large part of American history.

At one time during that history, Nashville was the only place to go if an artist wanted to break into the business. However, over the years, that changed and Texas played a large part in that change.

It is no secret that there has been a complicated rift between Nashville and Texas music artists ever since Waylon bucked the establishment, insisting on making music his own way and Willie took his music home to Texas.

I compare it to the famous stand-off between the Hatfields and McCoys. Shots were fired, and many folks threatened, but now the dust has cleared, and hands shaken. Judging by the recent spate of Texas Musicians who’ve made the trek to the famous city to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, I’d say there is at the least, a truce. 

Could it be that the Nashville heads are watching the flourishing Texas music industry with some envy? Or perhaps they are only seeing dollar signs.

Whatever the reason, I recently had the distinct honor of witnessing something that I believe will have lasting ripple effects for years and artists to come. I traveled to Nashville along with approximately 500 other avid Texas music fans to see our legendary Texas performer, Gary P. Nunn, make his debut on the iconic Grand Ole Opry. And, it came as no surprise that Nunn performed his two mega-hits, “London Homesick Blues,” and “Last Thing I Needed The First Thing This morning.”

But the crowning moment was when Gary P. Nunn strode onto the Grand Ole Opry stage and stood in the legendary “circle” while his fans jumped to their feet to welcome him with a Texas-size display of love for their favorite artist. The significance of performing at the mother of all country music venues cannot be understated.

While it was my first real visit to the city, I enjoyed exploring the places that created and now preserves country music history from throughout the decades.

Later that evening, Nunn had this to say about the experience.

“It’s always been on my bucket list to play the Grand Ole Opry and I never really thought I’d get the chance. It’s overwhelming.”

Add in the massive amount of folks that traveled to Music City to see him, and there was no denying that Nunn was deeply touched.

“When I looked out into the audience and saw all the Texas music fans that had traveled to Nashville to share this experience with me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was completely blown away,” Nunn said with misty eyes.

Me and Gary P. Nunn at the After-Party in Nashville

Texas artist, Ray Wylie Hubbard, made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry on July 17 just before Nunn’s appearance on August 3.

Hubbard said, “There are certain moments in time more powerful than others. Walking onto the Grand Ole Opry stage is one of the most powerful.”

Cody Jinks made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry on August 28. He had this to say. “I was as nervous about playing the Opry as I’ve been about any show. It’s an amazing experience that’s hard to sum up. It’s just special.”

So, why is Nashville suddenly opening its arms to Texas Music artists?

I think the answer to that quintessential question is complex and can’t be answered in a few simple words.

However, The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in Nashville could be partially responsible for the shift.

Imagine 5,000 sq. ft. of nothing but Texas music history. That’s larger than an NBA basketball court, and that is precisely what you’ll find with the “Outlaws and Armadillos – Country Music’s Roaring 70s” exhibit which resides on the third floor of the hall of fame building in downtown Nashville.

I had the honor of sitting down with exhibit co-curator, Michael Gray, in his office at the museum to talk about how this exhibit came into being.

“There is a perceived division between Texas and Tennessee. But that relationship between Nashville and Austin is maybe a little more surprising and complicated than people realize,” Gray said. “It started before the seventies when we began to see artists insist on taking charge of their music rather than having a label executive tell them what to do. But the seventies really brought it to a head when Willie left Nashville and went back home to Texas. We all know the story of how he began to play at the Armadillo World Headquarters, then contacted his friend, Waylon and invited him down. But, also at the time, even though these rebelling artists had taken their music out of Nashville, they often had to return to Nashville to record because, at the time, there were little to no studios in Texas.”

And the decades-long stand-off between Nashville and Austin grew exponentially with artists like Willie, Waylon, Bobby Bare, Gary P. Nunn, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Martin Murphey, Marcia Ball, Joe Ely, and many others who had a burning passion to create original music without boundaries.

Austin filmmaker, Eric Geadelmann, memorialized Texas music history in a series of documentaries, “They Called Us Outlaws,” which tells the story of Texas music directly through the artists themselves. The idea to create the “Outlaws and Armadillos – Country’s Roaring 70s” exhibit came from these documentaries.

Gray said, “Eric Geadelmann met with us about six years ago here at the hall of fame and shared that he was going to produce this documentary series about the outlaw movement in the 1970s. The Hall of Fame became an official partner with him on this series. We opened up our archives to him to help him make his film. We had an exhibit at the time in that exact same gallery that was all about the late sixties and early seventies in Nashville when Bob Dylan came to record along with all the folk and rock artists that followed him here and opened the city a little bit. So, as that exhibit grew to a close, we decided to do an exhibit that went along with Eric’s film. And that was how it all started.”

Gray went on to explain how trips back and forth between Austin and Nashville set it all in motion. And they weren’t just satisfied to explore and feature the music artists, but also the great visual artists who helped create a brand. Among those were Jim Franklin, known far and wide for his outrageous poster designs for the Armadillo World Headquarters, Micael Priest who designed the first poster for Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic, and Ken Featherston who created iconic posters for various Austin events and venues.  

Franklin designed the logo for the “Outlaws and Armadillos Country’s Roaring 70s exhibit.”

Over time, the Nashville museum curators met with numerous people in Texas as they gathered donations from family members, friends of these legendary artists to be used in the display.

The result is a comprehensive tribute to that special period of time when music artists embraced a newfound freedom of expression. This was the true emergence of singer/songwriters. No longer was the artist required by label heads to sing someone else’s songs. They took this creative power to write, publish and produce their own music. You only have to look back to recognize that the music speaks for itself.  

Not only is The Outlaws and Armadillos exhibit a fantastic display of artifacts, but it is educational as well. And it brings together the undeniable fact the impact the Outlaw Movement had on the direction of Country Music forever.

A large part of the exhibit is in photographs from music historians such as Chet Flippo, Ron McKeown, Joe Nick Potoski, Dave Hickey, Michael Bane, Jan Reid, and Kimmie Rhodes.

The exhibit is so large it is next to impossible to see everything in a few hours. I would like to have had the entire day to spend absorbing the rich and vibrant history of the Outlaw Movement.

The bottom line is that there is a shift. The tale between two cities seems to be morphing, and no longer are the Texas music artists looked down on by Nashville as the ugly stepsisters of country music.

In fact, the tale of two cities, in which music amounts to a way of life for a substantial number of the populace, is often reduced to a simple division of Nashville executives and Texas artists, when the story of the relationship is more complex and diverse.

While the ending to that story remains to be written, for now, the plot, premise, and characters are taking a new direction, carving out new roads, and taking millions of fans along.

Our beloved Texas music artists are getting to enjoy a monumental juncture in their careers by walking onto the Grand Ole Opry stage, as honored guests, and standing inside the historic and coveted circle. The place at the table has gotten much bigger, and I say it’s high time!

And, as each of the artists I spoke to expressed, there is nothing that compares. It is a dream come true. And for Texas music fans, it’s a great opportunity to explore Nashville and the rich music history it has to offer, like standing in the footsteps of so many greats who left a clearly marked path for others to follow.

An undeniable shiver ran up my spine when I stood in the middle of the famed circle on the Grand Ole Opry stage and imagined Hank Williams singing, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”  

When Nashville invited, Texas responded. By taking Texas to Tennessee, and Nashville opening its arms to iconic Texas musicians, are we perhaps seeing the end of the musical gulf that has separated the two for so long? Stay tuned!

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!

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.

canstockphoto18596738

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

 

Jan’s TOP TEN Music CDs 2017

Jan's Top Ten NewMusic CDs for 2017

Most of you know that I am a staff writer for Buddy Magazine (The Original Texas Music Magazine). Part of my job is to review new music as it is released throughout the year. This list is the best of what I heard and is based on my opinion. I hope you’ll find something new that you haven’t heard before and that you’ll check it out.

#1

Willie_Boys_Album   Purchase Link

Just when you think Willie Nelson cannot do anything new under the sun, he does. I loved everything about this CD, from the cover to the liner notes, to the songs and production. But, what struck me the most about the project was the blending of voices and guitars that can only come from a family connection. Willie’s two sons, Lukas and Micah join him on this CD.

#2

Stars_Foster  PURCHASE LINK

This CD accompanies a compilation of short stories from Radney Foster, which made #1 on my Top Ten books for 2017. This entire project from start to finish a perfect example of what storytelling should be. I loved every song on this CD but one that stands out is “Belmont and Sixth,” about a homeless veteran.

#3

Close Ties  PURCHASE LINK

If aging has done anything for this timeless Americana troubadour, it has only enhanced his powerful songwriting prowess.  Close Ties, is beyond a doubt the most intimate as he weaves deep personal stories that expose vulnerabilities and regrets. It is quite possibly Rodney Crowell’s best work to date with wry, straight-as-an-arrow stories about his life.

#4

Lili Cover  PURCHASE LINK

There is no singular word that describes Lili Blessing’s voice…Pure, rich, subtle, smooth as silk, yet powerful and edgy are words that come close but fall short. She is like a young Norah Jones or Adele. Seamless transitions into falsetto and powerful dynamic delivery set this Indie Alternative artist apart from anything I’ve heard.

#5

Carter Bill  PURCHASE LINK

I get excited when I discover a new artist that has been around for decades making original creative music. Such is the case with Bill Carter. He writes the kind of songs other artists turn to for inspiration and their own material. For over three decades, Carter has been turning out songs that legends of rock, blues, and country have recorded. On this self-titled album, Carter’s unique style and skillful musicianship is the mark of a man who has spent a lifetime honing his craft.  Carter plays all the instruments, sings the songs and he also produced the album. Wow!! 

#6

kerrielepai1 (1)  PURCHASE LINK

Whoever said white girls couldn’t sing the blues have never heard Kerrie Lepai. With her powerhouse voice and undeniable range, she is a force to reckoned with. While Kerrie Lepai may be a new name to you, it’s one you won’t soon forget. If you love the blues and all that it embodies, along with the smoking hot guitar of Andrew Jr. Boy Jones, this album is for you.

#7

Steve_Krase  PURCHASE LINK

Houston-based blues harmonica ace, Steve Krase released his fourth album, Should’ve Seen It Coming, for Connor Ray Music. Most of this album was recorded live over two nights, at the Red Shack in Houston. The spotlight tune of the album is unequivocally “Repo Man,” written by brother David. It allows everyone to show off musically and vocally. “I won’t knock on your door/I won’t bang your wife/But I’ll take your car in the middle of the night/Cuz I’m a repo man…” The lyrics are catchy and humorous, but the arrangement is seriously incredible.

#8

Medullacover  PURCHASE LINK

This album is different in many ways, but mostly in the unique interpretation of lyrics and melodies done only the way Jerrod Medulla can. It is is fresh, sexy, sultry and diverse. It is hard to classify Jerrod’s music. It is a mix between Americana, Rock and Blues with a little Jazz thrown in.

#9

Keepsake  PURCHASE LINK

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. 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.

#10

Baker_Land  PURCHASE LINK

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.

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting new artists, perhaps finding new music that touches you or simply been entertained. Thank you for taking a look at a big part of what I do in life. 

 

Stories From The Road #16

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:

“As any road musician will tell you, you meet all kinds of strange people in your travels. There was one guy I hired in a pinch when I needed a drummer. I didn’t have any idea when I hired him just what a weirdo he was. But, he told us that he and another guy had gotten busted when they were younger for digging up corpses in the cemetery, opening the caskets, lighting candles, and reading poetry to dead people. He was only hired as a temporary fill-in, but he was damned sure more temporary than he realized when I found this out.

Anyway, me being me, I asked him, “How come you guys to do that?”

He said, “Oh, man, you can really relate to those people.”

I replied, “Oh yeah?”

He got all excited. “You know, there’s something special about that.”

I tried to keep the sarcasm out of my voice, but am sure I failed, when I said, “Yeah, I bet there is.”

He went on. “We never would have got busted if we hadn’t started digging them high bones.”

“What do you mean, high bones?” I asked.

“Oh, them rich people. As long as we were digging up poor people’s graves, nobody ever said anything about it, but we started digging up the rich people’s graves and that is when they got cops out there and started watching. That’s how they caught us.”

I said, “Okay, Okay, sure.”

This guy was obviously a little messed up in the head.

One time he was playing drums with another band and he had taken some fighting roosters in with him in a bowling bag. Then when the dance floor filled up, he opened the bag and threw out three roosters. Of course, the roosters were flapping their wings and squawking and people scrambled and hollered. The guy that owned the club came up on the bandstand and politely grabbed him by the nap of the neck out from behind the drums and threw him, not out a door, but through a wooden door out back. He then took his drums, kicked the heads out and threw them out on top of him with a warning. “Don’t ever let me see you again!”

When I fired this same guy, I handled it as delicately as I knew how. I told him I had to let him go because someone else I had promised the job to had shown up. I just wanted to break it off easy.

But, that night, he came out to the club where I was working.

He said, “I brought a pet rabbit for your girlfriend.”

The girl I was with at the time spoke up and said she didn’t want a rabbit and I told him no as well, but he wouldn’t accept that.

He said, “Well, you’ve gotta take it.”

I started to get mad then, so I said, “Man, I don’t want the damn rabbit and she don’t want the damn rabbit so the best thing you can do is take your rabbit and head on down the road.”

“Well, okay. You’re so mad at me you won’t even let me give you a gift?” He asked.

I got a little more firm and he finally left and took the bunny with him.

Another crazy stunt he pulled was in San Angelo. He went into a bar without his ID and he was pretty young back then. So, when he ordered a drink the bartender asked to see his ID. His response was, “Well, let me see your Bartender’s license.”

The bartender ran him out. He went home and came back with an old army trench coat on, an army hat, belt with a canteen and a holster that he had a 45 revolver stuck in. He walked through the door, pulled the 45 out and hollered, “This place is under Marshall Law. Don’t nobody move.”

He walked up to the bar and pointed the 45 at the bartender and said, “Now I want a drink.”

So, the bartender served him. He had a drink or two and when he left, he told everyone, “At ease, men,” saluted them, snapped his feet together and marched out the door.

The bartender turned him in and they locked him up for a few days for bringing a gun into a bar. When he got out, he put on a bikini bathing suit, a wig, lipstick, and makeup and rented a Ford tractor from the farm supply house. He drove around the parking lot at the bar holding a sign that said, “This place is unfair to women. This place is unfair to everyone.”

He pulled some more stuff and I don’t know whatever happened to him, but he had some screws loose. His tenure with me was very shortlived. But this is just an example of some of the characters I ran across over the many years I traveled the roads.”

Rick_Rhythem_Rebels60

Rick_Rhythm_Rebels66
                                 Top Row L-R Tommy “Red” Jenkins, Rick Sikes, Clyde Graham                                                      Bottom Row L-R Mel Way, Bobby Sikes “Doc Dow

 

 

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

Stories From the Road #15

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.

Since we are entering a New Year, I thought I’d take a step back and show the vast difference in the economy between the 1960s and now.  I found these interesting.

I couldn’t find the exact date on this, but do know it was somewhere around 1965 or 1966.

Mayan_Ranch

Mayan_Ranch_Rhythm+Rebels
Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels with Mayan Ranch Owners

The following are entries from a 1967 Yearbook in which Rick noted every gig played and what clothes he wore. That was important to him. He never wanted to duplicate the costume at a venue.

Journal_Entries_Rick_Sikes

Journal_Sikes_Ferlin_Husky

 

Journal_1967_Rick_Sikes
New Year’s Eve was the golden night as far as pay went.

 

 

Journal_1967_Rick_Sikes_Year_end
So, there you have it. The totals for the entire year. 

Now, to put it into perspective:

The average price of gas in 1967 was Thirty cents per gallon.

The average price of a new car in 1967 was $2,750.00

Average rent was $125 per month

Average income was around $7,000

So, you can see from these journal entries, that playing music for a living wasn’t exactly lucrative. But, Rick managed to support a family, a girlfriend and keep the band members paid. He did pay the band members less than he paid himself. After all, he did all of the bookings, advertising, choosing songs, providing costumes, and transportation.

So, I’ll end on this note because I can’t say it any better.

Guitar_Design_Rick

 

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

Stories From the Road #12

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.

This week I’m going to switch gears again and talk about another Country Music Legend Rick had the pleasure of working with.

Rick:

“I had the good fortune to work with Red Foley in 1963. He had a great voice and stage presence that propelled him to stardom in the fifties. We got the tour through an agent I had in Waco. When I got the gig, my grandmother, who was a God-fearing woman, said, “I’m so proud you boys are going to work with a good Christian man. Maybe he will help y’all straighten up and do right.” Red had just finished up his last episode of the TV series, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and flew in from California. I had never met him and didn’t know much about him other than admiring him on the Grand Ole Opry for many years, and of course, his records. I told the boys in the band, “Y’all don’t drink or cuss in front of him. Be on your best behavior. This is a good job, so let’s not blow it.”

That first night, his plane was late and he met us at Mission Stadium in San Antonio. He came rushing into the dressing room with his guitar and ran back out to get his suitcase out of the cab. We introduced ourselves to him and all shook hands. He asked the guitar player to tune him up with us and he showed us the songs which had difficult chords. Then, he opened his suitcase and pulled out a fifth of Vodka, unscrewed the cap and tossed it into the trash can. He took a long swig from the bottle (straight) and offered us a drink. We all declined, of course. He had just gotten his dentures and had to keep sucking them up, making a funny sound. But, when we went on stage, he was great and had the audience spell-bound. He always said a little prayer at the beginning and end of the shows. He’d also say, “My, isn’t this a lovely crowd we have boys?” We’d always say in unison, “Yes, Mr. Foley.” That tour was an eventful and exciting gig.

Pat Boone (Red’s son-in-law), had a big interest in the Hushpuppy Shoe Company at that time. Of course, all of us guys wore cowboy boots, but Red Foley wanted us to wear patent leather Hushpuppies that they were just beginning to market. He gave each of us a pair of bone white, maroon and black patent leather shoes, which he insisted we wear. So, that’s what we wore on stage. None of us had seen patent leather shoes before and they were really shiny. You could take a little bit of vaseline on a cloth and shine them up where they were glassy. People asked us many times how we got our shoes to shine so good. I’d tell them, “Well, when you work with Mr. Foley, you have to keep your shoes shined like this because he insists.”

So anyway, one night, one of the guys let the fire fall off his cigarette onto the top of one of his shoes. They were basically plastic and the fire sat on top until it burned through the shoe onto his toe. He did quite a little dance for us on the bandstand. Needless to say, he didn’t care much for the plastic shoes after that.

But, I got to meet a lot of the Grand Ole Opry stars on the tour with Red Foley. One show we did in Lufkin, Texas had Sonny James, Uncle Cyp Brasfield, Frankie Miller, Marsha Lynn and ourselves. The newspaper article advertising the show misspelled my name, putting Sykes instead of Sikes. But things like that happened often. I remember one time I had a show at Fort Sill Air Base in Lawton, Oklahoma and when we pulled up at the venue, the marquee said, “Appearing tonight, Red Skies.” So, having my name misspelled wasn’t unusual.”

Red_Foley1

Red_Foley2

Uncle_Cyp_Brasfield_Rick_Sikes
Uncle Cyp Brasfield and Rick Sikes

 

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

Stories From the Road #11

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 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’m going to switch gears and share a few of the Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels Band stories. Some of them are pretty unbelievable, but they all did happen. 🙂

Rick: 

“My brother Bobby, was a fantastic keyboard player. He played guitar too but excelled on the keyboard. He was a crazy SOB. In high school, his nickname was “Nut” Sikes. So, he was always game for a prank or skit or anything else we came up with.

We used to have what we called a “prop kit.” It had all kinds of old stuff in it like a Viking helmet, some beards, floppy hats, and raggedy Hobo clothes – all kinds of stuff, and we had a lot of fun with it. I remember one time we had stopped to eat at a fancy restaurant in Waco. We had figured out a scheme or plan that involved Bobby playing the part of a sex fiend. He didn’t care. He was a comedian anyway and he loved to be a fool.

So, I went inside the restaurant first and there was a nice elderly lady sitting behind the counter. I told her, “Ma’am, I have a band and we would like to eat, but I have a brother that is in the mental hospital most of the time. I bring him out for a couple of weeks on the road with me because our parents are both dead and we don’t have anybody. But, he’s really messed up mentally.”

She said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. What is his problem?”

I was good at keeping a straight face and playing the straight guy. “Well, he is what we call a sex fiend,” I said. “He sees women and he just gets nutty sometimes. So, if you will allow us to come in, please ask the waitresses not to get too close to him.”

She said, “Well, of course. Of course, you can come in.” I said, “We’ll hold him down and confine him, but just ask them please not to get too close.”

So, I go back out to the bus and get everyone and I’m sure she’s warning all the waitresses.

We walked inside and Bobby was slobbering and growling like an animal. A couple of the guys had him by the arms leading him in. They sat him down at the end of the table and we all sit down. A guy sat on each of Bobby and kept holding onto his arms.

The waitress came to the far end of the table away from him and asked us to pass the menus down. Everyone ordered. I ordered for Bobby.

A couple sat at the table next to ours and when their waitress brought a cart with their food on it, she got pretty close to our table. Bobby jumped up and lunged at her growling. The waitress screamed and knocked her food cart over spilling food on the couple.

I ran up front to the elderly lady and apologized. “I will pay for that couple’s food and for anything that got broken. I am so terribly sorry.”

She just shook her head and clicked her tongue. “That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

So, I went back to our table. In the meantime, the other guys had dragged Bobby back to his chair and held on to him.

When the waitress brought our food, she stayed at the far end of the table. Bobby started crawling across the table right in the middle, slobbering and making goofy noises. The guys yanked him back and that waitress screamed. She sat our food down and took off.

I don’t remember what we had ordered for Bobby, but I do remember it had mashed potatoes and gravy and Bobby started eating with his hands and getting it all down the front of his shirt.

Of course, everyone in the restaurant was watching all of this. And that just egged him on. He played it up heavy.

Finally, we got finished and washed him down the best we could. The guys escorted him out and all the while, he was still carrying on.

I went back to the lady at the front and said, “Ma’am, I want to pay for everything. Any damages or anything else he caused.”

She said, “Oh, no, no, no, no. Don’t worry about that at all. What on earth do you do with him when you go to play someplace?”

I said, “We just chain him in the bus. We have to lock him up or else he’ll get out.”

She clicked her tongue and asked, “And, you take him out two weeks every year so he can be with you?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied.

She said, “You know you are one of the most compassionate men I have ever met. You are certainly a good man and I admire you. I know it’s terribly humiliating for you.”

I played the straight guy all the way. “Yes, Ma’am. Yes, Ma’am.”

So then we all get back on the bus and everyone cracks up and has a blast.

It was a crazy stunt to pull, but it helped break up the monotony and boredom on the road…”

 

 

Rick and Bobby
L-R Bobby Sikes, Rick Sikes

 

 

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