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!

Thankful

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I reflect on all I have to be thankful for, I am astounded that there is so much! We tend to go through our days without stopping to really take a look around us and truly appreciate what we have. We are always chasing a carrot just out of reach. But, today, I pause to give thanks for all that I am blessed with.

First and foremost, I am thankful for my amazing two daughters. They are strong young women raising families while still managing careers. I couldn’t be more proud.

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I am thankful for five unique and awesome grandchildren! And, I’m thankful I live close enough that I get to see them often (sometimes too often.) 🙂

I am thankful that I have created an entirely new career for myself…one I could never have imagined!

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I am thankful for the writing organizations that have enhanced, supported, taught and uplifted me along this journey.

 

The beautiful friendships that I have formed around the world are cherished!

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I am thankful for my apartment. I know that may sound silly, but I truly am thankful for my sanctuary. It is quiet, unassuming and has everything I need to be comfortable.

I am thankful for the music and the awesome people who make the music that feeds my soul!

I am thankful for my sister who patiently mentors and encourages me. We talk every Sunday morning over a cup of coffee, by phone, and solve all the problems in our stories and the world. 🙂

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I am thankful for my best friend of over 35 years. We have been through lots together!

As Rick told the Baptist preacher, I am thankful for the breath that sustains life. I’m thankful for faith and hope that are my constant companions.

I am thankful for the beautiful angels that watch over, protect and help when they can.

I am thankful for all of you who follow my blog and leave comments when something interests you. I appreciate the encouragement you give when I post stories.

I am a most blessed person!

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The Story of Nanyehi With Becky Hobbs

This is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve done to date, for the Oklahoma Farm and Ranch magazine. So, I thought I’d share it. Since this interview, they have turned this into a film and are entering it at film festivals around the world.

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 “I started writing songs when I was nine-years-old. I was born to write songs, and I’ve known that my whole life,” Becky Hobbs stated in a recent interview.

Hobbs was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. When she was in high school, she formed the first all-female rock band in Oklahoma, The Four Faces of Eve. She went on to have quite a successful career in country music with many of her songs gaining popularity through her own recordings as well as other artists.

But her latest musical project combines her consummate songwriting prowess with a deeply personal and profoundly historic story.

Nancy Ward (Nanyehi) is Hobbs’ fifth great-grandmother born around 1738. Hobbs recalls stories passed down through the family.

“I was very fortunate because I always knew I was a direct descendant of Nancy Ward, Nanyehi, through all female lineage except for my great-grandfather, Richard Taylor Parks who came to Indian territory in the late 1800s. He was a horseback preacher man and hailed from East Tennessee,” Hobbs said. “Cherokee society was female driven. It was matriarchal; it was matrilineal. When a baby was born, he or she was born into the mother’s clan. The Cherokee women made the most important decisions, like when to go to war. In fact, in the 1700s, the whites dubbed the Cherokee tribes as The Petticoat Society. In Nancy Ward’s day, she represented the Cherokee at many peace negotiations. The whites were always amazed that they would let a woman speak for them.”

I found this bit of history to be most interesting. Hobbs has extensive knowledge about her beloved Cherokee tribe and is prolific in the language.

Hobbs continued, “When I was a little girl, my mom would tell me a story that intrigued me. Nancy Ward was around seventeen-years-old. Her husband, Kingfisher was battling the Creek Indians at the Battle of Taliwa in 1755. She was beside him, chewing the bullets, giving them ragged edges to make them more deadly. Kingfisher was killed, so Nanyehi took his rifle and led the Cherokee to victory.”

That act earned Nancy Ward a high status within the tribe. She was honored as War Woman, headed up the Women’s Council to determine the fate of captives and she became Nanyehi – Beloved Woman of the Cherokee.

What inspired Hobbs to honor her Fifth Great-Grandmother?

“There are eighteen songs in the musical, and I wrote or co-wrote them all,” Hobbs Said. “The interesting thing is that in 1993, I got all fired up to do a music album to pay tribute to Nancy Ward. So, I wrote a handful of these songs back then. That was the year that David Hampton in Tulsa established the Association of the Descendants of Nancy Ward. They were looking for a theme song, and I wrote “Let There Be Peace” and “Pale Moon,” that year.”

Hobbs admitted that around that time, her country music career took off like a bullet and she got so busy that she put the project aside, knowing that someday, she wanted to create something to honor her ancestor’s life.

Hobbs continues with her story, “In 2007, for the one-hundredth anniversary of Oklahoma Statehood, I was invited to participate in a celebration in Bartlesville. Well, I could not stand up there and talk about Oklahoma without talking about my Cherokee heritage. So, I talked about Nancy Ward and sang “Let There be Peace Among Us” and “Pale Moon,” and shared some of her stories. After the show, the director, Nick Sweet, came up to me and said, ‘I know who Nancy Ward was.’ So, we talked for a while, and I said, ‘You know, I’ve got some other songs besides the ones I sang tonight. Maybe we should get together and try to write a musical.’ And that’s kind of where it all started.”

Nick Sweet has been a stage director in Oklahoma and Texas for the past forty years, so he brought a level of expertise to the table that Hobbs needed to move forward with this passionate tribute.

One year later in November 2008, Hobbs decided it was time.

“I woke up and told my husband, ‘Today’s the day.’ He said, ‘Today’s the day for what? Are you going to leave me?’ I said, ‘I’m going to move forward in telling Nancy Ward’s story.’ I went to the bathroom and looked out the window, and there was a white owl perched in a tree staring at me. This was around 8:30 in the morning, and it was bright daylight. So, I knew it was a sign.”

Within six months, Hobbs wrote the musical, learning it all the hard way. She contacted Nick Sweet and asked him to direct it, and they performed Nanyehi publicly for the first time in 2009. Hobbs shares that the first performance was only herself, her husband, accomplished guitarist, Duane Sciagcua, Nick Sweet and his wife, Peggy. They each read scenes and Hobbs and husband performed songs live.

From its humble beginnings, Nanyehi has had eight major productions, been picked up by a major production company in Georgia and now has a cast of approximately twenty people including professional actors and actresses.

The songs for Nanyehi are incredibly amazing. From the first, “White Wolf on the Horizon” to the last, “Let There Be Peace,” they tell the entire story from Nancy Ward’s birth to her death, with many adventures in between, including the famed battle of Taliwa where Kingfisher died.

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Although Hobbs has had many musical accomplishments in her lifetime, she openly admits she is most proud of Nanyehi. It not only took her out of her comfort zone but gave her a medium to educate so many about the Cherokee tribe as well as celebrate Nancy Ward’s fascinating life.

If you’d like more information, please visit http://www.nanyehi.com/

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Mama’s House

Happy Mother’s Day!

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My mother was born in 1917. She was a young woman just married and starting a family during the Great Depression. The things she endured were beyond comprehension. But, she grew to be the strongest, most determined woman I ever knew. Born in May, she was a Taurus. No task was too big for her to tackle. I have a distinct memory, as a very young child, of Mom climbing up a ladder and putting a new roof on our house because Daddy was working too many long hours to do it himself. I like to think I get some of my grit from her.

She could make the best peach cobbler on the face of the earth and was most at home in the kitchen.

When she passed away, I wanted to create some sort of deserving tribute. I was driving down the highway between Coleman and Brady, Texas one day and this song came to me all at once and clear as a bell. I pulled over on the side of the road and wrote it. I hope you enjoy it and the photos that accompany it.

My tribute to Marian Edith Clark Smith.

Thank you for listening.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

RICK:

“One time we had bookings out in California. We left Brownwood, Texas and made the mistake of stopping in Juarez, Mexico. We had too much fun…drank too much and hung out with too many senoritas. We didn’t really have a whole lot of money left by the time we got out of Juarez, but we had to get on to California to work. Then, the worst happened when we got into Arizona somewhere. The bus started making an engine noise. We had to stop and get it fixed. To the best of my memory, it was an oil pump. At any rate, we were sincerely broke by the time we reached California. We found a motel that rented apartment type rooms; like two bedroom motel rooms. I told the lady who managed it, “We’re musicians and we get paid next week. We get paid every week. We just blew into town from Texas and had some bus trouble so we don’t really have the money to pay you in advance, but we would like to rent the place. We’re going to be here at least six weeks.” I have no idea what possessed her to agree, but she said, “Ok. I’m going to trust you for this week.”

We settled in and had just enough money to buy a pound of bologna and a loaf of bread. We’d managed to get out of Mexico with a few cartons of Mexican cigarettes and a few bottles of Cognac. So, we drank Cognac, smoked Mexican cigarettes and ate bologna and bread for a week.

Finally, at the end of that week, we got paid. That night we went to a place down the street from the motel that advertised all the chicken you could eat for a buck. We almost wiped the poor guy out. I mean, we were hungry! I told him fair and square, “This is the first time we’ve really eaten in a week. We’ve been living off bologna and bread. I’m sorry we wiped you out.” He laughed and said, “No, no. You guys eat all you want and come back again. That is all I ask; that you come back and see me. I’ll come out in the long run.” So, we ate fried chicken there often, but we didn’t eat hardly as much as that first time.

The irony of this band business…this music business, is that I would be up on stage with a fifteen-hundred dollar suit on, high dollar boots, Stetson hat and all kind of fancy hand-made belts and guitar straps. I would be up there looking like I had a million dollars when I didn’t have fifty cents to my name. People would say to me, “Man, I wish we were like y’all are. You get up there and work only four hours a night and make a lot of money, get all the women and have all the fun. And, I would be thinking, “Man they have no idea what this is all about. No idea.” They didn’t know how many hundreds of hours of rehearsal we put in and all the money that had to be paid out. It was not as it appeared. ”

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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…”

 

 

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L-R Bobby Sikes, Rick Sikes

 

 

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

Mike Blakely – CD Review

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

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

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

Keepsake

KEEPSAKE – MIKE BLAKELY

Independent Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Purchase Keepsake

About Mike Blakely

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

 

Reflection

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As I complete another trip around the sun, I am compelled to reflect back on a lot of things in life. I was born into a poor family in Hobbs, New Mexico on August 21, 1951. And that makes me exactly 66 years old.

From all accounts, I was a happy child. I had no idea we were poor until much later in life. My nickname in school was Smiley.

My sister, Linda, was (and is) my best friend in the world. Even at a very young age, I was holding her hand.

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I have a vague memory of the oxygen tanks that were delivered to our house on a regular basis because my Grandfather was dying of some sort of lung disease.

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All of my siblings were born in a tent. I was the only one born in a hospital. Mama and Daddy built the house I grew up in. They didn’t have contractors to come in and do the work. They did all of it and held down full-time jobs. I have a vivid memory of my short round little mama on the roof nailing down shingles.

But, I learned so much from both of them. I learned how to control my emotions from my daddy. He had a terrible temper and many times I dodged flying tools when he worked on one of our old cars. From my mom, I learned how to be strong in the face of adversity and how to never EVER give up.

When I was probably four years old, my mom decided to join a Pentecostal church. Daddy went along with it because he loved her, but I’m not convinced his heart was ever in it. So I was raised in a strict fear-based religion.

And I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and explore the world when I turned eighteen.

Jan 1970's  I had NO idea!

But, when I was nineteen, I met Rick Sikes. And, oh my! How I fell in love. And, so did he. It seemed destined to fail from the beginning. Not only was he sixteen years older than I, but he was a musician and band leader and no stranger to the Texas honky-tonk life. Nothing could be farther from a Pentecostal raising. 🙂

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And then…he was arrested on two counts of armed bank robbery and sentenced to 25 years and 50 years in prison. Not much hope of that love ever surviving.

But, it did and in 1985, we were married. Luke_Darlina_Wedding.JPG

And for the next 25 years, we did a lot of living! I learned how to play guitar and write songs and perform on stage with him.

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And then, his health began to fail. In 2003, he became confined to a wheelchair when he had to have his left leg amputated

Amputation.

But, we didn’t give up. We built a recording studio and recorded lots of our songs. Curious? You can see them all here.

And then on May 1st in 2009, he left me, to travel to the next world. I have so many memories and lots of regrets. There were so many things I could have done differently. But, once today is gone, there is no returning to it.

In 2011, I began the journey of writing our story, Rick’s and mine. It’s been a pretty incredible adventure and I have learned SO much since that first book, Flowers and Stone.

Many times, people ask me if I wrote all of these stories as a tribute to Rick and I quickly reply, “No.”  I wrote them because it was a story that begged to be told. It encompasses everything from passion, music, crime, redemption, second chances, more music, and mortality. My hope from telling these stories is that they might inspire someone else.

It’s been a helluva ride and I’m not getting off the horse just yet. 🙂

Thanks for letting me reflect a little. This poem I wrote many years ago pretty much sums it all up.  (Taken from the Poetry and Art book, DISCOVERY)

Comes the Dawn
After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
You learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security
Eventually, you understand that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
Then you start to accept your defeats
Head up and eyes open wide
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
And learn to build your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
Futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight
After a while, you learn that even sunshine
Burns you if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you can endure
That you really are strong
You truly do have worth
And you learn and learn
With each goodbye – you learn

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Happy Birthday to me! AND, I get a Solar Eclipse for my birthday.

Http-www.jansikes.com

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