Willie

Because I couldn’t make my blog post until after last night happened, it’s late going up.

Let me explain. As most of you know, I work for a music magazine, Buddy, The Original Texas Music Magazine. Along with that comes a few perks now and then. Last night I had two free tickets to a Willie Nelson and Family show at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum, Dallas.

Myself and another Buddy staffer attended the event, at first thinking we were getting Press Passes, then finding out we only had general admission tickets. Considering the cost of those, it was still a good deal.

I had taken my book, “The Convict and the Rose” to gift to Willie. But, it became obvious, there was going to be no personal contact with him.

Why that book in particular? Because the artwork on the cover was done by Rick Sikes in the late seventies, commissioned by Willie for an album he wanted to release by the same title. But, as fate will sometimes do, around the time they were getting to release the project, IRS started looking at Willie and his attorneys advised him against having any contact with a convict. Therefore, the project was shelved.

In 2004, Rick and Willie reunited and Rick gave him all the original artwork.

Rick Sikes and Willie Nelson

Since Willie never used the artwork, when I wrote “The Convict and the Rose,” I decided to utilize it. And that is why I wanted to get the book into his hands last night.

After lots of dead ends, I reached out by text to Willie’s ex-wife, Connie. At her suggestion, I found Willie’s bus driver, known simply as Gates.

What a kind and sweet gentleman he turned out to be. When I told him Connie had told me to ask for him and he would get me what I needed he just grinned.

“So, what is it that you want to give Willie?”

I reached into my purse and pulled out the book. He took it and while I stood and watched, he went directly onto the bus and came back out empty-handed. He gave me a thumbs-up and a grin.

So, in a round-about way, a copy of “The Convict and the Rose” is now on Willie Nelson’s bus! Whether he’ll pick it up and read it is another story, but at least I accomplished what I set out to.

The show was sold-out. No surprise there. The Bomb Factory, which holds just under 5,000 people, had removed all tables and chairs and people were packed in elbow-to-elbow like sardines.

Willie played for 70 minutes. He did most of his classics and never faltered.

I am in amazement that at 84, soon to be 85, he is still going strong.

The lighting was terrible, so these pictures are very poor quality, but I was there and had a wonderful time!

Sister Bobbi, Mickey Rafael and Paul English

And the best part…Willie now has a copy of my book! It was worth the cold misting rain and aching feet to accomplish it.

Autographs in the Rain

I very recently had the pleasure of interviewing the ever-enigmatic Kinky Friedman for a magazine feature. He has released an album after a forty-year hiatus, CIRCUS OF LIFE. I want to share two stories with you.

First, he talked about a phone call he got from Willie Nelson at 3 am. Kinky was in Texas and Willie in Hawaii. The conversation went like this according to Kinky.

Willie: “Hi, Kinky. What are you doing?”

Kinky: “Watching Matlock.”

Willie: “Kinky, that’s a sure sign of depression Turn it off. Turn off Matlock and get busy writing.”

And, so he did.

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On this album, I found a tribute song to Willie, “Autographs in the Rain.” Kinky stated that he’d seen this happen many times. People would be lined up for autographs and when the rain started. the fans didn’t leave and neither did Willie. And, while I couldn’t find a photo of Willie signing in the rain, I did find one of him signing a woman’s boob. 🙂

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Everyone loves Willie. And the main reason for that is he has always taken time to connect with his fans. He understood that if those people didn’t pay their money and spend their time to come and see him, he wouldn’t have much of a career. And, he’s always been sincere about it. Many of today’s artists have forgotten that or they are just paranoid to get too close to their fans.

I have met Willie personally on three occasions. Once, Rick and I even had dinner with the band backstage. I was awestruck!

I love Willie Nelson. He is now 85 years young and eventually, his journey here will end. That day will break my heart. Here are a few personal photos of the graciousness of Willie Nelson.

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Willie Nelson and Rick Sikes reunited after 40 years. And Willie remembered.

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Wilie signing Rick’s 1964 Martin D-35. I still have it and it is a prized possession.

Willie Group Pic
Group picture = L-R Rick Sikes, Willie Nelson, Jan Sikes, Kay Shields Perot

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Willie taking a look at my sister, Linda Broday’s, first published book!

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Willie talking to Rick Sikes after a show. He was exhausted, but still took time to visit.

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Jan Sikes and Willie after the concert. Look at the sweat under Willie’s arm. He was exhausted and I don’t know where my smile was. I think I was just feeling his exhaustion.

And, then last, but certainly not least, I want to share a pen and ink drawing Rick did of Willie. I thought he captured the essence of Willie Nelson perfectly!

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I can’t say why I was particularly drawn to share this with you. Perhaps it was the conversation with Kinky that sparked it. The feature article will appear in the July issue of Buddy Magazine.

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 #7

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.

Rick:

“Sometime, long about 1964, I had gotten hoooked up with booking agents in the bigger cities. One of them was out of Waco, Texas.

Willie Nelson and his ex-wife, Shirley Collie, had come from California around this same time. Willie was pretty much unknown then. He was known more as a writer and not a lot as a performer. He had one record going for him called “Touch Me” and he didn’t have a band at the time. So, my agent from Waco asked me and my band to back Willie and Shirley on a little tour through Texas, and we did. These were mostly stage shows.

We did a stadium show in Austin or San Antonio and the acoustics were hellish. You’d speak a word and just as you finished, it would echo back – or as we used to say back then, slap you in the face. Instruments (especially drums) were really a pain.

Another incident I remember took place in Brady, Texas. We were scheduled to do a stage show at the high school auditorium from 7 ’til 8:30, and then we were to play at the Brady Country Club from 9 or 9:30 until midnight. We set up at the high school auditorium and a little after 7, there were only five or six people who had shown up. So, the promoter decided we should go ahead and tear it down and go out to the country club to set up for that dance.

We did, and it was getting on towards 9 o’clock but still, there was not hardly anyone showing up there either. I had a van with a P.A. system and horn on top, so the promoter asked me to head into town and advertise that there was a dance with Willie Nelson at the country club and invite people out on the P.A.

We were cruising the streets and I was plugging the dance hard. A policeman pulled us over and asked to see our permit to use the P.A. I told him we didn’t have one and he said, “Even if you did, it wouldn’t allow you to use that P.A. this late in the day.”

I felt it was time for an alibi so I told him, “The mayor is out at the Country Club and he told us to come in and plug the dance.” The cop said, “Well, I think that’s enough for tonight, so turn it off.” I said, “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” We hauled it back to the Country Club and started playing.

Willie and Shirley put on a great show and I think we may have had around 25 for 30 people show up. We didn’t get paid that night and I doubt if Willie and Shirley did. Willie wore suits and neckties back then and had a businessman’s haircut and was clean-shaven.

We didn’t know it at the time, but in a few short years, Willie would be well-known everywhere. It was truly an honor and privilege to back him and a friendship formed that lasted over the years.”

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Willie Nelson and Shirley Collie with the Rhythm Rebels (Rick took the picture)

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Willie Nelson and Shirley Collie 1960s

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Pen and Ink Drawing of young Willie by Rick Sikes

 

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Willie and Rick reunited in 2003 (Rick was already in a wheelchair)

**A side note** When Rick saw Willie again in 2003, he asked him if he remembered the Brady shows and Willie did. Then he asked him if he ever got paid for them and Willie said he didn’t. They had a good laugh over it.

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

 

OUTLAW MUSIC

Merriam Webster’s Definition of Outlaw:

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a person who has broken the law and who is hiding or running away to avoid punishment

1:  a person excluded from the benefit or protection of the law

2a :  a lawless person or a fugitive from the lawb :  a person or organization under a ban or restrictionc :  one that is unconventional or rebellious

3:  an animal (as a horse) that is wild and unmanageable

Hmmmmmmm…gives pause to really consider the meaning of the word.

Merriam Webster’s Definition of Music:

  • sounds that are sung by voices or played on musical instruments
  • written or printed symbols showing how music should be played or sung
  • the art or skill of creating or performing music

Put the two words together and you get a definition of music that is outside the law, unconventional, rebellious, wild or unmanageable.

Outlaw country

The first picture that comes to mind when I think of Outlaw Music, is Waylon Jennings. He dared to buck the Nashville suits and make a stand to play the kind of music he heard in his own soul, not what they expected

Waylon

Texas music artist, Tommy Alverson, depicts the outlaw attitude in the lyrics of his song, My Way or The Highway. “Well he told ‘em just what he thought. Didn’t give a damn if they bought.”  That says it all. This song is recorded on Tommy’s Heroes and Friends CD.

Then there’s that famous picture of Johnny Cash shooting Nashville the bird, although he recorded on some of the biggest labels in Nashville through the 90s.

JC_Flipping_Bird

They dared to speak out – dared to be different. I won’t attempt to list all of the music artists associated with the Outlaw Music movement. Instead, I want to go back farther; back before anyone ever heard of Waylon or Willie other than a few scattered songs here and there.

I’m going to get personal with this and tell you about a man most of you have never heard of who was a true and original pioneer in the Outlaw Music movement in Texas starting back in the early 60s. That man was Rick Sikes.

He drew hippies out of Georgetown and cowboys out of Round Rock together in one place with no fights and no problems, to hear his brand of music. Why? Because it was outside the law of how music was supposed to be played at the time. And folks were attracted to it, partially due to the social climate of the time and partially due to the value of the music itself.

Rebel Rick Framed

 

Rick had been a rebel and walked to the beat of his own drum his entire life. So, when it came to making music, he saw no reason to change.

He often performed at Big G’s club in Round Rock, and commented often on how each time, he had requests for the old Fred Rose song, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, which was originally recorded in 1945. It was not uncommon to be asked to play it several times in the course of a night.

Rick and Band with Dean

In 1971, Rick was sentenced to a total of seventy-five years behind bars for alleged bank robbery. That ended his rising music career, at the same time when Tillman Franks promised to promote him.

Rick and Rhythm Rebels Framed

By 1972, Willie Nelson, left Nashville and moved back to Texas. He began regularly performing at Big G’s where Rick had been a regular. Rick wondered if Nelson’s decision to record Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain in 1975 came from his time of playing there. Even though he visited with Nelson a few times after he’d been released from prison, he never remembered to ask him.

Willie and Rick

We often assume the stars we associate to a certain genre of music were its originators. But, I dare to say that events way before they ever turned down a certain road helped pave the way and give them vision to see things in a different light.

This is just one example. If you’d like to know more about Rick Sikes and his two separate music careers, I invite you to read the books I’ve written about him, Flowers and Stone, The Convict and the Rose and Home At Last, or visit his website and preview his music.

 

Music, Books, Friends and Happy Birthday, Willie Nelson

I spent last weekend in Austin, Texas. Why? Two reasons…music and friends. And, friends who wanted books and friends of friends who purchased books. So, I guess that actually makes three reasons.

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Jan and Kay in a Bluebonnet field in the Texas Hill Country.

It is always fun when I can share a road trip with my best friend, Kay. She is the most awesome traveling companion. Knowing we were going into the heart of the Texas Hill Country, we had hoped to find Bluebonnets still blooming. And we did. This field was located on the banks of what used to be Lake Travis. I say ‘used to be’ simply because the lake is dry. It is heartbreaking to see a dry riverbed where a huge lake used to sit. But, perhaps the pendulum will swing the other way and water will once again flow.

The first event of the weekend was held at Strange Brew, an eclectic coffee house/lounge on Manchaca Road in Austin. My friend, Van Wilks performed there Saturday night.

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The incomparable Mr. Van Wilks.

Now, if you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to and watching Van Wilks play guitar, I can only tell you that you are missing out on a musical experience. The way he uses every string, every note to the fullest is beyond comparison. He is a first-class guitar player and my words are falling short in describing him. So, here’s a short video clip. Let the music speak for itself!

Sunday found us back at Strange Brew for another day of music that could not be more opposite from Van Wilks.

My long time friend, Richard Dobson performed in a songwriter swap with George Ensle and Greg Whitfield. I love these acoustic settings where you feel like you’re sitting in your living room with them. Richard (or Ricardo, as he is known by many) is a folk singer/songwriter. He’s had songs cut by Johnny Cash, David Allen Coe, Guy Clark, Lacy J. Dalton and well the list is too long but they are all listed on his website.

Richard currently resides in Switzerland, so when he makes trips to the U.S., I try to catch up. Not only is Richard a prolific songwriter, but is also an author himself, with three published titles and working on a fourth.

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Jan Sikes, Richard Dobson, Kay Shields-Perot at Strange Brew.

For your listening pleasure, here is a short clip!

Then a highlight of Sunday afternoon was a visit from the most beautiful and gracious, Connie Nelson. Yes, she is Willie’s ex-wife and a sweet beautiful soul.

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The beautiful Miss Connie Nelson and Jan Sikes

Heading back to Dallas, my heart and head was filled with words, music and friends.

A huge thanks to our host and hostess for the weekend, George and Donna Garcie! Moments like these are what fills our lives and gives us rocking chair memories.

And today is Willie Nelson’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Willie and here’s to another twenty!!

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Kay, Jan and Sarah at the Willie Nelson statue in Austin, Texas.