Why I Write…

(Thanks to Susan C. Foster for inviting me in to this Blog Tour.)

Fandango, ZZ Top’s 1975 hit record, has always been one of my favorites. The first three cuts are live, showing the band in their prime. The third live track, the nearly ten minute medley called “Backdoor Medley,” includes a bit of spoken dialogue that I later learned came from the John Lee Hooker song, “Boogie Chillen.” It’s a back and forth between a mother and father regarding their son’s need to be out rocking and carousing. Though it surely doesn’t alie any of the mother’s fears, the father’s answer is: “Let that boy boogie woogie. It’s in him, and it’s got to come out.”

That’s how I feel about writing. It’s in me, and it’s got to come out.

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It seems like I’ve been writing ever since I could read. I always played with action figures as a kid, creating backstories and adventures that continued in a serialized way for weeks. I still have at home a book I wrote as a little kid, complete with illustrations I created on my Disney lightbox (which I also still have!). In Cub Scouts I won an award for the best fish story at the annual Fishing Derby (an award I still have! No, I don’t throw anything away, so?).

As the years went by, writing was always some part of come thing else I was doing. It was never the focus of my energy until the mid-2000s when I began to do reviews for a site called Americana Roots. Reviews grew to features and I began to branch out to other publications, gathering clips to grow my portfolio.

Then my son was born and I stopped writing to use that time to spend with him. A couple of years later my daughter was born. As they grew, the urge to write slowly crept back in to my mind. So I restarted my site, Music Tomes. One thing led to another, thanks largely to the site, and I got my first two book contracts.

I have to write, whether anyone reads it or not. It’s not about showing off trivial knowledge or anything like that. I do hope I can help those that read my work to learn something about the subject that they didn’t know, of course, but largely, I just have to write!

Now, let me introduce a couple of other bloggers you might want to peruse:

Lee Gaitan has worn many hats in her 25 years as a professional communicator, from public relations writer and television host to stand-up comedienne and educator. She is the author of two books, Falling Flesh Just Ahead and the recently released My Pineappples Went to Houston—Finding the Humor in My Dashed Hopes, Broken Dreams and Plans Gone Outrageously Awry. Lee lives with her husband and dog in suburban Atlanta where she divides her time among speaking, writing, teaching and keeping tabs on her tri-continental family.

To read more wit and wisdom from Lee Gaitan or to book her as a speaker, please visit www.leegaitan.com.

Brittany Banister is a teacher blogger specializing in K-3 ed tech and project based learning. You can check out blog at iheartkindergarten.blogspot.com/

JR and Me: The Marty Stuart Show season finale

When Marty Stuart met Johnny Cash for the first time, he said he thought he heard thunder. Cash asked him, “Where you been?” “Getting ready,” Stuart replied and it was the beginning of a friendship that would last the rest of Cash’s life.

On the season six ender of The Marty Stuart Show this past weekend, Stuart reflected on what Cash meant to him and his music in a special hour-long episode of the show.

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photo by David McClister

Stuart had gotten his start playing mandolin at age 13 for another hero of his, bluegrass pioneer Lester Flatt. When Flatt died in May 1979, Stuart was a bit adrift, though the band, The Nashville Grass, continued under the leadership of Curly Seckler. Soon the band was back in the studio to cut a new album and they invited Cash in to guest on two songs (“What’s Good For You (Should Be Alright For Me)” and “Mother Maybelle”). But without Flatt, the band didn’t stay together long and Stuart was looking for another gig.

In 1980 Marshall Grant was fired from the band, but drummer WS “Fluke” Holland and guitarist Bob Wootton of the Tennessee Three remained. Cash wanted to change his sound slightly, so he expanded the band from three to eight, adding a piano and a couple of other guitarists, dubbing them the Great Eighties Eight. One of those guitarists was Stuart, though he also played fiddle and mandolin as well.

After two years in the band, Stuart had his sights set on being his own artist. Signing a deal with Sugar Hill Records, he went about recording his first album, Busy Bee Cafe. While his bluegrass background was evident, the Cash influence was also there. “Hey Porter,” one of Cash’s earliest songs was included, as was the Bob Nolan penned “One More Ride,” both of which Cash guested on. Combining the power of both heroes, Stuart recorded Lester Flatt’s “Get In Line, Brother” with Cash also on vocals. Though a fine effort, the album never gained traction and Stuart continued in the Great Eighties Eight.

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photo by James Minchin III

A year later, Stuart fell in love with Cash’s daughter Cindy, who was touring with the show. The two were married in 1983. In 1986 Stuart got a record deal with Columbia that produced two albums of rockabilly-edged country. Marty Stuart reached #34 on the Country Albums chart. The second album, Let There Be Country, wouldn’t be released until 1992, several years after his Columbia contract had ended.

As the 1980s ended things were bittersweet for Stuart as his marriage to Cindy ended in 1988, but he got a new deal with MCA. Hillbilly Rock made it to #19 on the Country Albums chart in 1989 and the first single, the Cash tune “Cry, Cry, Cry” made it to #32. The albums third single, “Hillbilly Rock,” made it to #8 and set Stuart on a successful tear up the charts for the next several years.

The friendship of Cash and Stuart grew stronger through those years, though they didn’t see each other as often. But in 1997, after he married Connie Smith, Stuart bought a house near Cash, who was just coming off the road for good after fighting some health problems.

This episode of The Marty Stuart Show was a truly special one. It features Stuart, one on one, expounding upon all of the events I’ve just mentioned, and several more. His love and admiration for Cash is clearly evident. It is not only a great look into their friendship, but a great overview of Stuart’s career.

It wouldn’t be The Marty Stuart Show without the music, performed by Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives. In this episode, aside from a few clips of Stuart playing with Cash, we get renditions of “Hey Porter,” “Country Boy,” “Luther Played The Boogie,” and “Give My Love To Rose.”Stuart ends the show with his tribute to Cash, “Dark Bird,” which he performed alone on the stage.

In all a great episode that is a treat for fans of both Cash and Stuart.

Johnny Cash FAQ Coming Soon!

My newest book is coming soon! You can see the cover at the right. I’m very excited to see

Johnny Cash FAQ

Available September 9, 2014 from BackBeat Books

the release of the book in September and it was a lot of fun to work on.

I’ve always been a Cash fan, so this was a great excuse (as if I needed one) to do a deep dive into his catalog. I listened to a lot of stuff I hadn’t heard for a while, and to some stuff I had never listened to, all of which was a great experience.

I’ll be posting more about the book as we get closer to the book’s launch, so stay tuned!

Johnny Cash Stamp Ceremony

Wednesday, June 5th was a historic day for fans of Johnny Cash, marking the launch of the Johnny Cash Forever stamp. To commemorate the event the Cash family and the United States Postal Service held a launch ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium. Now, generally I avoid Nashville, particularly downtown, anywhere close to CMA week, but this seemed like a once in a lifetime-type of deal, so I decided to pack up the family and see it for ourselves.

porteranddaddyJCstamp Continue reading

Writer Spotlight: Dave Rose

Dave Rose runs Deep South Entertainment where over the years he helped guide the careers of artists such as Michael MyCousinRick_cover_FINAL copySweet (Stryper) and Bruce Hornsby. Earlier this year he added author to his resume with Everything I Know About The Music Business I Learned From My Cousin Rick. In the book Rose tells prospective artists everything they need to know to succeed in the music business. This was Rose’s first book and he took some time to talk a little about the experience of writing it. Continue reading

To Be A Writer

I was always one of those people who said, “By the time I’m 30, I want to have written a book.” There’s a4162953165_d5dd956c0f_m lot of get into in that simple statement, but for right now the takeaway is that I will be 42 soon and my first book will be out in June. And then my second will be out in 2014. And possibly my third. Timing is everything. There are three things to keep in mind if you are a writer that I hadn’t learned by the time I was 30.

Continue reading