First Quarter Newsletter 2015

Wow, it's been a long time! I'm SOOOO sorry about that...time really has flown! I am waaay overdue for my first quarter newsletter for 2015, so let's go all the way back to January so I can tell y'all a bit about what's been going on. :-)

After getting back from an awesome vacation in New Mexico for the holidays, it was time to get back to work! Getting caught up on emails, I found an email sent out to all WMA members with some interesting tallies for total airplay for artists and albums for the year 2014.
A heartfelt thank you to all the DJs that take the time to report to the Western Way magazine and for choosing to play Western and Western Swing music and poetry. I'm especially grateful that you support the music I love and support young artists like myself. It was a huge honor to find that I was

9th out of 100 most played western artists for the year 2014,
that "
Gotta Be a Cowgirl" was 2nd out of 100 most played western albums for 2014,
and that
I was 7th out of 100 most played contemporary artists played for 2014.

Thank y'all so much for all the support and encouragement!!!!

School and performances on the schedule again, Mom and I headed down to Fort Worth on January 11th for the first Cowtown Opry Buckaroo show of the year (mentored by yodeling queen Janet McBride). I love to be there for these kids who are just like I was, wanting to learn to play and sing all this great cowboy music. They are all so talented and it's great fun to see them all together performing one after another!

The hightlight of the month (and maybe the whole year!) was an invitation to be a guest on the amazing Penny Gilley Show on RFD-TV! She used to film her show out of Branson, MO but now she has moved it to Grapevine, TX. It was very exciting to get the email from her husband/manager Mike Stanglin. He asked everyone to stop by there on Sunday the 11th to do a quick run through before filming began on Monday. So on our way home from Buckaroos, we made a stop off at the theater in Grapevine for rehearsal.

(That's when I met Mike and Penny and Rocky Gribble and his Texas All Star Band.) They all were SO nice and made me feel so welcome! The rehearsal was quick and efficiently run. The several hours I spent getting to know the crew and other artists on Sunday was all they needed to prepare for their taping but didn't reveal to me how they would film the show I would be on! It was fascinating to see the film crew and how they filmed the parts they would later put together into a TV show. Penny and Mike treated me like they had known me all my life and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. Penny is the ultimate professional and is definitely a pro. Since they film several shows in one day, I had the privilege of meeting some real music legends, BJ Thomas and Johnny Lee to mention two, and spent the whole day in total awe. :) The show was open to the public to come view during the taping and many people came to see the show live! When I was standing backstage, BJ Thomas came up to me and says, "Hey, Miss Mikki. Let's get a picture!" still mine heart. :) LOL! I've been performing for six years and by now am somewhat used to a theater performance...but filming a television show after standing on the same stage as BJ Thomas?
Mind blowing and incredible, to say the least!
From the moment I saw him until several days later I couldn't stop singing "...raindrops keep falling on my head..."

We spent the whole day down there on the 13th, staying to watch the taping of several shows. To make the event even more special, I had several dear friends and family members in the live audience cheering me on. Our favorite travel buddy and just plain awesome friend, Janice Bond, came to the taping and we ended the day by stopping with her at a small cafe down the street and indulged in Mardi Gras layer cake :) before heading home to my visiting sister and darling nephew. When we left that day, Mike informed me that the show I was on would be aired on April 9th, 2015.

January 17th--a date I had LONG awaited--brought Kristyn Harris and I down to the Fort Worth stockyards with our mares, Velvet and Sissy, for the Fort Worth Stockshow Parade. If that day wasn't a record warm for January, it sure should have been! The sun was bright and shining as we rode along with one of Texas' most historical annual events. You know we are horse girls when we were the first to saddle up and ride from the break of dawn--several hours before the parade even started--until after the parade was over. :) After un-saddling and taking care of our girls, we stopped in the legendary Cooper's BBQ for a late lunch before heading home and giving our mares a well-deserved rest.

On the 19th, I was invited to be a guest on Belinda Gail's new gospel show, Blessed Trails with Belinda Gail on Equestrian Legacy Radio. We chatted about my faith, family, background, songwriting, and the folks who've inspired me. What a blessing and honor to be interviewed by one of my biggest inspirations! To hear the interview, you can click HERE.

The next morning--the 20th--Mom and I flew out to Denver, CO, two days before the Golden Colorado Cowboy Festival, to spend special time with our good friends Diana Raven and Ernie Martinez. A highlight of this flight was when I headed through security and one of the guards remembered me by name from my previous trip...I had given him a card, and he became a fan! Shortly after we arrived, it snowed like crazy! Diana was quite the hostess as she braved the heavy snow and icy roads to take us sightseeing, as planned! We had such fun going shopping at the Rockmount Western-Wear warehouse in Denver and attending the Pickin' Parlor performance featuring fabulous Denver local pickers, as well as the beautiful and talented Canada girl, Eli Barsi.
         The Pickin' Parlor is a concert venue in a music store with every instrument you can ever imagine hanging from the walls. I sat listening to the incredibly powerful lyrics of Wendy Woo and Eli while eyeing the ancient Archtop guitar collection on Kit Simon's Parlor walls and I realized how blessed I am. Early Thursday morning I was asked to be a part of the Golden Festival's television promotion by being interviewed briefly by FOX 31 on their morning show. So cool! Walking onto the set it was too much fun seeing all the different backgrounds, green screens, and cameras. Quite a neat experience! The festival technically began on Thursday afternoon when I shared sets with Pop Wagoner, Pip Gillette and Susie Knight while performing for darling school kids. They just eat up the music.
         One of my favorite stunts to pull is to ask throughout the hour, "Who is King of the Cowboys?" After I give them the answer the first time, they're guaranteed to yell out "Roy Rogers!" at the top of their lungs later on. I always follow that up with "Who is Queen of the West?!" and then, "Who was the smartest horse in the movies?" They are all quite up to date in their Roy Rogers and Dale Evans trivia by the time I leave. :)

       Over the course of the weekend, I was blessed by getting to hang out with my buddies, Jeneve Rose Mitchell (who traveled down out of the mountains for her own gig, but stopped by to see me!) and Gary Allegretto (incredible artist--if you haven't heard him already, look him up at ), as well as reconnecting with friends I made at the same place last year. Golden is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I highly recommend that you CLICK HERE to visit their website and book your vacation to this festival--not only is the country exquisite, the performers that they bring to this event are unique and high-class.

        We flew back home just in time to play at Cowboy Campfire Tales hosted by the Terry Family at the Fort Worth Rodeo and Stockshow. Always a fun event to play, it was first started by Cowboy Poet Charles Williams. When he wanted to retire, the Terry Family kept it going. It's a great venue where Stock Show visitors can stop in at the end of the Justin Arena and hear local Cowboy Poets and Western Musicians for three days. The highlight for me every year is to stop in the vendor area and visit with Buck Taylor, amazing actor/artist. He creates the poster for the Stock Show every year! The next week was loaded with homework assignments that were due and time with the horses.

      My brief music sabbatical ended on February 8th, when I attended/backed up the Cowtown Opry Buckaroos.
Then, on the 13th I had a radio interview via telephone with Utah friend Cary Hobbs. I hadn't spoken to him since I attended the Heber Valley Utah festival last fall, and it was great to catch up on new news and chat about upcoming festivals.
       Every time I have the opportunity to play down in Red Oak, TX, it goes down in my "favorites" book. I've been performing for the Red Oak Opry for four years, and the audience/fans I have there (as well as the house band), have become like extended family to me. I performed there on the 14th with some of my new CD songs, and as always, they made my day with their love, kindness and support. I can't wait to go back!
February 20th I was asked by Kevin Deal to open for him at his Love & War in Texas CD Release Party! This was a fun experience as I have never played in a restaurant before. I love to perform with other musicians and having recently met Niko from the Gypsy Playboys, I decided to make it a Texas Wildfire performance by bringing him in as a bassist/vocalist for the evening. We had never played together before so we did a quick rehearsal in the parking-lot prior to the gig, and then swung their socks off! I was a little nervous initially about playing my kinda music for a hard-core country crowd, but as was later said, "We Swung a Honky-tonk!" After we opened, Kevin Deal did an awesome job and had a great crowd there excited to see him. It was also awesome to meet and be emceed by Brett Dillan, KHYI 95.3's brilliant DJ. A fabulous evening all around.
        February 23rd-25th, Mom and I went to visit my grandmother in El Paso, before driving down to Alpine, Texas, for my first year as an Alpine Cowboy Gathering performer. The gathering kicked off on Thursday night with a reception and was followed by schools and afternoon shows on Friday, and then more shows all day Saturday. I have to say out of all the festivals I've been to, this one was very unique in a great way. Not only was the event itself INCREDIBLY attended, (amazing when you consider that Alpine's in the middle of nowhere, Texas!), but they followed a unique idea regarding new performers. They only bring in 5 per year. And, those five are featured on a one-hour "Newcomer Show" performance that kicks off the festival. It's really a great idea to give the audience a chance to be introduced to the new entertainers before the festival gets started. Not only do I think this is a brilliant idea, it was great fun to participate in. A huge thank you to my sponsors, Mr. and Mrs. Dause, for bringing me in this year. Love you guys and can't wait to see y'all at Red's this year! It was great jamming with my good friends Rusty Battenfield and Doug Figgs while mom and Doug's wife, Cathy, went shopping. I have very fond memories of the artists and fun we had that weekend. You can check this festival out here: We left early Sunday morning with good friend and extraordinary poet, Doris Daley and dropped her off at the Midland Airport on our way back home. That was fun getting to spend some time together.

         We made it back home in time for me to get to my college class I was taking on Mondays AND a gig that night to celebrate Texas Independence Day! On March 2nd, 1836, Texas' Independence from Mexico was made official by a signing of the declaration by 59 people. This declaration created the Republic of Texas, it's own country with rights included. In honor of this date, we Texans celebrate March 2nd in different ways. This year, I was honored to be asked by Churchill's Irish Pub and Restaurant in McKinney, Texas, to play the evening away in celebration with Texas' state-official music: Western Swing! So, needless to say, Mikki Daniel and Texas Wildfire (Dale Morris, Jr. and Niko) swung the evening away with guitar, fiddle, and bass. Remember the Alamo!

          Over the next few weeks, our area in Texas experienced positively torrential rain fall. I was looking forward to riding a 6 day trail ride down in the hill country with the Texas Star Trail Ride and performing for them on Saturday, March 7th at Luckenbach, Texas and again at a campfire dinner on Sunday the 8th. Sadly, this all had to be canceled due to the mud. Although very disappointed, this gave me the opportunity to get caught up on school work again and to work with my own horses. I have a little mare with exceptional potential, she just needs a few more wet saddle-blankets (a very wise old cowboy saying meaning the horse needs more time being ridden). :)

           On the 13th, the family and I drove down to La Grange, for 'The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas' where I was asked to be their featured female performer on Friday and Saturday, as well as have my own set on Saturday evening, Mikki Daniel & Texas Wildfire (KR Woods on guitar, Hailey Sandoz on fiddle and Ginger Evans on bass, and special guest vocalist Buckaroo Caroline Wiseman). It was truly an honor to be on stage and be a guest vocalist with all these amazing bands! Now, what could be better than that?! Well, those of you who know me well know that I absolutely love to dance. Two-step, east coast swing, west coast swing...I just love to dance! I'd rather dance than do much else, besides singing or riding. The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas only hires swing bands and they have two stages going from noon until midnight for two days. Needless to say, when I wasn't singing, I was dancing! I think I danced more consecutive hours throughout those two days than I ever have! :) A big thank you to my handsome young cowboy dancing pal, Wyatt. He danced with me for many hours and was the best sport about it! Plus, the kid's got rhythm and he taught me a few things, and he's got such wonderful manners.....Oh! If he were only ten years older.... ;-). It was great to see a favorite photographer friend of ours who is a big supporter of this festival, Cash (Shot in Texas!) A big shout out, also, to all the fans who came to see me at the festival! Thank you, it's so great to see you there!
             I was especially honored to find out that one fan came all the way from Iowa to see me at this festival! How cool is that! That Friday and Saturday were some of the most blessed days I've ever had. I got to see special friends and dance my cares away....but, I also got to sing with some of the men I respect most in this business: Jody Nix, Jason Roberts, and Jake and Tommy Hooker, as well as bands I have oogled for years such as Shoot Low Sheriff, Jeff Woolsey and Heybale. A big thank you to good friend and great entertainer, KR Woods, who introduced me to the festival and is the only band to have performed since the festival started! To go from having watched these guys and wondering what it would be like to meet them (let alone sing with them), to being the guest female vocalist with them has been quite a journey, and is a blessing and honor all wrapped up in a massive bow tie of excitement. :-) All-in-all, I think it's safe to say that the weekend of March 13th-15th was a good week.

             Another trail ride and performance was scheduled for March 21. The Pointe Trail Ride was to benefit Lake Point Resource Center but also had to be cancelled (but rescheduled) due to continued rains and heavy mud.

         The last major event in March for me was on the 27th and 28th. Our good friends Doug and Cathy Figgs drove in for the Academy of Western Artists awards show at the Sheraton Hotel on Saturday night. They came in a night early so we all attended the 2nd Annual Friday Night Pre-Awards' Jam hosted by Lubock DJ and dear friend, Billy Bowles. The jam was packed with artists who had come in early to meet each other, chat, and perform. If you had any interest in country, western, or western swing music, that was definitely the place to be! Congratulations, Billy, on a successful event! The AWA Awards Show on Saturday night was a fun evening. I felt honored to be a top five nominee in two categories: Western Album of the Year and Western Female Performer of the Year. We were joined at our table by fellow nominees Doug Figgs (Western Song nominee), his lovely wife Cathy, and Barry Ward's (Western Male nominee) lovely wife Victoria, as well as special friend and fan, Janice Bond.
        It was great to play rhythm guitar for Dave Alexander's Big Texas Swing School Youth as they performed two numbers during the show, and then sit down to eat my dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening. Our table was quite the place to be when first, Doug Figgs won Western Music Song of the Year with his original, Socios, and then Barry Ward won Western Music Male Performer of the Year. As the evening went on, many of my good friends won awards: Belinda Gail (Western Female), Lee Lee Roberts (Western Album), Coby Carter (Western Swing Male), Carolyn Martin (Western Swing CD), Roccoco Fortunato (Instrumentalist), Shannon Hall (Young Artist), and the awesome Hanson Family Trio won Western Music Duo/Group. There were more awards given out to more deserving artists. Congratulations to everyone for your accomplishments!

     Daniel, Teresa and Lisa of the Hanson Family Singers stayed in the area for a few days after the awards night and Monday evening, March 30th, our family was blessed to have them visit us. We jammed in the living room for hours that night. Hailey Sandoz came over later in the evening and the five of us worked on the classic Mister Sandman...that was FUN. To listen to us jamming this song, CLICK HERE. The next day, Kristyn Harris, my brother and I joined them again for some lunch, window shopping, sight seeing and a little gelato ice cream on the square of downtown McKinney. They are a lot of fun to be around and we all look forward to them coming back to visit!

       Well, that wraps up the late first quarter newsletter! I know it's already time for my second-quarter newsletter since I've been so tardy sending this one out, but I do hope y'all will forgive me. I'll get that next one out to y'all soon. I promise. :-)

Love and Blessings,