Second Quarter Newsletter 2015

"Rain...lots of rain."

That's what I think of when I take time to recall the months of April and May. Much needed rain became the rain of over-abundance. It was coming so fast, it flooded everywhere around us. We definitely needed the rain to break the Texas drought, but then we suddenly needed the flooding to stop. LOL. :-)

But, one rainy day, a special email came from the Western Writers of America to invite me to attend their convention to receive an award:
my song "Cold Blue Eyes" from my Cowgirl Swing CD was co-finalist for Best Western Song!
I was SO HONORED! Congratulations to co-finalist "Lonesome Cowboy" by Martin Conway and winner "Charlie and Evangeline" by my good friends Doug Figgs and Todd Carter.
           Then, another letter came. This one was from the Rural Roots Commission. "Cowgirl Swing" was selected for 2015 Swing Album of the Year Award! The awards are given at their annual National Old Time Music Festival in Lemars, Iowa. Wow! Totally awesome.
As if that wasn't exciting enough, soon came the Western Way's 2015 first quarter magazine which listed "Cowgirl Swing" in the NUMBER ONE SPOT in the charts for most played Western Swing Album, AND most played Western Album AND most played Western Song (for "She Could Ride") by the DJs.
A HUGE THANKS to every single DJ out there for supporting Western and Western Swing music and for loving my new CD produced by Dave Alexander! SO cool! April was a fairly busy month; come to think of it, every month is a very busy month, lol. We were all looking forward to Thursday, April 9th: the day we were told my appearance on the Penny Gilley Show would air on RFD TV. My family doesn’t have TV so we made plans to watch it at a friend's house and several friends and family planned to record it. And before you ask, yep, it was awesome to be on the Penny Gilley Show. ;-)

On the 10th, Mom and I attended the North Texas Book Festival (in Denton, TX) Banquet and Awards Ceremony. My book, Girls and Gunsmoke, was a finalist in the Young Adult Historical Fiction category. It was a neat event and that evening G&G won second place. ☺Thank you, NTBF!

Saturday, the 11th, Mom and I drove down to Weatherford, TX, for a radio interview with good friend and award-winning western music DJ, Judy James with Cowboy Jubilee. It’s always such fun to share the air with a good friend, and this time was certainly no exception. Not only is Ms. Judy a top notch DJ spreading good western music over the airways, but she performs it as well! Check out her website HERE to see more of this talented lady.

From Weatherford, we headed back to the North Texas Book Festival for a few hours to hobnob with other authors and sit at our book display for festival guests. We enjoyed seeing other displays, meeting authors and publishers, making new friends, selling books and coming home with several new additions for our ever-growing library. Thank you, Georgia Caraway (friend and notable author!), for informing me of this festival and encouraging me to attend!

Saturday nights when I am home I like to go dancing with a few friends, and this Saturday evening was no different. Since I am usually busy on the weekends, having a Saturday night open to go do some East (or West) coast swing dancing is a rare, but wondrous, thing, and one to be taken advantage of. So, of course, a group of us did!

The next few days were used working on school, riding my horses and doing laundry before attending a banquet on Wednesday night to honor my brother and other young men who achieved the difficult and rare task of Eagle proud of him for so many things.

The next morning, Thursday, April 16th, Mom and I flew out to California for the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival in Santa Clarita, California (SEE HERE). Our native-California-but-now-from-Florida friend Mr. Bill Lindsay (Stuart Hamblen’s grandson), kindly picked us up at the airport and volunteered to be our chauffeur for the entire weekend. That evening we met his mom, Lisa Jaserie (Stuart Hamblen's daughter) and sister, Kim Jaserie, when he picked us up from the hotel for the plans he made for the evening . We headed to the opening events for the festival where their good friend and legendary stuntman and coordinator, Diamond Farnsworth was being honored with the uncovering of his bronze saddle in the Western Walk of Fame, an honor bestowed on Stuart Hamblen in 2014.
            There were lots of friends there from our Western Music world, many who live there and many who came in to perform for the festival. We also were privileged to attend that evening a VIP “behind the scenes” intimate interview with Mr. Farnsworth, where we got to hear a lot of stories about a few of the many movies he’s done. Truly a priceless experience. In the wee hours of Friday morning, Mr. Lindsay was a brave soul. He was back at the hotel by 4:30am to pick us up for a television taping for the Festival. We hurried up to wait and wait and wait.....for Channel 5 film crew to decide when it was time to begin taping. Mike Fleming, festival organizer (and New West band leader) had a great line up of people to represent all the activities that could be found during the festival: chuck wagon cooking with their famous peach cobbler, knife thrower, gun spinner, trick roper, and back ground music to it all with me and my buddy Kristyn Harris.
             It was a long morning but so much fun to be a part of. When the taping was done, we met friends of Mr. Lindsay who run the gift shop at Hart Park, and then went to the famous Out West Boutique to do a little shopping. Yes, we did find some really cute things! (also go to their online shopping HERE). They were so sweet to let us come because they were really busy setting up the Buckaroo Bookfair for the festival. They run a bookstore during the festival where I was able to set up a book display for Girls and Gunsmoke. Not only that, but Bobbi Jean and Jim Bell set up book signings and author interviews. It's a really awesome addition to this festival! By then it was time to head back to the hotel to rest before meeting back up with Mr. Lindsay and his mom and sister for dinner. We had a great time visiting with Ms. Lisa and Kim, hearing story after story about Stuart Hamblen. It was hard to tear away to attend a concert but we had been offered a chance to attend one of the first concerts of the festival. Good friend David Veal was kind enough to pick us up and take us back to Hart Park for a Rosie Flores concert as his guest. Mom joined him, Kathy Musgraves and Anita Crane while I decided to head to the restaurant where a jam was supposed to be in progress. I didn't find anyone there at first, but as I was leaving, I ran into Mike Flemming and he and I started the jam in the courtyard. By 11, Mom, me and Mr. Lindsay were all ready to turn in; it had been a long but fabulous day. That was one of the earliest times I've ever gone to bed while a jam was in progress...
           Saturday was too much fun: I had 3 performances on the Wild West Stage which was emceed by Joe Harrington, a wonderful poet himself. There were 4 or 5 stages of music, booths of vendors, food, Civil War re-enactors marching across the park, chuck wagon cooking, ropers, and more. If you've never been to the Santa Clarita gathering, it's worth attending simply to see the beauty of Hart Park, where it is now held. I never had a chance to see the Mansion on the premises, but I know it was worth taking the time. In previous years this festival was held at Melody Ranch but everyone agreed that this new location was a success. Sunday I had a morning performance on the Wild West Stage again and I was tickled pink to see Mr. Farnsworth and his family show up. At 1:00 I shared a performance with Dave Stamey at the Canyon Guild Theater--what an HONOR. I absolutely love Dave Stamey, so getting to share the stage with him was beyond special. As if that wasn't cool enough, I also had my own DRESSING ROOM, with my name on it and everything! Really!
           After my show and Mr. Stamey's show, we stayed to watch the Sons of the San Joaquin--and, believe it or not, this day actually did get even better. Bill Lindsay had introduced me to Roy Roger and Dale Evan's granddaughter, Julie Pomilia, and I told her how much I have always adored Roy and Dale. We chatted a bit about how I was raised, and how much Roy and Dale have crafted me into every bit of the performer and person that I am today. After the Sons of the San Joaquin show, she graciously invited us to join her and her husband for dinner at their home so that she could show me all of her Roy and Dale memorabilia. Since Bill Lindsay and his mom and sister were chauffeuring us, he drove, and Kristyn Harris and her dad also joined. Kristyn and I spent hours trying on Roy and Dale's flashy clothes, as well as their hats and boots, and then looked at photographs and listened to story upon story that Ms. Julie fondly told of her grandparents. That was a night I will never, EVER forget. I can honestly say that was probably the most amazing experience I’ve ever been blessed with.
         Monday, April 20th, we flew home and Mr. Bill was so kind to take us to the airport. He had another special surprise in store for us. We stopped in to say goodbye to his mom, Lisa, and sister, Kim. While there, Ms. Lisa shared more stories and then showed us the Hamblen family Rose Bowl Parade costumes. When Stuart Hamblen was alive, they were in the parade every year with the beautiful Peruvian Paso horses they raised. And Ms. Lisa was the one who created their costumes! I got to try on an awesome patriotic costume and decided right then I needed my mom to make me one too. Ms. Lisa helped my mom to do just that. The plane ride home was bittersweet, new friends and so much fun left behind. But I was thankful to be home for a few days, even though I’d had such fun that weekend. No matter how much fun it is, I always can't wait to get back to my horses.

Once again, though, travel beckons. Friday, the 24th, Mom and I drove down to Madisonville, Texas, to stay with our good friends Dawn, Cary and Caroline Wiseman, for my performance the next afternoon in Crockett, TX. My buddy and “mini-me”, Caroline and I doctored cows the next morning before getting cleaned up and heading to my performance for the Piney Woods Fine Arts Association Festival. I opened for Amber Digby and her band with a 45 minute set in Bear Hall. Bear Hall is an old historic building beautifully restored but with no air, but we all had fun.
          The next morning, Caroline and I performed for the Leon County Cowboy Church. The congregation was so welcoming and kind; it was a blessing to be there singing “I Met Jesus In Texas” with little Miss Caroline!

Headed back home, we stopped off to meet our "traveling bud" Janice Bond at Fair Park to see Michael Martin Murphy and his band at Earth Fest. His concert was amazing, as always, and I was honored and thrilled to be asked to join them on their last song. That evening ended with a large group of us going to dinner. It was a special ending to a special weekend.

The month of May was filled with personal activities. Mom and I worked hard to get everything ready for my brother’s Boy Scout Eagle Scout Ceremony the following weekend. We worked for hours on decorations and scrapbooks while watching episode after episode of Cutthroat Kitchens, Food Network Star, and Cake Wars on Netflix...can you tell that we really like the Food Shows? ;)
        The ceremony was regal; appropriate for the accomplishment and it was great to be with family and friends to honor my brother. In the middle of all the Eagle festivities, I slipped down to Fort Worth to see the new Avengers movie with some friends and then had to "book it" back home as soon as it was over to load up the horses and my gear. Dad and I headed to Granbury, TX, to ride and perform for a fundraising trail ride called Riding For the Pointe. It was fun!

         One May weekend I hosted a teens/twenties game night and on another a group of us went swing dancing, again. It's not often I get to be home this much to spend time with my friends and those are treasured times!

On the 13th, the whole family drove down to Austin for my sister’s graduation from Dental Hygiene School (with honors!). We drove down the night before in dad’s relatively cramped truck with a somewhat car-sick 6 month puppy riding in my lap. Yay. Thankfully, the puppy never shared the contents of her last meal with me. Good girl!
           After my sister’s graduation, Mom and I booked it to San Marcos for the Swing on the Square festival over the weekend ( A huge thank you to Al Dressen, the event coordinator and band leader, for having Mikki Daniel and Texas Wildfire (Jon Stutler on clarinet/sax/vocals, Dick Gimble on bass/vocals, Lonnie Adkinson on lead guitar, Rick McRae on lead guitar/vocals, and Hailey Sandoz on fiddle).  We played two afternoon shows at Sean Patrick's Irish Bar and Restaurant on Saturday and Cowboy Church and an afternoon performance at Black’s BBQ on Sunday. I’ve gotta say; the BBQ at Black’s is DELICIOUS!
              The biggest highlight of the weekend for me was receiving Carolyn Martin’s guitar, Bob, (a Regal Bobcat from the '30s), as my very own new addition. I’d bought “her” from Carolyn and Dave several weeks before, but we agreed it would make sense to make the exchange when we saw each other at this gig. I played Bobbi for every set that weekend, and I’ve played her every gig since. ☺ She fits like a glove!

              After getting home, I finally had time to put some more miles on that bay mare, finish up the last of my school so I could graduate on the 28th, and spend as much time with my friends as I could before they all left for college.
              On the 6th of June, I attended (and sang for) a dear friend of mine’s funeral. Her name is Cleo Pipkins, and she has been like a grandmother to me my entire life. After the funeral, I also stopped by several of my friend’s high school graduation parties on my way to Austin with my parents. In Austin, we picked up my sister and nephew, spent the night there, then continued on to Luckenbach, Texas, for the Johnny Gimble Memorial held Sunday, June 7th.
              Johnny’s son, Dick Gimble, (one of my mentors, comrades, teachers, and friends), asked me to sing Guide Me Lord, written by the late Mr. Gimble, during the memorial, which I was blessed and so honored to do. Paying tribute to the legend and memory of the King of Fiddle Players by performing short sets were such artists as Ray Benson and Asleep At the Wheel, Hot Club of Cowtown, Dave Alexander and his Big Texas Swing Band, Jason Roberts, Billy Mata, Teresa Anderson, Dick and his daughter, Emily Gimble, and many others. It was a celebration of life belonging to one of Western Swing’s most beloved players and men, and I am so blessed to have been a small part of it.

On the 13th of June I played again with my Red Oak Opry family. Quote of the event: Billy McCoy, band-leader and guitarist extraordinaire said: “Back up, guys. Mikki don't need us.” Coming from Billy McCoy, that was all kinds of a special compliment! ☺ Thank you so much, Billy, for being such an encouragement to me always. And, yes, I still made them play with me anyways...

The next morning found me and Hailey Sandoz at Chandler's Garden in Chambersville, Texas performing for a beautiful, intimate wedding reception. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and so was the bride—how can you beat a place to play like that?! Congratulations, Kirsten and Steve, and may the Lord richly bless your marriage!
             On morning of June 20th, Mom and I drove down to the Dogwood Jamboree in Palestine, Texas, and met up with Jack Phillips and his parents, and Kristyn Harris—both also night-time Jamboree performers. We had a blast sharing our Western Swing with the crowd, and in return the crowd was super encouraging. A huge thank you to each of the folks who drove out to see me and cheer me on! You guys are positively wonderful and I love y’all so much. I will be going back to the Dogwood Jamboree in December for a the finals for a singing contest I was entered in and won. Please feel free to email me for details if you'd like to plan on attending the contest! (It's audience voting....*hint-hint*...) ;-)

On the 24th, Mom and I picked up my niece, Averie, and we joined Judy James, Pam Tarpley and the Pagosa Springs Girl’s Choir in Fort Worth at Bass Hall in Fort Worth to see the theater production of Cinderella . (The play was wonderful!) The next morning/afternoon I guest-taught Yodeling and the Art of Performance to the choir girls at a day long workshop Judy James held for them in Weatherford at the Doss Museum. I loved meeting all the girls, making friends with them, and hopefully helping them in some way.

Saturday, the 26th, Mikki Daniel and Texas Wildfire (Jon Stutler on sax/vocals, and Nathan Phelps on bass) played for The Celt in downtown McKinney-yes, swung an Irish Pub! The audience really loved it and we had a GREAT time. If you want to see a really fun, hot ‘20s swing trio, you need to make a point to come see us play! ☺ I promise you, you will not regret it.

On the 28th, my mom and super great friends Dawn and Cary Wiseman threw me a graduation party, complete with hiring the Uptown Drifters to play a small dance for me and a few friends. A huge thank you to each of you who came or sent me a message/card for my graduation—you are all so appreciated! Thank you so very much. I have been so blessed!

Thank you so much for your friendship and interest in my music! If you were not there to show me your smiling faces, I would have no reason to do what I do. May the Lord richly bless you, and may you ride tall and shoot straight until we meet again!