First Quarter Newsletter 2014

WELL HOWDY, Y’ALL!

How time flies! It has been too long, again, since I updated you on what I have been doing! So much has happened! Last time I sent a newsletter, (early December), Mom and I were about to leave for Monterey, California. Before we left, we had a radio interview with Totsie Slover, a DJ out of Deming, New Mexico. She is a tireless supporter of western music musicians and Facebook friend. It was fun visiting with her!

It took us 3 days to travel to the Monterey Cowboy Festival. We had people to visit and places to stop along the way! The festival itself was fun and held at a beautiful hotel right on the wharf. They had one main stage in a stunning auditorium in the hotel and a secondary stage in the conference area where there were also vendors and CD sales. It is an intimate gathering with few entertainers, but they were some of the best in the genre and the fans were warm and genuine. I had the opportunity to share the stage, albeit briefly, with western music legends such as Dave Stamey, Juni Fisher, Mike Beck and Carolyn and Dave Martin. I learned many new things about the art of the business, and made some closer friendships…being able to be around and closely watch these incredible performers was a priceless, educational experience.

A cool thing about going to these festivals, is that at each one I get to meet new performers I haven't met before. At Monterey I met 13 year old Brigid Reedy, a fun, sweet, out-going singer/fiddle player with a hilarious sense of humor!

After the festival was over, Mom and I drove back down through Los Angeles, where we spent a few hours on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and then stopped in at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park. We didn't get to spend as much time in the museum as we wanted, so I suppose we'll make it back there someday soon. I will admit...while in Beverly Hills, The Beverly Hillbillies' theme song would not stop blasting through my head: banjo and all. :)

We spent the night in LA with family, visiting with a Great Aunt and Uncle I had never met before. It was fun connecting with family and sharing this genre of music they were not familiar with. I think we have new Western Music fans! Early the next morning we headed down to eastern California to spend a night with good friends, Marvin and Teresa O'Dell, in Palm Springs, CA. We went thrift store shopping and watched The Range Rider and Annie Oakley TV Show marathons with them. Talk about awesome! Mr. O'Dell also interviewed me on his radio show, Defenders of Freedom Radio. We headed next to Phoenix and spent some time with my good friends and RHRR musicians: lead guitarist, Tom Boyer and his wife, Pasty, rhythm guitarist Audrey McLaughlin, Gale Rogers and Dawn Pett (harmony), all of whom participated on my CD.

Mom and I then traveled on to El Paso to visit with my Grandparents. We spent several days with them before being joined by my Dad and Brother. We all continued on to New Mexico, where we spent the holiday season and remained until January 5th. While in the mountains of New Mexico, I had another radio interview with Nancy Pitchford (co-hosting with Bobbie Jean Bell) on Around the Barn Radio Show. By the time we finally made it home, Mom and I tallied the dates and realized we'd been gone an entire month!

During the month of January, I taught horseback riding, vocal and guitar lessons, practiced and performed with Hailey Sandoz, and interned with horse trainer, Chad Brinlee, of Bombproof Horsemanship. My time spent learning from him is awesome and definitely a highlight of my year. I try to squeeze in days with him whenever I can. Unfortunately, between bad weather, out of town trips, and schooling, interning days are fewer than I would like.

January 16th through 19th, Mom and I flew to Denver, Colorado for the Golden Colorado Cowboy Gathering. Golden is a small mining town, perfect for a cowboy gathering. Barry Ward took time to pick us up from the airport and we went straight to a branding party where we met many of the local ranch owners, all of whom were sharing their brands with the festival. The little hotel we stayed at, Table Mountain Inn, was quaint and just plain beautiful! The ice hadn't melted yet and the wind was chilly, but I can't imagine the weather being more perfect. Mom and I found a little restaurant/breakfast café that we wound up eating at several times and we also enjoyed moseying down the main street and looking through the shops in our spare time. We also were super excited about getting to go to dinner with our sweet friends, Diana Raven, Ernie Martinez and Bill Barwick while we were in there. This gathering was just plain amazing. So much talent was there and the community interest and support was heartwarming. It was a privilege to meet and be onstage with New West; Mike Fleming, Raul Reynoso and David Jackson--they are SO fun and amazing entertainers! We made some great new friendships and when Mom and I had to fly back home, it was definitely a bittersweet moment.

So, the rest of the United States gets hyped about the election, right? Well that's about how exciting January is in Fort Worth every year...and that's because it's FORT WORTH STOCKSHOW TIME! (Yes, I'm obviously a Texas girl, haha!) The Stockshow is a tradition and a chance to see the rodeo, all wrapped up in a big package and is the highlight of the year for many Texans. The Stockshow Parade precedes the actual Stockshow and is like, literally, more than 18 blocks long. I was looking forward to riding the parade this year and meet up with some of my trail riding buddies, but unfortunately the Golden Gathering coincided so I had to miss it. But! I did get to be a part of Campfire Tales, an event involving four solid days of cowboy poetry and music on a stage behind the Justin Arena, hosted by special friends of mine, the Terry family. I've had the privilege of being a part of Campfire Tales for 5 years and this year, on the 29th and 30th, I hauled Hailey to play with me. :) We were so excited to see many familiar faces and were so blessed by those who stopped by to see us.

Good friend Buck Taylor (actor and artist) always has a booth for his artwork at the Stockshow and I usually try to stop by to visit him and play a few songs for him since he loves western music. He had taken a day off the day I tried to visit during Campfire Tales, so I went back to see him on Saturday. If you ever have the chance, stop by his booth to see his artwork. It is fantastic!

February 4th- 10th Mom and I drove down to Sierra Vista, AZ, for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry Gathering. We were hosted by a kind and generous couple, Colonel and Mrs. Abney. Colonel Abney (retired from the army there in Sierra Vista), gave us a tour and history lesson of the local Fort Huachuka. It was beautiful and he shared some seriously incredible trivia about the place! Mom and I came in on a Wednesday evening just in time to meet our hosts and change for a performance with Barry Ward at Winterhaven Retirement Community. They were a warm and welcoming audience and a great way to end our day! Thursday I performed for PeppTec Highschool and had a great audience. I had a whole hour to convince them that Western Music is just plain awesome and, I hate to brag, but.....I think it worked! ;) The Cochise festival is MASSIVE, held in a large high school. I think they had about 7 stages going all day on Saturday, so I performed on five stages and then had some spare time to watch some of my favorite artists. There were tons of great performers and the whole event was very well attended. In fact, I was amazed by how many people came to see the performances.


So every festival there are new people to meet, right? It's one of the best part about going to festivals! This trip I had the privilege of meeting the Flying J Wranglers. I have heard of them for years and was happy to finally meet this group that puts on a well known and appreciated event all summer long in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

When returning home, on Feb. 14th and 15th, Hailey and I had two Valentines' gigs, for two different churches. At Hailey's Cowboy Church, we played for our first dance together! Then, we played for a Methodist Church Valentines Dinner. I had met the Pastor when playing at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, and it was so neat seeing them again. They were so sweet and supportive! That was the first time I have had my name put up in lights! :D

Sunday, it was time for the monthly Cowtown Opry Buckaroos. It was good to see Janet McBride and all the kids again…when we’re gone traveling, I miss getting to see and teach the kids. That day, everyone performed the song they were preparing for Cowtown Opry's fundraiser in March. The following week, hoping to collect donations for the fundraiser's silent auction, Hailey and I met on the square of downtown McKinney to perform for the businesses. We met many nice shop owners who were very generous with their donations and who enjoyed hearing us perform. We also had the chance to hop into Orisons, our new sponsor, and perform for the owner, Howard. If you are ever in Downtown McKinney, stop in Orisons and shop their amazing clothing boutique. You will definitely find something you can't live without because they "Dress Texas!"

Throw in a few more private bookings, music and horse riding lessons to teach, a few more days spent down with Chad Brinlee (training horses!) and school every single day, and my calendar was pretty busy, again! March kicked off for us with the Cowtown Opry Gala fundraiser with Dave Alexander as the honoree. The Cowtown Opry Saddle Pals performed, then the Buckaroos, followed by a Scholarship Award program. I was awarded two scholarships, one of which was for Dave Alexander Swing School this summer. (I'm excited about attending his swing school again this year!) Then, the rest of the evening was Dave and his Big Texas Swing Band, with Hailey and I and a few more Buckaroos joining him for a few songs. He is a great entertainer and it was even more fun dancing to his music! The next week, Hailey and I drove down to Red Oak, Texas, for the Red Oak Opry on the 8th. We love performing there...the band is fantastic and the audience is like family to me now.

Stay tuned for the next one.

Blessings and hugs,
Mikki

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