The reality of that fact still hasn't quite settled in, even now, months later. I am still taking a few courses, though, so it helps make life seem normal. Education should never end. Even as much fun as I had finishing up my school year, when this summer came around, I was ready for it to start again.
But, first things first! A HUGE thank you to all the Western and Western Swing DJs out there, once again! Not only do I SO much appreciate that there is an outlet for this genre of music to be heard, I'm thrilled, honored and tickled pink to see that "Cowgirl Swing" once again charted #1 in the Top 10 Western Swing Albums for the Summer 2015 issue of the Western Way Magazine! "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie" charted #2 for the Most Played Songs by Western Music DJs and "Cowgirl Swing" also charted #3 for the Top 30 Cowboy/Western Albums. Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving the music!
Next, the recap for the summer quarter:
Back in the spring, Mom had discussed with Mr. James Michael (from the WMA New Mexico Chapter) the possibility of me coming to New Mexico for a day on July 5th in order to participate in their Albuquerque Western Youth Day held on the Plaza in Old Town. My family struggled with accepting this invitation thinking it would cause me to miss out on a 20 year family tradition of celebrating the 4th of July; we host a rather large Independence Day party at our home, from riding horseback in our little, small-town, local, early morning parade all the way to the late night fireworks display. Offering an early flight the morning following our biggest day of the year helped make the decision a possibility, even though the scheduling was a bit tight.
He was so kind to work out all the details with us so after our big day of celebrating, I boarded an early morning flight. Our dear friends, Doug and Cathy Figgs, also from New Mexico, became my chaperons for the day and picked me up at the airport and took me to the gig.
The Youth Concert was very well attended and I was tickled pink to be performing alongside some of Western Music's very own rising stars: Calvin Hampton, Julian Oliver and Austin Van Landingham. The delightful Kaye Sisters were also booked for the event, but had to cancel last minute due to an unexpected injury. They were certainly missed!
I was delighted to also see Max Cook, a young fiddler from New Mexico, whom I had met several years ago at Bobby Flores' Swing Camp in Texas. Mr. Cook, at the ripe old age of 10 years, has more charisma and gumption than many performers twice his age--and the talent to knock your socks off, as well. Julian Oliver (from Colorado) is always a joy to hear perform also, and he wowed the crowd with his story-telling, poetry, singing and fiddling. A multi-talented young man, for sure! I'd never met Austin Van before this event although I had been hearing about him and seeing my Facebook news feed blow up about his vocal talent, so meeting him was quite neat. For one so young, he truly has an old-school country voice beyond his years--a voice that could be likened to those of the era of Hank Williams Sr.--both in style and sound.
The last performer, Calvin Danner Hampton has become a good buddy of mine and is a vocalist like you wouldn't imagine. He sung that day backed up by his dad, RW Hampton. If you ever have the chance to see this young western performer, I HIGHLY recommend that you jump at the chance. When you hear the voice come out of this 14 year old Frank Sinatra, I guarantee you'll be glued to your seat. I was honored to perform alongside these young talents and proud to say the show drew a fantastic crowd for the whole show and KEPT the crowd, even though it began to rain around 4:00. That was a good day.
Once the event was over, the Figgs talked me into staying on a couple more days :) Those next few days spent with them are marked down in my book of "best days ever". Every morning, Ms. Cathy schooled me on English riding and jumping on Chili, a fantastic thoroughbred and great sport. For hours I rode and practiced the skills under her careful guidance. Concepts as simple as "correct posture" or "balance" can be a difficult goal to actually achieve, especially if one doesn't have a teacher who teaches well. I was blessed to be learning from a woman with 25+ years of professional teaching experience, a woman from whom many would envy me learning. Between Ms. Cathy and Chili (both wonderful teachers and brim-full of patience), I had a blast and added a bunch of new techniques and skills to my repertoire.
Every evening, Mr. Doug and I took their horses out for some exercise and then we jammed to our favorite tunes in the living room. On Tuesday night we played a gig--Mr. Doug, Clifton, Mariam Funke and I--at the Twisted Chili Brewing Company in Socorro, NM. Needless to say, this was one of the few occasions when I was actually quite sad to go home. LOL. Thank you, Mr. Doug and Ms. Cathy, for being so kind and hospitable to me, and for being such wonderful friends to boot. I am blessed to know you both.
And if it could get any better than that, Ms. Cathy sent me home with a saddle in a pillow case and, yes...I flew home with a guitar in one hand and my saddle in the other. Only on SouthWest Airlines! Haha!
I returned home just in time to teach lessons (bass, guitar and horseback) to my students the next two days before making the drive down to Ft. Worth with Mom for Buckaroo Sunday on the 12th. The 13th I spent time with my horses, and then got ready to leave for the next trip by cleaning up the barn for our wonderful friends, Tony and MaryAnn, to take care of. I couldn't leave them to have to care for our animals in a roughed-up barn...which is putting the chaotic condition politely :). Meanwhile, Mom, Dad, my 17 year old brother and I also packed the trailer, the car and truck for our next trip.
On the morning of the14th, the family and I pulled out for our land in New Mexico. Dad and Elijah were able to spend several weeks at our place, fulfilling Dad's dream of running his own Boy's Camp at our ranch while Mom and I were only able to stay a few days. By the 23rd, mom and I were en-route to Kansas City, Kansas, for a celebration of the National Day of the American Cowboy. There were several of us coming in and performing with 3 Trails West, who kindly hosted us all at their homes. Mom and I had the honor of staying with Leo Eilts. We had a great time getting to know him and enjoyed so much his time showing us around. He also set up several gigs before and after for anyone who wanted to join them. So, we arrived just in time to freshen up before heading to Knuckleheads with 3 Trails West, Kristyn Harris and Susie Knight.
Saturday, the 25th, was the official day of the festival in Tonganoxie, KS, and we each had sets on the "big stage" located in the Jewel Theater on Main, and also at the High Noon Saloon across the street. I was also blessed with an opportunity for a book signing at their local Library. That evening, we each also performed on the Night Show.
Sunday, the 26th, we performed for Cowboy Church. It was a great service and the people really enjoyed the music of each performer. Then we had time to go back to Leo's to get cleaned up and ready for the next show, at the Dubliner Pub. It was kind of one of those "hurry up and wait" deals. :) It never hurts to have a little time to relax during a busy weekend like this one, though, so it did us all some good. The Dubliner was fun--but, it's difficult NOT to have fun when you're in the company of 3 Trails West and Kristyn Harris. It was a high-energy, tons-of-fun show and drew a great crowd. The management let us know we were a huge hit!
Monday we went sightseeing a bit, courtesy of our Kansas City history guru and guide, Leo Elits. We traipsed through the local farmers' market and went and toured the Arabia Steamboat museum. We even had the opportunity to MEET the man who dug the Arabia up! It was a wonderful morning and afternoon. When we finished the tour, we headed home to get cleaned up for our last Kansas City gig...at the "Brick"--a restaurant and local musician poole. We were surprised and tickled pink to see the Hanson family show up at our show! That made for a great night.
We woke up early the next morning and went to watch a canoe race begin with Leo. It was a beautiful sight on a beautiful morning and made for a perfect ending for our trip. Overall, it was a wonderful weekend.
When we arrived home, ( a LONG drive later), my sister came up to visit us with her 4 year old, the cutest little goofball you've ever seen. We always love to spend time with them. No matter how often we see them it never seems like enough--especially when there's a youngster growing up so quickly on us all.
August hit us all a little too quickly I think. Even though we all were mentally prepared for the first to come around, the reality set in rather last minute. It was Mom's birthday we were preparing for and it snuck up on us (Dad, my sister Kallie and I). We planned a surprise birthday party for her, which we pulled off successfully! Kallie came up from Austin for it and stayed an extra day to help us clean up afterward. By the 3rd, I was packing again for my next trip--this time one planned only for fun.
Several years ago I met, at the Western Music Convention in Albuquerque, the sweetest, most talented Colorado girl. I remember watching her drag all 9 of her instruments down the hallway with the help of her dad and mom, set them all up on stage and then commence to wow us all with not only her vocal prowess and stage confidence, but her technical musicianship, songwriting skills and genuineness. And she was only 13 years old! For those of you who do not yet know who this delightful girl is, her name is Jeneve Rose Mitchell. Please check out her website, CLICK HERE www.JeneveRoseMitchell.com
Over the past few years we've become good friends and when she invited me to come spend time with her family in the Colorado Rockies, nothing short of a resounding "yes" would do. I arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado, at 3:06 mountain time, on flight number 3036 in the tiniest airport I've ever been to. A completely different and very refreshing type of airport, this one had security guards who called you "Hun" and only one security checkpoint. Oh, and 30% of the airport's population was also wearing cowboy hats :).
My kind of town.
I think this week also was written down in my little book of "best days of my life". A true mountain girl, she and her dad taught me all about poisonous--and edible--wild mushrooms, herbal and medicinal wild plants, edible and poisonous berries, trees and fodder. We rode horseback in the Rocky Mountains amidst Hawthorne branches and beautiful Aspens, carved our names into the bark of trees along our trail, packed horses up mountain trails, camped alongside a free-flowing, crystal clear stream, ate skunk cabbage, packed mud onto the walls of their adobe home, rode young horses, showed the boys how to stack 600 bales of hay, and played music to our hearts content. If I were to tell you all of the fun moments we had, there wouldn't be any room left to tell you about my musical traversing! Haha!
Thank you, 'Neve, Mr. Tim and Ms. Jenny, for allowing me to come join your family at your home. I've never seen a place more beautiful, or felt so welcome into a family. For the first time ever, coming home wasn't all I could think of. :)
I arrived home on the 11th of August with just enough time to throw all my laundry into the wash, saddle up the mares, do the stack of dirty dishes waiting on me, and re-pack my suitcase. Bright and early on the 13th, Mom and I pulled out headed for Palo Duro Canyon. We planned to arrive in time to see the famous "Texas" play that evening, which we were able to do even after stopping along the way to see the Goodnight Museum for an hour and a half. That was a great stop. We wished we had more time there to look but we had to get on to the canyon or we would miss the beginning of the play. Mom had heard raving reviews about" Texas, the Outdoor Musical," located down in the beautiful canyon and she told me enough about it to wind us both up. After a wonderful BBQ dinner and some good ole' fashioned chuck wagon music, we finally saw the play...which met every expectation! It was positively wonderful. It was a wonderful production in a spectacular setting. I would love to go back someday and explore the canyon.
We stayed in Palo Duro that evening, but got up early the next morning and headed to Alamosa, Colorado. We stopped for breakfast at our favorite home cookin' restaurant, Cowboy Gelatto, run by some special friends, Cody Anderson and his dad, Jim. The food is amazing, we had a breakfast fit for a king while we visited.
We had to pull away and head to my gig at the Mountain Rails Live concert series. A HUGE thank-you to Fred Hargrove for being such a wonderful promoter and friend, and for working so hard to get me there. I was honored to open for the Flying W Wranglers for the Saturday and Sunday concerts up at Fir, Co. I've never had so much fun performing on a train in my entire life, and this wasn't my first train! :) The guests were wonderful, and the main performance? Well, imagine riding the train to it's destination, which is in the middle of nowhere on the top of the mountain, with the stage nestled in amongst the pine trees. Spectacular. We had so much fun--despite the cranky, rainy weather. Not to mention, the Wranglers have become special friends, and I always enjoy hanging out with my buddies David Bradley, Adam Gardino, Verlon, and Luke Tripp.
Well, a trip like that is bittersweet. Although Mom and I are always ready to be home, it's hard to leave a beautiful place like that in the Colorado mountains. One special side note to that trip. We had the privilege of having our traveling buddy with us, Janice Bond. Thanks for coming with us, Janice!
By now, you know my routine! Home, wash clothes, work/play with my horses, pack clothes, head out. Haha. No exception here except add in an interview with a reporter for the Visalia, CA newspaper where I was headed next. Sometime the previous spring, I received, like many did, an email inviting me to Marilyn Tuttle's 90th Birthday Party in California. Mom and I looked at each other and said "What an amazing invitation, we can't miss that!" So, we called our dear friend, David Veal, to see what he could tell us about it and before you know it we had our plans made.
Out to California we headed on the 26th of August to spend a few days with Mr. Veal before the party. We enjoyed our visit with him so much, learning all about all the things he has done in his life. Mr. Veal, you are an amazing, kind and benevolent man with a fascinating history. It was an honor to get to know you better! And fun! We had such fun! The first thing we did the evening we arrived was head to the Coffee Gallery Backstage. It was an honor to meet the infamous Bob Stane, who went out of his way to have me perform at his venue. Thank you, Mr. Stane, for the honor. I was blessed to see some VERY dear friends come for this intimate concert, including birthday girl Marilyn Tuttle (who I came to see!), Jai, Bob Bobrof, sweet Judy Kean, and others. In addition to the friends that come, I loved the intimacy of the venue and the history behind it.
On Thursday night we went to a Dave Stamey Concert at the Out West Concert Series. Jim and BobbyJean Bell bring in the best for their concert series and that was our first time to be there for it. You definitely should look them up and attend their concerts when you are in the Santa Clarita area.
We decided to tour the movie studios while we were there. We went to Warner Brothers, Universal and Sony Studio Tours. Each one was different, but we loved Warner Brothers the best. And they all were made even better by the company of Mr. Veal and the stories he had to share.
On Saturday we headed to Visalia, CA and Mr. Gary Brown. He hosted us for the evening and I performed at Mavericks Coffee House, a fun venue owned by Mr. Brown's son Cody. I had a blast getting to know them and loved the venue and the people it draws. Thanks so much to Mr. Brown. His home is like a western museum and he and his wife make you feel so welcome. At Maverick
s we had a packed house and I appreciate every single person that was there. But I won't lie, I was totally blown away to have Jack Hannah of the Sons of the San Joaquin right there in the front row. How cool is that!
We had to get up early to head back to Santa Clarita. Dear friend David Veal was an instrumental part of the birthday party for Marilyn Tuttle and he needed to get busy on his part of the festivities. So, off we went, back to pick up equipment and on to the party. So many people love Marilyn Tuttle and she has such an amazing life to celebrate! There were all kinds of people there, including lots of family from the Texas area! It was fun to meet new people and see old friends, all there to honor the life of this special woman. I got to sit at the second most fun table there, the first of course being Marilyn's table. Julie and Gino Pomilia, Diamond and Linda Farnsworth, David Veal, Mike Fleming and his wife. Yep, the best table. The only thing that could have made the table better was to have our good friends Kim and Lisa Jasserie with us. Later that evening, Mom and I, the Farnsworths and the Pomilias went to dinner and Julie and I each got a ginormous cotton candy in Universal Park.
The party was a wonderful tribute to Marilyn Tuttle's life. There were pictures everywhere, on posters and in albums on tables. There were friends there from all time periods of her life. David Veal put together a wonderful video presentation. And then there were speakers and entertainers. Special people with special moments of time that were there to honor her and share their love for her. I count myself extremely honored to be asked to sing a song for her. I chose the very first song I found on YouTube of Marilyn and Wesley Tuttle to sing to her: "Hey, Good Lookin'." I love this song and will forever remember this special couple every time I sing it. Happy Birthday, Ms. Marilyn! Here's to many more years of friendship.
Later that evening Mom and I joined the Farnsworths and Pomilia for dinner. We went to a restaurant in the Universal City Mall and Mr. Farnsworth surprised us all when he ordered desert for everyone: ginormous cotton candy served like a huge ice cream sunday! Ms. Julie, Mom and I couldn't stop eating it!..Well, we had a fantastic trip to the LA area and although it was so much fun, it was time to head home again. Family, horses, puppy, chores, leassons, laundry, friends.....all waiting.
And September 1st came rolling around. It is a day treated with very special care in my family, and extended family. It's kind of a big deal for us. Dove Season opens! :)
And Neets! Our so-special friend Neets was coming! We picked her up at the airport early in the day on Thursday and had an amazing time together. We worked hard and played. We crammed something into every minute. Photographing, talking, shopping, repeat. Neets, you are the most incredible woman. Talent oozes out of your every pore. We are amazed at all you have done in your lifetime. And now, photography. You make each person you photograph look like a movie star. Thank you. Thank you for your time, your talent and most of all your friendship.
And did I mention to you that whenever I have time off, I love to dance? And so, I do. And so, I did. Dance. Swing dance. Every chance I get.
Cowboy Church. I love to perform at Cowboy Church. And the Tarrant County Cowboy Church is one of the special ones. I have met some of the most special friends there and was honored to be there in September performing for their service and celebrating God's word.
On Sept 7th, Mom and I headed to the Lone Star Opry in Gidding, Tx. Someone who saw me perform at The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas recommended me for this gig, I don't know who. But, I was honored to be asked. The band was so much fun and the Opry has a great following of fans. Thank you to Mary Ross for all you do to make it happen and for inviting me to be a part of it.
On the 12th I was back in the Dallas area again, performing for my "family": the Red Oak Opry. Down in Red Oak, Texas, this is one of the best Opry's there is. The house band is fantastic and the talent that performs each month is top. If you live in the DFW area and have not come, you are really missing a fun evening of entertainment. I have been going there since I began performing and the people there are my "family." You know who you are. Thank you. It's always so fun to be there with you!
The next day was Sunday the 13th, Buckaroo Day. This is a program I grew up in and I try to go back to give back to the program. Mentoring young performers is a passion of mine. I love young kids. Only the kids perform on this day, but adult volunteers come to back them up. It happens once a month, 2nd Sunday of each month at 2:00 on the steps of the Exchange Building in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Buckaroo Program is headed up by Janet McBride.
On the 19th of September I was invited to perform at Pipp Gillette's Camp Street Cafe in Crockett, TX. So on the 18th, Mom and I headed to Dawn, Caroline and Cary Wiseman's house to visit first. They have become special friends and I love my time with C Dub (Caroline). She's my "minnie me" and we have a great time together. Mr. Cary knows my passion for all things horses and always finds a way for me to help him do something on their ranch. This time it was doctoring the cows and calves. Mom and Ms. Dawn hang out, visit and cook for us.
After the cow work we all came back in, ate, cleaned up and got dressed. We headed to Crockett, TX. Pipp was waiting for us and got me all set up and sound checked. Then he recommended a yummy cafe on the square for a quick bite to eat. We headed back to Camp Street and the place started filling up. We had a full house by the time we started and at a large table up front were a pack of my trail riding buddies. Thank you so much for coming to my concert, y'all! I love this venue, it is historic, quaint and intimate. You feel like you are in your own living room singing with your friends. And I was. Thank you, Pipp! And thank you C Dub for joining me onstage for a song! You are adorable.
The next morning, the Wisemans took us to their church, Cowboy Church of Leon County. I was honored to be featured with C Dub for their music. It was a warm, loving church and Pastor Tuffy is welcoming and supportive.
After we made it home from the Wiseman's, we dove into getting ready for yet another trip--this time to Durango, Colorado, for the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering. One of my favorites! But, more details on this in my next newsletter......
Well, y'all...that's about it for my third quarter newsletter! I'm always so tardy in sending them out, and I hope you'll all forgive me. Thank you so much for always being such a wonderful support and kind friends to boot--I am certainly a lucky girl to have you all.
May the Lord bless you and yours and make His face to shine upon you this season!