NOW THAT WE HAVE GOTTEN "SETTLED BACK IN" FROM OUR APRIL 2014 ROAD TRIP,  I CAN LEAN BACK, RELAX, AND HAVE A "COLD ONE"

(KOOL- AID) ..., AND TELL ALL YOU GOOD FOLKS ABOUT THIS AMAZING ADVENTURE.  

  

   WE LEFT NASHVILLE ON THE EARLY MORNING OF APRIL 16.  FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILES LATER, WE PULLED INTO THE DRIVEWAY OF THE "SLAGEL HOTEL", IN BEAUTIFUL DOWNTOWN FAIRBURY, ILLINOIS.  RAY AND GLAD SLAGEL WERE OUR "ALWAYS GRACIOUS" HOSTS.  AFTER A DELIGHTFUL MEAL AND A GOOD NIGHT'S REST; WE "VACATED THE PREMISES" JUST AFTER SUNRISE - MOTORING WEST TO THE METROPOLIS OF ALTON, IOWA - 500 MILES AWAY.  OUR HOSTESS FOR THE EVENING (AT "MAMA BEA'S INN FOR WEARY TRAVELERS") WAS "MAMA BEA" HERSELF.  FOR THE EVENING MEAL, WE WERE INTRODUCED TO THE CULINARY DELIGHTS OF THE "PIZZA RANCH".  GOOD STUFF...  AFTER DINNER "DRINKY POOS" CONSISTED OF A GALLON OF MOONSHINE; WHILE MAMA BEA AND MYSELF DID OUR BEST TO "OUT LIE" EACH OTHER- TELLING STORIES FROM "BACK WHEN" ; WHEN I PERFORMED IN NORTHWEST IOWA.   I WILL NOT GO INTO SPECIFICS; AS THE "STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS" HAS NOT RAN OUT... 

  

   AT DAYBREAK (WELL 10 O'CLOCK) ,  AND AFTER A GRUELING 60 MILE DRIVE , WE PULLED INTO SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA.  THE GOOD FOLKS AT THE "BRANDON VFW" TREATED US WELL, AND I GOT TO PERFORM WITH J.D. LARSON (SELF-ADMITTINGLY "SOUTH DAKOTA'S FINEST PIANO PLAYER").  I MET A BUNCH OF OLD (AND NEW) FRIENDS THAT NIGHT; AS J.D. AND I "THRILLED AND AMAZED THE MULTITUDES..."    

   TO MY NEXT DAY PERFORMING VENUE,  WAS A "VERY GRUELING" 3 MILE DRIVE...TO LARRY OLSON'S "RITZ II". I GOT TO PERFORM WITH THE LEGENDARY "HOWIE GAMBER" AND BAND.  MERCY !!!  WHAT A GREAT NIGHT, AND THE AUDIENCE WAS EVERY THING A PERFORMER WOULD WANT...ENTHUSIASTIC, ATTENTIVE, AND VERY GRACIOUS.  AGAIN, I MET A BUNCH OF OLD (AND NEW FRIENDS) THAT NIGHT.  OUR HOST; "LARRY OLSON" IS JUST ONE FINE HUMAN BEING.  HE INTRODUCED ME TO HIS MOTHER "SWEET IRENE" - 84 (?) YEARS YOUNG.  SHE (AND HER FRIENDS) WERE JUST DELIGHTFUL.  THIS IS THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW THAT I HAVE PERFORMED FOR THIS FUNCTION.  I SHALL LOOK FORWARD TO THE NEXT TIME...  AFTER THE SHOW, LARRY, HIS FRIENDS AND I - SAT AROUND TELLING "STORIES OF LIFE", IN BETWEEN A SIP OR TWO OF HIS "HOMEMADE KOOL- AID..."    ALSO, I WANT TO MENTION THAT IT WAS REALLY GOOD TO SEE OUR CANADIAN FRIENDS (THEY SNEAKED ACROSS THE BORDER...)   MARLENE AND PAUL BEAULIEU, AND DOUG AND SHIRLEY.  SHIRLEY IS A NOTED, ASPIRING SINGER AND SONGWRITER.  SHE FINALLY GOT TO LIVE OUT HER FANTASY OF SINGING WITH HER HERO..."ME".


   NEXT DAY (SUNDAY) WAS A GOOD 200 MILES TO ABERDEEN, SOUTH DAKOTA.  ABERDEEN HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF MY FAVORITE SOUTH DAKOTA CITIES.  OUR HOST FOR THE NEXT 2 NIGHTS WAS "GRANDMA" RUTH HOLSTEN.  THIS 90 YEAR OLD "WORK OF ART" WAS A MARVELOUS LADY INDEED.  SHE SHARED WITH US STORIES UP TO 70 YEARS AGO...I WISH I WOULD HAVE DONE THIS WITH MY GRANDMOTHER... WHILE IN THIS GOOD CITY; WE VISITED "STORYBOOK LAND" KID'S PARK.  OUR DAUGHTER "DAWN SUNDOWN" LOVED IT !!!  FROM THERE; A VISIT TO A VERY DEAR OL' AND WONDERFUL FRIEND "VIC RUNNELS".  VIC IS AN AMAZING ARTIST OF NATIVE AMERICAN ARTWORK.  WE SHARED SONGS AND STORIES OF "BACK WHEN" - WHEN I PERFORMED A "LOT" IN THIS TOWN.  I CAN'T TELL YOU MOST OF THE STORIES; BECAUSE OF THE "STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS" THINGIE...     VIC'S WONDERFUL WIFE - MARLYS, TREATED US TO A WONDERFUL SUPPER OF INDIAN TACOS, AND INDIAN FRIED BREAD.


   TUESDAY MORNING (NOT EARLY...)   FOUND US WESTBOUND 100 MILES - TO THE WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL SLEEPY LITTLE, "ALL-AMERICAN" TOWN OF MOBRIDGE, SOUTH DAKOTA - BY THE WIDE MISSOURI RIVER.  I PERFORMED A BUNCH IN THIS GREAT LITTLE TOWN; BACK IN THE MID 1970s -  EARLY 1980s, AND I LOVED IT ALL !!!  THESE MOBRIDGE FOLKS KNOW HOW TO MAKE YOU FEEL WELCOME...  MOST ESPECIALLY THE "CHRISTMAN" FAMILY.  I COULD TELL YOU "CHRISTMAN" TALES, BUT THE "STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS..." 


   ON THURSDAY NIGHT, I PERFORMED THERE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 33 YEARS...IT WAS AT "RICK'S CAFE".  AN ENTHUSIASTIC CAPACITY CROWD MADE THE EVENING "MAGICAL" INDEED.  ONCE AGAIN, "OLD AND NEW FRIENDS..."   ON THE PREVIOUS DAY; I DID A "WARM UP" PERFORMANCE AT A LOCAL NURSING HOME - THANKS TO RICK CHRISTMAN.  THESE "FORGOTTEN AMERICANS" ARE A JOY TO PERFORM FOR.  IT'S SUCH A WARM AND WONDERFUL SENSATION TO SEE THEIR FACES LIGHT UP AND SMILE, AS YOU SING THE SONGS.  I MUST DO THIS AGAIN...

   BACK TO "RICK'S CAFE...", THE ATMOSPHERE, DECOR, AND SERVICE WAS MOST EXCELLENT, AND I CANNOT REMEMBER THE LAST TIME I DINED IN SUCH A PLACE, THAT "EVERYTHING" ON THE MENU WAS JUST  "SIMPLY SUPERBLY GOOOOD".  I RECKON A PART OF THAT IS BECAUSE HE USES "RICK'S SALT" A LOT...CHEESEBURGERS, FRIES, CHILI (AND..."BUFFALO" CHILI), STEAKS, BABY BACK RIBS, WALLEYE FISH...I COULD GO ON AND ON.  THIS "RICK'S SALT" I SPEAK OF, IS A MOST EXCELLENT SEASONING; THAT IS SUPERBMY "PICKY, PICKY" DAUGHTER JUST LUUUUUUUVS THE STUFF...ALSO, THE "CHRISTMAN'S" (RICK, DIANE, NANCY, AND STEVE) INTRODUCED ME TO THEIR SPECIAL "KOOL- AID"... 


   MOBRIDGE TOWN HAS THAT VERY SPECIAL "ALL-AMERICAN" TOWN FEELING...RICH IN HISTORY.  JUST ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI, WE VISITED THE BURIAL SITE OF THE GREAT SIOUX WAR CHIEF, "SITTING BULL".  A DEEP SOMBER FEELING CAME OVER ME, LIKE I HAVE NOT KNOWN IN MANY YEARS; AS I STOOD THERE AND "SPOKE" TO THIS GREAT NATIVE AMERICAN WARRIOR... A STRONG PRAIRIE WIND SEEMED TO SAY "I HEAR, I HEAR..."


    FRIDAY MORNING BEGAN A 400 MILE JOURNEY TO QUAINT LITTLE SANDSTONE, MINNESOTA - JUST NORTH OF MINNEAPOLIS.  A CHECK-IN AT A LOCAL MOTEL, THEN A NEXT DAY REHEARSAL WITH THE TALENTED "MIDWEST COUNTRY" THEATER BAND.  A 3 O'CLOCK, AND A 7 O'CLOCK CONCERT AT THIS BEAUTIFUL VENUE, WAS "HEAD- SHAKINGLY" GOOD...PERFECT IN EVERY WAY.  AN EXTRA ADDED ATTRACTION WAS SHARING THE STAGE WITH THE TALENTED "MS. ANGIE SENGER" - A FEATURED PERFORMER ON THE "MIDWEST COUNTRY" THEATER SHOW ON RFD-TV.  THE OWNERS (AND OUR HOSTS) OF THIS  WONDERFUL PLACE ARE JOE, KATHY, AND JEFF JENSEN.  THEY WORK VERY, VERY HARD TO KEEP TRADITIONAL "REAL" COUNTRY MUSIC ALIVE... READER, IF YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF IN THIS AREA; THE "MIDWEST COUNTRY" THEATER IS A "MUST..."


    "SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN"FOUND US ON A 130 MILE TRIP TO THE NICE LITTLE TOWN OF BELLE PLAINE, MINNESOTA.  THEN CAME A HURRIED "SOUND CHECK" AT THE "RED DOOR" LOUNGE; FOR A 2pm SUNDAY AFTERNOON SHOW.  IT WAS "SUPPOSED" TO BE A 2 HOUR CONCERT, BUT IT TURNED INTO 3 HOURS...   THE AUDIENCE WAS JUST WONDERFUL.  NEW FRIENDSHIPS WERE MADE...

    A GOOD OL' FRIEND FROM ABERDEEN, SOUTH DAKOTA (MET HIM IN 1976), "MR. RICK BROWN" (AND WIFE TAMRA) PUT US UP IN THEIR COMFORTABLE HOME, FOR THE NEXT 3 NIGHTS.  WE TALKED A LOT OF "BACK WHEN..."  DID I MENTION THAT RICK IS A TALENTED DRUMMER AND VOCALIST ???  WELL, HE IS... AND FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER HE GOT TO DRUM WITH HIS HERO..."ME".    HIS DRUMMING EXPERTISE MADE THAT SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN BELLE PLAINE, MINNESOTA VERY ENJOYABLE FOR ME.


   NEARING THE END OF THIS SAGA NOW... DURING A BEAUTIFUL WEDNESDAY MINNESOTA SUNRISE, WE PARTED FOR OUR JOURNEY TOWARD HOME; WITH ONE MORE STOP IN BEAUTIFUL FAIRBURY, ILLINOIS.  ONCE AGAIN, THE "SLAGEL HOTEL" WAS A "PORT-IN-THE-STORM" REST STOP.  A THURSDAY NIGHT PERFORMANCE FOR THE "FORGOTTEN AMERICANS" WAS HOSTED BY "MS. DIXIE STEIDINGER" AT THE BEAUTIFUL FACILITY "FAIRVIEW HAVEN".

SUCH A WONDERFUL NIGHT...


   ON SATURDAY MORNING, WE WERE "HOMEWARD BOUND".  THE ARMS OF "KIRKWOOD" OPEN WIDE, AND WELCOMED US WARMLY AS WE ENTERED THE GATE.  MY FAMILY AND I ARE SO VERY BLESSED TO LIVE "LIFE" -  SUCH AS THE TRAVELS I JUST WROTE OF...  AND THERE ARE MORE TRAVELS TO

COME - NEW FRIENDS TO MEET... NEW PLACES TO GO; ON THIS "ROAD OF LIFE".  A ROAD THAT WE ALL TRAVEL...      



                


























..."ON THE ROAD" JOURNAL...

AMERICAN SINGER