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Sunday, April 05, 2015

Tommy Jackson

Today I am enthusiastically recommending a new CD featuring the songs of one of the greatest singers ever in my opinion. Ironically, though, this singer, the late, great Buddy Holly, doesn't sing a note on the CD, but gosh is his presence ever felt! The CD is entitled Buddy Holly Country Tribute "Remember Me".

At this writing, I have had the CD for a week. In that short time, it became my favorite CD (actually I made that decision on day one).

The CD features 21 songs. One is performed twice and is perhaps the most moving number on the album, "Remember Me". I don't think I had ever heard the Scott Wiseman-penned song before. The CD opens with the great Merle Haggard doing this particular song. It's later repeated on track 21 with album producer David Frizzell, Jimmy Fortune and Helen Cornelius performing the song which I call "absolutely beautiful". If like me you are not familiar with this song, I suggest you Google it and read the touching words. What a most appropriate song to honor the memory of a loved one at a funeral, or in this case a legendary singer like Buddy Holly who went out much too early in a plane crash in Iowa in 1959 when he was only 22. Frizzell who narrates the album with a brief introduction about each song says the 19 songs on the album sandwiched in between the opening and closing versions of "Remember Me" are why Buddy Holly was loved and remembered by thousands if not millions, many of who were not born until long after Holly's death.

One other cut on the album is not a Holly song. Why it's included is also touching and again most appropriate. "Walk Right Back" was written by Sonny Curtis, a member of Holly's Crickets. "Walk Right Back" was a big hit for the Everly Brothers who were close friends with Holly. The Buddy Holly Foundation asked that the song be included as a tribute to Phil Everly who died while the Holly tribute was being recorded. Frizzell and the great Jimmy Fortune do the honors on "Walk Right Back", and it's a great song. It could and should be a hit on country radio today, but sadly won't be because mainstream country radio wouldn't touch a classy performance like this with a 100-foot pole.

I've been a fan of Frizzell since his teaming with Shelly West for a number of memorable duets like the classic, "You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma", but that admiration and respect have skyrocketed much higher now with the release of this product. David, of course has had a successful solo career as well (Remember, "I'm Gonna Hire A Wino (To Decorate Our Home)" The pairing of he and Fortune together is a natural. Jimmy has one of the great tenor voices in music, and he and Frizzell sound as if they have sung together for years. Fortune has four solos on the project and assists on six others. Longtime country fans will remember Fortune who gave the Statler Brothers a whole new sound with his beautiful voice that is so prevalent on classics like "Elizabeth and "More Than a Name on the Wall".

The mega hits of Buddy are all there of course including "Oh Boy", Fortune; "That'll be the Day", Haggard; "Maybe Baby", by the great T. Graham Brown; "Think It over", Fortune; "It's So Easy", the beautiful and talented Helen Cornelius; and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" and "True Love Ways", both by Fortune. Also I'd be remiss if failed to call attention to "Maria Elena" a beautiful song written by and performed by Frizzell to honor Buddy's widow. "This is so pretty it gives me goosebumps," I told my wife.

A press release says the purpose of the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation is to continue to promote Buddy Holly's legendary music where it will remain inspirational and relevant. Two, the Foundation strives to promote music education for youth with the aim to empower a new generation to follow in Buddy's footsteps. We think they are more than succeeding on both counts

Holly's life indeed was cut tragically short, but the huge impact he leaves in his music is as strong as ever 55 years after his death. We were in a conversation the other day, the jist of which that if Holly had lived out his full life, "who would have been bigger, he or Elvis? It's a debate that sparks passionate discussion whichever side you take. Maybe we will take up that discussion another day.

Holly has been called a musical genius, and we do not think this a term thrown his way without merit. He is credited for many things including beginning the now standard rock band lineup that features two guitars, a bass and drums. He also was among the first to exploit double tracking and around the time of his death was experimenting with orchestration. This product is on Nashville America Records and also includes a DVD on the overall project. I love it. You can get it from iTunes or the other usual places.

Tommy Jackson

There were many entertainment highlights for this reporter during 2014, and it's been my honor to have shared most of them with you.

Some of the very special memories and the "awards" I would hand out for those responsible for the memories include the following:

Best concert moment of the year: That's an easy one although the "moment" actually stretched to more than five hours. The occasion was a star-studded celebration to honor the great Mickey Gilley for his 25 years in Branson. It was warm, touching and great entertainment from start to finish. I loved every second of it and would have stayed all night if it had gone on that long.

Best Album of the Year: The David Frizzell and Friends tribute to Buddy Holly called "Remember Me". The "friends" include Jimmy Fortune, T. Graham Brown, Helen Cornelius, Sonny Curtis, Merle Haggard, and David Frizzell. My favorite selection is the title cut "Remember Me" featuring Frizzell, Fortune and Cornelius, but everything about this album is Grade A Prime.

The Nice Guy Award: Lots of competition there, but Billy Joe Royal could top that list year after was great seeing him again in 2014. He sounds great, looks great and still claps for his audience just as enthusiastically as they applaud him. He is one nice guy who "didn't finish last" (as baseball great Leo Durocher once said).

Double Duty Award: While we were talking to the great T. Graham Brown in his bus before a show last summer in Branson, his lovely wife Sheila came into the room where we were visiting and told T. their bus was blocking a street near the stage at the Branson Landing. Their bus driver had gone out on the grounds for a bite to eat. So if it's your bus and the driver is gone and the bus needs to be moved, then I suppose you better be prepared to move it yourself which is what T. did. He backed the bus up, and since I didn't hear a crash, he must have pulled it off. (For the record, T. Graham always finishes close to the top in the Nice Guy category as well.)

Best Movie of the Year: Though I'm not a movie reviewer (although I did stay once in a Holiday Inn...sorry bad joke), I give my award hands down to "Jersey Boys", Clint Eastwood's look at the career of the wonderful Four Seasons. I loved everything about this film, especially the acting, costumes, and of course the music. I've seen it so many times I'd be embarrassed (almost anyway) to tell you the exact number. Seriously it's a wonderful movie.

Most Anticipated Moment of the Year: The days leading up to Tracy Lawrence's performance at the Malvern Brick Fest and knowing he would perform one of my all-time favorite songs, "Time Marches On". He did perform it, and it even exceeded my lofty expectations.

"Wow" Concert of the Year: The legendary Kenny Rogers performing to a sold-out crowd at Oaklawn Park's Finish Line Theater in Hot Springs. Despite hobbling from a recent knee replacement, Kenny put on an incredible performance.

The "if you book him, they will come award": We saw two Gene Watson shows during the year. Both were sellouts, which I understand is the rule of thumb for a Gene Watson show.

Best Putdown: Johnny Lee was looking for sympathy (albeit good naturally) when he was telling of the long hours Mickey Gilley used to put him through years ago at the famed Gilley's nightclub in Pasadena, Texas. The work was fine, but the rub, according to Johnny, was that Gilley paid him only $90 a week. Major League Baseball umpire (and huge country music fan) Joe West who was on stage at the time Johnny was "preaching", commented, "Yeah, and he overpaid you at that)."

The 360 Award: On stage, Sawyer Brown founder and frontman Mark Miller is a whirlwind, seemingly going about 200 miles an hour from start to finish. I don't know of anyone who can come close to matching him in showmanship or entertaining. I could watch him work every night. Off stage though, Miller takes a complete 360 turn. He is quiet, soft spoken and very polite. A lot of entertainers act differently off stage, though none more so than Miller in our opinion.

Best Elvis Tribute: Surprisingly, that goes to Exile. I say surprisingly only because I didn't expect an Elvis tribute from this great band, but they belted out a rousing rendition of "That's Alright Mama".

Well, folks, there you have it. It's fun to look back, but now it's time to look ahead. May 2015 be good to us all.

Tommy Jackson is a former newspaper editor who now writes a weekly entertainment column. Contact him at

DAVID FRIZZELL — I Love You a Thousand Ways
Santa Monica Press, 327 pages

Country artist David Frizzell has written an biography about his brother, the legendary Lefty Frizzell (1928-1975). Frizzell, who was one the most successful singers of the 1950's. He had, for example, a total of four songs at the country music top-10 chart at the same time in 1951. Only The Beatles have since then had more songs at a chart at the same time. Among his big hits are "I Love You a Thousand Ways", "If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time" and "Saginaw, Michigan": Lefty also had a unique way of singing and phrasing, and this song style has influenced generations of country singers such as Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Roy Orbison, John Anderson and Tim McGraw among others.

In this book David goes through most of his big brother's sometimes turbulent life. From the early childhood and about their parents oil driller Naamon (who was called "Red") and his wife AD. Despite being one of the youngest of the nine siblings (David was born in 1941) he's gotten help and information from for example his older siblings.

David takes us through the stories of how his brother (born William Orville, called Sonny) got the name Lefty. How he was tricked and used by his early managers. When and how he met his future wife Alice - and the numerous fights they had over the years.

Frizzell doesn't try to hide any of the more "darker" passages of Lefty's life, such as his alcohol problem or the times that he was arrested. But of course the music plays the biggest roll, and we get recollections of some shows he did as well as how he managed to get his record deals. David was actually touring as an opening act for Lefty before he started out on a career of his own.

Friends who were close to Lefty are also here with some special memories or stories, and among them are Merle Haggard (who also wrote the foreword) and a songwriting friend of Lefty's Sanger D. "Whitey" Shafer. He wrote some classic songs together with Frizzell such as "That's the Way Love Goes". (And he was also one of Lefty's best "drinking buddies".)

His also too early death in July 1975 is described. A death that came as a big surprise and shock for the family. David takes us through Lefty's last days on the hospital and the feelings the rest of the family went through at that time. Lefty's death is described to have been caused by a mixture of high blood pressure, unhealthy eating habits and a lifelong problem with alcohol, that finally was to much for the 47-year old Frizzell.

To summarize I think I Love You a Thousand Ways is an honest description about one of country music's most influential artists. It's made with both love, honesty and it feels thorough. The book can be purchased via David's website (it's also available as audio book) and also book stores here in Sweden such as for example Bokus.

Marcus Thell

Frizzell & Friends DVD:

Hi David and Joe, 

My husband and I had seen the preview of this and had the chance to order the CD’s. I ordered it and I tell you we watch it so much I’m afraid it may not last much longer. You can never tire of this classic gathering of so much beautiful music. We try to pick our favorites but not likely, everything is great. We suggest an encore please. Keep it up David, We’ll always back you up as far as country music. It’s the only music as far as we are concerned. You can be very proud of what you have accomplished. When you sing you put the feeling into it and that shows you enjoy it as much as we do listening it you. 

Janie Green


David Frizzell, Country Music-Legend, Lefty Frizzell's younger brother, was born September 26, 1941 in a small town with the pretty name El Dorado, Arkansas. With the two number 1 hits “You’re the Reason God made Oklahoma” (together with Duet partner Shelly West, who at one time was married to his brother Allen) and “I’m Gonna Hire A Wino To Decorate Our Home” as well as top 10 hits “A Texas State of Mind“, ”Another Honky-Tonk Night On Broadway”, ”I Just Came Here To Dance”, “Lost My Baby Blues” and “Where Are You Spending Your Nights these Days”, celebrates the Singer, Songwriter and Musician from the 80er Years his biggest Chart successes. The fruitful collaboration with Shelly West, the daughter of the Grand Ole Opry-singer Dotty West, (who passed away in an accident) was 1981 and 1982  awarded  “Vocal Duo of the Year by the CMA as well as the ACM. Many years after divers awards and honors and chart successes David’s heart still beats for the traditional country music. The chance to hear that music is slim today. His fans do appreciate his music tremendously.

With this new album “David Frizzell & Friends: This Is Our Time” (the man with the unmistakable LEATHER-VOICE) proves that traditional country music is alive now and for the future to come. The star-line-up on the album shows that many of his age and talent are like-minded. All of them followed David’s invitation to join him at the studio. The songs, many written by David himself, where recorded for his own label. With all the talented Nashville musicians to accompany the singing artists, a very famous and nostalgic county album was created. Merle Haggard even brought his own band along. The fan’s love to hear and identify with all the famous artists. Thinking back to the years when each artist has had his or her unique recognizable voice. To one group of fans that means walking into the passed, to an older generation now. To another, who just know what is offered by the Nashville-Majors today under the label country music, a senior-combo who’s names don’t say much anymore.

It was not easy for David to come out from behind the huge shadow of Lefty. But  David has earned his respectable place in country music history. With “Frizzell & Friends“, David and his friends have created a priceless album. On top of the 20 songs, about 75 minute play time on the CD, a DVD is a bonus gift. With all the country artist in the studio working and interacting. One can experience the working, laughing and exchanging idea’s and life-stories. Even though some of the scenes came out quite dark, it is a pleasure to watch this DVD. One should definitely add to his county music repertoire.

 — Max

From The Advertiser (UK) - Pete Smith’s Reviews - 3 October 2008

If I were pressed I would have to admit that Lefty Frizzell was my all-time favorite country singer. But Lefty is not the only Frizzell to record country, David and Allen, his brothers have, and still do, cut quality records. David joined Lefty’s band when only twelve years of age and later went on to record solo hits and duo hits with Shelley West. These days David is still recording, not only himself, but also other hit makers of yesteryear too. Frizzell and Friends “This Is Our Time” (Nashville America/BSW) is a superb album featuring brother Allen and fourteen friends. Twelve of these friends join together for the title cut with each artist throwing in one line of one of their hits to create a really exciting atmosphere. David Frizzell has a couple solos (“Dream Of Angels” and “No Regrets”) with former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune also soloing on the beautiful “How Long’s Love Gonna Put Up With That” but mostly it is duets with such greats as Merle Haggard (“If You’ve Got The Money, I’ve Got The Time” – reminding us of the great Lefty), Bobby Bare (“Cowboy Hat”), Gene Watson (“Long Black Veil”- another reminder of Lefty), Joe Stampley (“Music”), Johnny Lee (“You Can’t Love Her”), T. Graham Brown (“Got to Get To Louisiana”), John Cowan (“Reckless Wind”), Allen Frizzell (“Three Minutes”) and Johnny Rodriguez (“Warm Spanish Wine”). But it is not all guys. The ladies are well represented with Crystal Gayle (“Wedding Dress For Sale”), Amy Clawson (“Why Wasn’t It Me”), Helen Cornelius (“Could It Be We Fell In Love Tonight”), Jeannie Seely (“Nobody’s Darling But Mine”) and Lacy J. Dalton (“Something ‘Bout You”). A remarkable line-up of talent that is well served by some of Nashville’s finest musicians and Merle Haggard’s band, The Strangers. Accompanying the CD is a DVD showing how the album was put together with interesting footage of the stars, as you have probably never seen them before. And speaking of film, David is currently involved in making a movie of the life of Lefty Frizzell. The producer will be Patrick Markey who worked on “A River Runs Through”, “The Horse Whisperer”, “The Associate” and others. The screenwriter is Elwood Reid.

— Pete Smith

From @ MusicRow - DISClaimer:

FRIZZELL & FRIENDS/This Is Our Time — This is great fun. Each singer steps up to the mic and sings the hook of one of his or her hits and you can make a game out of guess-the-star. I caught snatches of Lacy J. Dalton, Helen Cornelius, Jimmy Fortune, T. Graham Brown, Johnny Rodriguez, Gene Watson, Crystal Gayle and Merle Haggard, as well as David Frizzell. How many can you identify?

— Robert K. Oermann

FRIZZELL & FRIENDS “This is Our time” A brilliant new CD featuring 14 country music super stars all of them appear on “THIS IS OUR TIME” track, all the other tracks are mainly duets. DAVID FRIZZELL, ALLEN FRIZZELL, MERLE HAGGARD, JOHNNY RODRIGUEZ, HELEN CORNELLIUS JEANIE SEELY, GENE WATSON, T GRAHAM BROWN, & CRYSTAL GAYLE just to name a few of the well known artist’s. These excellent tracks come over the best and are my favourite’s THIS IS OUR TIME, WEDDING DRESS FOR SALE, THREE MINUTES & WHY WASN’T IT ME. Followed closely by COULD IT BE WE FELL IN LOVE TONIGHT, NO REGRETS, RECKLESS WIND & SOMEDAY. This is a top class great traditional CD and I thoroughly recommend it terrific singing and music on all 20 tracks.

— Graham Hassall

From Barnes & Noble:

All Music Guide

This is a set that is straight out of left field. In 2008, country music singing and songwriting legend David Frizzell decided to cut a different kind of album. He assembled a who's who of country music from one of its most vital yet bygone eras by today's slick standards, as Nash Vegas has decided to literally forget the still vital artists who helped to establish it as one of the most potent forces in American popular music. Frizzell's This Is Our Time lays down a convincing argument that these artists are every bit as viable as they were back when they were reigning on the charts. Featured here is a set of his own songs and covers, sung as solos and duets with friends. There are some very big names: Crystal Gayle, Merle Haggard, Johnny Rodriguez, and Bobby Bare make up the best known, but the next-tier artists are just as important. They include Jeannie Seely, Gene Watson, T. Graham Brown, Johnny Lee, Lacy J. Dalton, Helen Cornelius, and Jimmy Fortune, to name just a few. The beauty besides the music lies in the fact that Frizzell doesn't give a damn about enlisting any current Nashville A-list or Billboard-charting talent. He's got plenty right here.

The set opens — rather than closes — with a group number. It's the title track, written by Frizzell, Tom Botkin, and Kevin Denney, and incorporates within it the name lines of hits from every one of these performers. That said, it is easily displaced by some of the other performances here. For starters, there's "Wedding Dress for Sale," with Gayle. Neither her voice nor Frizzell's has been touched by time. The empathic communication between the two is stellar, and Frizzell's tune is one of those brilliant stories that has been part and parcel of the country music tradition since the beginning. This is followed by a killer version of Roger Alan Wade's"Warm Spanish Wine," a duet with Rodriguez. Its sad beauty conjures memories of Marty Robbins, Ronnie Milsap, and Freddy Fender. While the version of "Long Black Veil" here — recorded with Watson — doesn't replace Johnny Cash's classic version, it is a killer nonetheless. Hag and Frizzell team up on brother Lefty's "If You Got the Money, I've Got the Time." Haggard has recorded it before and so has Frizzell, but together they capture the party-time joy in the lyric with a classic honky tonk swing melody. The rockin' country of "Cowboy Hat" belongs to Bare and Frizzell. The former's big throaty baritone owns the tune, but it's a stellar moment from country music's outlaw era. The raw sensuality between Helen Cornelius and Frizzell on "Could It Be We Fell in Love Tonight" offers an accurate portrayal of love breaking through the bonds of lust. The track "Three Minutes" is a stellar trio number between David, brother Allen, and Allen's daughter Tess Frizzell (whose mother is Shelly West). Tess is perhaps the most welcome surprise in the bunch, coming up from a new generation. The woman's voice is all killer, no filler. The other up-and-comer is Arkansan Amy Clawson, one of the youngsters of the group at only 34, who appears on the songwriter's "Why Wasn't It Me," and the older style of material suits her beautifully. The solo numbers are no less effective here — Frizzell is a writer of real consequence and always has been, despite the fact that his deceased older brother has overshadowed him. Check the two-step honky tonker "No Regrets" or the lilting ballad "Dream of Angels" for rock-hard proof. Included in the package is a DVD that features an intimate, warts-and-all video documentary on the making of the album. This goes as far as the album in revealing that these artists still possess their gifts (even in some cases if their voices are lower). This is well done and one of the dark-horse candidates for indie album of the year in country.

— Thom Jurek

COUNTRY Reviewed 12-03-08


I've never been inclined to get overly excited about concept albums but as soon as I began listening to the first song on this two CD set I knew I was listening to something very special.

David Frizzell's voice is still absolutely wonderful and he has chosen fifteen of the most talented singers in the business as his duet partners. He wrote nine of the songs and was co-writer of another one, all of which are really good, but my favorites are covers of several old standards including 'IF YOU'VE GOT THE MONEY, I'VE GOT THE TIME' with Merle Haggard and 'NOBODY'S DARLIN BUT MINE' with Jeannie Seely.

She one song that absolutely blew me away was 'LONG BLACK VEIL' which was recorded with Gene Watson. I know this song has been recorded by many other artists in the past but this version ranks right up near the top with the very greatest! This 20 song two CD set will knock your hat in the creek!



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