I think it’s pretty safe to say, that Cody Daniel Johnson of Huntsville, Texas, is the future of country music. Not only is he the future of the genre, but he’s the reason there is still hope for real country music. I’m not talking about the kind of “country” that uses hip-hop beats or electronic drums.
I’m talking about the blue-collar country music. The kind that Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash,Willie Nelson and so many others have sang about over the years.
I’m not talking about the kind where people claim to be “cowboys” that seems to be the trend these days, I’m talking about an ex-bull rider turned country musician. The kind that misses songs, not because his voice cracked, but because his cows got out on his Texas ranch, so he’s backstage telling his wife how to get them back. The kind of country where people lived the lives the sang about.
I’m not talking about the politics of country music that pushes people to feel a certain way, I’m talking about the kind of country music that still believes in God, Country, and Family. The kind that will stop at nothing to give the glory to God in front of 10 thousand people.
That’s the kind of country that Cody Johnson is. He’s pure, blue-collared, down-home country. He doesn’t pretend he’s perfect. I’m fact, he’ll stand onstage and tell you he’s the most imperfect Christian in the venue.
He’s seemingly the only hope that real country has. Get a good look folks, this man is one of a kind.
He’s got 109 hit singles, 99 of which could be found on Billboard Hot Country chart at one time. He’s the son of arguably the greatest Country Music artist to ever live.
He’s an outlaw in every sense of the word, all you have to do is look at his family tree to see that the outlaw lifestyle comes to him naturally. I mean after all, his daddy is Hank Williams Sr, it doesn’t get more outlaw than that.
On this day in 1949, Hank Williams Sr and his wife Audrey Mae Sheppard Williams welcomed little Randall Hank Williams into this world in Shreveport, Louisiana. Hank Sr nicknamed Randall Hank “Bocephus” after Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy. Now, Hank Sr died in 1953, when young Bocephus was around three or four. So after that, he was raised by his mother Audrey.
When Hank Jr was a child, you could say that a Taj Mahal of musicians visited him and his family, given his father’s status before he passed away on New Year’s Day of 1953.
When I say a Taj Mahal of artists visited his home in his younger days, I don’t mean just one or two famous “regular” artists like you may think. I mean the likes of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Earl Scruggs, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis among others.
Williams first stepped on stage and performed his father’s songs at the age of eight and this was just the beginning of what would become what is today a very successful musical career.
In fact, to date, Hank Williams Jr. has 109 hit singles and is by far the most sought after concert ticket in the country music industry.
His career has seen him honored and awarded many times over the years of sitting somewhere between raisin’ hell and amazing grace. He was the 2006 Johnny Cash Visionary Award recipient and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2020.
He’s won countless Grammy Awards for his musical talents but it’s not about the accolades for Bocephus. He says “I’m tryin’ to keep my daddy’s legacy alive in a world that’s becoming more and more blind to those trailblazers as time rolls on.” I guess you could say, it really is a “Family Tradition” in more than one way. Not only is Bocephus keeping the Drifter’s legacy alive, he’s also paving the way for the future of outlaw country.
Happy 72nd Birthday to the Icon himself, Hank Williams Jr.
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born January 19, 1946, in a one-room cabin on the banks of the Little Pigeon River in the small unincorporated town of Locust Ridge, Tennessee in Sevier County, Tennessee. She was the fourth of twelve children born to Avie Lee Owens Parton and Robert Lee Parton, Sr.
Two of the twelve siblings have since passed on to a better place; Larry died shortly after birth in 1955, and Floyd died in 2018. Parton’s middle name comes from her maternal great-great-grandmother Rebecca Dunn Whitted. Parton’s father, known as “Lee”, worked in the mountains of East Tennessee, first as a sharecropper and later tending to his own small tobacco farm and acreage. In addition to those jobs, he also worked construction jobs to supplement the farm’s small income. Today, the legendary country music singer still considers her father “one of the smartest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and it just so happens that I call him Daddy.”
Her mother, Avie Lee, cared for their large family. Her eleven pregnancies in 20 years made her a mother of 12, with the tenth, being twins, by the age of 35. Often in poor health, she still managed to keep house and entertain her children with Smoky Mountain folklore and ancient ballads. The songs she sang were often sung by immigrants moving from the British Isles to southern Appalachia over a century earlier.
Dolly’s maternal grandfather, Jake Owens was a Pentecostal preacher, and Parton and all her siblings attended church regularly, which resulted in Parton confessing her faith in Christ at an early age. Dolly has always been an entertainer, she began performing as a child, singing on local radio and television programs in the East Tennessee area.
By the time she was ten, she was appearing on The Cas Walker Show on both WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. At 13, she was recording on a small Louisiana label, Goldband Records, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, where she first met Johnny Cash, who encouraged her to follow her instincts regarding her career.
After graduating from Sevier County High School in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville the following day to pursue a career in the music industry, just as Cash had suggested. Her initial success came as a songwriter, having signed with Combine Publishing shortly after her arrival.
Alongside her frequent songwriting partner, her uncle Bill Owens, she wrote several charting singles during this time, including two top-ten hits: Bill Phillip’s “Put it off Until Tomorrow” (1966) and Skeeter Davis’s “Fuel to the Flame” (1967). Her songs were recorded by many other artists during this period, including Kitty Wells and Hank Williams Jr.
In 1967, musician and country music entertainer Porter Wagoner invited Parton to join his organization, offering her a regular spot on his weekly syndicated television program The Porter Wagoner Show, and in his road show.
Dolly Parton made her presence felt in the 1960s and 1970s, along with fellow pioneers Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. When that trio revolutionized the world of country music for women performers. During a career that spans 65 years and counting, she has performed alongside many legends in the Nashville scene, such as Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, and current country music sensation, Carrie Underwood.
To say that Dolly Parton, once a little girl who dreamed of being a country musician, has had nothing short of a legendary career is an understatement. She was inducted into Nashville, Tennessee’s Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
They don’t call her the Queen of Country for nothing.
Some musicians have to adapt to a certain genre and soak in the atmosphere for a little while. But for one Jackson, Mississippi-based artist, he didn’t have to adapt and soak in an atmosphere, for him, the Blues was a way of life. Born near the Mobile Bay, in the neighboring town of Fairhope, Alabama, Chad Wesley has that Southern-edged, lonesome feel to his music and his background just adds to the mellowed vibe.
Wesley and his family left the Mobile, Alabama suburb of Fairhope when he was an infant, they were only there for a handful of years while his father was working for a sub-contracting company, Alabama Dry Dock, who sub-contracted for Ingall’s Ship Yard and the sub-ship department of the U.S. Navy. He’s been picking the Blues since December 23, 1994, when he learned his first chord.
At the time, Chad’s father and brother were already several years into their musical careers playing professionally. However, the Forest, Mississippi-raised Blues picker never got the chance to travel around with them.
Wesley stated “My Dad had retired from performing years earlier and was managing a band my brother was playing lead guitar in. Once that fell through my brother hung it up and spent his only time on the guitar just teaching me.” Wesley went on to state that both his father and brother, now mechanical designers, have continued to stand firmly behind him on his almost three-decade journey.
He got his first taste of live performances in May of 1999. Going into his first public performance Chad stated “I was too excited to be nervous. Playing live for people had been my dream. The only time I felt normal was when I was doing something to entertain people.” So, in sense, you could say that this determined man that is driven for greatness has always been the life of the party.
“It’s an internal sense of purpose that I’ve felt since childhood to bring joy to those around me.” Chad Wesley does just that and more. His bone-chilling guitar riffs not only make you understand where he’s coming from, but they also allow you to literally feel the vibrations of the guitar.
He has won multiple awards during his time in the music industry, but he doesn’t want to be known or remembered for his awards, Wesley wants to be remembered as an entertainer that touched the lives of his listeners.
He stated that the awards “have given me a strong sense of accomplishment. But what it’s done the most for me is it has let me know that what I’ve continued to pour my heart and soul into for so many years is finally paying off.”
Wesley listed some of his greatest influences coming from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and John Mayer, noting that, “he’s kept ‘the guitar’ alive in a world gone digital.”
While enjoying much success, Chad acknowledged that he has faced his fair share of letdowns in the music business. Stating “But the more I turned my trust towards God, the more I saw what success truly was, instead of what I had always dreamt it to be.” He attributed a great amount of that success to his family, stating “I have a beautiful family and a wonderful home, I’ve met legends, performed for thousands, but nothing can compare to coming home to the ones I love the most.”
Wesley can often be seen on stages across the country picking a 1996 Fender Stratocaster American Standard, 50th Anniversary Edition, which he dubbed “Josephine” after his late friend, Joey Thrash, whom handed the guitar down to Chad after seeing him play it for one set during a show which Thrash attended.
Chad Wesley wants to get the message out to aspiring musicians that haven’t yet gotten the determination to make happen. Stating “Every dream deserves a shot. But once you decide to ‘shoot’, aim as high as you can and sever settle for less than what you feel you deserve. You’ll only get out of something what you put in it. If it were easy, everyone would do, invest in yourself.”
Wesley would like to invite to his upcoming shows at Martin’s Downtown in Jackson, MS and Blue Canoe in Tupelo, Mississippi, January 22 and 23, 2021, respectively.
It occurred to me recently, that there have been a lot of good things done in this world ever since this pandemic started.
People are helping people, they are giving to the less fortunate, delivering supplies to people’s houses etc.
Last night, a friend of mine who is in a nationally-touring band went live to address this pandemic, the effect that it has had on him and the other guys in the band.
But he said one thing that really hit home. “Put aside any differences that we may have and go help somebody in need.”
Basically what he was saying is, this is the one time in our lives that we are all struggling with the same thing.
As he spoke, I could hear God guiding his every word. You see, even though his band is unable to tour for the foreseeable future, he hasn’t let that get in the way of being the kind-hearted human that he is.
God calls us all for different things at some point in our lives. But right ͏n͏o͏w, I believe He is calling us to seek Him and He will guide us through these dark times.
I believe He is using this as a wake-up call for all of us. The kind of wake-up call that we’ve needed for hundreds of years now.
I have a feeling God is telling us, as a nation, to grow closer to Him and we will be perfectly fine.
If you have a neighbor, friend, etc. that can’t afford or is unable to get the essentials that they need now, do what God calls us to do and help them out in any way possible.
It’s time to stop being so self-centered and start looking out for those around us that need our help.
Last night, some friends of mine in a rock band out of Jackson, Mississippi came to town for a show in Millbrook.
I knew they were bringing a supporting act, but I didn’t really know who the supporting act was. I had heard his name several times but never really sat down and listened to his music. But from what I had heard in the past, I knew he was going to be good.
About a week or so prior to the show, I read an article from the Jackson Free Press and reached out to him to tell him I was looking forward to the show.
We talked for about two weeks, by the end of those two weeks, I knew every word to every song he sang.
His name is Chad Wesley, a blues guitarist, who is also out of Jackson, Mississippi.
Last night as I was listening to his music, I could really feel the emotions that he was pouring into his guitar as he was playing.
They just seemed to radiate throughout the room. As he finished his set, he called me over to his merch table.
When I reached the table where he was standing, I said “Good job tonight, man.”
He knew my story because I told him my story two weeks prior. He shook my hand and gave me a “bro hug”, after that he said “I want you to meet my nephew, he has CP, you said you were born with CP (cerebral palsy), right?”
I responded “Yes sir.”
He introduced me to his nephew, Will, and then pulled me aside and told me something that I was glad to hear.
Chad said, “I love seeing people like yourself and Will just out here killing it despite the odds, it really inspires me.”
At this point, all I could think was “Wow, he seems really inspired.” As time went by, the bassist for Chad’s band, Michael Bernard, called me over to the table where he was sitting.
Michael and I talked for a while and then he asked to meet my dad, brother, and my brother’s girlfriend, who were there also.
I walked Michael over to the table and introduced him to all three of them.
After a while, Chad came and sat beside me, I took the opportunity to ask him for a picture, to which he quickly responded “Absolutely.”
As he was leaving, he walked up to me, shook my hand and said “It was nice to meet you brother, be safe.”
You see, it’s not all about me, it’s not about what I’ve been through.
It’s about inspiring others, young, middle-aged and old to continue to strive for the best in life, because you never know what people are going through, so be positive.
You never know, your words and your story may help save somebody’s life or in Chad’s case, inspire them to be the best that they possibly can.
It was a dreary and briskly cold December day in 2016, around 5 p.m., and I had known that Hank Williams Sr., was buried in Montgomery for years, but had never gotten the opportunity to pay a visit to the man who is quite possibly, the most famous country music singer still to this day.
So I got a hair of the dog, and decided to travel to Montgomery to visit the sacred gravesite of the legendary Hank Williams Sr.
As I rode to Montgomery, I listened to the lonesome-bluesy voice of The Drifter all the way to his grave.
When I arrived at his headstone, I stepped out of the car, I Saw The Light played on the radio, and suddenly, chills were sent spiraling down my spine.
For I knew just who was lying six feet below that cold, concrete slab, but I had never witnessed it first-hand before.
I looked up, gazing at the name on that tall, ghostly-grey headstone where the name of the country music pioneer is chiseled.
Then, I looked down at the base of his marker and noticed what looked like Hank’s famed cowboy hat.
I looked to my left, and there was Mrs. Audrey Mae Sheppard Williams, the wife of The Drifting Cowboy.
Time seemed to stand still for just a moment as I was in the presence of a legend and his wife.
I was standing just feet away from the man that brought country music to life.
Hank, let’s talk about your daddy, tell me how your mama loved that man, we won’t talk about the habits, just the music and the man.
It all started back in May of 2014, I went through a lot of tough times back in 2014, and my friend was having her 16th birthday party somewhere around the 15th or 20th of that month and I had heard that a rock band called Framing The Red, out of Jackson, Mississippi, would be playing the party.
At the time, I only knew one of their songs and that is because I looked them up on YouTube. Besides that one song, I really didn’t know what to expect but I wanted to celebrate my friend’s 16th birthday with her.
When I got to the party, I could hear the music from outside of the venue, I knew the music must be good if I could hear it before even reaching the door.
I walked in and greeted my friend and several other friends that were at the party. As the night grew older, the music got better and I’m so glad that I went to the party because this band has become some of my best friends.
Unlike some bands, they play a majority of original with a few mixed in just to keep your attention.
As I was leaving the party that night, each member shook my hand and introduced themselves to me.
They have had a few changes over the years, but they haven’t let that slow them down at all. These guys play somewhere around 200 to 250 shows a year all across the country, from New York to California and everywhere in between. Thank you, Paul Cox for introducing me to this band. They definitely changed my life.
If you haven’t heard them, I highly recommend you go look them up on YouTube and everywhere else. If you like Southern Rock, you won’t be disappointed. Music truly is the best medicine.