Glastonbury 2022 – The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation Retreats
July 16, 2022
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
It’s always such fun to be with other writers at The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation retreats! Besides I always come home with new songs I would not have written on my own. Once a year I attend an early summer retreat in Glastonbury UK at a historical mansion, The Pennard House in Summerset. My friends, always including Beth Nielsen Chapman and Donna Taggart, to name a couple, are housed at a cottage about 1 mile down a pastoral tree covered lane. I always hang back and skip the “great room” breakfast with the others so I can have my walk alone and get inspiration for the day of writing.
After breakfast Chris Difford (Squeeze) posts a list of who will be writing with who on the old grandfather clock in the entry hall. We head into our various groups and write a song which we perform every evening at the Carriage House on another part of the grounds. At the end of the week invited guests from the nearby village attend our concert in the ancient private chapel at the back of the gigantic garden and grounds, where we play the “best of” songs of the week. By that time we are all in a peaceful “love bubble” and are our heads and hearts are full of songs! Oh… and did I mention the stellar catering and dinner plates the size of roses?!!!
Here’s a picture of the year’s 2022 retreat taken at the end of the show with Chris Difford front and center
Recording “Picture In A Frame” Duet Album with Willie
August 18, 2021
Posted by admin
Willie & Kimmie singing ‘Love & Happiness For You” – written by Kimmie & Emmylou – Bonus Track
Just before Christmas one year a bunch of friends and I were hanging out at Willie’s place, happy he was home from the road. He played his new song, It Always Will Be for me and I’m thinking to myself, “Man, this guy just never stops being able to crank out a killer song,” when he walks up to me and says, “Hey, after Christmas is over wanna cut a duet album?” “Sure!” Then he says, “Be thinking about what songs then and we’ll pick.” Without even thinking about it I blurted out, Let’s do Rodney Crowell’s song Till I Gain Control Again and your song Valentine ‘cause I’d love to sing those with you.” (Actually, Valentine is my favorite track on the album, but please don’t tell the other songs… and don’t tell Rodney!)
So, I started thinking and remembered the Tom Waits song, Picture in a Frame. I’d heard it on the Mule Variations album and had immediately thought what a great Willie cover that would be. I could just hear him singing, “I come callin’ in my Sunday best.” It was soooo right up his alley!
Joe Gracey and I had recently installed a new studio at Willie’s “World Headquarters Luck Texas” his western town movie set (built to shoot Red-Headed Stranger) in a tiny little wooden room just off the big room where the old antique saloon bar and kitchen were and where everybody would sit around the woodstove and play songs surrounded by Willie’s pictures and posters and memorabilia that cover the walls.
It’s a really soulful little studio and recording songs four feet away from Willie, us sitting, just a few feet away, facing each other, no need for headphones, everything is gonna “bleed” so no second chances or “fixes” later. Gracey was facing the corner at the computer, Gabe Rhodes on guitar and David Zettner on upright bass, set up on either side of us.
It’s how a record like this one should be made, good friends playing songs as they come to you, so into it you get it right on the first take, no fuss no muss– just love and songs. At one point I remember thinking that the sound in the little room made me feel like we were all sitting inside Willie’s famous guitar he was playing that day, Trigger. It felt like recording with my dear friend, hero and mentor in West Texas Heaven!
We also recorded a song I had written with Emmylou Harris that day, Love and Happiness For You, but I didn’t include it on the album in the end. I held it back because Emmy had just recorded it for her duet album with Mark Knopfler. Now its time has come! I am happy and proud to be able to unveil it as the bonus track on this special addition re-release of Picture In A Frame!
Willie and Kimmie swapping new songs with each other at Luck, Texas
First of all… I’m thrilled with this article written by Peter Blackstock for the Austin American Statesman. It has lots of great pictures of Joe Gracey and me that were taken by the newspaper’s archives throughout our years here in Austin. Here is the link below:
We had an Austin book signing event at Austin’s cool indie store, Book People, that was a huge success. So many friends and fans from the past showed up that it felt like a scene out of “This Is Your Life!”
(photo by Nancy Coplin)
(photo by Dan Bullock)
Fun things and many accomplishments have taken place since the release of my dual memoir “Radio Dreams: The Story of the Outlaw DJ and The Cosmic Cowgirl” last spring. We’ve been really busy here at Dancing Feet Press and Sunbird Music. All of the many archives from Joe Gracey’s and my own careers have now been 99% processed, preserved and placed at both Crossroads of Music Archives/Southwest Collections Library – Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas and at The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in Nashville, TN. Last fall I worked with the folks in the archives department at CMHoF to finish making notes on the artifacts, documents and recordings that have been donated there in honor of Joe Gracey and his contribution to American Music. It’s an honor and it’s so great to know that the treasures from our decades of making music together have joined those two important collections where they will be readily available for study and research. It’s been quite a journey!
Check out the full inventory and listing of the Kimmie Rhodes Papers at this link:
Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring 70’s – Country Music Hall of Fame
June 3, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
“T for Texas – T for Tennessee”
David Conrad & Kimmie Rhodes visiting the Outlaws & Armadillos exhibit on opening night
It was one of those weekends for the music history books as artists from Texas and Tennessee joined the staff of The Country Music Hall of Fame for the opening weekend of “Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring 70s” an exhibit that aims to put to rest the notions of rivalry and division between Nashville and Austin. In fact the exhibition is a marvel of teamwork between Texans and Tennesseans. At the heart of the exhibit are vignettes of footage produced by filmmaker Eric Geadelmann. Kimmie has served as a liaison and associate producer for that documentary which is still in progress. “They Called Us Outlaws” once completed will be a six part twelve hour series. Eric co-curated the exhibit with staffers Peter Cooper and Michael Gray.
Museum board member as well as Kimmie’s music publisher for a decade, David Conrad, put the museum in touch with her six years ago in 2012. Michael Gray in his introduction to a guest performance Kimmie did with, Bobby Earl Smith said, “In some ways Kimmie was a major catalyst for us launching this whole exhibit. It kind of started with that meeting. She’s opened a lot of doors for us and introduced us to people in Austin.” (Press link below to watch that introduction and Kimmie’s show with fellow “Jackalope Brother” Bobby Earl Smith, Jolie Goodnight Gracey and Marcia Ball.)
Kyle Young (CEO) acknowledged Kimmie in his opening remarks saying, “A special thanks to Kimmie Rhodes whose passion offered guidance and inspiration.” Jolie Gracey also assisted in a major way, sifting through mountains of archival materials belonging to her mother, Kimmie, and father late and legendary DJ for progressive country station KOKE-FM, Joe Gracey. (See blog below for details and pictures of their visit to the archives department at the museum prior to the opening of the exhibit.)
The stellar line-up assembled for the opening night concert. Texans and Tennesseans were backed by an all-star house band put together by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings.
Click on this link to see footage of panels and concerts that took place over the weekend of events:
Kimmie Rhodes, David Conrad, Jolie Goodnight Gracey and Bill in front of the display case which features Joe Gracey’s hat signed by Ernest Tubb, test pressing of Double Trouble Stevie Ray Vaughan, magic slate used by Gracey and rare KOKE-FM poster.
Kimmie and Jolie in front of Joe Gracey exhibit at CMHoF
(l-r) Jolie Gracey, Peter Cooper (curator) Billy Joe Shaver, Kimmie Rhodes, Bobby Bare, Joe Ely, Jeremy Tepper (Sirius XM Radio)
(l-r) Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kimmie Rhodes, Jolie Goodnight Gracey
(l-r) Jolie Goodnight Gracey, Eddie Wilson and Kimmie Rhodes
(l-r) Marcia Ball, Jolie Goodnight, Kimmie Rhodes, Bobby Earl Smith, Eric Smith – CMHOF Outlaws reception on May 25, 2018. Photos by Donn Jones Photography
(l-r) Jay Orr, Kimmie Rhodes, Jolie Goodnight, Michael Gray – CMHOF Outlaws reception on May 25, 2018. Photos by Donn Jones Photography
The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation – Lafayette
June 3, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation Lafayette, Louisiana
Much gratitude to Mayor Pro-tem Jeff Griffith, The Buddy Holly Education Foundation and The South Louisiana Songwriters Festival & Workshop for a great few days in lovely Louisiana… especially to my home town Lubbock Texas for the special recognition and wonderful introduction to my show in Lafayette! A great honor!
Special Recognition Certificate presented to Kimmie by the City of Lubbock, Texas
Kimmie with board member of TBHoF (l-r) Stephen Easley, David Hirshland, Peter Bradley Jr. Sonny West (songwriter “Oh Boy” and “Rave On”) Rick French, Kimmie Rhodes
Kimmie Rhodes with Alphonse Ardoin at The South Louisiana Songwriters Festival & Workshop
Kimmie hosts a set with fellow songwriters (l-r) Robert Vincent (Liverpool) Grace Pettis (Austin) Kimmie Rhodes and Miles Myerscough-Harris (Oxon)
A Curious Math
June 1, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
Kimmie at Bobby Carol’s house in Wichita Falls Texas summer 1958
Looking back on my
girlhood I’m grateful that destiny gifted me with a loving musical role model who shaped my future and taught me the joy of writing songs. When I was an infant, only two weeks old, my mother, the breadwinner of the family, was forced to hand me over every morning so she could go to her job at the telephone company in Wichita Falls, Texas. One of my earliest memories is of a big plastic yellow radio that sat in the pass through window between the kitchen and dining room of the earthy clapboard middle class home where I spent weekdays with my babysitter, Bobby Carol. From the speakers of the radio, Buddy Holly, (who had by then died in the fateful plane crash) posthumously sang along with Bobby while she cleaned, ironed and baked homemade pies and biscuits. “That’ll Be The Day” and “Peggy Sue” and “Heartbeat…” She had a rich alto voice so I took her lead, parroting the harmony parts as if they were the melody.
Bobby was a paradox, a magnificently uncomplicated person with an ocean for a soul. She was one of those exceptional spirits so centered in her desires and beliefs that she could manage to be basically the same everyday, never moody, morose or overly dramatic. Happy or sad she dodged “the slings and arrows outrageous fortune” fires at even a lowly housewife without being knocked from her horse. She never said no when she could reasonably say yes and I loved her with all my heart.
There was, as in most houses of that time, a formal “living room” oddly named because it went unoccupied for the most part unless one was perusing the National Geographic magazine collection, decorating the Christmas tree, being inoculated by the family doctor making his occasional house call or greeting other guests who were too unknown to be invited into the “den” off the kitchen area where all the real living took place and where cartoons were watched. Sometimes, out of the blue and always when just the two of us were alone in the house of an afternoon a rare and beautiful hour would occur. Bobby would finally take a break, seating herself on the swiveling stool of the ornate pump organ, which was the centerpiece of the room. I would sit in the floor quietly watching in awe as she transformed from the hard working substitute mother in a cotton dress and homemade apron into an angel who brought down a very powerful magic by way of the tones exhaled from her chest in concert with the bellows of the fascinating instrument. As she rocked back and forth pumping with her feet, manipulating the keys and the stops with her elegant work worn hands, she and the clunking wooden machine became one. I followed as she drifted into a time continuum that was strangely different from our task based mediocrity into a place where everything, the timbre of her voice, the overtones from the organ and the space that surrounded each note hung absolutely still in the vibrating air that filled the room.
It was a truly holy experience, though the pieces were not always hymns. Show tunes and campfire cowboy and old world folklore ballads were decoded by a curious math, black and white spaces, staffs and circles and sophisticated symbols, scribed inside paper folders decorated with colorfully illustrated covers. I would practice drawing G and treble clefs. Notes and rests on lines intermingled with crayon daisies and houses and sunshines with faces and rays for hair and eyelashes. “What a Friend We Have In Jesus”, “Tumbling Tumbleweed” “Pennies From Heaven” “Stardust”, clever, trippy words and melodies took us far away as we wandered through songs and songs and songs!
Innocently I discovered that this new realm existed and began to experiment and found that by singing whatever was happening, whether playing or bathing or even drifting off to sleep, I could filter reality back into that wonderfully still place where what is can be named and better understood by way of a mysterious alchemy… where the metal of a normal life becomes gold.
Oil on Canvas by Kimmie Rhodes
I learned to think in this way as a kid and to this day when I‘ve gone to “that place” in my mind people tell me they say things to me several times before I hear them. My own children laugh and tease me about how they became accustomed to having to bring me back from dreamland by finally yelling, “Mama, Mama, MAMA!” I’ve heard it referred to as “having your head in the clouds.” I call it writing, though there is no pen and paper involved.
Somewhere on a level beneath what happens the meaning of life is hidden and it’s a poets’ work to find and bring it into the daylight. I’m hooked on spotting the irony that’s buried slightly below the obvious because it brings me clarity and peace of mind. Without writing I would be trapped inside with no way out of myself. The added pleasure of being able to communicate through underscored rhymes, using sounds that speak deeper than words is to me like the eighth wonder of the universe.
Here are links to some of my songs, which I think best express the meaning and happiness of those wonderful childhood days.
Note: This and future archival posts include excerpts from “Radio Dreams” the combined memoirs of Kimmie Rhodes and Joe Gracey scheduled for release Spring 2018. Read Synopsis
RAY BENSON READS HIS LETTER TO JOE GRACEY
June 1, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
In May 1978 upon hearing that legendary DJ Joe Gracey of KOKE-FM in Austin, Texas had lost his voice to cancer, his friend Ray Benson of Asleep at The Wheel, wrote him this poignant letter of encouragement. This is Ray Benson reading the letter he wrote back then.
Joe Gracey’s 1st Letter to Kimmie
June 1, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
Joe Gracey’s 1st Letter to Kimmie
The day I first met Joe Gracey at his studio “Electric Graceyland” in the basement of KOKE-FM in Austin, Texas he had just undergone seven major surgeries and finally lost his voice to cancer. A mutual friend, TJ McFarland, who introduced us had already filled me in on some facts about him, the most poignant being that he had not only been a ground-breaking DJ on the favorite local station KOKE-FM, but also a great singer-songwriter who had been on the brink of having his first album produced by the legendary Cowboy Jack Clement. I was stunned by Gracey’s courage and determination to not just survive in a world where he could no longer speak, let alone sing, but actually thrive as a songwriter and record producer. My own “singer’s heart” immediately found cause though it would take some time before just how important that meeting really was to be revealed.
I recorded the handful of my first songs I’d written that day with his help but in the days that followed he taught me some of his own songs. One day soon after that I went to my mailbox and found an unexpected letter from Gracey saying that he loved the way I sang his songs. How it felt to be able to bring him joy by singing his songs for him is still, after many decades, a feeling that is too deep for words.
I kept that letter written January 9, 1980 and it is by far my most prized worldly possession. When I read it I laugh and think had he known when he wrote it what he was really signing on for he might never have mailed it! We married a couple of years later and raised three kids and spent many decades making beautiful music together. He gave the better part of his life to supporting me as an artist by believing in me and “helping me in my career in any way he could.”
Recently I was honored to be asked to place this letter in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, TN. So, I proudly offer this letter to the public as “Exhibit A” in proof of what gifts will come sailing in, right out of the blue, when you remember to trust life. That we are living at all is witness enough that anything can happen when we believe.
This is an excerpt from Radio Dreams a dual memoir written by Joe Gracey & Kimmie Rhodes. To pre-order the book or the companion audio documentary produced by Bob Harris, due out Spring 2018, or to support the Radio Dreams project in preserving and donating archives important to Texas music history please click here for more information > http://bit.ly/RadioDreams
Push play to hear Kimmie’s first recording of a Joe Gracey penned song, “You’ll Take Care of You” recorded & produced by Gracey in 1981.
Kimmie in 1980 (photo courtesy of photographer Nancy Wheeler)
Recording at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN with Jack Cowboy Clement
“Just One Love” written by Kimmie Rhodes – recorded at Sun Studios with Joe Ely January 1989. Jack Cowboy Clement plays dobro and Joe Gracey plays rhythm guitar.
Recording at Sun Studios in Memphis with Cowboy Jack in 1989 (l-r) Kimmie Rhodes, Joe Gracey, Johnny X Reed, Joey Miskelin and Jack Clement.
The copy of the famous “Cowboy’s Ragtime Band Rules” that hung on the wall at Sunbird Studios in Austin, Texas.
On the way home from one of our pilgrimages to Nashville to visit Cowboy Jack, we passed through Memphis to stop off at the legendary Sun Studios, which had just reopened. Cowboy had been bragging about hanging out with his new buddy, Bono, and the band U2 to help out with the making of the movie Rattle and Hum, which they had been shooting there. Just as we walked through the door, a tour was beginning, so we thought, “Well, why not?” So we played along as the tour guide told all the tourists who had gathered all about the days when Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins et al. had recorded there. All these pictures from the old days were hanging on the walls, and it really was all vibed-out and cool in there. Gracey started wandering around clapping his hands in different areas of the room to check the acoustics before the tour had even ended, and the guide, who was winding up his spiel said, “Does anyone have any questions?” To Gracey’s surprise I raised my hand and said, “Yes. What are your rates?”
Once we were back in Texas, we talked to the owners of the label I was with, Heartland Records, who were house. To their credit, it didn’t take much hustling to convince them to fund a recording session at Sun. In fact, they liked the idea so much that they started begging me not to change my mind! I finally got the courage (and money) to quit the last “real job” I ever had, working at a folk art gallery, and we were back at Sun Studios within three weeks with a band assembled, partly from Texas and partly from Memphis and Nashville, to record all the new songs I’d been writing. David “Fergie” Ferguson came along to fill Cowboy’s shoes from the olden days, as engineer, which made Cowboy free to play rhythm guitar and sing along. Believe me, with “The Cow” in the room, the bar was definitely raised. Johnny X Reed, guitarist for the Jackalopes, was there, as was Wes McGhee (guitar), Dale Dennis (bass), and Joey Miskulin, who was Cowboy’s current resident genius and played keyboards and accordion.
We arrived the night before the sessions and set up the studio so we would be ready to go the next morning. Then we all sat out on the back steps as the sun was going down. It was one of those extraordinary “golden hour” evenings. Because he knew how excited we were to be there, Cowboy started strolling down memory lane, telling stories, and we soaked it up. He was really sweet to entertain us in that way and add to the experience. Besides, anyone who ever knew him can attest to the fact that Cowboy loved to hold court. He said that back in the old days, when directions were given to get to the studio, they’d say, “Just look for the tiny building with all the Cadillacs parked out front.” Then he pointed to a long building next door that ran far past the studio to the end of the big parking lot and said, “There’s why Sun didn’t make it. That’s where they kept all the returns.” There are two things that can kill indie labels. One is getting the returns of records that didn’t sell, and the other is not being paid by the distributor. Sometimes they get this thing going where they collect the money from your sales but use it to pay people they owe farther back in the pipeline, figuring they’ll catch up. But if they can’t keep up with that game, they eventually go under and take a lot of small labels with them.
I had a song to record with Joe Ely as a duet, “Just One Love,” that I had literally written on the way to his house to play it for him before I left for Memphis. It’s crazy, looking back now, to think that I would decide to write the song on the way to his house, which was only about forty-five minutes away!
Once we were in Memphis, at Sun Studios, Joe flew in from Austin to record it with me. After we had cut the first take, we were all standing around in the tiny control room listening back and trying to decide if it was “the one” or not. This went on for a while, and I finally said, “Well if it’s ‘the one,’ why are we all standing around trying to figure out if it is or not?” Cowboy’s head jerked in my direction, and he grinned and said, “She’s right. Let’s go do another one.” We went back into the studio and did another take, and when we came back in to listen, Cowboy grabbed me and started dancing all over the tiny room! (He had, after all, been an Arthur Murray dance instructor and even still carried his business card from those days and enjoyed whipping it out and showing it to people from time to time.) It was truly joyous. Ironically, not long after that, I was in Nashville at the office of some record executive who had just rejected me as a viable artist. He made the remark that “If Jack Clement danced to your song, legend had it that you had a hit.” I didn’t even bother to tell him. I figured he wouldn’t believe me anyway.
(Sun Studios, Memphis (l-r) Cowboy Jack Clement, Kimmie Rhodes, Dale “Cowboy Dick” Dennis, Joe Gracey, Wes McGhee, Wes Starr)