My marvelously unique mother, Bettie Lee Grbavace, was the daughter of two immigrants from Eastern Europe. Her mother, Stella Ruth Piva, committed suicide when Mama was a very young girl. Bettie Lee suffered a brutal upbringing during the severe economic slump of the 30s, with her father, Mijo Grbavace, who kept a shabby “roof over her head” but not much else in terms of food and clothing.
As a boy, Mijo, my grandfather, stowed away on a ship sailing to from Yugoslavia to America because he mistakenly believed he had killed his brother by way of a blow to the head with a shovel but in reality had only knocked him unconscious. After working for a while in a bicycle shop in New York City he returned to Yugoslavia and came back into the United States legally at seventeen. He was a master tinkerer and made his way to California, where he became an auto mechanic. He spoke seven languages and became one of the first people to make the journey from the west coast to Texas in an automobile. He and Mama’s short-lived new stepmother, Gladys, settled on what later became “the family farm” in Sunset, Texas, just north of Fort Worth. I sort of knew Mijo when I was a kid. He made moonshine, even after prohibition, as his drink of choice, ate dried armadillo meat, and was bent towards paranoia and delusions of grandeur. Not knowing he was probably dangerous, I observed him with an innocent curiosity and liked the way he called me “Lily Monkey” in his weird almost Italian-sounding accent. I can’t say I loved him and don’t recall ever sitting in his lap or such things one usually does with a grandfather. I had once survived an extremely frightening ride in the cab of his pickup truck across a plowed field on the way to “run a trap” one afternoon, so I was not terribly shocked when he died in a fatal head on collision . . . on Father’s Day. So, understandably, we were not allowed to ask about my mother’s girlhood either.
I marvel that my parents could be so loving and good to me, given the unspeakable traumas of their upbringings. They were, of course, not at all like the “ideal” parents my friends had, but they owned extraordinary strength and resilience and were true believers in life itself, and I feel blessed to have been their girl and to have inherited the courage and dumb blind faith one needs to be an artist. Relatively, normal life seems abnormal. I was allowed more freedom to run absurdly wild than any of my friends, and I never had to eat anything I didn’t want to, like squash and spinach. I could walk as far away from home as I wanted, by myself and barefoot, as long as I was back by dark. Later, when I questioned my mother about how she could possibly know how to be such a good parent, she always said she knew exactly what kind of mother she wished she’d had so it was easy. She would stay up all night sewing a dress for me to wear to school the next day and then head to work having had little or no sleep. She never ever,—ever— let us down. She bailed Daddy and brother Mike out of trouble many times. She was our angel.
One Christmas when times were tough and Daddy was enjoying the holiday “spirits” so much that he forgot to come home for a couple of weeks, Mama showed extraordinary faith by wrapping rocks in the boxes under the tree because we liked to shake our presents and try to guess what was inside. Just before Christmas when the money (and my Dad) arrived just in the nick of time, she unwrapped them on the sly and inserted gifts but forgot and left a rock in one of mine. When I opened it on Christmas morning the rock rolled across the floor.
I looked up at my parents, puzzled. Daddy improvised, “Oh that’s a magic rock so you can wish for anything you want.” That moment has become a shrine by the wayside in my memory. Our existence depended on an undying belief in things we couldn’t see. I still believe that you can have what you want in life if you keep the faith until somehow you reach what you envision.
When I was a girl, my mother, the bedrock of my reality, would take a yearly trip to Dallas for a three-week Bell Telephone Company training seminar. A disturbing insecurity crept into my young soul as we steered down the windblown stretch to the Lubbock Municipal Airport. As I rode quietly in the backseat beside my brother I gamed a means to distraction by turning my head in sync to row after row after row of cotton plants discovering that if perfectly timed you could see straight down each line. Once we’d reached the tiny airfield I clung to the chain-link fence watching Mama’s thick but shapely legs in patent noir stilettos click down the tarmac and mount the stairs to disappear into the hull of a screaming silver plane. She was so beautiful, clothed in her excitement, impeccably fitted business suit, jet black curly hair, red lips, sexy silk stockings, and never quite voguish but well organized purse. I loved my mother so very much.
Back in the car her scent still filled the air though the world seemed to have taken on an entirely different atmosphere, one of danger and intrigue. My father’s anima was suddenly on holiday, signaled by a loosened necktie and a dreamy face with a Lucky Strike dangling from the corner of his lips. Riding shotgun in the front seat I watched with a slightly raised brow as he switched on the radio, allowing a 60s country croon to enter the smoky air. We arrived back to a home now void of a chaperone. Mama had instructed me to be the woman of the house while she was away. At six years of age I had no idea how to “be a woman” but I was working on it in the back of my mind, determined to stand and deliver, once I had it wired. Hamburgers and French fries were eaten, and I cleared the greasy bags responsibly. Then unexpectedly, Daddy, the sole heir to my safekeeping kissed me on the forehead and left.
My memory skips past most of however brother Mike and I must have filled the evening hours and zooms to one magical moment that usually happened around 3:00 a.m. all of the nights until the relief of Mama’s return. Mike would eventually put himself to bed in our shared room in the back of the house, but I was frightened, so I left the too vividly bright ceiling light burning and took to my hiding place between my parents’ bed and the wall to stare facing the fan-shaped window of the exterior door to await Daddy’s safe return from the honky-tonk on the edge of town. Lubbock had synchronized trains that rocked through, whistling the passing of each hour, so if you kept track you would know the time. It was a sound for which there is no good word, so much deeper and more lucid than “so lonesome I could cry.” I kept count, understanding nothing of bar time, of course, but some internal clock trained me to know when it was okay to surrender to a dizzy, knowing that Daddy would soon be home. Sitting in silence, listening as the night trains passed, wonderfully alive, autonomous and almost painfully self-aware, I witnessed my own ageless mystery to the ticking by of the stars outside the glass. I hummed and thought and hummed and watched the white door and came to know my heart as I slipped through the mystical space between wake and sleep.
In what eventually turned out to be forty-three years of faithful service to the company, Mama received a grandfather clock as a reward of perfect attendance, which still stands beside my front door, testifying to the uncanny fact that she was never once late and never missed a single day of work.
lyrics by Kimmie Rhodes
All the garden needed was the sweetness of the air
And the little barefoot , brown-skinned girl with the black and curly hair,
who played among the flowers on a summer’s afternoon.
All of this and heaven too.
A garden made of dreams is given you.
All of this and heaven too.
Days are pebbles tossed into a pond of years .
So fast, they they ripple into memories and 30 summers passed.
When friends around the birthday cake would laugh and ask her age,
This is all the black-haired girl would say,
A prayer is just a wish that’s given you.
All of this and heaven too.
60 summers passed and still the roses smell as sweet
And the coolness of the earth .still feels the same beneath her feet.
The child inside remembers why they put the roses there
And the sun still looks as pretty shining on her hair.
A garden made of days is given you.
All of this and heaven too.
We get all of this and heaven too.
Austin Book People – Texas Heritage Songwriter’s Assc. Buddy Holly – Southwest Collections Inventory
February 16, 2019
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
Austin Book Event for Radio Dreams Austin, Texas – February 2019 Texas Heritage Songwriter’s Assc. Buddy Holly
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!
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)
Country Music Hall of Fame Museum – May 2018
May 21, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
Country Music Hall of Fame – Visit to Archives Department
Preview Outlaws and Armadillos Exhibit
Click this link for a preview film of the exhibit:
The Radio Dreams Project with Kimmie Rhodes and Jolie Goodnight Gracey, visit The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum bookstore and archives department to celebrate the release of Radio Dreams and the donation of many of our precious archival artifacts and documents. It’s a really good feeling to know that Gracey’s book is finally finished and that all the wonderful things we held onto through the years, writings, periodicals, pictures, platinum records, instruments, audio and video tapes, test pressings, stage clothes, countless various souvenirs from our years of making music will be cared for in the best possible way and in safe keeping. Thanks so much to the minions of musicology who care about and honor our experiences and memories! We hope others will entrust their treasures to museums and archives where they can be preserved, catalogued and shared with future generations of music lovers.
We are proud to have our dual memoir “Radio Dreams The Story of The Outlaw DJ and The Cosmic Cowgirl” in the bookstore at The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum. We are in great company with books by or about our fellow friends, Gary P. Nunn, Willie Nelson, Eddy Wilson, Jesse Sublett, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Guy Clark, Tamar Saviano, Townes Van Zandt, Kathleen Hudson and others!
Colette Huff (Book and Music Buyer) and Kimmie celebrate the release of Radio Dreams
After a really memorable day at the museum, including a sneak peek at the museums soon to open “Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring 70s” exhibit that pays tribute not only to Joe Gracey and his contribution to American music history but that of our many friends and heroes we followed with a gig at the famous Bluebird Cafe next night.
(left to right) Kimmie Rhodes, Jolie Goodnight Gracey, Gary Nicholson, Shawn Camp, Lauren Mascitti and Joe Robinson after their show at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.
Radio Dreams Promotional Tour Spring 2018
May 6, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
RADIO DREAMS PROMOTIONAL TOUR
A fascinating, intimate and spontaneous evening of stories and songs with legendary singer/songwriter Kimmie Rhodes (accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Rhodes with special guest Robert Vincent) in conversation with broadcasters, BBC Radio 2 Bob Harris OBE, BBC Ulster Ralph McLean and RTE Dublin Sandy Harsh, reflecting on Kimmie’s rich musical history, the sounds of Austin and the legacy of Texan songwriting.
Radio Dreams by Kimmie Rhodes & Gary Nicholson – get a free download here when you join the email list > https://kimmierhodes.com
Country cousins: ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris hits the road with Kimmie Rhodes – 20th April, 2018
Tim Hughes @OxMailTimHughesFeatures and Music Editor
There’s a good reason Bob Harris is known to his fans as ‘Whispering Bob’. His voice is delightfully mellifluous – velvet coated, soothing and engaging.
Whether he is regaling you with an anecdote about his wild rock & roll years – when he partied with John Lennon, Bob Marley and David Bowie – or sharing a tip about a new artist you really ought to listen to, he does so with a lilting, almost hypnotic tone – and you can’t help but hang on every word.
The face – and voice – of The Old Grey Whistle Test, he pioneered serious music broadcasting in the 1970s. Now aged 73 – he has just celebrated his birthday – he is championing country music.
The darling of Nashville and Austin, he is successfully introducing a new generation of US country stars to the British, and vice versa, and helping the genre become the phenomenon it has become.
He spends his time zig-zagging between his home in Steventon, near Abingdon – where he records his hugely popular Bob Harris Country show for BBC 2 – and the United States. In recent months he has recorded from former Fairport Convention guitarist Richard Thompson’s home in Malibu, Judith Owen’s house in New Orleans and Beth Nielsen Chapman’s place in Nashville.
This week, Bob changes things around by inviting over to his place one of country music’s biggest stars – Kimmie Rhodes.
The pair’s Radio Dreams show will give us a chance to hear the broadcasting legend in conversation with Kimmie, sharing stories about her life and career, and that of her late husband and soul mate, US radio personality Joe Gracey Jr. It will also see her playing some of her own tunes live.
They will be joined by one of Bob’s current hotly-tipped artists, Robert Vincent.
The tour starts tomorrow at Bush Hall, London, moving on to The Stables in Milton Keynes on Sunday and The Cornerstone, Didcot – a guitar pick’s throw from his home – on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be fabulous,” he says.
“We thought that if Kimmie was going to come here and do a few gigs, it would also be nice for me to be there to chat to her. It’s a format that works at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. It will be a gentle evening of music and reminiscences.”
He will be joined by his wife Trudie, son Miles, and trusty assistant producer – and The Oxford Times photographer – Marc West, who help run his Whispering Bob Broadcasting Company (WBBC) from Bob’s Under the Apple Tree studio – appropriately situated in the middle of an orchard in his garden.
One of the greats of country, Kimmie’s contribution to music cannot be overstated.
Raised in Lubbock, Texas – the hometown of Buddy Holly – she has recorded 16 albums, contributed to a string of film soundtracks and had her songs covered by Willie Nelson, Wynonna Judd, Trisha Yearwood, Waylon Jennings, Peter Frampton, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris.
The platinum-selling songwriter will share tales of her and Joe’s three decades together. It’s a story of triumph and tragedy, ending in Joe losing a hard fought battle with cancer.
“Radio Dreams is the result of a collaboration between Kimmie and Joe, who was a hugely important figure in the emergence of the country scene in Austin in the 70s,” says Bob. “He sort of did what I do – playing what he liked and discovering new artists. And he touched a chord.
“Sadly he got cancer and lost his tongue, which took away the very thing that made him famous, so he moved into production.
“Radio Dreams is the story of all of this and the acknowledgement of an incredible legacy.”
Bob, who himself fought off prostate cancer, has recorded a companion audio documentary and retrospective CD with Kimmie.
The project follows a fruitful period for Bob, which saw him once again at the helm of The Old Grey Whistle Test for a one-off show to mark the 30th anniversary of its final broadcast.
“It was such a dream to do it,” says Bob. “The look of the show was the same as when we started out – and there was so much love in the room.
“It made a huge impact. It saw one of BBC4’s biggest audiences ever, with well over a million people watching it, and it showed how much love there is for the programme.
“It was quite moving.”
It also shows the popular presenter at the top of his game.
He adds: “You are always going to have ups and downs but there are so many wonderful moments, and I am keeping fit, walking five miles a day around the village. That’s the reason I’ve got so much energy to sustain all this.
“WBBC has become a real energetic force. Miles is doing really well, Trudie puts so much energy into it and Marc is also an important part of things. Between us we have created this amazing thing.”
And broadcasting remains a passion. “I love doing it,” he says. “I love getting the CDs every morning, going to the studio, finding out about new albums and putting on a show.
“Country music is so vibrant right now – and it’s great to be a part of that.”
Kimmie Rhodes Discusses New ‘Radio Dreams’ Memoir
In Low-Key Q&A
Touring in support of her new memoir, ‘Radio Dreams’, Kimmie Rhodes performs classics songs in an intimate setting, and recalls meeting country outlaw Willie Nelson at the famed Cut-N-Putt.
Talking as if they were sitting round a campfire rather than on the stage of a small west London hall, on Friday, 20 April, the Texan songbird Kimmie Rhodes and the English DJ “Whispering” Bob Harris conjured memories of a golden era of country music. It was the first of a string of low-key Q&A dates to promote Radio Dreams, a new book written by Rhodes and her husband, the late Joe Gracey.
Back in the day, Rhodes and Gracey were quite the double act. She was raised in Lubbock, where her carnival-worker dad taught her to sing at the age of six. She became a platinum-selling songwriter, recording artist and, later, playwright, theatrical actor and director. Gracey began a broadcasting career at a radio station in Fort Worth while still a teenager and became an award-winning DJ, songwriter and, later, producer who championed the country scene in Austin. Radio Dreams chronicles their adventures with the Texan “outlaws” who rejuvenated country music in the 70s: Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Doug Sahm, Kris Kristofferson and, above all, Willie Nelson.
At Bush Hall, Harris asked the questions in his affectionate, soft-spoken manner, and Rhodes reminisced about her life and times. She recalled her first meeting with Nelson at his privately-owned golf course and recording studio, a facility known as the Cut-N-Putt. She walked on to the green, just as he played a perfect drive. “He turned around. He was like a king in his court. And here I am, I haven’t even made my first record. And he looks right at me with those dark, black eyes and he says, ‘How long have you been singing? Do you write?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, why don’t you come out here and make a record?’ We had no money and no band, but suddenly I had Willie Nelson’s studio and I made my first record out there.”
In between the stories, Rhodes sang and strummed a selection of songs as they came up in the conversation, among them ‘We Must Believe In Magic’ (an inspirational favourite by Crystal Gayle), ‘West Texas Heaven’ (the title track of Rhodes’ 1996 album), ‘Just One Love’ (the song she performed with Nelson at Farm Aid in 1990), ‘Love Me Like A Song (the title track of her 2002 album), ‘Raining In My Heart’ (by another Lubbock native, Buddy Holly) and a finale of Ben E King’s evergreen ‘Stand By Me’. Rhodes was accompanied by her son Gabe Rhodes, a distinguished country music producer himself, who played acoustic guitar with a sensationally precise, twanging touch. And, on some numbers, they were joined by the singer (and support act) Robert Vincent.
It was an evening of warmth, wisdom and occasional hilarity. Among the pearls Rhodes shared were the words of Cowboy Jack Clement, who told her: “We’re in the fun business, and if we’re not having fun, we’re not doing our job.” As far as this show was concerned, job done.
Future UK Q&A events surrounding the publication of Radio Dreams are:
24 April: Cornerstone, Didcot, England (Kimmie Rhodes and Bob Harris)
26 April: Night People, Manchester, England (Kimmie Rhodes and guests)
4 May: Venue Theatre, Ratoath, County Meath, Ireland (Kimmie Rhodes and Sandy Harsh)
5 May: Waterfront, Belfast, Ireland (Kimmie Rhodes and Ralph McLean)
Radio 2 Legend, OBE decorated and South Oxfordshire resident, Bob Harris, heads to Didcot’s Cornerstone this month in a show that promises to be fascinating, intimate and spontaneous.
Harris will be engaging in deep conversation and reliving stories and songs with legendary singer/ songwriter Kimmie Rhodes.
The pair will be reflecting on Kimmie’s rich musical history, the sounds of Austin and the legacy of Texan song-writing, in celebration of the release of Radio Dreams, her memoir and the companion audio CD, produced by ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris.
The show is the result of the February release of Radio Dreams, which invites readers into the unique and private world of platinum-selling songwriter and recording artist Rhodes and her deceased soul mate, beloved radio personality Joe Gracey, Jr.
Weaving her own poetic prose with wry and witty words from his journals, Rhodes tells the fascinating story of their three decades together. She also tells tales of the couple’s times with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jack Clement, Emmylou Harris, and other famous and infamous characters that have helped make American music history before facing Gracey’s final cancer battle.
Through triumph and tragedy, grief and gratitude, her memoirs express the extraordinary life and inspiring love they shared.
Described by Radio Times as “one of the greats of British contemporary music broadcasting and an independent champion of great music” Harris has been at the centre of the British music industry for nearly 40 years.
When being awarded an OBE for his services to music broadcasting, Harris said: “I’ve always loved what I do so it’s an added bonus to be recognised for something you love. I love music and I’m really just at the heart of what I love.”
Clive Anderson and YolanDa Brown are joined by Don McLean, Amanda Abbington and In-Sook Chappell for an eclectic mix of conversation, music and comedy. With music from Kimmie Rhodes and The Magic Numbers.
Left to Right – Bob Harris, Kimmie Rhodes, Gabriel Rhodes, Robert Vincent, Miles Myerscough-Harris
CQAF in Association with Frontier Music Club Present Kimmie Rhodes: Radio Dreams
CQAF in Association with Frontier Music Club Present Kimmie Rhodes: Radio Dreams
In conversation with BBC Radio Ulster’s Ralph McLean
WATERFRONT STUDIO, BELFAST: Saturday 05 May
Kimmie Rhodes & Ralph McLean of BBC Radio Ulster backstage at The Belfast Waterfront Studio
A fascinating, intimate and spontaneous evening of stories and songs with legendary singer and songwriter Kimmie Rhodes – accompanied by guitarist Gabriel Rhodes.
To celebrate of the release of Radio Dreams and the Companion audio documentary – produced by Bob Harris OBE – BBC Radio 2 – this very special ‘In conversation with’ BBC Radio Ulster broadcaster Ralph McLean will reflect on Kimmie’s rich musical history, the sounds of Austin and the legacy of Texas songwriting.
Radio Dreams is a dual memoir which invites readers into the unique and private world of platinum-selling songwriter and recording artist Kimmie Rhodes and her deceased soul mate, beloved radio personality Joe Gracey, Jr.
Weaving her own poetic prose with wry and witty words from his journals, Rhodes returns him to the conversation to tell the fascinating story of their three decades together.
Her trippy songwriter’s tales and his hilarious and poignant writings will take you on a time-machine adventure from Saturday mornings spent watching country-and-western stars on TV to the wild ‘70s era in which the hippies, weary from protesting the raging Vietnam War, joined the rednecks to kick back and play some music in the “Groover’s Paradise” of Austin, Texas.
Riding with fellow outlaws Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Cowboy Jack Clement, Emmylou Harris, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Doug Sahm and other famous—and infamous—characters, they help turn Austin into a scene and outlaw country into a sound before facing Gracey’s final cancer battle.
Through triumph and tragedy, grief and gratitude, their story speaks of the extraordinary life and inspiring love they shared.
For fans of Texas songwriting and outlaw country music scene this is one story that has to be heard!
Arts Q&A: Kimmie Rhodes on Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and the power of love
Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Texan singer-songwriter Kimmie Rhodes
1. When did you think about a career in music and what were your first steps into it?
Fate landed me in the studio of Joe Gracey in Austin, December 1979. I had a handful of songs I had just written and decided I’d like to try to make a record. It was the luckiest day of my life. It opened a whole new world to me as an artist and little did I know that Joe Gracey would become the love of my life.
2. Best gigs you’ve been to?
Most recently my kids treated me to Brian Wilson and Pet Sounds at Austin City Limits Music Festival, for Mother’s Day, and it was fantastic. I saw the next-to-last show that the famous Texas Playboys did in San Marcos, Texas, in the late 80s. We opened the show and then I sat on the stairs to the stage and just soaked it all in. Another favourite memory of mine, in terms of my own shows, was playing with Willie Nelson and legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble in Indianapolis for 80,000 people at a Farm Aid concert.
3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?
Ray Benson and Asleep at The Wheel or Delbert McClinton. You pick.
4. The record you’d take to a desert island?
If we were talking singles I’d have to say Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone. It’s my favourite record of all time because it’s everything a recording should be… live, spontaneous and incredibly musical. If we’re talking albums I’d take a compilation of my own songs so I could reminisce about the fun I’ve had recording through the years and think of all the great musicians I’ve known and worked with and all the wonderful songwriters I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with.
5. And the book?
The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them. It would be the best book to read about accepting what we can’t change and therefore I might be able to not go crazy from the isolation.
6. Top three films?
The Blues Brothers, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Red Headed Stranger – all for the music.
7. Worst film you’ve seen?
Tornado. I went to see it to escape a drought in Texas in July. It was great to be in the dark and watch it rain and hear lightening and thunder for a couple of hours, but the script was just horrible. It was so stupid I wished I could have watched it with the dialogue tracks muted.
8. Favourite authors?
Alan Lightman, Carl Jung and Shakespeare.
9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?
I like baseball and don’t care which team long as it’s live, and I used to like to go to University of Texas football games with Joe Gracey.
10. Ideal holiday destination?
Paris or New York City at Christmas or Venice for New Year’s.
11. Pet hate?
12. What’s your favourite:
Dinner – Gumbo without okra.
Dessert – Crème brulee.
Drink – French Rose wine with lots of ice.
13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?
My mother, because she loves me so much.
14. Is there a God?
If God is love, then I believe in God. If God is not love, then I believe in love. Many good and bad things have been done on this Earth in the name of God, but love never fails.
The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, in association with frontier music club present Kimmie Rhodes: Radio Dreams in conversation with BBC Radio Ulster presenter and Irish News columnist Ralph McLean at Belfast’s Waterfront Studio on Saturday May 5. Tickets from Waterfront.co.uk
Belfast Newsletter – The Guide – April 13, 2018
April 15, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
The Birthplace of Country Music
April 9, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
Radio Dreams Project – visits Johnson City, TN, Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA – April 4-7, 2018
I just spent a great week with John Gardner (my fave drummer who has played on many of my recordings since the mid 90s) and his wife Jennifer. John, who teaches music at ETSU University in Johnson City, TN, hosted songwriting and music business lectures with me at the ETSU Reese Museum and the Appalachian Studies Department. We played “live” shows on NPR Radio WETS-FM ‘Studio One’ (hosted by Dave Carter) and I did an interview with Susan Lachmann for WETS-FM “Women on Air.” Also did a live show on WBCM Radio at The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia “Early Morning Americana” (hosted by Josh Littleton.) Then we ate a burger at the famous Burger Bar (claim to fame being the last place Hank Williams ate.)
Happy to say that my Radio Dreams book is now in the book shop at the Birth Place of Country Music Museum where plans are now in the works for future events there.
We played a private house concert and book signing and then a gig at the famous Down Home venue with a stellar band of players John put together. The audience was fantastic.
Links and pictures are posted below along with excerpts from a couple of the radio shows.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings by the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest V. Stoneman, and others – recordings that were influential in shaping the sounds and practices of early commercial country music. The museum explores how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music, and how music from our region continues to influence music around the world.
Join Josh Littleton every weekday morning from 7:30am to 9:00am Eastern for “Early Morning Americana” featuring a wide variety of the most recent Americana releases with a healthy dose of bluegrass and classic country mixed in ensuring you’ll wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Radio Bristol host Josh Littleton & Kimmie Rhodes Kimmie playing “live” with John Gardner
WETS-FM – ‘Studio One’ NPR – Johnson City, TN
(l-r) Mike Strickland, Kimmie Rhodes, Dave Carter (host) John Gardner
To listen to the entire WETS – FM show interview with DaveCarter and songs wit John Gardner press play below:
WETS-FM ETSU University “Women on Air”
This program, hosted by Susan Lachmann, promotes, supports and illuminates women’s voices. Now in its 27th year, the program features guests ranging from regional musician Amythyst Kiah to author Adriana Trigiani.
“Women On Air” previously aired on WETS-FM’s HD2 Americana stream on Sunday evenings and overnight on Fridays.
Listeners may tune to WETS-FM 89.5 or visit www.wets.org to listen to the HD1 live stream.
Susan Lachmann with Kimmie Rhodes
To listen to “Women on Air” WETS-FM phone interview with host Susan Lachmann press play below:
One Foot in Virginia and one foot in Tennessee
Country Music Hall of Fame Archives Moving Day
April 6, 2018
Posted by Kimmie Rhodes
Nothing like making some closet space!
The Country Hall of FameMuseum movers came last week and with the help of our dear daughter, Jolie Goodnight Gracey ,helped us to place 3o boxes plus of archives where they belong. Its an honor to have placed not just Joe Gracey’s legacy but to have his many archives find a home at the museum; periodicals, artifacts and especially a vast number of rare reel to reel recordings done by Gracey in the 70s in Austin. Way before digital recording existed he dragged his 4 track TEAC recorder all over Austin and captured the spirit of what The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum is calling “Country’s Roaring 70s” in their “Outlaws and Armadillos” exhibit which opens May 25 and will run for 3 years.
I also sent my Christian Lacroix dress I wore on the cover of my album “Angels Get The Blues” (recorded at Sun Studios with Cowboy Jack Clement) multi-tracks and archives that had to do with my “Outlaw Sweetheart” days working with Willie and Waylon and “the boys” and some platinum records I have received for my songs. It was an especially poignant moment to let go of my Rosewood D28 CF Martin guitar but I am happy and honored to have it there where it will also receive some badly needed repair.
Here below are some pictures of the big moving day and links to Rolling Stone, CMT and other articles announcing the opening of the exhibit. I’m excited to have been asked to perform at the big opening concert, which unfortunately is already sold out, especially because Delbert McClinton agreed to join me to sing his great song that was Emmylou’s first hit, “Two More Bottles Of Wine.”
Thanks so much to all of you who contributed to the Radio Dreams project to help make these promises to place these archives in safe-keeping where they can be properly catalogued and available for research for future generations of music lovers.