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
To purchase the book click here > https://kimmierhodes.com/books/
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.”
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)
A Dream of a Show for Music Fans
Posted By: Josh Coxon: April 03, 2018
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.”
Radio Dreams is on Tuesday April 24 at 7.30pm.
BBC Radio 4 – Loose Ends
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.
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