Monday, July 4, 2022

OUT OF THE CHUTE - Wayne Willingham

 Good morning, everyone!

Happy 4th of July!

I believe living in a 'free' country and having the ability to do what you love doesn't get much more American than that. Wayne Willingham is one of those people.

Let's Open the Chute!

Let’s step back to early days. Do you recall what first inspired you to be an artist? Seeing Buddy Holly on TV, or any other guitar-playing singer.  I grew up in Michigan and we’d get Canadian stations as well, so I saw and heard a huge array of styles.  I can’t recall a time when it wasn’t an aspiration.

When did you make the move to Texas? In 1984, my first wife and I took a corporate transfer from her job.  Live music, like everything in Detroit, ebbed and flowed with the auto industry, and we were sick of snow and slush.  Detroit was in an ebb, and I remember the exact words I said that prompted our decision, “We can be broke anywhere.”  No regrets. 

There were some big names on the country charts in 1970, when you were first starting out. You list some of your heroes on your website. What about those artists spoke to you? I think we’re all products of the music that was popular in our high school days, and we filter out the aspects that really reach into our hearts.  For me, the lyrics are what put some over the top; whether it’s Pull Simon or Gordon Lightfoot or Joni Mitchell, they all could turn a phase that creates a picture in my mind.  That said, the songs that last have music that also captures my imagination. 

You spent twenty-six years on the music path then just walked away one day before coming back to the fold around 2015. What brought you back and what did you hope would be different? I was with a friend and heard a guitar duet that she knew.  She introduced us, and told them I used to play.  One offered his John  Lennon model Gibson to me (nice!), and I played it some.  I hadn’t touched my guitars in years, but a few things came back to me, so I didn’t completely embarrass myself. 

When I handed it back, he said, “Alright, who are you? Nobody just picks up a guitar and just plays like that.’ I gave him my short story.  That got me thinking, if he heard it, maybe I can still play.  I had more free time than the last couple decades, and thought, “Let’s see how much I can get back.” I got out one of my guitars and started dedicating a couple hours a day to practice.  Well, one thing led to another…

What did you doing during the break and had you let go of the music entirely or was there still a hum, or vibration below the surface waiting for a chance you’d hear? I really didn’t miss music after I quit; I enjoyed listening to more variety and had mostly fond memories.  And man, was I busy with other things.  I’d gotten into programming and data management, and was a partner in my own company.  You can’t do music at a high level and then just forget it, but I truly had no thoughts of playing at all, much less performing.  Then again, nobody claps when you finish writing a computer program.

You released your first album in 2017. Had you done any albums prior to the break?  No.  I’d recorded some of my own songs, and I used to do session work for other artists and for advertising agencies.  In the early days, professional-quality recording was much more expensive.  Thanks to digital, it’s gotten less pricey and easier to produce.

How do you think your music has changed both from the 70s when you were first starting out to now and what changes did you see for your music if you were going to give this another shot? Maturity is the main difference.  That leads to a little more discipline, and for me, a more scientific approach to songwriting.  All the early lessons are still there, like “less is more” and “Play like you mean it”, and how to perform to an audience and not just play the songs.

I wasn’t really giving it “another shot”, and I’m not even now.  While I treat it like a business, I’m not doing it for the money – my business/tech career set me up well enough.  I’m delighted to break even, and record and perform my own music and in my own way.  One mantra of mine is “This time, it’s personal.” And it is. That said, I’d love to expand my audience.  I’m gratified to have some dedicated fans, and I think I have something to offer.

With the exception of the pandemic break, you’ve released a new album every year since you’re return. What is next for Wayne Willingham? Wayne is going to settle into his new home with its new music room, and write.  I’ll be inviting fellow songwriters over to collaborate – co-writing has never been an emphasis for me, but I’m looking forward to it.

Gonna slow down on albums.  I feel like I rushed the last two.  The songs are some of my best, but I hear things that I wish I’d arranged differently.  I turn 70 this year, so I’m not thinking past one more – yet.  This may be my exit, and I want to do it right. Maybe at least 6-8 reworks of previously released material, even some live recordings, then at least as many brand-new songs. 

How’s this for an album title? Mulligans and Swan Songs

You have a loyal fan base. What do you hope new people hearing your music will keep them coming back?  I hope that people can resonate with the feelings that are under the lyrics and music, that it touches something within them.  I hope they can laugh and cry for the right reasons.  The best compliment is when somebody says, “Hey, listen to this – it made me think of you.”

Here's a tune off of his Stonehill Sessions album from Wayne's YouTube Channel - 

You can find Wayne by clicking on any of the following links:

I'll be back tomorrow with a review of his latest album, Temptation Row.

Country Blessing!


 Good morning, friends!

The 4th of July wouldn't be complete without songs from our favorite country artists. I thought I'd share a video my Toby Keith today and send best wishes and prayers for his complete recovery!

Country Blessings!

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

TURNTABLE TUESDAY - I Can Face the Truth


Good morning, friends!

Today, I have a real treat. The new album, I CAN FACE THE TRUTH, by Dana Cooper is all kinds of traditional country comfort. Dana wrote eleven of the tracks, co wrote one with Robert Weingartz and covered one of my favorite Hank Williams tunes. Let's check these out!

My first impression is that while an undercurrent of traditional country flows throughout the album, the definitive folk style shines through like sun sparkling off the water; just takes your breath away.

Overall,  I Can Face the Truth is a documentation of sorts of the experiences and life lessons on his musical journey. Always Old Friends speaks of the connections we have, whether they be with people, places or experiences along the way. They become a part of us - like old friends. 

I Can Face the Truth is one of two tracks on this album that I feel would be a perfect fit for the  Walker, Texas Ranger reboot starring Jared Padalecki. Along with Laughing and Crying, the two songs mimick the the Walker's  recovery from loss that his character has faced from the very beginning, while trying to move forward . Everywhere he turns, Walker can't seem to catch a break, always haunted by his past. 

Not far behind those two would be track number six. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry is the epitome of what it means to take a song and make it your own. While there's still a hint of the anquish Hank Williams poured into one of his most memorable hits, Dana Cooper has opened up the wound, letting us feel the misery some of us may have felt during the pandemic.  

While the album is somewhat of a documentation, there's a larger aspect to this album. I CAN FACE THE TRUTH is a shining example of the possibilities within the industry, today. With the virtual opportunities to work togther, the possibilities for creating something magical are endless.  Dana shares his thoughts on this...

"In all my years of recording, I've never felt more free or creative in the studio."

I think a lot of that has to do with the opportunites to work virtually, brought on by the pandemic. While a good portion of this album was put together prior to that event, the aftermath brought in new additions from different parts of Colorado as well as Ireland. 

I CAN FACE THE TRUTH is the result of what can be created when you believe in something, and yourself, enough to push through any roadblocks. When you do that, magic is always the result!

Here's another track from the album:

I'm tipping my hat ....

You will find more of Dana Cooper by clicking on any of the following links:




Monday, March 7, 2022

OUT OF THE CHUTE - Dana Cooper


Good morning (again!)

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Dana Cooper. An artist with a fabulous blend of old school Americana and Folk. I'll drop one of his videos down below to tease you until I get the album review up tomorrow.

In the mean time, let's open the chute!

Thanks for joining me in KellysCountry today, Dana...

You got a really early start in this business. You were playing coffee houses in 1967 – a time when folk music was still going strong. Who were some of your biggest influences leading up to that time? So many people influenced me early on, Hank Williams, Buffy St. Marie, Bob Dylan, Leonard Bernstein, Ray Charles.


I first heard your name in connection with Shake Russel. You were a part of several bands in various sub-genres of folk/ rock music including your pairing with Shake before moving to Nashville to work on your solo career. What was in your heart to make the switch from band mate to solo career? I made the decision to leave the band with shake russell when I began listening to artists like Elvis Costello, Laurie Anderson, and the Clash. The songs I started writing just didn’t fit what we were doing with that band. DC3 was my chance to experiment with different kinds of songwriting. After a few years I began moving back toward my beginnings, only this time incorporating lots of the other influences I’d gathered along the way.


You have a list of awards/ accolades some musicians can only aspire to. What do you feel was the key ingredient in those career markings? Did each of those awards/ recognitions build on the next one… ie what did you take from Miracle Mile as you moved into Harry Truman Built A Road? Awards are gratifying but they’ve never been a driving force for me. The recognition received is an indicator that one is doing good work and it helps drive me to improve as an artist and writer. Miracle Mile was released at a difficult time for me. I was without a booking agent and the label wasn’t gaining much support for the project. Being nominated for the Nashville Music Awards was a much needed validation. Harry Truman Built a Road was in many ways another new beginning. Again, the accolades it received boosted my morale and did a lot to put me back on the map as a solo singer songwriter.


With that still in mind… was there a bridge between those, including Incendiary Kid in 2017 that moved you forward into I Can Face the Truth? I have always worked with incredibly talented people on my recordings. Richard McLaurin and Mack Linebaugh were my co-producers for Harry Truman Built a Road. Richard also co-produced Made of Mud with me. Thomm Jutz came on board to co-produce Building a Human Being, Road Show, and Incendiary Kid. Working with the best people has always been my goal and all these folks helped me create greatest music projects. Meeting Dave Coleman was yet another big turning point for me. The recording studio can be an intimidating environment and I’ve never felt more comfortable and free in the recording process than I was with Dave.


I loved the title track. I felt the process of that track as shining example of the possibilities within the industry today. The virtual possibilities of working together really lends to creating something magical – even when we can’t work together in person. A lot of artists would (and did) just put the production side of their music on hold. What was the key to you and Dave Coleman pushing through the shutdown, which most saw as an obstacle? Dave Coleman and I began with the song I had recently written, I Can Face the Truth. We finished it in an afternoon and we knew immediately that we wanted to continue working together. There was this natural musical affiliation we felt. I was still writing songs for a new CD but hadn’t even begun making a plan to record yet. So, we worked gradually as my touring schedule allowed. When the pandemic hit we shut down like everyone else. During that time I concentrated on writing and once some time had passed and we felt somewhat comfortable we worked in the studio masked and in separate rooms. Some of my co-writers shared their vocals long distance and once things opened up Dave and I returned to work with other players and singers, again masked and at a distance.


I love good Texas dramas/ sitcoms. Especially, if they pull in some of my favorite Texas artists. I’m really dialed in to Walker, Texas Ranger and think a couple of your tracks would be outstanding for the show music tracks. The title track as well as Laughing and Crying, parallel the storyline perfectly. Have you thought about getting your music in front of those folks? I would love to have my music placed in films and television shows. That’s something my current manager is working toward.


You wrote or co-wrote every piece on this album with the exception of one cover. What was your thought behind including I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry? My dad, George, was a big influence on me musically. His record collection was eclectic with an emphasis on Country artists like Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb. Dad took me to bars with him when I was 2 years old. He’d play the jukebox and I would sing along with Hank and Ernest. Dad took me to see Ernest Tubb in concert when I was three. I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry has always reminded me of my father and I included it on the new CD in his honor.

What do you hope your listeners will take away from this (or any of your previous) albums? My goal has always been to lift people up out of their struggles, make them laugh and maybe bring a tear to their eye. That’s what music gives me, a sense that someone else feels the way I do, that I’m not alone in this world.

You will find out more about Dana Cooper by clicking on the following links:


Country Blessings

~ Kelly


Texas Blue Bonnets

Good morning, everyone!

With the exception of a sinus infection every fall, I am almost never sick. Bob and I got hit with the stomach flu the end of February that hung on for SEVEN days! I never want to be that sick again nor wish the misery on even my worst enemeny - though I don't think I have any. 

I'm going to test run The Party List posts this month. If the arthritis in my wrist flares up too bad then, sadly, I'll have to drop that aspect of KellysCountry. I really hope that won't be the case, but I wanted you to know where I'm at on that one. 

Anyhow, I am back to work and boy do I have some stuff lined up for you!

I'm featuring Dana Cooper today and tomorrow. Next week, I hope to share Josie Bello so stay tuned!



Tuesday, February 15, 2022

TURNTABLE TUESDAY - The Way The River Goes

 Good afternoon, everyone!  

Welcome to a brand new year in KellysCountry. I do apologize for dragging my feet but I just couldn't seem to get into a groove. As this 'job' doesn't pay me actual cash, I hadn't put posting here at the top of my To Do list. I'll come back tomorrow to give you an update on this channel. In the mean time, let's plop one on the turnable!

One of the reasons I work with Adam Dawson at Broken Jukebox Media is the guy knows what to put in each of his reviewers/ radio stations hands. He knows what each of us likes and from which of us he can count on different perspectives. Today is case in point.

The first time I heard the title track, THE WAY THE RIVER GOES, I heard familiar strains... that calm ballad voice that when I hear it I instantly think of my friend Chuck Hawthorne. Like Chuck, Dan Weber's voice carries that home grown tone filled with life experiences. 

Without making the songs about his personal trials and tribulations, he draws on the nuances of those experiences everyone can relate to. Like a river, the tracks are filled with all the twists, turns and currents he has traveled. Haven't we all traveled that river and come out with stories to tell? 

The Way the River Goes began way back in 2017... a journey all its own from the Pacific Northwest, to New Mexico and finally to Texas, thanks to life hurdles and a pandemic. 

Ever Since Columbine is like a myriad of logs floating past; things that while may not touch us directly, still calls on us to navigate the reason beind debris littering our world. 

The current picks up a bit with Watcha Gonna Do About That as well as You Make Me Wanna Dance.... quick little numbers for a spin around the dancefloor.  

Here's a sample track from THE WAY THE RIVER GOES

Easy floating ballads blended with snappier tunes meld the Folk style Dan is known for with the best in Americana Texas has to offer make THE WAY THE RIVER GOES is an outstanding compliation. Will all of those life hurdles and moves, I think this album, like everything else in life, is right on time. 

You'll find Dan Weber by clicking on the following links:


Friday, December 31, 2021


 I thought I'd swap out the Friday Funny to get us all ready for tonight. 

Here is a classic cover by Kacey Musgraves:

Happy New Year Blessings!
~ Kelly