Friday, October 14, 2011


I am a Western Music singer and have had the great satisfaction of just participating in a program I originated.  The Western Music Association - Kansas Chapter has now put it on twice.  KANSAS-HOME ON THE RANGE is the story of Kansas in song, poetry, narration, and video celebrating Kansas 150th year of statehood.  All participants were Kansans, some coming back from out of state to participate.  The Governor, Wichita Mayor, and 4th district Congressman were on hand to greet the crowd and kick off the show.  It was evident that they all enjoyed the show.  We have also gotten a lot of good comments about it.
    There was a symphony that was hand picked by the conductor of the Hutchinson Symphony that provide support and a wonderful sound.  At the city's request we added a group of drummers and dancers from the All American Indian Center.  We also added the African American group Arise, Mexican youth Charro trick ropers, and the Asian Dance group to round out the story of immigration and the diversity of our culture.
     The western artists in combination with the diverse talent created an educational and enjoyable afternoon.  So now I get back to the point of this blog.
     Western Music was once a part of the Nashville Country & Western.  When the music industry was bought by the Japanese and Dutch they asked how we can make the most money from this industry.  The answer was the pop music model from the west coast.  Western, acoustic, and the other genre' that fall under the 'Western' catagory were dismissed from the major labels and modern 'country' radio.
     Western and all it's components are truely the music of the people, the people of the land and the western experience.  It can incorporate Bluegrass, Western Swing, Classic Country, Folk, Ethnic, Big Band, Broadway, and the traditional songs of the west.  Even the movie cowboy songs are an important part of Western.
    So what happened to Western?  It is alive and well.  There are hundreds of artists many belonging to the Western Music Association and the Academy of Western Artists.  How come you don't hear them?  You generally have to be at a live concert, festival, or purchase independent produced CD's and downloads.
     There are two universal things that every artist hears after a show.  One is, we brought our (daughter, son, granddaughter, grandson, neice, nephew, ect.) kicking and screaming to this show and when they heard the music, they loved it.
     The second thing that is said is "this is the music I always loved and just forgot about".  People are dictated to everytime they turn on the radio, TV, or read an industry magazine about the offerings of the mainstream industry and tell them that this is what they love.  In the 50's music and radio people went to court over the paying to play certain music.  This is still happening legally today because of the interdependence of the two.  Is money changing hands?  You bet but it goes around the law and is now 'just business'.  Sounds familiar, oh yes it is from the Godfather as a person is about to be whacked they always say "it is just business not personal".
     What can you do to bring back the music you love and wrestle control from the industry bosses?  First you quit buying music from acts that are no more than bad rock and roll.
    Second - you find artists that you love in Western and other independents and buy it. 
    Third - go to the shows and support Western when you can. 
    Fourth - and most important, call in requests for your favorite artist to the radio stations and have your friends call and create the demand that the radio will have to find the music and put it on the air. 
    Another thing is to tell the advertisers that you are not happy with the mix at the stations they do business with. 
    And the most effective with all these combined, start a petition to the radio stations, their ownership group, and the TV programs that ignore the artists for the 'Hat Acts'.
     Send copies of the petitions to the Grand Ole Opry, RFD TV, CMT Network, PBS, and other networks and producers that exclude the Americana mix of Western artists.
     You know there is no more effective way to affect change than with your pocket book.  Money is the universal language that all those involved understand.

This is my View From the Hill.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


As a self styled historian(I have had a lettered historian tell me to claim the title), I have always used as my motto 'THOSE WHO IGNORE HISTORY ARE CONDEMED TO RE-LIVE IT'.  As a former commisioned law enforcement officer and a private detective, I have always subscribed to the fight against illegal drugs.  But time and history are slowly changing my mind.
     There is probably very few who are as conservative as me but facts are facts.  There has always been a small fringe group that has advocated the legalization of Marajuana.  As a student of the prohibition era I have long wanted to write a book on the Kansas moonshine business, and have had encouragement.  But, there are too many families and participants still alive that have discuraged me.  See in Kansas we started the prohibition movement in 1880 and did not leave it until the 1950's and actually we still have remnants of it left today.
     I am looking forward to Ken Burns new documentary PROHIBITION.  It takes an indepth look at the whole era of National Prohibition.  Are we going to learn that Prohibition gave rise to the transformation of small time criminals into huge organized crime syndicates.  We learned a hard lesson too late and still have these organizations with us today.  Many have actually gone mainstream and have legitimate business.
     So what is the link to the drug business?  We have to take all the hype and lies away from the argument and talk real results.  Not one death has been attributed to using marijuana in the 70 some years of illegal status.  There is an amazingly large amount of people who have used or do use in the country today.  A related crop in the same genus as marijuana, Hemp, has been banned from commercial production even though it has none of the chemicals that make the illegal plant a asource of getting high.   Commercial hemp has as many uses and products that can be made from it as soybeans and peanuts.  But it is totally opposed by DEA for production.  There is an alternative crop here that our farmers do not get to grow because of demonization and lies.
     Over one third of of our prison population and court cases have to do with marijuana.  We have seen millions of untaxed dollars funding the same type of organizations that rose during the prohibition period.  And the really big problem is that they are worse than any group from that period.
     The sad fact is that the cartels that have terrorized Mexico are here in Kansas now.  Why do I say that?  Common sense.  Every year in late summer and fall there are pot patch raids all over the state.  In the past it has been the moonshiner type of grower that is generally caught.  In the raids this year there is evidence in every case that there are illegals tending the patches.  There is one thing that is eirily common, no one is caught.
     It has long been the disdain of the American people of the corrupt officials that permiate the Mexican governmental culture.  Now there is evidence of that corruption here in our own state.  It is no coincidence that no one is every arrested at the time of seizure of this years pot patches.  Someone that knows what is going on is tipping off whoever is responsible for them.  It remains unsaid in the media (which is real unusual) but it is evident that there is someone paid off somewhere.  This is what is so alarming.
     After the lessons of prohibition I am finally persuaded that you cannot legislate morals and it is high time to make the pot business controlable by legalization and taxation.  I don't have to like it but there are more pressing problems today.  And we don't need anymore crooked officials.