Sunday, November 3, 2013


                       IT IS OUR CHOICES, THAT SHOW WHAT WE
                                TRULY ARE, FAR MORE THAN OUR
                                                                J.K. Rowling

     I had the pleasure of being in Liberal Kansas the other day.  I had the opportunity to hang out with my friends the Diamond W Wranglers and Rex Allen Jr.  They were in town for a concert on the behalf of the United Way.  Also helping explore the development of more entertainment being brought to Western Kansas.
     The day of the show we all went to the Seward County Community College to talk with music students.  I was in the back keeping my mouth shut.  Jim Farrell, Steve Crawford, and Rex Allen Jr, were in the front and talking about the music business from each of their experiences.  Giving a reality lesson for those who will soon be edging into a world of great reward and horrible disappointment.  In other words the 'real world'.
     Rex Allen Jr. made a statement that I immediately wished I had been smart enough to recognize and say.  But I didn't.  I will put this into context.  In this music industry which is run by boards and people who have no idea what really makes the business work, the pursuit of youth is as rabid as, well, the dominance of youth in other business.
     We are in a society that worships youth and youth wants all the rewards without the process of earning them.  The wisdom of youth is only in movies and TV commercials.  In real life it is the constant reality of trying, falling down, and getting back up again that brings about experience and wisdom.
     There are some who learn incredibly fast. And who would not yearn for the ability to turn back and recapture some of the energy, and optimism of the young.  But it is the sum of our failures combined with successes that bring us to the position later of doing many things better and smarter than we used to.
     In the music business, especially Country Music, the statement that blew me away is this: "What if Frank Sinatra had been forced to leave music after age 40?"  The meaning is that the music industry takes the youngest talent and by the age of 40 they are put out of the spotlight as being the old talent.  Frank Sinatra did his best work after 40.  Rex Allen Jr.'s voice is as better now as it has ever been.  My voice is better now than when I was young.
     The corporate people that make the decisions are denying the fan base of the chance to hear truly great talent mature and define what their careers would be.  Will there be truly greats that last through time?  Or will there be flash in the pans who make the big score and retire before they truly develop into something that will last beyond their lifetime?
     I have been trying to define what is wrong with the entertainment industry for a long time.  How fortunate that a man that I would not have dreamed of being around would bring into focus what was in the back of my mind.  And with him saying that I was the student there with the rest.
     I was truly the lucky one for a couple of days in Liberal.  I rediscovered an artist that I had always admired as well as his dad who I was a true fan of.  So much is thrown out at the fan and the artist that even when you know better you forget so many things.
     As I sat in the back of the auditorium at the, concert, I saw something in an audience that is a hopeful change.  The age rages were much wider than shows we are used to doing.  A lot of the Western music crowd is grey haired.  The Liberal crowd was more mixed from young to old.  And with all the younger kids who normally have that I phone in their hands, there was not one kid running their thumbs texting or playing games.  They watched the whole show through and enjoyed it.  The crowd coming out afterwards would look at me, not ever seeing me before, and say "wasn't that a great show"?
     Yes, yes it was.
Soon I want to talk about Liberal Kansas, a town that I had always had a less than favorable opinion of.  Hint-ignore the front door as you come into town from the northeast.  There is a great town with a lot of heart down there.

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