BILL BLOG Friday February 5, 2016 The sun has not yet hit the gigantic cactus out here in Phoenix...but bags are by the door...ready to return to Nashville. YESTERDAY A great final day on our "Hits and Grins" west tour in the beautiful mountain town of Payson. And we crammed a bunch in that last day. At 9 am we went to KMOZ Radio to be interviewed. They gave us an hour of "Live" air time at that station which is really cool...and the interview must have helped as we had a huge crowd on our final night in Arizona. Thanks to Clint Nickels for the interview and long time radio veteran and now radio station owner Mike Farrell and staff for opening the doors. Small market radio...just the way I started in Missouri. I thought to myself..."I could work here". The mountains are out the back door! Finished up...and then at 1 pm we went to Payson High School and played for 45 minutes for the middle school kids and teachers...must have been 300 of them applauding and clapping and asking questions. Great experience. At 3 pm my great friend Roger Naylor and his wife Michele pulled up after driving in from Cottonwood...and hour and a half away. Love those guys. Roger is the writer I talked about yesterday and pro hiker...and I owe a lot of my interest in comedy writing to him after working together in Cincinnati and peering over his shoulder watching him spill funny words on a yellow legal pad...in pencil. I'm so glad they came to the show and Roger has become such a popular writer out here that he now has to turn down work! Meanwhile the hats and cards and paintings that come from Michele's home studio are sold in a gallery up in Jerome, AZ. How cool! THE SHOW Packed...enthusiastic....and a hometown friend Cyndee Han and her brother Dan came to the show. The live in Phoenix...but she grew up in my hometown of Montgomery City, Missouri! And...she brought a great picture of my late father she had taken of him when she visited him in the nursing home where he lived before passing. To say I was touched would be an understatement. So glad they came too. More on this part of the trip in Monday's blog as my ride is ready to go to the Phoenix airport. My thanks to all the folks and organizers who treated us so kindly out here...and to all of you who came to the shows. Its God's country out here. Home I go to my two girls...and a Superbowl on Sunday! Go Peyton. Have a great Friday!
BILL BLOG Thursday February 4, 2016 Waking up in the wild west this morning...Payson, Arizona. YESTERDAY I'm going to start describing my life as one of packing suitcases and guitars...as that seems to be all I've been doing lately. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Yesterday along with my fellow "Hits and Grin" members Steve Dean, and Victoria Venier...I got a reminder of how much I love Arizona. Every time I've been here I think quietly to myself..."man...I could live here". The sun was on us from the moment we left Silver Springs, New Mexico and stayed with us for our entire 5 hour trip into Payson, Arizona...home of Zane Grey and other cowboys. A four hour trip turned into probably six hours because we kept stopping to take pictures of the mountains, and the cactus and Apache Lake and Tonto Forest. Incredible scenery really. JUNKIN' Steve Dean in our group collects stuff. So when we moseyed through the small town of Duncan, Arizona and saw an old time "junk" store...we pulled over and rambled through old guns and guitars, and miniature horse collectibles, radios...old games...you name it. Dust lingered all over the antiques...and the couple who owned the place were colorful...had been there forever. And who could blame them. Step out back and the mountains take your breath away...shining between the old wood benches and rusted iron. TONTO We hit Tonto National Forest and the cactus started popping up like rows of corn do in my home state of Missouri. Big ones, little ones, aguave...where they turn something prickly into something that makes one woozy....tequila! In the distance we could see snow on the higher peaks as our road curved and wound it's way through this national treasure. Again we stopped and took copious amounts of pictures on our cell phones. (Had we bought that old polaorid at that junk store...we would have been pulling pictures out of the side of our camera!) INTO PAYSON We finally roll into the town of Payson, Arizona around 4:30 pm. Time to throw the bags and guitars into another hotel room and wait for our concert hosts to pick us up for dinner. Tom and Nancy have been living here since early 2000 after living all over the country with their jobs that allowed them to see the world. They chose Payson as a place they wanted to stay...and they sit on the board that helps put together the music series that we are about to play tonight. We followed them and Tom (who will take care of production for our show) down the road to a little adobe Italian restaurant. I know...we're out in the wild west and we eat Italian instead of beef or bar b que. What were we thinking? Turns out the food was as incredible as our new company we were hanging with. Stories of visits to Rome and Italy broke out as they have traveled the world...and our own Victoria had recently spent two weeks there with her husband Matt. So we got a little history over fettucine and oven baked pizza.
TODAY A radio interview for the group...we teach a class...and then a concert at 7 pm at the Payson High School Theater.
Have a great Thursday!
BILL BLOG Wednesday February 3, 2016 Good morning from beautiful Silver City, New Mexico where Cochise and Butch Cassidy and Jesse James used to run. We had a phenomenal show last night at the University of Western New Mexico...but getting there was a real adventure. THE RIDE OVER THE MOUNTAIN So...we had a couple of off days in Albuquerque...enjoyed Sandia Peak and the mountains...and all three of us in our "Hits and Grins" trio enjoyed "The History of The Eagles" that Victoria transferred in a high tech chrome way from her iPad...onto the big screen in the house we were renting that overlooked Albuquerque. FYI. If you liked the Eagles...watch this documentary. Incredible. So...done with that we depart Albuquerque in our rental car at 4 AM mountain time yesterday. Silver City...our destination was about 4 hours away by GPS estimates. WRONG. When you plug in an address on GPS...it gives you the SHORTEST route for the most part...not the SAFEST. Two and a half hours into our drive we think we'll be early for the school outreach program we were scheduled to teach in Silver City yesterday morning before our show at the University last night. WRONG again. We stopped for gas in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (love that city name) and then someone might as well have told us we were headed for Jeopardy. I switched with Victoria to drive in the rest of the way. And here's where the fun starts. We come off the interstate...two lane...everything is fine. We are seeing mountains ahead...big mountains...with snow on them. At this point we're thinking...no problem...all wheel drive...we were sure roads would be clear. And that's when we entered Gila National Forest and the pass that goes OVER the mountain...not around. We should have suspected something when we stopped seeing cars. At 5,000 or so feet...snow is on the road...and we're going up...and up into more and more and more snow. Big time snow by 7,000 feet. We're all on the edge of our seats wandering if we would EVER crest this thing. At that 7,000 foot mark... a pickup truck stopped in front of us to chain up to make it up the next steep grade. Good Lord. Finally...he's off...we watch....he makes it. Because we were sitting still...tires spun. Now...at this point...we'd been driving that mountain for 45 minutes or so at about 15-30 mph...hair pin turns...snow...ice. One track in the snow. We saw ONE truck coming at us from the other way the ENTIRE time we're trying to get through Gila. At the worst point...while we are spinning tires...I look at my cell and realize NONE of us have service. Send the dogs is what I'm thinking now. I back up...and try again...slowly we gain momentum....and UP the grade and over we go all the while realizing (as Steve Dean pointed out later) there were no guard rails. Perfect. I cant' begin to explain what a tense, and BEAUTIFUL ride it was over this mountain. For the record...we're talking 10,00o feet. It must have taken over and hour and a half to get down the other side and into Silver Springs which also had snow. Last night at our show...we told folks we had come over the pass and there was a LOUD gasp of amazement from them. Of course..the locals know not to go over...and according to some...the road should have been closed with someone telling us not to go up the mountain. Little late now. Despite how tense all three of us felt...it will be a great memory that we will share and laugh about for years and years. You can check my Facebook Page to see some of the pictures during our drive if you'd like.
Today we drive to Payson, Arizona for our last show on our Western swing.
Have a great Wednesday.
BILL BLOG Monday February 1, 2016 I'm sitting at a kitchen table in a rented home in Albuquerque this morning listening to th wind whistling outside at 5 am New Mexico time. Out the back window the lights of the city against the mountain range are twinkling. WEST TRIP It's been quite a few days with my "Hits and Grins" trio as we ramble through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before we get home sometime Friday. I'll try to give you some of the highlights here that start with Borger, Texas. LONE STAR We had an EARLY flight out of Nashville to Dallas then Amarillo and then by rental car to our Friday night destination of Borger, Texas. It was evident we were in Texas for sure when we kept seeing tumbleweeds bounce across the north Texas highways. Cattle, horses, windmills, lots of those gigantic white wind farms with propellers spinning dotting the blue Texas skies. We played at the High School Auditorium that night...as part of the concert series for the city. Borger is only about 12-14,000 folks...built on Phillips Petroleum Oil back in the day. A lot of those folks showed up on a Friday night and enjoyed our show. We enjoyed hanging with them even more. Just great down to earth folks. A couple I met in Ruidoso, New Mexico a year ago with Linda Davis and Lang Scott and our "Evening In The Round" show...lived 30 miles away and they came and brought a friend with them. Really nice to see them up front and getting to spend some more time with them. They took me to one of those Chuckwagon Shows out in Ruidoso. You know the ones. You line up with a tin plate and the cowboys slap a hot potato, beans, chicken, biscuit....and then later those same cowboys get up on stage and sing "Happy Trails" and "Ghost Riders" ....etc. So again I'm reminded how cool it is that music draws people together all over the country. Thank you Dwight and Annette Chase for coming! SATURDAY We took our time getting up and getting out after being up for about 20 hours straight on Friday. It took us a little over six hours to drive here to Albuquerque where we have a rented house the three of us are sharing. The next door neighbors suggested a local Mexican restaurant that was REALLY good...and the salsa was REALLY hot. Saturday night sleep...and yesterday Sunday was lazy for the two boys...but Victoria decided to fly down Sandia Peak on skis all day. So...I drove her up the mountain...dropped her and Steve and I picked her up later on Sunday. It was truly deja vu all over again for me pulling up to the Sandia Peak ski lodge...and here's why. More years ago than I can remember...I had taken my band to Alubuquerque to play the Caravan East Club for two weeks. So...I learned to ski where I dropped Victoria off. And as we pulled up to the lodge I was awash with memories. I recognized the picket fence and I fell over and through...the black diamond trail that I stupidly tried to go down ONCE. Once only...tumbling like the Texas tumbleweeds all the way down. The chair lifts...the country feel to the lodge...everything. I would have LOVED to strap on skis with her...but my knees these days bark at me and I'm thinking knees and ski don't go together if the knees aren't rock solid. So...Victoria had it to herself and had an absolute blast. SANDIA PEAK TRAM The tram that I rode all those years ago to get to the top of the mountain was closed because of high winds. Same today I hear so I won't get to revisit that gentle scenic ride. I'm not into that much swaying on a cable line...so that was disappointing. But today I think we'll have time to visit "Old Town"...the historical section of Albuquerque that I also remember from that trip over 20 years ago.
So... a day off today...then off and running down the road to Silver City, NM early.
No blog tomorrow...look for one Wednesday.
BILL BLOG Thursday January 28, 2016 Going through cell phone hell this morning. I've come to realize I'm too stupid for technology and would like to have my phone with a cord and typewriter back. YESTERDAY I had a great writing appointment with one of my favorite young artists in town...Jenny Tolman. We were scheduled to write with her producer Dave Brainard but Dave was in a court room all morning for that CASE I've written about before where he and a companion were beat up on the streets of Nashville...jaw broken. Dave did walk in before Jenny and I finished yesterday...and I'm happy to report his jaw is much better...some dental work still ahead...but all in all...on the road to full recovery. The case continues...and I'm hoping they throw the book at the couple that assaulted Dave and his friend. We'll see. Jenny brought a GREAT idea to the writing table and we attacked that. We still have a little work to do on it...so we'll finish and sharpen it up next time I see her and Dave. The two of them are stacking up songs for Jenny and getting ready to record her first album and pitch to the labels. I love her chances. And I love the songs we've written towards that project. Artists tend to record WAY more songs than what they need for the albums. It's an interesting dynamic of the business. You find out that someone has recorded your song....and then find out they've recorded way more than they need and you wait to see if your song...or songs wind up on the album after the finals cuts are made. So...you tend not to celebrate until you see the song physically on the album credits. In this case...I know we've written some really good songs...and will write more...so I'm excited about where this will go. We'll see. Fun day with some of my favorite folks. AND THEN THE PHONE THING So...I've been delaying updating my phone for a long time. I've held onto my Apple 4 for a long while...and yesterday went up to the 6S. We got to Target. I have a gift card...and they have a $200 give back for buying. All good. Then comes the set up and transfer from one phone to another. I liked our young clerk....polite...in the know....but it took a long time with a bad wireless connection in store. When we were finally done she assured me we're good to go...everything is transferred. Now...my wife Kathy had told me going in to make SURE all my stuff transferred so I have no good excuses for being so stupid. The transfer of everything...that didn't quite happen. The clerk showed me my photos were transferred...and that the rest of my apps I saw missing would download on their own once I got into a better Wifi location. Uh...no. No e-mails...no texts...no music...no calendar entries...nada...zilch...sigh. So today I'll get to go back with both phones and my computer hoping everything can be synced back up and be ready for my long western tour with "Hits and Grins" that starts very early tomorrow morning. I'm always grateful every time I buy something and it works the second I leave the store. Just wish that was the norm.
TODAY Packing for a western tour with my "Hits and Grins" trio that starts tomorrow night in Borger, Texas. Long day tomorrow with a very early flight out of Nashville...so there may be no blog here tomorrow morning.
So have a great Thursday...and weekend!
BILL BLOG Wednesday January 27, 2016 Hump Day...and over it we go. YESTERDAY Tuesday is our get together with our "Hits and Grins" trio Steve Dean, Victoria Venier and myself. We finished up a song together that's going to be fun to do "live" in our concert set someday...and got up to speed on our tour out west starting Friday. Victoria put our itinerary together so we're good to go. Borger, Texas Friday night. Silver City, New Mexico February 2 where we will roll in early and teach a music/songwriting class at one of the local schools before our concert that night. And then we wrap up with a February 4 show in Payson, Arizona where we will arrive early for a radio interview. In between we'll hang out in Albuquerque where I have not been since I played there with a band many years ago. So it will be a chance to revisit "Old Town" where I bought some turquoise jewelry when I was there...and we'll take the tram up to Sandia Peak where Steve and I will sit in a lodge with libations while we watch Victoria go tumbling down a ski hill. And she thinks she's going to be the one having all the fun. Uh huh. Looking forward to the trip which starts with a very early flight out of Nashville...to Dallas...then another flight to Amarillo...rent a car...drive into Borger. Full days ahead...all good.
SAD I received news that a gentleman who opened up his great facility in Tyler Texas to the Wounded Warriors passed away His name is Pierre De Wet. I played at his winery/event center along with my friend Jenny Tolman this past year which was such an honor. The man came to America from South Africa with nothing...bought a plot of land in East Texas and turned it into a hugely successful winery/event center and recording studio that I toured....where Randy Travis recorded some of his music. Amazing facility. Pierre opened his place to the Wounded Warriors....music...dinner...drinks...gambling games...and Jenny and me played music for them. He LOVED America. And just meeting him one time...you loved the guy. I'm so sorry to hear this news. He's going to be missed by many.
AND THEN THERE'S THIS HEADLINE OF THE DAY "How I lost nearly 100 pounds by eating pizza every day". I'll be reading that article later today for sure. I'm betting he's eating a slice WHILE he's on the treadmill. We'll see. TODAY Off to write with Jenny Tolman and Dave Brainard. Dave is a great writer/player/producer...Grammy nominated...and he is working on a project for Jenny which is going to be really great. Right now it's all about getting her a stack of great songs. I'm hoping we write one of those today. To get prepared and fueled up...I'll be smoking a cigarette and eating pizza before I get there. Okay...maybe not. Have a great Wednesday!
BILL BLOG Tuesday January 26, 2013 Don't look now but the first month of the New Year is almost gone already. Geez. YESTERDAY I was glad to be able to get out and up our road yesterday to go to WSM Radio where they were doing a staff photo shoot inside the 650AM WSM Studio located in the Opryland Hotel. I know pictures are getting serious when they have a team of hair and makeup people on site. I got a little more time with make-up than hair for all the obvious reasons. Couple of poses...in...out...done...and I guess you'll be able to see mine on the website soon at wsmonline.com Time flies. I have already worked at WSM about as long as any radio stop I've ever made along the way which is hard to believe. I'm not on air all that much so that kind of makes sense. Harder to keep track of years when you're not actually behind the microphone every day. I'm obviously proud to be a small small part of such a great radio station...and can honestly say...from top to bottom it's one of the nicest and best staffs from management on down that I've been a part of. I certainly appreciate them having me every now and then...and I hope my official picture doesn't scare the listeners away. REST OF MONDAY After the photo shoot...I managed to get to the gym...and then wrote three football parody songs for my comedy syndication company I write for. Two of those were custom jobs that go to a country radio station in Denver to play. So those were all about the Bronco's winning. Carolina is favored...but I am most surely rooting for Peyton as this will probably be the last we see of a class act. I was in Indy at the draft party when the Colts selected him as their number one draft choice back when. Class act like the rest of his family. They gave all of us in the media a Colts number 18 jersey after the fact which I think I have buried somewhere in a closet still. I'm thinking Cam Newton is going to have several chances to win the Lombardi Trophy...so I'm rooting that a week from Sunday Peyton will pull off an upset before he goes into the TV booth or ownership or whatever he chooses to do during his post football years.
TODAY It's "Hits and Grins" Tuesday. Steve Dean, Victoria Venier and myself will gather and try to finish up a song the three of us started last week...rehearse and go over our schedule for the three concert run out west that starts this Friday night in Borger, Texas. We will play in Borger, Silver City, New Mexico and Payson, Arizona during this run. And...we have some off days where we will bed down in Albuquerque. Looking forward to playing these theaters and making new friends out on the road as always. Blessed to do what I do. Have a great Tuesday!
BILL BLOG Monday January 25, 2016 To Florida and back...what a weekend. EVENING IN THE ROUND So...Friday the snow started falling...unexpectedly. We had a show Saturday night in Brooksville, Florida to get to...and the road I live on is treacherous with any snow on it at all...much less ice. So...our 10:30 departure time got moved up when I woke up at 6 am this past Friday to see the weather dudes got it wrong. The snow was not to start until 10:30 or noon...WRONG. So I knew looking out our front window I had zero chance of getting out of here in the vehicle I own. Fortunately...Lang Scott has 4 WD....managed to climb up our driveway and get me and my guitar and bags. Unfortunately my wife Kathy could not be ready as her bags were not packed yet....so she missed this trip which we all hated. We go back to Lang's house...coffee...and pick up his wife Linda Davis and we're off...slowly. We drop their youngest daughter at a friend's house...who walks out and give us a box of cat litter in case we get stuck. I told her...not once in my life has a woman ever given me cat litter. A grocery list yes. A hard time? Yes. Cat litter? Not so much. Fortunately we did not need it. We spent about an hour and half before we cleared the snow and hit rain and wind. Overnight in Valdosta....and we hit Brookville, Florida where it was COLD about 1 pm Saturday afternoon. THE SHOW The 11 hour drive was worth it as we had a great great crowd at the High Point Commmunity Center...a return engagement for us. My thanks to Clay and Sheila who made this happen by working their tails off and selling tickets. Couple of things stood out to me. A woman who was at this show last year at the age of 101...sat on the front row and looks healthier at 102! And she can still stand up on her own and take a bow to big applause. Amazing. There's hope for the rest of us. Second...I got to see so old friends I have not seen forever....Todd and Holly Leiser who drove up from Tampa where they are now retired. I worked with both of them at WUBE in Cincinnati way back when and had not seen them since. So a real pleasure to renew that friendship with them. LINDA DAVIS I also want to say congratulations to my great friend Linda Davis as Kenny Rogers invited her to be part of his farewell tour which is a major deal. That's 160 dates worldwide that she'll be a part of singing with Kenny. I plan on catching at least one of those shows before it's over. That does mean there will be less "Evening In The Round" shows because of that busy schedule....but it's just wonderful news for someone who deserves it. Kenny made a very wise choice!
TODAY Time to catch up...I have a photo shoot today for WSM Radio. I know...Bill Whyte and "photo shoot" should never be in the same sentence. I'm hoping I have a good angle and great makeup person.
Have a great Monday!
BILL BLOG Friday January 21, 2015 Short blog this morning as I'm looking out the window from the home of Lang Scott and Linda Davis as we get ready to try and get to Florida for our show Saturday night. I say try...because we've got real snow this morning...so the goal is to get south enough for it to be just rain...which is not very far away. Lang has all wheel drive and managed to get down our treacherous road to grab me and my bags. I have a little Toyota RAV that I drive mostly...and I watched this morning as our neighbor...who also has a RAV got stuck on the first hill going up our road and abandoned his car. Lang had zero problems getting to me...so off we go here in a few minutes. Wish us luck. Hard to imagine the weather guy could be wrong right? Uh huh. We were set for snow to start about 10:30...I woke up to a blanket of it at 6 AM. Weather folks are sort of like property appraisers. It's just an opinion. YESTERDAY I did have a fun Thursday that started in the recording studio with Wynn Varble and Gerald Smith as we laid the instrumental tracks down on a song the three of us wrote together. Always fun to hang with those two...and the song is going to turn out great. We'll lay vocals and the rest of it down later. Gerald teed me up for a solo gig here in town on March 16 at the Opry Backstage Grill. I'll do the feature set solo at 8:45 that night. Should be fun...and details are already in my calendar at billwhytecomedy.com. Thank you Gerald for that. LAST NIGHT My "Hits and Grins" trio played the Listening Room. Considering the ominous forecast...we had a great crowd last night. Much fun. And now Steve Dean, Victoria Venier and myself will look ahead to catching an airplane to Texas early next Friday morning for a three show run of Borger, TX, Silver City, NM, and Payson, Arizona that wraps up the mini tour on February 4. Looking forward to seeing some old friends and making new ones on this trip. That's it for today...white road ahead. Here we go. Have a great weekend!
BILL BLOG Thursday January 21, 2016 Awake...coffee...and looking at the weather trying to judge when to get out of Dodge in time to avoid what's coming. SNOW We had a dusting yesterday...but it doesn't take much here to shut us down. I stayed in all day and looked at the snow cover...my wife Kathy got out last night for her workout classes. Soooo....I'm thinking I'm good to go this morning and did get out on our little country/curvy/hilly road we live on going very very slow on the icy patches. But...when I got back to our house which sits on an acre with a driveway that goes straight up and has still not completely thawed out....I got stuck on an ice patch. Back down the hill...pedal to the metal...and then got past it. The problem coming up is I have a show tonight in town...and a 10 am departure tomorrow to Florida for a Saturday night show and we have to make sure we get off our little road before the snow they're calling for hits. So...I'll be watching the weather channel a bunch today. Right now they're saying it will hit Friday morning sometime...so we'll see. OFF THE ROAD I mentioned yesterday that I lived in Wisconsin....6 years. That's enough time to know how to drive in two feet of snow. First law...own something with 4 wheel drive. But here...a dusting and folks are in trouble. I don't think we had an inch of snow but yesterday police answered 166 calls for wrecks because of the weather. Good grief. And now I hear they are calling for "freezing fog". How the heck does fog freeze? I'll be googling that later this morning.
MOVIES The latest "Terminator" movie that was to be released this year has been pulled. Not sure why. But...in it's place will be a new "Baywatch" movie. So...Arnold Schwarzenegger has been replaced by Pam Anderson in a red bathing suit. Doubting there will be an Oscar nod in the future for "Baywatch"...but...it is iconic isn't it? I'm working on a farm based reality TV show where the girls wear Daisy Dukes and boots with the opening scene showing them running across an alfalfa field to be titled "Haywatch". BUSY I'm getting ready to hit a real busy period over the next few weeks starting today. First...I've added a new show with my "Hits and Grins" trio which will be in town again...at Puckett's downtown location this time. March 25 at 8:30 pm. Tomorrow morning I'm up to catch a ride with my other trio..."Evening In The Round" as Linda Davis, Lang Scott and myself have a show in Brooksville Florida at the High Point Community Center in that retirement community we played last year. Should be great fun if we can beat the snow out of Nashville. I'll get home late Sunday night...and re-set for a run to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona that starts a week from tomorrow. All dates and info are listed on my calendar at billwhtyecomedy.com. TODAY Busy Thursday. I'm off to a studio today with my great songwriting friends Wynn Varble and Gerald Smith who have had a lot of hits between them. Wynn wrote "Waiting On A Woman" for Brad Paisley and "Have You Forgotten" by Darryl Worley to name two. Gerald used to be on Hee Haw as the "Georgia Quacker" and wrote "What Part of No" by Lorrie Morgan to name one. So...this will be a treat laying down a song we wrote together in studio They're both funny guys...but this particular song all of us like is a commercial idea...not comedy. We'll see what happens with the song later. TONIGHT Show time is 8:30 pm at the Listening Room Cafe on 2nd Avenue with "Hits and Grins". Hope to see some of you there. Have a great Thursday!