March 5, 2014
Well, hello everyone. Yes, I am still alive and well, and sorry I have not written anything for
this page in a while. Nevertheless, I hope that you all are having a good 2014! Isn’t it amazing
that planet Earth has survived to 2014. It appeared to me, and many others, that the way our
civilization was headed, we would not survive this long. For those of us who read and believe
the prophecies of the Bible, the words of the song, “Midnight Cry”, ring out loud and clear.
“I look around me and I see prophecies appearing. And the signs of the time are appearing
everywhere.” However, the end of the world has been predicted for centuries, and we are still
here. It would really be exciting if there was some cause for optimism about the future of planet
Earth. Nevertheless, today is Ash Wednesday and my list for Lent is very short. The main thing
I am going to try to give up, in my simple human mind, is wondering why? The old hymn,
“Farther Along” will be my mantra as I try let go of trying to understand why bad things happen
to good people in this life.
Haven’t we had a bizarre winter in the USA? We have never been this cold for this long in the
southeast and so many of our friends in the rest of the country have had it so much worse than
we. We have been so lucky in our travels to have been in the right place at the right time and
have avoided most of the travel nightmares that many have had to endure. We only have gotten
stranded one time because of cancelled flights.
Sis and I took a trip to Arizona and California in January to visit my daughter and her husband
and to visit friends in California. We caught perfect weather the entire two weeks and really
enjoyed visiting with Julie and Carlos and friends in California that we don’t see often enough.
All the time we were gone, our part of the country was having cold, cold and wet weather and
on our way home, the Jackson airport was closed because of ice on runways. We had to spend a
night in Houston, but got home the next day.
February was a very busy month for me as I had a lot of singing engagements and other
commitments that made that short month seem shorter. A lot of my singing gigs don’t make it
to my Calendar page on my website because many are booked after I send my schedule in. I
did six concerts in February and a few appearances where I just made an appearance or only
sang a couple of songs. Sis made a trip to visit our new grandson and, because of my singing
commitments, I could not go with her. He is now six months old and getting cuter every
day. We get either a picture or a video every morning and an occasional Facetime phone call.
Modern technology is so wonderful for families and friends living far apart!
March is birthday month for us. We have about 15 family and friends who were born in March,
including my wife, my mother and my sister. I might add that they are monumental birthdays for
each. We are going to New Orleans to celebrate Sis’ birthday with friends who are coming from
California. Just as the city gets all cleaned up from Mardi Gras, we and the St. Patrick’s Day
Parade come to town. We always enjoy NOLA and will be happy to celebrate a BIG birthday
for Sis amidst the wonderful food and music of this fabulous one-of-a-kind American city.
I am still contemplating doing a new CD, but have not gotten past the initial talks of what kind
of songs I want to record. There have been lots of requests for me to do an album of 50’s-60’s
songs and others want me to do a country album. It would be difficult to combine the two, so I
may have to do both.
As we pray for warmer weather for everyone, I would like to leave you with a statement maestro
Lawrence Welk made with regard to the status of a certain day in his life: “there are good days
and bad days, and this is one of them.”
Take care of yourselves and “keep a joyful song in your heart”.
December 18, 2013
I am sitting here listening to Christmas music and trying to figure out how
Thanksgiving came and went without my writing anything for this page.
Nevertheless, our family had a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope you did also. I
love Thanksgiving because it is a time we dedicate to counting our many blessings
and thanking God for each and every one. My Thanksgiving song is “Why Me
Lord”. If you care to know the message of this Kris Kristofferson song, look it up.
This year, the week before Thanksgiving was the 50th
assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It is a day that most of us who were
alive can recall very vividly. We were so shocked that it took some time for it
to sink in. What we did not know, was how his death broke the spirit of many
young people who looked to him as the hope for a new day in America. Then the
Viet Nam war, Watergate and various other events caused more unrest, distrust
and pessimism among many in our country. President Reagan with his boundless
optimism about America being "a shining city on a hill," tried to get us back to
pride in our country and hope for its future, but we have continued to drift toward
a negative, pessimistic society that has little faith in its government or its leaders.
We must get more actively involved in our communities and we must take the time
to get to know those whose names appear on our ballots so we can have a better
chance to elect honest, capable and dedicated people to office. We desperately
need people who want to be public servants and not someone looking for a job
or to further a political career. We also need to be looking to God, rather than a
politician or any human being, for hope for a new day in America. OK – that’s my
soapbox sermon for this newsletter.
I did quite a few Christmas concerts this year, but, other than singing “Mary, Did
You Know at our church’s Christmas Eve service, my next scheduled performance
is January 10, 2014. I will enjoy the break but I’ll definitely have to vocalize often
to keep my voice in shape. As most singers know, the voice is like any other
muscle and will atrophy if not used. That is doubly true when you get as old as I
While we are disappointed that my daughter, Julie, and her husband, Carlos,
won’t make it to Mississippi for Christmas, we are excited that our new grandson,
Wilson, is coming from Virginia to our house. Instead of trying to haul baby and
everything around to visit relatives and friends, we encouraged Wilson’s mom and
dad to park it at our house and have everyone who wants to see him come here.
We are very happy with that arrangement! Wilson is four months old and we have
not seen him for two months, so we will have to re-introduce ourselves to him.
Children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and various other relatives will
gather at our house the weekend before Christmas. Those with small children will
then be able to get back home for Santa Claus. We will travel to Phoenix after the
first of the year to spend some time with Julie and Carlos. Then we plan to go to
LA for a few days to visit friends that we don’t get to see nearly often enough.
We don’t travel around the country as much as we used to and we want you, who
have followed us all these years, to know that we miss seeing you. The Lawrence
Welk show has been on national television for 58 years and if PBS keeps it going
through 2015, it will have survived 60 years-- A record that will probably never be
broken. I feel so blessed to have been a part of the history of this incredible show
and to be able to say with pride that I was a member of Lawrence Welk’s Musical
Family. You are the best fans that any show ever had!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Y’all!
Luke 2 (KJV)
… I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is
Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the
babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly
there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
October 30, 2013
Happy Birthday to my daughter, Julie, who was born 36 years ago today! I was her age when she was born, so she can always know how old I am by adding 36 to her age. Julie is a dedicated elementary school teacher for about ten years now, and I couldn’t be more proud of her for the person she is and the compassion she has for the children she teaches.
We just returned from babysitting our brand new grandson who is nine weeks old. Sis had already been to see him when he was born, but it was my first time seeing him. He is, of course, the most handsome and smartest child ever! However, we found that raising a baby is not for the elderly. Those midnight and 3:00 a.m. feedings are killers, but what better way to die! We won’t see him again until Christmas, but that will be here in a blink of the eye. Can’t wait for that blink!
Senior American Day at the Mississippi State Fair was my big event for October and, as usual, it was a big success. The crowd was about 5,000 and they have such a good time at this event. Hundreds of vendors set up booths to attract senior citizens and there are free vision exams, blood pressure checks, flu shots, etc. The Diamonds, a fabulous group that was so popular in the 50’s, did a great show. None of the original members of the Diamonds are still performing, but the current members of the group do them proud. Our beautiful and talented Miss Mississippi, Chelsea Rick, was an added attraction to the event. We are sure that she should have won the Miss America Pageant this year. What a sweet person inside and out.
I will be performing at the Brandon Opry this weekend. That is BRANDON, MS, not BRANSON, MO! Some folks got that confused last year, so if you want to see me in concert this Saturday, you will have to come to Mississippi. I always enjoy this event every year, as I get to sing a lot of my favorite country songs with a band who knows how to play country music. I grew up on country and gospel music, and I get to do both at this concert.
The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are upon us. I was almost amused when I went looking for Halloween decorations this month and had to wade through Christmas stuff to find it.
I know I am old and have a hard time dealing with change, but, I really have a hard time with retail moving Christmas to early October. Thanksgiving almost gets no recognition! I just ignore the TV ads these days. I do one holiday at a time. It makes it a little difficult for parents of young children because if they wait, all the stores are out of the popular item of the day. It is difficult to juggle these values. I know I did not, and always did whatever I needed to do to get Julie the hottest product on the market for kids her age.
I have a new favorite charity and urge you to look into donating to this cause. It is “Clean water for Malawi” and was started by a friend of mine here in Jackson. A lot of my friends have been to Malawi to see the work done by this group and they all came back with a glowing report. Look at the website http://cleanwaterformalawi.org to see more about this project. It is just hard for us in this country to comprehend living where there is no access to clean water.
As we enter this holiday season, I hope you are blessed to have those you love around you and that you have a safe and happy time. Look to those who are less fortunate and do what you can to help them have something to be thankful for during this time of year.
God Bless America!
August 16, 2013
“Elvis is dead and I don’t feel so good myself”. That is the title of one of Lewis Grizzard’s books and pops up in my mind every year when we get to Elvis’ date of death. I do remember where I was thirty six years ago, on August 16, 1977 when I heard the news that Elvis had died. I was out on tour with the Lawrence Welk Show and we were already at the venue and in the dressing room when someone came in with the news. It was a shocking event and, since I shared the same hometown as EP, I was cornered by some media for a comment. Elvis was six years older than I and moved from Tupelo when I was seven years old. I had no knowledge of him until his records began topping the charts in 1956. He came back to Tupelo to do a show at the fair in the fall of that year and I had never seen anything like the reaction he got from the teenage girls. All of us guys were a little jealous as we watched our girlfriends going crazy over him. I have a story related to Elvis that I often tell as one of my biggest regrets in my show business career. The Jordanaires was a fabulous gospel quartet that sang with Elvis on all his early records. The bass singer, Hugh Jarrett, left the group and moved to Los Angeles where he wanted to organize a “Jordanaires West” to do background vocals for recording sessions. He enlisted me to be a member of the group and I was thrilled to join Hugh, Harry Middlebrooks and Rex Dennis to form the Jordanaires West. We did a few record sessions and when Elvis did his comeback tour in 1970, he hired the group to go with him. Well, I had just joined the Welk show and I just didn’t want to ask for three weeks off after having been there only a couple of months. So I did not go on the tour and I still regret it to this day. Ironically, the guy who replaced me in the group was Michael Redman, who would later become a member of the Welk Musical Family.
We are on baby watch around our house as my wife’s son and his wife are expecting a baby boy at any moment. Of course we are excited as it has been a while--nine years--since we have had a baby in the family. I told Sis when we found out they were pregnant that she had better start herself a “visit the baby” fund to buy airline tickets to Washington, D.C. I doubt that she has nearly enough saved for the number of trips she will make over the next few months, so I am anticipating larger than usual credit card bills!
The summer has been very enjoyable for us as we have been at home for most of the last two months. Sis took a trip to the beach with her girlfriends and I went to Arizona to visit my daughter, Julie, during that time. Having two of our children living so far away, keeps us from seeing them nearly as much as we would like to, but we are just thankful that they are happy and that we are able to see them as much as we do.
My brother-in-law and I have worked hard in our garden, but we have been disappointed in our crop. We got talked into ordering organic seeds this year and we have some really beautiful plants with very little on them. We did have a lot of squash, okra, peppers and tomatoes, but the butter beans, green beans, water melons and cantaloupe did not do well. We will not do organic seeds next year.
I have kept my promise to play a lot of golf this summer and my game is showing some promise. It is definitely a sport that you have to play on a consistent basis if you want improve your game. It also helps to practice! Practicing just isn’t nearly as much fun a playing a round with a group of guys who enjoy each other’s company. At my age that is more important than trying to improve my game. Frankly, I have time to do both; I just don’t like to practice!
I have been making an effort to sing somewhere about once a week to keep my voice in shape. One can vocalize every day, but you never get the workout that a live concert gives you. The Guy & Ralna Show is done for the year, but I have quite a few things lined up through next spring that will keep me busy. I still try to visit a retirement/assisted living/nursing home once a month to sing for the folks who have kept us on television for all these years. We are all happy to hear that the Welk TV Show was renewed by over 200 stations across the country, assuring these faithful fans that they will be able to watch it for two more years.
The next public appearance I have is Senior America Day at the Mississippi State Fair on October 9th. This is my 25th year to be a part of this event and I always look forward to it. I act as emcee and open the show with about a half hour act. This year we have the Diamonds as our headliner act. If you grew up in the 50’s you will remember this group that had hits like Little Darlin’ and The Stroll. Folks will be dancing in the aisles, so if you are in the Jackson, Mississippi area October 9th, come see us. It is a noon show and admission is free!
Thanks to all of you who visit this website and who encourage me to keep writing these occasional newsletters. Please feel free to email with any questions you might have about something I write or with suggestions of what you would like to see included in these ramblings.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson: “…if we can but prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy."
God Bless America!
God Bless America!
May 25, 2013
It is Memorial Day weekend in the USA. For many decades Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th, but in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which changed it to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend for federal employees. Mississippi is one of many states who lay claim to the origin of Memorial Day, which was originally known as Decoration Day. On April 25, 1866 women in Columbus, Mississippi laid flowers at the graves of both the Union and Confederate casualties buried in its cemetery. The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from "Decoration Day" to "Memorial Day", which was first used in 1882. Unfortunately, the reason for Memorial Day, which is to honor those who died in the service of their country, often gets lost in all the festivities that occur on the three-day weekend. I hope you will pause for a moment this weekend and remember those in our military who have given their lives to preserve and protect freedom here and throughout the world.
We have had a beautiful spring here in Mississippi. I attribute the deep, lush color of the azaleas, dogwoods, and even the tree leaves, to all the rain we endured the past three months. The ground finally got dry enough for us to plant the big garden and couple of weeks ago and everything is up and growing fast—including weeds. The pre-emerge didn’t work! We (my brother-in-law and I) scaled back a bit from last year as our wives were threatening us if we brought any more of the harvest to the house. We gave away more to neighbors than we used ourselves. My brother-in-law has a beautiful place north of Jackson where the garden is located and he has nice lake that is full of fish. We usually find time to do a little fishing when we go to work in the garden.
The Guy & Ralna Show was at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire earlier this month and we had a great and enthusiastic crowd. I think it was one of the better shows Ralna and I have done and I believe it was probably because we were really pumped up by the audience. We have always loved working in New England and not just because of the lobster, which we always enjoy. We have been to some places so many times that we have developed friendships over the years and we always enjoy seeing old friends again. This was certainly true of this trip as we loved visiting with our friends at the Makris Lobster and Steak House in Concord. The lobster was fabulous and the fellowship likewise.
Next up for us is the American Music Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we will be appearing June 16th along with Bobby Burgess, Elaine Balden and Jo Ann Castle. This is another place we have been to a number of times over the years and we love the theater and the talented people who run it. On our way to Lancaster we will be stopping in Washington to visit my step-son and his wife who are expecting their first child this fall. Needless to say, we are all super excited about this event!!
Have a save Memorial Day weekend and pray for our country.
God Bless America!
March 29, 2013
Spring is really trying to happen here in the south. It has been a roller coaster ride with the
weather in our area, as it has been in many parts of our country. We had a 24 degree night
March 26th which was devastating to a lot of flowers and trees that thought winter was over. The
azaleas in the south seem to figure out what’s happening with the weather and they endure until
it is warm enough for them to show off their brilliant colors. I can never complain about our
weather when I see snow and temperatures in the teens for some parts of our country on Easter
weekend. Easter bunny will need to wear his long handles in Minneapolis.
The first part of 2013 has been good for us—much better than 2012 when we had much illness
and death in the family. We tried to do nothing in January except to clean out files and answer
mail from Christmas. I had three concerts in February and we attended the annual Cancer
League Gala, which is a local fund raiser for the American Cancer Society. My wife, Sis, is still
very actively involved in charity and was a board member for the southeast region of the ACS
for many years.
March took us to southern California where the Guy & Ralna Show was in the theater at
Lawrence Welk Village in Escondido for a couple of weeks. We really enjoyed our time there
as friends from Los Angeles came to visit and we soaked up some wonderful sunshine, which
we had not seen for a while in Mississippi. I enjoy working in that small, intimate theater there
more than anywhere else we perform. The crew is top-notch and they make it so comfortable
and easy to work that we wish we could stay for months. Thank all of you who came to see us.
It was really fun visiting with our loyal Welk noters and other fans after the shows. We were
there for the celebration of the birthday of the maestro, Lawrence Welk, who would have been
110 years of age on March 11.
Sis and I visited old friends in Newport Beach for a couple of days after we finished in
Escondido and had a great time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with them. We loved our time in
Southern California, but it was really good to get home. I guess we have gotten to the age that
we just love to be in our own bed! We didn’t have but a couple of days to regroup when we got
home as we went to north Mississippi to celebrate the birthdays of my mother and sister. They
share the same birthday! Mother is 94 and I will just say that my sister is younger than I! I
always take time to sing for the residents in the home where my mother lives and it is more of a
blessing for me that it is for them.
I am really looking forward to this next month at home. I have a few concerts for senior adult
groups around Jackson, but I am really excited about getting reacquainted with my golf clubs.
I have only had them out once since I broke my foot last fall, so I am sure that my patience is
going to be tried as I work to get my game back in shape. April is also the month we work on
getting our garden prepared for planting and hopefully the weather will cooperate for golf and
Ralna and I are performing in Concord, New Hampshire area on May 12th, so if you are in the
area, please come see us. I hope you all have a beautiful spring!
GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!
January 10, 2013
It has been so long since I have made an entry on this page that I don’t know where to begin.
I guess I will begin with Happy New Year everyone. I hope you had a good holiday season, which at our house went from Thanksgiving all the way through the first of the year. We are so thankful that most of our family is able to gather together each year and we are always grateful when everyone gets back home safely. We are still getting the Christmas decorations put back in their proper places for another eleven month waiting period that seems shorter every year. I like to listen to one of the songs on my Christmas CD (“Til The Season Comes ‘Round Again”) when we are de-decorating the house. The last lines of the lyrics say “and we’ll love and we’ll laugh in the time that we have, ‘til the season comes round again”. In other words, be thankful and enjoy every moment of the time you have with those you love.
Since I have not written in a couple of months, this could be a long newsletter, but I will try not to ramble too much. First I am happy to say that my fractured foot is healing nicely. I am still in physical therapy trying to get the range of motion and strength back to normal. Surely this accident will make me move a little slower and more deliberately. At my age, I don’t want to be wasting what little time I have left on this earth sitting around waiting for a broken bone to heal. Being immobile and not being able to exercise also added about ten pounds that I now have to address. Buying larger size clothes is not an option!
It was interesting and sometimes challenging doing concerts with a big plastic boot on my right leg. Most of my concerts had to be done sitting on a stool, which is really foreign to me. I like to move around on stage when I am performing, but it was actually enjoyable sitting in one spot and just singing the song. I gained a new appreciation for some of the lyrics of songs I have been singing for years. Doing concerts at Christmas time when I can sing all the nostalgic songs of the season is something I look forward to every year. “O Holy Night”, “Mary, Did You Know” and “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting…) are three songs that come to mind that I really love to sing. It would be wonderful to be able to sing them all year, but they need to be reserved for the Christmas season when they are so much more meaningful.
Our Christmas spirit was broken December 14th with the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Our hearts were broken for the families that lost their children and their teachers and we spent a lot of time praying for them and questioning how something like this could happen in our country. Maybe this tragedy will finally force us to get serious about looking at our system of handling our mentally ill population and looking for real solutions to protecting the innocent people who are subject to such acts of violence. There is much debate over whether events such as Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado are really random acts or a result of a larger problem that is much harder to define. I really believe that the combination of violence on TV, in movies and in video games, coupled with the failure to teach children the value of a life, contributes greatly to this growing problem in our country. We do need to pray that we will somehow figure out a way to curb this growing trend of violence in our country.
Personally, I am happy to move on from 2012. It was a year filled with tragedies of all sorts from devastating hurricanes to mass shootings to having to endure a million political TV ads. We are, however, still living in the greatest country in the world, and, as I often say, if we remain one nation under God and look to him for guidance, we will survive and thrive.
My first concert of the year is in the first week of February, so I am going to enjoy spending this month cleaning out the 2012 files and getting my ducks in a row for this year. I will be working on some new songs for my concerts and I will do a lot of vocalizing to keep my voice in shape while I am on hiatus. I will also make a trip to Arizona to visit my daughter and son-in-law, who did not make it home for Christmas this year.
In this New Year I encourage you to spend time with those you love, reach out to those who are in need and help whenever and however you can. If you don’t have a favorite charity you support, gifts to the American Red Cross are always needed as they continue to help our citizens who are in crisis situations.
Let’s pray that ’13 will be a lucky number for our new year. “ God Bless us everyone.”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."