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Date News Posted: August 18, 2008

From the Dust Bowl to Modesto, from Oklahoma to California came a young man by the name of Chester Smith.

Chester played guitar, he sang, he wrote a few songs, he DJ’d at several radio stations, he bought his own radio station, then built a TV station, then bought a TV station and then another one and then another one and then another one, if fact some where near the total of 9 of them he owned up until 8-8-8 and his luck ran out.

Chester died this August the 8th day at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California even though he died rich, really rich, it was his song “Wait A Little Longer Please Jesus” that brought him fame.

He was at the right place at the right time with his radio station and booking clubs that brought him together with a bunch that were known to few other than their Mom’s and Dad’s which included the likes of Del Reeves, Hank Williams Sr. Johnny Cash, Hank Thompson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Marty Robbins, and a man that would end up being his life long friend Merle Haggard.

Freddie Hart and I spent the day with Chester a few years ago when he was looking for some more material for his up-coming album with Merle. After the day of throwing songs back and forth at each other Chester found one of Freddie’s he liked and he and Merle included it on the new duo album “California Blend”. It was a gospel album and went on to win a few gospel awards and still is getting play on some of the “GOOD COUNTRY” stations that still know what good country sounds like.

After finishing radio and TV school I stopped by Chester’s radio station and ask him for a job there in Modesto, he couldn’t have treated me nicer but said, these guys I have on the air now have been with me a long time so right now I don’t have a spot but maybe you would be interested in what I am building out back, so he took me out back to where all I saw was a big empty building, I thought maybe he wanted me to paint it or direct traffic that was not yet there.

But no, he said this will be our new TV station and I am sure we can find a spot for you when it is finished in a few months.

But I said, Mr. Smith I love country music and had rather be sitting in there where no one can see me playing country music then doing the news with the whole town watching me. He said I can appreciate that, I have sat in that station many a day playing country music as loud as the those speakers would go.

So I moved on and a few days later I went on the air high up in the Mojave Desert  and how many times do you think I have wondered what would have been my fate had I went on Chester’s TV show. “Only The Shadow Knows”.

Anyway I am sure Merle is sad today as are many others that knew Chester, he never could get enough of Merle’s or any of the other great country artist music and I guess it can be said he lived and died with a country song in his heart.

Chester drove a Rolls Royce around like most of us drive Fords, not to be uppity, because he wasn’t, but just because he could so he did and he thought it was funny the way people looked at him if he went through the drive up window at McDonalds, his car was probably worth more then the store.

I can’t wait to try that, wonder what ye get for a trade in on a 58 ford with white walls.

Well anyway Chester, you made something good out of yourself, the Wall Street Journal gave you what they said was the only Oklahoma country boy to get most all the front page of their paper a couple years ago.

So Rest in peace Chester you had a great 78 years.

Did we ever get a great couple of albums,  CDs of course from Billy Edd Wheeler. Not good but great.

Most all of the songs on Billy Edd’s albums he wrote, as good as he writes I have no idea why he would even consider singing some one else’ songs.

Now speaking just for myself,  as long as I have been selling records we have got more letters, emails and or phone calls over the years for one Billy wrote and sang about an out house then about any others.

There is no doubt about it, first few people write about out houses, second few people sing about out houses and third and most important is the fact that we about all have used an out house but few of us thought about writing’ about it, heck, most of us just thought about getting’ in and getting’ the heck out, but thanks to Billy Edd he did think about puttin’ down on paper his story about his “Ode To The Little Brown Shack Out Back”.

I am going to confess right now that the biggest reason that I didn’t care for the outhouse was I most times got stuck with the color pages from the catalog, you know, the slick ones and if you ever got stuck with just the cover of a Sears Catalog well heaven help ye. Bring on the corn cobs.

Now that last part wasn’t a tasty story but if you ever lived in the hills then you know it’s true.

And now back to our story. There are so many great songs on these Billy Edd albums it would take me a month to write what I like about each song and I am plum nuts for story songs and that’s what B.E.W. is great at, like the “Rev. Mr. Black” or “The Ballad Of Edsel Martin” or any of the many others but there is one thing you might not know or even thought about and that’s one that kept Kenny Rogers name in the charts for a long time and went on to become a great movie and that’s Billy Edd’s composition of the “Coward Of The County” and if you care to buy Billy Edd’s  CD of the one this song is on you will be in for a great surprise. It is just outstanding, in fact it is coming up on the old CD player right after “Jackson”.

OK now here is two ways to buy and or find out what else is on Billy Edd’s CDs you can email Billy at  or write to his record company at Sagittarius Records>P.O.Box 7> Swannanoa, NC28778.

You’ll get your money’s worth with these great CDs two out of the three of them has got twenty plus songs on them.

When you receive a bunch of just great CDs in the mail between News Letters you have a hard time picking which one to write up first because the artist might think he liked the other one better then mine but that just ain’t true because if I didn’t really like all I write about I wouldn’t write about it at all and if I wrote about all of them at the same time, print would be stacked so high you couldn’t read any of um.

Now here is a guy you may have wondered what happened to after hearing some of his great music from the 60’s, so I am here to tell you he is alive and well and is now not only still singing his songs but might be flying over your head when you ain’t lookin’.

His name is Johnny Seay who sung a great song in those 60 years and still does in these 08 years.

Even though he had other recordings before I became acquainted with Johnny’s recordings this one was my first called “Willie’s Drunk And Nellie’s Dyin’ ” which was a true story about one of Johnny’s neighbors back years ago (1970) and as a DJ I played the heck out of it and even sent Willie a 5 dollar bill.

Some of those “Classic” 45's you may have of Johnny’ might be Frankie’s Man Johnny  that was on NRC Records or Nobody’s Darling But Mine  released in 1960 also on NRC  in 1994 My Baby Walks All Over Me charted at number 27 in the national charts on Philips Records>>My Old Faded Rose charted at number 19 in 1965. Johnny had one in 66 that is still played and talked about today that was released on Warner Brothers called “Day For Decision” that charted in some areas at number #1 and nationally at #14 and was a 1966 Grammy Nominee.

Johnny Seay was born July the 15th 1940 in Gulfport, Mississippi and joined the Louisiana Hayride while still in High school.

When you are going back in the archives looking for Johnny’s music, especially on a computer (you might cross reference his name with Johnny Sea which is also Johnny Seay) and his music so check them both.

Not exactly a good decision for a record company to make, changing name spelling in the middle of the creek.  

But we wanted you to know that because Johnny’s music is to good not to be found no matter how the name is spelled,  by the time I end this you will know how to find his music because one of his CDs he has put together for you has got 24 songs on it and if it had anymore on it, it would be recorded out on the label.

In Johnny’s little story on the inside of his CD he said he has nine children and ten grandchildren, now that sure does have it’s advantages, you always got somebody to help send out your records  and that’s 19 more people to tell folks who their Dad and granddad is.

Johnny was telling me yesterday that he will be doing a show in Texas, one that DJ Joe Belenski (and I am not sure that is how you spell Joe’s last name but I am sure you can tell what I mean and who I mean, maybe Joe will send me a flyer before show time. Also Freddie Hart will be on the show, we’ll get a run down before show time about where, when and who will be on that show so hang in there.

OK now we want to give you Johnny Seay’s email and record company address… email is  and record company address is Cross and Grave Ranch Brand Records 4823 CR 1008>>Glen Rose, Texas  76043.

OK I will narrow down where Johnny and Freddie and some others will be, Houston, Dallas or Ft Worth>> I’m just kiddin’ I’ll find out so just email me and I will let ye know.

I know you will enjoy these albums if you heard any of them before then you will enjoy them again or a good surprise if it is the first time.

I know we mentioned this book and these CDs before but just for a minute we are going to do it again.

If you have or have ever had friends or kin working in the coal mine then you will really enrich your knowledge of the coalfields and the music written about it if you would call and ask about this book . The music {on CDs} that comes with the book contains 48 songs on two CDs the songs are sung by everyone (just about) that ever sung a coal mining song from Merle Travis, to Tom T Hall to The Carter Family and the list just goes on and on and on.

If you have like we said, kin folk in the coal mine then take a minute and write Lonesome Pine Office On Youth---209 Wood Avenue East—P.O.Box 568---Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219.

Or you can call if you have a mind to 1-276-523-5064 or you can give the email a shot at www.LPOY.ORG

It is called “MUSIC OF COAL” Mining Songs From The Appalachian Coal Fields.

If you just happen to wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning or any morning and say to yourself,” I don’t want to ever see another computer I want to be a coal miner. Then this is sure the book and the music for you.

We brought back a few more hundred Cassette albums, 45's and CDs the other day from Kentucky.

Some folks say, why would I want a cassette when I can buy a CD (and soon probably just a chip) but one reason is, some of the music that was released on Cassette was never released on CD and it is real easy to switch your music from one to the other these days with all the equipment that they have at music and TV stores and the good part is what it takes to switch your music doesn’t cost a lot of money, when it first came out it did it cost a bundle just like the old VCR players, them 40 pound buggers cost hundreds of dollars by the time it was over you could buy one for 19.95 or less.

I don’t know about you but we have hundreds of Video tapes and I am not about to dump um or give them to the Good Will, if I want to they are easy transferred to DVD but if you have both players sitting on top of each other why would you want to do that.

The only reason I can see where you may need a copy of a tape is, if Grandma wants a copy and you can no longer buy the original but if you can, go buy it and don’t cheat who ever the actors and makers where out of their cabbage, now days Wal-Mart has got some of the biggest movies ever made in their bargain bins for 5 bucks.

And when I said above about Cassettes to CDs that’s because they were never on CD to begin with but don’t go sellin’ um you’ll be in The Jailhouse Now. 

Not very many News pages goes out that we don’t hear about Wynn Stewart, or someone asking about one of his albums or singles .

The great steel guitar player Ralph Mooney once said Wynn was just great to work with and for, and loved to fish so much he wasn’t above leaping a farmers fence to fish in his pond, even though there probably wasn’t any fish in it anyway Ralph and the other boys were always afraid the farmer would shoot Wynn for trespassing but thank goodness that never happened.

 Walkin’-Talkin’ Charley has got a little Wynn story to tell you this week in his Playin’ Lookback so kick off your shoes, heat up the pop corn fetch a root beer and you’ll be ready to go

Here is a young man you are going to hear a lot about before long, his name is Chris Crump.

In the past, Elvis, Hank Thompson, Buck Owens, Celine Dion and many others have recorded in Las Vegas. Now Chris Crump is going before the mike to add his fine talents to the mix.

Chris is a great hand at guitar, piano. Mandolin, 5 string banjo, harmonica, Indian flute. Bass. Drums or whatever.

Being familiar with some of the songs, yours truly predicts the public will be real happy with Chris’s vocals and musical efforts.


Have we got some great news for those who have written us over the past couple of years wanting to know something about the art work of Ivan Jesse Curtis and where it can be purchased and where you can see more of it.

Well the good news is that today we heard from a member of his family that had read the last article we wrote about Ivan and you will be happy to know that there are copies of his great prints that can still be purchased.

We will do another story about Ivan in our next “Country Classic News” and tell you where and what there is in the catalog of Ivan Jesse’s art work. For right now all that can be said is, if you love the old western art and especially that of the great cowboys that have ridden the big screen and their side kicks which as we all know were a major part of those great old westerns then you are going to want to know about Ivan Jesse Curtis and his talent at capturing it all on canvas.

I need to throw this in, it is no secret that Walter Brennan Jr. and I have been good friends for many years, Walter Jr, (Andy) is a top notch artist himself whose prints and original art has sold into the thousands of dollars. After introducing Andy to Ivan at a fund raiser we were doing for Johnny Mitchum, Andy said he had never seen so many of the great western cowboys on one canvas done so well as that captured by Ivan Jesse Curtis.

And to sum it up my way. “Ivan’s work was just outstanding”. And we are looking forward to telling you more about it and maybe being able to run some small pictures on the site to give you a little sample.

If you have a western club, a western bar, a house decorated in the old western style and need some prints or you just want a picture of some cowboys to hang over your bed then pardner, you done come to the right general store and I ain’t whistlin’ Dixie .

Got a chance this week to talk a while with the great steel player Bud Issacs and his lovely wife Geri Mapes and I am sure you remember some of the great work Bud did on those Webb Pierce records.

We also exchanged a few emails with Glenn Barber’s (Glenn Jr.) son and have some things on the way from him so next news we will do a story about one of our favorites, Glenn Barber and maybe tell you where you can get some of his great music.

This has been a great month, the trip to Kentucky was a good one, we saw some cousins we had not see since too long to remember, we brought back a few thousand more records, tapes and CDs that we have no room for and it takes me too long to sort and re-pack them because I have to read all the covers again and see if I missed something when I read them the first time 30 years ago.

OK that’s going to do it for now so we’ll see ye next time but just in case we don’t.

Take care of yourself & God Bless America

Don Bradley



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