Below are my newsletters beginning in December of 2013; you can start at the bottom to read the oldest ones, or at the top to read the most recent.

Fourth Quarter Newsletter 2015 

     First of all, I’d like to wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  

I can hardly believe a whole year has already passed since I sent out my first quarter newsletter. I feel as though time truly has flown this year. I can’t wait to see what this beautiful new year holds in store for each and every one of us! 
     Second of all, I want to thank each and everyone one of you for encouraging me and supporting me.  Your support is felt in so many ways, the shows you come to see, the emails and facebook posts you make, the music you buy and the music you request and the DJs play.  I'm so excited to see the charts that are reported by the Western Way Magazine and the Western Swing Monthly. It's been over a year  since "Cowgirl Swing" was released but it still ranks in the top ten in the western and western swing charts!  "She Could Ride" is still a favorite at the #2 spot on the western charts and "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie" is still a favorite at #10 on the swing charts!  Thank y'all so much!!! 
     But before we start lookin' forward, I reckon I oughta pick up where I left off with my last newsletter--the very tail end of September.  (Hold onta yer hats, cuz it's been quite a ride!!)  On the 29th, Mom and I loaded up the car and took off for Durango, Colorado, for the Durango Colorado Cowboy Gathering. This was my very first festival to ever perform at and so it holds such special memories for me. We arrived on the 30th just in time to attend the VIP reception held at a beautiful private ranch just outside the valley. It's something we all look forward to:  outside on the patio with gorgeous views of pastures and mountains, with good food, good friends and good music and poetry.  What could be better than that?   
       The next day, all musician and poets that are in get picked up by drivers and are taken to various places around the community to share western music and poetry to people who might not be able to come to the festival, like schools and retirement centers and nursing homes.  I rode with several musicians I had never met before and we performed for 3 schools that day.  That evening was the first sold out show of the festival.  It's a chance for patrons to see each performer (except the headliners) for one song, woven into a short melodrama play.  This event has grown in attendance each year since it's inception and is loved by everyone. 
         Friday I again performed for more schools and retirement centers, worked with the youth performers at a rehearsal for their showcase, and then was very honored to be a headliner performer for the night time shows at the Strater Theater. They have two night shows of 4 entertainers each for both Saturday and Friday nights.  Each entertainer performs both nights but at different time slots.  Both my shows Friday and Saturday were sold out. :) Too cool. Friday night I debuted two new songs....the classic "16 Tons", and an original, "One More Ride." I learned "16 Tons" specifically for my brother, Elijah, who—even at the “cool” age of 17, sweetly insisted that I learn it. He spent hours coaching me on the correct BB King impersonations and I told the audience the story.  I love him so much. And I love the King, too. 
     Saturday was an even busier day. In addition to being hired to perform for the festival, I was also asked to organize and emcee the  youth showcase: the Durango Rising Western Stars show.  After months of preparation and anticipation, I was very excited for the big day to finally arrive. But, first, I went to the parade and then I had two performances of my own (one a blues session!) at a restaurant along the main street before I booked it down to the Strater Theater to get ready for the youth show. The youth performers are amazing and I was so proud at how well and smoothly the showcase went...but I was even more impressed and honored to have such incredible young talents on my stage. Let me tell you, it is awe inspiring to see a young person get out on that big stage by themselves and handle their own instruments, introductions and  performance.  I completely agree when I hear the comments fly that the future of Western Music and Poetry is safe in the hands of these young musicians and poets. :)  My Saturday was complete for me after my final night performance to a sold out crowd. 
         On Sunday, I was honored to be asked to join other musicians performing for the festival's  church service.  It's always a special time for me and a wonderful way to end a festival.  After we said our goodbyes to everyone, we headed for some fellowship and lunch at Durango Cowboy Church.  They welcomed Mom and me warmly and after lunch, there was a short sermon.  I was honored then to join with RW Hampton and Sam Noble to perform.  We enjoyed meeting a few more people after the service was over and also visiting with Pastor, his wife and the Hamptons for a bit.  Eventually, we packed up the car again and drove to Cortez, where we stayed overnight with sweet friends, Pastor Mark Baker and his lovely wife, Rozie. 
     The following day the Bakers showed us around their quaint town, where we visited an awesome antique store and then we were treated to a wonderful burger.  Later that evening  we headed to their cowboy church where Pastor preaches and performs.  Once again we enjoyed a delicious meal as we fellowshipped with the congregation.  It was so warm to be remembered by so many.  The performance seemed to be enjoyed by everyone and I enjoyed being there.   One more night with the Bakers and we all headed out the next morning.  They were headed to Branson, MO and we were headed to New Mexico. 
     Our first stop in New Mexico we stayed overnight with  dear friends Doug and Cathy Figgs in Socorro. Mrs. Figgs was so sweet and set up a gig at the Twisted Chili in Socorro so I could perform with Mr. Doug, Jim Jones, Marium Funke and Clifton--"The Cowboy Way". This was an insanely fun gig. These fellas are always such fun to play with and an honor to join. It's always sad to pack up and leave again, but this time we were headed to Ruidoso for the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium. 
      I was very excited for this gig, I consider it a great honor to be invited. The first morning there I headed to the local radio station for a live interview on the rockin' morning show 101.5  with Kid X and special guest DJ, Skeebo out of Texas.  The three of us hit it off really well and it was a fun morning, lots of energy and fun and before we knew the show was over. 
     I left there to go check out the racetrack and see where everything was before the festival started.  I was hired to bring my trio AND my 6 piece band for a total of 5 performances over Friday and Saturday at the Ruidoso Downs Race  

Track.  It's a big festival with 4 stages, big name concerts at night with a dance after, lots of vendors and outside there are chuck wagons and demonstrations going on. Mikki Daniel and Texas Wildfire performed on three different stages and had such a great time and several epic adventures....including losing our sound-system on one stage due to water getting in the system (it poured all day Friday.) We had to step off the stage and work the crowd acoustically...MUCH more fun than my typical performance, but also much more stressful on my voice. It was super fun, though, and the crowd loved it. As it happens at each festival, you meet new musicians, and this one was no different.  Playing on the "Wendol Sollis Stage", I had the pleasure of meeting Wendol Sollis and his wife and band.  And someone I had heard about for a long time but never met before:  Ginny Mac.  She is as sweet as she is talented. 

      Each evening ended on the main stage with Crystal Gayle a special guest performance (Suzy Boggus, Crystal Gayle, and Bill Anderson), followed by a dance played by either Jody Nix, Jason Roberts, or Billy Mata. This was an incredible venue and an incredible opportunity for me. I feel so blessed to have been recommended by Dave Alexander, and accompanied throughout the weekend by amazingly talented musicians: Jon Stutler, Nathan Phelps, Pat Bubert, Hailey Sandoz, and Mark Gheen. 
     Sunday, the 11th, it was time to pack up out of the hotel room and head for home.  It had been just over two weeks since we were in Texas, and Mom and I were both eager to return home.   It was an amazing 10 days of performances and I don’t think I’ve sung so hard in my whole life. I had sung for over 14 shows—including schools, retirement centers, theater performances, staged performances, and acoustic performance. I was definitely ready for a few days rest for my voice. :) 
     Once home I packed in teaching lessons, working with a new grey filly I got, and working as many hours as I could for Chad Brinlee with Bombproof Horsemanship. It was hectic...especially because I also HAD to get laundry done (not my favorite thing lol) before my next gig on the 15th: gigging with the Gimbles!  
It was a neat opportunity I was given to share a few songs with Dick and Emily Gimble and Katie Shore. Thursday night was the sponsor evening for the Bob Wills Fiddle Fest in Greenville, TX.  An amazing dinner was served before the evening began honoring Bob Wills and Johnny Gimble. Ray Benson was host as he shared memories of special times with them both.  Then, Dick, Emily and Katie  played some tunes in their honor.  I got to come out for 3 songs with them!  The evening concluded with a panel of 5 people associated with the Bob Wills band (including Leon Rauch and Louise Rowe!) sitting on stage being asked questions about their time with Bob Wills.  It was quite an evening in the elegant Texas Theater and a fitting kick off to a two day fiddle festival and all around western swing good time held annually in Greenville, TX, called the Bob Wills Fiddle Fest. 
       I also had the privilege that weekend of playing with Paul Anastasio (an amazing fiddler who has played with many wonderful artists) twice at the Blue Mesquite stage on Saturday. But first, the morning began with a fun interview with radio DJ Friendleeb from the local radio station KGVL on 105.9FM.  He had us on live that morning before I headed over to the Blue Mesquite for my first performance with Paul.   At the first performance, Paul and I were blessed to be joined by my good friend and first lead guitar mentor, Dick Gimble. It was such an amazing gig and so much fun! We had some awesome people come listen:  Susie Spencer Marshall, Louise Rowe, Teresa Anderson and Roger Adkinson (from the UK), just to name a few.  I thank Joey and Sherry McKenzie for recommending me to the festival. Highlight of the weekend was meeting Bob Wills granddaugher, Carolyn Wills. 
     Sunday morning I really wanted to head to the Fiddle Championships but I had just enough time to head back home so I could load up the horse trailer and the truck, and take the horses down to Jacksboro, TX, for the beginning of my favorite annual tradition: the Red Steagall Trail Ride.  Every year, (this was my 6th),  Dad and I ride the Red Steagall Trail Ride. It starts in Jacksboro on Sunday and by Thursday afternoon, we ride--usually tired and dusty—down the brick cobblestone of Exchange Street in the Fort Worth Stockyards. This year the ride was quite pleasant and as much fun as I always remember it being...up until the last day. It began to pour and the temperature dropped 20 degrees. Thankfully, I had a slicker that covered me, my saddle, and a portion of my mare and I stayed nice and dry. My amazing Shorty's Caboy felt hat sure did get drenched, though. At the end of the day, Dad weighed it and it had soaked up so much water, it weighed nearly 11 pounds. No wonder I was starting to get a headache! The ride itself is never super pretty; to me it's all about the people, the wagons, teams, horseback riders, wagon masters and families, the smells of the horses and the sound of the authentic wagons creaking. For me, it's about them. It’s about the memories I’ve made with people who have treated me so incredibly kindly. These folks adopted me as a young, scrawny cowgirl and they have stuck with me, and been some of the best friends I could have ever asked for. :) I've made so many precious friendships on this ride and I always look forward to seeing them all again. Halfway through the ride, we always stop for the night in Weatherford, where there is a stage that has been set up for the public's entertainment, where Red Steagall himself (and a few invited guests), perform for a few hours. I was tickled pink to be invited up there for 3 songs, and since most of the audience were folks from my wagon train-and they knew I yodeled-I was asked to do 3 yodeling tunes. Gotta love requests! :) 
      Friday was just as wet and gloomy as Thursday had turned out to be, but after a few hours the sun started to peek out and it lit the streets just in time for the Chuckwagon Parade to officially kick off the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering. Kristyn Harris, Hailey Sandoz, and I were hired to be strolling musicians through the stockyards while the parade rolled in, and I can speak for all of us when I say we were all thrilled to see the sun come out...even though it was for such a brief period of time. That evening, the dance in the big tent was cancelled due to the 8" deep water standing on the dance floor. It didn’t just rain; it poured. 
     Saturday dawned dark and gloomy once again, and by the time Kristyn, Hailey and I made it to our outdoor stage where we were supposed to be performing from noon til three, it was obvious the sound equipment couldn’t be set up for fear it would be rained upon. After a brief scramble and rearrangement of musicians, we were put on the main, covered stage, for an hour amidst some of our heroes and western music’s finest. It was a wonderful day, in spite of the constant rain. My sister and nephew drove up from Austin to spend the weekend with us. It’s always wonderful to have my sister come to my gigs. It doesn’t happen very often and it’s special when it does. I'm always honored to find that people come to see me at an event.  And, there are a number of people that come to Red's.  Thank you!   A special highlight for me was seeing my darling little cowgirlfriend, Jaycee Mae, who came down from Oklahoma just to see me. She sure is cute and one of my biggest fans. There is nothing like seeing her bright smiling face in the audience! 
     Saturday night was another special event.  My novel, Girls & Gunsmoke, had been nominated for Inspirational Fiction of the Year by the Will Rogers Medallion Award, and the awards show was hosted down in the Stockyards that night at the Cattleman’s Steakhouse.  Charles Williams and Waynetta Ausmus put on a beautiful award ceremony complete with dinner, music and award presentations.  I was very surprised and honored to win a bronze medallion for my novel, and Mom was even awarded a publisher’s certificate for the excellent job she did getting it published. That was a special moment for all of us. Afterwards, Dad and I closed down the festival by staying for the dance—hosted by Red Steagall and his Bunkhouse Band.  I enjoyed dancing with a bunch of new folks, and some old friends I’d made at the dance in previous years. 
     I finished out the last week of October by teaching yet more horseback riding and guitar/bass lessons, putting some miles on this new little grey mare I recently added to my herd, and working for my boss, Chad Brinlee.  I sure enjoy riding horses for him, learning from him and training under him.  It was a particularly interesting time helping him train a zebra!   October sped by so fast it practically took flight! 
      November 6th and 7th, Mom and I traveled down to Blanco, Texas, (45 miles west of Austin), for the Blanco Western Showcase hosted at the Blanco Buggy Barn Museum. This has been one of my longest running annual gigs and I always look forward to it every year. The friends I’ve made here have been precious and priceless in so many ways: poets and musicians I've met and fans who become followers and friends. I always appreciate those of you who take time to come to see me perform.  If you are looking for a fun, exciting, family friendly event to attend the first week of November, come down to Blanco.  The festival is growing every year and the grounds on which it is held are being transformed into a western town.  Really!  Dennis Moore is building a western town, building by building, complete with its own church!  It is so awesome, you really have to come see it.   Mark your calendars now for next year and come watch live (with professional Los Angeles actors) old west shootouts, trick ropers and riders, western music and poetry, and educational booths featuring classic cowboy arts such as taxidermy, blacksmithing, bead working, leather working, and the like. It’s all around a fun time to be had by all!  
       That Saturday, the evening of the 7th, I was invited to join Alex Dormont and his Hot Texas Swing Band where they were playing a  
Alex Dormont and his Hot Texas Swing Band 
western swing dance at the Twin Sisters Dance Hall just outside of Blanco. That was such fun! Mr. Dormont and his band are fantastic and I joined the band for several songs, and then danced the rest of the night away until I was too exhausted to dance any more.  
     Early the next morning, Mom and I loaded up the car before attending the Buggy Barn Cowboy Church (in their real life old frontier town chapel), and then headed back home by way of Fredericksburg. I’m sure there are a lot of wonderful sights to be seen in this delightful old German Texas town, but I was focused on finding the legendary old west clothing store called Texas Jacks. Once we found the place, I was ecstatically trying on clothes and trying to decide what I couldn’t live without. Three outfits and several hours later, Mom and I finally called it good and jumped back in the car to finish the 4 ½ hour trek home.  Many thanks to a very special friend/fan who gave me a gift card that made that spending spree possible! 
      We arrived home just in time for me to do the dreaded laundry thing again and work one day before loading up the car and driving to Albuquerque, NM, a day early for the Western Music Association Convention. We always go stay a day with my Aunt Sheila over her birthday, and enjoy some family down time before diving into the hectic time of  WMA week.  While mom was checking us into the convention hotel, I made myself a promise: whatever floor we wound up on, I would ALWAYS take the stairs DOWN, and I would take the stairs UP as many times as I honestly could, no excuses, as a way for me to get a little excercise. Little did I know that Mom booked us on the 17th floor. Apparently…..apparently, she hoped for a “good view”. LOL! Well, a promise is a promise, right? SO, I still did it and, being crazy, I went up all 17 flights 16 times and down all 17 flights 23 times….in a matter of just a few hours. I got quite the work out that weekend! And I have to admit, it was fun. Thanks, Danny, for doing the stairs with me several times!      
       So, the first night, Wednesday, I attended a concert with the 3 Chuck Wagon bands performing.  It was an awesome concert.  And although I hate to pick favorites, cuz they are all so good, I do have to say that I have a special affinity for the Flying W Wranglers just because we had such a great time together booked on the Alamosa Train gig!  It was great to see David Bradley and his band again.  
      Thursday there were showcases and seminars all day long, which Mom attended.  But I had been given the honor of being in charge of organizing, hosting, and MCing the first ever official Western Swing showcase at the WMA, which was in the afternoon.  That was a little exciting—me being able to create a show involving some of my very favorite musicians: 3 Trails West, Kristyn Harris, Jeanne Cahill and Johnny Neil. The show was created as a “trial show”…to see how the Western Music audience responded, and if it would be welcomed as an addition to the convention next year. It turned out fabulous! We received a standing ovation and the show was a huge success. A huge thank you to the WMA for allowing me to have the honor of hosting the show, and a thank you to the musicians listed above for helping show people what good Western Swing music sounds like! 
     The next two days were jam-packed with fellowship, music jams, a showcase on Friday, the Friday Night Opry, singing on other showcases, the youth showcase, judging the Pro Ams, the harmony competition (Kristyn Harris and I entered with our own re-written version of “Dream a Little Dream of Me”), and even a live radio interview with the lovely Belinda Gail on her Equestrian Legacy Radio station called “Blessed Trails”. 
      The highlight of the weekend for me was spending time with the Hanson Family from Veneta, Oregon. The Hansons have grown up singing tight family harmonies and always attend the WMA with an array of intricate and beautiful classic western songs. This year was no different. Coming from a family where I am the only singer, and from a part of Texas where I have no one to sing group harmony with, I find myself always astounded and intrigued—nearly to the point of obsession, lol—with learning the “how” of harmony. They were so kind as to spend countless hours with me, teaching me to learn how to sing a harmony part on the Swing classic tune, “Dark Moon”. 
     Culminating the WMA Convention is the awards ceremony held Saturday night at the KIMO Theater.  This year, I was so excited and honored to get into the top five nominations for Female Performer of the Year, Cowboy Swing Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.  Each year the Song of the Year performers are asked to perform their song so I had the privilege of performing "She Could Ride."   Judy Coder joined me with her beautiful harmony.  When the winner was announced f 
Red Hot Rhythm Rustlers announce the winner 
 or Cowboy Swing Album of the Year, I was shocked, ecstatic and humbled to hear my name called! =)  WOW! SO neat! I was SO surprised and, although it is rare for me to cry, I actually burst into tears, haha! ;) It was really special that last year's winners made the presentation.  THANK YOU to all of you who voted for me. 
You guys are so kind, so generous and I really cannot thank you all enough for your support and sweet friendships. This year was extra special for me because my Aunt Sheila attended for the first time ever!     
     The next morning, after lots of goodbyes in the hotel lobby, we drove the 10 hour drive home.  Time to look forward again to the next event happening in two days, the 18th of November.  This was to be a VERY different experience than I have ever participated in before!  We spent the next few days getting ready for RIDE TV to come to our small ranch!  I had been selected as one of 10 people to be filmed for a RIDE TV commercial.  The camera crews and owner came out for 5 hours and filmed some  interview and action videos for a 60 second commercial.  They focused on my music and my horsemanship and said they filmed enough footage to possibly make two commercials. The owner came out because he was also interviewing me for the possibility of hosting a new program they are developing.  The crew was so sweet and they were wonderful about setting me at ease with all the ‘lights, camera, action’ stuff. I had a lot to learn about speaking to a camera, but they were all willing to give me advice and suggestions. We must have spent close to four hours with the crew making a day jam packed with so much fun,  humor, good memories and lots of horse talk. A day to remember. Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on whether I am selected as the new show’s host and when the commercials will run! 
     The weather during the next couple of weeks had been a bit bi-polar…thanks, Texas. We had gotten everything from low 40s and dreary gray afternoons to mid-80s and clear blue skies. But mostly…mostly we just got rain. Which obviously means tons and tons of mud…which means my horses were hopelessly “decked out” in their favorite attire............I just let them be. 
     On the 21st, I had another busy day planned: performing for a Cowboy Mounted Shooters Jackpot in the afternoon, and a birthday party that evening. Last minute, the birthday party was postponed, so I got to enjoy myself more thoroughly at the Shooting Jackpot. A huge thank you to Allen and Renay Watt for being some of my longest running fans. I sure do love you guys! And thank you, Ms. Renay, for letting me run some Jackpot patterns on Foxy—that sure was amazing! Makes me miss mounted shooting so much. While there, it was great to see some folks I hadn’t seen in ages; Curt and Sheila Moore—it was so special seeing y’all again. May the Lord bless you guys! 
      My beautiful sister Kallie and her family came in town for our family Thanksgiving and then she went with me to a breakfast gig I had for a private party on Saturday. The ladies and gentlemen were so welcoming, kind, and responsive, I can honestly say this was one of the most fun gigs I’ve done in a long time. While we were out,  
Aunt Bernice and Kallie 
we picked up my 92 year old great aunt and took her home with us for the afternoon. I have been blessed with an incredible family. From my aunts and uncles, grandparents and parents, down to my siblings and their children, I love my family. My great aunt is certainly no exception! She is funny and precocious, and you would NEVER know her age by looking at her or being around her. Being a dancer her whole life, she’s still in excellent shape and, (to quote her), if her heart medicine didn’t make her dizzy, she’d “still be wearing stiletto high-heels. You know, those are the only shoes that look good these days.” She makes us all laugh so hard with her stories.  It was a good day. To top it off, I went dancing that night. Aunt Candy wanted to come with me and she almost did…until she found out that it didn’t end until midnight. LOL. We offered to bring her home at whatever time she wanted, but she asked for a rain check. I’m looking forward to taking her with me sometime soon. 
     After two months of rain, December finally rolled around bringing clear blue skies and balmy, very un-winter-like weather, but I wasn’t one to complain about it. I was hoping it would dry the mud up enough for me to get some riding in before I had to fly out with Mom on the 2nd to Phoenix, AZ. I reckon the Lord was looking out for me, ’cause it actually did dry up enough for me to put a few more miles on the gray, and for me to keep my bay mare tuned up. 
      Late on the 1st—I’m a packing procrastinator—I finished packing, and we flew out early the next morning for Arizona. Marvin O’Dell picked us up and he and his wife, Theresa, hosted us for a few days before my gig in Show Low, AZ. Back at the WMA a few weeks previous, I had the opportunity to meet a very talented young swing fiddler from Prescott, Arizona, named Jordan Brambila. Jordan and I hit it off right away, and since I was playing just down the road in Show Low, I invited  him to come. Thursday, we got together to work up some songs for the 14th Annual Cowboy Christmas performance, and I was excited by the pieces we got worked up. The next evening, the O’Dells were kind enough to drive us to Show Low—a four hour drive—and then take us back to their home afterwards. It was a beautiful event that Stephen Harrington organized and hosted.  The concert is free to the public but donations are taken to benefit a local charity.  This year the proceeds went to the Salvation Army. The Mountain Saddle Band, Barry Ward, and myself (accompanied by Jordan) performed. We couldn’t have asked for a more generous crowd, or for a more special Cowboy Christmas event. I was honored to be included. 
           After finally making it back to the O’Dell’s home in the wee hours of the morning, I fell asleep right away, prepared to wake up and immediately fly out of Phoenix to Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a tiny plane and a very short flight and a good 80% of the passengers were wearing their cowboy hats. They were all going to the National Finals Rodeo and since I was wearing my flat hat on the plane as well, I felt right at home.  You know how the saying goes, "It's a small world"? Well, it is. At the airport luggage area, we ran into (ironically enough) my good friends Jim and Lisa Peck from Oklahoma. Definitely made my day. I love how we have to run into each other halfway across the states to see each other! ;) Thank you guys so much for looking out for me and for coming to my shows. I cannot even begin to tell you how much it meant to see y’all there. 
Mom and I were picked up at the airport by our VERY dear Texas friend, Joyce Foy, who had moved to Vegas a few years previous. Ms. Joyce had offered to be our hostess, chauffeur and guide during our stay.  Arriving in Vegas was definitely an eye opening experience, and I was amazed at the massive hotels, numerous shows, lights, extravagance, shallow attractions and temptations.  Ms. Joyce was great about showing us the beautiful and warning us of the dangers. Immediately after she picked us up from the airport, we had to make our way to the Round Up Stage at Mandalay Bay Marketplace, where I had an on-stage interview in the early afternoon with Boots Cassidy with Cowboy Christian Connection .   I was one of many people being interviewed that week and the interview went really well. I enjoyed talking with Boots—she’s a fantastic interviewer, um, question asker, um, lady with the microphone. Whatever they’re called, she was good at it! :D 
     After the interview we just enjoyed browsing the hundreds and hundreds of booths in the marketplace, looking at all the neat and unique merchandise for sale. We didn’t even cover a fourth of the booths before we finally decided to leave and grab dinner at a local BBQ joint called Lucille’s, before getting ready for our evening plans. Then we took a drive down the strip to see all the lights and hotels before Ms. Joyce dropped us off at Treasure Island Hotel for a Cirque Du Solei show while she went on to Ceasar's Palace Hotel for a show there. I have to say while there are a lot of things about Vegas  that I wouldn't enjoy and don't ever care to experience, the Solei show was not one of them. Mom and I both thoroughly enjoyed the show. It was absolutely stunning. I would definitely recommend seeing one if you have not already. After our show was over, we walked down along the strip to meet with Ms. Joyce at Caesar’s Palace. This was our only time to get to look around at the amazing architecture of the hotels, so we took the time to walk through a few on our way to Caesar's. The Venecian Hotel was probably my favorite to see with the Grand Canal and authentic Venecian gondolas. We went to sleep as soon as we got home that night since it had been such a long day and we had to get up early the next morning in order to be back at Mandalay Bay for my first performance. 
       The stage I performed on was sponsored by Cowboy Christian Connection and emceed by Suzie Soloman.  I was happy to share my favorite material with my audience, something I always love to do. I had a second set later that afternoon giving me time to take off and see as many more booths as I could before performing again. My day took an interesting turn after the afternoon performance. Mom was looking for a place to plug her camera batteries in and she met an older gentleman wearing a badge whom she asked if he knew where she could find an outlet. He happened to have an office there in Mandalay Bay Convention center, and was generous enough to offer Mom an outlet there. When they got to talking, he mentioned that he had heard part of my set and that he would like to meet me. I later found out that this precious gentleman’s name was Lou Ragland, and that he is the band leader in the world famous, multi-generation, longest running black quartet—The Ink Spots. Needless to say, having him sit down and listen to my performance was exciting and an honor to say the very least. I was in shock for the rest of the day. LOL. 
     That evening we had tickets to see the National Finals Rodeo—an opportunity that so many people covet but few actually get to see. I was incredibly blessed and amazed. It was unlike any other rodeo I’ve ever seen…the caliber of riders, horses, and announcing was unbelievable. One of those you-had-to-be-there-to-believe-it kind of moments. By the end of the evening, we were all exhausted and…of course…as I was coming down the stairs out of the Thomas and Mac Center (where the rodeo was held), I twisted my bad ankle. Ouch! 
Early Monday morning we packed up our suitcases again so we would be ready to go straight to the airport right after  my last performance in the Mandolay Bay Marketplace. In spite of all the craziness, Las Vegas was a fun, educational weekend for me. I never thought I would have the opportunity to see the NFR and for that I'm grateful . 
     We made it home for a whole day and a half, long enough for me to catch up on some lost sleep, ride a pony, and get packed back up again for possibly the biggest performance of my career—Indianapolis, Indiana for the Professional Racing Industry’s national convention!  This convention is only for racing professionals yet 50,000 people will come for the 3 day convention.  I was proud to be invited to open the whole convention at the kick-off breakfast for 3,000 people.  And believe it or not, they wanted yodeling!! Thanks to a fan who became a dear friend, Judy Kean, who recommended they consider me for the gig. 
      We arrived in Indy in style early afternoon of the 9th, a Wednesday. This was my first time to arrive in the luggage carousel area to find an actual chauffeur waiting for me with my name on a laminated sign.  The chauffeur picked up our luggage and took us out to a sleek black car (that honestly looked like a “mafia” car because of the dark tinted windows and polished exterior, haha). Sitting in those seats was like getting lost in pillows. So comfy! Our driver took us to our beautiful hotel—the Crowne Plaza, an old railroad station converted into a hotel—located in a strategic place just across from the convention center.  We freshened up and headed straight to the convention for the rehearsal. We were escorted to the banquet hall by the man who hired me, Mr. Michael George. He introduced us to all the key people and gave us a brief tour (including my personal dressing room!). The banquet hall was filled with a sea of tables, a huge stage and 5 big screens across the front wall so everyone could see the morning program.  It was pretty amazing.  After sound checking with the awesome sound man, running through the schedule for the morning and rehearsing, Mom and I went out to dinner with our sweet friend, Ms. Judy, who was the sole reason for us being there.  Then, we turned in a little early since we all had a big, early morning the next day. 
     Bright and early Thursday morning, I was dressed and ready—hair curled and voice warmed up—by 6:30 am. After settling into my very own dressing room, I was  brought a 3 course breakfast by the staff and then suited up with a head mic and battery pack. I was more than ready for the mariposas to settle their wings in my stomach. With only a few minutes until I was supposed to wake the whole crowd of 3,000 ladies and gentlemen up with western swing and yodeling, I couldn’t get rid of the pesky butterflies! Roy Rogers once said: “Nervous simply means that you care.” I really love this quote because I’m certain that he was right! 
      At 7:55 sharp, they escorted me the back way to the rear of the room and dimmed the lights. Then, I was cued to start playing as spotlights circled the room and then finally found me. When the lights blinded me I knew it was time to make the walk from the back of the room, down the broad aisle and up to the stage—singing and engaging folks along the way. I sang four of my favorite songs—Thank Heavens for Dale Evans, She Could Ride, 16 Tons and Whatever Happened to the Yodeling Cowgirls. Thankfully, the audience was fantastic and a GREAT morning crowd. I had been initially hesitant about the idea of starting the day off with sleepy people and yodeling. LOL. I'm thinking this is definitely not a crowd of people who would typically come to a western music concert.  These are all people from the NASCAR racing world which probably means rock and roll....But!  Yodeling is what they were hiring me for! And you know,   
yodeling is an art form that people either REALLY like or REALLY dislike. There aren’t a lot of in-betweeners. Since I was hired specifically for my yodeling because it “woke people up”, I knew it was bound to either make me some friends or make me some enemies. :) It all seemed to be enjoyed, though, and that set my butterflies at ease.  The crowd really was great and the people that hired me were thrilled.  That is what really makes me happy! 
      After the performance, we stayed for the speakers and then were given VIP passes to the convention.  Mom walked the convention while I went back to the room to rest up for my evening performance.  Then we met up, walked downtown a little and had lunch at a local brewery. 
We were killing time until 3:00 when we needed to be at sound check at Lucas Oil Stadium, where I was going to have the opportunity to perform for the PRI Happy Hour with the legendary Mr. Tim Wright (of the Wright Brothers Band)! When I met Mr. Wright, I was so impressed. He is one of the most humble, kind, and unselfish people I’ve ever met. Getting to run through the songs with him and his drummer and lead guitar player was also one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. They were so talented, welcoming, easy to work with and willing to perform Western Swing and classic country stuff, and we only had to take 15 minutes to work out everything for the evening. You know you’re playing with high class musicians when they make things so easy! At just a few minutes before the  Happy Hour started, they hustled us downstairs to the green room to get ready. Then we were escorted back up and when we got set on the stage, the guests started pouring in. Mr. Wright and his boys played for 20 minutes or so before he called me up, and by that time an estimated 2500 people had poured into the stadium. There were a LOT of people. I sang “Blue”, “Walking After Midnight”, “Across the Alley from the Alamo” and “Cowboy’s Sweetheart”. It was an intense amount of fun and I was so honored to be a part of the evening! A huge thank you to Mr. George and to Mr. Wright, for allowing me to perform with someone I respect and admire so much. It was a fabulous day. 
     As much fun as that all was, the next morning, Friday the 11th of December, I was ready to head home again. You guys know me well enough to know by now I’m basically a homebody. : 
     The next morning I slept in and took a day off before gearing up for one last gig for the weekend: my wonderful Red Oak Opry. You've heard me say before how much this Opry means to me. In fact, it’s the only Opry I do anymore. All that to say, I always look forward to seeing the special folks there that are like family to me and getting to play with one of the best bands this side of the Mississippi! Thank you, Eddie, for always accommodating my schedule and being so great about having me back! Thank you to my Red Oak family, you know I love y’all! 
      I had a few days off before my next gig: a private party in Abilene, Texas. I became good friends with the Kennedys on the Red Steagall Trail Ride and am honored to play for their Christmas parties each year.  They pick the coolest places for their parties!  This year it was at the Frontier Museum in Abilene, TX.  That was my first time to be there and it was totally cool.  Thank you, Mr. Jim, for the honor of playing for your guests! 
      The last fun thing we did this year, before our annual family holiday vacation, was go to the Anson Cowboy Christmas Ball.Our road trip-buddy and good friend, Janice, came with us  last year and we decided to to it again, so we all loaded up the car and headed out.  I love the Anson dance—it’s a fun way to get to dress up and dance to classic swing music, while having fun and hanging out with people who are really cool. Plus, Michael Martin Murphy and his Rio Grande Band were playing the dance… do you pass THAT up!?  If you don’t know anything about the Anson Cowboy Christmas, I suggest you look it up and hope to attend next year! It’s a memory worth making.  

The next few days were filled with hasty laundry-doing, packing, and getting ready for our next trip just 4 days out. The last trip of the year is my favorite trip of the year: my family’s special tradition. We always spend the Christmas and New Years’ season in New Mexico at our family ranch. This time my older sister and her family were able to come as well. Getting ready to leave is always something of a hectic ordeal, no matter how much time we have to prepare. Coggins for the horses, check. Four-wheelers loaded, check. Trunks packed and loaded on the flatbed, check. Baby goats delivered……no check! We planned on leaving on the 21st of December, but we had two does due and only one had delivered. That meant we had to delay our departure time indefinitely until both mamas had kidded and we knew they were doing okay. Fortunately, we only had to wait one day. After causing us some significant delay, our favorite mama goat, Blue, kidded 2 big healthy babies. Now we have 5 rambunctious young things bouncing all over the barnyard while their placid mothers watch on with careful attention. 
     We took two days to drive to our cabin—what with us taking two trucks and driving two full trailers, and three horses.  

      But the time spent there and the memories made were worth the long drive. We rode horseback in the mountains, drove the four-wheelers to our heart’s content, had more than our fair share of adventures, made lots of popcorn over our wood burning stove, played a LOT of games of cards…spades especially, spent a lot of time drying out our skiing gloves by the fireplace and got very muddy. 

I love my family, and I have been so blessed to have been raised among such amazing people. 

I hope your Christmas and New Year's Eve were as exciting and filled with special moments as ours were, and I hope that this new year of two-thousand-and-sixteen brings you as many blessings and happiness as you’ve prayed for! 

Until my next newsletter…May the Lord bless you and keep you, and keep your riggin’ tight! 


Third Quarter Newsletter 2015 

I'm graduated.... 

The reality of that fact still hasn't quite settled in, even now, months later. I am still taking a few courses, though, so it helps make life seem normal. Education should never end. Even as much fun as I had finishing up my school year, when this summer came around, I was ready for it to start again. 

But, first things first!  A HUGE thank you to all the Western and Western Swing DJs out there, once again!  Not only do I SO much appreciate that there is an outlet for this genre of music to be heard, I'm thrilled, honored and tickled pink to see that "Cowgirl Swing" once again charted  #1 in the Top 10 Western Swing Albums for the Summer 2015 issue of the Western Way Magazine!  "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie" charted #2  for the Most Played Songs by Western Music DJs and "Cowgirl Swing" also charted #3 for the Top 30 Cowboy/Western Albums. Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving the music! 

Next, the recap for the summer quarter: 

Back in the spring, Mom had discussed with Mr. James Michael (from the WMA New Mexico Chapter) the possibility of me coming to New Mexico for a day on July 5th in order to participate in their Albuquerque Western Youth Day held on the Plaza in Old Town. My family struggled with accepting this invitation thinking it would cause me to miss out on a 20 year family tradition of celebrating the 4th of July; we host a rather large Independence Day party at our home, from riding horseback in our little, small-town, local, early morning parade all the way to the late night fireworks display. Offering an early flight the morning following our biggest day of the year helped make the decision a possibility, even though the scheduling was a bit tight. 

He was so kind to work out all the details with us so after our big day of  celebrating, I boarded an early morning flight.  Our dear friends, Doug and Cathy Figgs, also from New Mexico, became my chaperons for the day and picked me up at the airport and took me to the gig.  

The Youth Concert was very well attended and I was tickled pink to be performing alongside some of Western Music's very own rising stars: Calvin Hampton, Julian Oliver and Austin Van Landingham. The delightful Kaye Sisters were also booked for the event, but had to cancel last minute due to an unexpected injury. They were certainly missed! 

I was delighted to also see Max Cook, a young fiddler from New Mexico, whom I had met several years ago at Bobby Flores' Swing Camp in Texas. Mr. Cook, at the ripe old age of 10 years, has more charisma and gumption than many performers twice his age--and the talent to knock your socks off, as well. Julian Oliver (from Colorado) is always a joy to hear perform also, and he wowed the crowd with his story-telling, poetry, singing and fiddling. A multi-talented young man, for sure! I'd never met Austin Van before this event although I had been hearing about him and seeing my Facebook news feed blow up about his vocal talent, so meeting him was quite neat. For one so young, he truly has an old-school country voice beyond his years--a voice that could be likened to those of the era of Hank Williams Sr.--both in style and sound. 

The last performer, Calvin Danner Hampton has become a good buddy of mine and is a vocalist like you wouldn't imagine. He sung that day backed up by his dad, RW Hampton. If you ever have the chance to see this young western performer, I HIGHLY recommend that you jump at the chance. When you hear the voice come out of this 14 year old Frank Sinatra, I guarantee you'll be glued to your seat. I was honored to perform alongside these young talents and proud to say the show drew a fantastic crowd for the whole show and KEPT the crowd, even though it began to rain around 4:00. That was a good day. 

Once the event was over, the Figgs talked me into staying on a couple more days :) Those next few days spent with them are marked down in my book of "best days ever".  Every morning, Ms. Cathy schooled me on English riding and jumping on Chili, a fantastic thoroughbred and great sport. For hours I rode and practiced the skills under her careful guidance. Concepts as simple as "correct posture" or "balance" can be a difficult goal to actually achieve, especially if one doesn't have a teacher who teaches well. I was blessed to be learning from a woman with 25+ years of professional teaching experience, a woman from whom many would envy me learning. Between Ms. Cathy and Chili (both wonderful teachers and brim-full of patience), I had a blast and added a bunch of new techniques and skills to my repertoire.  

Every evening, Mr. Doug and I took their horses out for some exercise and then we jammed to our favorite tunes in the living room. On Tuesday night we played a gig--Mr. Doug, Clifton, Mariam Funke and I--at the Twisted Chili Brewing Company in Socorro, NM. Needless to say, this was one of the few occasions when I was actually quite sad to go home. LOL. Thank you, Mr. Doug and Ms. Cathy, for being so kind and hospitable to me, and for being such wonderful friends to boot. I am blessed to know you both. 

And if it could get any better than that, Ms. Cathy sent me home with a saddle in a pillow case and, yes...I flew home with a guitar in one hand and my saddle in the other. Only on SouthWest Airlines! Haha! 

I returned home just in time to teach lessons (bass, guitar and horseback) to my students the next two days before making the drive down to Ft. Worth with Mom for Buckaroo Sunday on the 12th. The 13th I spent time with my horses, and then got ready to leave for the next trip by cleaning up the barn for our  wonderful friends, Tony and MaryAnn, to take care of.  I couldn't leave them to have to care for our animals in a roughed-up barn...which is putting the chaotic condition politely :).  Meanwhile, Mom, Dad, my 17 year old brother and I also packed the trailer, the car and truck for our next trip. 

On the morning of the14th, the family and I pulled out for our land in New Mexico. Dad and Elijah were able to spend several weeks at our place, fulfilling Dad's dream of running his own Boy's Camp at our ranch while Mom and I were only able to stay a few days.  By the 23rd, mom and I were en-route to Kansas City, Kansas, for a celebration of the National Day of the American Cowboy. There were several of us coming in and performing with 3 Trails West, who kindly hosted us all at their homes.  Mom and I had the honor of staying with Leo Eilts.  We had a great time getting to know him and enjoyed so much his time showing us around.  He also set up several gigs before and after for anyone who wanted to join them.  So, we arrived just in time to freshen up before heading to Knuckleheads with 3 Trails West, Kristyn Harris and Susie Knight. 

Saturday, the 25th, was the official day of the festival in Tonganoxie, KS, and we each had sets on the "big stage" located in the Jewel Theater on Main, and also at the High Noon Saloon across the street. I was also blessed with an opportunity for a book signing at their local Library. That evening, we each  also performed on the Night Show. 

Sunday, the 26th, we performed for Cowboy Church.  It was a great service and the people really enjoyed the music of each performer.   Then we had time to go back to Leo's to get cleaned up and ready for the next show, at the Dubliner Pub. It was kind of one of those "hurry up and wait" deals. :) It never hurts to have a little time to relax during a busy weekend like this one, though, so it did us all some good. The Dubliner was fun--but, it's difficult NOT to have fun when you're in the company of 3 Trails West and Kristyn Harris. It was a high-energy, tons-of-fun show and drew a great crowd. The management  let us know we were a huge hit! 

Monday we went sightseeing a bit, courtesy of our Kansas City history guru and guide, Leo Elits. We traipsed through the local farmers' market and went and toured the Arabia Steamboat museum. We even had the opportunity to MEET the man who dug the Arabia up! It was a wonderful morning and afternoon. When we finished the tour, we headed home to get cleaned up for our last Kansas City the "Brick"--a restaurant and local musician poole. We were surprised and tickled pink to see the Hanson family show up at our show! That made for a great night. 

We woke up early the next morning and went to watch a canoe race begin with Leo.  It was a beautiful sight on a beautiful morning and made for a perfect ending for our trip.  Overall, it was a wonderful weekend. 

When we arrived home, ( a LONG drive later), my sister came up to visit us with her 4 year old, the cutest little goofball you've ever seen. We always love to spend time with them. No matter how often we see them it never seems like enough--especially when there's a youngster growing up so quickly on us all. 

August hit us all a little too quickly I think. Even though we all were mentally prepared for the first to come around, the reality set in rather last minute. It was Mom's birthday we were preparing for and it snuck up on us (Dad, my sister Kallie and I). We planned a surprise birthday party for her, which we pulled off successfully!  Kallie came up from Austin for it and stayed an extra day to help us clean up afterward. By the 3rd, I was packing again for my next trip--this time one planned only for fun. 

Several years ago I met, at the Western Music Convention in Albuquerque, the sweetest, most talented Colorado girl. I remember watching her drag all 9 of her instruments down the hallway with the help of her dad and mom, set them all up on stage and then commence to wow us all with not only her vocal prowess and stage confidence, but her technical musicianship, songwriting skills and genuineness. And she was only 13 years old! For those of you who do not yet know who this delightful girl is, her name is Jeneve Rose Mitchell. Please check out her website, CLICK HERE  
Over the past few years we've become good friends and when she invited me to come spend time with her family in the Colorado Rockies, nothing short of a resounding "yes" would do. I arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado, at 3:06 mountain time, on flight number 3036 in the tiniest airport I've ever been to. A completely different and very refreshing type of airport, this one had security guards who called you "Hun" and only one security checkpoint. Oh, and 30% of the airport's population was also wearing cowboy hats :).  

My kind of town. 

I think this week also was written down in my little book of "best days of my life". A true mountain girl, she and her dad taught me all about poisonous--and edible--wild mushrooms, herbal and medicinal wild plants, edible and poisonous berries, trees and fodder. We rode horseback in the Rocky Mountains amidst Hawthorne branches and beautiful Aspens, carved our names into the bark of trees along our trail, packed horses up mountain trails, camped alongside a free-flowing, crystal clear stream, ate skunk cabbage, packed mud onto the walls of their adobe home, rode young horses, showed the boys how to stack 600 bales of hay, and played music to our hearts content. If I were to tell you all of the fun moments we had, there wouldn't be any room left to tell you about my musical traversing! Haha! 
Thank you, 'Neve, Mr. Tim and Ms. Jenny, for allowing me to come join your family at your home. I've never seen a place more beautiful, or felt so welcome into a family. For the first time ever, coming home  wasn't all I could think of.  :) 

I arrived home on the 11th of August with just enough time to throw all my laundry into the wash, saddle up the mares, do the stack of dirty dishes waiting on me, and re-pack my suitcase. Bright and early on the 13th, Mom and I pulled out headed for Palo Duro Canyon. We planned to arrive in time to see the famous "Texas" play that evening, which we were able to do even after stopping along the way to see the Goodnight Museum for an hour and a half. That was a great stop.  We wished we had more time there to look but we had to get on to the canyon or we would miss the beginning of the play.  Mom had heard raving reviews about" Texas, the Outdoor Musical," located down in the beautiful canyon and she told me enough about it to wind us both up. After a wonderful BBQ dinner and some good ole' fashioned chuck wagon music, we finally saw the play...which met every expectation! It was positively wonderful. It was a wonderful production in a spectacular setting.  I would love to go back someday and explore the canyon. 

We stayed in Palo Duro that evening, but got up early the next morning and headed to Alamosa, Colorado.  We stopped for breakfast at our favorite home cookin' restaurant, Cowboy Gelatto, run by some special friends, Cody Anderson and his dad, Jim.  The food is amazing, we had a breakfast fit for a king while we visited. 

We had to pull away and head to my gig at the Mountain Rails Live concert series. A HUGE thank-you to Fred Hargrove for being such a wonderful promoter and friend, and for working so hard to get me there. I was honored to open for the Flying W Wranglers for the Saturday and Sunday concerts up at Fir, Co.  I've never had so much fun performing on a train in my entire life, and this wasn't my first train! :) The guests were wonderful, and the main performance? Well, imagine riding the train to it's destination, which is in the middle of nowhere on the top of the mountain, with the stage nestled in amongst the pine trees.  Spectacular.  We had so much fun--despite the cranky, rainy weather. Not to mention, the Wranglers have become special friends, and I always enjoy hanging out with my buddies David Bradley, Adam Gardino, Verlon, and Luke Tripp. 

Well, a trip like that is bittersweet.  Although Mom and I are always ready to be home, it's hard to leave a beautiful place like that in the Colorado mountains.  One special side note to that trip.  We had the privilege of having our traveling buddy with us, Janice Bond.  Thanks for coming with us, Janice! 

By now, you know my routine!  Home, wash clothes, work/play with my horses, pack clothes, head out.  Haha.  No exception here except add in an interview with a reporter for the Visalia, CA newspaper where I was headed next.  Sometime the previous spring, I received, like many did, an email inviting me to Marilyn Tuttle's 90th Birthday Party in California.  Mom and I looked at each other and said "What an amazing invitation, we can't miss that!"  So, we called our dear friend, David Veal, to see what he could tell us about it and before you know it we had our plans made.  

Out to California we headed on the 26th of August to spend a few days with Mr. Veal before the party.  We enjoyed our visit with him so much, learning all about all the things he has done in his life.  Mr. Veal, you are an amazing, kind and benevolent man with a fascinating history.  It was an honor to get to know you better!  And fun!  We had such fun!  The first thing we did the evening we arrived was head to the Coffee Gallery Backstage.  It was an honor to meet the infamous Bob Stane, who went out of his way to have me perform at his venue.  Thank you, Mr. Stane, for the honor.  I was blessed to see some VERY dear friends come for this intimate concert, including birthday girl Marilyn Tuttle (who I came to see!), Jai, Bob Bobrof, sweet Judy Kean, and others.  In addition to the friends that come, I loved the intimacy of the venue and the history behind it. 

On Thursday night we went to a Dave Stamey Concert at the Out West Concert Series.  Jim and BobbyJean Bell bring in the best for their concert series and that was our first time to be there for it.  You definitely should look them up and attend their concerts when you are in the Santa Clarita area.  

We decided to tour the movie studios while we were there.  We went to Warner Brothers, Universal and Sony Studio Tours.  Each one was different, but we loved Warner Brothers the best.  And they all were made even better by the company of Mr. Veal and the stories he had to share. 

On Saturday we headed to Visalia, CA and Mr. Gary Brown.  He hosted us for the evening and I performed at Mavericks Coffee House, a fun venue owned by Mr. Brown's son Cody.  I had a blast getting to know them and loved the venue and the people it draws. Thanks so much to Mr. Brown.  His home is like a western museum and he and his wife make you feel so welcome.  At Maverick 
s we had a packed house and I appreciate every single person that was there.  But I won't lie, I was totally blown away to have Jack Hannah of the Sons of the San Joaquin right there in the front row.  How cool is that! 

We had to get up early to head back to Santa Clarita.  Dear friend David Veal was an instrumental part of the birthday party for Marilyn Tuttle and he needed to get busy on his part of the festivities.  So, off we went, back to pick up equipment and on to the party.  So many people love Marilyn Tuttle and she has such an amazing life to celebrate!  There were all kinds of people there, including lots of family from the Texas area!  It was fun to meet new people and see old friends, all there to honor the life of this special woman.  I got to sit at the second most fun table there, the first of course being Marilyn's table.  Julie and Gino Pomilia, Diamond and Linda Farnsworth, David Veal, Mike Fleming and his wife.  Yep, the best table. The only thing that could have made the table better was to have our good friends Kim and Lisa Jasserie with us. Later that evening, Mom and I, the Farnsworths and the Pomilias went to dinner and Julie and I each got a ginormous cotton candy in Universal Park. 

The party was a wonderful tribute to Marilyn Tuttle's life.  There were pictures everywhere, on posters and in albums on tables.  There were friends there from all time periods of her life.  David Veal put together a wonderful video presentation.  And then there were speakers and entertainers.  Special people with special moments of time that were there to honor her and share their love for her.  I count myself extremely honored to be asked to sing a song for her.  I chose the very first song I found on YouTube of Marilyn and Wesley Tuttle to sing to her: "Hey, Good Lookin'."  I love this song and  will forever remember this special couple every time I sing it.  Happy Birthday, Ms. Marilyn!  Here's to many more years of friendship. 

Later that evening Mom and I joined the Farnsworths and Pomilia for  dinner.  We went to a restaurant in the Universal City Mall and Mr. Farnsworth surprised us all when he ordered desert for everyone:  ginormous cotton candy served like a huge ice cream sunday!  Ms. Julie, Mom and I couldn't stop eating it!..Well, we had a fantastic trip to the LA area and although it was so much fun, it was time to head home again.  Family, horses, puppy, chores, leassons, laundry, friends.....all waiting. 

And September 1st came rolling around.  It is a day treated with very special care in my family, and extended family.   It's kind of a big deal for us. Dove Season opens! :) 

 And Neets!  Our so-special friend Neets was coming!  We picked her up at the airport early in the day on Thursday and had an amazing time together.  We worked hard and played.  We crammed something into every minute.  Photographing, talking, shopping, repeat.  Neets, you are the most incredible woman.  Talent oozes out of your every pore.  We are amazed at all you have done in your lifetime.  And now, photography.  You make each person you photograph look like a movie star.  Thank you.  Thank you for your time, your talent and most of all your friendship.  

And did I mention to you that whenever I have time off, I love to dance?  And so, I do.  And so, I did.  Dance.  Swing dance.  Every chance I get. 

Cowboy Church.  I love to perform at Cowboy Church.  And the Tarrant County Cowboy Church is one of the special ones.  I have met some of the most special friends there and was honored to be there in September performing for their service and celebrating God's word. 

On Sept 7th, Mom and I headed to the Lone Star Opry in Gidding, Tx.  Someone who saw me perform at The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas recommended me for this gig, I don't know who.  But, I was honored to be asked.  The band was so much fun and the Opry has a great following of fans.  Thank you to Mary Ross for all you do to make it happen and for inviting me to be a part of it. 

On the 12th I was back in the Dallas area again, performing for my "family":  the Red Oak Opry.  Down in Red Oak, Texas, this is one of the best Opry's there is.  The house band is fantastic and the talent that performs each month is top.  If you live in the DFW area and have not come, you are really missing a fun evening of entertainment.  I have been going there since I began performing and the people there are my "family."   You know who you are.  Thank you.  It's always so fun to be there with you! 

The next day was Sunday the 13th, Buckaroo Day.  This is a program I grew up in and I try to go back to give back to the program.  Mentoring young performers is a passion of mine.  I love young kids.  Only the kids perform on this day, but adult volunteers come to back them up.  It happens once a month, 2nd Sunday of each month at 2:00 on the steps of the Exchange Building in the Fort Worth Stockyards.  The Buckaroo Program is headed up by Janet McBride. 

On the 19th of September I was invited to perform at Pipp Gillette's Camp Street Cafe in Crockett, TX.  So on the 18th, Mom and I headed to Dawn, Caroline and Cary Wiseman's house to visit first.  They have become special friends and I love my time with C Dub (Caroline).  She's my "minnie me" and we have a great time together.  Mr. Cary knows my passion for all things horses and always finds a way for me to help him do something on their ranch.  This time it was doctoring the cows and calves.  Mom and Ms. Dawn hang out, visit and cook for us.   

After the cow work we all came back in, ate, cleaned up and got dressed.  We headed to Crockett, TX.  Pipp was waiting for us and got me all set up and sound checked.  Then he recommended a yummy cafe on the square for a quick bite to eat.  We headed back to Camp Street and the place started filling up.   We had a full house by the time we started and at a large table up front were a pack of my trail riding buddies.  Thank you so much for coming to my concert, y'all! I love this venue, it is historic, quaint and intimate.  You feel like you are in your own living room singing with your friends.  And I was.  Thank you, Pipp!  And thank you C Dub for joining me onstage for a song!  You are adorable. 

The next morning, the Wisemans took us to their church, Cowboy Church of Leon County.  I was honored to be featured with C Dub for their music.  It was a warm, loving church and Pastor Tuffy is welcoming and supportive. 

After we made it home from the Wiseman's, we dove into getting ready for yet another trip--this time to Durango, Colorado, for the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering. One of my favorites!  But, more details on this in my next newsletter...... 

Well, y'all...that's about it for my third quarter newsletter! I'm always so tardy in sending them out, and I hope you'll all forgive me. Thank you so much for always being such a wonderful support and kind friends to boot--I am certainly a lucky girl to have you all. 

May the Lord bless you and yours and make His face to shine upon you this season! 


Second Quarter Newsletter 2015 

"Rain...lots of rain."

That's what I think of when I take time to recall the months of April and May. Much needed rain became the rain of over-abundance. It was coming so fast, it flooded everywhere around us. We definitely needed the rain to break the Texas drought, but then we suddenly needed the flooding to stop. LOL. :-)

But, one rainy day, a special email came from the Western Writers of America to invite me to attend their convention to receive an award:
my song "Cold Blue Eyes" from my Cowgirl Swing CD was co-finalist for Best Western Song!
I was SO HONORED! Congratulations to co-finalist "Lonesome Cowboy" by Martin Conway and winner "Charlie and Evangeline" by my good friends Doug Figgs and Todd Carter.
           Then, another letter came. This one was from the Rural Roots Commission. "Cowgirl Swing" was selected for 2015 Swing Album of the Year Award! The awards are given at their annual National Old Time Music Festival in Lemars, Iowa. Wow! Totally awesome.
As if that wasn't exciting enough, soon came the Western Way's 2015 first quarter magazine which listed "Cowgirl Swing" in the NUMBER ONE SPOT in the charts for most played Western Swing Album, AND most played Western Album AND most played Western Song (for "She Could Ride") by the DJs.
A HUGE THANKS to every single DJ out there for supporting Western and Western Swing music and for loving my new CD produced by Dave Alexander! SO cool! April was a fairly busy month; come to think of it, every month is a very busy month, lol. We were all looking forward to Thursday, April 9th: the day we were told my appearance on the Penny Gilley Show would air on RFD TV. My family doesn’t have TV so we made plans to watch it at a friend's house and several friends and family planned to record it. And before you ask, yep, it was awesome to be on the Penny Gilley Show. ;-)

On the 10th, Mom and I attended the North Texas Book Festival (in Denton, TX) Banquet and Awards Ceremony. My book, Girls and Gunsmoke, was a finalist in the Young Adult Historical Fiction category. It was a neat event and that evening G&G won second place. ☺Thank you, NTBF!

Saturday, the 11th, Mom and I drove down to Weatherford, TX, for a radio interview with good friend and award-winning western music DJ, Judy James with Cowboy Jubilee. It’s always such fun to share the air with a good friend, and this time was certainly no exception. Not only is Ms. Judy a top notch DJ spreading good western music over the airways, but she performs it as well! Check out her website HERE to see more of this talented lady.

From Weatherford, we headed back to the North Texas Book Festival for a few hours to hobnob with other authors and sit at our book display for festival guests. We enjoyed seeing other displays, meeting authors and publishers, making new friends, selling books and coming home with several new additions for our ever-growing library. Thank you, Georgia Caraway (friend and notable author!), for informing me of this festival and encouraging me to attend!

Saturday nights when I am home I like to go dancing with a few friends, and this Saturday evening was no different. Since I am usually busy on the weekends, having a Saturday night open to go do some East (or West) coast swing dancing is a rare, but wondrous, thing, and one to be taken advantage of. So, of course, a group of us did!

The next few days were used working on school, riding my horses and doing laundry before attending a banquet on Wednesday night to honor my brother and other young men who achieved the difficult and rare task of Eagle proud of him for so many things.

The next morning, Thursday, April 16th, Mom and I flew out to California for the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival in Santa Clarita, California (SEE HERE). Our native-California-but-now-from-Florida friend Mr. Bill Lindsay (Stuart Hamblen’s grandson), kindly picked us up at the airport and volunteered to be our chauffeur for the entire weekend. That evening we met his mom, Lisa Jaserie (Stuart Hamblen's daughter) and sister, Kim Jaserie, when he picked us up from the hotel for the plans he made for the evening . We headed to the opening events for the festival where their good friend and legendary stuntman and coordinator, Diamond Farnsworth was being honored with the uncovering of his bronze saddle in the Western Walk of Fame, an honor bestowed on Stuart Hamblen in 2014.
            There were lots of friends there from our Western Music world, many who live there and many who came in to perform for the festival. We also were privileged to attend that evening a VIP “behind the scenes” intimate interview with Mr. Farnsworth, where we got to hear a lot of stories about a few of the many movies he’s done. Truly a priceless experience. In the wee hours of Friday morning, Mr. Lindsay was a brave soul. He was back at the hotel by 4:30am to pick us up for a television taping for the Festival. We hurried up to wait and wait and wait.....for Channel 5 film crew to decide when it was time to begin taping. Mike Fleming, festival organizer (and New West band leader) had a great line up of people to represent all the activities that could be found during the festival: chuck wagon cooking with their famous peach cobbler, knife thrower, gun spinner, trick roper, and back ground music to it all with me and my buddy Kristyn Harris.
             It was a long morning but so much fun to be a part of. When the taping was done, we met friends of Mr. Lindsay who run the gift shop at Hart Park, and then went to the famous Out West Boutique to do a little shopping. Yes, we did find some really cute things! (also go to their online shopping HERE). They were so sweet to let us come because they were really busy setting up the Buckaroo Bookfair for the festival. They run a bookstore during the festival where I was able to set up a book display for Girls and Gunsmoke. Not only that, but Bobbi Jean and Jim Bell set up book signings and author interviews. It's a really awesome addition to this festival! By then it was time to head back to the hotel to rest before meeting back up with Mr. Lindsay and his mom and sister for dinner. We had a great time visiting with Ms. Lisa and Kim, hearing story after story about Stuart Hamblen. It was hard to tear away to attend a concert but we had been offered a chance to attend one of the first concerts of the festival. Good friend David Veal was kind enough to pick us up and take us back to Hart Park for a Rosie Flores concert as his guest. Mom joined him, Kathy Musgraves and Anita Crane while I decided to head to the restaurant where a jam was supposed to be in progress. I didn't find anyone there at first, but as I was leaving, I ran into Mike Flemming and he and I started the jam in the courtyard. By 11, Mom, me and Mr. Lindsay were all ready to turn in; it had been a long but fabulous day. That was one of the earliest times I've ever gone to bed while a jam was in progress...
           Saturday was too much fun: I had 3 performances on the Wild West Stage which was emceed by Joe Harrington, a wonderful poet himself. There were 4 or 5 stages of music, booths of vendors, food, Civil War re-enactors marching across the park, chuck wagon cooking, ropers, and more. If you've never been to the Santa Clarita gathering, it's worth attending simply to see the beauty of Hart Park, where it is now held. I never had a chance to see the Mansion on the premises, but I know it was worth taking the time. In previous years this festival was held at Melody Ranch but everyone agreed that this new location was a success. Sunday I had a morning performance on the Wild West Stage again and I was tickled pink to see Mr. Farnsworth and his family show up. At 1:00 I shared a performance with Dave Stamey at the Canyon Guild Theater--what an HONOR. I absolutely love Dave Stamey, so getting to share the stage with him was beyond special. As if that wasn't cool enough, I also had my own DRESSING ROOM, with my name on it and everything! Really!
           After my show and Mr. Stamey's show, we stayed to watch the Sons of the San Joaquin--and, believe it or not, this day actually did get even better. Bill Lindsay had introduced me to Roy Roger and Dale Evan's granddaughter, Julie Pomilia, and I told her how much I have always adored Roy and Dale. We chatted a bit about how I was raised, and how much Roy and Dale have crafted me into every bit of the performer and person that I am today. After the Sons of the San Joaquin show, she graciously invited us to join her and her husband for dinner at their home so that she could show me all of her Roy and Dale memorabilia. Since Bill Lindsay and his mom and sister were chauffeuring us, he drove, and Kristyn Harris and her dad also joined. Kristyn and I spent hours trying on Roy and Dale's flashy clothes, as well as their hats and boots, and then looked at photographs and listened to story upon story that Ms. Julie fondly told of her grandparents. That was a night I will never, EVER forget. I can honestly say that was probably the most amazing experience I’ve ever been blessed with.
         Monday, April 20th, we flew home and Mr. Bill was so kind to take us to the airport. He had another special surprise in store for us. We stopped in to say goodbye to his mom, Lisa, and sister, Kim. While there, Ms. Lisa shared more stories and then showed us the Hamblen family Rose Bowl Parade costumes. When Stuart Hamblen was alive, they were in the parade every year with the beautiful Peruvian Paso horses they raised. And Ms. Lisa was the one who created their costumes! I got to try on an awesome patriotic costume and decided right then I needed my mom to make me one too. Ms. Lisa helped my mom to do just that. The plane ride home was bittersweet, new friends and so much fun left behind. But I was thankful to be home for a few days, even though I’d had such fun that weekend. No matter how much fun it is, I always can't wait to get back to my horses.

Once again, though, travel beckons. Friday, the 24th, Mom and I drove down to Madisonville, Texas, to stay with our good friends Dawn, Cary and Caroline Wiseman, for my performance the next afternoon in Crockett, TX. My buddy and “mini-me”, Caroline and I doctored cows the next morning before getting cleaned up and heading to my performance for the Piney Woods Fine Arts Association Festival. I opened for Amber Digby and her band with a 45 minute set in Bear Hall. Bear Hall is an old historic building beautifully restored but with no air, but we all had fun.
          The next morning, Caroline and I performed for the Leon County Cowboy Church. The congregation was so welcoming and kind; it was a blessing to be there singing “I Met Jesus In Texas” with little Miss Caroline!

Headed back home, we stopped off to meet our "traveling bud" Janice Bond at Fair Park to see Michael Martin Murphy and his band at Earth Fest. His concert was amazing, as always, and I was honored and thrilled to be asked to join them on their last song. That evening ended with a large group of us going to dinner. It was a special ending to a special weekend.

The month of May was filled with personal activities. Mom and I worked hard to get everything ready for my brother’s Boy Scout Eagle Scout Ceremony the following weekend. We worked for hours on decorations and scrapbooks while watching episode after episode of Cutthroat Kitchens, Food Network Star, and Cake Wars on Netflix...can you tell that we really like the Food Shows? ;)
        The ceremony was regal; appropriate for the accomplishment and it was great to be with family and friends to honor my brother. In the middle of all the Eagle festivities, I slipped down to Fort Worth to see the new Avengers movie with some friends and then had to "book it" back home as soon as it was over to load up the horses and my gear. Dad and I headed to Granbury, TX, to ride and perform for a fundraising trail ride called Riding For the Pointe. It was fun!

         One May weekend I hosted a teens/twenties game night and on another a group of us went swing dancing, again. It's not often I get to be home this much to spend time with my friends and those are treasured times!

On the 13th, the whole family drove down to Austin for my sister’s graduation from Dental Hygiene School (with honors!). We drove down the night before in dad’s relatively cramped truck with a somewhat car-sick 6 month puppy riding in my lap. Yay. Thankfully, the puppy never shared the contents of her last meal with me. Good girl!
           After my sister’s graduation, Mom and I booked it to San Marcos for the Swing on the Square festival over the weekend ( A huge thank you to Al Dressen, the event coordinator and band leader, for having Mikki Daniel and Texas Wildfire (Jon Stutler on clarinet/sax/vocals, Dick Gimble on bass/vocals, Lonnie Adkinson on lead guitar, Rick McRae on lead guitar/vocals, and Hailey Sandoz on fiddle).  We played two afternoon shows at Sean Patrick's Irish Bar and Restaurant on Saturday and Cowboy Church and an afternoon performance at Black’s BBQ on Sunday. I’ve gotta say; the BBQ at Black’s is DELICIOUS!
              The biggest highlight of the weekend for me was receiving Carolyn Martin’s guitar, Bob, (a Regal Bobcat from the '30s), as my very own new addition. I’d bought “her” from Carolyn and Dave several weeks before, but we agreed it would make sense to make the exchange when we saw each other at this gig. I played Bobbi for every set that weekend, and I’ve played her every gig since. ☺ She fits like a glove!

              After getting home, I finally had time to put some more miles on that bay mare, finish up the last of my school so I could graduate on the 28th, and spend as much time with my friends as I could before they all left for college.
              On the 6th of June, I attended (and sang for) a dear friend of mine’s funeral. Her name is Cleo Pipkins, and she has been like a grandmother to me my entire life. After the funeral, I also stopped by several of my friend’s high school graduation parties on my way to Austin with my parents. In Austin, we picked up my sister and nephew, spent the night there, then continued on to Luckenbach, Texas, for the Johnny Gimble Memorial held Sunday, June 7th.
              Johnny’s son, Dick Gimble, (one of my mentors, comrades, teachers, and friends), asked me to sing Guide Me Lord, written by the late Mr. Gimble, during the memorial, which I was blessed and so honored to do. Paying tribute to the legend and memory of the King of Fiddle Players by performing short sets were such artists as Ray Benson and Asleep At the Wheel, Hot Club of Cowtown, Dave Alexander and his Big Texas Swing Band, Jason Roberts, Billy Mata, Teresa Anderson, Dick and his daughter, Emily Gimble, and many others. It was a celebration of life belonging to one of Western Swing’s most beloved players and men, and I am so blessed to have been a small part of it.

On the 13th of June I played again with my Red Oak Opry family. Quote of the event: Billy McCoy, band-leader and guitarist extraordinaire said: “Back up, guys. Mikki don't need us.” Coming from Billy McCoy, that was all kinds of a special compliment! ☺ Thank you so much, Billy, for being such an encouragement to me always. And, yes, I still made them play with me anyways...

The next morning found me and Hailey Sandoz at Chandler's Garden in Chambersville, Texas performing for a beautiful, intimate wedding reception. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and so was the bride—how can you beat a place to play like that?! Congratulations, Kirsten and Steve, and may the Lord richly bless your marriage!
             On morning of June 20th, Mom and I drove down to the Dogwood Jamboree in Palestine, Texas, and met up with Jack Phillips and his parents, and Kristyn Harris—both also night-time Jamboree performers. We had a blast sharing our Western Swing with the crowd, and in return the crowd was super encouraging. A huge thank you to each of the folks who drove out to see me and cheer me on! You guys are positively wonderful and I love y’all so much. I will be going back to the Dogwood Jamboree in December for a the finals for a singing contest I was entered in and won. Please feel free to email me for details if you'd like to plan on attending the contest! (It's audience voting....*hint-hint*...) ;-)

On the 24th, Mom and I picked up my niece, Averie, and we joined Judy James, Pam Tarpley and the Pagosa Springs Girl’s Choir in Fort Worth at Bass Hall in Fort Worth to see the theater production of Cinderella . (The play was wonderful!) The next morning/afternoon I guest-taught Yodeling and the Art of Performance to the choir girls at a day long workshop Judy James held for them in Weatherford at the Doss Museum. I loved meeting all the girls, making friends with them, and hopefully helping them in some way.

Saturday, the 26th, Mikki Daniel and Texas Wildfire (Jon Stutler on sax/vocals, and Nathan Phelps on bass) played for The Celt in downtown McKinney-yes, swung an Irish Pub! The audience really loved it and we had a GREAT time. If you want to see a really fun, hot ‘20s swing trio, you need to make a point to come see us play! ☺ I promise you, you will not regret it.

On the 28th, my mom and super great friends Dawn and Cary Wiseman threw me a graduation party, complete with hiring the Uptown Drifters to play a small dance for me and a few friends. A huge thank you to each of you who came or sent me a message/card for my graduation—you are all so appreciated! Thank you so very much. I have been so blessed!

Thank you so much for your friendship and interest in my music! If you were not there to show me your smiling faces, I would have no reason to do what I do. May the Lord richly bless you, and may you ride tall and shoot straight until we meet again!


First Quarter Newsletter 2015 

Wow, it's been a long time! I'm SOOOO sorry about that...time really has flown! I am waaay overdue for my first quarter newsletter for 2015, so let's go all the way back to January so I can tell y'all a bit about what's been going on. :-)

After getting back from an awesome vacation in New Mexico for the holidays, it was time to get back to work! Getting caught up on emails, I found an email sent out to all WMA members with some interesting tallies for total airplay for artists and albums for the year 2014.
A heartfelt thank you to all the DJs that take the time to report to the Western Way magazine and for choosing to play Western and Western Swing music and poetry. I'm especially grateful that you support the music I love and support young artists like myself. It was a huge honor to find that I was

9th out of 100 most played western artists for the year 2014,
that "
Gotta Be a Cowgirl" was 2nd out of 100 most played western albums for 2014,
and that
I was 7th out of 100 most played contemporary artists played for 2014.

Thank y'all so much for all the support and encouragement!!!!

School and performances on the schedule again, Mom and I headed down to Fort Worth on January 11th for the first Cowtown Opry Buckaroo show of the year (mentored by yodeling queen Janet McBride). I love to be there for these kids who are just like I was, wanting to learn to play and sing all this great cowboy music. They are all so talented and it's great fun to see them all together performing one after another!

The hightlight of the month (and maybe the whole year!) was an invitation to be a guest on the amazing Penny Gilley Show on RFD-TV! She used to film her show out of Branson, MO but now she has moved it to Grapevine, TX. It was very exciting to get the email from her husband/manager Mike Stanglin. He asked everyone to stop by there on Sunday the 11th to do a quick run through before filming began on Monday. So on our way home from Buckaroos, we made a stop off at the theater in Grapevine for rehearsal.

(That's when I met Mike and Penny and Rocky Gribble and his Texas All Star Band.) They all were SO nice and made me feel so welcome! The rehearsal was quick and efficiently run. The several hours I spent getting to know the crew and other artists on Sunday was all they needed to prepare for their taping but didn't reveal to me how they would film the show I would be on! It was fascinating to see the film crew and how they filmed the parts they would later put together into a TV show. Penny and Mike treated me like they had known me all my life and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. Penny is the ultimate professional and is definitely a pro. Since they film several shows in one day, I had the privilege of meeting some real music legends, BJ Thomas and Johnny Lee to mention two, and spent the whole day in total awe. :) The show was open to the public to come view during the taping and many people came to see the show live! When I was standing backstage, BJ Thomas came up to me and says, "Hey, Miss Mikki. Let's get a picture!" still mine heart. :) LOL! I've been performing for six years and by now am somewhat used to a theater performance...but filming a television show after standing on the same stage as BJ Thomas?
Mind blowing and incredible, to say the least!
From the moment I saw him until several days later I couldn't stop singing "...raindrops keep falling on my head..."

We spent the whole day down there on the 13th, staying to watch the taping of several shows. To make the event even more special, I had several dear friends and family members in the live audience cheering me on. Our favorite travel buddy and just plain awesome friend, Janice Bond, came to the taping and we ended the day by stopping with her at a small cafe down the street and indulged in Mardi Gras layer cake :) before heading home to my visiting sister and darling nephew. When we left that day, Mike informed me that the show I was on would be aired on April 9th, 2015.

January 17th--a date I had LONG awaited--brought Kristyn Harris and I down to the Fort Worth stockyards with our mares, Velvet and Sissy, for the Fort Worth Stockshow Parade. If that day wasn't a record warm for January, it sure should have been! The sun was bright and shining as we rode along with one of Texas' most historical annual events. You know we are horse girls when we were the first to saddle up and ride from the break of dawn--several hours before the parade even started--until after the parade was over. :) After un-saddling and taking care of our girls, we stopped in the legendary Cooper's BBQ for a late lunch before heading home and giving our mares a well-deserved rest.

On the 19th, I was invited to be a guest on Belinda Gail's new gospel show, Blessed Trails with Belinda Gail on Equestrian Legacy Radio. We chatted about my faith, family, background, songwriting, and the folks who've inspired me. What a blessing and honor to be interviewed by one of my biggest inspirations! To hear the interview, you can click HERE.

The next morning--the 20th--Mom and I flew out to Denver, CO, two days before the Golden Colorado Cowboy Festival, to spend special time with our good friends Diana Raven and Ernie Martinez. A highlight of this flight was when I headed through security and one of the guards remembered me by name from my previous trip...I had given him a card, and he became a fan! Shortly after we arrived, it snowed like crazy! Diana was quite the hostess as she braved the heavy snow and icy roads to take us sightseeing, as planned! We had such fun going shopping at the Rockmount Western-Wear warehouse in Denver and attending the Pickin' Parlor performance featuring fabulous Denver local pickers, as well as the beautiful and talented Canada girl, Eli Barsi.
         The Pickin' Parlor is a concert venue in a music store with every instrument you can ever imagine hanging from the walls. I sat listening to the incredibly powerful lyrics of Wendy Woo and Eli while eyeing the ancient Archtop guitar collection on Kit Simon's Parlor walls and I realized how blessed I am. Early Thursday morning I was asked to be a part of the Golden Festival's television promotion by being interviewed briefly by FOX 31 on their morning show. So cool! Walking onto the set it was too much fun seeing all the different backgrounds, green screens, and cameras. Quite a neat experience! The festival technically began on Thursday afternoon when I shared sets with Pop Wagoner, Pip Gillette and Susie Knight while performing for darling school kids. They just eat up the music.
         One of my favorite stunts to pull is to ask throughout the hour, "Who is King of the Cowboys?" After I give them the answer the first time, they're guaranteed to yell out "Roy Rogers!" at the top of their lungs later on. I always follow that up with "Who is Queen of the West?!" and then, "Who was the smartest horse in the movies?" They are all quite up to date in their Roy Rogers and Dale Evans trivia by the time I leave. :)

       Over the course of the weekend, I was blessed by getting to hang out with my buddies, Jeneve Rose Mitchell (who traveled down out of the mountains for her own gig, but stopped by to see me!) and Gary Allegretto (incredible artist--if you haven't heard him already, look him up at ), as well as reconnecting with friends I made at the same place last year. Golden is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I highly recommend that you CLICK HERE to visit their website and book your vacation to this festival--not only is the country exquisite, the performers that they bring to this event are unique and high-class.

        We flew back home just in time to play at Cowboy Campfire Tales hosted by the Terry Family at the Fort Worth Rodeo and Stockshow. Always a fun event to play, it was first started by Cowboy Poet Charles Williams. When he wanted to retire, the Terry Family kept it going. It's a great venue where Stock Show visitors can stop in at the end of the Justin Arena and hear local Cowboy Poets and Western Musicians for three days. The highlight for me every year is to stop in the vendor area and visit with Buck Taylor, amazing actor/artist. He creates the poster for the Stock Show every year! The next week was loaded with homework assignments that were due and time with the horses.

      My brief music sabbatical ended on February 8th, when I attended/backed up the Cowtown Opry Buckaroos.
Then, on the 13th I had a radio interview via telephone with Utah friend Cary Hobbs. I hadn't spoken to him since I attended the Heber Valley Utah festival last fall, and it was great to catch up on new news and chat about upcoming festivals.
       Every time I have the opportunity to play down in Red Oak, TX, it goes down in my "favorites" book. I've been performing for the Red Oak Opry for four years, and the audience/fans I have there (as well as the house band), have become like extended family to me. I performed there on the 14th with some of my new CD songs, and as always, they made my day with their love, kindness and support. I can't wait to go back!
February 20th I was asked by Kevin Deal to open for him at his Love & War in Texas CD Release Party! This was a fun experience as I have never played in a restaurant before. I love to perform with other musicians and having recently met Niko from the Gypsy Playboys, I decided to make it a Texas Wildfire performance by bringing him in as a bassist/vocalist for the evening. We had never played together before so we did a quick rehearsal in the parking-lot prior to the gig, and then swung their socks off! I was a little nervous initially about playing my kinda music for a hard-core country crowd, but as was later said, "We Swung a Honky-tonk!" After we opened, Kevin Deal did an awesome job and had a great crowd there excited to see him. It was also awesome to meet and be emceed by Brett Dillan, KHYI 95.3's brilliant DJ. A fabulous evening all around.
        February 23rd-25th, Mom and I went to visit my grandmother in El Paso, before driving down to Alpine, Texas, for my first year as an Alpine Cowboy Gathering performer. The gathering kicked off on Thursday night with a reception and was followed by schools and afternoon shows on Friday, and then more shows all day Saturday. I have to say out of all the festivals I've been to, this one was very unique in a great way. Not only was the event itself INCREDIBLY attended, (amazing when you consider that Alpine's in the middle of nowhere, Texas!), but they followed a unique idea regarding new performers. They only bring in 5 per year. And, those five are featured on a one-hour "Newcomer Show" performance that kicks off the festival. It's really a great idea to give the audience a chance to be introduced to the new entertainers before the festival gets started. Not only do I think this is a brilliant idea, it was great fun to participate in. A huge thank you to my sponsors, Mr. and Mrs. Dause, for bringing me in this year. Love you guys and can't wait to see y'all at Red's this year! It was great jamming with my good friends Rusty Battenfield and Doug Figgs while mom and Doug's wife, Cathy, went shopping. I have very fond memories of the artists and fun we had that weekend. You can check this festival out here: We left early Sunday morning with good friend and extraordinary poet, Doris Daley and dropped her off at the Midland Airport on our way back home. That was fun getting to spend some time together.

         We made it back home in time for me to get to my college class I was taking on Mondays AND a gig that night to celebrate Texas Independence Day! On March 2nd, 1836, Texas' Independence from Mexico was made official by a signing of the declaration by 59 people. This declaration created the Republic of Texas, it's own country with rights included. In honor of this date, we Texans celebrate March 2nd in different ways. This year, I was honored to be asked by Churchill's Irish Pub and Restaurant in McKinney, Texas, to play the evening away in celebration with Texas' state-official music: Western Swing! So, needless to say, Mikki Daniel and Texas Wildfire (Dale Morris, Jr. and Niko) swung the evening away with guitar, fiddle, and bass. Remember the Alamo!

          Over the next few weeks, our area in Texas experienced positively torrential rain fall. I was looking forward to riding a 6 day trail ride down in the hill country with the Texas Star Trail Ride and performing for them on Saturday, March 7th at Luckenbach, Texas and again at a campfire dinner on Sunday the 8th. Sadly, this all had to be canceled due to the mud. Although very disappointed, this gave me the opportunity to get caught up on school work again and to work with my own horses. I have a little mare with exceptional potential, she just needs a few more wet saddle-blankets (a very wise old cowboy saying meaning the horse needs more time being ridden). :)

           On the 13th, the family and I drove down to La Grange, for 'The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas' where I was asked to be their featured female performer on Friday and Saturday, as well as have my own set on Saturday evening, Mikki Daniel & Texas Wildfire (KR Woods on guitar, Hailey Sandoz on fiddle and Ginger Evans on bass, and special guest vocalist Buckaroo Caroline Wiseman). It was truly an honor to be on stage and be a guest vocalist with all these amazing bands! Now, what could be better than that?! Well, those of you who know me well know that I absolutely love to dance. Two-step, east coast swing, west coast swing...I just love to dance! I'd rather dance than do much else, besides singing or riding. The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas only hires swing bands and they have two stages going from noon until midnight for two days. Needless to say, when I wasn't singing, I was dancing! I think I danced more consecutive hours throughout those two days than I ever have! :) A big thank you to my handsome young cowboy dancing pal, Wyatt. He danced with me for many hours and was the best sport about it! Plus, the kid's got rhythm and he taught me a few things, and he's got such wonderful manners.....Oh! If he were only ten years older.... ;-). It was great to see a favorite photographer friend of ours who is a big supporter of this festival, Cash (Shot in Texas!) A big shout out, also, to all the fans who came to see me at the festival! Thank you, it's so great to see you there!
             I was especially honored to find out that one fan came all the way from Iowa to see me at this festival! How cool is that! That Friday and Saturday were some of the most blessed days I've ever had. I got to see special friends and dance my cares away....but, I also got to sing with some of the men I respect most in this business: Jody Nix, Jason Roberts, and Jake and Tommy Hooker, as well as bands I have oogled for years such as Shoot Low Sheriff, Jeff Woolsey and Heybale. A big thank you to good friend and great entertainer, KR Woods, who introduced me to the festival and is the only band to have performed since the festival started! To go from having watched these guys and wondering what it would be like to meet them (let alone sing with them), to being the guest female vocalist with them has been quite a journey, and is a blessing and honor all wrapped up in a massive bow tie of excitement. :-) All-in-all, I think it's safe to say that the weekend of March 13th-15th was a good week.

             Another trail ride and performance was scheduled for March 21. The Pointe Trail Ride was to benefit Lake Point Resource Center but also had to be cancelled (but rescheduled) due to continued rains and heavy mud.

         The last major event in March for me was on the 27th and 28th. Our good friends Doug and Cathy Figgs drove in for the Academy of Western Artists awards show at the Sheraton Hotel on Saturday night. They came in a night early so we all attended the 2nd Annual Friday Night Pre-Awards' Jam hosted by Lubock DJ and dear friend, Billy Bowles. The jam was packed with artists who had come in early to meet each other, chat, and perform. If you had any interest in country, western, or western swing music, that was definitely the place to be! Congratulations, Billy, on a successful event! The AWA Awards Show on Saturday night was a fun evening. I felt honored to be a top five nominee in two categories: Western Album of the Year and Western Female Performer of the Year. We were joined at our table by fellow nominees Doug Figgs (Western Song nominee), his lovely wife Cathy, and Barry Ward's (Western Male nominee) lovely wife Victoria, as well as special friend and fan, Janice Bond.
        It was great to play rhythm guitar for Dave Alexander's Big Texas Swing School Youth as they performed two numbers during the show, and then sit down to eat my dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening. Our table was quite the place to be when first, Doug Figgs won Western Music Song of the Year with his original, Socios, and then Barry Ward won Western Music Male Performer of the Year. As the evening went on, many of my good friends won awards: Belinda Gail (Western Female), Lee Lee Roberts (Western Album), Coby Carter (Western Swing Male), Carolyn Martin (Western Swing CD), Roccoco Fortunato (Instrumentalist), Shannon Hall (Young Artist), and the awesome Hanson Family Trio won Western Music Duo/Group. There were more awards given out to more deserving artists. Congratulations to everyone for your accomplishments!

     Daniel, Teresa and Lisa of the Hanson Family Singers stayed in the area for a few days after the awards night and Monday evening, March 30th, our family was blessed to have them visit us. We jammed in the living room for hours that night. Hailey Sandoz came over later in the evening and the five of us worked on the classic Mister Sandman...that was FUN. To listen to us jamming this song, CLICK HERE. The next day, Kristyn Harris, my brother and I joined them again for some lunch, window shopping, sight seeing and a little gelato ice cream on the square of downtown McKinney. They are a lot of fun to be around and we all look forward to them coming back to visit!

       Well, that wraps up the late first quarter newsletter! I know it's already time for my second-quarter newsletter since I've been so tardy sending this one out, but I do hope y'all will forgive me. I'll get that next one out to y'all soon. I promise. :-)

Love and Blessings,

Fourth Quarter Newsletter 2014 

Oh, my! I can hardly believe the year 2014 has sped past so quickly. I haven't sent out a newsletter since September and a lot has happened!

I have an exciting announcement to share about this last quarter of the year….but you have to wait till you read the November news for that! :D

So, rewind all the way back to the last week of September, and the first week of October: the dates of the Durango Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering! This is one of my very favorite festivals to attend—not only is it extremely well coordinated, run and locally supported, but the talent is exceptional and the people, (performers and volunteers) are all quite friendly and much fun to be around. As if it could get any better, historic Durango, Colorado is one of the most beautiful little towns on this earth. Since it is a tourist town, there are oodles of tiny adorable shops lining all 12 blocks of its picturesque main street, and if you are looking for an exciting day adventure, you can ride the Durango to Silverton coal train. Truly an incredible experience!
         Mom, Hailey and I drove up together with our girlfriend, (and now official “road-trip-buddy”!) Janice Bond. We arrived Wednesday in time for the reception held for the sponsors. Hailey and I performed several songs, as did all the entertainers there. We spent Thursday and Friday at schools and nursing homes and Saturday we participated in a parade and performed a couple of sets. I was quite honored with the opportunity to MC for the youth’s performance: the Durango Rising Stars ticketed performance. There were so many talented kids in one spot! It was truly quite a blessing to be included amongst some of my talented peers: Hailey, Jeneve Rose Mitchel, Thatch Elmer, Julian Oliver, Cora Wood, Leah, and David Sawyer. :)
         After four days of lots of great music, good food, wonderful fellowship, new friendships, and late-night jams, Mom and I got up early Sunday morning to attend Pastor Mark Baker's Bethel Baptist Church in Cortez, CO. We joined him and his wife, Rozie, for lunch and then headed to see Western Belle Barbara Richhart for a radio interview on her show, Cowtrails. After touring the station and visiting for a bit, we drove back over to Durango again. We took photos with good friend Howard Rachlin, window-shopped (sometimes not limiting ourselves to just looking…lol), hung out with Janice and her son, Chase, rode the Durango to Silverton train, and then made the trip back to Cortez, CO on Monday late afternoon for a performance for Pastor Baker's Cowboy Church. We enjoyed a wonderful visit with Pastor Baker and his wife that evening and got up early the next morning to head back home. That was a wonderful week!

          We traveled back home to Texas just in time for several days of recording in the studio with Dave Alexander for the second half of my newest cd project. We had a whole new set of musicians for the more western cuts: Dale Morris, Jr., (fiddle and mandolin,) Chuck Pangburn (guitar), Josh Rogers (drums), Nathan Phelps (bass), and Scott Whitfield (banjo). Hailey Sandoz, Leah Sawyer and Madalyn Wallace were special guest artists.

Then, Saturday night, Hailey and I performed at the Red Oak Opry—always a favorite gig of mine. ☺ On Sunday, I was able to make the Cowtown Opry Buckaroos in Fort Worth, Texas. I love being with Janet McBride and backing up the Buckaroos. The whole next week was filled with school, chores, horse-training and preparation for the Red Steagall Western Swing Festival in Ft. Worth, TX.
        Not only is Red Steagall a hero of many, but his festival is legendary in our part of the world. The wagon-train ride that precedes the gathering, although not directly associated with the festival itself, is a heritage trail ride and has become a tradition for me and my Dad. I have made some truly special friendships from that trail ride. This year I invited Hailey to join us. We had tons of fun riding the approximate one hundred miles during the four days, visiting Mr. Steagall's ranch and performing on his Weatherford, TX stage along the way. The ride arrives in the Stockyards on Thursday evening, and is a fun way to unofficially "open" the festival with the traditional cowboy garb, authentic wagons and teams, and dust-worn, travel weary riders and is one of the (if not the) most favorite times of year for me. This Festival is something that people travel from the corners of the earth to attend and is known for it's legendary talent: Red Steagall, Don Edwards, RW Hampton, Jean Prescott, and the Quebe Sisters. Friday morning the festival begins with a parade of authentic chuck wagons. This year the honor of an invitation to perform twice during the weekend as part of the Festival was extended to Kristyn Harris, Hailey Sandoz and myself.
            Our first performance was on Friday as “strolling vaqueras” and our second performance was on Saturday on the Chuckwagon Stage for a 3 hour stint. The stage was a mite warm being in the sun, but hey! it’s not everyday one is invited to perform for Red Steagall’s festival! :D To top off a perfect week, the Saturday night dance called my name and I am proud to say I danced every dance, found two good partners and taught 9 fellers to 2-step, and east-coast swing. ☺ The last day of the Red Steagall festival, Sunday, October 26th, I missed for a dear friend of mine’s wedding.
            She asked me to sing a few songs during the service and needless to say, her wedding ‘twas quite a beautiful, moving experience. So, our October days were jam packed and the last of October would be no different!

Monday, October 27th, Dad drove Mom and I to the airport at 4 a.m. to catch a flight to Heber City, Utah! Hailey and her parents also flew in, and we all prepared to attend one of the most prestigious cowboy gatherings in the West! Our first morning there we were honored to represent the gathering in a 5:00am Fox 31 interview with Big Buda. He is a well known Salt Lake City morning show host who does special interest stories. The interview, held at historic Whittaker's Cabin in Midway, UT, spotlighted the festival via several of the entertainers: Hailey and I, Sourdough Slim, Cary Hobbs, and Thatch Elmer. (It was so great to see Thatch again! I met him in Durango and we have become very special friends!) The first few days we were there we entertained in several schools. I love the schools, the kids are always great and for some it's the first time for them to be exposed to this genre of music.

The festival itself officially began on Wednesday evening when Hailey and I and a few other artists performed for the Chuckwagon Meal at Town Hall, Midway, UT This is where this historic festival began before it grew so large they had to change the location. Thursday we had an exciting day of entertaining at the train station and on the "Heber Creeper" coal train, moving from car to car for several hours. My good friend and photographer, Neets, came to meet us at the train and spent the day with us there. The performance highlight of our trip was to come that night. We headed back to the hotel to get ready. We dressed our best, practiced and headed to the 1000 seat auditorium for sound check....

I was asked (and accompanied by Hailey!) to open for Billy Dean and Michael Martin Murphey! That was probably one of the most exciting events I’ve ever performed for...truly one of the most important!

Friday, October 31st, we performed three times during the day and then hustled off to get ready for the dance that night…which turned out to not only be a largely attended event, but also to be one of the highlights of the trip for me. I LOVE to dance and I even got to dance with Billy Dean himself...he asked ME! :)

Saturday (November 1st) we had five performances, including the Young Hearts of the West show with Thatch Elmer and Trinity Seely. It was a real honor to be on stage with two of my favorite performers and then I had the amazing privilege of joining Trinity, one of my biggest influences, in singing one of her originals, “Chilcotin Californios” during this performance. Ah-mazing! Unfortunately we had to hustle off to our flight home on Sunday before the technical end of the gathering, but we did get to spend a bit of one-on-one time with Billy Dean before we had to leave. :)

We flew home, did laundry and loaded up the car again! Mom and I headed to the Blanco Western Showcase in Blanco, Texas, for a 3-day performing schedule there. If you've never been to this festival, DON'T miss it in 2015! Mr.Dennis Moore, (the museum owner/festival director), always does a FABULOUS job bringing in exceptional talent. This year there was a trick roper/knife thrower/gunslinger, The Rhinestone Roper, and his assistant, who performed amazing feats with their horses and different cowboy "tools."
         Mr. Moore also brought in a cowboy gun-fighting reenactment group with members from all over the country--these guys are professional actors and put on the best reenactment I've ever seen. I watched their show 3 times a day for three days and never tired of it. This festival is held at the Buggy Barn Museum in Blanco,TX which is an INCREDIBLE museum to visit--if you've ever seen the TV show "Revolution", then you've seen some of Mr. Moore's wagons, teams, and property in the episodes. His buggies and wagons have been in more movies and TV shows to count, and there is so much exciting history behind each and every one. And then, he also brought in some of my favorite artists to perform. I was in such incredible company: Jean Prescott, KR Woods, and Rebecca Hendrics. Doesn't get much better!

We drove home on the 9th and, once again, did laundry and loaded up the car with fresh gear on the 11th for the trek to Albuquerque, NM for the Western Music Association's annual convention. Thursday, the first day, was filled with interesting workshops. Thursday afternoon, Hailey and I accompanied Almeda Bradshaw for her showcase and then Thursday night, after the benefit dinner and dance by Syd Masters, we went to the "Pajama Jam." It was truly a sight to see everyone that actually came in their pajamas! Friday is the day of the Youth Workshop; Kristyn Harris and I volunteered to teach the youth harmony and youth yodeling workshops together. We worked with Janet McBride, Jane Leche and Belinda Gail to provide a workshop that would help the youth get more comfortable with entering the competitions. Then we practiced for a song all the youth would sing together for the WMA Awards night and had great fun. Oh! And the BEST news about the WMA Convention? My surprise! T'was here that I officially debuted and sold my first hard copy Cowgirl Swing album!

My summer of recording in the studio with Dave Alexander and members of his Big Texas Swing Band finally came to fruition. This album was produced by Dave Alexander and features many of the music-world's best musicians! (I could be prejudiced...). It has 9 western/cowgirl swing original tracks on it, and 5 covers--a couple of big band, jazz, swing and gospel tunes that will make your heart just as happy as mine! :) Click on the cd name/link above (in blue) to see more about it and order it or my other merchandise, or visit for more information about it!

Friday night Hailey and I performed for the Friday Night Opry and Saturday we watched the Harmony and Yodeling contests, performed for the youth stage, and performed a showcase. That night we all dressed up in our finest and went to the KIMO Theater to attend the Award Ceremonies. I was thrilled, as last year's Crescendo Award Winner, to be able to present the award to this year's Crescendo Award Winners, the Hanson Family. Congratulations to Lisa, Teresa and Daniel Hanson, and to all the other winners in the various categories announced that night! It was another beautiful evening.

We got back home on the 17th and had two days to recoup and, guess laundry and pack again! This time we boarded a plane for the Monterey Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Monterey, CA from the 20th through the 23rd! The first day we were there we were driven to a school with Doris Daley, Canada cowgirl poet. We had a great time with other entertainers putting on a show for all those great schools. I love playing for the kids in the schools! The Monterey festival is always fun, and a truly beautiful experience. The Bay is always so breezy and pleasant at that time of year, and Mom and I walked quite a bit along the beach and wharf, we went barefoot in the sand with rolled up jeans and boots in hand, saw tons of sea lions relaxing on rocks in the surf and enjoyed every single minute! Yes, we are proud Texans, but for the weekend we were CaliGirls, lol! ;-)
               The hotel we stay at and perform in is comfortable and beautiful, and has an amazing theater for our performances. The festival is small and intimate, with a fun vendor area and the best entertainers. Mr. and Mrs. Collord do a great job organizing and running the festival. I made some new friends this year, including a group I had heard much about: The Munsick Boys. After having heard incredible things about this performing family of buckaroo musicians, it was nice to finally hear them play. I also was glad to spend time with other amazing musicians/poets like Cowbop, Verlon Thompson, Dave Stamey, and Doris Daley.

There, you see, November was a bit of a CRAZY month, as well! :) December rolled in, as finally did our Texas cold weather, and we were quite thankful to be home for a few weeks with our huge pile of chopped wood and lovely wood-burning stove.

On the 2nd of December, I performed for a Chuckwagon Dinner party for Renay and Allan Watts. They always put on a fabulous meal and woo all the attendees with Miss Renay's homecooked chuckwagon grub...which is amazing! Seconds are ALWAYS a necessity. :)
Dec. 4th I had a radio interview with Gary Holt on Equestrian Legacy Radio at noon before gearing up and heading to Fort Worth for a private Christmas party hosted at the Texas Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Such a beautiful museum, and it's all about the cowgirl! The acoustics in the hall were incredible.
On the 6th, dear, beloved cowboy friend Forre had his birthday party--which Hailey and I were asked to perform at--and we had an absolute ball! Singin' and swingin' cowgirl style at a potluck is a great way to spend a chilly winter evening! We had a brief sabbatical until....
the 7th, when Hailey's duo "Oga" had their official CD Release Party and Concert for their debut CD "Finderprints" at the Allen Public Library. The concert was amazing, she and Joseph Carmichael performed all the songs on their CD and then some! They had all the artists who performed on their CD there to perform for the concert. I was honored to be a guest vocalist. The evening was an absolute hit! 
On the 9th, Hailey and I met Dave Alexander and Nathan Phelps at the Oakmark Country Club to play for a Christmas luncheon.
Then, Saturday, we also played Red Oak Opry and got to see and hug the necks of my "Red Oak family!"
The next day, Sunday, was Christmas Buckaroos in the Fort Worth Stockyards with the Cowtown Opry.

Add in some horse training, a bunch of school, attending classes, and the ever-continued musical practice, and the days in December passed quickly, right up to the 18th of December....Michael Martin Murphey's annual vintage Cowboy Christmas Ball in Anson, Texas! I have heard about this historic dance for years and this year, Mom and I purposed to go. Dad wanted to join us but he and my brother couldn't come so, Mom, our girlfriend and road trip buddy Janice, and I brought along our vintage dresses and made a road trip out of it. We drove to our hotel, got dressed and spent the evening dancing our happy little feet off. :) It was so fun to see so many of the dancers dressed in vintage clothing and Michael Martin Murphy knows how to make for a fun danceI It was a quick trip to Anson just for the dance and back because we had to start preparing for our annual family trip to New Mexico.

There was one more little added event, though! Somehow... :-) Mom mentioned to me that she thought it would be fun to participate in a Christmas Carol flashmob at the mall. I thought about it and dad was also quite encouraging, so we put it out on facebook and everyone who saw it were excited about it, too, so, we worked hard with several friends to organize it. My friends, the Decker family, even said they would film it so we could post it online. So we set it up for the 20th at the Stonebriar Mall in Frisco, TX . There was a great crowd shopping at the mall and we had a large turnout but as soon as mall security saw us gathering, they put a stop to our singing in the lunch area. However! God had other plans and we were allowed to carol in another area of the mall and He turned it into a fabulous time and a great way to share His gospel!

Monday morning we pulled out for our "vacation time" in New Mexico taking two vehicles, towing along many four-wheelers and a couple of horses. The weather turned bad as we traveled so we were doubly grateful for our good friends, Doug and Kathy Figgs, offer to over night with them along our way, coming and going. It was a fun to fellowship, eat together (Kathy is a SUPER cook, especially her pies!), have a safe place to overnight the horses, and jam together. Jim Croce may not fall exactly under the "western" category of music, but it isn't often that I find another Croce-lover and picker! Needless to say we all sang Jim Croce as well as our own new originals. Love the Figgs so much. We picked up my best-girlfriend along the way and headed for the hills.....BIG hills.
          Let the fun begin. We rode (horses and 4-wheelers), hiked (up mountains and down dusty, ice covered forest roads), fished (in beautiful, ice-capped mountain water), worked (hard, but not too hard), cooked (we've gotta eat sometime!), cleaned (I guess we needed paper plates), gathered wood (for our wood-burning stoves), bought plenty of fuel (for our generators), and slipped right into the New Year without even realizing so many days had passed in such a short, blissful period of time!
Each day with family is time well spent. It's hard to believe how fast the time goes there, we always hate to head back home. We did quite a bit of riding in the mountains, pushing cows, and just generally enjoying the snow and beautiful blue skies, and for that I am grateful. But sadly, our time was up and back to reality we must come.

As I'm sure you can see, 2014 was an epic year for me and I am so glad to have partners like y'all along with me for the ride. Thank you all for your love and support, encouragement and friendships. I have been blessed beyond expectation and thank God Almighty for everything He's placed in my path. May the Lord richly bless you this New Year!

Until we speak again--yours truly,

Third Quarter Newsletter 2014 

Howdy, Y'all!
I can't believe once again I am late getting out my newsletter! it is already past the end of the third quarter!!
This year is moving so fast! :-)

I'd like to begin this newsletter by announcing some more big news--I'm now an official author! My historical fiction novel, Girls & Gunsmoke, has been published and is ready to be read by YOU!
Three Girls. Two Men. One Plan. The floating ashes caught in the wind and sifted into the air high above them as the three girls stared at the ruins of their wagon train. Everybody, everything, was ruined. Dead. Majesty’s eyes filled with rage, Dusty’s with sorrow, and Faith’s with tears. “They will pay,” Majesty swore softly. “Oh, will they pay.”

When the girls’ three families join a wagon train headed west, the promised hardships are merely things of the future. Until–their beloved wagon train is massacred only a few short weeks into their trip, leaving only five survivors. This adventure follows the three surviving girls, Dusty Phoenix, Faith DiFore and Majesty Mason, and two of their elder brothers, on a quest leaving Dusty and Faith desperately trying to hold vengeance-bound Majesty back. With God’s gentle hand of protection, can the three girls learn the freedom forgiveness brings, or will Majesty’s thirst for revenge drag them all to the bottom of a cliff?

For more information regarding how to get your copy, visit or!

Ok, now that I've gotten that out, I can back up a little and focus on the things that have happened since I left off last. :-)

was a beautifully restful month, all things considering.
The week of Independence Day my family hosted a lot of company, including photographer "Cash-Shot-In-Texas", a College Station, Texas local, who drove up with his wife, Cathy, for a photoshoot. My boyfriend even drove up from Florida to spend the week with us. We had a lot of fun celebrating that weekend and we spent several hours having fun with a '76 Cobra Convertible. :-) (Photo by Shot-In-Texas)

On the 11th, (a Friday night), Texas Wildfire (fiddler Hailey Sandoz and bass player Nathan Phelps) performed along with "Miss Devon and the Outlaw and Friends" at the Allen, Texas Library. The theater is amazing and the company was awesome! :) A big thank you to all of you who came out to support us--the full house made our hearts smile!

On that following Monday my broken ankle was casted (do you remember from my last newsletter?) and I was proud to announce that I chose the "color" camouflage. :-) If I had to have something attached to my body like that, I figured I'd better like it lol ! I had to wear that cast for 4 weeks! It pretty much changed my plans of spending the summer apprenticing with horse trainer Chad Brinlee of Bombproof Horsemanship.

The day after I was in the cast, Tuesday, we drove to Gainsville, Texas, for Dave Alexander's Big Texas Swing School. Having the honor and opportunity to learn the art of swing from such incredible musicians such as Dave, Dick Gimble (Johnny Gimble's son), Mark Gheen, Jon Stutler, Brook Wallace, Nathan Phelps, and Teresa Anderson was truly a fascinating, educational experience! We closed the School out on Saturday afternoon with a final concert by the all students. There were solo performances by most of the students, as well as group performances. I debuted my "big band voice" (lol) performing "On The Street Where You Live" by Frederick might have heard the song in the movie 'My Fair Lady'.

I had a week to catch up on some school work before the 27th, when Texas Wildfire hosted the Cowtown Opry Show in Ft. Worth, TX. We had fun, met some new fans, and shared the show with several CTO regulars and a poet performer, David Hansford.

August began by spending some time with Hailey's family at a lakehouse they rented for a week. Yes, even with my cast I was able to go boating and tubing and swimming....with big thanks to my blue, rubber cast cover! Those things are great and work wonderfully! We played in the water during the day and grilled out and roasted marshmallows at night. Our last day, Saturday, came too quickly. We spent the morning tubing before I had to leave for Bonham, Texas, for the Ruby Almond Songwriting Competition that evening. I didn't win anything, but that's okay since it's more about having the chance to hear other wonderful compositions than it is about bringing something home!

Monday, August 11th, at noon, my cast was finally cut off and I was sent home in a walking boot....although I didn't actually walk on it until nearly 2 weeks later. At 3:45 that afternoon I had 3 wisdom teeth pulled. :-)

The 12th through the 16th my mom, brother, sister and nephew and I road-tripped down to El Paso, Texas, to visit my grandparents. We spent several days with them: swapping stories, cleaning house, baking cookies, taking walks in the desert. It was wonderful to see them. We arrived home just in time for me to play for the last time with the Cowtown Opry as a 'Buckaroo'--a youth under the age of 18.

On the 23rd, Hailey and I had another Farmer's Market performance, with another big thank you and shout out to our sponsor, Orisons--We Dress Texas!
On the 27th, I had my very first radio interview via skype! (There's a first time for everything, I reckon.) Thank you, Tree Menane, for coordinating such a fabulous show.

Another announcement!
Recording my second album, Cowgirl Swing, began! Produced by Dave Alexander, we hope it will be released sometime this November! (Musicians: Brook Wallace, Nathan Phelps, Dave Alexander, Tommy Nash, Mark Gheen, Patrick Bubert, Mikki, Jon Stutler, Josh Rodgers, Dale Morris Jr., Hailey Sandoz.)

Tuesday the 26th and Thursday the 28th were spent in the studio recording 7 songs with Dave Alexander's swing band. It was a thrilling experience!

On the 5th, I was a featured guest on Tommy Tucker's Western Heritage Radio Show. We chatted about my book, the new album, and just plain had fun! Thank you, Tommy! Loved talking with you! I'd like to send a big thank-you out to all you music DJs, to those of you in western music, but also to those of you who play swing, old country, and gospel and to those of you who just play what you like. Thank you! Thank you for your support, for playing our songs and sharing our music, and for being such an integral part of the life of this genre!

On the 11th, I went back into the studio to lay down some vocal tracks on a couple tunes....I have found out I'm a studio junkie!
            The 12th, Hailey and I performed at the Gene Autry fan club's luncheon, in honor of the Spirit of the Cowboy festival. Then for two days, Saturday and Sunday, Texas Wildfire performed several more times as featured artists at the Spirit of the Cowboy festival. On the 13th, after our SOTC performance, Hailey and I also had a private birthday party gig and then we finished the evening off by attending a soccer game. :-)

On the 18th, Gary Holt with the Equestrian Legacy Radio show out of Nashville, Tennessee, interviewed me for his radio program. We're Facebook friends, but have never met in person although I hope to someday! Thank you, Mr. Holt, for such a lovely interview. For those of you interested in hearing it, click HERE.

I don't know if y'all remember Texas Wildfire's involvement with Texas Family Musicals production of Hank Williams' final concert this past spring, but the show was such a hit, they decided to bring it back for two more 'farewell' shows. We were invited to be a part of it again so Hailey and I had a blast with the cast again, first at the Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie, then at the MCL Lewisville Theater.

The 27th marked not only the official end of our Farmer's Market performances for this year, but also the beginning of our next performance together. Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering here we come! On the 30th of September, we woke up nice and early, packed up the car and Mom, Hailey and I wedged ourselves in amongst hat boxes, instruments and boots, and set off for Colorado!

Ahh, I'm so sorry but I have to leave off there! Stay tuned for the details of that festival and more in my last quarter newsletter.

Thank you so much for all of your support, each and every one of you!
Here's hoping your year has been blessed, and continues to be.

Many Blessings and Happy Trails!


Second Quarter Newsletter 2014 


I might as well dive right in and tell y’all the big news! I’m so honored to announce that my debut CD, “Gotta Be A Cowgirl”, won the New Horizons Wrangler Award for 2014!

When I sent out the 1st Quarter Newsletter last March, I had just been notified that my album, Gotta Be A Cowgirl, won the prestigious Wrangler Award. I was dying to tell y’all back then, but I decided to just wait it out and tell y’all at the beginning of this 2nd Quarter Newsletter. (Late as I know it is!)

For those of you not familiar with the Wrangler Awards, I was told they are the “western equivalent of a Grammy!” 32lb, bronze horse-and-rider statues are awarded to artists who “honor and encourage the legacy of those whose works in literature, music, film, and television reflect the significant stories of the American West.” (quote from The Wrangler Awards Ceremony... held on April 12, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Ok. at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, was definitely the most fantastic event I have ever attended. I was proud to be there with my parents, younger brother, and my producer, Marvin O’Dell, and his wife, Theresa. Marvin and I each toted home our own 32lb bronze Wrangler! I think we were all beyond excited.

The long, packed two day event began with a lavish reception on Friday evening at the museum where delicious, beautifully presented food was served while hundreds of people visited. Just as I was told to expect, there were many well-known people there and, as one of the award recipients, I was able to spend some special time with them. During the reception, the three music award winners were given a 30 minute set to perform--myself, Don Edwards and Eli Barsi each had the opportunity to share our music on a stage in front of the famous Wounded Warrior statue. (The statue is incredible, and MASSIVELY tall! Performing in front of it was a bit of a “dwarfing” experience. LOL!)

The highlight of my evening was when Red Steagall came over to give me a hug and wish me well. :-)

After our performances were over, there was a brief time to sign and sell CDs before we headed to a private reception at the home of the president of the Board of Directors of the museum. I don’t believe I have ever seen such an incredible home before! My parents and the O’Dells visited with Don and Kathy Edwards for quite a while, and I milled around, introducing myself and visiting with other Wrangler recipients, both past and present. More food and visiting made for a wonderful night but, I admit we were all ready to head back to the hotel and get some rest for the next day.

Saturday was busy, busy, busy! There were speakers, interviews, signings, receptions and a VERY small amount of time to view the museum. It was an awesome feeling seeing my CD in a glass case with the other Wrangler winner’s icons, next to such legends as Don Edwards, Michael Martin Murphy, Juni Fisher, and the heart-stopping Roy Rogers… Dad was too cute; he got like a thousand pictures of all of that! The day flew by and before I knew it we had to head back to our room to dress for the evening. When we returned all dressed up, we found the entry looking like the Grammy Awards with tuxedoded men who opened the doors for us, and a red carpet entryway... Yes, I have officially "walked the red carpet", y'all! :-)

Inside we all stopped to have our pictures taken, and then I hurried to another CD signing before heading to the VIP reception. Michael Martin Murphy, Red Steagall, Waddie Mitchel, Juni Fisher, Dean Smith, Lynn Anderson, Katharine Ross, and so many more milled about exchanging greetings. It was truly a beautiful feeling to be a part of it all! When we walked into the banquet room where the awards show was held, the beautiful, dark shades of red and gold took my breath away. There were beautiful, huge displays of flowers and a wide red carpet leading down the center to the stage. The tables were elegant and the stage was dramatic…a perfect setting for a perfect evening. The three music awards were presented early on in the ceremony and it was mentioned that at 17, I made history as the youngest Wrangler recipient. As if that wasn’t cool enough, the award was presented to me by two of my heroes in the western music industry, Juni Fisher and Michael Martin Murphy.

After the awards' show was over, Mom and Dad, with their ever-present cameras, had Marvin and I posing in front of the stage for a good 10 minutes. At least they got a few good shots here and there! :-) We were all exhausted, but once we returned to our hotel, we found out there was going to be a jam in a downstairs room, so I grabbed my Martin…and I jammed! Over the next few hours, I picked with Red Steagall, Michael Martin Murphy, Don Edwards, Juni Fisher, and Eli Barsi. We swapped newly written tunes, old favorites and crowd requests—and yes, there was a crowd. Standing room only for several hours!

Thank you, Marvin O'Dell! For without YOU, this CD would never have been made and because of your superb producing it won this prestigious award. It was an evening I will vividly remember for the rest of my life. Well, how do you follow that?! They say life will go on, and so it did. Mom and I were ready for our traveling to slow down a bit, so we agreed it would be a good idea to focus on Texas and gigs a bit closer to home for a few months with Texas Wildfire (with fiddler, Hailey Sandoz). I'll admit, I always enjoy staying close to home: I miss my own bed and my horses! But that didn't mean my schedule slowed down much.

On April 17th-20th, my Dad took me to Goldthwaite, Texas to ride and perform for the TFWT trail ride. I invited Hailey to join me and, playing and singing along the way, we had an absolute blast together--it isn’t often we get to combine the two things we really love. To make it even better, the people at this trail ride hold a special place in my heart. Friday night we had the privilege of performing for the riders as we all enjoyed a birthday dinner celebration for a dear friend of mine, Mr. Bill Winton. We really enjoyed the nippy mornings and the teamsters hauling their freight behind teams of mules. There’s nothing in this world quite like it. If I’m gonna be away from home, my “home-away-from-home” is trailriding.

The following week on April 26th I was honored to perform (with Hailey) alongside Dave Alexander and his Big Texas Swing Band for a pro-life organization, Life Talk. Owned by some friends of mine, they asked me to write a song for the evening, in celebration of the pro-life movement. There were tickets sold for dinner, auction and entertainment to raise funds for this worthy cause. The month was also filled with teaching vocal/guitar lessons, playing for several Cowboy Churches, an Opry, apprenticing with horseman Chad Brinlee with Bombproof Horsemanship, and keeping up with my homeschool homework. The month truly flew by.

MAY April 28th-May 1st I participated in a Texas History field trip guided by history gurus Pam Tarpley and western music radio DJ, Judy James. With my love for history, I cannot describe how incredible and beyond educational this trip was for me! We were able to go to the Alamo, Gonzales, Washington-On-The-Brazos, Goliad, and the San Jacinto battleground, to walk the ground our legendary fore-fathers once walked, spending hours ambling through museum after little, local museum—seeing the very hills, rivers, towns that they fought to protect… It was about as close to perfect as it could get for a history-lover. The only way it would have been better is if we could have created a time machine, and gone back in time to see them, and meet them. You’ll have to get on that right away, Ms. Judy! ;-)

May 3rd, Texas Wildfire performed for a local Cinco De Mayo celebration, and we, of course, also rode in the parade. It was a very, very warm day and being dressed up in cowboy regalia as we were-- mmmmmm, it was hot. The 4th, Hailey and I performed at First Christian Church in Plano for a special service for area church pastors. This was an honor, fun, and very different, considering we typically attend “cowboy church”. May 9th, we drove down to Lakeway, Texas, to join KR Wood in a performance at Emmaus Catholic Church for a South African missions benefit. I wish I could describe how beautiful this traditional gothic church was! The ceilings rose in sculpted arches made of a beautiful dark wood. The center “stage” was a semicircle, with a massive stained glass window at the back, framing a stunning crucifix. The acoustics were unbelievable. After staying the night in Lakeway, we took our time heading home by stopping at a local place for lunch and then at a thrift store…which we definitely could not pass up. :) As we continued making the drive home that day, we stopped off in Red Oak, Texas, to play for the Red Oak Opry that evening. We love seeing our opry family! May 16th we drove back down to San Marcos for the Swing on the Square Festival. KR Woods invited us to fill in for him at Louie's Oyster Bar, with his band members Greg Lowry and Ginger Evans, while he performed somewhere else with his chuckwagon. Friday night and Saturday afternoon and evening we were so honored to watch, play with and meet some of western swing’s very finest: Carolyn Martin and her band, Al Dressen and the Western Swing Revue, Cow Bop and Jason Roberts, to name a few. Cowboy church was held on Sunday morning on the beautiful square of San Marcos in the shade under massive, old trees. We joined Mr. Dressen, Dick Gimble, KR Woods, Carolyn Martin and her band, and others, sharing gospel music on the courthouse lawn for anyone who stopped to listen. A special moment was our closing song, sung by Carolyn: Down To The River To Pray. Imagine this song, played by several absolutely amazing musicians, sung by an angelic voice. As the tune progressed, harmonies added one by one until I got shivers. I still get ‘em when thinking about it!

We arrived home in time to take a breather for a few days, then climbed back into the car and drove to Grand Prairie, Texas for rehearsals that would fill up the next few days of our lives for the Texas Family Musicals. This was a wonderful new experience and we made some Cast from wonderful new friends (Mike Skiles, Kevin Kratzke, Cori Kidder, and Sam DiRosa), played with other fantastic musicians and found a reeeeally good Mexican restaurant across the street where we ate, ahem, multiple times. We had our fun Theatre Debut on Friday, the 23rd playing “There Will Be No Sad Songs—the last concert of Hank Williams” at the Grand Prairie Theatre at the 7:30 show. I had a blast learning the ropes of theater performing, which included: navigating the curtain ropes, finding dressing room lights, learning all about the necessity of balancing your makeup according to the stage lighting…and much, much more. Plus, the banter going on behind the curtains while the audience is getting seated was priceless!
           Earlier that morning and afternoon we also attended Joey McKenzie’s Swing Camp where I took guitar and theory from Mr. McKenzie and Gavin Kelso. Talk about mind-blowing musicians! That was INCREDIBLE!

Early Saturday morning, we played our monthly gig at the McKinney Farmer’s Market (sponsored by Orison's Boutique) before high-tailing it back down to Grand Prairie for the 2:30 Hank Williams performance. Then, we took a break, had dinner and had our last Hank Williams performance at 7:00 pm. We were sad when it was all over, but a little thankful we could get back to our school work the following week rather than attend rehearsals. Haha! :-) J

UNE... was supposed to be my “break” month, but nobody meant for me to take it literally!

June 14th Hailey and I didn’t have much in the way of performing until the 14th, when we played for the Killis Melton Ice Cream Crank Off at Chestnut Square in McKinney, Tx. If there’s such thing as custom ordering a perfect summer gig, that would be one of them. How much better can it get than to perform at an ice cream competition?!

June 21st Hailey and I were asked to be a part of a film competition—the “48 Hour Film Project”. To make a long story much shorter, Saturday, when warming up for the filming, I injured my ankle in a freak accident dismounting from a handstand horseback. Mom thought I tore the ligaments in my ankle so we wrapped, elevated and iced it and waited 'til Monday to have it looked at.

June 29th was a busy day: Texas Wildfire had two performances scheduled. The first one was a morning church service for First Christian Church in Plano, Texas. They propped me up in two chairs, one for me and one for my foot, and let me do my thing. It was my first performance after the accident, but before the surgery. I came to realize it is a little annoying not being able to move about while I perform! The second performance was in the evening at an outdoor arena for Crossroads’ Cowboy Church’s annual Freedom Celebration in honor of Independence Day. Pastor Till organized a fun filled evening, free to the public with food, games, entertainment and fireworks. Hundreds of people came to enjoy the fun and be witnessed to. Thank you, Pastor Till, for allowing Texas Wildfire to be a part of your celebration! (Once again, they propped me up on two chairs while we performed.)

The next day I went to the orthopedic surgeon and got the complete diagnosis and found out I broke my ankle and fibula, tore ligaments and dislocated my ankle. The complicated breaks required immediate surgery and 1 plate and 6 screws later, here I am. :-) Unfortunately, the “break” I had been wishing for wasn't what I had in mind and really messed up the summer I had planned, causing me to do a lot of indoor sitting with my casted leg propped up and iced. Oh, well. I’ll admit it’s given me plenty of time write and to catch up on schoolwork! Yes, my cast was camouflage. :-)

Well, that catches us up until my third quarter newsletter! Stay tuned for the big news I have to share next newsletter, which (because I'm so late in sending this one out) is right around the corner! Thank you for your support, prayers and kind words!

Blessings and Happy Trails,


First Quarter Newsletter 2014  


How time flies! It has been too long, again, since I updated you on what I have been doing! So much has happened! Last time I sent a newsletter, (early December), Mom and I were about to leave for Monterey, California. Before we left, we had a radio interview with Totsie Slover, a DJ out of Deming, New Mexico. She is a tireless supporter of western music musicians and Facebook friend. It was fun visiting with her!

It took us 3 days to travel to the Monterey Cowboy Festival. We had people to visit and places to stop along the way! The festival itself was fun and held at a beautiful hotel right on the wharf. They had one main stage in a stunning auditorium in the hotel and a secondary stage in the conference area where there were also vendors and CD sales. It is an intimate gathering with few entertainers, but they were some of the best in the genre and the fans were warm and genuine. I had the opportunity to share the stage, albeit briefly, with western music legends such as Dave Stamey, Juni Fisher, Mike Beck and Carolyn and Dave Martin. I learned many new things about the art of the business, and made some closer friendships…being able to be around and closely watch these incredible performers was a priceless, educational experience.

A cool thing about going to these festivals, is that at each one I get to meet new performers I haven't met before. At Monterey I met 13 year old Brigid Reedy, a fun, sweet, out-going singer/fiddle player with a hilarious sense of humor!

After the festival was over, Mom and I drove back down through Los Angeles, where we spent a few hours on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and then stopped in at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park. We didn't get to spend as much time in the museum as we wanted, so I suppose we'll make it back there someday soon. I will admit...while in Beverly Hills, The Beverly Hillbillies' theme song would not stop blasting through my head: banjo and all. :)

We spent the night in LA with family, visiting with a Great Aunt and Uncle I had never met before. It was fun connecting with family and sharing this genre of music they were not familiar with. I think we have new Western Music fans! Early the next morning we headed down to eastern California to spend a night with good friends, Marvin and Teresa O'Dell, in Palm Springs, CA. We went thrift store shopping and watched The Range Rider and Annie Oakley TV Show marathons with them. Talk about awesome! Mr. O'Dell also interviewed me on his radio show, Defenders of Freedom Radio. We headed next to Phoenix and spent some time with my good friends and RHRR musicians: lead guitarist, Tom Boyer and his wife, Pasty, rhythm guitarist Audrey McLaughlin, Gale Rogers and Dawn Pett (harmony), all of whom participated on my CD.

Mom and I then traveled on to El Paso to visit with my Grandparents. We spent several days with them before being joined by my Dad and Brother. We all continued on to New Mexico, where we spent the holiday season and remained until January 5th. While in the mountains of New Mexico, I had another radio interview with Nancy Pitchford (co-hosting with Bobbie Jean Bell) on Around the Barn Radio Show. By the time we finally made it home, Mom and I tallied the dates and realized we'd been gone an entire month!

During the month of January, I taught horseback riding, vocal and guitar lessons, practiced and performed with Hailey Sandoz, and interned with horse trainer, Chad Brinlee, of Bombproof Horsemanship. My time spent learning from him is awesome and definitely a highlight of my year. I try to squeeze in days with him whenever I can. Unfortunately, between bad weather, out of town trips, and schooling, interning days are fewer than I would like.

January 16th through 19th, Mom and I flew to Denver, Colorado for the Golden Colorado Cowboy Gathering. Golden is a small mining town, perfect for a cowboy gathering. Barry Ward took time to pick us up from the airport and we went straight to a branding party where we met many of the local ranch owners, all of whom were sharing their brands with the festival. The little hotel we stayed at, Table Mountain Inn, was quaint and just plain beautiful! The ice hadn't melted yet and the wind was chilly, but I can't imagine the weather being more perfect. Mom and I found a little restaurant/breakfast café that we wound up eating at several times and we also enjoyed moseying down the main street and looking through the shops in our spare time. We also were super excited about getting to go to dinner with our sweet friends, Diana Raven, Ernie Martinez and Bill Barwick while we were in there. This gathering was just plain amazing. So much talent was there and the community interest and support was heartwarming. It was a privilege to meet and be onstage with New West; Mike Fleming, Raul Reynoso and David Jackson--they are SO fun and amazing entertainers! We made some great new friendships and when Mom and I had to fly back home, it was definitely a bittersweet moment.

So, the rest of the United States gets hyped about the election, right? Well that's about how exciting January is in Fort Worth every year...and that's because it's FORT WORTH STOCKSHOW TIME! (Yes, I'm obviously a Texas girl, haha!) The Stockshow is a tradition and a chance to see the rodeo, all wrapped up in a big package and is the highlight of the year for many Texans. The Stockshow Parade precedes the actual Stockshow and is like, literally, more than 18 blocks long. I was looking forward to riding the parade this year and meet up with some of my trail riding buddies, but unfortunately the Golden Gathering coincided so I had to miss it. But! I did get to be a part of Campfire Tales, an event involving four solid days of cowboy poetry and music on a stage behind the Justin Arena, hosted by special friends of mine, the Terry family. I've had the privilege of being a part of Campfire Tales for 5 years and this year, on the 29th and 30th, I hauled Hailey to play with me. :) We were so excited to see many familiar faces and were so blessed by those who stopped by to see us.

Good friend Buck Taylor (actor and artist) always has a booth for his artwork at the Stockshow and I usually try to stop by to visit him and play a few songs for him since he loves western music. He had taken a day off the day I tried to visit during Campfire Tales, so I went back to see him on Saturday. If you ever have the chance, stop by his booth to see his artwork. It is fantastic!

February 4th- 10th Mom and I drove down to Sierra Vista, AZ, for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry Gathering. We were hosted by a kind and generous couple, Colonel and Mrs. Abney. Colonel Abney (retired from the army there in Sierra Vista), gave us a tour and history lesson of the local Fort Huachuka. It was beautiful and he shared some seriously incredible trivia about the place! Mom and I came in on a Wednesday evening just in time to meet our hosts and change for a performance with Barry Ward at Winterhaven Retirement Community. They were a warm and welcoming audience and a great way to end our day! Thursday I performed for PeppTec Highschool and had a great audience. I had a whole hour to convince them that Western Music is just plain awesome and, I hate to brag, but.....I think it worked! ;) The Cochise festival is MASSIVE, held in a large high school. I think they had about 7 stages going all day on Saturday, so I performed on five stages and then had some spare time to watch some of my favorite artists. There were tons of great performers and the whole event was very well attended. In fact, I was amazed by how many people came to see the performances.

So every festival there are new people to meet, right? It's one of the best part about going to festivals! This trip I had the privilege of meeting the Flying J Wranglers. I have heard of them for years and was happy to finally meet this group that puts on a well known and appreciated event all summer long in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

When returning home, on Feb. 14th and 15th, Hailey and I had two Valentines' gigs, for two different churches. At Hailey's Cowboy Church, we played for our first dance together! Then, we played for a Methodist Church Valentines Dinner. I had met the Pastor when playing at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, and it was so neat seeing them again. They were so sweet and supportive! That was the first time I have had my name put up in lights! :D

Sunday, it was time for the monthly Cowtown Opry Buckaroos. It was good to see Janet McBride and all the kids again…when we’re gone traveling, I miss getting to see and teach the kids. That day, everyone performed the song they were preparing for Cowtown Opry's fundraiser in March. The following week, hoping to collect donations for the fundraiser's silent auction, Hailey and I met on the square of downtown McKinney to perform for the businesses. We met many nice shop owners who were very generous with their donations and who enjoyed hearing us perform. We also had the chance to hop into Orisons, our new sponsor, and perform for the owner, Howard. If you are ever in Downtown McKinney, stop in Orisons and shop their amazing clothing boutique. You will definitely find something you can't live without because they "Dress Texas!"

Throw in a few more private bookings, music and horse riding lessons to teach, a few more days spent down with Chad Brinlee (training horses!) and school every single day, and my calendar was pretty busy, again! March kicked off for us with the Cowtown Opry Gala fundraiser with Dave Alexander as the honoree. The Cowtown Opry Saddle Pals performed, then the Buckaroos, followed by a Scholarship Award program. I was awarded two scholarships, one of which was for Dave Alexander Swing School this summer. (I'm excited about attending his swing school again this year!) Then, the rest of the evening was Dave and his Big Texas Swing Band, with Hailey and I and a few more Buckaroos joining him for a few songs. He is a great entertainer and it was even more fun dancing to his music! The next week, Hailey and I drove down to Red Oak, Texas, for the Red Oak Opry on the 8th. We love performing there...the band is fantastic and the audience is like family to me now.

Stay tuned for the next one.

Blessings and hugs,