This was first in Buddy Magazine, August 2016 issue.
People ask me a lot — why am I in the music business? OK, I’ll share the secret – it was a guy who got me into all this. While teaching school in El Paso, I met another teacher, a musician, out there and that chance meeting and subsequent (though long-since-dead) romance began it all, with working as volunteers at the Border Folk Festival, Chamizal National Park in El Paso.
He was accepted as a New Folk songwriting finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival. And that introduced me to the Kerrville Festivals. That was in 1975. I began volunteering there in 1976, and jumped in with both feet in 1980, when I accepted the position of assistant to producer Rod Kennedy.
It was a year-round, full-time job in which, during festivals, I was
responsible for overseeing 18 days of the big festival and at other events throughout the year, allowing Kennedy the freedom to host the stage with ease. Together, we also produced classical, bluegrass, folk, and country music festivals, and traveled and held festivals across Texas, the United States, and Mexico.
Even then, I couldn’t figure out just why I stayed in the music business — it certainly wasn’t for the money. As Bob Gibson (Abilene, Abilene) told me… “the music business, you can make tens of dollars every year.” Then I saw that movie, Amadeus, and the line hit me right in the third-eye: (Loosely paraphrased) “Why did God implant the desire for music like a lust in my body? And then deny me the talent?” I am no musician, believe me, but it occurred to me —I have talent. I can produce, I can organize, I can photograph, I can write, I can manage, I can book… I can show up, over and over.
In 1986, Texas Governor Mark White invited me, because of that earlier El
Paso/Chamizal affiliation, to produce the state’s 7-stage, 2-day official Sesquicentennial Festival at San Jacinto Battleground State Park. Egads, what a trip — literally. Folks from the governor’s office picked me up in a state airplane and flew me to San Jacinto, and we picked all the sites for the stages, then back to Kerrville to go to work. So much to remember, and it all wasn’t on the PBS documentary that followed. For instance, seeing Leon Rausch cry when 6-year-old fiddle students played “Deep In The Heart of Texas” along with the Texas Playboys. Or having Louise Mandrell lead “Happy Birthday” to Texas with thousands singing along. And the finale — Willie Nelson and his band with the Houston Symphony. Gov. White inducted me as a “Yellow Rose of Texas” and Texas Parks & Wildlife passed a resolution in my honor — I call them my “whereas-es…” “Whereas Mary Jane Farmer did… blah blah… ” A better word might be ‘references.’
I have also been a booking agent and office assistant for several performers including Steve Young, Allen Wayne Damron and others; finder of songs for Tompal Glaser’s studio in Nashville; and a record distributor (both independent and with Polygram Records), all while holding down “real” jobs, including delving into the newspaper reporting business.
In 2001, I became the police beat reporter for the area’s daily newspaper.
Three years later, I convinced the paper to begin publishing more about live music, hence the birth of the “Texoma Live Music Scene.”
I had sat at home between 1996, when I moved to Van Alstyne (‘cause the grandkids were all up in North Texas) from the musically-active Kerrville, until 2004, not knowing there was so much incredible music in North Texas. There was no listing of nightly events, and creating a calendar became my focus passion.
The newspaper shrunk, as newspapers are doing, and it dropped the music page. Quickly, I established SceneInTown.com to take up the slack, not wanting to let the musicians and venues down.
I left the newspaper in 2012, and again began dedicating my time to the music business.
I consider myself an accomplished, though non-professional (as I’m still
waiting on that first dollar to come in) photographer. I was the photographer for all KHYI events, including the Shiner Rising Star contests, and Texas Music Revolutions for many years; and am photographer for Choctaw Casinos‘ national music concerts; again at Kerrville Festivals, and this year at WoodyFest in Okemah, Oklahoma, and at CrudeFest in Midland.
I joined the Buddy Magazine staff in 2013, both a privilege and a pleasure. I began booking the live music for El Patio Escondido in Van Alstyne in 2014, and a portion of the Thursday night events at Hank’s Texas Grill in McKinney this year.
That man who got me into all this (I gotta remember to thank him some day) also wrote a song about me in those early years, centered on my trip to El Paso when, scared to death, I left my husband. “… ahead was only darkness, to her back there was a light, but she couldn’t turn around for all
her fear and all her fright.” I am so glad I didn’t turn around. Life has been one long, bumpy/smooth/chaotic/exciting ride — much longer than that trip to El Paso — every since.
If there’s any one more important thing I love about being in the music business, it’s the musicians, no matter what level of notoriety they own. They are, beyond question, the kindest, most generous group of people in the Lone Star State.