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Gatlinburg Highlights...New Jessie Ritter Album...Dolly Stuff


Monday August 21, 2023


Monday morning and I’m back home in Nashville. It was cool in Gatlinburg this weekend but that’s gone as we will top 93 in Nashville today and by Friday it will be 103!



Friday morning my friend and “Hits & Grins” partner Steve Dean and I made the trip over to Gatlinburg for the Songwriters Festival that was held at the historic Gatlinburg Inn where “Rocky Top” was written in one of the rooms. 



And at 5 pm the music started. 12 songwriters this year in a down-sized version of the festival and I realized afterwards that of the other 11 songwriters, I’ve written songs with 9 of them. 



So not only great songwriters, but a lot of great friends on stage. Our “Hits & Grins” trio with me, Steve Dean and Victoria Victoria Venier played the 6 pm set to a standing ovation afterwards and that was heartwarming to say the least. Victoria is the President of this songwriters festival who did a tremendous job of realigning and changing what was a spread out affair into one central location. Congrats to her.




My songwriter round was with Brian White and his wife Karyn Williams. Brian has had a ton of his songs recorded and a lot of those in the Contemporary Christian world but also wrote songs like “Watching You” for Rodney Atkins. Karyn is a Contemporary Christian artist and her Dad is Pat Williams who started up the NBA Orlando Magic basketball team. So Karyn can talk sports with the boys which is fun. So I was the wild card in that show for sure…and we had great fun sharing the stage together. 



The highlight of that round for me was playing my song “I’llJoin The Amish” for my co-writer buddy Lauren Mascitti and her Nana. I played it because Nana told me that at one point in her life back in Ohio Lauren played and sang in a Mennonite Band!  Who knew?  And they laughed big time. There’s a line in the song that talks about joining the Amish that goes, “And I’ll color my whiskers with Just Hair For Mennonite” that made them laugh big time. Mission accomplished.



And then Lauren alongside songwriter Danny Wells who wrote “Check Yes Or No” for George Strait returned the favor by singing “I’ve NeverBeen In Love Like This” that I wrote with her and Wil Nance that she put on her album a couple of years ago.



Steve Dean and I rolled home yesterday morning with a big bag full of fun memories from the festival which was a big hit in this new smaller version.  And we look forward to next August when we’ll gather again. 




My Pensacola friend Jessie Ritter’s new album is now out that includes her current single we wrote with Steve Dean titled “Gone To SeeAmerica” but also includes a second song that Jessie and I wrote in Pensacola one afternoon at her grandmother’s very cool cottage “My Favorite Color”. This was an idea that Jessie brought with her that day “My Favorite Color…Is The Sunset”. Glad to be part of this new album.




Some farmers are asking folks to stop posing nude in their Sunflower fields. It’s a thing I guess. Folks run out in the field, take off their clothes and pose nekkid in the sunflowers. I’m not sure what goes on in a mind that looks at sunflowers and then thinks “I’ve got too many clothes on.”  But...if the farmer’s plant some poison ivy out in those fields…



A study suggests your immune response may be stronger if the new COVID booster shot goes in the same arm as your last shot.


The University of Texas Health and Science Center released some research that claims that those who are vaccinated are significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.


Those Gallup Poll folks just concluded that cigarette smoking is near historic low levels right now. 



There are truly some weird religious beliefs. I read a list of 15 or so this morning in an article about that. Here are 3 that caught my eye and made me scratch my head.


Some believe that humans contain many alien spirits that were trapped in a volcano by hydrogen bombs.


Others believe that evil spirits can take control of pigs. (I thought my bacon tasted a little funny)


And my favorite?  Some believe that waving a chicken over your head can take away your sins. (So if you see a dizzy chicken in the hen yard you’ll know what just happened)



I’ve always wondered if one day we’ll be able to choose a voice for our GPS. The answer is yes as “Waze” is working towards that right now. You’ll be able to record your own voice and hear it every time you need to make a turn on your trip…or your kids voice or whomever. It’s coming. When it’s fully developed I think I’ll choose Gilbert Gottfried’s voice to help navigate me.



Our State Fair is on. One of the great thing about Fair’s is the food. A lot of it on a stick. This year at the Tennessee State Fair you find the “Dill Dog”.  What’s that?  It’s a pickle hollowed out with a hot dog stuffed inside. On a stick. Perfect to eat while you watch the Pig Races.





There’s a bill up in Pennsylvania from a Senator pushing for a 4 day work week with no cut in pay. A three day weekend every week.  Anyone not want that?  That would give us more time to be lazy…which I excel at sometimes.


Speaking of lazy, what did the very lazy husband say to his very lazy wife when he saw her yawning? “Now that your mouth is already open, call our son to switch off the light”.



Yep. They have those. And it’s not Blake Shelton. A 6 year old kid in Pennsylvania won the 2023 Kids Mullet Championship up there in the 3-8 year old division. Congrats to young Rory Ehrlich…I guess.



How about Dolly convincing the two living Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to sing the Beatles classic “Let It Be” with her?. Pretty cool.


At the Songwriters Festival this past weekend in Gatlinburg Dolly’s name was referenced many times. She’s the Queen of all of Tennessee…but especially in Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge the home of Dollywood. Artist Janelle Arthur sang this funny song she recorded “What Would Dolly Do”.


My friend Jerry Salley produced this Grammy winning gospel song on Dolly that he and his friends Carl Jackson and Larry Cordle sang harmony parts on “Sweet Bye And Bye”.


But the best Dolly story of the weekend came from writer Bobby Tomberlin who talked about how Dolly wound up singing a duet on a song he wrote with “Whispering Bill Anderson” titled "Someday It'll All Make Sense".  Bobby knows the woman who fixes Dolly’s wigs and had played her a song that he wished Dolly would sing on. The wig person played it for Dolly the next time she was in, Dolly loved it, and did sing on the record. How about that?

Gotta love Dolly who recently said she "would wear sneakers if they had 5 inch heels".



Working Husband Angers Stay-At-Home Wife By Telling Her What He Does…”Involves More Intellect.” Uh huh. If he was really intellectual he would have ducked right after that came out of his pie hole.



This Saturday night I’ll be playing at Terry and Wanda Seay’s wonderful house concert series in Franklin, Tennessee with “Hits & Grins”. Terry and Wanda made the trip over to Gatlinburg and hung out with all the songwriters this past weekend. Concert starts at 7 pm…we hit the stage at 8 pm. Come join us if you can. 




I’m in a writing room with two talented young ladies Addy Levy and Emily Ann Robertson. Addy is a multi-instrument playing wizard and Emily who was on Blake’s team on the “Voice” sings like crazy. A good combination.


Have a great Monday!






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