News From The Woods - June, 1990


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published June, 1990

"Partying in the Ozark Forests"

Ahhh - June..... Summer is finally here! We homo sapiens are a funny lot. In the dead of winter all we can talk about is how we wish summer were here. Within the next two months we'll be wishing for snow. I guess a lot of us would like to have spring all year long. Not me. I like the change of seasons. As a songwriter, most of my "up" tunes are written in the spring. I tend to write in minor keys during the dead of winter. I'm usually too busy during the summer to write at all and, in the fall, you can find me out in the woods trying to hang onto the last moments of summer.

May was a good month for us here at Cedar Crest. Video projects picked up as expected, due to the lush green colors. Hardly anyone wants to do a video during the winter if they need exterior shots.

Susan and I attended the "Rites of Spring" in the Sylamore area this year. We have been invited for the last five years, but had been unable to attend for various reasons. This year we made it and caught up with a lot of old friends. There's nothing quite like sittin' around a campfire in the woods with friends, making music just for yourselves.......

The very next weekend after the "Rites" we trekked off to Arkansas' most remote woodshop in the Ozark National Forest. My old music buddy from the '60's Bob Ahrens and his merry crew maintain the Walnut Fork Woodshop and every year they have an open house to show their wares. Bob used to play in the Vipers with me. Back then he played a Farfisa organ (with Fender Leslie). Nowadays he turns out beautiful, hand-finished woodwork.

This year, with the water up as high as it's been, the low-water bridge just this side of the woodshop was pretty deep under the creek and Bob called just as we were leaving to tell us to take the "back way" to the shop. Well, to make a long story short, we must have made a wrong turn, because we wound up at the very slab we were told to avoid. Susan and I took a deep breath and drove in. I didn't get really worried until the water started running over the hood of the car (a little Aries K-car wagon). When word got out to everybody at the shop what we had done, our reputations went up a couple of notches in the "brave" or "stupid" department, depending on who told the story. NOW I know where the saying "if the good Lord's willin' and the creek don't rise" came from. I guess the Good Lord was willin' because somehow we made it unscathed across the raging creek.

As usual, the eats were plentiful and the vibes were happenin'. We met up again with old pickin' buddies like Steve and Bonnie Turner and company (including Mark Turnerr [KABF]) aka The Cranks. Jeff Weeden played drums and Ross Hurley held down most of the lead guitar chores. Throughout the evening all kinds of players took the stage for the annual jamfest. As they say, a good time was had by all. We even managed to get Ahrens to play piano on a couple of old Vipers cover tunes.

Jai Lambert and Joe Hamilton made a visit to set the date for the next four Hamilton/Lambert songs. A decision was also made to release their first project on HYPE Records sometime in October. Current plans are to include cassettes and CD's. Ten songs have been recorded and the next four will be done in two sessions. This has been a very special project for me and readers already familiar with "Ham 'n' Lamb" will not be disappointed with this release. My account of the recording sessions will appear here in Nightflying within the next few issues.

The latest news from Randy Keck's "Whiplash Gumbo" album: The cover art has been completed and, when we remix on last song, it will be sent off to press. Aubrey Richardson of Mountain View will do the project on his trusty Nakamichi's. I will also write up the session notes in this column.

Randy Burden, tunesmith extraordinaire (from PAPERKID) is due in the studio with Dennis Raley (drums) and Lance Thompson (bass). Randy is teasing me with promises of "new tunes" to tickle my ear with, so I'm sure it will be another landmark session.

We're also wrapping up a three-year project with Jess McEntire (Cadillac Wheels). Jess and I have been working together now since July of 1984 and have been slowly compiling a catalog of his original material. He has a great knack for lyrics and really knows how to "turn a phrase". Although his main forte' is country, most of the material we have recorded here at Cedar Crest could very easily be crossover. We plan on releasing his new album this summer on Corral Records. All of our songs on the album are published by Dime-A-Dozen Publishing Company.

We have just gone into production on Susan's second album of her community talk show, "Inside Angle", which appears on cable channel 31 on the ACTS network. The show is available to approximately 10,000 subscribers. The show's first season was very successful, a sample of the guest list included Arkansas State Police Corporal Bob Roten, Municipal Judge John Crain, Dr. Gary Wells of the new Baxter County CARTI unit, and a visit from a group of touring Soviets. Each session contains 13 episodes. The second season roster will include Fire Inspector James Barker, Circuit Judge Robert McCorkindale, Chamber of Commerce Director Cari White, and my mother among others. Yeah, we like to keep it all in the family! Actually, my mom was a professional entertainer for years and had her own television show, featuring her at the piano with the Frank Bailey Orchestra out of Kansas City. Now everyone knows where I got it from.

All in all, it promises to be an exciting summer for us and I hope you all will be looking for these releases by Arkansas artists. If you are interested but can't find them, contact us here at Cedar Crest and we will forward your requests to our artists.

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