Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (Whitewater Amphitheater)

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

photos:  Jude Ramirez


Thanks to Jude Ramirez for sharing his photos from the sound check at Whitewater Amphitheater last month.  Jude is a musicologist, and also works with Scooterville, from time to time.


Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015


We revisit Nelson’s 1975 concept album Red Headed Stranger – his first release on Columbia Records, a record giving Nelson total creative control, and one that tells the story of a fugitive on the run after killing his wife and her lover, told with brief song-poems and minimal backing.


During the mid-1970s, the country music coming out of Nashville was slick, polished, and heavy on string sections. By that time, Willie Nelson had recorded over a dozen albums for RCA, and he’d had enough of Music Row, where ‘they took him seriously as a songwriter, but not as a performer,’ says Mickey Raphael, Nelson’s harmonica player of over 40 years. Nelson moved back to Texas, his home state, and released two albums on Atlantic, including his first concept album, Phases And Stages, only to be dropped along with the label’s other country artists when Atlantic closed its country division. In 1973, when Columbia Records put an offer on the table, Nelson and his manager, Neil Reshen, put it in writing that Nelson would have full creative control over his music, and that the label would accept the finished product as is. The label, of course, had no idea that the result, the stripped-down concept album Red Headed Stranger, recorded with his band, would go against the grain of everything that they had in mind for their first project with the artist, and everything that encompassed the way Nashville made records.

‘Willie wasn’t bending the rules, he was breaking them,’ says Raphael. ‘Using his road band on a record? That was never done. We weren’t studio musicians, so for him to do that was kind of a “stick it to Nashville” coup. And the label turned it down. They said, “This is a great demo. We want to add some voices and strings.” Willie said, “No. This is it. This is the finished product.” They said, “Let’s put this on the shelf. For your first record for Columbia, do another one the way we want you to do it, and then we’ll put out Red Headed Stranger.” Willie basically said “Fuck you.” He said, “My contract says you’ve got to put out what I’m giving you,” and they had to — very reluctantly.’

The concept for Red Headed Stranger began with the title track, a song that Nelson did not write, but that he often sang during his years as a radio disc jockey in Texas. With the song as his centrepiece, Nelson created the story of a man on the run after killing his wife and her lover. Love, infidelity, guilt, remorse, redemption, and love rediscovered are the album’s themes.

Nelson and his band — drummer Paul English, guitarist Jody Payne, bassist Bee Spears, pianist Bobbie Nelson, and Raphael — recorded the album at Autumn Sound Studios in Garland, Texas, with engineer Phil York, who was hired on Raphael’s recommendation. ‘I lived in Dallas at the time, and I had been doing jingles and commercials, which is how I met Phil,’ says Raphael. ‘I had known him for several years. I was working out of Summit Burnett Studios with [banjo player] Smokey Montgomery, one of the original [Dallas-Fort Worth western swing band] Light Crust Doughboys. I was in junior college at the time and I would hang out at the studio after classes. I was really interested in recording and I loved being there. I would sit in the lobby, and people would come in to cut demos and book sessions. The recording engineer would say, “Do you need a harmonica player? Do you want harmonica on this?” If they said yes, he would bring me in. So I’d been in the studio for three or four years by the time we made the album. The fact that Willie wanted to record with the band was pretty exciting.’

Nelson didn’t know Phil York, but he took Raphael’s word, as well as the availability of a modern room in which to work. ‘It was a good studio, so it was, “I’ve got this record to do,” and “Well, I’ve got a studio we can use,”’ says Raphael. ‘It was a brand new, high-tech studio, but it wasn’t a soundstage. It was intimate and small enough that we could see each other. Piano and drums might have been in other rooms, but Bee, Willie, and I were sitting and facing each other.’

The sessions marked the first time that the musicians recorded with Nelson, and the first time that they heard the new songs.

‘Willie would sit there with pieces of paper, start playing these songs, and kind of teach them to us while the tape was rolling,’ says Raphael. ‘The reason the album is so sparse is mainly because we were a small band, and we were hearing everything for the first time, listening and reacting. It wasn’t like he drilled the songs into us, and we rehearsed and recorded them. He was pretty much playing them stream-of-consciousness, and we played the songs a couple of times at the most. They’re easy to play, and I was just glad to be in the studio with him because I love the recording process, but as you can see, nobody is showboating. It wasn’t a vehicle for anyone to show off and play. We really took it seriously. There is just simplicity and so much silence on that record because we were all enamored of Willie and of how beautiful and simple the project was.’

Clocking in at 33 minutes, Red Headed Stranger became Nelson’s breakthrough album, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and selling over two million copies. His version of Fred Rose’s ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ became his first number one single on the Billboard country charts, and the next single, ‘Remember Me’ reached number two.

Over the years, much has been made about the fact that Red Headed Stranger was recorded and mixed in a matter of days, but that timeline is not unusual for Nelson, according to Raphael.

‘We do an album now in five days,’ he says. ‘A week for Willie is a long time. I think we cut Teatro in half that time. With Red Headed Stranger, maybe he was still writing it at the time, or we were gigging at night and might have had just a few hours in the day to do it. Regardless, we didn’t rush at all, but those songs were done pretty close to live — first, second, or third takes. Even now, Willie will sing four or five passes at the most, and the band gets it in a couple of takes.’

Raphael and his band mates had no idea that they’d recorded what would become an iconic album.

‘We weren’t doing anything like what they played on the radio, so I thought, “Oh boy, they’re not going to like this one,”’ he says. ‘But the people liked it. Willie chose ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ as the single, and radio picked up on it. There was a buzz already around Willie when the album came out. We were playing the Fourth of July picnics and he was like the King of Texas. When we’d play the Opry in Nashville — not the Ryman, but where they do the television show — all the diehards were there and we weren’t the most popular. But in Texas, the crowds were big. The single went to number one and we began playing bigger dance halls. We were touring all the time. Columbia saw that it was a hit, so they were promoting us, they were working the radio end of it, and now all of a sudden it’s their idea; what a great idea theyhad.’

Legacy Recordings reissued the album in 2000 with four bonus tracks: ‘Bach Minuet In G,’ ‘I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)’, ‘A Maiden’s Prayer’, and ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’.

‘They were outtakes, not part of the album sessions,’ says Raphael. ‘It’s always good to include some bonus tracks on a reissue, and just because we didn’t release those songs before doesn’t mean they should be thrown away. When we go into the studio, we warm up with songs like ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’. Willie will start doodling around and playing and see what direction we’re going in. Now, he’s got a set list of songs he wants to do, but back then we were a little less focused.’

For Willie Nelson, the road never ends as he continues logging countless tour dates every year. Raphael lovingly calls him “the benevolent dictator,” noting, ‘because, in a subtle way, he’ll tell us what he wants. He doesn’t ever really tell you what to do, but we know he’s obviously the boss, but in a very gentle way. Case in point: I love the accordion, it’s my favorite instrument, so I pulled my accordion out onstage, I’m playing it on some ballad, and I thought it was brilliant. Very diplomatically, he turned around after a couple of nights of me playing the accordion, and he goes, ‘You know, Mickey, I really like the way you play the harmonica.’ And I got it. I understood what he was trying to say. He’s a great guy to be around. I love his music. I love his guitar playing. I love his writing. I’m a fan.’

Between touring and recording with Nelson, and doing session work, Raphael is working on a special project: a DVD/three CD live box set of The Highwaymen: Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. The DVD is a remastered two-hour concert, 35 songs, from a 1990 concert at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. The original concert, shot on film, has been transferred to HD; Raphael mixed it in surround sound. The audio is also captured on two CDs, with the third disc featuring nine songs from Farm Aid. The box set, not yet titled, is expected in time for a summer 2015 release.

40 years later, ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ remains a staple in Nelson’s concerts, while Red Headed Stranger has cemented its place in music history.

‘I think it speaks the truth, and you can’t argue with that,’ says Raphael of the album’s continued success. ‘And maybe people were ready for a change, for a whole new paradigm, when it came out. The establishment at that time, the big acts of the day — George Jones, Mel Tillis, Marty Robbins, Ray Price, Eddie Arnold — those guys are classics and I love them, but it was slick, cosmopolitan country. There was a formula for making records in Nashville, and the audience was ready for something different. You had five musicians on a record instead of twelve. It was simple. It brought things back to basics. There’s a lot of breathing room on that album.’

Willie’s Reserve

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015


Willie Nelson Announces Launch Of Willie’s Reserve

Legendary Entertainer Creates Premiere Cannabis Brand


Music legend Willie Nelson is pleased to announce a unique American enterprise: Willie’s Reserve, a cannabis brand reflecting Nelson’s own longstanding experience and his commitment to regulated, natural, and high quality strains of marijuana in U.S. legal markets. As one journalist has already noted, “The marijuana world is about to get its first connoisseur brand, edging it farther from an illegal substance and closer to the realm of fine wines.”

Willie’s Reserve is an extension of Willie’s passion and appreciation for the many varieties and range of the plant’s qualities. Some of the best master growers in America will collaborate, along with Willie, to define quality standards so that fans can expect clean and consistent products.

Willie’s Reserve will be grown, distributed and sold by local businesses in Colorado and Washington, and will become available in other markets when state regulations allow.

Somewhat controversially, Willie has spent a lifetime as an outspoken supporter of cannabis for personal use and for industrial hemp production.

Building on Willie’s community of friends and expertswho share his values, Willie’s Reserve will seek ways to further support and celebrate aspects of the singer-songwriter’s journey with cannabis. Willie and his family, and a few close friends developed the brand with emphasis on environmental and social issues, to lend support to the gradual end to marijuana prohibition across America.”I am looking forward to working with the best growers in Colorado and Washington to make sure our product is the best on the market,” stated Willie Nelson.

Collaboration is at the center of plans for Willie’s Reserve. Willie has been an outspoken supporter of the front line efforts of store owners, growers, and citizens who have been pioneers and advocates of cannabis policy improvements. The company will work with businesses that are making smart and sustainable choices for the environment, have demonstrated leadership in their markets, and are committed to encouraging safe, legal use.

Seeing the power of legalization, regulation and taxation to impact how Americans view cannabis is a life’s work realized for Willie. As many have noted, his involvement is no surprise, and in the end, it’s no surprise that Willie’s Reserve will reflect his life.



Willie’s 4th of July Picnic and the great taste of Lone Star

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015


Thanks, Budrock Prewitt, for sharing a picture of this poster from your collection.

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard video premiere: “It’s All Going to Pot” (Happy 420!)

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Team Coco is proud to present the 4/20 world premiere of the music video for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s instant classic: “It’s All Going To Pot” – the first single off their new album Django and Jimmie, produced by Buddy Cannon.

Django and Jimmie will be released June 2nd, but you can pre-order it TODAY on Willie’s Official Online Store, and Google Play.

See Folk Uke in Denver tonight, with “X” (Saturday, April 4, 2015)

Saturday, April 4th, 2015


Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie of Folk Uke pose with William Michael Kilpatrick, of “X”. Both bands played last night, and will play again tonight (Sat), in Denver, at the Marquis Theater (near Coors field, on Larimer Street, just off Park/22nd).


“Howdy! X is playin’ THIS Friday & Saturday (April 3 & 4) at the fabulous Marquis Theatre in Denver, ColoradoALL AGES SHOW, 8pm. Opening is my fave gals, the great Folk Uke, featuring Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie. Any friends out here close, swing by and say hi! Love to see ya! — with D.j. Bonebrake and William T. Zoom.” — William Michael Kilpatrick

Heartbreaker Banquet at Willie Nelson’s Luck, Texas (3/19/15)

Friday, March 20th, 2015

photo:  Gary Miller
by: Doug Freeman

Micah Nelson’s experimental jazz-grass outfit Insects vs Robots led off, but Lukas Nelson’s Promise of the Real proved the scion’s quartet has progressed into legitimate powerhouse, evolving beyond guitar fireworks to showcase his own songwriting talent, as his father sat smiling side stage.


Willie’s set kept close to familiar favorites, but backed by his sons and sister Bobbie Nelson, presented a much looser and casual atmosphere, especially in closing the night by bringing friends and extended family onstage for “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

The Heartbreaker Banquet has become something of Willie’s Picnic 2.0, a singular experience of top talent and a unique setting that draws a similarly eclectic audience that only the headliner could round up.

<a href=”″ title=”garymiller4 by Linda Banks, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”333″ height=”500″ alt=”garymiller4″></a>
Annie and Bobbie Nelson
photo:  Gary Miller

Read the entire article, and see lots more great photos:

Willie Nelson and Family at the 2015 Austin Rodeo (March 15, 2015)

Monday, March 16th, 2015


Janis from Texas never lets us down! Enjoy her photos from this year’s Austin Rodeo, from last night’s show. Thanks, Janis. You’re the best!







Willie Nelson Art

Sunday, March 15th, 2015


Thanks, Stewart Patton

See Folk Uke at the Hole in the Wall in Austin (Sat. Mar. 21, 2015) (starring Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, alive and in person)

Sunday, March 15th, 2015


Saturday, March 21st, 2015
Austin, TX, 2015
The Hole In the Wall
2538 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX

Willie Nelson wows in Birmingham, Alabama (3/8/15)

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

photo: Christine Prichard
by: Jeremy Burgess

For better or for worse, there are many older musicians – some great ones, even some legendary ones – whose live shows aren’t much more than nostalgia and shared experience, being able to say “I was there.”

Father Time is undefeated and everything gets harder when you get older; those are the facts of life, and we can’t really blame those artists when their skills begin to slip.

photo: Christine Prichard

Willie Nelson, however, is not one of those artists.

At 81 years young, the Texas outlaw country legend sold out Iron City well in advance and showed that he’s still got it Sunday night.

The show kicked off at 8:50, and Willie brought the hits early and often – “Whiskey River,” “Still Is Still Moving To Me” and the newer “Beer For My Horses” before the first of a handful of covers in Waylon Jennings’ “Good Hearted Woman.”

Willie may not be in his prime anymore, but he showed he can still play. With only one backup guitarist (and an electric at that), he handled all the main acoustic licks with no help from anybody, moving through riffs and solos with ease.


The show was billed as “Willie Nelson & Family,” though, so he brought his kin into the fold pretty quickly.

About 20 minutes in, Willie turned it over to his sister, Bobbie, for an instrumental piano number before his son, Lukas, played his own “It’s Floodin’ Down In Texas.”

After another string of hits, including “On The Road Again” and “Always On My Mind,” and a cover of Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind,” Willie played to his crowd and strung together a trio of Hank Williams tunes in “Jambalaya (On The Bayou),” “Hey Good Lookin'” and “Move It On Over.”

The crowd loved Willie’s three-song tribute to the Alabama legend, but audience participation increased even more when he took ‘em to church with a couple of country spirituals in “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away” before adding “a new gospel song” of his own in “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die.”

Given the audience’s energy, Willie ended the show about as appropriately as he could’ve with “I Saw The Light,” both a Hank Williams song and a gospel tune.

Once the set was over, the band played on for about five minutes as Willie signed some autographs from the stage and threw a few pre-rolled bandanas into the audience (a trick he employed throughout the set that drove the ladies wild every time).

The set was only 75 minutes, which wasn’t quite what the ticket price might’ve called for. But Willie played hit after hit with plenty of appropriate covers and traditionals mixed in, so it was a loaded set free of filler.

And let’s be real – for those of us lucky to make it to 81, we’ll be fortunate to be able to just stand up for 75 minutes straight, let alone tour and sing and play guitar.

Yes, Willie’s still got it. And hopefully he brings it back around Birmingham a time or two before calling it quits.

Famous Guitars

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Wall Street Journal
by:  Michael Driscoll

Willie Nelson has been playing an increasingly beat-up guitar he calls Trigger since 1969, around the time he abandoned Nashville. A documentary
out recently from Rolling Stone tracks the history of the instrument, which wasn’t originally designed for performance or amplification.

“You’re not supposed to play with a pick, these classical guitars,” Nelson says in the video. One consequence of that is the hollow scar that developed beneath the guitar’s sound hole, which means the instrument needs regular repairs to keep it going. Trigger is among a number of well-known guitars and other six-string quirks in popular music.

Neil Young’s Old Black

Singer and songwriter Neil Young has played many instruments in his 50-plus years of performing, but he favors a modified Gibson known as Old Black he got in 1969. The Les Paul is outfitted with a custom tailpiece that allows him to bend notes with his right hand in a way standard versions of the Les Paul don’t.

Read about Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Vedder and other guitars:

This day in Willie Nelson History: “Red Headed Stranger” Movie Premiere (Feb. 19, 1987)

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

On February 19, 1987, Willie Nelson’s movie, the “Red Headed Stranger” premieres in Austin, Texas. Among those attending: Morgan Fairchild, Floyd Tillman and coach Darrell Royal.


Willie Nelson was asked about the violence in the movie, and about his character killing two women:

“If you like the song, the violence is there,” he says. “You can’t take out violence anymore than you can take evil out of books. It’s all part of life.” Adds Nelson, “This movie covers a lot of territory — from spiritualism to lust — and takes a man all the way to the bottom and back to the top. It does it to a preacher — which is a little bit unusual.”

Life Magazine August 1987 article by: Cheryl McCall

Making a movie of Red Headed Stranger, his 1975 chart-topping country album, was a powerful obsession that wouldn’t let go. From the beginning, its story of love and violence in the Old West was unfolding as a movie in his mind, says Willie Nelson. He dreamed of portraying the preacher-turned-killer on-screen. Universal Studios optioned Red Headed Stranger but eventually let it slip into “turnaround” — Hollywood limbo. So Nelson acquired the rights and spent the next five years shopping for financing. With fellow Texan Bill Wittliff – screenwriter and co producer of Country, Raggedy Man and Barbarossa — Nelson plunged into the risky business of doing their own producing.

Despite the pleading of his wife, Connie, Nelson stubbornly mortgaged property to raise $1 million for the 1879-style wardrobe, props and three Western sets. Friends and neighbors pitched in. Towns were built on land adjoining his private golf course outside Austin, turning the place into a studio back lot. Wittliff virtually ignored his book publishing business, Encino Press, to take on the chore of writing, co-producing and directing. Together, Wittliff and Nelson assembled a crew and pruned more than $11 million from Universal’s original $13.5 million budget.


Willie Nelson sprays on a little water as he and Morgan Farichild head west. Says the TV acress, “My character just doesn’t have the pioneer spirit.”


As preacher Julian Shay, Willie Nelson sobers up a besotted sheriff, played by R. G. Armstrong in a scene that both enjoyed in the scorching Texas heat.

They signed a native Texas, Morgan Fairchild, to play the preacher’s faithless wife and Katharine Ross (star of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), 43, as his salvation. The actresses agreed to defer half of their fees. As the cameras rolled, LIFE went on location with Red Headed Stranger.


“If Willie Nelson is going to kill a woman, anyone in America would forgive him for killing Morgan Fairchild in this movie,” — Morgan Fairchild


“In a funny kind of way, I just simply stepped into Willie’s dream,” says director Bill Wittliff. “It’s become an obsession for me, too. I couldn’t walk away from it.” The writer fleshed out the record album’s story of stern frontier morality with a script that explores the theme of love lost and regained against a backdrop of sin and redemption. The preacher saves a derelict town from spiritual squalor but pays a terrible price — everything he cherishes in life. By the time his rage is spent, a dozen people are dead. Nelson says he’s not the least contrite about killing two women in this film. Stranger” premieres in Austin, Texas. Among those attending: Morgan Fairchild, Floyd Tillman and coach Darrell Royal.



“If you like the song, the violence is there,” he says. “You can’t take out violence anymore than you can take evil out of books. It’s all part of life.” Adds Nelson, “This movie covers a lot of territory — from spiritualism to lust — and takes a man all the way to the bottom and back to the top. It does it to a preacher — which is a little bit unusual.”

Also unorthodox is the casting of Nelson’s grandson, his band’s drummer, the bass player and a bodyguard in speaking roles. Says Wittliff, “It’s really a homegrown deal. We pulled people off the sidewalk, from restaurants, stores or wherever we spotted them for this.” His Encino Press assistant, Connie Todd, put aside her publishing duties to audition more than 350 local folks. “When we found someone with a spark, we’d work with him or her for several hours,” says Wittliff. The creative gamble has paid off with lively performances from an Austin security guard, a waitress and a computer programmer.

It’s a measure of the loyalty Nelson inspires that his cast and crew are willing to endure 14-hour days on a location as hot and fly-ridden as Calcutta. What’s more, they are remarkably cheerful about it. Explains bit player Bo Franks, a cohort and gun collector, “I’m doing this for free. Everybody is here because they want to be part of Willie’s dream. We’re busting our butts because we wouldn’t think of letting him down.” From the Austin hatter who made and donated dozens of period hats to the realtor who lent a 19th century water drilling rig, friends contributed what they could. img029

Says his daughter Lana, ‘Daddy has set such a good example for everyone that you don’t want to be the one to goof it up.”

As the end of the shooting approaches, day drags into night and exhaustion and tension mount. Mistakes are made, lines misbelieved, and the horses — spooked by gunfire — are edgy.

The only uncooperative member of the cast during the whole 39 days of shooting was a balky pony. “Willie, we got a problem here,” crackled a walkie-talkie. “The horse wants to know what his motivation is for pulling the plow.”

Nelson drinks cups of coffee and cracks jokes. Scenes are repeated until all the angles have been filmed. At 5:30 a.m., they break. Twelve hours later, after filming the preacher and the wife traveling west in a covered wagon, Wittliff and Nelson say the magic words, “That’s a wrap!”

The film opens next month, with Willie Nelson singing Red-Headed Stranger songs throughout his movie.


Willie Nelson Glasses

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015



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Ain’t That America: Farm Aid

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

by:  Jen Baker

The Patchwork quilt of humanity stretched as far as the eye could see, an ocean of cowboy boots, camo, tattoos, tie-dye, overalls, rhinestone jeans, biker graphics, bare feet, skin-tight yoga pants, oversize sweaters, sports bras, sundresses, plaid shirts, flip flops, all black. Even a guy wearing a Day-Glo green t-shirt proclaiming “Put a little South in yer Mouth.” The far ends of the political spectrum and thousands in the middle seemed to agree for a day, coexisting peacefully side-by-side, happily celebrating one of the most red-white-and-blue things of all: outdoor live music, for a cause.

“Oh but ain’t that America, for you and me

Ain’t that America, we’re something to see baby

Ain’t that America, home of the free, yeah

Little pink houses for you and me, oh for you and me”

AsI sat cross-legged on the Walnut Creek Amphitheater lawn, listening to John Mellencamp belt out these lyrics from a song much older than many of the people in the audience who were singing along at the tops of their lungs, it struck me that Farm Aid is really about as much America as you can get in one place.

It’s not only the musicians from the myriad genres who donated their talents, or the 20,000-some people from all walks of life who spent 12-ish hours enjoying the performances. It’s not just about the freedom to drink a locally crafted draft beer, washing down an NC BBQ pork sandwich with coleslaw and grilled corn on the cob. Mostly, it’s America because the day is really about the farmers just down the road who make that all possible.

Farming truly is the core of America’s history, starting with the Pilgrims who celebrated our first Thanksgiving with their bountiful harvest and continuing with the pilgrimage out west and the settlers who made their own “patchwork quilts” out of farmed land along the way. Of course agriculture isn’t just an American story, it’s an ancient one told as humans found a way to survive without hunting and gathering, but I would argue that we uniquely embrace it as part of our shared history.

Myfamily was a part of that history. My dad and grandfather farmed just over 300 acres in the Midwest, raising pigs, hay, corn and soybeans to sell for what life required that they couldn’t provide for themselves. Cows gave milk and made the barn cats happy with a few drops squirted their way. Chickens were a staple, with eggs always in ample supply. They grew wheat to grind into flour, and my mom and grandmother planted huge gardens for fresh vegetables, canning the rest since freezing it wasn’t an option — they didn’t even have electricity until 1951. The garden harvest included a half-acre of potatoes to stock up for the long, cold winter. Can you imagine just how many potatoes they would have unearthed from a space larger than most Raleigh-sized residential lots? Today it’s a commitment for me to buy a five-pound bag at Harris Teeter.

Farming then was a way of life, simple and straightforward, with 12-14 hour days of hard labor mixed in with fishing and hunting for entertainment and variety on our plates.

Although it wasn’t a financial struggle that ended our family’s farming heritage — it was the 1960s-era dam the Army Corps of Engineers built to manage flooding that flooded our land with its rising lake waters — that struggle was very real for many of our friends and our community.