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Wyoming Musicians Remember ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ On Learning Of Loretta Lynn’s Death

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Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
wendy@cowboystatedaily.com

Wyoming musicians are remembering country music legend Loretta Lynn as a trailblazer, inspiration and “just such a down-to-earth gal.”

Lynn was 90 when she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, leaving behind decades of hits and legions of fans.

From her poverty-stricken upbringing in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, she became the reigning queen of country music in the late 1960s and inspired singers around the country.

“She was a pioneer,” said Annie (Smith) Jackson of Cheyenne who, with her twin sister Amy (Smith) Meier, performed as a duo on the Grand Ole Opry in the 1980s. “There was no messing around with her.”

The “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” as Lynn became known based on her autobiographical hit song, broke barriers in country music. As a singer-songwriter, she stood up for women without being labeled a feminist with songs like “Rated X” in 1972 and “The Pill” in 1975.

She continued recording until recently, releasing a music video in 2018 for her song “Ain’t No Time To Go.” Her 46th and final solo studio album, “Still Woman Enough,” was released in March 2021.

Loretta Lynn – Ain’t No Time To Go (Official Music Video)

Setting the Bar for Female Singers

Lynn was Nashville’s first prominent female singer-songwriter, generating her own hit songs.

“When we heard the songs that Loretta was singing, we just were flabbergasted,” said Meier, “because she just said (what she thought) so directly.”

In 1972, Lynn became the first woman to be named entertainer of the year by the Country Music Association; from 1962 through 1990, 77 of Lynn’s singles made the country music charts. More than 50 of them reached the Top 10, and 16 were No. 1 hits.

“She blazed the trail for a lot of the young women in country music today,” said Jackson.

Opry Memories

The Smith twins hold a fond memory of meeting Lynn backstage at the Grand Ole Opry.

“It was our first time singing on the Grand Ole Opry,” said Jackson. “We were backstage and we were guests of the king of country music, Roy Acuff.” 

Just 18 at the time, the twins were getting ready to go onstage when they spotted Lynn sitting in the wings.

“Loretta was almost like a statue,” Jackson recalled. “She was dressed in this gorgeous, like an antebellum dress, but it had a big petticoat underneath her dress, and she just sat there so regally and so quiet.”

But when Lynn saw the girls, she approached them, Meier said.

“She said she wanted to meet us because she, of course, had twin daughters, Patsy and Peggy, who sing,” said Meier, who took the opportunity to ask a question of her own.

“I just remember asking Loretta, I said, ‘You have five children – how were you able to do that and do this amazing career?’” Meier said. “She said, ‘You just do it, dear.’”

An Original

Dan Miller, a country music entertainer who has lived in Cody for more than 20 years, had many opportunities to cross paths with Lynn when he was a television host in Nashville in the 1980s and 1990s.

“There are few people in the entertainment business who are exactly as they seem,” Miller told Cowboy State Daily. “Everybody has some kind of public persona – but not Loretta Lynn. She was exactly who you saw on television and movies – a country music original.”

Miller recalled a story told to him by his management team in the 1980s.

“I think they were staying at the MGM, and they were going up to check into the room,” said Miller. “And she came walking down the hall in a bathrobe and barefooted, and didn’t know them from Adam, but she had locked herself out of her room and could they help her get a room key?

“She was just that way, just such a down-to-earth gal.”

Blazing A Trail For Women In Country Music

Before they came to Nashville, the Smith twins said they really didn’t know what country music was.

“And then we heard Loretta Lynn’s song, ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,’” said Jackson.

The direct nature of her songs, and her perseverance, was what made the greatest impression on Jackson.

“Being the woman that she was, and just persevering, I would say that probably influenced us (most) at that age,” she said. “You just keep persevering, no matter what.”

“Without Loretta Lynn, so many people, their careers, their lives would have been different,” said Miller.

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Big-Name Country Musicians Featured On Cody Singer Kalyn Beasley’s New Album

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily
leo@cowboystatedaily.com

A Cody country music musician has teamed up with some of the biggest names in country music for his newest album.

Kalyn Beasley has released “A Matter Of Time,” an album that features fiddler Jenee Fleenor, the first woman to be named the Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year in 2019. Fleenor went on to win the award two more times in 2020 and 2021. She has performed with Blake Shelton, Steven Tyler, Martina McBride and Rascal Flatts.

The album features some of the best artists and producers from the Texas and Nashville music scenes, like singer-songwriter Jamie Lin Wilson, bringing listeners along for a journey of inspiration and soul-searching.

“A Matter of Time” is Beasley’s third album and first since 2019.

Beasley sprinkles inspiration from traditional country music and mixes it with his own modern style.

He said the interest and pressure he received from fans to produce another album, and the process it takes to put it together, reminded him that excellence in life is often desired but rarely comes easy, a nod to the album’s title.

“A lot goes in to making a record you’re proud of – inspiration, money, opportunity, skill – but mostly time,” Beasley says in a press release. “It’s my hope that you hear a story that resonates with you and maybe offers a little inspiration. That’s really all I’m trying to do: connect.”

Beasley said the album has the highest production value of his releases to date.

Life Lessons

“A Matter Of Time” weaves listeners along an acoustic voyage of fast and slow-paced strains. His single “Nothing You Can Do” tells the story of those kept up late at night, overcome by life’s challenges.

Beasley said he came up with the idea for “Nothing You Can Do” while tending to his ailing dog, Todd.

“He finally let me know when he was ready to exit this world, but I agonized over the decision for months, usually as I laid in bed,” Beasley says in an Instagram post. “The fact is, most of the time there’s not a damn thing you can do about them at that hour, so go ahead and get some rest.”

Another single, “Never Knew Kind of Love,” shares the tale of a young couple in love sharing an intimate conversation. 

“Before The Morning Doesn’t Come” serves as a motivational ballad to stay positive and enjoy life. Beasley based the lyrics around a line in the Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra novel “Don Quixote” describing words as the fabric of thought. 

“I thought that was pretty profound and, most importantly, worth stealing and writing an entire song around,” Beasley posted.

All in all, Beasley said he wants people to appreciate every moment of life’s journey.

“I would say it ain’t the miles,” he said. “It was all a matter of time,” he said.

“A Matter Of Time is available on streaming platforms.

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Songwriters Behind Some Of Country’s Biggest Names To Be At Yellowstone Songwriter Festival

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Have you ever wanted to hear the stories behind songs like Garth Brooks’ “We Shall Be Free,” or Martina McBride’s “Concrete Angel?” How about George Strait’s hit song “Troubadour,” or Vince Gill’s “One More Last Chance?” 

Fans will get the chance to hear from the writers themselves at the Yellowstone Songwriter Festival, which begins Thursday, Sept.8 in Cody. 

For three days, 20 songwriters from around the country will be converging on Cody for a weekend of concerts, small listening sessions, interviews and collaborations with other writers.  

“They’re going to perform 26 different shows,” said producer Mike Booth. “Everything from on-stage shows at different venues in downtown Cody to interviews at a coffee place in the morning, late night open mics.” 

Booth told Cowboy State Daily that there are two levels of songwriters that will be showcased at the event – the “hit” songwriters, whose tunes are familiar to listeners across the country, and the “rising stars.” 

Hit Songwriters 

Hit songwriters on the docket include James Dean Hicks, who wrote the country song “Goodbye Time,” which was a number one hit for Conway Twitty, and later recorded by Blake Shelton. 

Also scheduled to appear is Leslie Satcher, whose song “Troubadour” was recorded by George Strait; Rob Crosby from Nashville, who penned “Concrete Angel,” a heart-wrenching story about child abuse that was recorded by Martina McBride; and Stephanie Davis. 

“She is coming from Austin,” said Booth, “and her claim to fame is, she toured for a long time with Garth Brooks. She also wrote ‘We Shall Be Free.’” 

The other hit songwriter scheduled to attend is Gary Nicholson, who was recently named to the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame. 

“I can’t tell you how many (of Nicholson’s) songs have been recorded,” Booth said. “Everybody from Bonnie Raitt to Vince Gill. But his biggest song was ‘One More Last Chance’ (recorded by Gill).” 

Booth said many of the hit songwriters who are on this year’s schedule know each other and have played together in the past. 

“They play together in Nashville once in a while,” he said, “and their songs are so big that they will accompany each other, because they all know the melodies and chords.” 

Booth said festival-goers will have a chance to see the hitmakers perform together at evening concerts throughout the weekend.  

“They will perform all together Thursday night at the (Buffalo Bill Center of the West),” he said. “And then three will play Friday night at the Cody Auditorium – Gary plays both nights, but two other people will play with him on Saturday night.” 

Rising Stars 

“There are 14 rising stars coming in,” Booth said, hailing from Montana, Wyoming, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, and Colorado. “These are folks that have never had a song recorded, but they’re touring professional musician singer-songwriters that will perform on stage together.” 

Booth said that songwriters from Wyoming will get their own showcase, a free concert at the bandshell in Cody’s City Park on Saturday at noon. Jordan Smith from Lander and Dave Munsick and Sarah Sample from Sheridan are all featured performers for the Saturday showcase. 

Raising Money For Charity 

Booth explained that a portion of the ticket sales will go to support local music programs. In their inaugural year he said they gave away $5,000. 

“Last year, we gave a couple scholarships over at Northwest Community College, and then gave some money to Wapiti Valley School’s after school program for new instruments,” he said. “So we’ll do the same thing this year. Meeteetse Schools is on our list.” 

Booth added that the local sponsors make it possible to put on the festival, so more money can go to charity. 

“The Cody community has just been amazing to us, with sponsors and paid individual patrons,” he said. “The downtown business community has been very supportive of us in our efforts. So we’re very blessed that way.” 

Second Annual Event 

This year’s event is produced by the Rocky Mountain Songwriter Festivals, a nonprofit organization based in Red Lodge, Montana. The organization produces similar festivals in Red Lodge and Whitefish, Montana. 

This second year of the Yellowstone Songwriter Festival builds off the success of last year’s event, which was organized by Teresa Muhic. 

“We expected it to be a building process, to get the word out, and also to educate people on what a songwriter festival is,” she said. “(It’s) another version of a music festival, but really, presentation of the songs that are written by that songwriter, and the stories behind it.”  

Muhic said the feedback she received after last year’s event was very positive. 

“Everybody that I talked to after the fact was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I didn’t understand, and now I do,’” she said. “And it was fabulous.” 

Muhic told Cowboy State Daily that the sponsors from last year were also impressed. 

“Our sponsors were like, ‘Yep, sign me up next year, and we want to go up a step,’” she said.  

Schedule 

The Yellowstone Songwriter Festival kicks off Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Chamberlin Inn, after which different singer/songwriters will be featured simultaneously at other venues in downtown Cody, including the Irma Hotel and the Silver Dollar Bar. 

“One thing that we’re really excited about is being able to involve multiple venues,” said Muhic. “It brings in different parts of our downtown community, and includes lots of people. And it’s fun for people to be able to move from one venue to the other.” 

Booth said that at any given time, there may be two to three songwriters onstage together at locations throughout downtown Cody. 

“They just take turns telling stories and playing their music,” Booth said. 

Music and conversations will continue throughout the weekend, culminating in evening concerts all three nights at the Cody Auditorium, with the spotlight on the major hit-making songwriters. 

Songwriter Festival Vs. Concert 

Booth pointed out that a songwriter festival is much different than a concert by a polished and rehearsed entertainer. 

“George Strait is an entertainer,” Booth said. “He’s one of the best entertainers in the world, and when he sings ‘Troubadour,’ it’s produced, it’s rehearsed. But when you hear that same song from the songwriter that created it, it’s just magic. It’s Leslie’s. It’s her baby. It came to her from scratch, and it’s just a different experience to hear those songs from the songwriter.”  

Booth said that the stories behind the songs are part of the draw for the audience. 

“Often they’ll tell how their song got to be a number one,” he said.  “And then they’ll play some of their favorite songs they wrote that you may not have heard but you go, ‘Oh my god, that was amazing. How come nobody cut that?’” 

Muhic pointed out that the “listening room” atmosphere of the songwriter festival is very appealing to many in the audience. 

“We do ask the audience for their attention,” she said. “And when they hear the words to the song, they hear the melody, they hear the story behind it, they understand the emotion and love where this person came from when they were writing the song.” 

“Comments I got from multiple people were like, ‘That’s kind of spoiled me now,’” said Muhic. “‘That’s the way I want to listen to music.’”  

“We really think that once you see it once, you’ll come back year in and year out,” Booth said. 

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Wyoming-Set ‘Outer Range’ Series Hits Number One On Amazon

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Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Amazon Studios
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A new Western/supernatural series set in Wyoming has risen to the top of the Amazon Prime streaming rankings since its premiere last week.

“Outer Range,” which stars Academy Award nominee Josh Brolin, debuted with its first two episodes on Friday on Amazon Prime’s streaming platform. The first two episodes have received mostly positive reviews so far.

“Outer Range centers on Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin), a rancher fighting for his land and family, who discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming’s wilderness,” reads a summary for the show on popular review site ‘Rotten Tomatoes.’

“A thrilling Western family saga with hints of wry humor and supernatural mystery, Outer Range examines how we grapple with the unknown,” it reads.

Two new episodes will be released every Friday for the next three weeks, with eight episodes being released in the first season.

Although the series is set in Wyoming, it was actually filmed in New Mexico.

Glenn Woods, radio host of “Wake Up Wyoming,”is a fan of the series and has spent time talking about the show on his morning radio program.

“I saw the commercial one time and it was so confusing,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “Under any other circumstances, I would have never looked the show up. But I kept noticing little hints of Wyoming in the trailer, like a quick shot of the Tetons in the background.”

Woods compared the first two episodes of “Outer Range” to shows such as “The X-Files” or “The Outer Limits” with a touch of “Yellowstone” mixed in.

His biggest concern is that “Outer Range” will end up like “Lost,” where the plot becomes so convoluted that many of the questions raised never get resolved.

But so far, he’s hooked and will be checking out the newest episodes when they go live each Friday.

He did note that despite being filmed in New Mexico, the show’s setting does resemble Wyoming, even though it contains shots of the Tetons being seen from places where they should not be visible.

“It’s like a law when anything takes place in Paris, the house or business has to have a window where you can see the Eiffel Tower, that’s how it is for the Tetons in this show,” Woods said.

“Even if you’re in Cheyenne, you can apparently see the Tetons from time to time. But really, they’ve done a great job about dropping in Wyoming. There was even a professor’s business card that showed the University of Wyoming,” he said.

He added that anyone interested in watching the series should pay attention to small details, because they could be important later on in the show.

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