Getting to Know Shimmer Johnson

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

There is always a degree of concern anytime you begin to visit with an artist for the first time.  It is always those instances that you are keenly aware of the fact that you don’t have the luxury of being old friends.  Other than a short telephone conversation, I had never had the pleasure of getting to talk with Shimmer Johnson one-on-one and ask her questions about her life and her music.

Free Range Texan Episode 60 Shimmer JohnsonOn our Podcast it is always our goal to find the parts of an artist’s story that glitter above and beyond the everyday norms.  Sometimes you work harder and sometimes the person’s personality gives you a more comfortable run.  Shimmer Johnson gave us the type of interview that we walked away from thinking that we had a new and enjoyable friend in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Shimmer JohnsonShimmer is a pro with a work ethic that commands respect from anyone in the business who learns the daily steps of her music career.  If she opens up with you, you find out that very little has ever been handed to her on a silver platter.  And she has an amazing grasp of today’s music industry.  Oh yes, she has developed a good production team with which she writes and records music with a voice reminiscent of Judy Collins or Alison Krauss.

Shimmer JohnsonShimmer Johnson is unique, and we here at the Free Range Texan are glad to have met her.  The people at our studio asked me, “What did you think of Shimmer Johnson?”  I just smiled and said, “I like her.”  Her video Toy Soldier is the song we featured at the beginning of her interview, and we wanted to share it with everyone here.  We are glad to have her as our guest on Episode 60, and we wish her all the best.

Free Range Texan Episode 60

The Marfa Lights

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

First, I want to say thank you to Danny Cadra, who kindly spent time visiting with us and shared some of his music that is authentically West Texan.   We want to thank Danny for his service in the Marine Corps and remind everyone that he has a web site and is available for bookings.

Free Range Talent File Danny CadraTo anyone who has grown up in or around the State of Texas, you know that the Marfa Lights are a part of the lore of our land.  What has always intrigued me is that they are in fact a real phenomena.  Every few years or so there are scientists or university study groups that announce that they have cracked the case of the Marfa Lights.  But when they apply their theories to the actual phenomena, like so many others before them they are quickly proven to not be able to exactly explain what the lights are doing or what causes them.

Mara Lights Night VisionOne of my favorite stories is when the government decided that they would get to the bottom of the Marfa Lights.  They took a battalion of Comanche Black Hawk helicopters to the popular viewing sight and waited to chase them down.  Our government’s finest flying machines were not capable of so much as even coming up with a theory.  In short, the lights play games.  In our Free Range Texan Podcast Episode 58 we tell a story of one such event.  There are hundreds of stories and hundreds of sightings, and they are always unique.

Free Range Texan Podcast Episode 58

He’s One and Only and Truly Missed

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

Between last month’s Free Range Texan episode and now, we lost Mike Pritchard to illness.   None of us saw it coming.

I’m not even sure I remember the first time I became aware of and acquainted with Mike Pritchard.  His singing, songwriting and performing capabilities are woven into the fabric of our West Texas community.  You could say a lot of things about Mike … he was a consummate professional; he was someone that could be counted on to perform and sing in almost any venue where he was needed.

Free Range Talent File Mike PritchardIf you were around him much in the musician community  you would know that he was appreciated and respected for his  talent and/or friendship.  In regards to all the things that I have just said, he was a real “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.  I liked him and I guess I always did.  If you were walking in to spend the evening somewhere, and you found out that Mike Pritchard would be singing, it was a good thing.

Anyone who tried to put Mike Pritchard’s music style in a box with a label would be hard pressed to keep the lid shut.  He sang and wrote great music for a lot of different occasions.  He and Wally Moyers had recently produced some great country music.  Mike was always a rock and roll guy at heart and could walk on stage with a six piece band and blow the roof off.  But lately … he was sounding much more soulful and blues-like, but it was always enjoyable.

Free Range Talent File Mike PritchardOur visit with Mike Pritchard occurred on Episode 34.  He was absolutely candid and talked personally with our listeners.  For me it was simple.  I was just talking with an old friend.  In Episode 57 of our Free Range Texan Podcast we step back and revisit the last time we thoroughly enjoyed Mike Pritchard’s stories and talent. Thank you Mike (he always called me Mikey) for this one last time you shared you life and your music.  Brother, we will see you down the way ….

Free Range Texan Episode 57 Mike Pritchard

I’m OK

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

Free Range Texan Episode 55 titled, “I’m OK”, is the message that I would have for all of you.  It is from the bottom of my heart that I want to thank all of our listeners for the constant stream of inquiries and prayers.

Please let me apologize for the time I have spent being unresponsive to so many of you.  Now I am able to share my story, and tell you that with great effort, I have only just now found the ability to focus on creating this latest episode, after months of being off the radar.

Rather than explaining everything here, I would just like to ask everyone to listen to Episode 55.  I have chosen our Free Range Texan Podcast as the place I can most easily relate my story.  Thank you all for being patient.  It appears “We’re Back”.

Free Range Texan Episode 55 I'm Back

Michael Shawn’s Condition Improves … Details Below

We never really realized the time and the effort it would take to replace a producer like Michael Shawn, even temporarily.  That’s the thing.  We have not spent a lot of time looking for a Michael Shawn replacement because we had not imagined being without him.  Well, he is sitting up and speaking … well speaking anyway, and Free Range Texan is releasing the following statement concerning his condition.  Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Free Range Texan Episode 54

Free Range Texan Podcast of the Month

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

The times they are a changin’.  If you take a continually growing audience of a bi-weekly podcast and attempt to move their loyalties to a monthly podcast format, is it risky?  Well, the answer to your question would have to be “Yes”.  But less so if one were to understand what we, those of us working on the Free Range Texan, understand about the realities of meeting the production deadlines and producing creative content for a podcast as multi-faceted as ours.

Free Range Texan PodcastFirst, let’s look at the facts.  Producing the Free Range Texan is not free.  There are a number of people who have or do commit a significant part of their time, focus and funds to make the Free Range Texan roll out on time every two weeks.  I’m about to share something with you that I don’t normally talk openly about.  The truth is we have dozens of really great ideas, but when it gets down to implementing the production process, our production funds simply aren’t in the budget … and we find ourselves stepping back, drawing a breath, and finding something else to work on.  Sometimes it’s frustrating.

If a few weeks ago you would have told me that basically cutting the number of Free Range Texan episodes in half annually could be a good thing, I would just have bent over with a knot in my gut and walked away.  I mean really!  On the surface it would seem like somebody shot us with a torpedo.  But then, we began to think about our production process and asked some pretty important “what if” questions.

A-Team PR Production Studio AWhat if we had twice the production time and budget per podcast than what we are currently working with?  What if as a production team we no longer felt under the gun to find content, get it recorded and produced, and build an entirely new episode every two weeks?  In big-time network programming, each show has three to five production teams.  And like a deck of cards, the show’s episodes are dealt out to the team members so that each team has a number of weeks to complete their production by the time it airs.  We are not big-time network producers.  We have one team and we produce everything, on time.  So spending more time with a greater budget per episode started to look like a higher quality podcast with a higher quality life for its producers.

Michael ShawnThis is gonna be fun!  To our regular listeners, please forgive us for not knocking on your door with a brand new episode every other Thursday.  We still love our listeners alot!  And we promise to continue to bring everything that you expect from our Free Range Texan Podcast to you with a few more layers of icing on our cake.  We are genuinely excited about our new schedule as our last bi-weekly podcast rolls out Thursday, July 2nd.  And our new monthly podcast schedule begins on August 1st, 2020.

There is one more thing … We believe we have been remiss in not urging our podcast listeners to subscribe to our podcast.  We have always provided a direct player at FreeRangeTexan.net.  You can still accomplish listening to our podcast thru FreeRangeTexan.net … our web page gives you all of the biggest podcast players and/or our Free Range Texan YouTube Channel.  Either way, you can easily subscribe.  Without going into a large amount of detail, suffice to say our new schedule makes our subscription rate vital to our future.  Thanks for listening … FreeRangeTexan.net.

Episode 36 Warm and Loving then Sad and Cold

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

The Free Range Texan Podcast Episode 36 varies greatly from beginning to end with a wide spectrum of emotions.  Among other things, this episode contains a special visit with Shirley and Andy Klattenhoff tucked neatly inside one of our “Ain’t Love Grand Files”.  They are a delight.

Shirley and Andy Klattenhoff
Shirley and Andy – 1978
Shirley and Andy Klattenhoff
Shirley and Andy in “Studio A” today

Shirley and Andy have been walking hand-in-hand through life for over four decades.  Through the best of times and tough times, they have always just taken it all as it comes.  We have learned that true love sometimes appears when you’re not even looking for it and when it is least expected.  We think you will love hearing their story.

Native American James ScottAbove is the picture of James Scott, a Native American, who died in 1944 at about 110 years of age.  As a child, he was part of the forced removal of Indian tribes from Alabama and Georgia to reservations in Oklahoma.  We have recreated word for word his actual recollection of the removal.  It is a remarkable story, and yet may not be suitable for our younger listeners.

All of this and more on another Free Range Texan Podcast that comes from the heart.

Free Range Texan Episode 36

A Campfire Story That Took on a Life of Its Own

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

Michael Shawn’s Campfire stories tend to flow from all directions.  There are countless sources, including close friends and contributing editors, who’s contributions to our podcast are appreciated more than anyone knows.

We were producing the campfire story for Episode 30.  Traditionally, podcasts contain various and sundry amounts of content, generally edited around a main file (Heroes and Heroines, The Unexplained Files, Free Range Talent, etc.) and always winding up at Michael Shawn’s Campfire.

In the tradition of creating a campfire segment for Episode 30, we most of the time run a ballpark estimate of four to eight minutes, depending on variables in the script and production.  It’s the way we like to end each podcast.

Thinking that the story of the Alamo from Davy Crockett’s point of view would be a different way to tell the tale, we began to do research outside of the traditional writings concerning Texas history.  We stumbled into a credible source of knowledge that told more vividly the happenings in the last days of Davy Crockett’s life, specifically describing the world around him.

Before we knew it, we had a podcast script two to three times longer than any campfire story that we had ever produced, and in trying to edit this remarkable tale, we could not find portions we were willing to leave out.  Numerous times we were brought to tears as we began to realize more than the Hollywood version of the world falling apart around the remnant of Texan volunteers.

By the time we finished production, apart from being profoundly moved by what we were hearing, we also realized that as much as ever before we had created a piece of “theatre of the mind” that was a true story of remarkable bravery and heroism.  The Free Range Texan Podcast Epiosde 30 is dedicated to my life-long friend Harlan Reddell, who spent three years putting up with a smart-aleck young Michael Shawn, teaching me everything I know about dramatic presentation.  This one is from the heart.

Free Range Texan Podcast Episode 30 Davy Crockett

Free Range Texan Episode 30 rolls Thursday, October 10th just after dark.

 

Bob Wills Bus … Or Not

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

If you’ve been to Turkey, Texas, I’m sure you will agree that it is a town full of friendly people, and there could be no better place in the U.S.A. to host the annual Bob Wills Day Festival.  Western Swing artists from all over the southwest converge for a couple of days of family friendly, boot scootin’, genuine Texas music.  In the midst of all of it, I happen to find Buck and Rhoda Coghlan from Scottsdale, Arizona.  They have single-handedly refurbished buildings and brought what appears to be Bob Wills Bus to be on permanent display in Turkey, Texas.

Buck and Rhoda Coghlin
Buck and Rhoda Coghlin
Turkey, Texas Gas Station
Turkey, Texas Gas Station
Turkey, Texas Phillips 66 sign
Turkey, Texas Phillips 66 sign
Turkey, Texas Bob Wills Bus
Turkey, Texas Bob Wills Bus

The story behind the bus parked in Turkey is to say the least, interesting, and Buck and Rhoda have earned a place in the on-going stories about the life and times of Bob Wills.  Everyone in Turkey, Texas, appears to agree.   One more thing — we at the Free Range Texan Podcast would like to apologize for the West Texas wind.  Our state of the art digital recording microphones still do not handle it well.  We will endeavor to overcome this situation in the future …. enjoy!

Thank you John Sanders for being there on the scene and shooting some great photographs.

Free Range Texan Episode 21

 

 

 

One of the Best Free Range Texans I Ever Knew

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

My daughter, Mariah, graduated from Texas Tech with a Masters Degree in Chemistry. My son, Cody, graduated from Texas Tech and got his Masters in Athletic Training at Arkansas University. I, however, took a different path. I grabbed my high school diploma and set out to conquer the world for better or for worse. I did graduate with my master’s but I chose a different route.

The picture below was the Dean and Chief Professor of a large portion of my master’s degree. For me, going to class meant riding number two on a line-up of off road motorcycles following, watching, and observing Ben Faulkner. I learned more about different cultures, barely explored wildernesses, and general life lessons as a young adult than anyone can possibly imagine. Ben Faulkner, while being approximately 15 years older, was destined to be one of the best life-long friends that a young “wildling” could ever have.

The stories of his adventures could fill a book. He taught me that life is often like riding in the desert … be ready for anything and never go over the top of a bluff without first stopping to look. My life long love affair with the Big Bend and the Chihuahuan desert now includes knowing that I will never be able to open my eyes and see that sunrise and feel that special place without my thoughts being full of my big brother, Ben Faulkner.

Memorial Day at 7:15 a.m. Ben rode into those pearly gates without me, but I can just see the grin on his face. I know he left me here to break camp, cause like so many others of late, I expect we’ll be meeting up again across the river. Adios Uncle Ben! Enjoy the ride!

Ben and Dona Faulkner