An Important Piece of Our Puzzle … Roger Dykes

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

He’s a writer, a counselor, an advocate for the disabled, a relentless podcast critic, and a friend … Roger Dykes continues to be an important piece of our Free Range Texan fabric.

Roger doesn’t mind me telling you that he has been disabled with Cerebral Palsy since birth, and has spent his life in a wheelchair.    I have been acquainted with Roger since the late 1960s (I think).  The more you know Roger Dykes. listen to what he is saying, and watch what he is doing, the more you see that he is a master at battling the ever present discrimination in our society that profoundly affects the lives of people with all types of disabilities.

Roger DykesWhen we created the Heroes and Heroines File for our Free Range Texan Podcast, the first lesson we learned was that in general real heroes and heroines are not readily available for interviews.  Then it occurred to us, during the production of Episode 3, that we had a real-life hero living among us.  Roger Dykes was our guest for the very first Heroes and Heroines File.

Roger DykesRoger has a Master’s Degree from Texas Tech University, has owned and run his own business, and worked as a stand-up (or sit down) comedian and after dinner speaker.  He also found time to write a book (Non-Persons Rolling in a Normal World) about living a life in today’s world being disabled throughout most of his body, but not his mind.  Incidentally, there is an audio version about to be released on Amazon, that is narrated by a somewhat mediocre voice talent, or so says one of my avid critics.

Roger Dykes
Roger Dykes, 1977

The Free Range Texan depends on a number of special people who have generously thrown in their love and expertise behind the scenes of our Podcast.  One of these remarkable individuals is Roger Dykes.  Don’t let the wheelchair fool you, his wisdom is profound and his wit can cut its way through chain link in an instant.  He is my friend.

The Mugs Are Among Us

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

The “Official Free Range Texan, Michael Shawn’s Campfire Approved, 1st Edition Campfire Coffee Mugs” have arrived out yonder at the Free Range Texan Network headquarters.  These stylish mugs are now being seen around finer campfires everywhere.  We suggest you do not get caught without one of your own.  When you hit the button below it will take you to the Free Range Texan House of Treasures.  Just scroll down and arrange to receive the mug of choice for Free Range Texans everywhere.

Campfire Coffee Mug Banner



Up Close and Personal With Casey Baker

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

Our visit with Casey Baker was delightful.   She quickly steps outside the box that contains all the blond jokes, because after speaking with her for awhile you become aware that she is smarter than the average bear.  Yes, she is a great talent and attractive to look at, but once you get past all the obvious, she has a story that contains rich life experiences.

Free Range Talent File Casey BakerJust the fact alone that she has raised a teenager does tend to bring a certain amount of polish to ones common sense toward dealing with everyday life.  Her recording industry connections are solid.  Those connections manifest themselves in some powerful music that Casey Baker writes, performs and records.  She is the complete package.

Free Range Talent File Casey BakerIt is easy for us to say that she is definitely a talent worth keeping an eye on for her future recordings and show dates, as she is the genuine article.  We at the Free Range Texan urge you to get through the door of any venue where she would be performing on stage.  It will be a worthwhile evening.

Free Range Talent File Casey BakerCasey Baker is our special guest on the Free Range Texan Podcast, located in our Free Range Talent File portion of our show.  Episode 33 is rich with her talent as she sings her latest release, “Life Has Taken Its Toll On Me.”  (And if it has, it doesn’t show.)

Free Range Texan Episode 33

A Visit with Al Pitrelli

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

From the very beginning of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, one of the original talents, who has since become a lead guitarist and director, is Al Pitrelli.  Al is one of the most successful rock musicians in the United States, if not the world.  I found him to be one of the more congenial and unassuming, really big industry talents that I have visited with in a long time.

Free Range Talent File Al Pitrelli

Our interview on Episode 32 of the Free Range Texan Podcast reveals quickly that Al Pitrelli is more than just a remarkable stage performer, he is also a husband and father to a family with which he manages to stay close.

While he has been a professional musician from the earliest part of his life, for a couple of decades he has been enthralled in his work with Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Touring around the world more times than he can remember, he is quick to point out that a show that he does in California, Texas, New York, London, Paris, etc., are the same performances once the lights go down.

Free Range Talent File Al PitrelliFor those of you who have not experienced a Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance, I would suggest that you are missing out on what very well could be the most remarkable concert/stage performance produced anywhere on the globe.  Describing it is nothing short of impossible.  But the lights, sound, pyrotechnics, stage sets, and music are world class.  And we thought we would bring you a couple of examples here on our podcast blog.

Having Al Pitrelli as a guest on the Free Range Texan Podcast barely into our second year of episodes, was about as good as it gets for our podcasting team!  If you have witnessed a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert in person or just seen videos and heard them on broadcast stations, we are certain that you will appreciate a behind the scenes interview with one of the driving force members of the TSO family.  Episode 32 turned out to be a bell-ringer for us.  Our Podcast rolls Thursday, November 7th after sunset.  Enjoy!

Free Range Talent File Al Pitrelli


Andy Wilkinson Returns

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

He’s back!  The thing about knowing an artist like Andy Wilkinson is that there is always the next Andy Wilkinson song you want to bring to the podcast.  And this time we’re bringing “Texas When Texas Was Free.”

Free Range Texan Talent File Andy WilkinsonAdditionally, Andy was kind enough to talk about one of his other passions in life.  He is an Artist in Residence and spends his days among other things working closely with the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University.  I asked Andy to explains a little bit (for the folks who may not know) about this remarkable archive.

Free Range Talent File Andy WilkinsonAndy Wilkinson is one of those fine Texas gentlemen that instead of getting older just gets richer with age here on the Llano Estacado.  We are so glad he came aboard the Free Range Texan for another visit so that we can share some more of our friend Andy Wilkinson.

Free Range Texan Episode 31 Andy Wilkinson

Not Your Average Podcast

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

We’re not like any other podcast that we know of.  In this respect we are uniquely outside the box.  We never planned to be, but we opened our minds, turned on our creativity, and this is what came out.

Free Range Texan PodcastThe concept of titled segments, opening monologues, and running Michael Shawn’s campfire segment always at the end, actually just developed over the first two or three episodes.  We didn’t even have a production blueprint when we started.  We just knew it was in us and we were going to bring it out.

Most of us are ex-commercial broadcasters, who spent a good portion of our lives competing in the competitive arenas of radio and television.  Local morning show hosts to formally syndicated broadcasters … and then there was me, Michael Shawn, who did all of it over a life-time of work, but I always knew these guys and respected their talent.

Kidd Manning Michael Shawn John SandersOne thing I can tell you for sure, the Free Range Texan Podcast would not exist in its present-day form if it were not for an eclectic collection of remarkable friends and professionals who have lent their expertise from the first day we lit the lamp.

In the beginning was Anthony Garza, whose engineering and post-production support taught us the technical aspects to take our first step into the digital world.  Most of us had grown up analog and it is a real mind shift to embrace completely digital editing and production skills.

John Sanders
John Sanders

Our current studio engineer is someone we rely on almost daily.  His real job title is Owner of Deep Creek Technology Services, which just happens to have a remarkable sound/video studio.  The fact that it is located in another city in this day and time, makes no difference.  Without John Sanders our computers, digital editing devices, microphones and effects technologies would often lay adrift waiting for someone who knows what they are doing to save the day.  John is that guy.

And then there are those “people” …  the ones who’s voices you hear on our podcast, often quite regularly, though many times playing different characters.  Their contributions are vital, because from a production standpoint, our host needs someone to play off of in a hundred different scenarios.

And then there are people like Kidd Manning and others, who make remarkable contributions to our content.  They allow us access to their connections, knowledge, and showmanship expertise.  It all works together.

Free Range Texan Talent BoostAnd finally, there is A-Team PR’s Studio A, which is our somewhat technically muscle-bound production studio that provides a home for our podcast.  When Free Range Texan was first conceived by the A-Team PR creative team, everyone became cognizant of the fact that a new studio would have to be designed and created from the ground up for Free Range Texan’s needs.  At that point, we were creating campfire segments in the bookkeeping and print design offices of A-Team PR.  We can’t imagine doing that now, but in the beginning, that’s how it worked.

A-Team PR Studio AIt took months of burning the midnight oil, but our first Free Range Texan Podcast, Free Range Texan Facebook page, Free Range Texan Blog, and Free Range Texan YouTube Channel all were designed and built to rise up and roll out on October 28th, 2018.  When I think back on where we were then and where we are now, it’s been a remarkable journey.  We are grateful for everybody, including our listeners who spend a half-hour or so every two weeks escaping to be a part of the Free Range Texan Podcast.

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.


Our Guest, Bill Lee, Dives Deeper Into Sasquatch Creatures

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

Believe or don’t believe.  But be aware of the continuing flow of evidence that something else lives on planet earth.  I have always been amused at that segment of our population that thinks that we/they know everything about what inhabits our world.

Ask any oceanographer and they will quickly admit that there are layers of deep water creatures that are yet to be discovered.  Visit with your area’s academia experts about forest wildlife and fauna, and they will gladly present themselves as an all-knowing expert.  However, you can talk to what would otherwise be credible national park service rangers and many of them will freely admit that something odd or unexplained may often be occurring out in the woods.

Bill LeeBill Lee believes that he understands a bit more than average about a separate cultural group that could be and probably is living among us.  In short, he believes.

Free Range Texan Unexplained File Bill LeeEpisode 29 of our Free Range Texan Podcast talks candidly and openly with Bill Lee as he shares some of his experiences hosting his worldwide podcast “Inspired By Big Foot.”  Bill talks about issues that simply put can be less than comfortable for a number of researchers.  This episode is unlike any Sasquatch or Big Foot “Unexplained File” that we have brought to our Podcast.

A Visit With Gypsy Jayne

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

Truth is, I can tell you honestly, that with some artists the host and his editor work hard to make sure that our guest is comfortable and we end up with a listenable interview.  It’s our job.  But I should also, in the interest of full disclosure, tell you that there are those artists that sitting down and having a cup of coffee in our studios is immediately like visiting with an old friend.

Free Range Talent Gypsy JayneGypsy Jayne has that quality.  Although we had talked on the phone briefly, when we met and shook hands, it was our first face-to-face meeting.  By the time we sat comfortably and did our interview, and then walked out back and sat under some trees and visited for a while longer, I told her that today I felt like I had made a new friend.  She is the type of person that puts on very little if any airs, and you never would guess that she is a well-received singer and songwriter here in West Texas.

Free Range Talent Gypsy JayneBut as I continue to tell the truth, I will tell you that when she steps up on stage with her three piece band and begins to sing a form of what I call “Texas Soul Music”, she becomes not only a powerful singer but a remarkable musician with her guitar.  Her most current album was actually done a couple of years ago with some great tunes.  It has a hidden gem in the very last cut.  We play that cut on our Podcast, and we think it reveals a lot about the real Gypsy Jayne.

Free Range Talent Gypsy JayneOur special guest Gypsy Jayne, occurs in Episode 28 of the Free Range Texan Podcast and is revealed Thursday, September 12th at sundown.  We enjoyed our time spent with Gypsy Jayne, and believe our listeners will as well.  Gypsy Jayne’s music is available in the Free Range Texan House of Treasurers and she gives a website for her booking information in our interview.  Thank you Gypsy Jayne … we definitely want you to come back.


Meet The Mallories

Michael Shawn
Michael Shawn

The Mallories are a good example of how things work here on our podcast.  They contacted us through, submitted themselves, sent pictures and music, and botta-bing, botta-boom …. they’re on Episode 27 of the Free Range Texan Podcast.

It is really a treat to work with people just starting out in the music biz.  Their fresh attitudes and warm and friendly natures make our interview fun.

Free Range Talent The MalloriesBut all of that is followed up by perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle … THEY CAN SING!!!  They are just beginning to write and record their own music, and they are quick to tell you that their Dad, Shaun Mallory, is their manager and booking agent.

It all creates a sweet package.  Lovable to listen to and fun to watch.  We are proud to present The Mallories from Arlington, Texas, stepping onto our podcast stage in Episode 27.  A delightful interview and a song worth listening to written about their mother.  We mentioned their video in our interview and wanted everyone to be able to see it here, including the message at the end.

Free Range Texan Podcast Episode 27 rolls out Thursday evening, August 29, 2019.

Free Range Talent File The Mallories