Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Done gone country!

For many years I played in bands as a lead guitar player. I played some rock in a rock band for a time before joining up with a family-based band doing various styles of music from polkas, waltzes, square dances…

My next band to play in was a country band. I followed this band playing county, some rock, top 40 of those times, bluegrass, some polkas and other varied music. Although this band was called a county band we did do a variety of music. Each of these bands supplied interesting facts about music and the various genres and the issues of personalities.

However, there came a time for me to stop playing. I was tired of two and three night weekends traveling about doing music and coming home smelling like smoke. I quit! Many years later I started playing in gospel bands and still play in a free-lancing way.

BUT- many of those songs of country music had melodious tunes I enjoyed. I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to the lyrics, during those days, for I was a lead guitar player.

As I began to organize my thoughts for this fifth CD, I eventually settled in to the title of, “HEARTACHES AND HONKY TONKS (Mostly). Last December, Laurie and I spent some days in the Nashville area. We walked the streets of the famous Music Row in Nashville. Walking those streets filled with old-fashioned honky tonks with live music exploding from many forced the decision for the title indeed. I remember announcing this title on the way home. Bands play in these places hoping to have an agent stop in and sign them up. They play for tips. This has been happening since the forties, at least.

I sat down listening and searching for various songs of the honky tonk era and eventually came up with the list below. I added some of the famous performers of each song, but most have been recorded many times by varied artists. You may have noticed the extra word in the title of “mostly.” A couple of songs do not fit the true honky tonk time. I have, also, included one gospel song.

This CD is different with past recordings for I did all guitar work, bass guitar. five-string banjo, percussion, piano, keyboard and all lead vocals and harmony vocals… A lot of effort. The time recording happens here at my home with a digital recorder. This CD is better than the others, for I began to work with mastering the music. I had failed awhile back and sort of forgotten about it. I studied more on mastering and completed each song with improvements.

The CD can be purchased for $10.00. (Fifteen dollars with shipping and handling.) Send check to myself at 481 Butler Road, Kittanning, PA 16201.

Photos for this CD are from my sister, Ruthie Wolfe.

The song list:

  1. Good Hearted Woman (Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson)
  2. Texas Honky Tonk (Justin Trevino and Amber Digby)
  3. Statue of a Fool (Jack Greene and Ricky Van Shelton)
  4. Tennessee Whiskey (George Jones)
  5. You’re Still On My Mind (George Jones and LeeAnn Womack)
  6. Ain’t You Even Gonna Cry (Jim Ed brown and Merle Haggard)
  7. Pop A Top (Alan Jackson, and Jim Ed brown)
  8. Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show and Darius Rucker)
  9. My Next Broken Heart (Brooks and Dunn)
  10. Night Life (Ray Price and Willie Nelson)
  11. Swinging Doors (Merle Haggard)
  12. Am I That easy To Forget (Marty Robbins and Jim Reeves)
  13. City Lights (Ray Price and Bill Anderson)
  14. 14. Walk On By (Leroy van Dyke)
  15. Lord Send Your Angels (Candy Hemphill Christmas and the Easters)

The time is immense with deciding on songs, the arrangements and then further planning the music, but the time keeps me out of trouble. ..mostly!

Back cover information

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Keeper Of The Stars

Keeper Of The Stars

Well it is complete. My fourth CD called, “KEEPER OF THE STARS” has finally been arranged and placed onto a CD. I have about  nine months of time utilized for this endeavor. The first step was to find songs to place onto the CD. They need to be songs that my feeble voice can succeed with. I breathe very shallow so my lung capacity isn’t the best. Add asthma issues so singing can be challenging at times due to running out of air at the end of a line.

Once the songs were decided upon,  I needed to find out what key works best for that particular song.  I typed the words and determined the chords and plan an arrangement. Then the recording process begins, track by track!

The digital recorder I have has seven individual tracks. I then take various tracks and bounce them onto two tracks. I, at this time, can add more tracks. However, I will need to erase the bounced tracks. This isn’t the ideal way to record, but that is my current capabilities. Sometimes I wish I still had an erased track to increase volume if needed.  Like I said this isn’t the very best way to record. I have had songs with as many as fifteen individual tracks.

Eventually, the tracks have been completed and bounced onto a special track used to do the final CD. My sister Ruthie Smail Wolfe did the CD designs for me. She did a great job and my friend, mark Hamilton did some steel work on seven of the fourteen songs. Mark is a great friend and fellow musician. I did all vocals and all other instruments…guitars, bass guitar, banjo, keyboards…

This CD is available for a donation of ten dollars for pick up. Add five dollars for shipping if I need to mail. Send check to: Larry A. Smail, 481 Butler Road Kittanning, PA 16201.

On a sad note and after many hours I lost two songs and had recorder issues while trying to redo. Those songs were, Wagon Wheel and Lord Send Me Your Angels.

The songs on this CD include:

  1. Blue Ridge Mountain Blues -This is an old bluegrass number and I do play the 5-string banjo on this song. I used an upbeat arrangement style closer to the John Fogerty arrangement. Fogerty was of the Creedence Clearwater Revival days. he, later, was the band Blue Ridge Rangers where he did all instruments and vocals.
  2.  Keeper Of The Stars– Sung by Tracey Byrd. Laurie, my wife, liked the words and requested I do the song.
  3.  How’s The World Treating You was recorded by many over the years. James Taylor and Alison Kraus may have been the most recent duet to record the song.
  4. Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye has been recorded by many singers over the last decades.
  5.  A Way To Survive was recorded by Ray Price. I loved how is voice worked and I worked to copy his style.
  6. Here Comes My Baby Back Again was written and recorded by Dottie West back in the sixties.
  7. The Little Girl was recorded by John Michael Montgomery and has a powerful Christian message at the end.
  8.  Peaceful Easy Feelings was recorded in the seventies by the Eagles. I worked a long time perfecting the instrumental.
  9.  Life Turned Her That Way was recorded by Ricky Van Shelton.
  10. Some Call It Heaven came about in an interesting way. A friend wanted to do the song for her future. I did the musical tracks in the key of F. She couldn’t do it in that key so I tried it and used it. I redid the song for her in the key of E.
  11. Tulsa Time was recorded by many singers. Don Williams and Eric Clapton made it famous.
  12. Help Me Make It through the Night was another song requested by my wife.
  13.  All I Have To Offer You Is Me was recorded by Charley Pride.
  14.  Take Your Memory With You was recorded by Vince Gill.

The other three CDS are: Songs For My Mother; No Rhyme Or Reason and I Believe. (Gospel music)


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Teea Goans

A short time ago I had an opportunity to play lead guitar with a lovely young lady named Teea Goans. Although we tried to organize a band quickly and rehearse a lot that didn’t happen. We eventually had some musicians together like a week before the concert with Teea. I was very nervous for I knew we didn’t have the time needed to learn various styles and practice like we needed. Oh well, we did our best for her and for the most part the show went rather well.

Over the weekend, Laurie and I and took along a mutual friend Danna Vernon went to the Wheeling Jamboree in Wheeling, west Virginia to see a concert including Teea. Danna’s husband, Dick Vernon had played as a staff band member many years ago for a time. Dick expectantly passed last February. This has been a sad time for all of us. This would prove to be good therapy for Danna.

L-R me; laurie; Teea and Danna

I met Teea through the actions of the Vernons. I hesitantly agreed to play guitar knowing the problems we had musically to deal with. We pulled that show off. So, in a way, this was a great reunion to see Teea and visit a little.

Several other groups and musicians were present to perform that evening in Wheeling, but we were anxious to see Teea. She did her usual great singing covering various types of music. She did swing, country, gospel all with true professionalism. Even when the staff band had some playing issues she carried the day.

Teea is often seen on country music stations on RFD TV. She has been often on Country family reunion Shows; Larry’s Country Diner and the Dailey and Vincent Show.

The three of us really enjoyed the show.

Teea and Danna




I met Dolly, too!

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Recently, Laurie and I spent several days in the Lancaster and Gettysburg areas of eastern Pennsylvania. The primary reason for being in these communities was  to see the stage production of “JESUS” at the Sights and Sounds Theater at Strasburg.  See http://www.sight-sound.com to learn more about this theater. Words can not describe the power of this production.  The acting is top notch and the stage props are outstanding. The props give the illusion of being in Jerusalem at the temple and other places. Live animals move about the stage. We saw sheep, goats, pigs, horses with Roman soldiers riding on them; white doves and donkeys. And there camels used , too. These animals often move up and down the aisles among the audience for effect. Speaking of effects the lightings, sounds, weather and raging seas allow for a great stage event.

One amazing feature that enhances the events is a huge multi-million dollar digital/ led computerized kind of back stage screening that shows actual scenes from Israel. One might see the city of  Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee and more. Another aspect that further enhances the view is the fact of the continual stages on both sides of the audiences with active acting events being shown.  This gives much depth to the overall experience.

The shows of that day were both sell-outs! We, both, highly recommend visiting the theater to see first hand one of these plays.

Park at Lititz, PA

We spent time in various Amish and Mennonite farm communities such as Lititz. Here we visiting a pretzel-making business and the home of Wilbur chocolates. Laurie and I spent some time in a beautiful park. We saw farms in Ephrata and other communities.

We saw another stage production at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater called “SWING.” I have always enjoyed listening to Glenn Miller and the like, A live band and professional singers and dancers covered the stage. The music covered the time of Harlem swing music into the World War two years of the Big Band era.

We, also, spent some time in Gettysburg the community made famous from the three-day Civil war battle being fought here in 1863.  We ate in the historic Dobbin House. This original building was built in 1776 and is the oldest building in Gettysburg. Visit their site at: http://www.dobbinhouse.com  for details. We spent some time walking the streets of the famous town and visiting the Gettysburg National Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address in November 1863. Over 3,500 Union soldiers are buried here. See: http://www.nps.gov for details on the cemetery.

That evening we watched another play called, “MAMA MIA.” This production was at the Totem Pole Playhouse. Their site is: http://www.totempoleplayhouse.org

I didn’t take many photos on this venture due to not being permitted at the plays to light rain conditions in Gettysburg.


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I BELIEVE (My latest CD)

I have been involved with this CD for almost a year. “I BELIEVE” is the title of this endeavor. The road from start to finish has witnessed many ups and downs. Yes, frustrations were all too common at times, but the work continued regardless.  Today those feelings are gone!

“I BELIEVE” is a gospel collection of varied songs of faith. I began this process by listening and searching out gospel songs. This list was a long one indeed. I continued the thought process and, eventually, reduced the list to a total of fourteen songs. The selections ended with a diversified list of songs hopefully most may find peace and enjoyment. (The selections are shown below.)

Once I had finalized the list of songs the other work began. This work included deciding on what key my voice worked the best in. The arrangement process, also, began to take place after the key was determined. This all takes much time. At this point I devised a chart system to indicate order to each song. Introductions and instrumental breaks needed decided upon, too.

These recordings are multi-track recordings on a digital recorder. Each song has from eight to fourteen individual tracks on them. I played all instruments except the steel guitar , hence the time of work producing this CD. Also, I did some harmonies on a few songs. One song, for instance has two lead vocals and four harmonies between myself and Marci Williams. (See below)

My dear friend, Marci Williams quickly offered her talents to do some harmonies for the songs once she realized the plans for this CD. Of course, I was hoping she would be interested in singing. Marci is a very talented singer; guitarist and artist and I truly appreciate her efforts. She would record the songs, that I had partially completed, and practice them at home when time allowed.   

Another dear friend, Dick Vernon agreed to add some steel guitar work to give some songs a country-flair! Dick and I have played together many times over the last fifteen, or so, years. Thank you Dick!

On a sad note, Bill Lettrich agreed to play some fiddle tunes to add more diversity to some songs. Billy came to the house and we went over a few songs. It was decided I would record what was done and mail the recordings and charts to him to practice. Billy called and said he didn’t think he could do the songs justice, but I didn’t know what was to happen. Bill was 87 years old and mentioned, while he was at the house, about not feeling well. He said the fiddle playing was keeping him alive. About a week, or so, later I received word that Bill Lettrich had passed away.

Billy’s unexpected passing would make me reevaluate my arrangements. I played some keyboards and piano in a few places. Also, I would add additional guitar work to fill the places the fiddle was to have been included .

My wife, Laurie needs some praise here at this time. Many hours in the recording studio, arranging, rearranging and performing were required to do this CD. I appreciate her patience with me for the long hours busy with the work. She is a good woman.

Anyone interested in purchasing this CD the donation price is $10.00 with an added $5.00 for shipping and handling. The CD may, also, be picked up. My e-mail is: lasmail@windstream.net   My Address is: 481 Butler Road, Kittanning, PA 16201

THE SONG LIST                                                                               

1. Climb Higher

2. I BELIEVE (Title song)

3. He Knows My name

4. When He Was On The Cross

5. You’re Worthy Of My Praise

6. Thanks To Calvary

7.  Wasted Years

8.  Revelation Song

9.  Mercy Walked In

10.  Bless My Soul

11.  Help Me

12.  I Can’t Even Walk

13.  Ancient Words

14.  Come Morning


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I have been working on another CD for quite some time. The Cd is called, “I BELIEVE” and is a selection of gospel songs. Deciding on what songs to do proved to be an interesting process for me. I determine what songs to use when I listen to a series of songs and then play any particular song if it is heard continuously within my thoughts. In other words, when I keep hearing a song in my head I believe that must mean something to me. I then consider that particular song. So the selections I am using comes from a number of styles of music. If the song stays in my head the song went on the list!

As I write this entry I have fourteen songs ranging from complete to varying stages of completion. I need some harmonies to complete along with steel guitar and fiddle work. I may add piano and keyboards on a few. I do all guitar work including bass guitar. My melodious voice did all the lead vocals.

This CD, hopefully, will be completely finished within a couple of months.

Current Songs: You’re Worthy Of My Praise; Climb Higher; I Believe; Bless My Soul (10,000 Reasons); I Have A Maker; Come Morning; Revelation Song; Help Me; I Can’t even walk; Wasted Years; Mercy Walked In;  Ancient Words; When He Was on the Cross; Thanks To Calvary

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Another Evening of Gospel Music

img_2037 The Kiski Unity Free Methodist Church has been having country gospel events. I have been playing lead guitar with the gospel band of Paul Eckenrode and the Country Gospel band since last spring. There is no practice, but somehow the music falls together. Pastor Paul Eckenrode sings most of the lead vocals and provides comedy  to make for an enjoyable and spiritual evening. Pastor Walt Marr accompanies the band on drums and he always comes dressed as someone from history. This past Sunday evening he came dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Walt took  a few moments to recite Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Lincoln gave his famous address at Gettysburg on November 19th, 1863.    img_2040

Don and Sherry Townsend  play guitar and piano. Their grand-daughter, Rachel sings great! Phyllis S. plays the keyboards.  Davey Whitmire usually plays the bass guitar and vocals. Joe Wagner often plays the mandolin and I play the lead guitar. Joe and Davey couldn’t make this Sunday’s event due to prior commitments. (The two play in another gospel band called In Transition.) A guest mandolin player stopped by last Sunday.

The church is 99% filled to capacity for these gospel music events currently. WOW! The words to most songs are displayed overhead and anybody may sing along as they desire. Most do! Next event will be the first Sunday of December. A Christmas candle-light special is being planned for December 18th.


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Weekend Of Music


Old friend, Davy Whitmire and myself acting up!

Old friend, Davy Whitmire and myself acting up!

I do not wish to play full time in a band anymore. I went through that stage a long time ago. Granted, I miss the level of professionalism a band can obtain with sincere practice, but the free-lancing style can be fun, too.

Danna Vernon; Ron Stiffler; Rick Staugh and me

Danna Vernon; Ron Stiffler; Rick Staugh and me

That is what I do today. I have played recently as much as five times in a week for nursing homes, and or churches. That is a little more than I care to do, and playing that often isn’t the norm.

Last Saturday, August , I drifted south near New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, to see if I could get any playtime at the Hill Lake Jamboree. I ended up playing with some friends in a put together band. This group played traditional country music, some western swing, and gospel music.

Look how serious!

Look how serious!

We all had a great time. The music seemed to flow rather well. Musicians were: Danna Vernon on vocals; Dick Vernon on steel guitar; Rick Staugh on rhythm guitar and vocals; Ron Stiffler on bass guitar and vocals, and myself on lead guitar.


Dick Vernon

Dick Vernon

Sunday evening, August 7, I played at the Kiski Unity Free Methodist Church between West Leechburg, and Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. Here, I played lead guitar for Paul Eckenrode and the Country Gospel Band.

Paul Eckenrode and Walt Marr

Paul Eckenrode and Walt Marr

I felt good as the test song was ran through. The band members really played tight, especially when there was no practice. I received the list of songs a few minutes before we started. Most songs, however, I had heard before.

This audience really enjoyed themselves. They were singing along, and clapping enthusiastically. This made me feel good. The entire band did “very” well!


My mother, Ruth identifying as a man!!!!

My mother, Ruth identifying as a man!!!!

Band members were: Pastor Paul Eckenrode on rhythm guitar and most lead vocals; Pastor Walt Marr on drums; Morgan Reese, and Joe Wagner on mandolins; Davy Whitmire on bass guitar; Don Townsend on guitar; Sherry Townsend on piano; their granddaughter Rachel sang harmony; Pastor John P.

Jim Watt, owner of Hill Lake Jamboree

Jim Watt, owner of Hill Lake Jamboree

on harmonica, and myself on lead guitar.

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No Rhyme Or Reason

LARRY RR CROPPED ORIGINAL with words  Those reading that heading are, probably, thinking what is he up to now. The answer is simple. The words, No Rhyme Or Reason, is the title of my latest CD.

The title came about as I searched for songs  while I was planning for the CD. Some were songs I just randomly found while searching. Some of the songs I had never heard before. As you can see the songs came about because of No Rhyme Or Reason!

I slowly chose songs over a period of time. Most are  of the traditional country sound. My voice is limited in range, so I tried to use songs I felt I could handle.

Do not even ask how many hours I have in putting these songs into this CD. I don’t know, but many, many, many hours were involved. Once a song was decided upon I needed to determine the key that worked well with my voice.  Words were typed, and arrangements were worked out.                  larry rr fog sepia new (2)

Every song has many tracks on it. Most of the fifteen songs have, at least, nine to ten tracks. I begin with laying down the rhythm, and bass guitar tracks. After these have been completed then anything goes. Some songs have, as many, as five to six guitar arrangements.

Songs include songs made famous by Ray Price; Keith Whitley; George Strait; John Fogerty; Hank Williams; Taylor Swift; George Jones, and Bob Wills. Yes, there is even a western swing song form the 1940 era.

My good friend, Marci Williams sang most harmonies with her melodious voice. This CD would be much less without her superb harmony styles. She, also, sang the lead vocals on two songs. I sang harmony on one, and she sang her own harmony on the other song. What talent! Marci is, also, an incredible artist!

Other friends worked on this venture as well. My good friend, Dick Vernon, did some steel guitar on a number of songs. Another friend, Billy Rich did some great fiddle work for that country sound. Both of these gentlemen have been playing music for a long time.

Two of the included songs are original gospel songs I had written. I wrote them during spring gobbler hunting lulls over a period of time. I did some keyboard work on one of these songs. That was interesting since I don’t play the piano! Somehow it worked.       Back page

My sister, Ruthie Wolfe did the photography, and text layouts. She always does a great job! I appreciate her talents!

If anyone is interested in obtaining one of these CDs, I am asking for a $12.00 donation. If I mail them out I am asking for an additional $3.00 to help cover costs of shipping, and mailing.

Thank you for your interest!

Larry A. Smail at 481 Butler Road, Kittanning, PA 16201

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Teea Goans Concert


My step father, Bob Miller and mother, Ruth with Teea


Teea Goans

What a voice! What can I say!  I had the honor to play lead guitar with Teea Goans On Saturday, September 13th at the WTYM Radio Station for an outside country jam concert.

The morning proved to be challenging for all of us trying to keep dry under a few tents. Water blew in from the sides and back. Water dripped between the tents and water even dripped through the tents. Nobody was electrocuted. The rain caused additional problems as well. The sound system people couldn’t set up everything we needed to do a successful rehearsal. Teea had to sing without a microphone. Hearing was difficult, but we managed to get a quick rehearsal in!

The band with Teea

The band with Teea

DSC_0045  After this I returned Teea to her hotel room and waited to pick her up again for the show later. The day gradually cleared after the noon rains quit, however, the winds came! Hair was being blown all about!

This band came about after much effort. We searched for a drummer and bass guitar player to offer the style of music needed to play many of the songs Teea had planned to perform. Time was short, but we managed to put together a band quickly. The band members were: Dick Vernon on steel guitar; Betty Hill on the bass guitar; Al Mechling on rhythm guitar; Jeff hazard on drums and myself  struggled through with the lead guitar.     DSC_0047   DSC_0018

Teea Goans is an up and coming country music star. She has been on RFD TV television shows with more shows coming. She has two CDs on the market and is about to begin her third CD. She has appeared on the stage of the Grand Old Opry, Branson and sang with many of the “big names” of country music.

Laurie and I took her out for the evening meal after the concert and we felt honored to become more acquainted with this “down-to-earth” young lady. Please, take some time to visit  her web at:  http://www.teeagoans.com


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