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In the clouds with Darryl Worley, Pete Scobell, Ray Stevens, James Robert Webb,    Michael Martin Murphey & Aaron Tippin

No matter what you may think about heaven, there’s no reason to doubt that performances by some of Nashville’s most talented, long-lasting and beloved stars are heaven sent. In fact, this very January, those country music lovers fortunate enough to be attending the highly regarded Country Radio Seminar which happens once a year in the Country Music Capital of the World, Nashville, TN, seemed to be very happy indeed.

One of the many highlights of the event features the opportunity for both journalists and radio jocks to mingle, both one on one, and in the highways and the by-ways of Nashville’s beloved Music Row, including the Ryman Auditorium, to mingle with both the young and beautiful gals and the handsome, fresh, and occasionally legendary guys, performing in pretty much every venue in Nashville.

But this year the mingling  was better than ever, with many of country’s favorite, most beloved, and some rarely seen stars and superstars performing everywhere from the Ryman, to the Honky Tonks of Printers Alley, Music Row, and even the infamous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge downtown, taking your  breathe away! This year, Dish even had the chance to talk with some of Nashville’s most legendary and talented artists, both backstage, at shows,or wandering the hallways of the brand new and very popular Omni Hotel.

Here’s what some of our favorite artists through the years had to say about the music and songs this 2016!



Throughout his 15-year career in country music and with 20 hit singles under his belt, 
Darryl Worley has always believed in the importance of giving back. The singer/songwriter has made several trips overseas to entertain the troops and has turned the music recorded during these trips into a DVD entitled Music and Memories, to document his travels. Now, Worley plans to open up a medical center to help those who are battling addiction, and recently his single “Have You Forgotten” has spent a whopping seven weeks as Number One on the charts!

Here’s what Worley had to say about what’s really happening in his world. “Music doesn’t have the substance it used to have,” Worly explains, “ So I think that’s what has changed most about it. We’ll see.... Some people suggest that it might be going back a little bit in the other direction, which would be wonderful for me. I don’t really think we’ll ever hear that classic style again, but it’s always going to change and evolve.  When it comes to the stories and the substance in the song—it actually has a meaning and not just a loop with a groove.”

He adds, “I really feel like I’ve got another hit or two in me. I know that I have the skills and the know-how to go out and back that up, so I would love to have that opportunity. I fear that with the way the radio has transformed into this weird animal, that I might not get to have that chance. So that’s my goal this year, to find out one way or another! I just think that the music scene, it’s very different than it used to be. If it’s going to cost $2 million to get a song up to the Top 5, then I ain’t gonna do that! But if music still matters and the song can take care of itself, you might get another hit from Darryl Worley!”


Raised outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, James Robert Webb grew up as an all-American Boy. His music leans toward traditional country, much to the delight of his fans who enjoy his modern take on the classic sound. Webb also wows audiences with his ability to play several musical instruments, including guitar and piano, and recently, his single “Makin’ Love Tonight” made the top 40 charts. Webb also has another lesser, well-known career, but it’s no less important! Dr. Webb also works as a board-certified physician in diagnostic radiology. He specializes in helping patients who suffer with spinal injuries!

“I love the interplay between live music and the crowd, the way things interact there so differently than in just normal life. Your album and your song is one thing, in the recorded form, but most great entertainers add a little something [during live performances].”

“I try to vary my writing and my music, because I think that helps me as a writer to get past my boundaries and go outside of the box, so to speak, that I tend to be in. So I write a lot of country; I write some pop; I write some rock; and I write some gospel.”

Webb adds, “One of the things I would say about country songs is that people tend to think that they are simple, but when you take a great country song, usually that simplicity is deceptive, especially if you sit down and try to write something yourself.  It’s very, very difficult to be so exceptionally plainspoken and to focus around one idea in a song, especially in a story song.”


In the case of Pete Scobell, the music business found him! A born athlete with a love of outdoor sports, Scobell became a Navy SEAL, and it wasn’t until he suffered a brain injury that he turned to music to heal. He picked up a guitar and destiny took it from there! In 2014 he recorded a song titled “For the One’s I Stand Besides” for the Afghanistan war documentary The Hornet’s Nest, and he met country music legend Wynonna Judd. It was Judd who encouraged Scobell to pursue a career in the music industry, and he has been welcomed into the country music family with opened arms. As it turned out, Scobell belonged in Nashville all along! 

“My mom was a music teacher and passed away when I was a baby,” Scobell explained. So I had her guitar, and i just learned how to play and I always drug it around with me. I joined the Navy when I was eighteen and became a Navy Seal... I did six combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and always took my guitar with me and wrote music while I was there.” 

Scobell continues, “I’m very lucky. I know some people scratch and fight because they have to, and I respect that. Wynonna and Cactus just became like my family, and we focus on making really good music. We avoid everything other than just make good music, and we try to see what happens.”

And on his unexpected rise in fame, he said, “It was kind of neat, we didn’t have any terrestrial radio where we were living, we were totally independent! We did some talk radio and some interviews and it just caught some momentum. It was really neat to watch it kind of climb the iTunes charts, and I was like ‘wow’, we just put a song to Number One out of the blue!”



Active in the music industry since 1958, Ray Stevens is best known for his novelty tunes. With several major hits, most of them his own material, it’s no wonder he has had such a long career. Stevens began playing music at a very young age, and by 1961 he had his first Top 40 hit, with the song “Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills". He was high up on the music charts from the beginning of his career, and nowadays, he is a producer, a performer, a songwriter, and an author. His latest book, Ray Stevens’ Nashville, chronicles his life, beginning with his boyhood in Georgia, to his huge success in Music City!

Stevens recalls, “I’ve always been inclined musically. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a baseball player, like every other kid that was six years old. But then my mother said ‘I want you to take piano lessons! We got to have some culture in this family.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to take piano lessons.’ And she said, ‘Yes, you do.’ So she made me take piano lessons. In the summertime, when all the other kids were out playing baseball, I had to practice one hour a day. I hated it.  But, as it turns out, I’m glad she made me do that because I’m a heck of a lot better piano player than I would have made a baseball player.”

He adds, “I never had a plan for my life, really, I just sort of evolved into who I am today—for good or bad, however you perceive it.”

As a Music City stalwart, he has had the pleasure of working with some of the town's biggest stars. “One of the first artists I worked with was Dolly Parton, and I produced her first records. She was a beautiful young girl, and very talented. We tried really hard, but we still didn’t get a hit. I tried to take her in a direction that I don’t think she was really ready to go that way. She was more country than I realized, and I tried to take her into more of a pop direction. I can say we really tried, and we did cut some good records.”

Stevens recalled, “I was doing the Bill O’Reilly show on FOX, and he said, ‘You know, you’ve been in the business a long time, you should write a book.’ Well, of course, Bill O’Reilly writes tons of books...”

But Stevens was skeptical. “I said, ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’ But then I started thinking about it... So I started itemizing high points in my life—I wouldn’t call it an autobiography; I would call it a memoir. My good friend Buddy Cal helped me write this, and I could give him pertinent information and he would sketch it out, and then I could say, ‘I like that’ or ‘change that,’ a kind of collaborative effort so to speak. And now, he’s even my ghost writer.”



Born in Dallas, Texas, Michael Martin Murphey has enjoyed a long and storied career in country music. At a young age, he took up playing the ukulele and he hasn’t stopped making music since. His big break came with the success of his song “Wildfire” in 1975. Murphy had an interest in Native American history and Cowboys. He turned these themes into many of his greatest hits such as “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Geronimo’s Cadillac.” 

“I pretty much started off as a songwriter and I never thought about being an artist,” says Murphey. “I just wanted to write songs for other people and play a lot of shows in smaller venues where I could do my own material, but that was just a sideline. [...] I was writing for Kenny Rogers and Linda Ronstadt and the Monkees and a lot of different people. And I was thinking, I don't want to go through what they are going through!”

As a longtime star on the music scene, Murphey has gotten to know a lot of different people as well, and he’s collected some really interesting stories. He reminds us that Randy Sparks, one of Murphey’s close friends and a famed music producer, was himself in a folk band called the The New Christy Minstrels, who were depicted as The New Main Street Singers in Christopher Guest’s hilarious parody, A Mighty Wind.

Murphey has been in the music business since he was a kid, writing songs from the age of five or six when his grandfather, who lived in Hawaii, gave him that ukulele to accommodate his little hands. “I published my first song when I was 15, 16,” said Murphey, but he never thought of music as a career until the 1960s, which everyone knows was a great time to get into the music biz. “This friend of mine came to me and said, ‘I want to start a coffee house where liquor is not a factor and people can do their original music.
 It was during the folk music era so that made a lot of sense.”

He made it big in those days, with one hit coming after another. But before that, he was just doing what he loved to do: making beautiful music. “It was ‘61 or ‘62 or ‘63,” he says. “So I was a kid and I was just trying to find my way.” He’s come a long way since those days, and he looks back on the past with lots of fond memories. Here’s to many more, Mr. Murphey! 

Aaron Tippin burst onto the country music scene in 1990, with the hit “You’ve Got To Stand For Something.” A man of many talents, he is also a pilot and a winemaker when he’s not making music. Plus, Tippin is also a deeply patriotic man. After the attack on 9/11, he penned the song, “Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly” and has made several trips overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan to entertain the troops. Tippin’s newest album, In Overdrive, focuses on truck drivers with hit songs such as Movin’ On and East Bound And Down.

“The first show I ever did was on the Bob Hope show in Christmas of 1990. Where did that come from? I couldn’t have bought my way onto that show. It was just an act of God and all things coming together. Linda Hope was riding around Burbank and listening to country radio and my song came on, and she just thought, Wow, I bet the troops might like that song. Maybe I’ll find out if that guy wants to go. She called the radio station to find out my manager’s name at the record label, and the rest is history. It was such a stroke of luck [...] and I cannot believe it ever happened.”

He decided to go for a music career because he figured, Why not? “My aviation career was pretty well as far as it was going to go. So, just not being one to sit around, what I liked best was picking and singing. So I went and took a job as a bulldozer operator in the daytime, and singing in honkytonks at night. I never intended for it to go much past that, until I got hired an a show called You Can Be a Star, which was featured on The Nashville Network (TNN). I won my daily competition, but when I went for the weekly competition, I got beat.” 

But sometimes, when you think all of your opportunities are gone, you get another chance to shine. “So I was packing up all my stuff and a lady by the name of Jeannie C. Riley from [the song] ‘Harper Valley PTA
 came in the dressing room and said, ‘Aaron, you know what? You didn’t win but you got a unique sound. You ought to think about coming back to be in the business.’ And I said most politely, ‘Yes Ma’am.' So I packed up, quit my job, and moved to Nashville! I learned later to appreciate the moments that I didn’t appreciate early in the game... And now, when I consider the fact that I starred on a stage beside Bob Hope, I think that’s pretty cool!” / Issue 178 - September 2018
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