Complete text -- "The News Is Out -- John Vandiver's Harrah"

03 July

The News Is Out -- John Vandiver's Harrah

Billy Bucher, Sunnyvale, TX, July 3, 2004:

"The news is out," John used to sing in his rendition of this old Hank Williams' song, "all over town." Now, through the gift of a newly released CD, which we announced at the beginning of the year would be coming about now, John Vandiver's legacy is beginning to get some national and now World-Wide attention. It is little wonder.

I wrote at the beginning of the year in "Finally Realized Dreams," that Jojo Vandiver, John's daughter, was preparing to release some material from several of John's performances with the late great, bassist Michael Mashkes on a CD called "I Found A Dream." The sessions were recorded during 1984 at Poor David's Pub in Dallas.

It is a CD which is certainly well worth having in your collection. It contains some of John's own songs such as "Against the Law," the truly hauntingly beautiful "Country Girl" and the hilarious "Chicken Fried Steak" which John put music to a poem by a poet named Mary Lintz.
And over the last six months Jojo Vandiver has been acting like a gardener, carefully tilling and planting different items: letters, stories and pictures into the ever-growing website which is like an arboretum of John's life. There was recently a CD Release Party at the Kerrville Folk Festival where John's life and music were celebrated. And, more recently, an equally well attended release party was held in Houston where John lived during the last years of his life. The next CD release date is set for Gruene Hall, near Austin, on August 1st. And, hopefully later, a show in Dallas, John's home town.
I told Jojo early on, when she began the project, that I felt things would happen in an order which was meant to be and people would surface and that, in the end, the CD would transcend everyone's expectations and hopes. I certainly don't claim to be some sort of Guru, but I have always believed in the strength of John's talent and I believe it will prevail. This is beginning to happen.
The news is certainly out. Not only is the CD getting strong reviews and airtime around Texas, it is being played in European countries such as the Netherlands and other countries, such as Belgium, are requesting information and request for air play. The legend will grow even further.
John had a miraculous voice and a wide repertoire of material. Besides that, he could play the guitar with either the ferociousness to knock you on your butt or the gentleness that made you feel as if you were somehow levitating. Guitar players in Texas hailed him as one of the best flat pickers around.
Above all, John cared deeply for the people around him and people returned this adoration. And, most of all, he was passionate about his music, and it always showed. "I Found A Dream" will bear this out.
You can check out the site at: John Vandiver's Website."

Posted by billybucher at 16:54:28 - Category: General

maria bartlett wrote:

Nice job Billy. The late great Michael Mashed Potatoes. I do miss him and wish he were around to show me some licks. Lukcily I do have a VERY old video from 1980 of John and Michael at poor David's Pub with many of the songs you mention. It is a 2 hour video so lots on there and it's great to still be able to see these guys. I try channeling! Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing Laura Love in person. I am all filled up! Be well Billy and there's an open invite up here in Humboldt, behind the Redwood Curtain.

07/12/04 00:58:46

billybucher wrote:

When a person joins a new band, it's rather like marrying into a strange and unknown family. The most immediate members, of course, are the actual players. But behind the scenes are their families and friends who make up the rest of the community. When I joined Ewing Street Times, two people who warmly welcomed me into the fold immediately were Diana Vandiver, John's wife at the time and the mother of Jojo who did John's web site and Maria Bartlett who was with Michael Mashkes at the time. Michael, of course, played lead, pedal steel, and bass guitar. He also sang about Maria in "Pretty As a Picture" which he co-wrote with Shake Russell. "I kissed her in the roses, or was it on her two lips," was one line people loved to hear him sing.
Being the first drummer Ewing Street ever had, I probably seemed for all the world like a stray dog when I joined but Maria and Diana accepted me instantly and always made me feel at home. They were always more than kind. They embodied a true sense of warmth and friendship and family.
Maria has now started playing the bass herself in Northern California where she teaches at Humboldt State in Arcata and performs with another guitarist named Michael in a group called Darkrain.
So thanks for the nice comment, Maria, and for being two of the nicest people I've ever met, here is a shout out to Maria and Diana.
I hope I can, indeed, visit you behind the Redwood Curtain, Maria, and bring my congas and jam along on a few songs.
Much love,
Billy Bucher
To check out Darkrain go to
07/14/04 15:25:36
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