Tag Archives: Musicians

FREE CONCERT In Redding, CA September 3, 2011





Chris McCandless and the Back To Basics Band

Saturday, September 3
Library Park behind Lady Lorenz Downtown Redding
(Same place where Market Fest was held)

Bring your lawn chairs * No Alcohol Please

Special Guest:
Joe Nunes singing hits from the Frank Sinatra era
Brianne Hicks singing the National Anthem and other hit songs

Visit Chris McCandless’ website

Steve, The Balladeer


I met Steve, The Balladeer on Twitter. Over the last couple of years I’ve had numerous conversations with him, and have, over time, built what I would consider to be a real friendship, even if it is in the virtual world. I have no doubt that if I was in a real bind I could count on my friend Steve, otherwise known as “inhuggermugger” to me, to do whatever he could do to help me.

It was not until some time later in our online friendship that I learned he is a musician who has released his own CD.

As a lover of music from many different genres, I was quite anxious to hear the music from the heart and soul of one of my dearest friends.

If you love music- and I mean real music– I definitely recommend you give my friend, Steve, The Balladeer a listen. He is what I would classify as a beautiful throwback to a time when music was truly music. You can clearly hear the individual musical instruments accompany his rich and melodic voice without overpowering him.

Unlike so much of the music of today- and this includes music that I actually like- you do not have to strain to hear and understand the lyrics of the songs that flow so freely from the heart and soul of Steve, The Balladeer.

His first CD, “Romance and Sorrow”, is composed mostly of songs which were written and originally recorded about 12 years ago- with a few exceptions.  His song, “Copper Brown Eyes” was written in 2002 as a Valentine’s Gift to his wife. What a unique and beautiful gift that must have been for her!

“The Banks of the Colorado” was written in 2001 about a trip he and his wife made to my home state of Texas to visit his in-laws.

For “Your Down Is Up to You”, we have to travel all the way back to Steve, The Balladeer’s songwriting days of 1971- give or take a year or two!

The songs that make up “Romance and Sorrow” are quite different in mood from the songs of his next CD, which is called “Ballads in Praise of the Muse”. That recording is very near completion and will be released in the very near future.

“Romance and Sorrow” consists of songs with a more “worldly” aspect to them.  As the Balladeer, himself explains them,

“They look ‘outward’ to try to say something ‘outside'”.

However, the songs of “Ballads in Praise of the Muse” are more poetic and ‘inward’. Though many of the songs are written in the same time-frame as “Romance and Sorrow” there is more of a meditative, spiritual quality to “Ballads in Praise of the Muse”. The Balladeer says this is why he grouped these songs apart from the ones on “Romance and Sorrow.”

You can see from some of the titles of the songs on “Ballads in Praise of the Muse” that this CD is quite different. Some of the songs on the upcoming CD include:

“Barbie Allen”
“Hamlet at the Graveside”

“Ballad of the Thorn and the Rose”
“I Will See You in Jerusalem”
“The Light of God”
“Tell Me That You Love Me”
“I Want the Fire”
“You Set My Spirit Free”
“My Slumbering Heart”

as well as several others.

With the song “Barbie Allen”, The Balladeer took about 30 different versions of the classic Celtic/American folk song, studied them all for about 2 or 3 hours, closed the originals, and then completely rewrote his own version.

When speaking of “Hamlet at the Graveside”, Steve says that it may be he most audacious piece of songwriting ever. Quoting from him on this song, he says:

If you know anything about the play “Hamlet,” you will know that the hero Hamlet is deeply in love with Ophelia, but because the play is a tragedy, he and she are unable to fulfill their love for various reasons that I cannot go into right now.  At the end of the play, Ophelia dies BEFORE Hamlet has a chance to say “goodbye” to her! He comes back to Denmark from England (where he was supposed to be killed by agents of his arch-enemy, the present King of Denmark) only to find his beloved Ophelia is dead! But Shakespeare has already, at this point, written the longest play he has ever written, and HE MUST HURRY TO THE END OF THE PLAY!! There is no time for Shakespeare to dwell on Hamlet’s feelings for Ophelia before the end of the play!!

The plot must move on!!

So, you guessed it: I’ve written the song, that is “Hamlet at the Graveside,”  [which is] Hamlet’s farewell to Ophelia, the song that Shakespeare WOULD HAVE given to Hamlet to sing if there had been time enough in the play … but there wasn’t!!

Steve says that “Tell Me That You Love Me” is the only song that he has ever written for a young lady to sing, and adds:

I am hoping that Mary Sarah will sing it, because she is the perfect age and her voice is just DYNAMITE!!!

I would have to agree with The Balladeer, regarding Mary Sarah! Her voice is indeed DYNAMITE! To hear her sing a song composed by the talented Balladeer would indeed be a treat for us all, I have no doubt! Steve says he is waiting on the copyrighting process to be completed, and the moment that is finalized he will send it to her for her review and consideration.

The song is about a young lady who believes that she is in love, but does not want to be fooled. The song is about lessons on boys and men taught to her by her mamma and daddy.

This is one song I will wait with baited breath for, hoping that Mary Sarah will agree to sing it!

Steve, The Balladeer says that his dream is not primarily to be a singer, as he feels he is too old for that. (I would have to respectfully disagree with him on that point!) He says that he instead would like to be a songwriter, with his songs being taken by singers who do not have their own songs and record them with their interpretation.

It seems as though Steve does not sit still! He is also working on a third CD, which will come out as soon as the songs are copyrighted and recorded. When I read the title of the third CD I knew immediately it is a CD I want to hear!

“I Sing for America”. There is beauty in the title alone that reaches to the very heart that beats in this author. Steve says that there a a few Public Domain songs, but otherwise, all songs are written by him.

Here is a listing of the songs on “I Sing for America”:

“I’ll Be There” (was written right after the 9-11 massacre)
“We Roll On” (was written in response to our invasion of Iraq)
“Everyday for Me Is the 4th of July”
(was written after reading “John Adams” by the historian David McCullough, as well as just his general response TO JUST BEING AN AMERICAN!)
“No Greater Love: The Fields of Pennsylvania”
(this one took him 7  years to write! This is yet another one in response to the 9/11 attack on America, and the heroism from Valley Forge, to Gettysburg to Flight 93)
“On the Liberty Bell” (still a work in progress, at the time of the writing of this article, but is almost completed. He started writing this one on Easter Sunday. The song centers around the text written on the Liberty Bell, which is taken from Leviticus, and is the perfect symbol of America–it fuses Passover and Easter into ONE image, as Steve explains it.)
“Danny Boy”
Battle Hymn of the Republic”
“Stars & Stripes Forever”

The most interesting of details came out about the third CD, “I Sing for America”. Steve, The Balladeer says:

The only reason that I include “Stars & Stripes Forever” on the CD is because I am going to WHISTLE it!

This should be a most interesting CD, indeed! I look forward to hearing it in the very near future, as well as “Ballads in Praise of the Muse”. Fortunately for us, we can listen to Romance and Sorrow and purchase it at Steve, The Balladeer’s website.


On The Web
Romance and Sorrow
Steve, The Balladeer on Twitter



Mary Sarah

We’ve all gotten them. Some of us get them every day. Some of us are the culprits of sending them. The forwarded emails.

There are many beautiful stories and quotes passed around the internet that have truly touched my heart over the years. Many of these stories I have received more times than I can recall. There are many silly forwarded emails, some funny forwarded emails, quite a few thought provoking emails, and the occasional quite annoying forwarded emails. The ones I hate the most are the “chain letter” type that says if I truly love Jesus I will forward the email to 12 of my friends, and if I don’t forward the email then I am denying Christ. I believe that it takes a lot more to deny Christ than not forwarding an email. But that’s just me.

However, there are the rare forwarded emails that I have actually never seen that touch my heart to the very core of my being. This is the case when I received a forwarded video a couple of months ago.

When I opened up the video link in the email I heard the most beautiful voice singing “The Star Spangled Banner”. It was actually an audition to sing the National Anthem at the opening of the Houston Astros game. The voice stopped me in my tracks. Her voice was astounding, bringing up deep emotions inside of me as I heard the lyrics of the sacred anthem of One Nation Under God.

The voice I heard that day belonged to a 15-year-old Texas native, Mary Sarah.  I was so moved by it that I became a culprit, and forwarded it to many of my friends, insisting that they had to listen to this young lady’s voice! And then I went searching to find her on my favorite social network, Twitter.

If you have not heard of Mary Sarah, you are missing out on an angelic voice! At just 15-years-old, I have no doubt Mary Sarah will be taking the country music world by storm!

Mary Sarah is no stranger to the music scene. At the age of 8-years-old she was singing in church. She has performed on many country radio stations; she has performed at many charity events; she has performed at many Opry Theaters around the state of Texas; she has received national recognition and awards for her songwriting talent; and, to top off all of these accomplishments, she has shared the stage with names such as the legendary Oak Ridge Boys.

By the age of 12 Mary Sarah was touring the country as a lead vocalist and dancer in Kidz Bop, a Razor & Tie Records and Vee Corporation production, produced by Michael Anderson in Los Angeles. The production has resulted in 7 Gold albums with “kid friendly” covers of hit songs.

She has performed to audiences of 4-6,000 kids at a time, which has helped develop her stage performances, as well as helped her to gain national and global recognition.

After completing the Kidz Bop tour, Mary Sarah returned home to Texas where she continues to perform at various events.

Music is not all that defines Mary Sarah. She is a young lady who has a strong faith, loves her family, and has a passion to work with various charities. The charity that is most dear to her heart is The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  Mary Sarah’s brother, Chris, has Juvenile Diabetes. This past fall she performed the National Anthem at the opening of The Walk to Cure Diabetes in Houston. In an interview at the event, she told the Houston Post, “I want to be a voice for those who need one.” This quote has given me a higher respect for Mary Sarah than even her beautiful voice. It strikes a common thread for me, personally, because I too want to be the “voice for the voiceless”.   

If you are in the Houston area, you may want to see if “OPRY on the Square- Country Now and Then” is playing in the Sugarland Square. Mary Sarah will be hosting 4 shows during the 2011 season. If you like country music, this is a little Texas lady you do not want to miss out on hearing and seeing! 

I have absolutely no doubt that Mary Sarah is going to have a successful career in the music business. Her love for traditional and modern country music, along with having the opportunity to write with such greats as Nashville songwriters, Tony Mary and Karen Staley, are sure to assure her a strong foundation for a successful career.

Mary Sarah’s audition video that I originally saw paid off! She sang the National Anthem on opening day for the Houston Astros on April 10, 2011!

To paraphrase the National Anthem, which Mary Sarah so proudly and beautifully sings, I proudly hail Mary Sarah! If you are a country music fan I am just about willing to bet you will be a Mary Sarah fan!


Chris McCandless





It has been said that the Internet makes our world smaller. We are able to connect with like-minded people at the click of a button on an electronic mouse. This is how I met Chris McCandless.

Chris and I began to follow each other on Twitter. As an avid lover of all kinds of music, I am always up for hearing new artists. When I heard Chris’ song, “Back To Basics” , my instant thought was that it is this generation’s version of “God Bless The USA”, the ever-popular anthem of the ’90’s, by Lee Greenwood.

It is now my privilege and honor to introduce you to Chris McCandless. I am sure you will find him ever bit as inspiriting, encouraging and talented as I do.

Chris is from Redding,  California, and has been in the work force for 30 years, and has always worked very hard for what he owns. He has been married to his wife, Christine, for 27 years. Chris says of Christine, “She is my rock!”

I believe Chris could be the next up and coming musician whose music could serve as an instrument to unite this torn nation. All it would take is for everyone who listens to Chris’ heartfelt, patriotic music to truly listen to the words and put the words into action.

Chris’ son served in the Army 3 years- one of those years being served in Afghanistan and lost a close friend when he was there. He joined 2 years after 9-11 happened.

It is because of Patriots like Chris’ son and his friend who lost his life that we have the freedoms we enjoy every day of our lives. Chris’ son sacrificed some when his friend gave all.

Chris’ son wears a wrist band in honor of his friend that he never takes off.

One evening, Chris was watching the news and looking at his two young grandchildren. He says he was disgusted that people in this nation want to take God out of school; remove the Pledge of Allegiance; and want absolutely no part in teaching the whole story of the history of our country rather than just part of it, slanted with the liberal agenda.  To acknowledge and teach our children that many of our founding fathers believed in the Lord is appalling to the liberals, yet this is our nation’s history.

Chris says he prayed to God that evening, asking God to give him a message to send around the country to help people wake up to what we are missing. God blessed Chris with the song,  “Back To Basics”, which you can download on iTunes.

Chris has performed “Back To Basics”at numerous events and has had a great response to this song, as well as others he has written. His wife, Christine, along with Greg Mann and Wickie Smith, all of who are involved in The Bostonian Tea Party of Redding, Ca , help him out with emails, paperwork, and much more as his music career continues to take off at an ever-increasing pace.

Chris entered “Back To Basics” in the Great American Song contest in 2010, and just received word that he has been chosen as a finalist out of 1600 song writers all over of the world.

Chris’ song, given to him by God Almighty, reminds us that we all need to get closer to the Lord and honor his glory.

Please help Chris get the Lord’s message out to our great nation.  More than ever before, this nation needs something to unite us.  I believe that music is an universal language. I pray that God will use Chris’ talent to humble this nation and bring us back to the basics that make us so great.

Here is another video of a new song by Chris

Visit Chris McCandless’ Website