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Top-Rail News Flash! 26 November 2020 Happy Thanksgiving!

“The James Adelsberger Country Songbook”


Happy Thanksgiving Top-Rail Bunch!

   I hope that you’re enjoying a warm, safe, and pleasant Turkey Day with, or without, friends and loved ones. I’m doing the same, only going it alone and connecting with friends and family by phone.

   That said, I’m proud to announce that the “James Adelsberger Country Songbook” was published on 13 August 2020 and is currently available at the Roughshod Records Webstore! This latest songbook publication contains all the songs from James’ first two Roughshod Records releases; his 2-song 2012 CD Single “Back Home Again/The Holy River” and his 14-song 2014 CD Album “Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?” In August 2015 the album also received a “Pure Country CD of the Year” Award from the Rural Roots Music Commission sponsored by the National Traditional Country Music Association.

   The first notated music production I did for James was a single song Sheet Music folio of “Anybody Here Love a Nut?” in 2014. James began scoring and creating the sheets for this songbook in late October 2015 and I began working on the page format, front & rear cover designs, and biographic content. However, our numerous other music projects; rehearsals and recording sessions for our next releases, live performances locally and in Iowa, promotional materials, hosting a series of showcases, James’ job and family obligations, kept it on the backburner, until it was almost forgotten.

   In January 2020, feeling somewhat guilty, I made it my priority to finish and publish the book. A big thank you goes out to those of you who responded to my request for feedback on my front cover selections. I had narrowed them down from about 300 photos to a half dozen. So, thank you to Rocky Guttmann [Va], Bill Gibson [Md], Janet McBride [Tx], Aharon Polatian [Va], Barbara Dunn [Tx], Brenda Weitzel [Va], Janine Sherry [Mn], Jimmy Rae [Va], Rod Brandt [Australia], Tom Hawk [Md], Vicki & Sam [Va], Dale Heeren [Ia], and Judy Welden [Ga]. And to Tyler Business Services, Inc. for the great print & scoring job on my camera-ready Cover.

Last but not least, I am forever grateful for, and proud of, all of the great music James and I produced during the five years we worked together. Particularly for instigating releases on my sister label, You and Me Records, which had been dormant since 1987! I created it for my non-country songs, but a lot of them got released on the Roughshod label [also 1987] with a country twist.

James Adelsberger Country Songbook


Inquiry from Rolling Stone Magazine:

   On 11 November 2020 I received an email from Jonathan Bernstein from Rolling Stone Magazine with “Rolling Stone Inquiry for Joe Arnold/Mike Johnson?” in the Subject Line. 

After nearly two decades of submissions they have never acknowledged my existence, so I couldn’t imagine why they would all of a sudden be contacting me. Joe, my manager, read it and confirmed my suspicions. They were really interested in pumping me for information. I mulled it over for about a week before deciding, with Joe’s urging to offer an addition perspective, and engaged in a brief email exchange. Here’s the initial inquiry and response and a link to the published article.


(1) 22 May 2020

Subject: Rolling Stone Inquiry for Joe Arnold/Mike Johnson?

Date: 5/22/2020 1:51:16 PM Eastern Standard Time



Hey is this Joe Arnold,

I'm writing a story on the history of the Black Country Music Association in the 90's, and I'd absolutely love to

speak with you. I recently discovered your videos on YouTube from the late 90's showcase. What a resource. I'm recently interested to learn a lot more from you about Mike Johnson and the BCMA.

Best, Jonathan Bernstein, Research Editor


(2) 22 May 2020

Hello Johnathan,

The "More Info" section of those Black Country Music Association videos shot by Mike will sum up

his short relationship with the organization. It should be noted that Mike was already a well established

performer on the Independent Country Music circuit when he joined them. His mentor was Jim "Hobe"

Stanton, founder and owner of Rich-R-Tone Records in Nashville.

I'll pass your email on to Mike.

Joe Arnold, manager

Roughshod Records * You and Me Records


   Rather than print all the exchanges here's the 9th contact from Johnathan. He didn’t write much about me and [as usual with so-called journalists] misquoted me.


(9) No more contact until this one on 11 November 2020

Hey Mike

My piece finally went up. I quoted you in the story; thank you so much for speaking with me.


   This is what was he wrote about me.

“I was a member for about a year,” says Mike Johnson, a black country yodeler who saw Staton as a Nashville insider who excluded his style of old-time music from the association. “I quit when I noticed a clique between their president and a few select members.”


   I did quit because I saw a clique but I did not say that Staton "...excluded his style of old-time music from the association..." I said that Staton was a Nashville insider who was well equipped to help newcomers navigate the Nashville system, and that I really didn't need them because I was already well-established on the Independent Country Music circuit with my own labels and publishing. And of course I called him out on it and he claimed that he was extrapolating... bullshit!


Equipment upgrades:

   Back in October my Epson V500 Photo Scanner finally went south. It was purchased brand new in 2010 and served me well, scanning hundreds of film negatives and slides from my huge photo inventory. The scan carriage went bad and repair costs equaled that of buying a new scanner. So I did. An Epson V600 Photo Scanner, which is just a tad faster producing crisper images.

   A week ago my Epson NX-400 All-In-One Printer also went south after 11 years of faithful service. I replaced it with an Epson ET2720 All-In-One printer that takes bottled ink instead of cartridges. I got it mainly to print book pages and regular stuff, and have an Epson WF7510 Wide-Format printer with an 11”x17” scanner for my big jobs.


   WEBS.COM, my website platform, notified me in September 2020 that it had been sold to Vistaprint and that my Roughshod Records paid site would be moved there by March 2021. It was known as when I built my very first website “Mike Johnson Country Music’s No.1 Black Yodeler” quite some time ago. Several years back they upgraded their apps and I’ve been slowly keeping up. When James came aboard in 2012 and we started releasing music on my You and Me Records, I created a website for it. Unfortunately, these free sites won’t be editable or viewable after March 2021. So, I can either convert them to paid sites like the Roughshod one, or let them go. Just in case, I took the precaution of copying and pasting the entire contents of both sites into a document files and saving them as PDF files. That way I don’t have to start from scratch if I want to go with Vistaprint.

Dr. Jan Smith, Terry Smith's sister passed:

   I received the September 2020 “Terry Smith & Friends” newsletter, in October, mainly because he’s been wrapped up traveling from Nashville to Colorado to help care for his sister, Dr. Jan Smith, a Veterinarian, for most of this year. Unfortunately this one contained a sad note. Right after Terry had finished drafting the latest issue Jan passed away on 16 September 2020. She had been ailing for some time and Terry had been juggling his music schedules, songwriting, and home chores with round trips from Nashville to Colorado to help care for her. The Pandemic killed a lot of performances and freed him up a bit, though it was still exhausting. Eventually he moved her to Nashville. While I’ve never met Jan, I knew that Terry and her were very close, just by the way he talked about her and was always there at a moment’s notice when she needed. All of the Smith siblings were very close and Jan’s passing bought up memories when I accompanied Terry to visit his brother Tim during his last days. Again Terry, I offer my sincere condolences.

“Dr. Jan Smith * 28 November 1939 - 16 September 2020 * Rest In Peace


   And speaking of Terry, this past October 2020, YouTube sent me a notification that someone had commented a video I shot of me and Terry Smith performing his famous song “Far Side Banks of Jordan” the Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa back in 2010. After checking it out I noticed some Terry Smith releases in the right hand video column that I wasn’t aware of. I emailed Terry to congratulate him on finally getting a YouTube Channel and gave him a call. He was just as surprised as me because he didn’t know anything about it! It turns out that someone, without Terry’s knowledge or permission, on 5 July 2020, created a “Terry Smith” YouTube Channel and uploaded three of his recent albums. He said he’d check it out when he had a break because he was still dealing with the passing of his sister, Jan, and trying to settle all of her affairs.

Betty Rose Preston, Mike Preston’s mother passed:

   I received an email from Mike Preston on 23 October 2020 informing me that his mom Betty Preston passed away on 10 October 2020. Betty was a dedicated mother of three, and manager of Mike Preston, who during his early and teen years was one of the hottest country music acts in the New England states, and one fantastic yodeler. I first met them [and Terry Smith] at the 1994 in Hillsdale, Michigan at the 1st Annual Michigan Jamboree. My dispatcher allowed me to leave early in my semi for the weekend event because I had a shipment to drop off not too far off on Tuesday. Betty was a dedicated mother of three and a most gregarious, outgoing, and warm hearted woman who opened her home to me on a number of occasions when I had trucking trips near them in Limington, Maine. She and my mom also became pen-pals and phone buddies, spending hours talking about us two Mikes. I will surely miss her and our many conversations. Again, Mike I offer my sincere condolences.

Betty Rose Preston * 21 May 1941 - 10 October 2020 * Rest In Peace my Friend.


Other news:

   My friend Rocky Guttmann’s thumb is on the mend. He injured it sometime back and it affected his guitar playing. Post surgery, it’s still sore, but he’s making guitar progress slowly but surely. Hang in there buddy.

   I talked to my yodeling friend McDonald Craig about a month ago. He’s a Korean War veteran, just shy of turning 90, and a first rate Jimmy Rodgers yodeler. He’s moving a little slower but still gets up with the sun to work his farm. His wife Loretta had a stroke sometime back and it took its toll on her voice and endurance. Other than that, all’s fine on their homestead.

   My Texas friends, PJ Price, Barbara Dunn, and Janet McBride are all safe and sound down there, given the constant hurricane poundings they’ve been getting.

   I finally got to watch the first episode of Ken Burns’ Country Music Series. It was quite interesting and seemed to stay with the theme. As I mentioned before, the entire series is on Netflix as DVD Rentals. I’ve had the 2nd episode disc sitting on my video table for about two weeks now, but haven’t had time to give it my undivided attention.

   SoundExchange has once again upgraded its platform and apps. They have also entered into an agreement with the ISRC organization to have its members’ music tagged by ISRC numbers for better online identification. SoundExchange was created and authorized by Congress to collect royalties from streaming services for copyright owners and recording artists. I haven’t read the whole arrangement in detail yet, so you’ll have to look it up on your own, if it pertains to you.


YouTube Videos:

   There are now 1,148 videos on my YouTube Channel, the latest one being the “James Adelsberger Country Songbook” which is available from the Roughshod Records Webstore. I also finally completed the permanent video credits for Nashville performances and kicked it off with 13 performances I did at Lawrence Record Shop at Fan Fair back in 1999. I also dedicated those videos to my friend Ted Lawrence, who passed away back 29 May 2019. He was the eldest of the Lawrence siblings, and helped run Lawrence Record Shop on Nashville's Lower Broadway. The store had been selling my tapes and cassettes since 1981 when I completed my first recording session. To my delight, I also found some old silent 8mm footage of some Newlon trucking trips during the early 1980s.


[1] Dedication to Ted Lawrence 17 June 1999 [1 of 13 videos]

[ 2] Mike Johnson Truckin' Silent 8 movie footage [1 video]

[ 3] Mike Johnson meets Black Country Music Association June 1999 [1 video]

[4] Mike Johnson Listen' to Corner of the Bar [1 video]

[ 5] Music City Lounge [1 of 8 videos]

[6] Mike Johnson at Occoquan Coffee House [1 of 5 videos]


   On a last note, I’ve seen a lot of videos captioned “No copyright intended.” First I believe they mean no copyright infringement intended. Second, if you’re uploading someone’s recorded music as background music on your videos without their permission, you are infringing on their copyright. If you are uploading live performances of cover songs, whether on stage or in your living room, by you or someone else, you don’t need permission. If you get a notice from Youtube saying that someone has claimed content in your video, you can ignore it, unless it’s a sound recording used as background music, that you didn’t get permission to use.

   Well, that wraps it up. Again, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and I hope it was safe and pleasant. There’s a light in the tunnel and it looks like a brighter future is on the horizon. Stay safe so that you can enjoy a Merry Christmas next month.


Adios Amigos!

Mike Johnson & Joe Arnold


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