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Year 2018 Update!

Top-Rail News Flash * 30 December 2018

Mike Johnson & James Adelsberger Music "into American Music History Again!" Video

Howdy Top-Rail Bunch!

   As the year 2018 comes to an end, I'd like to wish all of you an upcoming happy, safe, and satisfying 2019 New Year! What an interesting year 2018 has been. Particularly the onslaught of bad weather all over the country which put a damper on my road trips to the Carolinas and Florida! Having crisscrossed this country in a semi for nearly 20-years, on all kinds of roads, and in all kinds of weather, I am once again reminded that the old adage, "Don't mess with Mother Nature!" rings true. For those who have survived, and/or lost family members, friends, pets, and property, we here at Roughshod Records offer our since condolences and wish you a speedy recovery. A number of my friends also suffered some heavy losses as well.

   I'm happy to announce that I finally finished editing the March 2018 Recorded Sound Reference Center video that I shot at the Library of Congress of them accepting our newest music productions for inclusion in their permanent music collection. It also features "Juarez" a song that I had our gifted musician James Adelsberger compose for his 2015 Instrumental CD "Country Sounds." The presentation video is now posted on our YouTube Channel, so check it out.

Mike Johnson & James Adelsberger: Into American Music History Again!

   Unfortunately, Reference Librarian Janet McKee had retired about a year or so ago, but Reference Librarian Bryan Cornell was still there and graciously accepted the new additions. For those of you who aren't aware, Janet McKee spearheaded collecting my music with the acquisition of 114 of my yodeling songs and my first two CD releases in April 2007.

   Though I stopped doing live performances in the Washington/Northern Virginia area in January 2017, my production works are keeping me quite busy. Among them is preparing music, videos, and photographs from my vast catalogs for the Library of Congress, my long overdue art book, re-printing some of my out-of-print novels, and finishing and publishing James Adelsberger's first song book. Not only does James play over a dozen instruments, he transcribes notated music, composes film scores, and wrote the fantastic fiddle parts for his classical violinist friend, Michael Romans, to record for our CD releases!

   Also in March I produced Dale Heeren's very first CD for his Kitty Creek Records, and he has been very excited that it has taken off like hot-cakes with lots of interviews and sales! It's also available on CD Baby and I produced and posted a promotional video on my YouTube Channel.

"They Call Me a Weekend Cowboy"

Dale Heeren: They Call Me a Weekend Cowboy

   Having recovered substantially well from the May 2018 series of mini-strokes that affected my balance and vision, I can drive my car again. In September I produced a CD for my long-time local music friend, Rocky Guttmann, called "Long Way Home... from Cassette to CD." This wonderful collection of songs were written and originally produced on cassette in 1993 by Rocky Guttmann and Harry Pritchett. Rocky's wife Mary Ann is enduring a painful recovery from a knee replacement surgery. Also in September, the last of the Bell women, my aunt Johnnie Lou Burbank passed away shortly after her 87th birthday. She was my mother's younger sister, and third of four siblings, with a brother as the sole survivor.

   I'd been toying with the idea all year, and finally decided, better late than never and released a 2-song CD single on You and Me Records on 13 December 2018. Short version... You and Me Records was created in 1987, along with Roughshod Records, for my non-country and border-line country songs. Unfortunately a lot of those songs were released by Roughshod with a country twist. When I signed James Adelsberger in 2012 his musical versatility paved the way for You and Me releases and we produced four CDs, one of them, "Country Sounds" which received the 2016 Instrumental CD of the Year Award from the Rural Roots Music Commission. Overwhelmed with projects and not having enough time for an album I decided on a 2-song single and titled it "SideKicks Antics" featuring one song each from mine and James' Roughshod CDs. This 5th You and Me production is now available at our Roughshod Records Web Store with a quick and easy checkout platform.

   My good friend Aharon, finally got to retire at the end of the summer when he leased his dry cleaning/shoe repair business to the former manager of the dry cleaning plant that did his customers' laundry. Aharon had been repairing my boots since 1995 and spends a few hours a day helping the new owner learn the ropes before leaving for good! Frankly, he's a workaholic so I don't think he wants to make the break.

   I spent Christmas with my dear friends Rocky and Mary Ann and visited my good friend Linda Caldwell at her Assisted Living Home in Fredericksburg. She owned the Coffee House of Occoquan and hosted scores of musicians for almost two decades. It would be nice if some of you would drop in for a visit. I finally got to see my old music buddy Bill Gibson [Tiffany Tavern] perform at Seibel's and Brenda Weitzel and Bert Huser [Coffee House] making up for lost time performing at JWs, as well as semi-retired Rocky Guttmann making the 100-mile trip to perform at Fiona's. Sorry guys, I've been so back-logged that I haven't finished editing recent videos of you that I filmed.

   Oh, that brings up another point. My YouTube Channel initially started out to showcase my music, then became an extension of my out-of-circulation [1995-2004] Top-Rail Chatter Magazine to showcase the many talented musicians I've met, taped, and or, performed with over the years. My Channel has over 920 videos, which includes about 15 Playlists to make it easy to find some of you. If I posted videos of you performing, please feel free to share the links so that your family, friends, and other contacts can enjoy your performances. I always send the links to all of my contacts, but that's only a drop in the bucket compared to what your collective involvement can do! Share the ride!

   On a somber note, the National Traditional Country Music Association's 44th Annual Music Festival will be held in Fremont, Nebraska for 2019. The Plymouth County Fairground Board in LeMars, Iowa doubled their fees for 2019 and wanted it all in advance, so NTCMA President Bob Everhart found a place in nearby Nebraska. The long-standing week-long event has been scaled back to four days. Sadly a lot of our members and supporters who have been coming since day one, are dying off and new blood is only trickling into this organization and festival event that started in Avoca, Iowa over four decades ago. We most recently lost Rick Andersen, a beloved person, harmonica player and guitarist, who performed with his wife Harriett on the upright Bass, for decades, and have backed me on stage a time or two.

   A big highlight for me this month was receiving a Christmas Card from my long-time Nashville friends, John and Lois Shepherd! I met them at Millie & Al's Bar, which was next door to the Ryman Auditorium [now Legend's On the Corner] during Easter week in 1981 following my first official Nashville recording session at Jim Maxwell's Globe Recording Studio. They graciously shared their stage with me and have done so many times since as I became a Nashville regular throughout the 1980s and 1990s! Long-standing Icons at Robert's Western Wear on Lower Broadway, I was so thrilled to know that this dynamic duo is still around! During that week I also became friends with Robert Moore, and performed at his Rhinestone Cowboy Honky Tonk years before he opened Robert's Western Wear. Ah, Lower Broadway was such an exciting place back in the 1980s and '90s!

   Not so long ago I discovered that CD Baby was stealing my SoundExchange royalties!!! When I confronted them they said they saw I had "unpaid" SoundExchange royalties and decided to collect them for me! Never bothered to tell me, though! And, of course, take their cut. That didn't fly too well since I was already a SoundExchange member long before ever placing any of my music on CD Baby! Hmm, let me explain... SoundExchange collects money from digital streaming platforms, takes their cut, and gives you the rest. Simple. CD Baby collects your royalties from SoundExchange, take their cut, and gives you the rest! See anything wrong with this picture? I ordered CD Baby to return all my royalties they had collected from SoundExchange and warned them that I would be keeping a close eye on them in the future. I also ripped SoundExchange for having "unpaid" royalties in my active account, and allowing CD Baby to collect then without bothering to consult me! Their excuse was a glitch in their system! Still, to this day, neither of them have answered my request to see a copy of their written agreement authoring the collection/payment of royalties.

   This is also one of reasons I haven't placed any new music on CD Baby, and created my own web store. I noticed this transgression when I was checking my CD Baby account and also noticed that CD Baby had deceptively listed SoundExchange as a sales outlet in its Opt-In Section. When I challenged that, they removed it and placed it in their sign-up policy whereby they would automatically collect royalties for their non-SoundExchange CD Baby members, and probably unsuspecting SoundExchange members on CD Baby! Because of my many projects, I had become a little lax in my routine monitoring of my music, and look what happened!

   Also be forewarned that CD Baby dumped their YouTube Monetization Agreement with Rumblefish Music Licensing and has taken over that licensing themselves. Following a recently posted promotional video of the songs on Dale Heeren's CD, I immediately received copyright claims from YouTube informing me that CD Baby had lodged a copyright claim on the song content. I informed them that I was the CD producer and have a written contract with Dale Heeren that authorizes me to create promotion material of his songs. CD Baby insisted their claim was valid and refused to remove it. Their arrogant refusal to acknowledge my valid contractual rights made me contact Dale, explain to him what was happening, and instructed him to opt-out of CD Baby's YouTube Monetization licensing. He did and the copyright claims disappeared from my his video promotions. A little while back a similar thing happened with a video I posted of me and James listening to my Texas friend PJ Price on my car's CD player! At that time Rumblefish was still monitoring YouTube videos and when I explained that my video did not contain an uploaded track, they watched it and removed their claim.

   The U.S. Congress recently passed the 2018 Music Modernization Act, a "long-overdue" Bill that is designed to "guarantee" that all music creators are paid their just royalties by the digital music streaming services that use their music. The Statutory Royalty Rate is about 9.5 cents [varies with song length] and platforms like Spotify, for years, have been paying music creators only a percentage of a penny per stream! [Taylor Swift's law suit against Spotify] Some of them even had the audacity to claim they can't afford to pay royalties even though they charge their listeners a subscription fee!!!

   SoundExchange was created by the Copyright Tribunal over a decade ago to collect and distribute streaming royalties. My experience with them has been very rocky. And they still don't seem to have their act together. For, one, royalty payments to them by streaming platforms was voluntary, and every time SoundExchange updated their systems, my music data got purged from their system and I've had to constantly re-submit it. Frankly, since their payout is so miniscule they are on my low priority list. And they still don't have a platform whereby you can see that they have the current listing of all of your songs in their catalog, like you can with ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

   Even though the 2018 Music Modernization Act makes it mandatory that streaming platforms pay up, I can't help but wonder how long it will take before it turns into an exclusive bankroll for the big music producers and creators and once again leave us little guys on the short end of the music pole! Everybody wants to use our music for free, or pay us as little as possible!

So, that's it. I hope you had a wonderful, warm, and satisfying Christmas, and once again, I'd like to wish you a bright, safe, and wonderful New Year!

NEW ADDITIONS to the Recorded Sound Reference Center's permanent music collection:


RCD51-13082016-1 "Let Me Die In a Honky Tonk!" - Mike Johnson & spec sheet

RCD52-13082016-2 "My Heart Still Sees" - James Adelsberger & spec sheet

RCD54-13062017-3 "Covering James Adelsberger" Mike Johnson & spec sheet


YCD2-13062017-1 "Going Places" - James Adelsberger & spec sheet

YCD3-13062017-2 "Here We Go Again" - James Adelsberger & spec sheet


Mike Johnson & James Adelsberger 2016 Lifetime Achievement & CD of the Year Awards

Mike Johnson & James Adelsberger 2016 Main Stage performance with Terry Smith & Bill Lear


2016 Mike Johnson Old Time Country Music Festival Award Folio - 4-page

2016 James Adelsberger Old Time Country Music Festival Award Folio - 4-page

2016 Roughshod Records SideKicks Old Time Country Music Festival Award Folio - 4-page


Mike Johnson 2002 Hall of Fame Award

James Adelsberger 2015 Pure Country CD of the Year Award

James Adelsberger 2016 Instrumental CD of the Year Award

Mike Johnson 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award

Mike Johnson 2017 Legendary Honky Tonk CD of the Year Award


Mike Johnson & James Adelsberger 2016 Music Awards presented by Bob Everhart

Mike Johnson, James Adelsberger, Bill Lear and Terry Smith 2016 Main Stage Performance

James Adelsberger meets Grand Ole Opry Legend Claude Gray 2016 Main Stage rear

Adios Amigos from Mike Johnson!

Roughshod Records * You and Me Records * 

P.O. Box 100933 Arlington Va. 22210

Copyright 2018 Roughshod Records * All Rights Reserved

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