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Friday, December 08, 2023

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Another Great Read

Under the Chinaberry Tree

This Week On
The Sound of Texas

Monday, December 4
Various McLean Devil’s Rope
Tuesday, December 5
Brian O’Neill Comfort Cafe
Wednesday, December 6
Bill Mills Marshall Bicycles
Thursday, December 7
Donnaa Atkins Big Spring Ornaments
Friday, December 8
Chris Moseley Brady Fairy Gardens
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In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

In my line of work I run across some extremely talented folks who have agleam in their eye and love to talk. These people are storytellers of the first order. They don't tell old tales handed down from one generation to the next. That would be too easy and too much out of character for them. They tell of their own experiences or those of their families. And they tell them in a way that keeps the listener mesmerized. They present material than no writer could imagine. The stories are true and cover some of the most universal situations that everybody has faced.

Almost every year since 1986 I have produced a cassette, CD or book containing stories of people I interview. My radio program, THE SOUNDOF TEXAS, has 260 episodes every year. That translates into one program every weekday. In addition, I do one newspaper column a week. I hear lots of stories.

In 1986, I wanted to do something to celebrate the 150th birthday of Texas. I did it up big. I quit smoking, which was one of the smartest things I've ever done. In addition to doing a program from every county in Texas during the year, I did a cassette called Sesquinotes which contained Texas voices and sounds. It still is one of our bestsellers. It is the longest cassette, lasting a full hour.

Some of the cassettes contain specific themes, such as the rattlesnake culture or people who served in World War One or people who live in the mountains of Texas.

One CD contains essays about West Texas produced with music and sound. Another is an extended interview with Elvis Presley's hairdresser. My book, UNDER THE CHINABERRY TREE, published by Eakin Press, came outlast year and is about to go into its 4th printing. It focuses on East Texas folklore. My first book, THE TUMBLEWEED COLLECTION, is out of print.

I have been excited about every one of the cassettes CD's and books. But I don't think any has excited me like the one slated for release in November. It is 75 minutes of stories told by 39 of the best storytellers I've run across since starting to interview interesting Texas characters in 1969.

The title of the CD is NATURAL BORN STORYTELLERS and has humorous stories about practical jokes, fried chicken, brave lawmen, driving, stealing watermelons, breaking horses, shooting an image on the movie screen, wrestling a turtle, radio station pranks, bootlegging, traveling, oatmeal and egg facials, a country baptism, names, oil patch humor, a Texas Ranger's experience with two naked girls driving down the highway in a convertible, a mountain lion hunter, taxi driver, calling fire ants, kissing a bobcat, milking cows, an air conditioned hearse, a gal who hit New York with a blast, a female rancher who cries when she sells her cattle because they are all named, and various and sundry others.

I've done nearly nine thousand SOUND OF TEXAS radio programs and nearly900 newspaper columns so far and the count continues. NATURAL BORNSTORYTELLERS contains the cream of the crop.

more articles by Tumbleweed Smith

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