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Americana: acoustic swing, ballads, blues

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As many of you know, this—my 20th album--is a personal triumph for me. It represents a miraculous comeback from the life-threatening tongue and neck cancer I was diagnosed with in October ‘07. Surgery and radiation treatments killed the cancer but forced me into a long recovery process with limited strength or vocal ability. In August ‘08, I joined my friend Don Simpson on a School Reunion road trip to West Texas, and performed briefly at Forsan High School. It was my first attempt to re-try my voice in public, and, incidentally, my first visit to Forsan School in nearly fifty years. Go Buffaloes!

Through the combination of prayer, rehab, and rehearsal, I was able to regain enough strength and vocal stamina to begin recording in late August. To reach my goal of creating a studio album of new songs, I enlisted the help of many talented friends…George Coyne—owner of Parrot Tracks Studio in Manchaca, Texas—and a fine guitarist in his own right. Doug Taylor played bass on all the tracks, sang on a few, and offered guidance. Doug also loaned me his beautiful Martin 000 guitar to record my acoustic tracks, while George worked his wizardry on the high-string guitar.

One of the best drummers I’ve ever worked with—Kevin Hall—provided a smooth rhythmic lift to the music on Stay Tuned. Jamie Hilboldt, keyboardist extraordinaire, agreed to help with his rainbow of orchestral colorings, tasteful piano, and organ talents. All of these gentlemen were easily up to the task of playing a diverse bunch of songs...including, ballads, samba, folk, and jazz tunes…vocal and instrumental. Putting solo icing on the cake were my reliable horn-master pal Joey Colarusso, great Texas fiddler Richard Bowden, and always soulful instrumentalist friend Greg Lowry.

While working at Denver’s KBRQ in the 80s, I became a serious fan of Chet Atkins, whose music I’d merely admired until then. Chet made three albums for Columbia that were very jazz-influenced, while still fitting into a sophisticated pop vein. My favorite was called Sails—an album I’ve probably listened to a hundred times. Another was Stay Tuned—which impressed me enough to borrow the title for this project. It perfectly represents the artistic sentiments relevant to both my lifetime careers—playing music and radio broadcasting. Some, no doubt, will understand the deeper meaning.

Stay tuned! ~ JS

This album is dedicated to my friend and music partner Larry Rothwell for sharing an extraordinary thirty-five year musical journey.Larry and friends worked on his second CD in 2008, while struggling through the final stages of liver cancer. He managed to complete his parts on the album, rehearse, and perform two final shows in October—a month before losing his battle with cancer. His brave fight and “never give up” attitude were a constant source of inspiration, helping me make it through my own challenging project. It was an emotional roller-coaster ride, experiencing the grief of Larry’s illness, then going into the studio daily to be lifted up making the kind of music that has carried both of us through so many good and bad times over the past three decades. With genuine love and respect, I dedicate this record to Larry.

May our songs live on and on and on ~
long after we mere mortals are gone...


Jon Chandler
STAY TUNED is Jim Stricklan’s most reflective and lovely collection of songs to date. The prolific Texan cranks ‘em out with the best of them, and this time around takes the listener on a sentimental journey as seen through weathered and wise eyes. Throughout the CD, he concentrates on life’s exhilarating and meaningful moments, from skinny dipping in Colorado Rocky Mountain hot springs to witnessing a tragedy at the Kentucky Derby. He voices the joys of individualism in bluesy refrain before admonishing us to live for the moment. He provides counsel on receiving and appreciating life’s small offerings and reminds us that if the next breath is our last, it’s worth holding just a little longer. Musically, the tunes provide an aural tapestry of Texas, with acoustic country fingerpicking alternating with blues riffs, western swing, and plaintive melodies. Plus, he reminds us that jazz is really just country music with a few extra chords. "Just In Case", with its repeated catch phrase “I’ll see you on the radio,” is the perfect closer, completing the circle begun when Stricklan sings on "Stay Tuned" - "your favorite song is coming up real soon.” And so it is....


STAY TUNED ~ A ballad written near the end of this project; sparsely produced with the Martin 000, and assistance from the ‘Jamie Hilboldt Orchestra.’ It’s about not giving up hope, despite not having all the answers we seek. Hope and faith will always get us through hard times.

IT’S MY LIFE ~ A blues tune written and performed by the Charlie Daniels Band on their 1976 Saddle Tramp LP, which has always held a special place in my heart. I hope Charlie will hear this version someday and get a big ‘ol grin on his face. He’s been such an inspiration to me over the years.

U SNOOZE U LOSE ~ The first song I wrote following my radiation treatments, when I was finally able to pick up the guitar again and give it another shot. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

THE WILD WIND ~ A song-poem I wrote long ago that was in my 1974 songbook. Leslie liked the song and requested it a few times, causing me to fall in love with it again. George Coyne played a beautiful high-string guitar part that sounds like an autoharp.

PORT ARANSAS SAMBA ~ One of my finest compositions and so beautifully produced. It’s probably the real gem—a standout piece of music on this humble collection of songs and instrumentals. I’ve written a few other sambas, although this one is certainly my favorite.

HEY GOOD LOOKIN’ ~ I can hardly overestimate my appreciation for Hank Williams, Sr. and his immortal music. He has been a profound influence on me and I hope he would enjoy this arrangement that I’ve performed for so many years.

TELLURIDE MOON ~ Chuck Ditto played piano on this track, and the cast of singers included Maryann Price, Darlene Taylor, and Leslie Stricklan. Joey played flute, with Doug and Kevin adding the rhythm tracks. It has a swing feel and is one of the two Colorado tribute songs I chose to include here.

ANTERO RISING ~ Another of my Colorado songs about {a trip to the Collegiate Range of the Rockies} an area we love so well. One of Leslie’s photos of Mt. Antero is featured on the cover of my novel Music Mountain. This song is almost a video waiting to happen. Any volunteers?

ST ELMO-TEL ~ In our south Austin neighborhood, there was once a motel along South Congress that could have told many interesting stories before it was torn down. Its colored neon sign still flashes in my memory. This jazzy little jam is my musical contribution to “keeping Austin weird.”

ODE to EIGHT BELLES ~ Who can forget the heart-breaking end of the Kentucky Derby in May 2008? Eight Belles was the single courageous filly in the race. At the end, amid confusion and horror, it was discovered she’d broken both her front legs and she had to be put down. Leslie co-wrote this.

JUST IN CASE ~ Partially inspired by a famous broadcasting colleague, Charles Osgood, borrowing his familiar sign-off slogan for a hook line. Actually, the song has deep and treacherous undercurrents, and picks up where the title song left off. “I’ll be back after these messages…”


Produced by Jim Stricklan & George Coyne with assistance from Doug Taylor
Recorded and mixed at Parrot Tracks Recording Studio ~ Manchaca, Texas
Mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Digital Audio, Inc. ~ Austin, Texas
Graphic Design by Michelle Dewey ~ BAH! Design – Austin, Texas
Photos and tracking assistance by Leslie Stricklan

All songs written or composed by Jim Stricklan © 2009 Front Room Music ® ~ BMI, except:
Ode to Eight Belles by Jim & Leslie Stricklan,
It’s My Life by the Charlie Daniels Band (used by permission)
Hey Good Lookin’ by Hank Williams (used by permission)

JIM STRICKLAN: Martin 000 acoustic guitar and Gibson ES125 electric guitar ~ lead vocals
DOUG TAYLOR: electric and acoustic basses ~ backing vocals
KEVIN HALL: drums & percussion
JAMIE HILBOLDT: keyboard orchestration ~ piano & organ
CHARLES DITTO: electric piano on Telluride Moon
JOEY COLARUSSO: flute; saxophones
GEORGE COYNE: high-string guitar & fish
GRANT A BROWN: harmonica
GREG LOWRY: recorder

Additional Vocals: