Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Silent Films on TCM This October

Hello my friends. Once again so you don't miss a thing here is a list of the silent films airing on TCM this October. 

Sunday October 4th

The Great Buster: A Celebration
(2018, a documentary about silent film star Buster Keaton) Director: Peter Bogdonavich. 6pm Pacific. 9pm Eastern.

Sherlock Jr. (1924) Director: Buster Keaton. Starring Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire. 8pm Pacific. 11pm Eastern.

The General (1927) Directors: Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman. Starring Buster Keaton and Marion Mack. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern. 

Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) Director: Charles F. Reisner. Starring Buster Keaton and Ernest Torrence. 10:30pm Pacific. 1:30am Eastern.

Monday October 5th

Seven Chances (1925) Director: Buster Keaton. Starring: Buster Keaton and Snitz Edwards. 12am Pacific. 3am Eastern. 

 Tuesday, October 6th

The Golden Age of Comedy (1957, a compilation made up of clips from silent comedies) Director: Robert Youngson. 

Wednesday, October 14th

The Unholy Three (1925) Director: Tod Browning. Starring Lon Chaney and Mae Busch. 10:15am Pacific. 1:15pm Eastern.

The Unknown (1927) Director: Tod Browning. Starring Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford. 12pm Pacific. 3pm Eastern.

The Blackbird (1926) Director: Tod Browning. Starring Lon Chaney and Renée Adorée. 1pm Pacific. 4pm Eastern. 

Monday October 19th 

Exit Smiling (1926) Director: Sam Taylor. Starring Beatrice Lillie and Jack Pickford. 12am Pacific. 3am Eastern. 

Wednesday, October 21st

The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ (1906) Director: Alice-Guy Blanche. 7:45am Pacific. 10:45am Eastern. 

Monday, October 26th

Haxan (1922) Director: Benjamin Christensen. Starring Benjamin Christensen and Maren Pedersen. 12am Pacific. 3am Eastern. 

Wednesday, October 28th

Mabel's Strange Predicament (1914) Director: Henry Lehrman. Starring Mabel Normand and Charlie Chaplin. 7:45am Pacific. 10:45am Eastern. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Cowboy Church #77

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection begins with The Sons of the Pioneers singing I Believe. This version comes from the group's 1963 album, Hymns of the Cowboy. Next comes one of the most popular country gospel songs performed by the man who wrote it. The song is I Saw the Light and the singer and songwriter was Hank Williams. Hank wrote this song as he was heading home from a dance in Fort Deposit, Alabama. His mother was driving him home and told her son "Hank, wake up, we're nearly home. I just saw the light" (she was referring to the light near Dannelly Field Airport). Hank wrote the song on the rest of the way home. The song melody-wise strongly resembles Albert E. Brumley's He Set Me Free, but I Saw the Light has certainly taken on a life of its own apart from the earlier song, heavily through the powerful and inspiring lyrics that do what Hank did best as a songwriter, convey something powerful and moving in a way that seems so simple and unpretentious. Hank recorded this song on his first MGM recording session (April 21, 1947). However even though he was the first to record this song, his version was not the first released. Producer Fred Rose gave it to two other singers (Clyde Grubbs and Roy Acuff), both of whom had their versions released before Hank. When Rick Ruben and Johnny Cash began working together, Rick Ruben had Johnny come over to his house and sing and record whatever came to his mind, alone with his guitar. Gospel music was one of the first types of music Johnny fell in love with as a child and it always remained near and dear to him. So it is no wonder John picked some gospel songs to sing. One of these songs was an old gospel quartet song called The Fourth Man in the Fire. There is a little conversation at the beginning of this recording where John asks if they need to redo the intro and is told that he has too. This was because the song had a long spoken intro and when done in the big studios John was used to working in, you could reuse the intro even if you redid the song, but since this was recorded in Rick's house doing it that way was not a possibility. When God Dips His Love in My Heart was written by Cleavant Derricks a minister from Cattsnooga, Tennessee, who spread the gospel throughout the mid-south. The hymn was published in 1944 by Otis McCoy for The Church of God's Tennessee Music and Printing Company (in Cleveland, Tennessee). McCoy would later release the first recording of the song in 1949 in which he preformed it with the Daniels Sisters. In the 1970's Cleavant Derrick met a man named Aaron Brown, who worked for Canaan Records. When Brown heard the Derrick had written the song Just a Little Talk With Jesus, he decided immediately to sign the man up to the label. Derrick made two albums there, the first was released in 1975 and called Just a Little Talk With Jesus and featured gospel songs that Derrick had written including When God Dips His Love in My Heart. This remains one of the best versions of this great gospel song. Next comes the King of the Cowboys and the Queen of the West, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, performing a medley of country and gospel songs (The Place Where I Worship, He Walks with the Wild and Lonely, Texas PlainsHappy Trails) on the TV show Hee Haw. We continue with The Charlie Daniels Band performing The Old Crossroads. This version comes from their 2005 bluegrass gospel album, Songs from the Longleaf Pines. Today's musical selection ends with Willie Nelson and sister Bobbie Nelson performing How Great Thou Art


Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent– the Lord detests them both. Proverbs 17:15

You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. John 6:37-40

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.  Romans 11:5-6

This is the word of faith we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:8-10 

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

To the person who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:26

The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. Proverbs 10:28

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Psalm 34:5

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I [Jesus] am He [the Messiah], you will die in your sins. John 8:24

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6

 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

Thank you for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #90

 Hello my friends and Happy Saturday morning, once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

Today's selection starts off with the Blame it on the Samba segment for the feature length Disney movie, Melody Time (1948). I have a soft spot for Melody Time and Disney's other package features of the 1940's. These were a series of Disney feature films that instead of playing as a feature length story, the way Snow White (1939) or Pinocchio (1940) had done, were a collection of brand new animated shorts put together to create one feature length movie. While these movies were rarely the masterpieces that the earlier animated Disney features were, they have a lot to enjoy especially for cartoon fans like you and me. The Disney studio had by this time already made two features involving Donald Duck and South American countries (Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944)) as part of the U.S.A.'s good neighbor policy. A third movie was planned (the working title being Carnival), but abandoned. The idea for Blame it on the Samba originated as part of that abandoned feature and would luckily for us come to reality in Melody Time. This cartoon shows its origins not only through its South American theme but also through the use of characters created for the previous South American features such as the Aracuan bird and José Carioca. Blame it on the Samba remains one of the highlights of Melody Time and is a pure delight for cartoon fans everywhere. 

The following is a short article from The Film Daily (dated May 24, 1948).

"Marking the first time that film from a modern Walt Disney production will be presented on television, selections from the producer's new feature 'Melody Time' will be included in next Friday's juvenile, 'Small Fry Club' broadcast over the DuMont network.

"In addition to excerpts from the film, nine year old starlet Launa Patten, who plays a leading role in the picture, will appear in person over the telecast which will originate from WABD here.

"'Melody Time' opens at the Astor Theatre, Thursday."

Screenland, 1948

Next Gandy Goose and Sourpuss find themselves Somewhere in Egypt (1943).

Today's cartoon selection continues with one of my favorite cartoons, Tex Avery made for Warner Brothers, Hamateur Night (1939). This is the anything for a laugh, no gag is too silly Tex Avery that we know from his MGM cartoons. Nearly every gag in this film works and the cartoon just gets funnier as it goes along. Simply put this is a near perfect cartoon and it cracks me up each time I watch it. A review in Boxoffice Magazine called this "Fun for everybody."  

Now let us all go a little Jazz Mad (1931) with our good friend Farmer Alfalfa.

The Film Daily, 1930


To end today's cartoon selection on a cliff hanger, up last is the first cartoon of Hanna-Barber's Ruff and Reddy TV series (the studio's first TV series). What happens to our heroes next? Come back to this blog next week to find out. 

The following is a brief article from Broadcasting (dated December 16, 1957).

"Effective last Saturday, coincidental with the premiere of it's Ruff and Reddy Show cartoon program, NBC-TV is presenting a new lineup of its Saturday morning shows. Scheduled as follows: Howdy Doody (10-10:30am); Ruff and Reddy (10:30-11am); Fury (11-11:30am); Andy's Gang (11:30-noon); My True Story (Noon-12:30pm), and Detective's Dairy (12:30-1pm)." 

The following is a short article from Motion Picture Daily (dated November 29, 1957).

"NBC-TV has purchased a new cartoon program from Screen Gems, 'Ruff and Reddy' about the adventures of a cat and dog in outer space. Each episode will be four minutes and each half hour installment will consist of two episodes of 'Ruff and Reddy' and two first run cartoons from the Columbia Pictures library. The show scheduled for Saturday mornings will start sometime in December."  

Thanks for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

RIP Country and Rock and Roll Drummer W.S. "Fluke" Holland

 When great drummers are talked about, W.S. "Fluke" Holland hardly ever gets mentioned, but this man left an incredible mark on both country and rock music. He is probably best known as Johnny Cash's longtime drummer and his drums added much to Johnny's already unique sound (he also served as Johnny's road manager). However his mark on music history does not end here. He had been a session drummer at Sun studios in the 1950's, working with such early rock and roll greats as Roy Obison, Billy Lee Riley and Carl Mann. His most famous sessions at sun included Carl Perkin's Blue Suede Shoes and the infamous Million Dollar Quartet session (with Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis). On the country music side Fluke was the full time drummer for The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings). More importantly perhaps was that he was the first drummer to ever play a drum set onstage at the Grand Ole Opry (though in 1945, Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys played with a drummer hidden behind a curtain). 

W.S. passed away today (at the age of 85) and to remember this great talent, let us enjoy some of the music he worked on. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 


Ma and Pa Kettle, Super Mario and Screwtape


Motion Picture Daily, 1949

Hello my friends lately I have been watching all of the Ma & Pa Kettle movies, playing the new Super Mario 3-D All Stars and reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters and I thought I would briefly share my thoughts on each. 

Before recently I have only seen one of the Ma & Pa Kettle movies (Ma & Pa Kettle (1949)) but after finding a DVD set of all ten Kettle movies (including their debut as supporting characters in The Egg and I (1947) and the two movies after Percy Kilbride (Pa) left the series (The Kettles in the Ozarks (1956) and The Kettles on Old Macdonald's Farm (1957))), I decided that watching all of them sounded like a great way to spend my time. I was completely right. These movies may not be on the same level as the films of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Laurel and Hardy, but they don't have to be. They are a lot of fun in their own right. Some of the films in this series may be stronger than others, but all of them entertained me and isn't that why someone would watch movies like these. One of my main reasons for watching these films was Marjorie Main. I had never seen a movie with her in it, where she did not brighten up the screen when she was on and I still haven't. In fact I am more convinced now that she was one of moviedom's greatest character actresses. I also grew more respect for Percy Kilbride watching these movies. What a great comedic actor he was and he played the part of Pa Kettle to perfection. Not only did his often deadpan delivery provide many laughs but he brought a well humanity to Pa that made him feel like a real life neighbor to me. Adding to this was that he and Marjorie Main had incredible chemistry together. Beneath all the bickering and over the top slapstick you got a sense these two really loved each other. Too often slapstick comedies fail when the filmmakers try to hard to put sweet touching moments (Charlie Chaplin could do this extremely well but few other can) into the films. These films don't have the problem because the sweetness is in the characters' relationship with each other and therefore the movies never need to take time out for touching moments and can simply focus on the slapstick comedy. The movies made after Percy Kilbride left are honestly quite funny but they are missing the effortless heart apparent in the earlier films.   

Motion Picture Herald, 1952

I have read many complaints about Super Mario 3D All Stars and I understand all of them very well. The original Super Mario All-Stars was my introduction to Mario games and it was a great one at that. The classic games on there had their graphics completely touched up and still don't look dated today. I admit when I first played Super Mario All Stars I thought that was how the games originally looked and it was only years later that I realized how impressive what had been done with them was. It is understandable (especially with how dated Super Mario 64 looks to modern eyes) to think that the same would have been done here, but very little has been changed. 

Despite these complaints, I have been enjoy this so much. These are three great games that still look and play great. The controls are moved extremely well to this new system. I have mostly been playing Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy and remembering just how great these games are. Super Mario 64 is still one of the most fun and exciting games our favorite plumber has been in. The worlds are still incredibly well designed and atoshperic, the game play is still amazing and it is just tons of fun to play. Super Mario Galaxy is one of the most clever and imaginitve Mario games and I love the way it plays with gravity and uses its new setting to give Mario games a whole new feel while still staying true to what made the previous ones work. I haven't played much Sunshine yet, but I have just been enjoying the other two too much to get around to it. 


C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors and The Screwtape Letters is one of his greatest books. For the past little bit I have been following my daily bible reading with a chapter of this book and after finishing, I am blown away by how great this book is. At one minute it can be hilariously satiric and at another deadly serious. At all times it is extremely intelligent and insightful. What it has to say about the spiritual pitfalls Christians too often find themselves in and the nature of temptation is just as true today as it was when this book was first published in 1942. As a Christian when I read this I realized how often I, myself have fallen into these traps. This book addresses subjugating your Christianity to a political belief system or your own intellectualism until it becomes indistinguishable and then regulated to a minor part of life. This is important to note because it is so subtle and gradual that you do not see yourself falling into this trap. The using of an unreliable narrator of a demon from Hell is a brilliant idea. It forces us to view the world for a completely different set of eyes. Most Christian books (especially fictional ones) tend to focus on Heaven instead of Hell, yet knowing how the devil might attack us and the tricks he uses is more than a little helpful in those moments when we are weak and most susceptible to temptation. This book also allows the narrator to shed a light on the dark unsavory parts of human nature and understand how easily evil can be justified in people's minds. Yet knowing all the while that this narrator is unreliable, a lair and a follower of lairs, we are able to approach what he says with a healthy dose of skepticism and at the same time ]with a stronger faith in what the real truth is. Despite this book being about demons from Hell, God certainly had his hand on C.S. Lewis as he wrote it. This is a book that will strengthen Christians rather than tear them down, while at the same time give them a lot of thought provoking ideas to consider. This is an intelligent and enriching book I believe ever Christian should read, and I know re-reading it over these past couple weeks will help me move forward in my Christian walk wiser and stronger. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Cowboy Church #76

Hello my friends and welcome to another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection begins with The Sons of the Pioneers with All Wild Things. This song was written by songwriter and actor Stan Jones. Fans of cowboy music will probably recognize the name Stan Jones as he was the writer of Ghost Riders in the Sky. The Sons of the Pioneers' perfect harmonies are especially beautiful here. The recording comes from the boys' 1963 gospel album, Hymns of the Cowboy. Often times great songs grow out of great hardships. Such is true for the gospel classic, Precious Lord Take My Hand. This song was written by Thomas A. Dorsey after the passing of his wife and newborn son in 1932. Though Dorsey had given his life to the Lord and was moving away from his career as a blues singer instead writing gospel songs and even pastoring churches. Still after the death of his beloved wife and child, he began to question his faith. Instead of giving up his faith he turned to prayer. He prayed that God would lead him through all the troubles of life. He put his prayer to music (George Allen's Maitland) and this turned out to be one of his most popular songs. Today's musical selection has Hank Williams performing Take My Hand Precious Lord  on a 1951 episode of his Mother's Best radio show. A Singer of Songs in my mind gets down to the essence of Johnny Cash and honestly when I first I found out I was surprised he had not written it. What is interesting is that when interviewed about this recording for the Unearthed Box set, Johnny stated, "Good song but I don't know whose it is." Producer Rick Rubin in comments for the box set stated that he felt this was "one of the most touching and emotional of all the songs." However he admitted "I have no idea where it came from. I don't even remember recording it." He wondered how he could have possibly missed putting this song on one of the album he and Johnny did together. Johnny's song John Carter Cash however shed light on where this song came from. "Every once in a while I'd bring in a song or two - he knows instantly, when he hears a song , whether it will work out for him or not. This was written by Tim O'Connell." This song was recorded during the sessions for Johnny's third album for Rick Ruben, Solitary Man. Johnny was a heart simply a singer and a story teller and he knew that there was no greater story than that of Jesus Christ. This is followed by The Bailes Brothers with their 1945 recording of I've Got My One Way Ticket to the Sky. After comes Southern Raised performing Beulah Land. Then is Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with Jesus Loves the Little Children. Today's musical selection ends with Hank Williams Jr. singing How Can I Refuse Him Now. Though Hank Williams Jr. is most associated with his rowdy party songs, he has recorded a great variety of music over his career, including this lovely tender gospel ballad. This comes from his 1969 gospel album, Sunday Morning.



Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. Acts 16:33

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. Deuteronomy 18:21-22

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Micah 5:2

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. James 5:13

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. Proverbs 16:20

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

These things have I spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

Thanks for joining me for another service of Cowboy Church, come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Until then happy trails to you until we meet again. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #89

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. Once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

Starting off is a delightful black and white Porky Pig cartoon, Get Rich Quick Porky (1937). This was an early cartoon for director Bob Clampett (1937 was his first year as a director) and while it may not be as wild as some of the director's later work, there is plenty to enjoy here. This cartoon also marked the last appearance of Porky's sidekick, Gabby Goat. There is not much to Gabby besides him being grumpy and easily irritated, but the contrast between him and the more optimistic Porky makes for delightful watching. If you would like to know who animated what on this film, I direct you to Devon Baxter's article on this short. 

Up next is another black and white Warner Brothers cartoon. This one is a Hugh Harmon and Rudolph Ising era Merrie Melody, I Wish I Had Wings (1932). This cartoon is very much in the vein of the other Harmon-Ising Merrie Melodies at this time with a simple story enhanced by cute gags and catchy music. While the early Merrie Melodies very much resembled the Silly Symphonies of the time, the filmmakers had one advantage that Disney did not. They had the access to the Warner Brothers musical library and were encouraged to use song from it. This is something that Warners took full advantage of and helps make these cartoons still a lot of fun all these years later. The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald "I WISH I HAD WINGS: Merry Melody—One of the best cartoons we have run. Running Time 8 Minutes, A. B. Jefferies, Piedmount Theatre, Piedmount, Mo. Small Town and Rural Patronage." 

Next comes one of the best of the Fleischer Brothers' Color Classic cartoons. While many of these films copied the Silly Symphonies, surreal and weird Fleischer gags often found their way into these cartoons. This is one of the finest examples of such, In fact the whole idea of a bunch of cartoon animals taking a trip to the moon is more of a Fleischer idea than a Disney one. Staying true to this premise this cartoon has more of these Fleischer style gags than most Color Classics. The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "DANCING ON THE MOON: Color Classic—A fine colored cartune with a trip to the moon by the animals.—C. I. Niles, Niles Theatre, Anamosa, Iowa. General patronage." 

Next Donald Duck will teach us How to Have An Accident at Work (1956).

As many of you reading this blog know, the famous Cat and Mouse duo weren't cartoondom's first Tom and Jerry. The Van Beuren studio made a series of cartoons starring a human duo called Tom and Jerry before William Hanna and Joseph Barbera created the cat and mouse team. You'll notice that the opening card refers to them as Dick and Larry, this is because this is not the original opening card. This is from a home movie reissue and the names were changed to avoid confusion.  These films are often very fun and surreal (as well as having great musical scores by Gene Rodemich) and while nowhere near as polished as what Disney was putting out at this time they are very enjoyable. Next comes one of these cartoons, Barnyard Bunk (1932). 

Come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merrie. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 


Friday, September 18, 2020

Movie Review: The Personal History of David Copperfield


Michael's Movie Grade: A+

Spending six months with not being able to go to a movie (except for drive-in movies), I feel blessed that I can resume my movie going experience with this absolutely brilliant film. 

One factor that makes this a perfect film to resume my movie going is that it is visually beautiful and perfectly suited to a big screen. The places David visits just as vivid and breathtaking here as they do in our minds when we read Charles Dickens' great novel. Adding to this is the great cinematic techniques being used to tell the story. One of the best is how memories or stories we are being told appear projected on a screen behind the characters. Writing about this may make it sound like a distracting gimmick. However it comes off as the perfect way to tell the story. It reminds us in a way that we are watching a movie, but without the characters actually breaking the fourth wall. Cinema has a feeling of magic and whimsy to it (theatres having been closed for months only heightens this) and to show these scenes as movies within a movie only heightens the magic and whimsy of this story.  

Charles Dickens is one of my favorite fictional authors and this movie does incredible justice to one of his finest works. Naturally the whole book can't be shown in this film, but yet the movie never feels like an abridged version of the book or like anything is missing. It feels instead like a full and complete story. One of Charles Dickens' greatest strengths was his whimsical sense of humor and how well he could mesh that humor with his social commentary. This movie captures that very well. It has a great offbeat sense of humor, yet it never distracts from the drama and social commentary. In other words this movie is just as entertaining as it is brilliant. All of this is helped by an incredible cast that play their parts to perfection.

Oh my gosh! This film was such an incredible reintroduction to the movies and I feel in love with movies all over again watching it. If you have not seen a movie in an indoor theatre over the past 6 months, do yourself a favor and see this first and fall in love with the movies all over again. 

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Fabulous Tommy Cash

 Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash are not the only members of the Cash family to make a mark on country music. Johnny's brother Tommy, while having never achieving the level of success his brother did, had a good career as a country singer. He need not be compared to his more famous brother as he is a darn good singer in his own right. Here is a selection of his songs. 

Six White Horses was Tommy's biggest hit and shows that Tommy's music had a social conscious just like his brothers. The song came out in late 1969 and was dedicated to John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. The performance above of that song is from Johnny's TV show. Rise and Shine was written by Carl Perkins, early rock and roll great and writer of Johnny's hit Daddy Sang Bass and Elvis Presley's hit Blue Suede Shoes as well as a regular at Johnny's concerts. One Song Away was written by Don Reid of Statler Brothers fame. The Statlers were also regulars at Johnny's concerts. Irma Jackson is a great cover of a Merle Haggard song. The first two songs above show the respect Tommy had for his brother. 

-Michael J. Ruhland    

Lone Pine Film Festival is Online This Year

 For those of you who don't know, Lone Pine California has a popular filming spot for Hollywood movies since the silent era (for an idea of what films were shot here I direct you to this link). While a wide variety of movies have been shot, it has especially been a favorite spot for shooting westerns. Because of this each year, Lone Pine hosts a film festival of western movies. Because of Covid-19, the festival will be held online this year, but you still have to buy tickets. It will be held October 9-11th. If you get busy this is no trouble as all the films and interviews will be available all day, each day of the festival. 

The list of films is as follows.

MACKINTOSH & T.J. (1975) with Roy Rogers

THREE ON THE TRAIL (1936) with Hopalong Cassidy

PHANTOM OF THE RANGE (1936) with Tom Tyler

GUNSMOKE RANCH (1937) with the Three Mesquiteers

HELLFIRE AUSTIN (1932) with Ken Maynard

DANGER TRAILS (1935) with Big Boy Williams

RIDERS OF THE FRONTIER (1939) with Tex Ritter

WEST OF NEVADA (1936) with Rex Bell

Special guests include: Cheryl Rogers Barnett (daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans), Richard W. Bann, William Wellman Jr., Billy King (Hopalong Cassidy's 12 year old side kick in the movies), Stella Stevens, Geri Jewell, Diamond Fransworth.

For more information and to buy tickets click here

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Cowboy Church #75

Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection begins with The King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers singing Peace in the Valley. This version of the song features Roy yodeling. This is something he learned to do as a young boy. His father bought a phonograph that used cylinders and one of these cylinders featured a swiss yodel. The future King of the Cowboys listened to this over and over until he was able to master it. His mom and sisters also took to yodeling and this became a form of communication between the family (especially when there was a distance between them). They used different types of yodels to communicate with a wide variety of different signals. The song itself was written by Thomas A. Dorsey. When explain the origin of this song he stated, “It was just before Hitler sent his war chariots into Western Europe in the late 1930s. I was on a train going through southern Indiana and saw horses, cows and sheep all grazing together in this little valley. Everything seemed so peaceful. It made me question, “What’s the matter with mankind? Why can’t men live in peace?” Up next is Wanda Jackson singing I'd Rather Have Jesus. Though Wanda Jackson is known as the Queen of Rockabilly and is a pure rock and roll legend, she also proved herself multiple times to be just as great when performing country gospel music. After converting to Christianity in 1971 this type of music would become just as much of her career as rock and roll. This comes from her 1973 album, Country Gospel. This is followed by The Charlie Daniels Band with Two Out of Three. This song has an important message for all Christians. We have all messed up a lot and done things we know we shouldn't have done. Yet none of this stops Jesus from loving us and he is always willing for us to run from our sins and into his arms. We can never do anything so horrible that God can't forgive us and use us. This of course does not mean we should constantly sin, rather we should try to sin as little as we can, but what it does mean is that we will not lose our salvation and God will not stop loving us when we do mess up. This is followed by the Bailes Brothers' 1949 recording of Come to the Savior. Next is The Sons of the Pioneers with The Mystery of His Way. This comes from the band's 1963 album, Hymns of the Cowboy and was written by one of the founding members of the group, Bob Nolan (one of the finest songwriters in the history of country music in my mind). Afterwards is Ransomed Bluegrass with a rare original, God is Strong Enough. Earlier we had a song from the Bailes Brothers and next we have a song written by them. This is probably the best known song that they wrote, Dust on the Bible. Walter Bailes stated that this song was written based on a sermon he heard while in Charlton, West Virginia in 1937. The Bailes Brothers recorded it on their first session in 1945. However today's musical selection ends with the great Hank Williams singing it on a 1951 episode of his Mother's Best Radio Show

 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:22-34

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Acts 16:30-33

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:44

Thank you for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Movie Review: Broken Hearts Gallery


Michael's Movie Grade: C

An enjoyable but strictly cookie cutter romantic comedy. 

This movie follows all the traditional romantic comedy conventions that we know by heart. I will be the first to say though that there is a reason that these clichés have become conventions and that is that they work and the conventions work here. The story while cliché is involving and even though we know what will happen we still like to see it happen. The two stars (Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery) also have really good chemistry and it is fun to watch how they play off one another. Geraldine Viswanathan actually is able to make a character that could easily be annoyingly over the top likable and I am impressed by that. There is also a surprisingly somewhat touching scene in this film (for those of you who have seen it it is the one in the old folks home). 

On the downside this movie wants to be a quirky version of a romantic comedy, but unfortunately this quirkiness too often feels forced. Often times it is indeed quirky but not actually funny. While there are definitely some funny moments here the humor misses just as much as it hits if not not more. The couple themselves have some funny moments, but the humor that comes from their friends feels like it is trying much too hard. However one of my main problems with this film is that as much as I try I fail to see why anyone would want to see a gallery of useless junk people kept from past relationships. I personally would much rather see actual art as I am sure most of you would. 

This movie will probably not be one you will revisit often, but for what it is it provides you with a fun trip to the movies. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #88

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. Once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

Today's selection begins with a Looney Tunes cartoon starring Beans the Cat (one of the Boston beans). Though not as well known Beans made his film debut in the same cartoon as Porky, I Haven't Got a Hat (1935). That cartoon was a takeoff on the Our Gang shorts and featured a bunch of little kid characters in a talent show. The studio did not know right away, which character would be the most popular, so they all appeared starred in some Looney Tunes when the studio was looking for a new character to replace Buddy (the rather bland character that had become that series' star). While Porky would become the most popular of these characters, Beans certainly had his fans in the studio as he would star in eight of these cartoons (Porky would even be relegated to a supporting role in some of these). Hollywood Capers (1935) is a good example of one of these Beans cartoons. While it may not be as laugh out loud funny as a Tex Avery or Bob Clampett Looney Tune, this is a charming little film that always puts a smile on my face. As a character Beans certainly has more personality than his predecessor Buddy. In many ways his personality is like the early Mickey Mouse before Mickey got toned down. He is very mischievous and always on a lookout for the next big adventure. Naturally this gets him in a lot of trouble but he always manages to have quite a bit of fun along the way. A quick joke has Beans disguise himself as Oliver Hardy to sneak into the movie studio. Porky would later try to do the same (less successfully) in You Ought to be in Pictures (1940)  Look in the background for a poster advertising a fight between “Punchy” Pierce and “Hurricane” Hardaway. This is referring to two of the writers of Warner Brothers cartoons at the time, Tedd Pierce and Bugs Hardaway (thanks Yowp for calling attention to this in-joke on his blog)  Also Beans is voiced by Tommy Bond here (who played Butch in the Our Gang shorts). 

This is followed by an above average early Merrie Melody, Freddy the Freshman (1932). While this has a lot of the cute animals singing that was so popular in these early Merrie Melodies, some great cartoon-y gags (especially at the football game) make this one truly stand out. While this cartoon does feature a lot of "borrowing" from Disney, it must be remembered that at this time all of the American cartoon studios stole a lot from Disney. So when you see Horace Horsecollar and Clarabella Cow lookalikes and even an unauthorized appearance from a certain mouse, don't be surprised. A review in Variety stated, "Brightly animated by Hugh Harmon and Rudolf Ising, it has the same skillful Frank Marsales musical orchestration. Very entertaining." It is kind of nice to hear Variety single out the musical composer for a cartoon. The title song would reappear in the much later Foghorn Leghorn cartoon, Raw, Raw Rooster (1956). 

The Film Daily, 1931

Classic Hollywood films often showed a nostalgia for the 1890's (or the gay nineties). Mickey even got swept up in this nostalgia in the delightful short, The Nifty Nineties (1941). While this is not the funniest Mickey Mouse short, it is one of the most charming. Even today when no one remembers the 1890's this cartoon has lost none of its charm. It is still simply a delight from beginning to end. This short is in fact so effective that it makes us nostalgic for a time before any of us were born. Once Mickey got toned down it was hard for the Disney staff to find stories to fit this sweeter and less mischievous character. However this cartoon finds the perfect story for this later version of Mickey Mouse and may be one of the best post-1930's Mickey shorts. One delight for animation buffs is the appearance of a comedy duo called Fred and Ward (a reference to the great Disney animators, Fred Moore and Ward Kimball). A review in the Exhibitor stated "...all of which makes for a very pleasant episode and one which the older folks will like especially." A review in The Film Daily stated, "This tab reel is as gay and bright as the Technicolor medium in which it is made." This cartoon was reissued to theatres in 1953. 

Are you bored during lockdown? Are you looking for some sort of activity to do? Well the Superfriends are here to help.

Today's cartoon selection ends with a fun Aesop's Sound Fables cartoon, A Close Call (1929).

Come back next week for another selection of classic cartoons. Until then may all your Tunes be Looney and your Melodies Merrie.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

-Michael J. Ruhland

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Modern Times in Country Music

Country music is not dead. For those of us who are fans of the Golden Age of Country Music (the 1940's through the 1970's), it is easy to dismiss anything modern as not worth concern ourselves with. However there are some true gems still coming out. To help you keep up with what is currently happening in country music (from traditional sounding country music to pop-country), I am doing these occasional posts of what is currently happening in my favorite music genre. While you may not be a fan of all of the music here, I am sure even the strongest country music purist will find some gems here. By the way if you are a country music purist, Colter Wall and Zephaniah OHora's songs included here are essential listening. 

Thank you for joining me on this trip through what is currently happening in country music and I hope you will see that country music is far from dead. Long live country music and God bless.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

An Open Letter to Walt Disney from Screenland Magazine

 I love stuff like this, here is an open letter to Walt Disney from a 1942 issue of Screenland magazine. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Popeye on Radio Part 2

 After my recent post of a vintage article about the Popeye radio show, I found another article from the Radio Mirror (this one from 1937). The best part of this is easily the cartoon E.C. Segar drew to advertise the show. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Popeye on Radio

 As well as comic strips and animated cartoons, Popeye the Sailor also had a career on radio. The following is a 1936 article from Radio-Mirror discussing this new radio show./

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Movie Review: Unhinged


Michael's Movie Grade: C+

A fun little suspense film that may not come close to being a classic but provides a fun time at the movies. 

If you are looking for characters with any depth or any clever plot twists, you are in the wrong place. However if you want pure action this is tha movie for you. As soon as the action in this movie gets going it does not stop. This movie doesn't give you time to think about how cliché or underdeveloped certain parts of the movie are. This works to the film's advantage as you don't think about the many faults but instead get invested in the fun. There is quite a bit of fun to be had here. The action scenes are tense and exciting. They truly keep you on the edge of your seat. The performances of the cast are excellent and they help make what is often a silly script into something you can take seriously enough to get involved in the suspense. Russel Crowe often steals the show with a really creepy performance. Meanwhile Caren Pistorius brings a sense of likability and pure panic that make you buy this story all the more. 

This is one of those movies that you enjoy while watching it, but after you leave you start to realize just how faulted and silly it is. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Cowboy Church #74

 Hello my friends and welcome back to another service of Cowboy Church. 

For the writer of the fast upbeat gospel classic, I Saw the Light, Hank Williams had a fondness for darker gospel songs as well, because he recorded a lot of them. One of the best is I Dreamed of that Great Judgement Morning. Hank's voice is perfectly suited to the material with a mournful twang that only he was capable of. Others have recorded this song (including greats like Roy Acuff and George Jones), but none of these other versions have the sheer emotional power of Hank's power. This song is about what will happen in the tribulation (in the book of Revelation) after the church has been called away. This is something that luckily any one who has put their faith in Christ will not see, but there are sadly plenty of people who will be there. I pray that no one reading this will be there to see this. This song was written in 1894 and was once a southern gospel standard. The hymn was written by Rev. Bertram Henry Shadduck and Leander Lycurgus Pickett. This recording comes from a 1951 episode of Hank's Mother Best radio show. This is followed by The Charlie Daniels Band with Protected by Prayer from their 1994 Christian album, The Door. Charlie Daniels said in his book, Never Look at the Empty Seats, "I think the most pressure I was ever under as a songwriter was when I wrote the songs for our first gospel album The Door. It was such a special project to me. I wanted it to be much more than just another gospel album. I wanted the lyrics to have impact and hopefully speak to some of the people who, like me, had a hard time understanding the gospel message and were falling through the cracks. I wrote, rejected, accepted, started over, changed and rearranged the songs until I was satisficed with the words and how they fit into the music. It was all worth the effort." It certainly was, this is an excellent album. It would also win the band a Dove award and more importantly spoke to many of the band's fans about God. This is followed by a classic cowboy gospel song recorded by its writer cowboy music legend Stuart Hamblin. If you want to hear how this song was written, the video below it has Stuart Hamblin telling the story behind the song. This is followed by Porter Wagoner with his recording of Matthew 24. This followed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing a medley of gospel songs (That Old Time Religion, Daddy Sing Bass, Cowboy Camp Meeting) on the 30th episode of Hee Haw (aired on September 15, 1970). As a huge fan of Johnny Cash as well as Roy and Dale, there is something that makes me very happy about them including one of Johnny Cash's hits (even if the song was written by Carl Perkins) in this medley. After comes Jim Reeves' recording of Oh Gentle Shepard from his 1962 gospel album, We Thank Thee. During the late 1950's and 60's there was a movement going through country music towards what was called Countrypolitian. This was a movement away from the harder honky tonk sounds of earlier to a softer more easy listening type of sound designed to make the genre appeal more to pop fans. While this type of country music understandably has its critics, it could work very well when done right. Jim Reeves proved to be one of the best singers to take part in this music and when he was in front of the microphone Countrypolitian music worked beautifully. Today's musical selection ends with Sons of the Pioneers singing How Will I Know Him (When He Walks By). This recording comes from their 1963 gospel album, Hymns of the Cowboy. 


Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Keep your lives free from the love of money. And be satisfied with what you have. God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never run away from you.” So we can feel sure and say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. People can do nothing to me.” Hebrews 13:5-6

For we live by believing and not by seeing.  2 Corinthians 5:7

The Lord is like a strong tower; those who do right can run to him for safety. Proverbs 18:10

 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Matthew 6:26

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. James 2:10

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I (Jesus) am He (the Messiah), you will die in your sins. John 8:24

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

But the godly are happy; they rejoice before God and are overcome with joy. Psalm 68:3

 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he. Proverbs 16:20

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Thank you for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #87

 Happy Saturday Morning my friends. Hope you are all ready for some classic cartoons. 

Today's cartoon selection begins with the last black and white Silly Symphony, Bugs in Love (1932). This is a rather typical Silly Symphony of its time, following the well established formula of animated characters having a grand time to music until the villain of the piece appears and tries to wreck their fun. As you can guess by the title this film's story involves various bugs. Bugs were a common site in the early Silly Symphonies and the newspaper comic strip. In fact the newspaper comic strip featured a complete remake of this cartoon. The Silly Symphonies were a series that at this time was constantly improving and audiences and exhibitors quickly took note of this improvement. For evidence here is an exhibitors review from 1934 (two years after the film's original release), "BUGS IN LOVE: Silly Symphonies—An old Silly Symphony. Not as good as the new ones. Running time, one reel.—A. B. Jefferis, New Piedmont Theatre, Piedmont, Mo. Small Town Patronage." Of course the Silly Symphonies were quite appropriately one of the most popular cartoon series of the time. The following is an exhibitors review from The Motion Picture Herald, "BUGS IN LOVE: Another great Silly Symphony. Give it extra billing.—Charles Niles, Niles Theatre, Anamosa, Iowa." Not everybody was so impressed with the series though as shown through the following exhibitors review from The Motion Picture Herald, "BUGS IN LOVE: Silly Symphony—This is just an- other Walt Disney cartoon comedy. Nothing good about it; just ordinary and is only fair entertainment. We have only played one good comedy of this series and every time we hope the next one will be better. Disappointed in these. Running time, nine minutes. - J. J. Medford, Orpheum Theatre, Oxford, N.C., General Patronage." 

Next comes one of my favorite early Popeye cartoons, Blow Me Down (1933). This cartoon is everyone I love about Popeye, it is filled with wild crazy gags and slapstick violence galore. The ending gag is a special favorite of mine, and I love the Olive we have in this cartoon more than the later version of her. The following is an exhibitor's review from the Motion Picture Herald, "BLOW ME DOWN: Popeye the Sailor—One of the best cartoons we have played. It got a lot of laughs. —P. G. Held, New Strand Theatre, Griswold, Iowa. General patronage."

Next comes an early and very funny Woodpecker cartoon, Pantry Panic (1941). This cartoon would be reissued to theatres in 1948 and 1949.

Next comes one of my favorite Out of the Inkwell shorts, The Cartoon Factory (1924). 

Next is a Walter Lantz cartoon with the forgotten Pooch the Pup, She Done Him Right (1933). 

Today's selection ends with a Garfield Quickie. 

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Some of My Favorite Live Albums

I don't know about you guys but I miss concerts a lot. There is nothing like seeing one of your favorite singers live, but unfortunately that is something we can't really do right now. Missing concerts however has got live music on my mind, and this is why today, I am going to look at some of my favorite live albums. Keep in mind that favorite doesn't always mean best, it just means favorite, so if your favorite live album isn't on here don't take it personally. 

Waylon Live (1974) - Waylon Jennings. 

In my opinion Waylon Jennings is and always will be one of the greatest singers (and not just country) of all time, and this album features him at his best. His voice is at its strongest and most powerful and his band has never sounded better. The selection of songs is top notch from Waylon's own hits to those of his friends (Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson) to old school country classics to then current rock hits. This is pure music perfection. If I had to pick an album to show someone why I love country music this would be one of my top picks. 

Miles Davis: Live at the Plugged Nickel (1965) - Miles Davis

To say this was a daring performance is a true understatement. Drummer Ton Williams said that the band decided to play the music in an anti-jazz style without telling Miles. Miles however not only catches on but considers this a challenge and plays by their rules with the shear artistry that few other than him posses. What results is an incredible concert both for jazz buffs and casual fans.

At Folsom Prison / At San Quentin (1968/1969). - Johnny Cash

These may be obvious choices but that is because these two albums are just so incredible. Johnny has incredible energy and an even better connection with his audience. With how well Johnny connects with these inmates, it no surprise that many people assumed he had been in prison himself. These albums also show the dichotomy of Johnny Cash more than any of his other albums do. You have a strong Christian with his faith in God and inability not to sure what God can do for others and praise him, yet one who also will cuss (or even flip the bird) and sing that he hopes San Quentin will "rot and burn in Hell." These two sides don't feel like they belong in the same person, but Johnny was far from a simple easy to explain person.

Willie and Family Live (1978) - Willie Nelson

If you have never seen Willie in concert, you need to. He is such an incredible live performer who puts so much energy and excitement into each song. It is hard not to just simply get swept up in the music with one of Willie's live performances. None of his live albums capture the energy and fun of a Willie Nelson performance more than Willie and Family Live. This album also shows the rocking side of this country music legend more than any other. 

The Last Waltz (1978) - The Band 

The soundtrack album to one of my favorite concert films is not surprisingly one of my favorite live albums. The Band's farewell concert shows the group at its best and hits like Up on Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, never sounded better than they do here. Featuring such incredible guests as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and Emmylou Harris any fan of 1960's or 70's music must hear this album.


Offerings: A Worship Album (2000) - Third Day

My favorite Christian rock band turns in one of their finest albums with their first live album and their first worship album. This album combines their own originals plus new covers of Michael W. Smith and Bob Dylan. The band simply sounds incredible and Mac Powell's voice is at its best. This is as good as Christian music gets.

Rock Spectacle (1996) - Barenaked Ladies

The Canadian pop-rock band with a uniquely offbeat sense of humor, are at their best live, and this live album may be their best album. This is them in all of their pre-One Week glory. If you want to see just how great of a band Barenaked Ladies are you can't do better than this album. This is when the band was at their creative peak and mixing that with their incredible energy live, this is a masterpiece of a live album.

At The Ryman
(1992) - Emmylou Harris 

Emmylou Harris is one of the best interrupters of classic country songs and many of her covers are often even better than originals. She also has an incredible energy and presence live. So a live album of her performing classic country songs has to be as good as it gets. This is pure traditional country music at its absolute finest and it is only appropriate that it comes from the historic Ryman (which was the home of The Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974). For country music fans it hardly gets better than this. 

Live in Iraq (2007) - Charlie Daniels Band

Charlie Daniels favorite part of his job was performing live and The Charlie Daniels Band was often at its best when they were live. That is why it is disappointing that they have so few live albums. However the live albums they do have are pure gems. Charlie always said that there was an art of putting together a concert and this was certainly an art he had mastered. This songs on this album are masterful put together and there is never a lull in the whole album. Of course performing for our troops overseas means there is a lot of Charlie's patriotism throughout this album. A lot of Charlie Daniels Band critics may complain about this, but to me this is a treat as his love for America is such a huge part of what makes Charlie Charlie. It is always so real and honest that I don't ever feel I'm being preached to but rather that the artist is just revealing who he is through his music.  

-Michael J. Ruhland