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

Posted by [email protected] on 28 November, 2020 at 9:15 Comments comments (0)

“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

From: [email protected]

To: [email protected]

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


Top-Rail News Flash! * 21 June 2020 * Happy Father's Day!

Posted by [email protected] on 23 June, 2020 at 16:40 Comments comments (0)

Howdy Top-Rail Bunch,

   Happy Father's Day to all of you Dads out there! I hope you have a pleasant and enjoyable day with your families. Stay Safe and stay healthy.

   On the 13th of June I celebrated my 74th birthday. A birthday video was posted via a request from Donald Ewert of Milwaukee, one of the very first subscribers to my Top-Rail Chatter Independent Country Music Magazine [1995-2003] from its first publication to the last. For being a consistent loyal fan and purchaser of my music, several years ago I told him that his money was no longer welcomed here. That any of Roughshod Records music or other products are his for the asking. He is one of several that I had extended the same privilege to over the years.


Donald Ewert’s “Mike Johnson 74th Birthday Video” Request


   "Thank You Donald, for all your years of support, and also for the birthday card. Donald, as well as my friend Terry Smith, whom I met in June 1994 at a Jamboree in Michigan have sent me a birthday card ever since.

   "Thanks for the birthday card Terry. And I'm glad you're home safe and sound. We’ll talk when you’re settled." Terry had been out of state to help care for his sister.

   Andy Nocero, a local Northern Virginia music icon recently sent out a notice to us about the Alan Byrd Tribute he was formulating. A tentative date was set for 12 July 2020 at Lorraine Campbell's JVs Restaurant, an iconic music spot in Annandale, Virginia. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 issue he's asking whether or not to keep that date or post-pone it again. Granted, also with consideration for Lorraine's booking schedule, those acts being a major draw to her establishment, which by the way has been there since the 1940s! Alan, another notable musician friend, passed away in February 2020.

   Another iconic music friend Rocky Guttmann is recovering from a thumb surgery and won't be able to play for several months. Fortunately he and his wife are retired so living funds aren’t an issue. Get better Rocky. "Hi Mary!"

   My friend Aharon, who retired early this year from 35 years of running a show repair & dry cleaning business, is once again in a dispute with adjacent Lyon Hall Restaurant, who has once again extended their outside property boundary across his property and the right-of-way between their properties. I’m in the process of drafting his complaint and compiling documents to help him address this issue [again] and file a complaint with the County Zoning Board. Lyon Hall moved next door two years after Aharon opened his new shop and very arrogantly began placing their equipment on some of his property. It was finally resolved and they had to remove their items.

   This time Lyon Hall is using the pandemic and that fact that Aharon’s shop is vacant [space for lease] to justify their actions! They’ve indicated the ‘problem’ would go away if leased some space to them. Aharon is adamant that is never going to happen! So, another addition to my to-do list that basically is now at the top of it. Oh, I’ve known Aharon since 1994 and he has taken very good care of my boots and stage clothes. One thing I can most definitely claim is that at no time in my life have I ever had “nothing” to do!

    One more music thing I don't believe I mentioned in the last newsletter. While checking my CD Baby distribution account I discovered that they had terminated their online CD store. I believe you can still purchase via their downloadable coupons, or something like that? Seems they are engaging more and more into music licensing and royalty collections for its members. I'm not concerned because a lot of my music is available directly from the Roughshod Records webstore.

    So, in concluding this newsletter, I don’t feel there’s a need for me to rehash what is currently going on in the US. I’m sure some of you are getting your share and more from news broadcasts, internet, and social media. Whatever your feelings, the most important thing is to stay informed, stay safe, stay healthy, and take care of your families.

Adios Amigos!

Mike Johnson


Top-Rail News Flash! * 12 April 2020 * Happy Easter!

Posted by [email protected] on 23 June, 2020 at 16:25 Comments comments (0)

Howdy Top-Rail Bunch!

   Happy Easter to all of you! I sincerely hope that all of you are healthy and well during this trying time. While this virus is a very serious matter there is no need for panic. Heed the advice of the medical professionals and take the necessary and recommended precautions. Sanitation, limited contact with others, and eat foods rich in proteins to keep your immune system intact. Still don't understand the rush on toilet paper???

   On a somber note, on 20 February 2020 I receive notice from my music friend Rick Franklin, that a long-time local music friend of many of us, Alan Byrd, had passed away on 18 February 2020. This information was sent by Alan's son. Alan was a very gracious musician who reached out to everyone and was never shy about sharing his stage with anyone. He was a whiz on the guitar, quick witted, and played some very unique songs. I've spent the past week rooting out some video footage of Alan and a bunch of us performing during the 1990s with the intention of sharing this wonderful talent, with whom a number of us have performed with, on my YouTube Channel in the very near future. Alan was a regular at Kenny Haddaway's Sunday Jams at the Tex-Mex Bar & Grille in Rosslyn, Virginia. Our music friend Andy Nocero, in coordination with Alan's son, is planning a musical tribute once this pandemic is over.

   I'm fine and well stocked with plenty of canned vegetables, meats, and fish. I've only had to shop twice, a little over a month apart, to restock on perishables like milk, eggs, and cheese. My VA medical appointments have been cancelled until it's safe. I'm too old to get sick, and will be turning 74 in June. So, I'm definitely doing everything possible to make it. As for being home-bound, that's not a problem. I have many projects in art, literature, music and videos to keep me busy. One of them, the James Adelsberger Country Songbook is almost ready for publication. It contains the 15 songs that are on his first and second Roughshod Records releases. He did the scores several years ago, but the project was always pushed on the backburner because we had other musical priorities pressing. The rear cover layout is done. Still have to pick one from the front cover layouts. the copyright pages are done and I'm finishing up a brief biography and picture page.

   For those of you who have inquired about why I'm still producing James' stuff. Simple. As a producer, I'm obligated to exploit all of the material in the label's catalog, to its fullest. Every good producer does that. Once something is produced, as is legally required, he will be notified and paid accordingly. We created a wealth of material during his tenure and I would be remiss in not exploiting them. Two, he left to address pressing personal and professional priorities.

   In fact, if you check my YouTube Channel, you'll see how I've exploited some of the songs on the CDs that I produced for Dale Heeren and Rocky Guttmann & Harry Pritchett, called "Mike Johnson Listen' To..." Instead of relying on me to email you on my latest posting, create a YouTube account, subscribe to my Channel, and hit the "Notification" bell and you'll get an email each time I post a new video. Oh, and you don't have to post any videos to open a YouTube account.

   Also worth mentioning is that a number of music organizations, like ASCAP, BMI, PRS for MUSIC, etc. have initiated some type of plan to help full-time musicians cope with the economic crunch the pandemic is causing. So if you're a member of them or any other substantial music group, you might want to check them out. I'm retired with a pension, so I'm okay.

   Received word from music friend Rod Brandt in Australia that he's coping with the loss of his significant other. It will take time. Hang in there Rod. Our condolences on the recent passing of John Prine and Kenny Rogers, two very wonderful musicians.

   Well, that's pretty much it for this issue. Just wanted to touch base to let you know that we are thinking about you and wishing you well during these trying times. Joe Arnold, my manager, is okay also and says "hi" and Happy Easter to all of you as well. Stay safe, stay alive! There's a lot more roads to travel!

Adios Amigos!

Mike Johnson & Joe Arnold

Top-Rail News Flash! 31 January 2020 Discovery Channel Direct License Scheme

Posted by [email protected] on 1 February, 2020 at 9:15 Comments comments (0)

Howdy Top-Rail Bunch! Happy New Year!

   I trust that your New Year celebration was a safe and fun-filled one. 2019 was a very interesting and exciting year, to be sure and I am anxious to see what 2020 brings. But before I get down to business, I have two announcements to make, which I will provide a little more detail at the end of this newsletter.

   On Wednesday 8 January 2020, the Sheriff’s Department officially evicted the tenants who bought my friend’s business back in October 2018. And on a sadder note, a lifelong friend from the 1950s, Leo Maimone, passed away on 9 January 2020.

   In the 22 December 2019 Issue of the Top-Rail News Flash I made this statement, “When something doesn't sound right, I do my own research. And what I discovered was much more sinister and actually threatens the livelihood of future background music composers.”

   This was my initial response to an article I read in the 15 December 2019 Issue of Tradition magazine regarding the Discovery Channel’s new direct licensing deal with background music composers, and a suggestion that this was an attempt to save them from ASCAP and BMI. My research revealed that article to be very misleading because it threatened the livihood of current and future background music composers. Here are 7 excerpts [cut & pasted] from that 15 December 2019 Tradition article, so as not to misquote anything. I will also refer to Tradition Magazine’s author as Editor because this is not designed to be a personal attack or affront to my music friend.

1. TRADITION 15 December 2019:

“The Discovery Channel has announced it is seeking 'direct source licenses' with composers of background music used on the many and various programs that Discovery creates. This action would effectively eliminate the need for ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, music licensing agencies who collect the money on the composers behalf, and of course keep a nice tidy sum for doing so, but never give a penny to the composers they represent if that same composer performs his original music 'live.'…”

RESPONSE: [1]Direct licensing with background music composers has been a routine part of the industry for decades. This new deal does not eliminate the need for ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, because they are not typically involved in these types of negotiations. [2]The collection “sums” ASCAP and BMI receive are regulated and not arbitrary. [3]ASCAP OnStage is the platform that pays its writer members when they perform their own songs live at a licensed venue. [4]BMI Live is the platform that pays its writer members when they perform their own songs live at a licensed venue. Both platforms have similar submission fields and include information on performance dates covered for each quarter of each year, and a deadline for submitting your songs for payment within each quarter. [5]SESAC is a private, for-profit organization that has an invitation-only membership and is somewhat secretive about their financial operations. I could not find any information about live performance payments and therefore mention of them in this Issue will be limited.

2. TRADITION 15 December 2019: “This is even more pronounced in the situations where a composer performs his original material live in a 'small' venue. The venue, for instance, pays an enormous fee to these same licensing agencies, who collect the fees on behalf of their composers, but pays not one red single penny back to the composers they are collecting for…”

RESPONSE: [1]The venue pays a license fee based on a number of factors, which includes square footage, audience capacity, admission charges, concession stands, and whether it’s a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or music venue, such as Tradition editor’s Oak Tree Opry. [2]ASCAP and BMI do pay their registered writer members. [3]ASCAP and BMI have been under a court ordered consent decree by the U.S Justice Department Antitrust Division since 1941, which regulates how they operate.

3. TRADITION 15 December 2019: “…WOW you say! Yes indeed. That's why the Discovery Channel wants to deal directly with the composers they want to hire…”

RESPONSE: [1]False! The Discovery Channel wants to execute a one-time buyout of the compositions and eliminate the ‘back end’ royalties when their shows are re-broadcast, become series, placed on DVDs, etc. [2]It’s from these additional airings and productions that composers receive performance royalties which are collected by ASCAP and BMI and distributed to their composer members! This is a major part of their living wages!

4. TRADITION 15 December 2019: “…A little more 'explanation' from my point of view. As I enter my 70th year as an entertainer, musician, AND composer I'd like to share my personal experience with one licensing agency in particular ASCAP. I perform my own compositions at a venue called the Oak Tree, which is OWNED by a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation who is dedicated to righting the wrongs of licensing agencies, ASCAP in particular, who collects the money but doesn't pay a penny back to the composer, even if he's performing on his own stage. This means a composer has to pay to play his own songs on his own property without any recompense of any kind.

RESPONSE: [1]Music Venues in the United States are legally required and responsible for obtaining licenses from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC to use the music in their catalogs. This has nothing to do with whether or not Editor is performing his/her own songs on his/her own property, or it’s a non-profit corporation, etc. [2]The Oak Tree Opry hosts shows that feature numerous artists and is therefore required to obtain the appropriate licenses which will allow all artists appearing on its stage to sing any of the songs in the PROs catalogs. [3]Editor is not paying to play his own songs on his own property! See bracket 2. [4]And since Editor is not a registered songwriter member of ASCAP or BMI, he will not be paid for live performances of his own songs!

5. TRADTITION: “…What's more, many of the original songs I perform on my own stage is licensed through a BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) Music Publishing Company, Royal Flair Music, which I also own. It is this same publishing company that 'sponsors' the special 'original music' programs we do. When I complain bitterly that I don't want to pay ASCAP for performing my own BMI originals on my own stage, sponsored by a BMI music publisher, because they refuse to 'pay' their composers the money they collect, they tell me that it is far to expensive for them to determine what songs are being played in 'any' venue, therefore they refuse to pay their songwriters anything.

RESPONSE: [1]Again, Editor is not paying ASCAP to perform his own songs. [2]The Oak Tree Opry should also have a blanket license from BMI and SESAC as well because artists perform a wide variety of PRO songs on its stage. [3]Yes, back then it was too expensive to determine what songs were being played in any venue at any given time, and that money was diverted to cover other PRO projects. [4]That is why ASCAP OnStage and BMI Live! were eventually created! I have many BMI royalty statements that prove I’ve been paid for performing my songs live!

6. TRADITION 15 December 2019: “…You may know that I spent about 20 of my 70 years performing music in Europe. It didn't matter if I was in England, France, or Austria, or wherever, I ALWAYS received payment for performance of my own original material. Not much sometimes, but if that can be done in Europe, WHY then can it not be done in America? That's what makes the Discovery Channel's decision to bypass music publishing licensing agencies and contract directly with the composers so interesting. What Discovery is doing is hiring the very best in the business and let those that aren't so good seek employment elsewhere…”

RESPONSE: [1]The European music PROs have a much more stringent and mandatory reporting and payout system that does not operate like the U.S. PROs. [2]I’ve never encountered a scenario whereby the venue directly paid a writer specifically for performing his/her songs. I suspect that Editor was being paid for his booked performances, which included his own songs. I could be wrong because Europe does things differently. But I’ve so far found no evidence to support European direct payments to songwriters specifically for their own songs. [3]If anyone can share direct light on this, please do! It would be an interesting topic for a future Issue. [4]However, the fact is that the Discovery Channel was trying to CHEAT its professional composers out of their main revenue source and they revolted! See news excerpts and a recent update further down.

7. TRADITION: “…In the early days of recorded music teaming up with radio broadcasting, ASCAP was the ONLY licensing agency available. Without ASCAP approval, you could not get your recording played on radio. This is the interesting part. ASCAP refused to license what they called 'mountain' or 'hillbilly' music. In their own 'public' words, they claimed this particular musical genre was unfit for humans to listen to. My God, does this discrimination even 'bother' anyone that has to deal with ASCAP. Do you know what the radio stations did? They teamed up and 'BANNED' ASCAP music from being played on their radio stations. Did that change the situation? Gulp, it sure did, ASCAP backed right down.

RESPONSE: [1]Yes, in the beginning ASCAP was the only licensing agency, and if the writer/publishers were not ASCAP members, DJs wouldn’t play their music. Yes, ASCAP discriminated against ‘hillbilly’ music” and called it ‘unfit for humans to listen to’ along with other music genres! [2]No, ASCAP did not back down. Between 1931 and 1939 ASCAP increased their radio rates by 448%! When ASCAP tried to double the rates in 1940, the broadcasters revolted and created Broadcast Music, Inc. better known as BMI.


   Following 15 December 2019 Tradition Magazine article I researched and read a number of articles on this subject, with all of them reaching the same conclusion. Including a couple written by John Burlingame, who is briefly referenced by Editor. Please click the provided links to get the details.

   TRADITION 15 December 2019: “…John Burlingame who prepared it for Variety Magazine (12-19-19) says "that the Discovery Network … is instituting a new pay policy that virtually assures no composer currently working on their programs will do so after December 31, 2019."

   Apparently Editor didn’t read the whole article, or any others, because his quote certainly does not seem to support the notion that Discovery Channel is trying to protect its composers from ASCAP or BMI.


1. “Composers Rally Against Discovery’s Reported Plan to Nix Music Royalty Payments. Discovery Networks plans to restructure music deals for shows like "Deadliest Catch" in a move that would decimate composers' earnings.” 18 December 2019 by Chris Landahl: “Beginning December 31, [2019] Discovery is moving to direct source licenses, which would mean composers would no longer collect US royalties for all future and past work — they would only collect upfront fees and foreign royalties. Dec 18, 2019”

“…As of December 31st, Discovery will no longer commission original music that allows writers to collect their U.S. performance royalties through the PRO of their choice…”

2. “Discovery Networks Corners Composers in Music Royalties Battle.

Music makers for shows like "Deadliest Catch" decry the new contract provisions as “evil."

12 December 2019 2:54PM PT by Jon Burlingame

“…Discovery has informed many of its top composers that, beginning in 2020, they must give up all performance royalties paid for U.S. airings, and that they must sign away their ability to collect royalties on all past shows on its networks. Music makers surmise that the policy will result in an 80% to 90% drop in their income from these shows. It’s the last straw for many composers who say they will refuse to continue to score such series as “Gold Rush,” “Deadliest Catch” (pictured) and “Alaskan Bush People,” calling the new contract provisions “unprofessional,” “bullying,” “a corporate money grab” and “evil…”

“…Variety spoke with more than a half-dozen composers who have been informed of the proposal, which is designed to circumvent the 100-year-old system whereby composers are compensated for use of their music in broadcast media. Those royalties are collected and distributed by performance-rights societies ASCAP, BMI and SESAC…”

“…Some estimates suggest that [Discovery Channel] avoiding ASCAP, BMI and SESAC royalty payments might save them $25 million or so – less than 1 per cent of Discovery’s third-quarter 2019 revenue of nearly $2.68 billion. Several composers and music attorneys tell Variety that this initiative “sets a dangerous precedent.” They worry that inexperienced composers who agree to take this deal will erode long-held industry practices…” “…Discovery is requesting “direct source licenses” which will enable them to eliminate royalty payments…”

3. Composers revolted against Discovery Channel’s new Direct Licensing Policy and WON! VICTORY FOR COMPOSERS AS DISCOVERY NETWORKS U-TURNS ON RIGHTS BUYOUT PLAN

Posted 27 January 2020 by Murry Stassen

“Media company Discovery Networks has scrapped controversial plans to stop paying performance royalties to composers for shows aired in the US across its channels including Discovery Channel and Animal Planet…”

“…As first reported by Variety in December, Discovery Networks was planning to start asking composers to agree to “direct source licenses” for their music, (i.e. having their rights bought outright), or risk having their work removed from programming. This news drew fierce criticism from both creators and PROs, with ASCAP stating in mid December that it was “very alarmed by the reports of Discovery Networks’ new policy…”

“…The Production Music Association (PMA), which counts over 670 music publisher and composer members, issued a statement on Thursday (January 24) announcing a U-turn from Discovery.

The PMA personally thanked Discovery’s Vice President of Global Music, Shawn White for the network’s reversed decision…”

“…Some very good news,” said the PMA’s statement. “We have been informed today by Discovery Networks that in regard to performance rights, Discovery has decided that their US channels will remain operating as is under the traditional PRO performing rights model…”

ASCAP and BMI LIVE PERFORMANCE PAYOUTS: Since I’ve already addressed Tradition Editor’s erroneous claim that ASCAP and BMI do not pay their songwriter members for live performances of their own works, I’m going to just dig in. Editor is not a registered BMI songwriter member! I have explained this to Editor nearly a half dozen times since 2011! His publishing company, Royal Flair Music, is a registered BMI Publisher member and as such is required to list all of the songs and their writers in its publishing catalog. After a fee, processing, and approval, the publisher and its songs receive separate CAE/IPI numbers. If the listed songwriters are registered BMI songwriter members a CAE/IPI number appears with their names. There is no CAE/IPI number attached to Editor’s name!

   Editor must register in the BMI songwriter membership category and enter the relevant information. After processing and approval [no fee] he will receive a CAE/IPI number. His songs will retain the CAE/IPI numbers originally assigned to them through Royal Flair. Then, and only then, will Editor be able to submit his performances to the BMI Live platform and get paid.

   I’ve tried to make this as objective and impersonal as possible because Editor is also a music friend. However, it’s time for Editor to stop spreading these ASCAP and BMI falsehoods and follow the proper songwriter registration procedures so that he is a registered BMI songwriter member and can finally benefit from the BMI Live program that pays royalties to me and thousands of other BMI songwriters when we perform our songs on stages across the country!

Local News: I still haven’t received the paid for “Glitter” CD from local artist Heather Mae, so I’ve written her off as a scam artist! My good friend Bill Gibson aka “Batman, complete with a Bat-Cave, Bat Mobile, and Batman costume, has picked up a new gig at King’s Craft in Rockville, Maryland. Wishing him luck and hoping I can out to see him when my heavy project load slims down.

   My good friends Rocky & Mary Anne sent me a yodeling pickle for Christmas 2019! Pretty cool! Early in my music career I contemplated creating a yodeling Mike Johnson doll! Ha!

   Our music publisher has plenty of songs available for covering, and our Record labels have plenty of recorded tracks available for leasing. You can check them out on our websites.

   I started working on this Issue during the first week in January 2020 and then ‘Murphy’ decided to throw a few monkey wrenches into the works. Not the least of which was another stonewalling letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs requesting information that I had already sent them on my ship’s movements during its Vietnam tours. This is for the Agent Orange Blue Water Navy benefits signed into law in 2019! Fortunately, before I send out anything, I make copies of the completed forms and attachments, and send the originals via certified mail.

   Health issues compelled my good friend Aharon, who owned and operated a dry cleaner-shoe repair business for 35 years to sell his business in October 2018. Unfortunately the new owner defaulted on the terms in the contract; two payments a year for five years. After much wrangling and lengthy court proceedings the judge finally instructed the Sheriff’s department to evict the buyer on 8 January 2020. We spent a hectic first week trying to locate missing items. I met Aharon around 1993 or ’94 while looking for a cobbler to repair my boots. My old cobbler of 10-plus years had retired. Over the years we became friends and in exchange for me helping him he would sponsor some of my music printing ventures with ink and paper supplies. The first week following the eviction was rather hectic as we tried to locate missing items, as well as inform customers they had 30 business days to retrieve their items. I called all the customers who had phone numbers on their tickets. Some numbers were out of service, others blocked calls, and other required a pin?

   On 9 January 2020, the day after the eviction, I go home to find a voice message that my lifelong friend, Leo had died earlier that day. We met in the Boy Scouts back around 1958. He had been recruited by our Scoutmaster to take over when he retired. We’ve kept in frequent contact throughout the years and in 1993 I moved into the same condo building where and his wife lived. During the 1970s Leo became a wedding photographer while I became a police officer and did freelance photography on the side. I avoided weddings! He also liked to write poetry, and I would go through them periodically and eventually found a few that I liked well enough to convert into songs. I rewrote some of the lyrics and composed the music for “Pigtails and Bubblegum” and Liquid Hell.”

   “Pigtails” was recorded released in June 1987 on my 2nd Cassette album, “Did You Hug Your Mother Today?” #C068701. “Liquid Hell” was recorded and released in November 2014 on James Adelsberger’s CD album “Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?” #RCD49-15112014-1. The album also received a 2015 Rural Roots Music Commission “Pure Country” CD of the Year award. “Liquid Hell” was released as an Instrumental in November 2015 on James Adelsberger’s Instrumental CD album “Country Sounds #YCD1-26112015, which features some fantastic fiddling by James’ friend, Michael Romans. And it was released again in June 2017 on my CD album “Covering James Adelsberger” #RCD54-13062017-3.

Leo P. Maimone * 4 November 1940 - 9 January 2020 * Rest In Peace!

   Well, this concludes this Issue. I’d like to wish all of you an upcoming Happy Valentine’s Day, as well. Our YouTube Channel now has 1065 videos. Again, no click bait titles, no solicitations, no blogs or vlogs, or whatever they call them! We don’t send junk mail.

Adios and Vaya con Dios!

Mike Johnson & Joe Arnold

Roughshod Records

You and Me Records

Mike Johnson’s YouTube Channel

The Top-Rail News Flash is an online version of the former Top-Rail Independent Country Music Magazine published by Roughshod Records from 1995 to 2004. If you no longer wish to receive our News Flash please inform us and we’ll drop you like a hot branding iron!

Top-Rail News Flash! * 22 December 2019 Merry Christmas!

Posted by [email protected] on 3 January, 2020 at 1:20 Comments comments (0)

Howdy Top-Rail Bunch!

Merry Christmas to one and all! And thank you for your cards and letters. Here’s my toast to you. May you have a Happy New Year filled with lots family, friends, beer, and fried alligator! Ha! I trust that all of you had a pleasant and satisfying Thanksgiving. I know that I did. Joe is taking a break, so this Issue is all mine. And quite a few things have happened since the June Issue.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that on 6 October 2019 I posted my 1000th video on my YouTube Channel.. “Mike Johnson Art Vol. 2 “Some Early Oil Paintings” features some of my earliest works, good, bad, hmm… the earliest painting was in 1958, I believe. One constant thing was that I didn’t always use the appropriate mediums, ie; canvas, canvas board, special art papers, etc. I drew and painted on whatever was available at the time. Over the years I’ve scanned a great majority of my art into my system and saved them on an external hard drive. I have an Epson scanner/printer that has an 11” x 17” scanner bed and can print 13” x 19” images. I must confess that, in all honesty, back then I was kinda cheap! Money that I should have been spending on appropriate art supplies [which I did sometimes] was spent on beer, motorcycles, guns, belt buckles, and darkroom supplies. As of today, 22 December 2019 that number is now 1,031 videos, and counting.

Mike Johnson Art Vol. 2 “Some Early Oil Paintings”

My "38 Years of Music Productions" DVD has enjoyed modest sales and very favorable feedback. While there is a YouTube version on my Channel, the DVD contains separate Chapters that you can view individually at your leisure instead of trying to force yourself into watching the whole hour and a half video all at once. I also decided to extend our bonus offer to 1 January 2019. When you purchase the DVD from our Roughshod Records Web Store, we will include my latest CD released in June 2019, a two song Single featuring "Cockco Doodle Doo!" and Preposterous!" I think the former song might be somewhere, in some form, on my YouTube Channel.

Roughshod Records Web Store:


I received a surprising blast from the past on 8 October 2019 when my friend Sharon Marie sent me a digital copy of her mom’s new 2019 release, "Yodeling Blonde Bombshell" Volume 3, featuring Carolina Cotton, a very popular singer, yodeler, actress and radio celebrity during the 1940s and 1950s! Unfortunately, this marvelous entertainer passed away in June 1997 in Bakersfield, California.

While I never met Carolina, I do recall seeing a couple of her movies as a child because I was a huge fan of Western movies and the singing cowboys, and cowgirls. This release is chocked full of wonderful songs from the Western Swing era, with a couple of numbers in very fluent Spanish; “Cachita” and Farolita.” Some of my other favorites are Granma’s Old Arm Chair” “The Cowboy’s Life” “Sally Get Your Hoecake Done” and “Bless Your Heart.” This album definitely took me back to my childhood days when life was sometimes magical. In fact, Sharon gave me permission to post a video of me driving down the road and listening to her mom sing and yodel “The Cowboy’s Life.” I played her CD in the car for two weeks and it remains in my road rotating stack!

Quite a few of the songs feature an almost forgotten instrument, the Accordion, whose sound I've always liked. I was privileged to become friends with Sharon Marie, also the heir and producer of Carolina’s works, through our involvement with Bart Plantenga in 2005 when he was compiling yodeling songs for the “Rough Guide to Yodel” CD which was released in 2006 by the World Music Network in London, England. Besides Carolina and myself, my friend Janet McBride, the Yodeling Queen, was also on that CD, along with 12 others. Sharon and I have been email friends since then and have shared a wealth of music related stuff with each other. For more on the fantastic life of Carolina Cotton, please visit her website. Did you know that Carolina Cotton was part of the expedition to bring an actual pole to the North Pole?

Official Carolina Cotton web site.

Yodeling Blonde Bombshell - Carolina Cotton

Bart Plantenga is the author of two best-selling books on the history of yodeling, "Yodel-Ay-Ee-OOoo, The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World published by Rutledge in New York and Great Britain (2004) and "Yodel In HiFi" (2012) published by the University of Wisconsin Press. I'm in the second book, after having been contacted by Bart in 2005. I met Bart in 2005 after he invited me to participate in his yodel book lecture of his first yodel book at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York. Yodelers Randy Erwin and Lyn Books were also there, and we each gave a demonstration of our yodeling styles to a highly enthusiastic and engaging audience. This was my first public performance since 2003 when a cervical spinal cord compression incapacitated me. In layman's terms, three neck vertebrae collapsed on my spinal cord!

The Ken Burns Country Music series was released on DVD by Netflix on 22 October 2019 in an 8-disc set. I saw the first Chapter on TV, sort of. I was working on a project and the TV was just playing. I’m on the fence with what I saw so I won’t go into any details, yet. However I did place the series in my DVD mail-out Que and when I have some real time on my hands I’ll watch it. So, if you are a Netflix DVD subscriber, here’s your chance to watch each Chapter at your leisure. I only caught part of the first chapter because I was busy with a couple of projects. So, now the entire series is in my DVD Que.


Other happenings:

Heather Mae’s CD “Glimmer” is a no show! On 1 December 2018 I received an email from this local musician who was soliciting funds for her new CD project. My reaction was “cool” because I knew Heather to be a great musician and Sax player, with whom I had played a few times at the Sunday jams at the Old Firestation No.3 in Fairfax Virginia! So, after sending her a money order to help the cause, for which I would get an autographed CD and a digital download.

Heater Mae, Heather Mae? Do I know a Heather Mae? Something seemed off. After more digging, it turns out I had confused her with my fantastic Sax playing friend, Heather Haze, who wasn’t currently working on any new productions! Heather Mae, on the other, was someone I had merely filmed at an Old Firestation No.3 Sunday jam. Something I did quite often at music jams without necessarily knowing the performers personally. However, upon inquiring after the initial release date passed, she told me that it had been pushed to September 2019 and that I would certainly get my copy. this month I learned that she had raised about $27,000 for her CD project! But as of today, 22 December 2019 I still haven't received my copy, which was supposed to deliver in August 2019!

In August 2019, I was invited to join Singin’ Sam LaRosa and his significant other, Vicki, who went to take Linda out for a birthday lunch. Afterwards we returned to her retirement home where Sam and Vicki provided a little party with decorated cupcakes and drinks. I went down to visit Linda on Sunday 22 December 2019 and took her a tin of Christmas cookies and a photo of Brenda Weitzel & myself, and Sam & Vicki for her.

On 29 September 2019 I saw Brenda Weitzel and Bert Huser perform at the Electric Palm Restaurant, a popular waterfront hangout, in Woodbridge, Virginia. Lisa brought her mother Linda Caldwell up for the show which turned out to be somewhat of a ‘family’ [of musicians] reunion. Linda, retired, owned the Coffee House of Occoquan in Occoquan Virginia and hosted music events for over a decade. Sam and Vicki were also frequent patrons of Linda’s place. Even Bob and Sheila Everhart of the National Traditional Country Music Association performed there on a very blistering winter night in December 2009.

Local music friend Jeff Seidel has been recovering from hip replacement surgery in a motel, and is scheduled for another surgery to replace the other hip. He was declared to be “too” healthy for a Rehab Center so his health insurance company put him in a hotel! Still elusive as ever, Jeff pops up every now and then. Ha!

My semi-retired music friend, Rocky Guttmann is back on the music circuit again, adding Wegman’s Cafés to his lineup, and an occasional gig at Murphy’s in Old Town Alexandria. One down in the Richmond area where he lives, and one in the Hill Top Village Shopping Center in Alexandria, Virginia on Beulah Road. Maintenance on his national forest has caused him to temporarily step back into the limelight. But he loves it and his fans really missed him when he ‘retired’ to be home with the wife and grandkids. Just the other day he told me that he had ordered some additional copies of his Irish CD, “Rocky’s Road to Dublin.” For those of you who love Irish music, this is a must have!

I’ve been there several times and was rather impressed at the setup. It has a sizable café, a bar, and a children’s play area. Several years back I use to take my Uncle Gordon shopping at Wegman’s in Maryland but it didn’t have what the new ones have. My uncle was a big fan of my music and would regularly buy my new releases to give to his friends in Tucson. I would have to threaten him with a stick to accept freebies.

Rocky Guttmann’s Website

Speaking of food markets, while searching for something or another on the internet I stumbled across the gator meat being sold at the Wal-Mart in Dumfries, Virginia. They also sell crawfish tails! Yep, I couldn’t believe my eyes, so the next day I drive down there and sure enough, it was true. They have fresh gator tails and seasoned and breaded nuggets, in one pound packages! The crawdads come in 12oz. packages.

Almost immediately some of my friends indicated that I no longer have to go to Florida to get my gator. They were met with a very swift response of “Don’t ruin my road trip!” I’m a retired long-distance trucker and still like to get out on the big road, the gator meat being only one factor for the Florida run. Besides, in Florida I was paying an average of $6 to $8 a pound, whereas Wal-Mart charges $13.44 a pound! They will be my emergency backup if I can’t get out of town, or as is currently happening, the Florida prices have spiked to about $15 a pound because of hurricane and storm caused damage. Now what does this have to do with music, you ask. It keeps me singing!

Fortunately, my music friends Barbara Dunn down in Santa Fe, Texas, and PJ Price down in Houston, Texas have been spared the wrath of Mother Nature as she raged through the state this year. My friends, Diane and Shane Gunnell are finally back up and running after their home and property was flooded by the river behind them down in North Carolina. I've been doing quite well since my June 2018 stroke, and the VA has been staying on top of things.


Murphy runs rampant at Roughshod Records:

Ever had one of those Murphy days when Murphy just runs rampant? Well I've had several over the past couple of months! I pushed the ‘play’ button on my 5-try Sony/Magnavox CD player and it took up residence inside the case for several months. Not to worry because it has a remote. I eventually pulled it apart to repair it. Couldn’t repair the plastic ligament so I melted the ‘play’ in place, and it’s now collecting dust until I decide to trash it. It plays well, but most people listen to music on their IPods and such.

My 5-tray Sony DVD/CD player suddenly decided that it was only going to read CDs, so I bought a single DVD player. Eventually I got tired of getting up the change discs so I bought another Sony 5-tray DVD/CD player and the DVDs are playing perfectly. I replaced the 5-tray [older] Sony/Magnavox with the [newer] Sony 5-tray player that now only plays CDs, and is a much better unit.

My 40” Samsung HDTV, that I bought brand new in January 2019, went south a month or so ago! I replaced it with a 40” LG HDTV in July of this year and returned it within a month because of programming issues. Turns out they were made basically for hotels and motels and wouldn’t program like the Samsung did. So the LG got swapped for another 40” Samsung HDTV which has ‘smart’ features. I turned off the ‘smart’ part because I don’t want the internet on my TV! That’s what I have 3 computers for! I bought a Roku Box when Netflix first launched its streaming service, and it allows me to watch movies and YouTube videos on my TV and subscribe to a massive volume of other streaming services, if I want, which I don’t. And no, Disney is not one of them!

My Teac Dual Cassette Deck Recorder that I use for demos and my Philips CDR765 Digital Audio CD Recorder also went south a couple of months ago. Fortunately, I had backup units and all I had to do was swap them out and rewire. Ha! It took me a whole day! Well, everything is up and running and working like they should. I plan on replacing the backup Classic Digital Audio CD Recorder with another Philips because it’s a much better and easier unit to use for mastering CDs.


YouTube’s Algorithms aren’t always accurate:

Around 6 October 2019 I received a YouTube message stating that Warner-Chappell, PEDL, and UMPG Publishing lodged a Copyright Claim stating that my video “James Adelsberger sorting out Me and My Sad Self” was using the melody of their song “God Is Love.” What the…! Of course I disputed their claim! Two days later I decided to locate and listen to their song and found it on YouTube. Don’t see any resemblance other than both songs have a fiddle in them. More importantly though, is that my song was written back in 1988 and released in 2008 by me, in 2014 by James, and again in 2017 by me. Their song, after an exhaustive search, revealed that it was written not so long ago, so if anything, their song was infringing on mine! YouTube contacted me to say that Warner-Chappell and the others had dropped their claim. Basically, those monitoring algorithms sometimes rely on snippets of data, thereby producing bogus claims. In this case, they tried to claim my whole song! My insistence that our songs were not the same also spared them a copyright from me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to defend my songs against YouTube claims and it probably won’t be the last. I just thank my mother, and my music mentor Jim Stanton, who always encouraged me to catalog my works. The end result is that I have two large music catalogs. One lists all the songs I written and co-written and are listed by title, writer[s], dates written and dates copyrighted. The other lists each release by title, artist[s], songwriter[s] producer, label, release date, ISRC numbers, BMI catalog number, and barcodes. I also have a music mail-out list dating back to March 1981 that shows everyone I’ve mailed my music to. The creation of the internet it has made it a lot easier to monitor my songs for illegal usage. Only a couple of times have I had to issue a take-down order.

I write songs from beginning to end. My melodies and lyrics are almost always in sync with each other. I don’t use ‘beats’ or borrow snippets from other writers’ songs to create mine. When I have a problem completing a song, I create a demo of it just like I do my completed ones, shelve it, and come back to it later. Often when I’m rehearsing or working on some of my other incomplete songs, ideas will spring up to finish some of the incomplete ones. I have over 135 demo tapes containing as many as 20 songs on them, along with corresponding numbered and dated catalog.

Clicking the links below to compare the two songs. For those who don’t get it, my song was written and released many years before theirs was written!

"God is Love" written by Bill & Miss Dee Gaskin


James Adelsberger sorting out “Me and My Sad Self”

During the past year I’ve been asked a few of times why I haven’t added any new releases to my CD Baby site. Simple. A few years back I caught CD Baby stealing my SoundExchange royalties! Their excuse was that they saw that I had ‘unclaimed’ royalties in the SoundExchange account and decided, without my consent or knowledge, to collect them on my behalf! For an administration fee, of course! I discovered this while I was checking on my next CD Baby payout. I also noticed that CD Baby had deceptively and fraudulently placed SoundExchange in their Digital Distribution section as a digital download & CD sales site, like iTunes, Amazon, and other streaming sites! I immediately confronted CD Baby and told them to cease & desist, and return my royalties and warned them that placing SoundExchange in their Digital Distribution platform was fraudulent! I really jumped on SoundExchange and blasted them for turning over my royalties without question, and most specifically asking why I had unclaimed royalties in my account, since I’ve been a SoundExchange member long before I ever put any music on CD Baby! CD Baby returned my money to SoundExchange and they in turn, deposited the money into my checking account. Neither have answered my request to show me the contracts between the two of them authorizing such exchanges, and CD Baby removed the SoundExchange option from their Digital Distribution section.

For the uninformed, SoundExchange is [sic] a royalty collection agency that was authorized by Congress to collect royalties for recording artists and copyright owners from online radio stations and certain streaming platforms. I joined them when they first formed, quit, and re-joined again. Their initial launch was dysfunctional and riddled with problems. Most notable was they were constantly losing members’ data, their site would freeze, and every time they upgraded their platform, the data would disappear and would have to be resubmitted! Frankly, I have always been leery of any entity that wants to collect my royalties for me!

Taylor Swift was making a lot of noise recently regarding her music catalog and her song rights. Music industry people in the know basically ignored her because they knew that she was misleading the general public by trying to play the victim. So, what did she claim, and was it legitimate? Basically, no. Remember, songs and master recordings are two different animals and one must know the difference and who controls those rights.

1. Taylor claimed that her former record label Big Machine cheated her out of her music catalog by refusing to sell it to her and then backtracked to say they sold it without giving her a chance to buy it. False! They offered her a chance to buy it and she refused!

2. Record labels own the master recordings. It’s a standard music industry practice. The masters are their bread and butter, and they are under no legal obligation to sell an artist's catalog to the artist.

3. Taylor also complained that Big machine was blocking her from using her masters on an upcoming TV show. She doesn’t own them so she can’t use them! The Music Venue generally obtains the appropriate licenses from the rights owner.

4. Taylor claimed that she was being blocked from singing some of those songs live. She can sing her heart out as long as the Music Venue obtains the appropriate licenses from the rights owner.

Taylor Swift was signed to Big Machine at the tender age of 15. I'm guessing, as is so often the case with newcomers, particularly young newcomers, that she, nor her parents, fully understood the terms of her recording contract, probably didn't read it thoroughly, or simply just didn't care, because the potential for making a lot of money dulled their senses. You have to know the rules and how the game is played in the shark infested waters of the music industry, or you'll get eaten alive!

Now comes the interesting revelation. Out of curiosity I checked out Taylor Swift’s BMI song catalog. Before you get your panties in a wad, the BMI Song Catalog is accessible to the general public, though music people are the ones most likely to use it because this is just one of a number of sources that music users go to when looking to cover songs by specific writers and music publishers. Taylor has a total of 134 songs that have been recorded and released registered with BMI. Of those, she wrote 48 songs by herself and shares publishing rights with up to 2 other publishers, this is excluding her own Taylor Swift publishing. The remaining 85 songs in her catalog were co-written, in some instances, with as many as 4 co-writers, and the publishing was shared with as many as 7 other music publishers, again, excluding her own Taylor Swift publishing.

The bottom line is that legally, Taylor Swift does not totally own any of those songs that she wrote and/or co-wrote, and cannot freely use them without permission from her co-writers and co-publishers! Now that she’s signed a deal Universal that allows her to own her future master recordings, she should zip it and move on!

In wrapping up this Issue, I have to revisit BMI Live, the program that pays their affiliated songwriters when they perform their songs at a licensed Music Venue. For decades songwriters were not being paid when they performed their own songs. Around 2005, I came up with an idea that could make that happen and pitched it to BMI. It involved a playlist that the writers would take to their gigs on which they would enter the titles of their songs they would perform. The playlist would also include the place and date of the performance, and a signature line for the Music Venue owner to verify the performance, and the writer would submit it to BMI in a timely fashion. BMI never acknowledged receipt and sat on it for years and then one day BMI Live was born! I recognized it instantly and confronted them. Of course they disavowed any knowledge of my proposal and went silent when I sent them extra copies of it along with the postal date and receipt. I didn't pursue it because at least they were now paying the writers and not continuing to use that money for other projects. I have been receiving royalties from BMI for my live performances of my songs ever since! Are you listening?

The preceding paragraph is a clue on what to expect in the January 2020 Top-Rail News Flash. First, I must admit that I've been struggling with getting this Issue out since the last one this past June. Not that I didn't have anything to say, but every time I worked on it, I would allow myself to get distracted by some other project. Then it finally dawned on me that I simply didn't want to do it! Why, I still don't know. Until I read the 15 December 2019 Issue of Bob Everhart's online Monday Tradition Magazine. It was a typically good information filled Issue until I got to the section regarding the Discovery Channel seeking direct licensing with film score composers and him seeming to imply that somehow this would save them from BMI who was collecting their royalties and not paying them! So I knew right then that I had to finish this Issue so that I could address the Discovery Channel matter in my January 2019 Issue.


Here is a direct quote from Bob's opening statement in his 15 December 2019 Tradition magazine...

"The Discovery Channel has announced it is seeking 'direct source licenses' with composers of background music used on the many and various programs that Discovery creates. This action would effectively eliminate the need for ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, music licensing agencies who collect the money on the composers behalf, and of course keep a nice tidy sum for doing so, but never give a penny to the composers they represent if that same composer performs his original music 'live.'..."

When something doesn't sound right, I do my own research. And what I discovered was much more sinister and actually threatens the livelihood of future background music composers. I'm going to be generous and surmise that Bob was mislead by someone, or that he probably didn't do his own research. My Top-Rail Chatter was devoted to the Independents like you and I, and one of its main focuses was on providing accurate information on how the music industry works and your place at the table.

James Adelsberger was a very talented musician in his own right before I signed him. Not only was he in several bands and orchestras, he also composed classical and jazz music and composed scores for local film students' video and film projects. He also writes notated music from the simplest lead sheet to full orchestrations. In fact, my first major project in 2020 will be wrapping up and publishing his music book. It had been placed on the back-burner several times because of other priorities. James did the scores almost two years ago and it's my job to format, publish, and print it. The book contains notated music from the songs that James recorded for his 2-song Single "Back Home Again" (2012)and his CD 13-song CD album "Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?" (2014) This video contains a score that I had him do for an old 8mm film I shot on a Mountain Man canoeing trip with my Boy Scout Troop back in 1978. And, I allowed him to keep full ownership of the composition.

Troop 380 Mountain Man Canoe Trip: June 1978 South Fork, Shenandoah River


Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry, Merry Christmas! And don’t forget to put out the fire in the fireplace so Santa won’t burn his buns! See ya next year!


Vaya con Dios!

Mike Johnson and Roughshod Records



Top-Rail News Flash 13 June 2019 * Mike Johnson Celebrates 38 Years of Music Productions!

Posted by [email protected] on 14 June, 2019 at 7:20 Comments comments (0)

Howdy Top-Rail Bunch! Hope everyone is well, or as well as one can be under our current weather conditions and political climate. Not going there!

   In our last Top-Rail News Flash we provided a brief update on our doings, with a promise of details to come. So, here goes. Seventy-three years ago on Thursday, 13 June 1946, Mike Johnson came into the world. Thirty-eight years ago in April 1981, he went to Nashville for his first professional recording session at Jim Maxwell’s Globe Recording Studio! Thirty-two years ago, on 13 June 1987, he created Roughshod Records for his country songs, You and Me Records, and You and Me Music Publishing for his non-country songs. And today, 13 June 2019, for its 32nd label anniversary, he released a You and Me Records 2-song CD Single featuring him singing two of his “Roger Miller” style songs; “Cockco Doodle Doo!” on track 1, and “Preposterous” on track 2. Miller’s release of “King of the Road” back in 1965 while he was in high school was the spark that inspired him to try his hand at songwriting. It’s now available at our Roughshod Records Web Store and you can hear, [but not download] both songs on our You and Me Records Website! Incidentally, we pay the postage on single-item orders in the United States. That is, if you only purchase one item, we’ll cover the postage.

Yep, that’s Mike on the CD Cover in 1972 on his 1968 Kawasaki A7SS Avenger that he bought brand new in Yokosuka, Japan while he was in the Navy. Some of you may remember that bike and a few others that he had back then. Following his active duty discharge from the USS Constellation CVA-64 in February 1969, Mike packed his saddle bags and his Winchester Model 94 Carbine, and headed out from San Diego, California in March 1969 on a grueling 6-day winter trip home, fighting freezing cold and rain in Southern California, snows in Arizona and New Mexico, and fierce cross-winds in West and Central Texas! The weather eased up around Dallas with mainly blistering cold to contend with for the remainder of his trip, with one mishap in Macon, Georgia, before he arrived in Washington DC. He over-shot his turn and tried to make it anyway and the bike slide off the shoulder and into a ditch. He landed on his head and saw the bike bounce out of the ditch and fall. Fortunately he was wearing a helmet. Several cars slowed down to view him but kept going. One car stopped and an elderly lady rolled her window down, shook her finger at him and rolled the window back up and drove off. The bike wasn’t seriously damaged and after resting he continued his journey. Mike left his 1958 Oldsmobile in the care of a Navy buddy back in San Diego, who in turn, loaned it to another Navy buddy who went AWOL. The car was never recovered!

“Mike Johnson Celebrates 38 Years of Music Productions! 1981 to 2019”

Our DVD “Mike Johnson Celebrates 38 Years of Music Productions!” is done and is also available from our Roughshod Records Web Store. This is an audio/visual production that features a photograph and a song excerpt from all 73 releases Mike has produced from May 1981 to June 2019. It contains seven chapters that you can switch to and from, with a brief commentary providing a little insight on each chapter. Chapter 1-Introduction; Chapter 2-Pre-Roughshod Releases; Chapter 3-Roughshod Cassettes; Chapter 4-Roughshod CDs 1-40; Chapter 5-Roughshod CDs 41-54; Chapter 6-You and Me CDs 1-6; and Chapter 7-Dedication. A word of CAUTION for customers: This DVD is NTSC [US] formatted and burned on 8.5GB Double Layer discs and might not play on DVD Players and Computers manufactured more than 5 years ago. It will definitely play on Windows 7 machines. A Youtube version of the DVD is currently on our YouTube Channel. Though Mike has been very busy musically, he always had a full-time job and set aside portions of his salary to fund everything.

Roughshod Records Web Store 

Bill Gibson, a noted local musician and friend had his 1966 custom built Batmobile damaged while on his way to a local benefit show in which the vehicle would be featured back in May 2019. Bill is a metal worker and built the car himself, and it even has its own Batcave. He also enjoys traveling on his several Harleys, a particular favorite being his “Then Came Bronson” Harley Sportster.” Mike was also a fan of that TV show starring Michael Parks, and put on just as much mileage as they did when he was biking.

Mike’s long time best friend and old trucking buddy, Jimmy Rae, is back home in Virginia. He’d spent the past month traveling back and forth to Florida to tend to his terminally ill mother who was on her last leg. He was with her when she passed on the night of the 30th of May 2019. Jim was also a Roughshod Records staff member back in the late 1980s.

We recently received a notice from Paul Lawrence that they buried his brother Ted on 1 June 2019 after a long bout of illness and chemotherapy. Paul and Ted are two of three sons of Jack and Ida Lawrence, founders of Lawrence Record Shop on Lower Broadway in Nashville. It was just a couple doors down from Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop. When Mike finished his 1981 recording session in Nashville, he made his rounds armed with demos of his upcoming new 45rpm “King of the Fish.” Impressed, Jack Lawrence became the first retailer to order and stock the new single, and they continued to carry each of Mike’s releases, right up until the store was closed a few years ago. Ted and Mike were drinking buddies during the 1980s. When Mike wasn’t performing in one of the local haunts the two of them were bar-hopping up and down Lower Broadway. Sometime during Mike’s long trucking hiatus, Ted sustained a serious injury that got progressively worse. Paul had lost his childhood sweetheart and wife of 45 years back in 2013, I believe, and that took a great toll on him. Around 2016, his mother Ida Lawrence instructed Paul to close the store and Johnny Cash museum founder Bill Miller acquired the building. We sure had a lot of good times back then!

Rocky Guttmann, another best friend, informed us that Fiona’s Irish Pub in Alexandria, Virginia suddenly closed its doors this month. Mike had been there for Rocky’s show last weekend on the 8th of June and everything seemed fine. Rocky has been one of their featured headliners for many years. Martin, the owner, had just opened another Fiona’s in Crystal City, Virginia back in April 2019. Now both are closed with no explanation as yet. Bummer, it was a really nice place. No worries though, cause Rocky is a well respected and sought after musician, and will have no trouble picking up another venue. Some of you might remember that a few months back Mike re-mastered Rocky’s 1993 Cassette and produced it on CD. Well we finally managed to wade through all the hoop-la, medical issues, and drama, and posted a promotion video on our YouTube Channel, featuring song a excerpt of each song. 

“Long Way Home… from Cassette to CD!” Rocky & Harry

For some time now Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association based in Anita, Iowa, has been informing and reminding all NTCMA members that the Old-Time Country Music Festival will NOT be held in LeMars, Iowa this year. This is about the fourth time in its 44-year history that the week-long event was hit with an outrageous fee hike. It appears that the fair board demanded this year and next year’s rental fee up front! So this year the 44th Annual Old Time Country Music Festival will be held at the Christensen Field House in Fremont, Nebraska on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th of October 2019. So mark your calendars if you’re planning on attending. Prior festivals were a week long and had 10 music stages, whereas this one will have no more than 4 stages! Attendance has been slowly declining because the members, some of whom have been coming since the first one in 1976, are dead or dying off. Mike has performed at 9 of those festivals over the years. It’s a truly sad thing, as we remember when Bob started this festival back in 1976. It was attended by musicians and fans literally from around the globe who shared Everhart’s love and desire to preserve and promote traditional country, bluegrass, gospel, and American roots music. The naysayers said it wouldn’t last, that the event would eventually turn to modern music! Well Bob has had the last laugh! No modern music here! Good thing those doubters didn’t try holding their breaths or go on a hunger strike!

Mike talked with Terry Smith a few months ago and was stunned to see that he was home and was enjoying some extended down time from his music touring. We were glad to hear that because ever since he retired from his teaching job around 1994 he had been going almost non-stop on the music circuit, putting in hours and miles similar to Mike’s when he was trucking! Terry songs have been very good to him over the years, with numerous known and unknown artists covering them, starting with Johnny Cash recording “Far Side Banks of Jordan” back in 1976. He’s back on the road again, and working on a new release.

When Mike Johnson was publishing his quarterly Top-Rail Chatter Magazine, he made friends with a number of other publishers around the country. With some of them, like Allen Foster’s “Songwriters Monthly” and Ralph Compton’s “Hard Country Beat” they even swapped subscriptions. Allen folded his long running publication and tried to retire, but he just couldn’t get away from writing. He did some free lancing, and lately informed us that “Most of my writing is for BestReviews, part of the Tribune family. It’s not entertainment, but they treat me right, so I’m happy. And I get to write every day. How have you been?” 

The Jacob Austin Band out of Texas is pretty well known on the bluegrass-gospel circuit. His dad, a member of the band, has been home from hospitalization since the 23rd of May 2019. He had succumbed to some type of stomach disorder that drained his energy and kept him from eating. Last report is that he’s doing well on a careful diet and medication. We wish him well. James Adelsberger met and performed with him at the 2015 Old-Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa. At the 2016 LeMars Festival, the fantastic mandolin player performed with Mike and James a number of times, and again with Mike when he returned for the 2017 festival. You’ll see a number of videos of us performing together on our YouTube Channel.

Do you ever get distracted when you’re searching for something for an immediate project you’re working on and you come across something that you’d forgotten about and find yourself going down memory lane? Well had a lot of that going on this past year or so. While searching our video archives for some specific footage, Mike came across some of the Eastern Shore Opry shows he had filmed back in the 1990s. Home based in Crisfield, Maryland, the Eastern Shore Opry was founded by Pat, Trudy, and Patrick Costello, also known as the “God Knows We Tried String Band.” Mike was a member of their Opry cast for a couple of years and met and interacted with a number of known and unknown musicians. The following clip is the opening of a September 1996 show that occurred just after the sudden passing of Bill Monroe, better known as the Father of Bluegrass. Charlie Sizemore, a gracious person, who mentored under Monroe, was the headliner that and Mike was the show’s M/C that night. 

Charlie Sizemore remembers Bill Monroe 14 September 1996

Our friend Aharon is enjoying his retirement from his dry cleaning business, though he goes there a couple of times a week to do shoe repairs. Mike is doing well and still undergoing post-stroke follow-up treatments. I reckon I’ve said a Texas mouthful in this issue and should wrap it up. We wish all of you good health, and continued good health and happiness. And for you music road warriors still out there plying your trade, safe journeys and keep it between the ditches. We might even cross trails along the way.

Once again, our YouTube Channel contains over 940 videos of various lengths with over 15 Playlists to simplify some of your viewing experience. No click-bait, no blogs, and definitely no go-fund-me-money-begging requests! Our Roughshod Records Website has about 10 pages chocked full of music, label history, a detailed discography, web store, and tons of photographs! Check it out! 

Adios amigos, from myself and birthday boy, Mike Johnson!

Joe Arnold, manager Roughshod Records

Top-Rail News Flash * 1 June 2019 brief updates

Posted by [email protected] on 14 June, 2019 at 7:15 Comments comments (0)

Howdy Top-Rail Bunch!

We hope everyone is doing well. Especially our friends who have been repeatedly hammered with bad weather. This is just a very brief heads-up to let you know that we're still kicking and have a new CD Single from You and Me Records that will release on 13 June 2019, the label's 32nd anniversary. On that day it will also be available from our Roughshod Records Web Store.

Roughshod Records Web Store * "Cockco Doodle Doo!"

We are currently in the last stages of a DVD/Video that chronicles 73 releases produced by Mike Johnson since 1981. More details and other doings in our next News Flash after the 13th.

For those of you who like reading about some of our country music pioneers of yore, check out Diane Diekman's Country Music Newsletter. It's always loaded with great stories, often from the original sources. Diane, a former Navy Greenshirt, is also the biographer for Faron Young and Marty Robbins. 

Diane Diekman's Country Music Newsletter 

That thing on Mike's heart is still there. It hasn't moved, grown, or shrank, but the VA doctors are still trying to identify it and what, if anything, to do about it. More follow-ups and tests to come. Other than a couple of interrupting fevers, he's doing okay.

Adios from Mike Johnson and myself! Keep it Country, and keep it between the ditches!

Joe Arnold, manager

Roughshod Records * You and Me Records

P.O. Box 100933 Arlington, Va. 22210" target="_blank">" target="_blank">" target="_blank">

Year 2018 Update!

Posted by [email protected] on 5 January, 2019 at 0:15 Comments comments (0)

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

Into American Music History Again!

Posted by [email protected] on 30 April, 2018 at 10:05 Comments comments (0)

Howdy Top-Rail Bunch!

   Looks like Spring has finally sprung upon us. Here's just a short recap and/or update on what's been going on around here at Roughshod Records. Since January 2018, Mike Johnson has been rather busy trying to keep up editing and archiving his huge video footage collection. A number of new edits have been added to our YouTube Channel, which now hosts about 893 video clips. Incidentally, if you happen to be any of our videos, be sure and share them with your family, friends, and other contacts.

Veteran's Affairs Hospital Drama:

   Earlier during the year Mike had a dramatic experience at the VA Hospital while undergoing a heart scan. The procedure had to be terminated because he developed a severe allergic reaction to the iodine in the contrast dye. This was a first, and he put off any more tests until about a month ago. There were some issues with the monitoring set-up procedure, and after about four failed attempts, Mike pulled the plug on that and got dressed! He told them there would be no more tests for at least a year, if ever!

   Make no mistake about it, Mike has always received excellent care and treatment from the VA, and this incident in no way diminishes his feelings about them. In fact, he has several upcoming appointments which he will most definitely keep. Unlike most, Mike is not afraid to speak up and cut things off, if he perceives something isn't working the way it should.

Other Happenings:   

   On a recent visit to see Linda Caldwell, Floyd Harrison, Editor of the Lorton Valley Star tagged along for a surprise visit. He lost his driver's license. Linda owned the former Coffee House of Occoquan and now resides in Heartfields of Fredericksburg, a Senior Assisted Living Home. For nearly 20-years her establishment hosted scores of musicians from near and far to perform as featured guests on Friday nights, and her Saturday night Open Mics. Floyd was usually on hand to photograph, interview, and feature a number of them in his Lorton Valley Star, our own Mike Johnson, included.

   Mike's best friend Rocky Guttmann, one of the most successful solo acts in Northern Virginia has semi-retired from music to spend more time with his wife, Mary Anne, and the grandkids. But he still does every other weekend at Fiona's Irish Pub in Alexandria, and is building up a following in the Richmond area, where he now resides.

  Mike's veteran buddy Roy Jobber is out of the hospital and recovering from an infected foot injury. Mike and Roy served on a local police department during the 1970s. Roy is also one of the label's music sponsors. Leo Maimone, a childhood Boy Scout friend from the 1950s is currently in the hospital undergoing treatments for a reoccurring hernia incident. Mike turned a couple of Leo's poems into songs and recorded them. "Pigtails and Bubblegum" and "Liquid Hell." "Liquid Hell" was also recorded by James Adelsberger, who laid some exciting foot-stomping tracks to it. It was released on James' "Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?" CD in 2014 and received the Rural Roots Music Commission's "Pure Country CD of the Year" Award in 2015 at the Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa.

Kitty Creek Records Production:

   Mike produced this new, and very first CD for Dale Heeren on Heeren's own Kitty Creek Records. It was released on 13 March 2018, and a CD Sampler, containing excerpts of the 7-song release, on 14 March 2018. Dale was very excited about this project which actually began formulating around November 2017. Originally Mike rejected the notion, us having a full plate of our own around here. Then, around mid-January 2018, Mike revisited the idea and made a proposal. He would provide a release that Dale could post on CD Baby, and then take over additional productions.

   Agreed, Dale sent Mike the song files, and we converted them from MP3 128-kbps to MP3 320-kbps format. We then created a Master CD Disc, encoded it with artist, label, title information, a barcode and ISRC Codes for each track. Dale provided a photograph for his CD cover and Kitty Creek Records logo, and we did everything else. The graphic designs for the cover, the CD label and tray liner. The CD Cover layout was sent to our printer, Tyler Print in Alexandria, Virginia, and when they arrived, me and Mike inserted the tray liners and covers into the jewel cases and shrink wrapped them and sent 30 copies off to Dale! We also created and produced his CD Sampler. Dale electronically registered his new CD with the Copyright Office and Mike Johnson delivered Dale's deposit copies to the Copyright Office on Good Friday, 30 March 2018.

   Unfortunately, in various interviews and comments about his new release, Dale gives the impression that he did everything and that Mike Johnson 'assisted' him and 'helped me step by step trhough the processes necessary in today's music world' instead of acknowledging and naming Mike as the Producer. We also paid all of the production expenses. This basic violation of music protocol, wherein a new release always names the artist, label, and the producer, was further perpetuated by Bob Everhart's review of Dale's CD [April 2018 Issue of TRADITION Magazine and Country Music News International] in spite of the fact that he was given detailed information about Dale's CD during its production!

Into American Music History Again! Recorded Sound Reference Center at Library of Congress:

While at the Library of Congress, Mike stopped by the Recorded Sound Reference Center to drop off additional material for their "Mike Johnson" collection. He also discovered that Reference Librarian, Ms. Janet McKee had retired. McKee spearheaded this venture back in April 2007, when she voiced a concern that their collection didn't have a lot of Black Yodelers' yodeling songs. She and Acquisitions Technician Peter L. Stark, [also retired] acquired 114 of Mike Johnson's yodeling songs, his first two CDs, and a 45-page soft bound biography, for the Recorded Sound Reference Center's permanent music collection.

Over the years the Center acquired more materials including 16 DVDs of Mike's performances for the Library's Motion Picture Division. So, Library Technician Bryan Cornell, Janet McKee's co-worker, accepted our 5 latest CD productions, along with their spec sheets for easy cataloging and a number of photographs of Mike & James' awards and being awarded. Also included were two DVDs for the Motion Picture Division. Mike is currently editing and preparing a clip of these new acquisitions presentation for posting on our YouTube Channel. Library Technician, or more correctly, Reference Librarian Harrison Behl took over Janet's spot, and was otherwise engaged during our Good Friday presentation and videotaping. We'll definitely include him the next go round. Be sure and visit the Roughshod Records Photo Gallery and our YouTube Channel to see photos and live footage of the presentation.

The new acquisitions are;

1. DVD: Mike Johnson & James Adelsberger Awards Ceremony & performance at the 2016 41st Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa, where Mike receives the Lifetime Achievement Award and James receives the Instrumental CD of the Year Award.

2. DVD: Mike Johnson & James Adelsberger 2016 Main Stage performance with Mike's old friends, Terry Smith and Bill Lear. This was a particular treat for James' Grandparents who are die-hard Terry Smith fans.

Roughshod Records CDs:

51st CD "Let Me Die In a Honky Tonk" 2016 * Mike Johnson (Received the 2017 "Legendary Honky Tonk CD of the Year" Award)

52nd CD "My Heart Still Sees" 2016 * James Adelsberger (Nominated for 2017 "Original Classic Country CD of the Year" Award)

54th CD "Covering James Adelsberger 2017 * Mike Johnson 

You and Me Records CDs:

3rd CD "Going Places" Instrumental 2017 * James Adelsberger

4th CD "Here We Go Again" Instrumental 2017 * James Adelsberger

   For those of you who don't know, both of Mike Johnson's labels, and You and Me Music Publishing, were created on 13 June 1987 by Mike during his Nashville recording days. However, the songs that should have been released on You and Me Records were released on the Roughshod label. Mike has always been busy, but he simply had too many irons in the fire, including his full-time job as a long-distance trucker, to be juggling two labels and two publishing companies, magazine publishing, etc. He was retired from trucking when he signed up James Adelsberger in 2012 and saw this gifted musician's versatility as the perfect vehicle to produce You and Me Records material.

So, that's it in a nutshell. Make no mistake, we're still plodding along, a little slower albeit, but still moving forward. And we hope to see some of you at this year's 43rd Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa!

Adios, from myself and Mike Johnson. And, Happy Easter 2018!

Joe Arnold, manager, Roughshod Records

Roughshod Records turns 30 in June 2017!

Posted by [email protected] on 6 June, 2017 at 14:10 Comments comments (0)

Created on 13 June 1987 by Mike Johnson, singer, songwriter, and Country Music's No.1 Black Yodeler, the label has produced and released 8 cassettes [4-albums & 4-singles] and 53 CDs.

Also created on that date was You and Me Records, and You and Me Publishing, for his non-country songs. Unfortunately those songs ended up on the Roughshod label with a country twist, until 2012 when James Adelsberger was brought aboard. In December 2014, You and Me Records released its 1st CD, "SideKicks Christmas Special" a 2-song single featuring a Mike and James duet.

In November 2015, You and Me Records released a 12-song Instrumental featuring James Adelsberger and music tracks he created for their 2014 releases, and a couple of compositions James wrote for the project. This CD received the Rural Roots Music Commission's 2016 "Instrumental CD of the Year" Award at the 41st Annual Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa, where Mike Johnson also received a "Lifetime Achievement" Award.

Releasing on 13 June 2017 are You and Me Records 3rd and 4th CDs; "Going Places!" and "Here We Go Again!" two 12-song Instrumentals featuring our fantastic musician James Adelsberger.

Mike Johnson wrote his 1st song in 1957, began performing in the mid-1960s, and began recording in Nashville in 1981. Prior to creating Roughshod Records he produced and released 2 45rpm singles and 3 cassette albums.

Visit our web site for a detailed history.

Joe Arnold, manager

Roughshod Records