The text on my phone popped up from an unfamiliar number.
“What are you doing?” is all it said.
I had no idea who was on the other end of the text, so I played coy and responded in the most nebulous fashion I could think of: “Not much.”
“What are you doing later?” came the reply.
“Who the heck is this!” I wondered. I looked at the phone number again. Area code 512. First three digits were 550. Definitely a cell phone number.
Okay, I thought, I’ll respond even though I had no idea who I was responding to. I’m glad I did.
Turned out it was my friend Russell Dreyer, a tenacious firefighter if there ever was one. So once I was familiar with who it was, I put him in my phone and started texting back. His questions were curious, and I was wondering what he was up to. He kept asking me who my favorite country artists were. And he was very adamant about knowing.
So I responded, and then he said he would be in Gonzales over the weekend and we should get together. I agreed and didn’t think any more about it.
Then came the weekend and another text from 512.
“Where are you at? I have something for you.”
Again my curiosity was spiked, but we agreed to meet later. The young man completely surprised me.
What Russell wanted to give me was a gigantic print called the Country Jamboree, a compilation of all the great country artists of all time. Front and center were Waylon and Willie and Merle and Garth. Right in the center were Bocephus and Hank Sr. Elvis and Johnny Cash were next to them. Roy Clark, Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, Glen Campbell, Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride and even Minnie Pearl were part of the collage.
I studied the sketches and over 70 famous faces on the print. I didn’t know what to say. It was a totally selfless gesture on his part and I was speechless.
“Thanks,” was all I could muster. “Where did you come up with this? Why me?”
“I read your column about ‘He’s Gone Country’ and I loved it,” Russell said. “It made me think of my past roots in country music and when I saw this I thought ‘I’ve got to get that for Terry.’”
“Cool breeze!” was all I could say.
Well, I’ve attached a picture of the print Russell gave me, and I hope you find it as interesting as I do. Some of the sketches are dead on, and others are a little more difficult to discern. See how many of the country artists you can figure out. If you can’t figure them all out, let me know who you have questions about. I am not certain of everyone, but I’ve got a lot them figured out, especially the ones like Hank Snow, Mel Tillis, George Jones and Marty Robbins. They gave me trouble my first time through.
And to Russell Dreyer—thank you sir for your kindness and friendship. Your gesture and picture touched me, and I just want you to know the picture now hangs in my newspaper office. Oh, and thanks for the CDs you made. You were right—the Vince Gill CD rocks.