October News and Holiday Recipes
1. New Movie About Hank Williams
2. Recent Article about Maxine Brown
3. Holiday Season Recipes and Drinks
New Movie for Classic Country Fans – Don’t Miss This!
by Maxine Brown
“THE LAST RIDE” will be coming to theaters in your area this month. This is a movie film about the country music legend, Hank Williams and his last three days on earth. View the Movie Trailer Here.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Hank, but I know his daughter, Jett. She has 4 songs in the movie. Along with her husband, Keith Adkinson, they are big supporters of the movie and have worked closely with producer Harry Thomason, and producer/music director, Benjy Gaither. One does not need to be a country music fan or even know who Hank Williams was to enjoy this movie. His legacy will live forever through his music and his songs. This film is about two people needing just one good friend. It is a film of hope, optimism, and ultimately redemption on one man’s last ride into eternity.
Inspired by the mysterious final three days and the drive through the Appalachian county side in the dead of winter, we see a lonely two-man odyssey. A boy just coming of age, being hired by someone he never before met, to drive the troubled singer and his powder blue Cadillac from Montgomery, Alabama to West Virginia for his next show date.
He never made it. Hank died in the back seat of his blue Cadillac on New Year’s day, 1953. He was a victim of his own torment. He knew he was going to die. I have a paragraph in my book, “Looking Back To See” which states a true fact about a country music singer. (They will drive a thousand miles, all for no pay, just to hear themselves sing). Hank Williams was determined to make that show date. He almost did and all he left behind was his guitar and a notebook full of unfinished songs.
I had the distinct honor of being a guest of Harry Thomason during the premier of “The Last Ride” held in Little Rock , for it’s 5th anniversary Film Festival. I highly recommend this film for the entire family.
Everyone associated with the making of this great movie should win an academy award. I have a feeling they will, especially Harry Thomason. Don’t miss it!!
ENJOY THE RIDE
Three Bells Still Ringing for Maxine Brown
By Judy Normand
This article appeared in the October, 2011 edition of SEALife Magazine, published by the Pine Bluff (Arkansas) Commercial
Maxine Brown’s favorite motto is simplicity itself and echoes the sentiments of the still-feisty, no-nonsense woman she is today: “In order to have a good life, we need someone to love and be loved, something to do, something to look forward to, and a good BM every day.”
Maxine, her sister, Bonnie, and her brother, Jim Ed, are firmly ensconced in the hearts and minds of millions across the globe as The Browns, the award-winning trio most identified with an iconic story-song about Little Jimmy Brown “The Three Bells.” This huge million-seller, along with “The Old Lamplighter” and “Scarlet Ribbons,” landed the group on the Ed Sullivan Show on May 8, 1960.
Before their ultimate success at hundreds of important venues, including Ed Sullivan, American Bandstand and the Grand Ole Opry, however, the Browns paid heavy dues to climb their ladder of success, often blocked by their own naiveté and the unscrupulous scoundrels who were hell-bent on exploiting talented newcomers; scoundrels who, quite literally, tried to steal their musical souls.
“I’m still trying to get back the rights to some of our music,” Maxine said. “It’s been 50 years … it’s about time.”
Commenting on some pitfalls concerning a solo career, Maxine said the master recordings of her songs were literally in the ground for 40 years — buried by Slim Williamson of Chart Records as a result of a dispute between Williamson and RCA. It’s a long story, she said, one of so many sad, frustrating episodes, but, this one had a happy ending. She duplicated the lost songs, which are now available on her CD, “Sugar Cane Country.”
Having made musical magic with her siblings for most of her 80 years, Maxine says today that she claims no particular title — maybe “old lady”, she says, laughing — but nevertheless has added author to her resume’. A best-selling complement to her significant contributions as a recording star, is “Looking Back to See”, an intensely personal country music memoir of her ride on an emotional rollercoaster that’s taken her from depths of despair to exhilarating highs and back again. The book’s title is also the name of The Browns’ first hit, written by Maxine and inspired by her younger sister, Norma.
“I wrote the book because I wanted to tell our story … for my own satisfaction, really,” she said. Copyrighted in 2005, “Looking Back to See” has been on the bestseller list at the University of Arkansas Press for years and has earned the No. 25 spot on the publisher’s all-time list of bestsellers.
Maxine now lives in North Little Rock, in the home where she raised her three children. During a recent telephone conversation, Maxine said, flatly, “I don’t do interviews. I just can’t do it. I hate it!” So, we simply chatted — about home, family, politics, individuals who’ve impacted her life (positively and negatively), her loyal fans and time spent living in Pine Bluff. Hesitantly, Maxine began “looking back to see” what she could find, reminding me that most anything I’d want to know was in her book, a labor of love, she said, that was 12 years in the making.
In the acknowledgement section of Maxine’s book, she wonders if she’s gotten her point across and whether or not it’s ever a good idea to share “the agony of remembering.” The need to tell, however, proved cathartic and she’s shared her story brilliantly “to the best of my knowledge, memory and ability.”
Remembering the overwhelming challenges of juggling a showbiz career and family life, Maxine said that, of course, this is something all entertainers face, but declares that this particular balancing act is impossible.
“If I could change anything about my life,” she said, “I’d never have gotten married. You just can’t do it and have a career, too.”
Maxine is quick to point out that, although her marriage, at 25, to Tommy Russell (a proposal both her mother and Elvis advised against), ended after seven years, the children born of that union are her pride and joy. Jimmy lives in North Little Rock, near his mother; Alicia is in Maumelle and Tommy Jr. Is in Arizona, but visits as often as possible. In fact, she said, he’s the one who created her website: www.themaxinebrown.com. Maxine also claims the title of grandmother, with six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Maxine’s life, as well as the lives of Bonnie and Jim Ed has been filled with great success and devastating loss … a rollercoaster, indeed, but their spirit and their music survives. It’s chronicled, in “Looking Back to See”, as well as on her website and Facebook page, with unflinching honesty tempered with Maxine’s straightforward American country wit and charm … the night in Germany when she and Jim Reeves (the person she most admires) stole Hitler’s beer steins; Elvis’ love of her mom’s cooking and his one-time, peculiar affinity for pink underwear; the success and destruction of the Trio Club in Pine Bluff and the house the Browns built behind the club (“That house was so beautiful,” she said. “It’s not beautiful anymore.”); the only person she ever asked for an autograph, Eddy Arnold; the night in 1964 on American Bandstand when the Beatles named The Browns as one of their favorite groups; topping the charts over Elvis in 1959; naming “Ground Hog” as a favorite Browns song, simply because Chet Atkins “picked” on it; and, appearing, touring or simply counting as friends nearly every star — most country, some not — in the heavens.
The Browns were described, by the Disc Jockey Convention (later the Country Music Association — CMA) as being a group with “mind, body and soul in perfect pitch.” It’s called “tempering harmony,” Maxine said. “It means harmony that can’t be matched by a musical instrument.”
It’s a fitting description for the music made by Maxine, Bonnie and Jim Ed — unmatched. Their loyal fans, scattered across the globe, agree. Emma Diane Robertson is a 30-year-old Browns fan from Scotland.
“It was actually Jim Ed I heard first in a radio station called Brand New Copy here in Scotland. I was 15 and a massive country music fan. I heard ‘The Three Bells’ and didn’t even know who sang it, but I found out it was The Browns … so, I looked it up online and found out it was Jim Ed and his sisters. Then, I thought I’d look up Maxine on Facebook, and there she was! We’ve been friends for a year, now and I love Maxine. She is a great friend; funny, loving, caring. I never thought I’d be so blessed to be friends with a star and also stars like The Browns,” Emma said.
Emma’s taken her country music passion to the next level by posting many of The Browns songs on Facebook and on a special page she’s created just for “The Browns.”
Another fan resides in California and has an impressive resume’, himself. Harry Thomason, of “Designing Women” fame, is currently at work on a project that will, hopefully, bring “Looking Back to See” to the big screen.
“Harry is a great man,” Maxine said. “I sure hope we can do this. I don’t know who I see playing The Browns, though. Haven’t thought that far ahead!”
Jim Ed, Maxine said, is now in Brentwood, Tenn., and is still entertaining. Bonnie lives in Dardanelle. Though not performing together these days, their shared life experiences have created an unbreakable bond and, despite debilitating health issues, including brain surgery in 2009, Maxine’s determination to live life on her own terms persists. Her “knowledge, memory and ability,” apparently, are solidly intact.
Maxine’s website — www.themaxinebrown.com — is filled with all things Brown … from updates on The Browns and their music and letters of praise from far and near, to her mother, Birdie Lee Brown’s famous cobbler recipes. She’s compiled all of her mom’s recipes and hopes to get them in book form, soon. “She’s left us such a great legacy,” Maxine said.
“When we were singing, the ‘top’ for me, I guess, was when we were selling millions of records, traveling all over the world and in demand,” Maxine said. It was a great time, she added, and memories of those days, for the most part, are good — a life lived “on spotlights, coffee; fans and cornbread.”
Holiday Season Recipes!
** ‘WITCHES BREW’
(A Brown’s favorite PUNCH) A must for Christmas or Halloween.
This is powerful, make sure you have a designated driver.
1 1/5 bottle of 190 proof Alcohol
2 Quarts Ginger-Ale
2 Quarts Sparkling Water
2 1/5 bottles Vermouth
2 1/5 bottles Burgundy
2 Large Cans Pineapple Juice
2 Large Cans frozen Orange Juice
1 Gallon Lime Sherbet
25 Lbs. DRY ICE
Combine all except Sherbet and DRY ICE. Let stand overnight in a Stone Crock or Glass container. Just before serving time, stir in the Sherbert. Pour into a Punch Bowl and start adding some of the DRY ICE. (DO NOT PUT DRY ICE IN BOTTOM OF PUNCH BOWL, AS IT WILL BREAK IT) The Punch will seem to be boiling over, but it isn’t. This is real pretty and delicious. We call it WITCHES BREW. Do not over indulge, and don’t drive.
** PARTY PUNCH (For the designated driver)
1 Large can Frozen Lemonade
1 Large can Frozen Orange Juice
3 Large bottles Strawberry Soda, (cold) use 28 or 32 oz. size
2 Large Cans Crushed Pineapple, with juice
1 10 oz. package Frozen Strawberries
Have all very cold before putting in Punch bowl. An ice ring made of Lemonade is very good and will keep punch cold without having to add any ice.
** CHAMPAGNE PUNCH
1 Quart Cran-apple Juice, or 1 Qt. each of Cranberry and Apple
1 Bottle Catawba Juice (White Grape)
1 Small bottle Lemon Juice
1 Quart 7-up
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Flavoring
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Bottles Champagne.
Chill until very cold. Mix and place in punch bowl. Add Cold Champagne last. Make an ice floater and place in bowl with punch.
** PUMPKIN BREAD
1 1/2 Cups Oil
2 Cups canned Pumpkin (1 large can)
3 Cups Flour (all-purpose)
3 Cups Sugar
1 3 oz. package Instant Coconut Pie Filling Mix
1 Teas. Salt
1 Teas. Baking Soda
1 Teas. Cinnamon
1 Cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 Small package Coconut
Combine Eggs, Oil, and Pumpkin, beat well. In a separate bowl, mix Flour, Sugar, Pie Mix, Salt, Baking Soda, Cinnamon, Nuts, and Coconut. Add to Pumpkin mixture, mix well. Bake in two loaves (9x5x4) for approximately one hour at 350 degrees.
Enjoy the recipes with your loved ones, and don’t miss this wonderful movie, out in October and playing nationwide.
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