Authors: Barbara S. Stewart
Barbara S. Stewart
The Face in the Mirror – April 2014
Feel Like Makin’ Love – Oct 2013
(Book 3 of the Rock and Roll Trilogy)
When I Look to the Sky – April 2013
(Book 2 of the Rock and Roll Trilogy)
Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under - December 2012
Rock and Roll Never Forgets - August 2012
(Book 1 of the Rock and Roll Trilogy)
Sweet Surrender – February 2012 (Not available at this time)
My beautiful cover was designed by:
Editing by Trish Kuper
Copyright © 2015 Barbara S. Stewart
All rights reserved
ISBN-13: 978-1507501627 (CreateSpapce)
This book is dedicate to all of YOU have followed
my journey, watched me grow, and believe in me.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Just So You Know…
is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and occurrences are purely a product of my creativity, or they’re used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, locales, companies, businesses, or events are coincidental.
No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored, or transmitted by any means, without written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations represented in articles of review.
“Butterflies can’t see their wings.
They can’t see how beautiful they are, but everyone else can.
People are like that.” ~ Anonymous
Tate Morrow sat at the microphone, his guitar resting on his thigh. Finally, he pushed his hand through his hair to calm his nerves, took a deep breath and began.
Andy watched as his new protégé got it together to begin. Tate’s anxiousness and nervousness were clear. Andy Stevens and Nigel Rose had been friends since the early 1970s. They played together in the band, Traveler, for many years. When they stopped touring, Andy began producing new talent. Nigel got married, divorced several years later, and hit the road in a different way – he was on a mission to find new talent and promote them. He brought them to Andy for mentoring, coaching and producing.
Andy recalled a conversation with his friend about the man sitting behind the glass singing.
“I’m telling you, Andy, this guy is gonna be the next Garth Brooks. He’s the whole package - tall, sandy blonde, blue-eyed; the girls swoon. They know every word to every song he sings, and he’s written some good stuff. I kept hearing about him, so I went to this club in Oklahoma called Wet Willie’s to check him out. The place was packed. Oh, and did I say he can sing?” he chuckled. “He’s a performer – works the stage like a pro. He covers songs from his favorites, even adds in some rock and roll with a country vibe.
“He’s thirty, single, and genuinely one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Drives a delivery truck for UPS and plays this bar on weekends. I stopped in on Friday night and it was standing room only. Went back on Saturday and it was the same thing. Finally, the owner of the place, Cage Brooks, recognized me and walked over to me.”
“Nigel Rose,” I introduced myself as he approached.
“‘Bout time,” he told me as he shook my hand. “I’ve been waiting for someone to find him for a while now. I’ve put the word out, but no one’s made it here. He’s been here for a long time.”
“With a voice and presence like that, why isn’t he beating down doors in Nashville?”
“He’s not a seeker. He’s a humble guy who’d stay right here singing as long as I’d let him - and I’d let him. He keeps this place full. He’s loyal, too. Some of the other bars in the area offered him more money to come and play, but he hasn’t left here since I offered him a gig almost ten years ago.”
“Seeker?” I asked.
“He’s not looking for anything - fame, money, none of that. He just wants to sing.”
“He’s really good at it,” I observed.
“Tate,” Cage called out over the crowd when the set was over.
He walked over and Cage introduced us.
“I know who you are,” he replied, with a big, dimpled grin.
“I think the world needs to know who you are. Are you up for it?”
“Nigel? C’mon man, country music? I don’t know the first thing about twang, pickup trucks, and cowboys!” Andy laughed.
“You didn’t know about pop singers when I brought Zane Rogers to you, and you didn’t know squat about folk music when Addy came along. It’s music. You know music. You know when you hear something whether it’s good or it sucks. It’s music, Andy,” Nigel repeated.
“Got a demo?” Andy asked, and Nigel placed a disc on the console of the soundboard where they sat talking. “I’ll take a listen and see what we’ve got. I’ll call you in a day or so.”
After Nigel left, Andy spun the disc on his finger, thinking. Finally, he put it in and kicked back in the chair with the headphones on to listen. His friend Marco DiMario came into the studio half an hour later.
Andy unplugged the headphones. “Hey. Give this a listen,” he said, as Marco sat in the chair to his left.
“What do you think?” Andy asked after a while.
“I’m thinking if you take this on you’re gonna need a pair of cowboy boots to walk on the stage when you accept awards with this dude!” Marco laughed.
Andy called Nigel. “It didn’t suck,” he said.
Chapter One – June 2012
I stood there, staring out at the crowd.
, I thought. As I looked, I knew my entire world was about to change. It overwhelmed me. It had all been easy up ‘til now, but suddenly the enormity of it, the potential for success – and the possibility of failure – was sinking in. I was leaving my comfort zone and it was a scary thing. This was it - my last night at Wet Willie’s. Willie’s was a Country Western bar that remained traditional to old ways. They still used sawdust on the floors and mirrors lined the walls. The bouncers only needed to keep an eye on the mirrors to see when something was brewing. Most times they had the ol’boys that were ready to come to blows off the floor before the first hit. It smelled of old smoke, liquor, a mixture of the different woods from the sawdust that the sawmill dropped by on a regular basis, and the vinegar mixed with just a drop of pine oil that they used to clean the floor. It was part of my makeup. I’d been playing here for years.
“You’ve heard that I’m going to Nashville, with a stop in Florida to work with Andy Stevens on the way. As exciting as this is, I’m a little sad. Thanks for filling this place up every night, but especially tonight. It’s a nice send off and I hope I make you proud.” As I looked out, I saw people who had been here since day one.
“I appreciate you, all of you. The crowd at Wet Willie’s is the best group of people I can imagine. I’ll be back. Maybe not for a while, but I’ll be home to see Mama, and if I can, I’ll pop in and take over the microphone for a song or two. For now, I’m gonna leave you with this last song by the fabulous Miss Dolly Parton.”
If I should stay
Well, I would only be in your way
And so I'll go, and yet I know
That I'll think of you each step of my way
And I will always love you
I will always love you
That's all I have, and all I’m taking with me
Goodbye, oh, please don't cry
Cause we both know that I’m not
What you need
I will always love you
I will always love you
And I hope life
Will treat you kind
And I hope that you have all
That you ever dreamed of
Oh, I do wish you joy
And I wish you happiness
But above all this
I wish you love
I love you
I will always love you…
The crowd cheered with enthusiasm. I swear I thought I’d cry. “I love y’all,” I tried to say, but it came out a raspy whisper that burned my throat.
One journey ends, a new one begins
, I thought as I walked off the stage.
I drove down the long dirt road that led to Mama’s. About halfway down the road, I parked my truck along the side and looked toward the house. I’d walked down that dirt road so many times as a boy that I knew every inch of it. This road was where I learned to drive.
The moon was shining bright on the hayfield, and I thought about all the years I’d spent there. I’d be leaving my home the next day. I’d lived on campus the first year and a half of college, and then moved back in with Mama until I started at UPS. I stayed there every weekend, though. It was easier than driving back across town. This house had been my home my whole life, and Mama’s home before that. Memories flooded my head.
That big wrap around porch was the place where I taught myself to play the old guitar that Uncle Jim Bob gave me. It was an old beat up thing with rusty strings. Together we restored it and I got better and better at playing it. I still use it; I can’t imagine letting it go. There’s a piano inside that Mama made me learn to play, too. Oh, I acted like it was drudgery and I hated it, but I loved it. The feel of the keys, cool beneath my fingers, was magical. The sounds that came from just touching them were heaven to me. Music. It was everything to me.
I knew Mama would be waiting. She always was when I came home, but she’d be there tonight because this night was special. I was leaving the next day and she’d want to share this last night with me. I walked in the back door and she was sitting at the table. She rose to hug me.
“It’s decaf, but I made coffee. Thought you might want to talk a bit,” she said with a knowing smile. “You ready for all this?” she asked as she set cups of the dark rich brew on the table. Even Mama’s decaf somehow tasted bold and delicious. It was a nighttime ritual with us.
“I’m gonna miss this.” I bent down to kiss her cheek before we sat down.
She looked up and placed a delicate hand on mine. “It’ll all be here when you come home to visit. You know this is your calling.”
I sat across from her. “I don‘t know about my calling,” I grinned, toying with the handle of the coffee cup.
“You’ve been singing since you found your voice. It’s a gift, Tate. Share it.”
“A gift,” I repeated.
“You’ll be famous, son. What’d ol’ Buck Owens say?
I bet you, you’re gonna be a big star,
” she said, and laughed at her reference.
I grew up listening to Mama’s favorites. Fay Morrow loved Buck, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and Garth Brooks when he came on the scene. Because she loved him, I learned every song Garth sang.
“I just want to sing, Mama. I don’t care if I’m a star as long as I can sing and make people happy. I just want them to sing along.”
At 10:08 the next morning, my flight left for Florida.
I grabbed my bags and found a town car waiting for me outside as I exited the airport. Forty-five minutes later, I checked into a hotel on the beach. It was after eight, and my phone rang almost as soon as I put my bag down.
“Tate,” I answered.
“Andy Stevens. Welcome to Florida!” he announced. “Is the hotel good for you?”
“Yes sir. I just got here.”
“Sir? Jesus, Tate, you’re making me feel like an old man,” Andy chuckled. “Are you all set to get this going in the morning?”
“I’m ready to dive in head first. There’s water, right?” I said, and Andy roared.
“I’ll keep you close to the edge of the deep end. Marco will swing by and pick you up tomorrow. I have a car you can use while you’re here. I’ll see you in the morning.”
The next morning, I walked into the studio in awe. First of all, the fact that Andy Stevens was walking toward me blew me away. He reached out to shake my hand and I stood there like a dope.
“Andy,” he said, finally.
“Uh, yeah, Andy Stevens,” I stammered. “I know your music well, older sisters… loved Traveler.”
“Tate Morrow,” he said, laughing at me.
“Yeah. Tate. Sorry - didn’t realize I’d be star-struck like a little girl!” I remarked with a nervous chuckle.
“You’ll get used to it,” he said with a smile, turning to hand me a cup of coffee. “Let’s talk a bit before we put you in the booth so I can hear you. Nigel told me a little bit about you. Why don’t you give me some Tate Morrow 101?”
We sat down, and Marco joined us. “I guess I’ve been singing since I was a kid. Sophomore year at OSU, one of my buddies bet me a bar tab that I wouldn’t get up on the stage for an open mic they were doing at Wet Willie’s. Don’t challenge me,” I chuckled.
“I took my turn when the mic was free and grabbed a guitar that was there. I started singing
by George Strait. For a second or two the place went still except for me, then some girl screamed and the place went crazy signing along. It was like a drug. When no one else came to take the stage, I just kept singing. I think I sang five songs before Cage Brooks came to the stage and asked the crowd if he should let me come back. I never paid a bar tab after that,” I said, and added a big laugh.
“I had a listen to your demo tape. You’ve got amazing talent,” Marco said, and Andy nodded.
“You sure you don’t want to add rock and roll to your repertoire?” Andy asked, with a laugh and a pat on my back.
“Actually, I’m tweaking a cover of
by Bob Seger, but it’s definitely a country vibe,” I replied.
“Get in there, and let’s have a listen,” Andy said.
“Cha-ching!” Marco laughed when I was done. “Go on, take the money and run!”
“I’ve got plenty of my own stuff, but I like paying homage to my favorites.”
“Seger will be proud,” Andy chuckled. “Tell me what you want, Tate.”
“I want to sing.”
Andy smiled and replied, “I think you should sing. I think you should write – the stuff you wrote that I heard on the demo is good. No, it’s great. And,” he said, followed by a serious look, “I think you should brace yourself for a whirlwind couple of years.”
“I come from Oklahoma, the Tornado Capital of the US. I don’t know if I want a whirlwind. A little twister or two will be fine with me,” I grinned.
“Figure out what you want and how you want it to play out before Nigel throws you to the wolves,” Andy responded.
Fast forward to October 2012
For two months, I’d been back and forth to Mama’s, looking for a place to live in Nashville, and then back to Florida working with Andy. I was ready to settle in. The first song we released,
I’m A Guy,
was doing well and I had enough money saved up to put a down payment on a townhouse on the east side of Nashville. Mama helped oversee what I couldn’t live without back home, and had it shipped here so that pieces of home were noticeable here and there throughout the place.
My new life was coming together. Nigel and Andy helped me assemble a band to back me up when I hit the road. Catch the Wind, Andy’s production company, was handling the musical aspect of my career. Nigel gave me some contacts and background for me to find someone to represent me. I pored through the information, and then I did more research on the talent managers within each company. I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t. I didn’t want an entourage of people. I was looking for an all-in-one – someone to handle pretty much everything. I chose a company called Star Bright. Their ‘leader in personal management, overseeing day-to-day business matters’ was Audra Davis, a ‘go-getter in her field.’ Several other country stars worked with her as well. And so my life in the world of country music began.
The thing you don’t realize as you begin this process is that when you talk with these people, they kiss your ass and suck up to whatever you say you want, because they want you to want them. Audra was professional and personable when we met, I felt relieved that she would help guide me through the maze, but as soon as she lifted the pen after signing her name on the contract, I saw a different woman. Her approach in my long-term goals was far more aggressive than I had explained when she asked my desires. She was talking sixteen weeks on the road and appearances on everything from morning news programs to nighttime talk shows.
“Whoa up there, Audra. I told you we wouldn’t hit this full throttle right off the bat. I gotta be able to breathe. I want to live my life around all of this, not make it my life. I won’t be on the road for more than four weeks at a time. I need time to settle into this. I told you that I have to keep myself sane and none of what you’ve laid out here has a potential for that. “
“You have to get out there, Tate.”
“I get that you gotta get me out there for publicity, and Andy has the next single ready to release, but I’m not going to be out on the road for months at a time. I won’t do it. Fast out the gate doesn’t always come out the winner. I’m a slow and steady guy. If this doesn’t work for you then you didn’t listen to me before. This is me, and this is how I roll.”
My next task was to find a personal assistant – someone besides Audra - to help keep my sanity. I interviewed several people, but when Deidre Pierson talked to me I liked her immediately. She was the one who would help tend to my personal life while I was on the road. She’d take care of correspondence, keep my calendar, book my travel, and make sure I had groceries when I came home, but most importantly, she would look after Sadie.
Sadie and I had been together since I was twenty. She was a dark-haired beauty and I knew instantly that she and Deidre would get along fine.
“How old is she?” Deidre asked, as she loved on her.
“She’s almost eleven. She likes a good belly rub and a bath,” I said, as Deidre obliged, rubbing the belly of the chocolate lab that reciprocated by nudging her hand and slobbering her with wet kisses.
“Oh, we’ll be best buddies,” she laughed as Sadie rolled on her back for more
I was getting ready for a mall concert and a couple of Nashville morning news programs that streamed live on the Internet. There had already been a Tate Morrow Fan Page established on Facebook with over 50,000 followers to date. It was beginning. I felt both anxious and excited.
Audra barked orders to Deidre and me all morning - a whole lot of ‘we have to do this,’ and ‘you need to do that’. Women have never bossed me around. Even my mama and two sisters suggested things. I’m not sure I like it, but they say Audra’s the best, so I’ll deal with it – for a while.
She had Deidre almost in tears twice this morning. I flashed her a wink to let her know it’d be all right. Deidre and I had already developed a silent language when Audra was around. That woman pushes buttons connected to a ‘you’re pissing me off’ mechanism I didn’t know I had.
Audra and I had spent the day before shopping for jeans and shirts for some of the upcoming appearances on my schedule.
“We have to take these to get them fitted,” Audra said.
“Fitted?” I asked. “We spent all day yesterday trying shit on and now it has to be fitted?”
“Trust me on this, Tate. I know what I’m doing,” she snarled.
“Whatever,” I mumbled.
“Look, you’re already well on your way. I’m the one who can get you to the level of the big guns. They’re comparing you to Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley, two of the highest grossing entertainers of all time. We’re just getting started. Trust me.”
I followed Audra to an appointment across town with a seamstress. Finally, we pulled up in front of a little shop. It looked like a house, but judging by the stores on either side – a coffee shop to one side and a print shop on the other - I knew this was a business. I stepped out of my truck to follow Audra inside. When we entered, I saw her.
“Maisie.” Audra addressed her in a snippy, rude voice.