...a red dirt girl
This red dirt girl grew up in the heart of Red Dirt music country - near Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cimarron river flows just a mile to the south... the sky is big and full of colors in the early morning~ and those last few minutes of the day.
Farming and ranching has been the staple for the small community of Perkins in which she grew up. Rodeo, church, swimmin' holes, baling hay, kids meeting each other on a dirt road to ride horses, picnics, the senior citizens in the little town have always had great country and western swing music on monday nights. These are the things that filled Monica's life growing up.
"Riding home on the school bus, how I'd search the road ahead
for two dogs by a mailbox, that had letters painted red.
Then I'd grab my books and say goodbye... and I'd step down on the ground
then we'd all three walk together, there ain't no better life I've found."
- from Monica's song The Front Porch Light
When she enrolled at Oklahoma State University, she decided that she'd better find some people to play bluegrass and country music with in the evenings. Thanks to Brett Franzman - one of Stillwater's great banjo players and guitar pickers - she found herself right, smack dab in the middle of the still young Red Dirt Music scene.
Jimmie LaFave and Monica
The bluegrass and folk band The Wayfarying Strangers that she played and sang with, played Jimmy Lafave's Musicians Reunion Jam one night...The Red_Dirt Rangers, Tom Skinner, Greg Jacobs, Randy Pease, The Medicine Show... and of course, Jimmy LaFave. What a night!
Earlier in the evening she met another man who has since always been on her mind and in her heart.
"We were running over a few tunes at Pam's (Hartman) house that wasn't far from where the shows were that night when the songwriter that was expected to come around for a visit knocked on the door.
"The door opened and standing the doorway was a man with a big, vibrant smile and curly brown hair and lots of whiskers. His rough voice had 'country' all over it and his beautiful blue eyes just twinkled... 'Hear there's a new girl singer in town... came to meet 'er. My name's Bob_Childers... what's yours?'
That kindness- the going out of his way to make a young girl feel not so nervous and so very welcome was Bob to a T. I'm so thankful that he came by that night before the show and listened to us... and then played some of tunes. Like so many others around me... I do miss Bob and love him dearly." -- Monica
Bob Childers Tribute Page at bluedoorokc.com
Telluride and mountain living
She lived in a tent from July until October '94 and eventually found a cabin and some roommates up on Last Dollar Road about 30 minutes from town to live with for the winter.
Monica's Cabin in Colorado
Skiing in everything she needed was the daily chore. She had a band, a three piece group, and a solo gig in town to make her living. Life on the mountain with bluegrass friends and the rugged mountain living was a great time for two years.
Most importantly... this is where she found the love of her life and her companion for 14 years: Rosebud.
Click here for a good story about life in the Sneffles mountain range and Rosebud.
A Farm Girl's Journal Entry for June 19th, 2008
Summertime...and the flowers are a bloomin! Love this time of year... I have tomatoes and peppers, onions, squash, cucumbers, maybe green beans and herbs of all kinds and pecans just now forming in their little nutlets... gonna be a nice harvest.
I'm so glad that I decided to have a garden because now I'll have my own tomatoes. Big tomato scare out there... but I'll be steppin' out to my kitchen garden each day with my big straw hat on and a basket. Oh, yeh... I'll have my slicing knife, a plate, and my salt & pepper shakers with me, too. I never can make it back to the house without having a few bites. (smile)
This year though, I'll be steppin' out to the garden by myself.
Rosebud~ the very best friend I've ever had~ passed away two weeks ago.
Last Dollar Road and Mt. Sneffles...
I found her in a dog pound up in Montrose, CO about 14 years ago.
I walked into the room with about 30 cages. I began talking to each dog in the entire room. I had planned that if I adopted a dog I wanted to find the one that had the least time left... and an older dog that might not get adopted. But it had to be 'the' dog for 'me'. Bonds are important...
I walked the entire u-shaped kennel room and with a heavy heart, I was grabbing the exit door to pull it behind me, when I saw the last stall... hidden behind the big, metal door.
There she sat... sitting straight and tall, very polite and trying to be brave.
"Lab and sheperd mix, 9 weeks old."
She was all alone in the cage. The index cards on her wire gate had other names that had black marks through them. Rosebud was the last of her brothers and sisters to be adopted. The lady at the desk told me later that they were found under a trailer with the metal skirting nailed shut, snow and no means of survival... what a cruel thing to do to a mama and her pups.
There was my travelling partner.
I saw her sitting with me in the snow outside my cabin up on Hastings Mesa- near Telluride. In my mind I could see her running in the big snow-shoe footprints that I was leaving behind as we hiked across the pasture. This is exactly the kind of life she lived with me so far up from any close neighbors.
I knew when we got to Last Dollar Road on the other side of the Mt. Sneffles range, she'd have to walk the 3 miles from the small clearing of trucks and jeeps.
That was the closest spot that those of us who lived far up the mountain could park. The rest of the way was snow shoe, cross country skiing, or snow mobile- if you were lucky to have one that would work on a regular basis.
SO-o-o I also had groceries to ski-in to the cabin ('shack' is a more precise description... snow got in easily) and water, and my clean clothes... how would I get her in? Oh, well... figure it out when I get there.
The solution was to pack everything in my backpack with the vegetables and meat at the top, so the veggies wouldn't get so smashed. The pup would stand on the frozen chicken with a couple of dirty socks on top for grip, and then I would pull the string on the backpack just enough to hold her upright... my puppy rode in my full size backpack looking over my left ear- and licking it occassionally.
My water jug was bunchee-corded around my front, and I was cross-country skiing a little over three miles up and down hills. Got the picture? Oh, yeh... I remember this scenario very well because it happened for the next month or two.
My roommates loved her and when they asked me what her name was, I told them the name on the card: 'Rose.'
We had just been outside all morning with snowboards and a little sled that I'd jump on at the top of our pasture and go flying down the hillside into a big, fluffy pile of snow. That puppy I had just brought in the day before couldn't 'hep herself;
she had to follow her new 'girl' where EVER she went.
The way she sat on her bum and leaned backwards for the rides down, I thought: well, she doesn't need a sled, she's got that sliding deal figured out! Rosebud. Rosebud.
The name of Citizen Kane's favorite toy when he was growing up was that little sled~ he called it "Rosebud." The guys loved the name and then they all started giving her their own nicknames... Rosie, Rosarita, Squirt.
Rosebud and I lived on that mountain for two years... I worked as a nanny by day and had a really good acoustic band and a solo gig at night in Telluride, so she went with me everywhere- even onstage.
When I brought her home in '96, I took her out to The Farm, west of Stillwater, OK to introduce her to my red dirt 'family.' Bob Childers was livin' out there as was Brad James and Scott Evans... our fearless leader was Danny Pierce, a teacher in wilderness survival training.
Mike McClure was a regular 'farm hand'... he'd bring out these wonderful new songs he'd just written. Mike would play 'em for Bob and the rest of us. That kind of thing happened on a regular basis with most of the red dirt artists who were begining at that time, as a matter of fact.
I moved into a tent out there, a huge tarp tied up behind a shed under an old, old tree for just about 7 months... and then into a little trailer like Bob's for the winter.
Rosebud became one of The Farm Dogs.
What a life's she's lived... she will always be my true and constant companion.
~ I love you Rosebud... your girl, Monica ~
Home Sweet Oklahoma
In 1996 Monica moved home to the Stillwater area and moved out to The Farm... the legendary old farm that so many songwriters in the Red Dirt music field lived at or visited frequently.
Monica formed another bluegrass band called Cedar Hammock with Brett, Kurt Neilson, and Karen Knust and once again had wonderful times singing with all of her old Red Dirt music friends.
Like a family... Rosebud was at home at The Farm as one of the farmdogs... life was good.
The Farm Couple 1998-2008
"The Farm Couple"
"Patrick Williams and I met at the Winfield(Kansas) Bluegrass Festival in 1996 and soon after began pickin' with each other here and there. In 1998 I moved up to the old family farm that he lived on and began travelling around the southern half of America together.
Three cd's and thousands of wonderful experiences and friends later we decided that we each ought to try our hands and hearts at something different.
"Patrick and I are great friends and we will join up ever so often to play a show for the 'Farmhands' that still ask for us to play. We love it! His great flat pickin' and fingerstyle guitar playing always makes me smile and gives me energy... what wonderful songs that he writes... and that WE have written together. Checkout TheFarmCouple.com for more information
On my own- but not alone
Monica at Woody Fest
Jared Tyler (middle)
with EmmyLou Harris
and Buddy Miller
Today I am playing solo... and I have some wonderful friends who play with me and that I play and sing with Don Morris (guitar, bass, songwriter), Jared Tyler (guitar, dobro, mandolin,songwriter) and Nancy Kamm (fiddle) have played with Monica often and with great joy to Monica... and to the audiences!
Jazz and western swing... love this music!
My dear friend Robin Macy called me up recently and said let's you and me and Jenny Lou form a trio and sing the old songs our grannies love! God bless her little pea-pickin' heart. What else could I say? "YES... and the Nouveau Quintet want us to sing with 'em at their concerts and dances? Ah-h-h-h ha."
The Cherokee Maiden's are Robin Macy, Monica Taylor and Jennifer Petterson. They make up this tight harmony trio in the McKinney Sisters style who sang with The Texas Playboys and The Andrew Sisters... of course.
We sing the great old western swing, jazz, and some of our orginal tunes with Sycamore Swing backing us up!
Kenny (Kentucky) White is the leader of band- and Robin’s husband- Kenny is one of the most amazing musicians around. Kenny plays an old hollow bodied guitar, acoustic, mandolin, and banjo.
Rob Loren plays th fiddle for us… he’s played with Ray Price, Hank Thompson, and fabulous groups throughout Kansas.
James Holcutt plays the upright bass and bass guitar for us… he is a wonderful musician who can keep the swing, jazz, and the country sounds steady on.
Sam Hake plays the drums for us… he is a band director in Wichita at the Collegiate private school.
So much fun we have with these Wichita, KS men! Each of the girls and guys respect one another for our talents and enjoy performing together… you can tell that from the smiles and dancing that goes on during a show!
Pickin', singin', writin' and a grinnin'... that's what I do
"I've been writing new songs! Working up the songs written by my dear friends in the Red Dirt Family, and loving all of the new things coming down this old country road!"
New CD in the works for the winter
Monica recorded her latest CD Cotton Shirt in Tulsa, OK at Soultree Studios with her longtime music friend and renown producer, Jared Tyler. Jared plays dobro on all of my Monica’s music and sings harmonies with the blend the way a brother would sing. He tours with Malcom Holcomb, John Cowan, and Suzie Ragsdale.
Monica is working on the songs for a new recording, maybe two.
One CD would be tentatively called Maud & Rose~ and other stories from the road.
The second recording would self-penned songs about the mountains and old Appalachian songs she’s enjoyed thru the years- Songs from My Grandmother’s Mountains.
Keep looking back for more information on these possible 2012-13 releases! Check out Jared’s website, too… www.jaredtyler.com
New songs, strong heart and mind, solid friends... blessings from God.
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