As John Eldridge said “Life doesn’t come to us like a math problem. It comes to us the way that a story does, scene by scene.” So I am going to tell you a little story, which has everything to do with way there is a picture of me and my wife Bridget Barlow attached. It’s not a long story, but an important story, it’s your story, it’s my story, and its Red Dirt Nations story.
Some of you may have noticed a lack of original material on our web and social media sites as of late. Then again with well over 500,000 (half a million) and up monthly engaged follows busy posting and sharing on our various platforms many of you haven’t noticed a thing. Yet that’s what this tale is all about. A story always has a beginning. Red Dirt Nations story began a little over three years ago when I saw the need and opportunity to create a place where Red Dirt Music lovers could gather on line. I believed first and foremost it had to be video centric. So this wonderful music and sound we call Red Dirt, created by the best musicians and artist alive today (and yesterday) could be captured and enjoyed over and over again, on line, at no cost. In my role as publisher of The Current I believe it was the first few time I saw The Turnpike Troubadours playing at the Crow Bar in Tahlequah that the vision of what would become Red Dirt Nation drifted through my mind. There were solid Red Dirt Bands holding the scene down but with the Troubadours you could see the future busting out all over them. Thus the ability to create quality live performance videos became one of my major objectives. I also felt since Red Dirt Music had such a large rural audience and with on-air terrestrial radio running as strong as ever in rural America Red Dirt Nation needed to have a radio show to spread the Red Dirt across the landscape of our planet. With those goals and more in mind a dear friend and I ponied up over a hundred thousand dollars to buy the equipment necessary to shoot and record professional live performance videos and produce and record a top notch radio shows, that would eventually be played on over a dozen stations across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri. This also meant designing and building the web and social media sites, along with staffing and housing the entire operation that included a limited capacity but top quality recording studio. Boy oh boy did everything fall into place. As in any operation that’s been around three years some things have change from time to time but one great constant was always Jeremy Scott, our head of operation and video services manager and director. Jeremy has been the sold rock of Red Dirt Nations day to day operations and many a nights that never wavered. I cannot say that with any more emphasis than I am. Naturally I am tempted to name every band, employee, and helper we meet along the way but the story must move on.
Red Dirt Nation was a hit with both the audience along with a successfully business trajectory. In the first half of our third year in business (2016) we grossed over $65,000 (sixty five thousand dollars) in revenue. More than enough to cover our operating expenses. Nothing but blue sky ahead. We were about to launch our own original and creative broadcast Red Dirt Nation television show with all participating partners in place. I was in the middle of making a deal with one of the largest radio syndication company in the country to start placing Red Dirt Nation Radio on many of their 546 affiliates across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. On top of that I was getting ready to launch or independent Red Dirt Nation Record Label with three of the best Red Dirt Artist waiting to record and a line out the door. There’s more, but again the story much move on.
As William Paul Young, author of The Shack put it, this was when the “great sadness” came into our lives. In the fall of last year my wife Bridget Barlow, my constant companion, partner, and lover for over 35 years was diagnosed with Stage Three Breast Cancer. We have not told a lot of people but now the time has come because some people can make up the silliest things when they don’t know the truth. Cancer is an epidemic in America, that just the way it is. I had to drop everything and turn my attention to my wife and lover. Anyone that has been through this know it drains all of one’s time, energy, and money every step of the way, from the first second you hear the word. That is where this story touches Red Dirt Nation. A ship without a captain at the wheel is not going anywhere. That was my job at Red Dirt Nation. I was the captain with my hands firmly on the economics and management wheel of Red Dirt Nation keeping it on course and ready and fit to sail on. Every deal I was working on had to be put aside. Nothing could get in the way of focusing on my wife, my love, and the mother of my children. Bridget and I have been working as business partners since the day we meet. I can still shut my eyes and see her taking the $3 (three dollars) at the door for Huey Lewis and the News at the Mission Ranch Barn in Carmel California like it was yesterday. It was the 80’s and we were just babies ourselves. The Mission Ranch Barn was our first of five showcase nightclubs, a few restaurants, convert halls and an amphitheater, an entertainment publications (The Current and Currentland) and of course Red Dirt Nation. A lot can happen in 30 years and Bridget was always there by my side helping in every way possible. Bridget was the office manage, chief correspondent and bookkeeper. Bridget keep my speeding train on tack day and night. Bridget had a nick name given to her by our music business friends back in Carmel, Saint Brigitte pronounced with a French accent of course. She is that sweetest person you will ever meet. So now it’s my time to be by her side and focus on her night and day. It cost a lot of money to be sick in America today. I now work full time teaching at a university again and will continue into the future. Our life had taken a change that will not be over for hopefully a long, long time but it will take everything we have and more.
So that’s our story and where the Red Dirt Nation family come in. Red Dirt Nation is made up of musician and fans all across America and the world, which simply love Red Dirt Music. What Red Dirt Nation needs is a full time captain at the wheel. If anyone feels that is them, or knows someone who should get this message, please pass it along. Someone needs to take my place at the helm of Red Dirt Nations and it’s here for the asking. For the right person and the right person only. I don’t want anything personally. It’s a great ship with a great crew. I do what the crew to get some part of my ownership. It will take a little working capital to get it back on track but not a lot. Most of all its needs a person with the skills and vision to lead or able to hire them. I will not abandon Red Dirt Nation I will be here for vision and insight as a board member or whatever but I am living the role life has called me to. It’s time for another to lead. It’s time for me to teach and serve.
That’s it. Please share this message with anyone and everyone you please and pray for my wonderful wife Saint Brigitte.