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A Tale of Buck, Russ, Bakersfield and a Watermelon-colored Suit

(Originally published in the Bakersfield Business Journal, January 22, 2001)

By Walter Stormont


Buck Owens' Crystal Palace has established itself as a destination point for travelers from around the world. It's 

definitely a destination for one young singer/songwriter from Black Creek, North Carolina.  When Russ Varnell, 

a lifelong Buck Owens fan, first met his musical hero in person at the Palace, he was a bit tongue-tied. "I was so 

nervous, man, I could hardly think of a thing I wanted to say," admitted the 25-year-old in his country tone. "But I 

was like a little young'n at Christmas time!" That meeting, in the summer of 1998, was the result of a long-time 

correspondence between Varnell and Owens. When Varnell finally got to come out and see Buck and the 

Buckaroos in person, he sent a note up to the stage, was acknowledged by Buck and summoned backstage between performances. "Man, I about fell out!" Varnell said. Since then, Varnell has been onstage several times with Buck and the Buckaroos, most recently December 1 and 2 when he and Owens dueted on four songs: "Above and Beyond," "Hello Trouble," "Act Naturally" and "I Don't Care (Just As Long As You Love Me)." That last song is the first song Varnell ever learned the words to. "I was raised watching shows like 'Hee Haw' and 'The Porter Wagoner Show,'" Varnell said. "Every Saturday night everybody had to get really quiet when Hee Haw came on. I remember watching Buck play his red, white and blue guitar on there, and my parents (Ted and Betty Varnell) had a bunch of Buck Owens

records, and it all started from there. Since then I've been buying his records and ordering them from wherever I can 

find them. I've finally got all of them except for the ones released overseas, and there's one 45 that I don't have called'Seasons of My Heart.'" Varnell is also a magnet for Buck Owens memorabilia. One very special item was acquired in 1998 between gigs at the North Carolina State Fair, where Varnell performs annually. A wax museum at the fair was populated by likenesses of such celebrities as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, "Seinfeld's" Kramer... and Buck Owens, holding his trademark red, white and blue guitar. For several years, Varnell asked the museum owner whether the guitar was for sale, and each year the answer was "No." Persistence paid off on November 4, 1998 when the owner told Varnell he was closing up shop and finally offered the guitar for sale. "He also said he had this red suit 

that used to be on the wax statue of Buck," Varnell said. "So I told him I would buy the guitar if he would throw in the suit." It was a deal. "I threw the suit in the back of my car," Varnell continued, "and when I got home I looked inside thesuit and saw that it had Buck's name written inside, and it had the label, 'Nudie Western Wear -- Hollywood, California.' Man, I about fell out! I couldn't believe it." Nudie is legendary for making costumes for many country and western stars, including Owens. "I quickly ran to my room to look over my Buck record collection," Varnell said. "I was very excited when I saw him wearing it on two album covers: 'Together Again' and 'On the Bandstand' from 1963." 

During his trip to the Crystal Palace earlier that year, Varnell had met Buckaroos keyboardist and museum coordinator Jim Shaw. He sent Shaw a picture of the red suit to verify its authenticity. "Meanwhile I had the suit, which was now my most prized possession, hanging up in my room. "One night, out of the blue, who calls me up but Jim Shaw and tells me

that the suit was one of two that was stolen before I was even born," Varnell continued. "He asked me if I could send

it to let Buck see if it was really the one, and if it was he would give me a great offer. So, with the help of my local 

postmaster, I sent the suit in a big, flat, secured cardboard box." The suit was confirmed to be the real article from the early 1960's. "It was Buck's first fancy tailor-made suit," Shaw said recently. It had been stolen along with a blue costume, which is still missing. Known as the "watermelon-colored suit," Varnell's find is now proudly displayed near the stage at the Crystal Palace. The offer he got for it was one he could not refuse: tickets to Buck Owens' 70th birthday bash in August 1999, complete with airfare and accommodations. During that gala, Varnell was asked to get up and perform a song with the Buckaroos. 

He chose David Alan Coe's "You Never Call Me By My Name." The following year, before Varnell took the stage 

with Buck, Owens saluted the young fan who donated his prized possession. "As much as it meant to him... he 

graciously gave it back to us so we could put it in the museum," Owens said. "He let us have it like the gentleman that he is, and I sure appreciate that." When one first sees the clean-cut Varnell in his fancy western suit, it's obvious that 

he reveres the traditions of country music as established by people like Owens, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams. When visiting Bakersfield, Varnell has shown a keen interest in exploring the city's rich musical history, even performing at Trout's with the great Red Simpson and visiting Simpson's home. Varnell and his harmonica-playing cousin Charlie Flowers have made many friends at the Crystal Palace, including California Highway Patrol Officer Mack Wimbish, who arranged for the boys to go on a ride-along in a Highway Patrol cruiser. "The very nice patrol officer was named Aaron Taylor... A. Taylor," Varnell said, "and we thought that was really cool because we in North Carolina can identify with sheriff Andy Taylor from the Andy Griffith Show!" Varnell and Flowers also drove around town extensively with local draftsman Joe Stormont [the author's brother], who showed them such historic sites as the old Lucky Spot honky-tonk on Edison Highway. While out that way, Varnell stopped in at the Mercado Latino and purchased a classic cowboy suit -- reminiscent of those worn by Hank Williams -- which he soon

wore onstage at the Crystal Palace. The visitors also paid their respects at the grave of Don Rich, Owens' musical 

partner and close friend who died in a motorcycle accident in 1974. "He's buried right beside Buck's mom and dad,"Varnell said. Another point of interest the men went looking for was the famous "box-car" house which was Merle Haggard's boyhood home in Oildale. "I read Merle's new book and he told the street address of the house," Varnell said, "so we went looking for it, and we were having trouble finding it. We came across some people walking down the

street and asked them where the old Haggard house was. They said, 'Hey, we live in that house... it's right here!' And there it was, looking right at us." The current occupants kindly let the visitors look around and take pictures of the house. Fittingly, Varnell crossed paths last month with another performer who, like himself, has been greatly influenced by Buck Owens... Dwight Yoakam. "That was something," Varnell said. "We didn't have any idea it was going to happen." During the premiere of Yoakam's movie "South of Heaven, West of Hell" at Bakersfield's Pacific Theaters Valley Plaza, Varnell and company sat in the very back of the theater and were among the first to exit when the feature was over. And there stood Yoakam. "He was kind of hiding behind the door, trying not to be seen by everybody, " Varnell said, "and I asked him if we could get a picture. He said, 'Sure.' He came out and was just as nice as if we'd known him all the while." Back in North Carolina, Varnell has left his job as a car salesman to pursue his music career full-time. He performs frequently at places like Buck's Western Saloon and the Nashville Palace. "Every show I do, I 

talk about Buck Owens and do a couple of Buck Owens songs," Varnell said, "and I'll always do so wherever I sing."

During a May 2000 engagement at the Nashville Palace, former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda 

happened to be in the audience. Varnell has a video of Lasorda praising the humble young crooner. "Let me tell you something, Russ, you've got talent," Lasorda tells Varnell on the tape. "I've heard a lot of country and western singers,like Randy Travis... he used to wait on me before he became a star! You can be one of the great country and western singers in this country. All you need is somebody to give you a break." Lasorda added, "If I wasn't in baseball, I tell you, I'd be your agent. I'd let everybody in the country hear you." Varnell has a smooth, laid-back style with a voice slightly akin to those of Travis and Yoakam. He's written a number of songs with his friend Joey Talton, including "She's in Everybody's Arms But Mine," and "It's a Country Thing, You Wouldn't Understand." Varnell has self-produced three tapes of music, and his 

mailing address is P.O. Box 146, Black Creek, NC 27813. Varnell has two brothers: Jim, an engineer and David, a preacher. "My dad tells everybody he's got a son that's a preacher and one that's a honky-tonk singer," Varnell said with a chuckle. During a telephone interview from his home in Black Creek, Varnell pointed out, "People around here keep calling me, 'Buck Owens, Jr.' Everybody identifies me with Buck Owens." It's a label he's honored to wear. "If it wasn't for Buck Owens, I would not be pursuing a singing career," Varnell said. "I feel very privileged and fortunate to 

have met him and performed with him. I couldn't ask for anything better. The greatest moment of my small career is 

being able to sing with Buck Owens." One final word from Buck concerning the young man who found his watermelon-colored suit. "I told him there was one other stolen with it," Owens said during a Crystal Palace show. "And if he finds it, bring it too!"

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Varnell showcases 'real’ country By Laura McFarland

Rocky Mount Telegram Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Real country music is a dying art form.                         

Sure, artists like Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts sell millions of CDs and downloaded songs every year, but Russell Varnell does not consider them “real” country. If people want to hear real country music, at least as far as Varnell is concerned, they would do better to listen to Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Roy Clark and Merle Haggard rather than what is on modern radio, he said. “If there was an endangered list for music, I would say real country, honky tonk music, is definitely on the endangered list, and we need to do something about it and keep it alive,” said Varnell of Wilson Varnell’s solution was to create “Russ Varnell Real Country Music Show,” which airs at 3 p.m. Sundays on WHIG-TV and on the station’s Web site, whigtv.com. During the 30-minute program, the host shows video clips of country legends, up-and-coming artists and his own group, Russ Varnell and His Too Country Band. The show started in March and has received positive feedback from local viewers and people who watch it on the Internet, said Sandra Smith, general manager of WHIG-TV. Varnell had a comedy show on the station several years ago that was popular with audiences. People seem to like the new one even more, Smith said. “I have never seen anybody his age that is as passionate about the old artists as he is and keeping the old music alive,” Smith said. However, Varnell doesn’t want people to think of his show as just about old country music. “Real country music is not a thing of the past. It is still alive and well, and people need to come out and embrace those artists that are performing it,” Varnell said.

Russ Varnell and the Too Country Band bring real country to Deep South

Posted: March 8, 2011 by Hunter in local music



One thing that preys on my mind is the fact that for the most part Country music has gone to hell in a hand basket, I mean really. If you listen to Country radio today or even subject yourself to Country videos a blind man could see how bad it has gotten. Then I see my friend Russ Varnell play a show at  Deep South, a local music hall and I realize there is hope for Country music. It is not just me that sees the problem and that is evident in the crowd that shows up, packs the place, and lets it all hang out watching Russ and the Too Country band do their thing.  The Too Country Band is: Ricky Hagan – Steal Player/Harmony Singer, Roger Gilmore – Drummer/Harmony Singer, Evan Rose – Base Guitar,Curtis Church – Lead Guitar, Joy Williams – female lead. Among the songs Russ let loose on the crowd were Act Naturally, Whose Gonna Fill Their Shoes, Little Sister, Jackson (sung with their female lead Joy Williams ), Makeup and Faded Blue Jeans, Tiger by the Tail, Big in Vegas, and Johnny B Goode. Russ did some great covers as well as a few original tunes that were equally as Country. I understand everything changes but you can’t put lipstick on a hog and that is what they are trying to do with the current Nashville noise and call it Country. So let’s keep the country in Country music and call this other “stuff” something else that don’t insult the memory of Hank Williams. Russ put on an awesome show that we all enjoyed and got the crowd all fired up. To summarize, the beer was cold, the music was hot,and the crowd was into all the above.

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Life:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 9:25 AM

Varnell shares love of country music :  Music show on TV and Internet

By Caroline Dolman | Daily Times Apprentice



Local musician Russ Varnell is sharing his passion for country music on WHIG-TV of Rocky Mount and on the Internet. Varnell describes the 30-minute "Russ Varnell Real Country Music Show" as featuring "myself and the band (Russ Varnell and His Too Country Band), clips of us, clips showing country music legends, and clips of brand-new up-and-coming artists. We even do comedy skits. " Varnell loves what he calls "real country music," and the name of his band reflects that. "People said to me all the time, 'Y'all are great, but you're too country,'" Varnell said. Hence, the name of Varnell's band was born. Varnell thinks that some of what is generally classified as "country music" is not "real country music." "I don't really consider Keith Urban and the Rascal Flatts real country," Varnell said, citing artists Buck Owens, George Jones, Dale Watson and Elizabeth Cook as "real country" musicians. Varnell himself is no stranger to country music. "I've been involved in the music industry since '94," Varnell said. "I grew up loving country music, and I'm passionate about promoting

real country music. Country radio is so limited; they only want to play a few (artists)."

Varnell revels in that opportunity to promote the music that he loves and decided to have a show on both television and the Internet to take full advantage of that ability. "I had a show on the same station three years ago, and they were wanting me to come back," Varnell said. "I did TV specials

occasionally through the last three years, and I saw the broadcasting on the Internet and the feedback from different states."

Ultimately, Varnell says that the main benefits of broadcasting via the Internet are "having a live call-in show and a larger viewing

audience." "My favorite part is showing old artists and new, that people have either forgotten about or may not be familiar with, helping discover

(artists) or helping people remember an artist they'd forgotten about. " The job does not come without its challenges, however. Varnell, who also works another job, cites "putting it all together, editing the clips and finding the time" as the challenges that the show

presents. The hurdles have been worth it, however, and the response from local and out-of-state viewers has been positive, he said. "Since my first episode aired ... I have had an overwhelming amount of response from viewers in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Tennessee

and several local viewers as well."

"Russ Varnell Real Music Show" airs Sundays at 3 p.m. and Mondays at 11 p.m. on WHIG-TV and whigtv.com. The show is on Channel 17, Channel 19, or Channel 33 if you have Sudden Link, Time Warner or UHF, respectively.


For more information, go to russvarnell.com or visit his facebook page.

PRESS RELEASE:

By:  Marty Martel

Saturday, April 24th, 2010


I met Russ Varnell several years ago on a show in N.C., and over the years Russ has continued with a deep passion to keep real country music alive by his performances and his support of our great music. He said "If there was an endangered list for music, I would say real country, honky tonk music is definitely on the endangered list, and we need to do something about it, and keep it alive." And that is what this young man is doing and doing it with his band, the way he dresses and now he is bringing to all of you with his new show on WHIG-TV-Rocky Mount, NC, "The Russ Varnell Real Country Music Show." The show features Russ, his band His Too Country Band, along with co-host Michelle

Patterson. This young man deserves the opportunity to be on a major record label so that pure country music has an outlet to stay alive. Will that happen-who knows. The country music industry is deep in the deepest hole that the new country people have dug so deep that we need all of the Russ Varnell's we can find. So I am asking you to tune in on your computer to this young man's show and enjoy the great country music that is so hard to find anymore. A great big thank you for WHIG-TV for airing the show.


AND HE ALSO DESERVES A GUEST APPEARANCE ON THE GRAND OLE OPRY.

The following are the times for you to view the show and please let Russ know that you watched his show. Check out his website and drop him a line: http://russvarnell.com


Airing as follows:


Sundays at 3PM EST


Mondays at 11:30 PM EST


Thursdays at 10:30 PM EST


Here is the internet info: http://www.whigtv.com


Channel 17 Sudden Link


Channel 19 Time Warner


Channel 33 UHF


Marty

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Varnell places 1st at folk festival

RALEIGH - Local country music singer Russ Varnell won first place in the male vocalist category at the North Carolina State Fair's Folk Festival.  Varnell competed Oct. 22 in two shows and was accompanied by the State Fair Band. He performed "Tiger by the Tail," "Sing Me Back Home," "There Goes My Everything" and "You Never Called Me By My Name." He won a cash prize as well as a trophy.

After his performance, Varnell was invited by Grand Ole Opry legend Jack Greene to go backstage at a Dorton Arena performance that night by Opry legends. He visited with hall of famers Ray Price and Little Jimmy Dickens as well as legends Gene Watson, Ralph Emery

and Jeannie Seely.

You can see Varnell Nov. 16 at Black Creek Heritage Day Festival. He and the Lost Highway Band will be opening act for The Derailers.

You can also check out Varnell on his new Web site: www.russvarnell.com or on his weekly television show, "The Russ Varnell Show"

on WHIG-TV in Rocky Mount every Sunday at 3 p.m. and Monday at 10 p.m.

October 31, 2002


Varnell places 1st at folk festival

Newspaper: The Online Edition (http://www.wilsondaily.com)

Edition: 103102

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PRESS RELEASE FROM RA FOUNTAIN FOUNATIN NC



 [Fountain, NC] Russ Varnell and His Too Country Band play honky-tonk country music Saturday night in a show that will feature as its backdrop a display of Varnell's collection of country music-style suits.

Russ Varnell, who headlines Saturday night's show with his band, The Too Country Band , is known throughout East Carolina for the fancy suits he always wears while performing. A Black Creek native and resident, this Saturday he's putting all those suits on display

for the first time, at Fountain General Store.

During Varnell's performance--and prior to it, for a special exhibit from 1-3 p.m.--his collection of 17 original country music suits will be

on display. These include Manuel suits made especially for Varnell; Manuel suits formerly owned by Mel Tillis, Bill Anderson, and Jim

Ed Brown; two Scully suits; and reproductions of suits made famous in performances and by Porter Wagoner and Hank Williams.

Varnell used to have the first Nudie suit Buck Owens owned, but he gave it back to Owens for display in his Bakersfield, California

museum after learning that it had, in fact, been stolen from him backstage at a concert in the early 1960s.

For Saturday night's performance, Varnell will be wearing for the first time his latest Manuel creation, a black-&-red rose rhinestone

suit he recently picked up in Nashville. For this special event, RAF will be open from 1-3 on Saturday afternoon. Varnell will be on hand to talk about his suits and his many

experiences with country music stars. "You're not going to have a chance to see this many fancy suits in one place again unless you

go to Nashville," said Alex Albright, RAF proprietor, "but for a day, we'll have our own country music museum in Fountain, thanks to

Russ." 

Russ Varnell and Too Country's November 6 performance begins at 8 p.m. General admission is $8; reserved seats, $10. Admission to

the special exhibit of Varnell's collection of classic country music wear, from 1-3 p.m., is free.

Varnell's country songs playing in Belgium

Country singer Russ Varnell has gone international.


The local singer, who released the compact disc "Playin' Every Honky Tonk in Town" last year, is now being heard in Belgium. In fact, a radio station has selected the music as "album of the week."

Varnell gets quite a few inquiries from disc jockeys across the country about his CD, which was recorded in Elm City.

They read about it on his Web site, www.russvarnell.com.

"Two were a little bit different from the rest," Varnell said. "One was from Australia and the other from Belgium." Varnell sent each DJ a copy of his CD. "A few weeks after I sent them I heard back from Alain Joris, who is a famous on-air personaility in Belgium. He tells

me that my CD is some of the most requested music on his station." Joris, who has a radio show "Country Club," sent a copy of his radio show to Varnell. "I'm very proud of the honor," Varnell said. "and hope to continue to get lots of air play in Belgium, the United States

and anywhere else there is someone playing country music."


January 15, 2004

By Rochelle Moore, Daily Times Staff Writer

Newspaper: The Online Edition (http://www.wilsondaily.com)

Edition: 011504

To read this entire article and other related stories, visit The Online Edition at the following URL.

URL:http://www.wilsondaily.com/nh/article.nh?fmt=web&usr=&art=li-varnell.web&ed=011504&srch=&res=&id=1a

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Friday, October 16, 2009 9:34 AM


Varnell joins entertainers' organization



Country singer Russ Varnell of Wilson has returned from Nashville, Tenn., where he was made a member of Reunion of Professional Entertainers Organization.


ROPE includes country music legends as members as well as up and coming country singers.


Varnell, along Roger Gilmore, longtime drummer of Varnell's Too Country Band, attended the 22nd annual Rope Awards Show in Nashville Oct. 8. They met and socialized with a number of music legends such as Kitty Wells, Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens, George Hamilton IV , Stan Hitchcock and more.


"This is really an honor, and Roger Gilmore and I really had a great time attending this great event," Varnell said.


Varnell and his band will perform at Louisburg Senior Center Friday, at Black Creek Heritage Day Saturday at 10 a.m. and at the State Fair Monday.You can also watch Varnell & His Too Country Band Each Week on Varnell's TV/Internet Show "The Russ Varnell Real Country Music TV Show" Broadcast each week on WHIGTV & WHIGTV.COM. 

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I am preparing myself for a treat come the evening of Aug. 28.

I plan to be at the Turnage Theater, listening to Russ Varnell & His Too Country

Band. If you like country music, especially that twangy, honky-tonk music, then

that’s where you need to be, too.

I first met Russ, from Black Creek over in Wilson County, when he  performed

during the Beaufort County Music Festival in April. Decked out in a

rhinestone-bedecked suit that would make Buck Owens, Hank Williams and Porter

Wagoner proud, Russ sang standards such as “She Thinks I Still Care” and several

songs he had written.

There’s no doubt Russ, who was 34 when I met him in April, was influenced by

Buck Owens. From his rhinestone suits to covering many of Owens’ hits, Russ

shows that influence. Russ even played with Owens during visits to Bakersfield,

Calif., Owens’ old stomping ground. Russ first met Owens during a visit to

Bakersfield in 1998.

During a gig at the N.C. State Fair, Russ bought a red, white and blue guitar

that had been held by a wax figure resembling Owens, who owned such a guitar. As

part of that deal, the owner of the wax museum threw in a red suit. Later, Russ

discovered the suit, known as the “Watermelon Suit,” was once worn by Owens.

Owens wore the suit on two album covers, “Together Again” and “On the

Bandstand.” A member of the Buckaroos, Owens’ band, confirmed the suit did

belong to Owens at one time. The suit was one of two suits stolen from Owens

before Russ was born.

The “Watermelon Suit” is on display at Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield.

As good as Russ looks in his rhinestone-encrusted suits, he sings even better.

At our first meeting, I remember asking Russ his age. He didn’t look old enough

to be singing those old country-music hits with the conviction with which he

sang them. When he told me he was 34, I replied: “You weren’t even born when

those songs were hits.”

Russ said his parents, Ted and Betty Varnell, watched shows like “Hee-Haw” and

“The Porter Wagoner Show” when he was a child.Russ developed more than a liking

for the music he heard. He became an Owens fan, buying as many Owens records as

he could, playing them again and again.

Russ covers songs by Merle Haggard, Ernest Tubb and, of course, Hank Williams.

Helping him evoke their musical styles is the Too Country Band, which includes a

pedal steel guitar. I just love a pedal steel guitar played by someone who can

make it twang so it compliments the singer’s twang. Folks claim the steel guitar

and the method of playing it were invited in Hawaii. They must have been

invented in southern Hawaii.

I’ve been around my share of talented musicians. I attended high school in

Spartanburg, S.C., home of the Marshall Tucker Band. I graduated with Tim

Caldwell, younger brother of Tommy and Toy Caldwell, founding members of the

band. I’ve sat in on jam sessions with the Tucker band and Artimus Pyle, the

drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd when the band lost several members in a plane crash.

Russ’ talent belies his relative youth. He sings those honky-tonk songs like he

was around when they were written and performed. Don’t take my word for it.

Check out Russ at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Turnage Theater. Tickets are just $10

a person. You will get more than your money’s worth.

Somebody please inform Russ that I would like to hear him sing “Please Help Me,

I’m Falling” and “Today I Started Loving You Again.”

He should know by now that I expect to hear “She Thinks I Still Care” anytime he

performs and I am there to enjoy it.

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. He loves

to sing those twangy country songs while in the shower, where it’s been said he

soundslike a croaking frog with a Southern accent.


It’s Opry Time!

The 31st Annual Elsie Clark Memorial Nashville Opry was postponed in January after a winter storm brought snow and ice to Nash County on the eve of the event.  The event is set for Saturday night, February 27 from 5 until 10:30 p.m. at the Nash County Agriculture Center. Entertainment includes performances by Linda Ripke, Joe Tripp, the Downeast Gospel Trio, Ronnie Ezzell, Alvin Smith as Elvis, Russ Varnell and several more.


http://www.nashvillegraphic.com/news.php?viewStory=7523

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Wilson's Russ Varnell on 'Larry's Country Diner

By Lisa Boykin Batts Times Life Editor


Russ Varnell is just back from Nashville, Tenn., where he performed on “Larry’s Country Diner,” weekly television show on the nationwide network RFD-TV. 

The show will air March 15 at 8 p.m. Varnell said RFD-TV is Channel 1359 on Time Warner and 231 Dish Network. Varnell had met the owner and creator of the show last year and gave his press information to him, and he got the call recently to go to Nashville.  “After overcoming a few scheduling conflicts, I went running to Nashville as hard as I could go.” Varnell performed some original tunes as well as some country standards. Guitar and Grand Ole Opry legend Jimmy Capps and his wife, Michelle, backed him up on the show. “What a complete thrill it was to do this show. I’ve watched it every week on TV since its first episode about three years ago,” he said. “I never dreamed I’d be a guest on it.”  While there, Varnell said he was approached about making more appearances on RFD-TV shows later this year.  “I will, without a doubt, be happy to go back today or tonight or tomorrow and whenever they ask me too,” he said. “It couldn’t have gone better and what a nice group of folks that treated me so nice.”  Varnell said his dressing room was between music legend Gene Watson and Mark Chestnutt and Red Stegall.  “I actually got to hang out with them during the day, and even got to play air hockey with Mark Chestnutt while waiting to tape the show,” Varnell said. 


You can see Russ Varnell and his band in town Friday at the Black Creek Community Building. The 7:30 p.m. nine-year anniversary show will also feature The Malpass Brothers.

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