Beau Renfro is a member of the Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tennessee. He is an entertainer, song writer and singer. Beau's music career started in a church in Forrest City, Arkansas. He learned to sing by listening to his mother and sisters sing old Gospel songs. All nine of his sisters played a role in the evolution of Beau’s music. His sister Jean paid for his first guitar and sisters Lou, Joyce, Naomi and Helen made sure he paid attention as they worked out the songs for Sunday service and his little sister Martha was the audience.
Beau grew up listening to the great sounds out of Nashville play from his radio. After moving to east Texas, Beau formed a country band called Beau & the Bandits. He worked at a radio station (KROZ) as the morning DJ by day and he and the Bandits played his music at night in some of Texas' most famous night clubs including the Sawmill Club, the Oil Palace, The Rio and The Tropicana. He also played back up for many of the country stars out of Nashville including T.G. Shepard, Moe Bandy, Jerry Reed, Charlie Rich, Faron Young and Joe Stampley.
Beau was hired to play in the David Houston Band and in 1976 released his first album. The single “There’s No More Gold” went to number 85 on the country charts and was chosen as ‘pick hit of the week’ by Billboard Magazine.
Beau also promoted songs for Cedarwood Publishing Company in Nashville and was responsible for pitching the song “Red Wine” to Epic Records. The song went to #5 for Joe Stampley.
After his first album, Beau fell off the charts. He returned to the familiar Texas nightclub venue. The required travel began to interfere in his family life, so he accepted a job in Branson, MO as the MC for the Ozark Jubilee. Finding the 200 show per year schedule as time consuming as the nightclub travel, Beau decided to retire from the music business.
Beau and his family moved to Tucson, Arizona where he got a job in the car industry. Unable to stay away from music, he formed a new band, Beau Renfro and his Clear Country Band and began playing in Tucson clubs and casinos.
After many years, Beau and his wife Brenda moved back to a small town in the foothills of the Ozarks where he currently resides.
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[0:00:08.8] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Stay tuned so you can hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:26.9] KM: Thank you, Tim. Like Tim said, I'm Kerry McCoy and it's time for me to get up in your business. This show Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy began with entrepreneurs in mind, a platform for me a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way.
As with all new endeavors, it’s had some unexpected outcomes. For instance, this show began with entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs in mind, but it's had a much wider appeal because we're all inspired by everyday people's American-made stories. Another discovery I find interesting is that many, many of my guests have a spiritual bent and a heart of a teacher. Last, that business in of itself is creative, evident by all the true stories we've heard right here at UIYB, Up In your Business.
My guest today, the legendary musician and Hall of Famer, Mr. Beau Renfro is an innately creative entrepreneur, who I'm happy to say brought along with him his tool of the trade, his guitar. Beau, like many country singers learned the art of music in church. Since retiring from the road, he drives a bus for his local school and church. Beau can check all the aforementioned boxes; creativity, spirituality and the heart of a teacher.
My guest today is the legendary rockabilly Hall of Famer, Mr. Beau Renfro. I just like to say that. Legendary rockabilly – I'm saying it again, legendary rockabilly Hall of Famer, Mr. Beau Renfro. It just rolls off your tongue. Beau’s music career began like a lot of country singers, in a church. He was in Forrest City, Arkansas singing good old gospel songs right along his mother and nine sisters. Yes, nine sisters.
Later as a young man living in East Texas, Beau began to capitalize on his youthful talents. He landed a job as the morning DJ of country radio station KROZ. In the evenings he expanded on his learned talents by forming and playing gigs with his five-piece band, Beau and the Bandits, and became the house band at the famous Sawmill Club that I'm shocked at how many people it seats, 1,500 guests.
As with all successful entrepreneurs, his hard work ethics and reputation grew, which led to jobs as backup guitarist and singer for touring stars, famous stars, like Mel Tillis, Charlie Rich Waylon Jennings and Ernest Tubb and that's just a few. The list is very, very long. On one of these nights, he was offered a job on the road with David Houston's band and the rest is history.
In 1976, Beau produced his first album and his song, There's No More Gold, was the pick hit of the week for Billboard Magazine. In 1981, another of his songs, Let's Fall in Love for the Weekend received the same accolades. Notably, Joe Stampley, Stampley or Stapley?
[0:03:31.7] BR: Stampley.
[0:03:32.4] KM: Stampley. I think I've said that wrong for years. Joe Stampley would take the song Red Wine that Beau wrote for Epic Records to number five on the charts. After years of traveling on the road, Beau and his wife Brenda, decided to settle down in Tucson, Arizona. Beau took a job selling cars?
[0:03:50.9] BR: Yup.
[0:03:52.6] KM: Tried unsuccessfully for a life of normalcy, but fate would have none of that. It was at this time, the popular Clear Country Band was formed and became Beau's longest-running gig. Today, Beau has retired from the road again, to Heber Springs, Arkansas where he's formed yet another band, The Open Range. Though these days, he's not ranging very far. It is a pleasure to welcome to the table, singer-songwriter and all-round music man, Mr. Beau Renfro.
[0:04:21.4] BR: Thank you very much. It didn't sound like me when you were telling me. When you were talking.
[0:04:25.4] KM: It’s you. Listen.
[0:04:26.6] BR: I guess so. Yeah.
[0:04:28.6] KM: That’s only a tip of what I found online. If anybody wants to really go and read about this guy, I didn't even talk about – you had a couple of number-one records.
[0:04:37.3] BR: Yeah. They sent a lot of them overseas. I was the entertainment of the year in Europe and when was that? At ’98, I think. I did a lot of songs over there. They don't care what you looked like, how old you are, what your name is. If you can sing a song, they'll listen and it's very weird, where over here, you got to be such and such that.
[0:05:04.4] KM: Total package.
[0:05:05.3] BR: Total package. Good-looking. I missed that one a long way.
[0:05:08.2] KM: You did not. Your voice is unbelievable. The people in the radio are like, “Yeah, he sounds like he's in a echo chamber.” It's so deep and lovely. We had a happenstance meeting and I'm thrilled that you brought your guitar today, because we're going to have you play a few songs. I've been fanning on you all week. You’re spiritual, you’re musical, you're an opportunist, you're hard-working, you're humble and a family man.
I just don't know which things we’re going to talk about, but let's tell our listeners, let's let our listeners get to know you by starting at the beginning. You were born in Jackson, Tennessee, but raised in Forrest City, Arkansas.
[0:05:51.8] BR: No.
[0:05:52.3] KM: No? Okay.
[0:05:53.4] BR: I was born in Forrest City. I was born not in a hospital in Forrest City, Arkansas on Hill Street in Forrest City, Arkansas upstairs to one of our – and one of my dad's dearest friend's home. She was Sister Larlie was her name and she was a member of our church. She adopted me. She thought that I was better than sliced bread. I mean, she’s something else.
That's where I was born at in Forrest City. Jackson, Tennessee is where the Rockabilly Hall of Fame is. When I was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, they put that on born in Jacksonville, but I wasn't.
[0:06:41.6] KM: Once again, you cannot believe everything you read on the internet. Well, I was a little confused by it all. I was like, that's why we started the show off with and I'm glad you said it straight. You never really lived in Jackson?
[0:06:52.9] BR: No. Every day –
[0:06:53.9] KM: That's where the Rockabilly Hall of Fame is?
[0:06:55.4] BR: Right. Yeah. It’s like Conway Twitty is from Helena, Arkansas. Actually, so many people say he's from Oklahoma City; other place you can think of, because it's different things that come up on it that that's way.
[0:07:12.3] KM: Your mother was a singer.
[0:07:13.4] BR: Yes.
[0:07:14.2] KM: You had nine sisters.
[0:07:15.2] BR: Yes.
[0:07:16.4] KM: Your father was a preacher.
[0:07:17.5] BR: Yes.
[0:07:18.1] KM: Tell us how singing in the church affected your life.
[0:07:22.4] BR: My mom used to rock me quite a bit. She used big old rocks and a big – No, no. No, it did. Singing in a church really brought a stability of music to me. My mom, we had to learn harmony, we had to learn the beat, we had to do everything, but we couldn't do any rock and roll. It was all gospel at the time. My nine sisters, which I used to have to wear their hand-me-downs –
[0:07:50.3] KM: I hope not.
[0:07:51.3] BR: Sliding in a second base and pulling up your skirt, I don't –
[0:07:57.0] KM: I hope not. Sounds like you Jet.
[0:08:01.4] BR: No. That is actually a good way to learn a lot of artists start off in church. I did too.
[0:08:11.6] KM: A lot them. Whitney Houston did.
[0:08:13.9] BR: Yeah, what a voice.
[0:08:15.8] KM: Do all your sisters sing still?
[0:08:17.6] BR: All of them, but one. One of them is a bluegrass gospel band and she does – Naoma is her name. They –
[0:08:30.5] KM: She don’t sing?
[0:08:31.6] BR: Yes, she sings. Very good, as a matter of fact. Then I had a little sister that sang real – she's probably the best singer of the bunch.
[0:08:39.7] KM: Martha?
[0:08:40.8] BR: Martha. How did you know that?
[0:08:42.4] KM: I've been fanning on you all week long.
[0:08:45.9] BR: She's a great singer. I wish she would do things that get out in singing, but she don't. She's one of the better singers in the family, I think.
[0:08:57.4] KM: You've been married a long time, which is extremely unusual for a musician.
[0:09:00.2] BR: Right.
[0:09:01.1] KM: What's your secret?
[0:09:03.2] BR: There's only one way and I can tell you and anybody listening is thinking about getting married, I hope they listen to this, because my dad told me that you're married forever, no matter what. No matter what is a great big thing and there's a lot of no matter what’s that come up there in 48 years. It has came up. I love my little wife, Brenda. Little redheaded –
[0:09:33.5] KM: Fireball?
[0:09:34.7] BR: Fireball that I married 48 years ago.
[0:09:37.4] KM: That works for you, but how did Linda feel about staying married forever to a musician?
[0:09:44.7] BR: I don't know.
[0:09:46.2] KM: Yeah, you do.
[0:09:46.5] BR: I don’t know.
[0:09:47.4] KM: Really and truly, it's probably harder on her.
[0:09:49.2] BR: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, she tells me that she don't go to any of my shows anymore. She used to. It's something that she probably don't want me talk about, but I'm going to do it anyway and I can face the music when I get home, okay?
[0:10:08.8] KM: Sounds like your MO anyway.
[0:10:10.4] BR: Yeah. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with third stage lung cancer. We decided at that time that we were going to retire. I was going to retire from the road. She wanted to come back to Arkansas. She was born in Gurden, Arkansas. If you hadn't been there, well you need to save up. Anyway, that's where she was born. She didn't want to go back there. I didn't want to go back to Forrest City, because all my relatives have moved anyway. I had one sister who lived in Heber Springs, Arkansas and so that's where I went.
[0:10:49.9] KM: That's where she went with you.
[0:10:50.8] BR: Yes.
[0:10:51.3] KM: I was going to ask you how you ended up in Heber Springs and it was a health scare. Made you decide to slow it down.
[0:10:58.3] BR: Yeah. Yes, it did. I have a lot of faith in my lord and that's what we depended on for a long time.
[0:11:12.5] KM: I read a quote somewhere where you said, God sends you – let me see. You said, God has a way of putting you where you need to be.
[0:11:19.3] BR: That's right.
[0:11:19.9] KM: That's a direct quote from you.
[0:11:21.2] BR: That's right. He does.
[0:11:22.9] KM: That sure does give you some peace, don’t it?
[0:11:24.5] BR: Oh, yeah. Yeah. We moved from Tucson and moved away from four granddaughters that I had out there and hadn't saw them in a long time. Just this past week, month, this is past month, we got a new granddaughter.
[0:11:41.3] KM: Where is she?
[0:11:42.4] BR: She's in Hebrew Springs.
[0:11:44.5] KM: Congratulations.
[0:11:46.0] BR: This granddaughter is 10-years-old.
[0:11:48.7] KM: Oh, congratulations.
[0:11:50.3] BR: Yeah, we love her. Phaedra is her name and she's listening. She may be.
[0:11:54.7] KM: Congratulations. That’s awesome.
[0:11:56.3] BR: Thank you. We're proud of her.
[0:11:58.5] KM: This is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with the singer-songwriter and Rockabilly Hall of Famer, Mr. Beau Renfro. We'll learn about life on the road and the tough choices this lifestyle brings. We’ll ask Beau to play one of his tunes and we'll find out where you can still see this semi-retired musician perform with his newest band, Open Range out of Heber Springs, Arkansas.
You're listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with singer-songwriter and Rockabilly Hall of Famer, Mr. Beau Renfro, who's tuning his guitar over there. Before the break, we talked with him about being born in Arkansas and traveling around and how he got back to Heber Springs, where he decided to retire.
Before I have him play a song, I want to tell you a little bit about his music life. After he left Arkansas, he went to Texas and to East Texas and landed a job as a country radio station at KROZ. Why was that a good thing?
[0:12:58.2] BR: Well, that's – I went to school at Memphis State to be a disc jockey and they had an opening at KROZ.
[0:13:05.8] KM: That’s why you ended up there.
[0:13:07.1] BR: I said, “You know, what time does the bus leave?” That’s what I did.
[0:13:11.9] KM: When you got there, I think this may have been your first band. You formed Beau and the Bandits?
[0:13:16.8] BR: Yeah. Beau and the Bandits. Yeah.
[0:13:18.6] KM: Was that in East Texas?
[0:13:20.2] BR: That was in Tyler, Texas.
[0:13:21.6] KM: Tyler, Texas. That’s where his wife’s from Tyler, Texas.
[0:13:25.5] BR: Rose capital of the world.
[0:13:27.8] BR: It’s right.
[0:13:28.7] KM: Okay. You formed Beau and the Bandits. Talk about that a little bit and how that was a springboard to other things, for other musicians who are out there thinking about –
[0:13:38.6] BR: I was mostly just trying to play clubs and stuff. We were working at the Tropicana Club at the time. I was a four-piece band at the time. After about a year at the Tropicana, this man walks in to the Tropicana and says, “How’d you like to come to Austin?” I said, “What for? I hadn't lost anything in Austin.” He says, “Well, you might be able to –”
[0:14:10.9] KM: Find some.
[0:14:11.7] BR: Yeah, you might be able to open some shows for Willie Nelson. His name was Buster Doss. I got to know him as Colonel Buster Doss later on and he was Willie Nelson's road manager at the time. We went to Austin and played their little springboard. We went from making $25 a night at the Tropicana, to $2,500 a night working for Willie.
[0:14:39.3] KM: That's a good gig. I thought you worked at the Sawmill?
[0:14:43.5] BR: I did. Later moved to there and we were the house band at the Sawmill. The only one out with Willie ever known again.
[0:14:52.7] KM: Oh, I see.
[0:14:53.5] BR: Going for a while. Our stated gig was at the Sawmill Club.
[0:14:58.2] KM: You moved around so much that I was telling you before we came on the radio that I wanted to almost try and outline your life. I could not keep up with it. It was like, there is in Tennessee recording songs, there is in Arizona recording songs, there is in Texas recording songs. Now you're in Austin with Willie Nelson, but you still got the bandits, right?
[0:15:14.7] BR: No. I don't have the bandits – I'd had the bandits at that time, but when we went to Austin.
[0:15:21.7] KM: Then you come back.
[0:15:22.2] BR: We came back. Then I moved from Tyler, Texas to Tucson, Arizona.
[0:15:31.0] KM: While you're in Tyler, Texas you had a number-one album, didn't you?
[0:15:36.1] BR: Yeah. We recorded back then with On Alarm Records. That was a blues album, a blues record label out of Shreveport, Louisiana and they wanted to add a country act. They added two country guitar singers that they wanted. Then they added Mickey Gilley and me. Mickey became a big star and I moved off to Tucson, Arizona.
[0:16:07.3] KM: Why is that? Why is that?
[0:16:10.6] BR: I don't know. Things happening in the music business, it’s just strange. It’s like, you read a minute ago that that line where God places you where you want to be, or where he want you. That is always the best place.
[0:16:28.9] KM: Are you going to sing a song now first from the bandits, or are you going to sing –
[0:16:31.9] BR: Yeah, I’ll do one from the bandits. This is the one we did back then. Now the reason I was tuning this guitar is because –
[0:16:40.7] KM: It's hot in here and it's probably getting out of tune.
[0:16:42.8] BR: It is, but that's not the biggest part of it. I did what most musicians never do.
[0:16:48.1] KM: What?
[0:16:48.7] BR: I put strings on this guitar last night; brand new strings.
[0:16:53.5] KM: Oh, yeah. Okay. What's the name of this song?
[0:16:55.9] BR: What a Night.
[0:16:56.5] KM: What a Night.
[0:17:00.7] BR: Walking down a rainy street, I thought love had left me. Nothing to do and nothing to see and no place to go. Where we never to think when I ordered that drink that I'd see her. Ain't no love light to shine so long ago. Oh, what a night to feel your loving arms wrapped around me. Oh, what a night, the lovers ever think it should be. Yeah, yeah, what a night to wake up this morning and find sweet memories become a realities in the midnight.
Satin and lace love all over her face, that's how I found her. We both knew what we were going to do a little bit later. We knew when a man and this was a time for some lovin. Hey, we didn't miss a ship and we took a love trip together. Yeah, yeah, what a night the feel your lovin arms wrapped around me. Oh, what a night, the lovers ever think it should have been. Yeah, yeah, what a night to wake up this morning and find sweet memories become a realities in the night time. Yes, lord. Sweet memories become a realities in the night time.
[0:19:11.8] KM: Sweet memories become the reality. I like that before. I love that. Who wrote the words?
[0:19:20.7] BR: We had the music and the words and they did what they call a demo on that song. They were going to send it off to somebody and I didn't know who. I did the demo.
[0:19:36.7] KM: Played the music.
[0:19:37.7] BR: Tom Jones did the song.
[0:19:39.8] KM: No kidding. I can see him singing that song.
[0:19:43.9] BR: Yeah. He killed it. He just absolutely killed it.
[0:19:47.3] KM: You killed it. My God, I wish everybody could see you in the reality in person. A pro is a pro y'all.
[0:19:56.4] BR: Yeah. Thank you.
[0:19:57.0] KM: Yeah, that’s so Tom Jones.
[0:19:58.3] BR: Yep, it is.
[0:19:59.7] KM: Yeah. Made the girls want to go wild. Made me go wild. All right, I don't know where I am. I got to fan myself. All right, you played the Grand Ole Opry.
[0:20:09.6] BR: Yes.
[0:20:10.0] KM: How'd that come about?
[0:20:11.4] BR: That came about with David Houston. David Houston is from Shreveport, Louisiana and was a very good guy. His biggest hit record was Almost Persuaded and that last night, all alone in a bar room. It was a big hit for him back in the 60s. I got to play with his band some. He went to play at the Grand Ole Opry, which he did many times and we'd go and we would set up on the stage and we'd play our guitars and he would sing and the ladies would love him. We went there and I went there with him and he says, “Beau, would you like to sing?” I said, “Man, I'd love to sing.” He says, “Well, I'm going to give up one of my songs and you sing.” I was so nervous. That's the Mother Church of country music right there.
[0:21:04.7] KM: Yeah, it is.
[0:21:06.4] BR: I was so nervous and I left and went home to looking at the crowd out there and it was thousands of people. I was really nervous. My legs were shaking, my hands was shaking.
[0:21:22.0] KM: You’re like, “How am I going to do?”
[0:21:23.9] BR: Uh-huh. I got every word right. To this day, I cannot tell you what song I sang. I forgot.
[0:21:31.2] KM: Wow, you blacked out.
[0:21:32.1] BR: I did. I did.
[0:21:34.3] KM: That’s nervous.
[0:21:35.5] BR: I know. Yeah. David, he's already gone home now, but when I walked up the stage, he shook my hand and he says, “You can stop shaking now.”
[0:21:50.7] KM: Better watch out what you asked for. You wanted to play there and you got it. Now, you're a nervous wreck. Did you ever do it again?
[0:21:57.1] BR: No. Never did. Never did. We've done a lot of other big things, but not the Grand Ole Opry. I don't know if I want to anymore, but I used to. Yeah.
[0:22:07.8] KM: Yeah. Your first album was very successful. What was the name of your band for that album? Or was it just you as a solo?
[0:22:14.1] BR: Just me as a solo. The band that put that band together was actually the Grand Ole Opry band. Yeah. The president of the Musicians Union in Nashville, Jimmy Capps. He’s more well-known now to – he performs on Larry's Country Diner and he is called the sheriff, but he was the president of the union and his band.
[0:22:40.6] KM: You wrote Red Wine for Epic Records that Joe Stampley recorded and became a number five hit single.
[0:22:46.6] BR: I like his brother, Harold and Joe. They were together, but the time that song was recorded it was –
[0:22:59.0] KM: What?
[0:23:00.3] BR: Nine riders on it.
[0:23:01.8] KM: Oh, you're kidding.
[0:23:02.7] BR: Yeah, that's what they do.
[0:23:03.8] KM: It is?
[0:23:05.1] BR: Yeah. You want this, you got to give this. That happens.
[0:23:10.5] KM: You've done a lot. You've been a DJ supporting your fellow musicians and craft, you've managed and performed with your own man, you've written songs for record labels, you toured and performed with other lead bands. Which arm of the industry is your favorite?
[0:23:23.7] BR: Well, you know what? It comes in cycles, because now my favorite thing to do is it's just playing and singing. We have a little bitty place in Heber Springs, Arkansas on Friday night.
[0:23:39.1] KM: I’m going to come up there.
[0:23:40.2] BR: It’s free to anybody that wants to come. It's all volunteers.
[0:23:45.1] KM: What's the name of it? You can’t remember.
[0:23:48.2] BR: I got to get this right. No, I got to get it right. I mess it up every time I try to say it. It’s Sugar Loaf Folklore Dance Center.
[0:23:57.3] KM: Sugar Loaf Folk – no wonder you mess it up. Folklore Dance Center. How many people does it hold?
[0:24:03.1] BR: About 200. A little bitty place, but –
[0:24:10.3] KM: I like it.
[0:24:11.1] BR: We go on stage 7:00 and we play until about 9:30.
[0:24:17.8] KM: Those are my hours.
[0:24:19.2] BR: Yeah, I love it. That's the thing I do and I don't do that on Friday night, the second Friday night and the fourth Friday night of the month.
[0:24:29.0] KM: Second and fourth Friday night.
[0:24:31.2] BR: Right.
[0:24:32.0] KM: I think we need to put that on our website and let everybody know when they can hook up with you, go with you. If you were a young person going to break into this music industry, what advice would you give them? How to start? How would you start?
[0:24:45.9] BR: I think I would start the difference in what I did. I think I would start with the same and used the same people all the way through.
[0:24:55.4] KM: Because you jumped around.
[0:24:56.4] BR: I jumped around. It was hard. It was hard on me. You go to Nashville with a worn-out old guitar, a bag of songs that I thought everybody should be singing and they didn't. Heartbroken. I go back to Texas and then a few of them gets done and then I think that I'm the biggest thing since the
[inaudible 0:25:16.6] and I'm not.
[0:25:20.4] KM: You’re pretty humble actually.
[0:25:21.7] BR: Well, you know what? I –
[0:25:23.3] KM: For all your talents, you’re pretty humble.
[0:25:24.6] BR: I've learned that that's not what it takes in the music business. It takes the same identical thing all the way through. If you will stay with the – you feel dance with who rung it, like the Texas coach.
[0:25:36.2] KM: Like that song. Yeah.
[0:25:38.0] BR: Said, then that's what you do. You dance with the one that brought you to that thing.
[0:25:43.8] KM: Stay with them.
[0:25:44.4] BR: Stay with it, and –
[0:25:45.4] KM: Because persistence will pay off. Persistence and patience, kind of what Tim says at the beginning of the show.
[0:25:50.7] BR: Many times I walked down what they used to call 16th Avenue South in Nashville and going to a music place with a publishing company. I got some songs I like for you to listen to. Sure. They'd turn the tape on, it hit about two notes as a song and then they'd go into the next one. Then they do that time and time and time and time and time again.
[0:26:12.3] KM: That break your heart.
[0:26:13.6] BR: Yeah. It's bad on a musician to do that. Find your niche, stay with it.
[0:26:20.9] KM: Listen to life where it leads you, I guess. All right, I want to take a quick, quick break because I want to come back and play. I want to play two more songs, if we can squeeze them in. We'll continue our conversation with singer-songwriter and Rockabilly Hall of Famer, Mr. Beau Renfro and we'll get the dates. Well, we just got the dates. Oh no, we didn't. We got the dates of when you're playing. I want to get the dates of when your soon to be released PBS documentary is, so we can all watch that too.
[0:26:45.3] TB: You're listening to Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy. If you miss any part of the show, or you want to learn more about Up In your Business, go to flagandbanner.com and click on Radio Show, or you could subscribe to your favorite podcast app. We're everywhere.
[0:27:01.1] AM: Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast a year and a half ago with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community-minded Arkansans, listeners gained insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people.
Kerry McCoy, Founder and President of Arkansas Flag and Banner believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guests would likely go unheard if not for this venue.
Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life, mistakes, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories of prominent leaders in our state. I am Adrienne McNally, Manager of the Arkansas Flag and Banner Showroom and Gift Shop located on the first floor of the historic Taborian Hall on the corner of 9th and State Streets in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
In business for 43 years, we offer an old school shopping experience with front door parking, clerks to help you and department store variety; open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 to 5:30 and Saturday 10 to 4.
[0:28:27.1] KM: Before the break, we talked about your life in Tennessee, your life in Texas, your life as a songwriter, your life as a singer, you're jumping around from place to place, but you and your wife Brenda, God love her, she decides to go with you and you are going to settle down and you're going to move to Arizona, and you did. You tried to sell cars. That didn’t go very good, did it?
[0:28:46.9] BR: No. Really, love people so –
[0:28:51.9] KM: Well, that was good.
[0:28:52.8] BR: I thought, that must be the great thing. I couldn't stay away from music. I lost a lot of jobs, just because I had to go play in another place.
[0:29:02.5] KM: You kept playing music out there. You just weren't going to be on the road anymore.
[0:29:05.3] BR: Yeah. Right.
[0:29:06.7] KM: Now, Tim do you need to get the mic over again for him?
[0:29:10.0] TB: I do.
[0:29:10.5] KM: Because I'm about to have him play another song. He started Clear Channel, you started not clear – Clear Country Band out there from some urging people, like you've got to get back in the band business. You were with that band for how long?
[0:29:25.5] BR: Let’s see. We were together 17 years.
[0:29:27.3] KM: Yeah, that was your longest – that was your – they had a great run, didn't they? Didn't they have some success?
[0:29:33.2] BR: Yeah, we were the number one country dance band in the southwest.
[0:29:42.0] KM: Did you travel the road a lot?
[0:29:43.4] BR: Yes, we did. I still think about those days. They were the great days. My manager there, Jerry McCreary, he's in Globe, Arizona. Yeah, we went all over. We played a lot of things seven, eight, nine times, just all the time. We’d play different things. The 4th of July celebration where they let off fireworks, a $140,000 worth of fireworks in Sierra, Arizona. We'd go there to play and we played there eight times.
[0:30:25.7] KM: You're still playing in Arizona one gig a year, aren't you?
[0:30:27.8] BR: Yeah, we do. It’s like a homecoming week. They get us all together, all the people that ever played in the band.
[0:30:36.0] KM: Where can you find out those dates?
[0:30:40.6] BR: At beaurenfro.com.
[0:30:41.5] KM: Okay. I saw the 2017 dates when I was on your website, but I didn't see the 18 dates.
[0:30:46.7] BR: Yeah. I hadn’t gotten that up. Not yet, I think.
[0:30:48.4] KM: You didn’t figure it all out yet. You had all your kids in Arizona?
[0:30:51.3] BR: Yes.
[0:30:52.0] KM: Yeah. All right, now you're going to play a song. Is this from the Clear Country band group, what’s this from?
[0:30:56.5] BR: Yeah, this was a song we did in – you know what? I'm –
[0:31:02.6] KM: What?
[0:31:03.0] BR: I’m going to go ahead and I'm going to do God's Amazing Grace.
[0:31:07.2] KM: Oh, listen people, this song you've heard him sing before. You may not know it's been him, but it's beautiful.
[0:31:13.2] BR: This is a song that I wrote in 2001. Like a lot of other people were sitting and watching the television when some people across the way decided that they were going to fly a couple of planes into the Twin Towers. I decided that a lot of people were writing the poems and stuff like that. I started to write a poem. In the middle of this, I found out that it wasn't a poem, it was a song. I'd left right after I wrote the song, me and my manager, Jerry McCreary, flew to Nashville. We grabbed the Grand Ole Opry band and we decided to put this down on and I hope I can do it justice with this guitar.
The fire, the smoke, the ashes, twisted steel and waterfall. And Tennessee farmer takes his fist at it all. A teacher in Ohio hugs a child as she cries. There’s a fighter down in Vegas with tears in his eyes. A policeman in Seattle burns a candle every night. A reporter in Manhattan can’t explain the sign. The victims of this terror now rest in the arms of God and New York City, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon.
Lift your voices high, sing the song, America the beautiful. Tears fall from this Liberty has Americans embrace. We’ll make it with God’s amazing grace.
The flag flies in New Hampshire, all across the great white wave. From Texas to Chicago, we all stand in same. You may tear down our buildings, but the Liberty Bell still rings. Americans united and united we sing. God bless the Army, Navy, the Air Force and Marines, the President to Privates and all that’s in between. The volunteers that gave their all, the hours were so long, but the real heroes, they are missing so we dedicate this song.
Lift your voice this high, sing the song; America the beautiful. Tears fall from this Liberty as Americans embrace. We’ll make it with God’s amazing grace. We’ll make it with God’s amazing grace.
[0:35:15.0] KM: Thank you. You are the real deal. I have gone through every emotion in that song. I want to read something that someone wrote about you that I read to you before we went on the air and you said, “I'd never heard that before.” This was written about you. “Beau can belt out a country song with enough power to blow the mud flaps off a semi, then turn around and strum an acoustic love song that'll bring a lump to your throat. His songs make you want to drink, dance and have a good time, but there's a heart and soul in his music that lets you know he's the real deal.” If that wasn't the truth just then, I don't know what is.
[0:35:51.1] BR: Thank you.
[0:35:52.2] KM: Thank you. I want to tell everybody that you are listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy and I'm speaking today with the singer-songwriter and Rockabilly Hall of Famer, Mr. Beau Renfro. You're back in Heber Springs, you had a PBS documentary written about you.
[0:36:10.2] BR: Right.
[0:36:11.0] KM: Tell us about that.
[0:36:12.0] BR: Show’s Lee and Alicia Cody, the producer.
[0:36:18.0] KM: From Arkansas?
[0:36:18.7] BR: They’re from Arkansas. I think they're living in Louisiana now. I talked to them the other day and I think they’ve already moved to Louisiana. It’s a bigger market that they needed for the movie. Now they're splitting in that documentary up into 15, 10 and 5-minute versions of that's called legacy.
[0:36:46.6] KM: Is it just about you, or is it about Rockabilly music in general?
[0:36:49.3] BR: Well, the one that they just filmed was about me, but they have other things; Bill Dance, the fisherman. James Burton. Elvis Presley's guitar player.
[0:37:01.9] KM: Is he from Arkansas?
[0:37:03.6] BR: No. He is from he's from Tennessee, but his roots are in Arkansas with his wife and everything. His wife manages his stuff. Then he had other people that he's done this with.
[0:37:19.9] KM: They're in editing process.
[0:37:21.4] BR: Yeah, it's mostly it's coming – the storyline that they're doing is like, what do you want to leave as a legacy?
[0:37:32.8] KM: What do you want to leave as a legacy?
[0:37:34.4] BR: Oh, that's a good question.
[0:37:35.4] KM: Well, thank you.
[0:37:38.1] BR: I think I want to leave a world's greatest dad.
[0:37:42.2] KM: What?
[0:37:43.8] BR: World's greatest grandpa.
[0:37:45.7] KM: I can relate.
[0:37:47.1] BR: Best friend. I don't know if any of this – the songs that – God's Amazing Grace has been recorded seven times by different people on albums and things like that.
[0:37:59.4] KM: You get money for that every time?
[0:38:01.4] BR: Yeah. They –
[0:38:03.2] KM: Royalties, I guess.?
[0:38:04.3] BR: Yeah. They do. The old diamonds group from years ago, they did that song. The lead singer is my good friend from Arizona, Ron Newman, who’s having a little bit of illness right now. He needs to get better, because he needs to get back out on the road again.
[0:38:24.7] KM: Shout out to Ron.
[0:38:25.8] BR: That's right. There's other people have done this song that –
[0:38:33.0] KM: That could be a legacy. That song sounds like a legacy song to me.
[0:38:37.0] BR: Thank you. Thank you very much.
[0:38:39.3] KM: Your new band.
[0:38:41.6] BR: Yeah, Open Range. Oh, yeah.
[0:38:43.6] KM: Tell me about that. That’s in Heber Springs, Arkansas. You just told us that your gig is every 2nd.
[0:38:49.1] BR: Let me shout out to Larry Nobles. Larry Nobles is my guitar player and who I'm very proud of. He listens to this station all the time.
[0:38:59.0] KM: KABF?
[0:38:59.9] BR: Yes, he does. It’s one of his favorite stations because a lot of mix that goes through. He's a great guitar player. My bass guitar player, we have a four-piece band now. We can't afford five. Tommy Rice is my bass guitar player. Randy Johnson is the best-looking drummer in the world.
[0:39:18.6] KM: Really?
[0:39:19.7] BR: Well, so he says. No, he'll laugh when he hears it.
[0:39:25.7] KM: How old is he? How old is that good-looking drummer?
[0:39:29.1] BR: Randy's about 45. He looks 65, but –
[0:39:36.3] KM: He don’t like that very much. You all play in Heber Spring, Arkansas on –
[0:39:41.1] BR: 2nd and 4th Friday. Unless, there's a fifth Friday. This month there's a fifth Friday and we're going to play the fifth Friday also. Yeah, and then we play other places too. We do the cotton picking festival in Caldwell.
[0:39:55.7] KM: With your sister?
[0:39:56.7] BR: Caldwell, Arkansas.
[0:39:57.4] KM: Because your sister puts that on her mirror.
[0:39:58.7] BR: Yeah. I don't know what date is going to be, sometime in September.
[0:40:01.4] KM: You're going to have to go in there and update your website with all these new stuff. I’m going to put it all on Arkansas Flag and Banners website, under your show. I'll list all those dates for the cotton field festival.
[0:40:15.4] BR: Cotton picking festival.
[0:40:16.5] KM: Cotton picking festival. If you get the dates for your Arizona event, I'll put that on the website.
[0:40:21.5] BR: That is in March of next year.
[0:40:22.9] KM: Then I'll put the name of the place you – oh, it is in March, of this year, or next year?
[0:40:26.9] BR: Next year.
[0:40:27.8] KM: When was 2018? You already had the 2018 winners on – okay. Then we'll put your information in Heber Springs about when you play which –
[0:40:39.3] BR: Yeah. The one in Tucson is like a party that everybody's invited.
[0:40:47.3] KM: My favorite kind of party. Are you going to sing us your – it'll be your last song. Are you going to sing a song from the new range, from your new open range band, or you want to sing one of your songs that's hit number one? You've got some big ones. He's looking through his music book, well-known about what he wants to play. We did a song that – can we do it now?
[0:41:15.2] KM: Sure. Yeah, tell us about it.
[0:41:17.0] BR: Yeah. This is –
[0:41:22.5] KM: Is this the NASCAR song?
[0:41:24.4] BR: No.
[0:41:24.8] KM: I read about that one too.
[0:41:25.9] BR: I got you CDs. I'm going to give you two.
[0:41:28.6] KM: Is that from the new Open Range?
[0:41:30.1] BR: Yeah.
[0:41:30.9] KM: It’s got the NASCAR song?
[0:41:32.4] BR: It's got the NASCAR on it, but I'm a lot like a lot of the other singers that has these new albums coming out.
[0:41:38.7] KM: What?
[0:41:39.0] BR: I don’t know the song. I sang in the studio, but I don't remember all of them.
[0:41:43.4] KM: Well, you've got your book right there.
[0:41:44.7] BR: We have a lot – didn’t have in anything, but –
[0:41:47.1] KM: You’re going to play one you can remember from what you can remember this title?
[0:41:49.1] BR: This is one I'm going to get out of trouble with, see because I was talking to about my wife a minute ago.
[0:41:55.5] KM: You’re going to sing her a love song?
[0:41:56.4] BR: This is a song that we have – we've got this already done and we're going to put this on an album. This new album that's coming out, it's going to be called, I don't know. I'm trying to –
[0:42:16.1] KM: You're looking for the lyrics to your love song for your wife?
[0:42:19.0] BR: Yeah. As we –
[0:42:20.1] KM: You’ve got the tune in your head?
[0:42:21.4] BR: Yeah.
[0:42:22.3] KM: You can't find the lyrics?
[0:42:23.7] BR: Yeah. Well, what it is, it's this is a song that we don't know who wrote this song.
[0:42:28.8] KM: Oh, you didn't write it?
[0:42:31.3] BR: We were all part of it.
[0:42:33.4] KM: Where’d you find it?
[0:42:36.3] BR: I took a lesson from a guy that does a piano thing. I’m trying to learn how to play the piano.
[0:42:47.8] KM: Oh, you’re kidding me.
[0:42:48.4] BR: Yeah, this is a –
[0:42:49.4] KM: That's pretty hard to do, isn't it?
[0:42:50.6] BR: Yeah. I got another friend that’s a fisherman. He’s trying to teach me how to fish.
[0:42:54.4] KM: Teach you how to fish. I think you know how to fish. I saw where you’re a hunter and a fisherman. I think that’s why you moved to Heber Springs so you’re hunting fish all the time. You’re teaching your new granddaughter to fish, I hope?
[0:43:05.7] BR: Yeah.
[0:43:06.1] KM: She's from Florida. She doesn't know how to fish in the backwaters.
[0:43:08.2] BR: We went a long way for this song and we don't know who did it, but I rearranged some words in it. You can probably tell.
The alarm clock put my sleeping later for a minute. With a million cobwebs clinging to my brain. Stop this bell from ringing and the time it takes a heartbeat. Then I settle back, close my eyes again. And I reached out for my baby, put some early morning loving. And I tell the truth came steadily, they’re not here. There was nothing but the brave ones of a perfume on the pillow, baby wasn't there beside me in the bed.
There was nothing to hold on to, except the sheets that fell around me. Starting in the Kremlin like a lead. Half a dead woman leave me, she was more than just a lover. She was everything a lady warm and sweet. I can taste the song of heroes getting hard to swallow. Glass and glass of brandy makes the pain away. Nothing but the appetite empty up your feeling, good for nothing way to start the day.
It’s a morning after days that let me down. It’s a daybreak and the heartbreak that I found. On
[inaudible 0:45:22.2] met me, no soft hands to hold me gently. It’s the morning after baby let me down. It’s the morning after baby let me down.
[0:45:45.4] KM: That was fun to see you in action, because nobody can see this, but you were learning that song as you went, weren’t you?
[0:45:52.9] BR: I had to read over this book, because I – really when you’re recording in recording studio and you have the words in front of you, you learn to depend on those words. Then if you mess up, then they go back and the engineer can tell you this and then they punch a little button and you say, “Morning after baby lets me down.” That went quite right. Let's do it again. Punch the button, you do it again, until you get it right.
[0:46:19.3] KM: Little segments that you splice in there.
[0:46:21.5] BR: That's right. They just splice that little segment.
[0:46:23.4] KM: They need to do that with me more often.
[0:46:26.2] TB: All right, tell you let’s have you say that again.
[0:46:29.5] KM: You need to do that with me more often.
[0:46:34.5] BR: You know what, I would say something about you, because I do that. I brought a lot of school kids after the Flag and Banner.
[0:46:42.4] KM: You sure did.
[0:46:45.8] BR: That's where I met you and they thought you were wonderful. They talked about you all the way home. The school kids from Heber Springs and they’re a bunch of good kids, but they kept talking about you all the way home.
[0:46:58.3] KM: That’s good.
[0:47:01.3] BR: We saw you talking to her over there. I said, “Well, I talk to everybody.” They said, “We want to come back next year.” I said, “When I'm here, I'm going to ask her, if it'd be okay if you all come back next year.”
[0:47:12.5] KM: How old were those kids?
[0:47:14.3] BR: Those were in the seventh grade.
[0:47:16.1] KM: Oh, they’ve got time to come back. I always wonder what age group can hear my story and relate to it, whether it's sometimes third graders come and I'm like, they can't really relate to my story.
[0:47:27.6] BR: Kerry, I think anybody can do, anybody can relate to your story.
[0:47:31.2] KM: Really?
[0:47:31.8] BR: It's a good story and I listen to you as you were talking about it to the kids and seeing the look in your eye when you're really the truth. That's the truth that you were telling them. If they'll follow that, they'll do good.
[0:47:48.4] KM: Oh, thanks. I like to feel that I'm making a difference. That's my motivation for this radio show is to let everybody that it's not a straightened path. It's going to be a windy path, but you just got to keep going and going and going and going. I'm surprised that your song that you just sang last time, thank you for sharing that, I'm just surprised that your song that you just sang a minute ago was so high. The one you sang with Amazing Grace started off so low, you could have been Johnny Cash.
[0:48:16.6] BR: Well, we do imitations.
[0:48:18.0] KM: Of Johnny. I bet you do imitations of Johnny Cash.
[0:48:20.9] BR: I do Johnny Cash, the old Hank Snow, I do Merle Haggard. Then I do Ernest Tubb who's my –
[0:48:31.2] KM: We’ve got one minute before I have to close the show. What's your favorite memory with some famous artists that everybody's going to relate to?
[0:48:40.4] BR: Well –
[0:48:40.9] KM: A story.
[0:48:41.7] BR: Merle Haggard.
[0:48:42.6] KM: What?
[0:48:43.8] BR: Well, the favorite memories, I came to Nashville to do the Grand Ole Opry and he got sick. My friend Billy Deaton, who was fair and youngest manager came in and said Merle, do you want us to call a minister so you can talk? Merle was real sick. He said, “Yeah, do that.” They brought in this minister and the minister that talked to Merle always call people by their last name. He would call Mr. Renfro, or Mr. Haggard. He started to pray for Merle and he said, “Lord, Mr. Haggard,” and Billy Deaton grabbed him by his arm and says, “Lord knows him as Merle.”
[0:49:32.2] KM: Probably so. I thought you were going to say, “His dad’s not here.” That’s good. All right, thank you so much for coming.
[0:49:40.8] BR: Thank you.
[0:49:41.8] KM: Tim, where’s my gift? Oh, it’s in my bag ain’t it?
[0:49:43.8] TB: In your bag.
[0:49:44.3] KM: Give me my bag over there, will you?
[0:49:45.3] BR: Thank you so much for asking me. I have had a ball and I thank you so much.
[0:49:49.2] KM: You’re so welcome. I could talk to you forever. Tim, I usually give everybody a gift that's a desk set, a flag, a small flag desk set. When Tim was saying, “What should we give Beau Renfro for the gift.” I said, “Well, he's lived everywhere. Let's give him –” Well, I can't find you. I just said, “Let's give him Tennessee, a desk set with Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas.” Where else did we say?
[0:50:22.3] TB: Well yeah, there was too many. It was going to end up being seven different flags on a little set.
[0:50:28.0] KM: Oh, there it is. Tim said, “No, no, no, no. I have the perfect thing.” He does. It is a breast pen.
[0:50:37.1] BR: Oh, man. Look, it is.
[0:50:39.3] KM: Yeah. It's a breast pen of a guitar flag. It's about 3 inches for our listeners. It's about 3 inches and it's a guitar flag with the – it's a patriotic guitar flag. It's got the stars and stripes on.
[0:50:52.1] BR: This is exact replica of my Telecaster guitar that I have that I play all the time.
[0:50:57.7] KM: It’s a God thing. It’s a God thing. That’s why I met you.
[0:51:01.4] BR: Thank you so much.
[0:51:02.2] KM: You’re welcome. I’m thrilled to get that to you. I was like, “Oh, that’s going to be so much fun.” Who is our guest next week, Tim?
[0:51:07.6] TB: Next week, we are going to have Bill Worthen from Worthen Bank, a local historian.
[0:51:13.9] KM: He is. His family, I believe owned and ran Worthen Bank, for those of you that can remember Worthen Bank before they broke apart all the banks and we had to have – every town had a small bank. Now you can just get these huge bank conglomerates as they deregulated the banking industry. They were the big banking family here, and so he has deep roots in Little Rock Arkansas and he became a historian and works at the Arkansas territorial. Is it Arkansas Territory Museum restoration?
[0:51:45.8] TB: I think so. We'll find out next week. We can ask him directly.
[0:51:50.2] KM: There you go. I look forward to seeing him. I want to tell our listeners that if they have a great entrepreneurial story that they would like to share, I would love to hear from them. Just send a brief bio to –
[0:52:03.8] TB: Questions@upyourbusiness.org.
[0:52:07.3] KM: Finally, thank you for everyone to spend time with me and Beau Renfro. If you think this program has been for you, you’re right. It's also been for me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or an enlightening and that it whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence, or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:52:44.5] TB: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. If you’d like to hear this program again, next week a podcast will be made available online with links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show.
Kerry’s goal, to help you live the American Dream.