January 12th, 2019
I have been neglecting this for long enough. Time to face the mirror and let you know what’s up - It’s been a good few years and I’ve been juggling the life of a self managed / self marketing musician - a life on the road, and dealing with some health issues that come with age. And all that can be distracting - life’s little speed bumps that get in the way of all the fun you can have in a lifetime filled with fun.
I find it amusing that I always placed myself at the children’s table, performing with people that have traditionally been older than me. I wake up thankful for another day with Pam and the kids and look in the mirror to see a face that reminds me a bit more of my father. A few more gray hairs. I am not whining or complaining. I am grateful to be here.
If you have read this far, here are some of the bright rays of sunlight that have shown down through the skies on the Great Plains, Mountains, Oceans and the a life of a very lucky person from Central America (Nebraska).
This is an excerpt from a book I’m writing about my life as a musician - sometimes leading the charge - sometimes as a sideman - sometimes as a mouse in the corner. I’m not sure how interesting it is to anyone but those who know me and maybe my family, but I’m looking out the window at a Montana January day and my knee hurts. No skiing today.
Jim Salestrom - The Book
I’m 55 years old and in Sydney Australia - In the Olympic Arena - 21,000 people - The lights have come down to darkness onstage and everywhere….but you can feel the electricity. I’m onstage wearing $500 in-ear monitors - as I look around I see 12 friends in the band all in place, on edge and ready…. And I hear this chanting in my ears…. I can have any mix I want - a little more Steve Turner high hat…. a little less of my banjo….and yet tonight I hear this person talking to someone. It’s a bit of a murmur and it’s a bit clearer and then I realize who’s talking. I turn around and see this little shadow behind me….It’s the lady I have been in awe of since 1977. Dolly Parton. And she’s praying.
OK - Well we're just back from Hawaii, and it was so much fun to take Pam, and Casey and James, and go see the Hawaiian islands on a cruise ship and it was just amazing because we got to 4 islands in 11 days. We saw Maui, Kawaii, the big island Hawaii and Ouahu. We got to see volcanoes and whales and we just had a really, really great time. Its amazing to think that I'm 51 years old and I have grown up children. Casey just graduated from college at the age of 22. She graduated from CU Boulder in film studies and James just started school there and loves it. It's amazing that they are grown up and we can travel around the world now and they are a lot of fun to be with (They have always been great kids). It makes me feel really proud because I’ve been on the road a lot, probably have been on the road more than I've been home and to be a father and a husband, for them to hold it all together with me, has been challenging at times and as I think back, looking out over Hawaii and traveling around Honolulu, we went to the North Shore which was really cool, then we came back and I showed the kids the neighborhood where Dolly Parton had a home that Pam and I stayed at one time with Casey when she was just about 5 months old.
The first time I ever got to go to Hawaii was in 1979, I was 23 years old and I had just signed on as a background singer and playing the guitar and the banjo with Dolly Parton and it was an amazing time in my life. The first tour I did with Dolly was about 8 months before or even a year before this. I was with a band, Timberline, with my older brother Chuck and we signed with CBS records. They put us on tour with Dolly Parton. Dolly was trying to crossover from being an established country star, expanding her audience with pop tunes and her incredible personality. They needed a band that could relate to her audience, but could also be a little more pop. We had so much fun. She used to dress early so she could watch our show on stage and we really got along great with her. I thought she was just incredible. I didn't know that much about country music and little did I know that I would be trying out for her a band a year later. My first tour with Dolly was Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. The money was incredible, the travel was all included and there was a small per diem. It was a blast. The band were all Nashville musicians and they were incredible. I not only got to sing with Dolly, but I also got to sing with Richard Allen Dennison, or RAD. Little did I know that was the beginning of a 32 year long friendship. Hawaii was amazing. We played at the University of Hawaii, and then we played at Auckland, in Australia we played at Melbourne and Sydney, and then we went to Hong Kong. I told both kids that they have to check out Australia and New Zealand. They love anything American over there. The people are beautiful.
I didn't really grow up with country music, but I have learned a lot about it. I learned a lot about the roots of country and how incredible Dolly is as a person and as a writer. She's written thousands of songs. She started out with nothing in Sevierville- Sevier County, Tennessee, then was on a radio show in Knoxville, Tennessee and then joined Porter Wagner's band and did duets with him, and he was already a very established country singer, then she left Porter Wagner and went off on her own. I met her when she was 31 years old, I was 21 - I remember taking a tour of her home and she was already a big, established country star. She is about to have a birthday and will be 62. Me 52….See how this works? Ha Ha