William Beckmann

By Music, Personal Growth No Comments

Texas Country Artist William Beckmann is this week’s guest. If you’re not familiar with his music, you’re about to be. It’s not going to be too long before he’s well-known all over the country. He and I dive into the evolution of Texas Country Music and how different artists have shaped the genre over the years. We talk about the unique appeal of Texas Country Music, and highlight the abundance of talented songwriters and the diverse fanbase that spans the vast geography of the state. 

This episode is sponsored by:

Habana Cuba (Be sure to use code “Gary20” to save 20% off your order!)

In this episode, you’ll be able to:

  • Songwriting advice and challenges
  • Writing a hundred songs
  • Storytelling in songwriting
  • Longing for childhood dreams
  • Learning Spanish and Performing
  • Coping with life on the road
  • Playing a concert in Mexico


“I had at least ten people that were there singing the songs in the front row, which was really cool because I didn’t think I had a single fan in San Jose, California, but I was definitely wrong.”

“Well, that’s kind of the point, you know; the point is after you write a hundred bad songs, you’re bound to write one good one”

“And he [Radney] was telling me that I was essentially saying the same thing twice, just in a different way, and to avoid doing that because you’re sort of wasting a line; you can make better use of that line and have something more valuable to say.”

“Of course, you can’t hide your lyin’ eyes and your smiles of thin disguise.”

“So it’s sometimes tough to sing that song just given that Keith and I were friends, but you know what, it’s a beautiful song, and I’m very honored to get to play that song every night, you know.”

“I hope you all get to go home with a little piece of Del Rio Texas to take home with you.”

“I don’t get to see a lot of people really anymore, and so just doing the little things you would think, you know, night after night and playing for hundreds of people, sometimes thousands of people, you’re like, man, this is a crazy feeling. I was like, you want to know a real crazy feeling? Go drink a beer with your buddy who you haven’t seen in, you know, ten years or whatever and who’s got two kids and the whole family a whole life that you have sort of been separated from. That’s a crazy feeling.”


Hailing from the small border town of Del Rio, TX, William Beckmann was raised on classic country as well as the mariachi and Norteño sounds of northern Mexico. He delivers a fresh blend of vintage country, Americana and Latin music with a timeless baritone and an old soul maturity that belies his youth. His new album Faded Memories released in 2022, featuring the slow-burn single “Bourbon Whiskey” as well as a mesmerizing cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” and the haunting “In The Dark.” The album has garnered praise from critics including American Songwriter, Billboard, CMT and more, and his current track “Damn This Heart Of Mine” is Beckmann’s fourth consecutive single to hit the Top 20 at Texas Regional Radio Chart. Beckmann has amassed an incredible fanbase, independently garnering more 670,000 followers on TikTok and over 2 million streams of Faded Memories. He has spent the last year touring with artists including Parker McCollum, Koe Wetzel, Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen and sold out three shows at legendary Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX in 2022.

Hunter Phelps

By Music, Personal Growth No Comments

In the midst of the gators and the quiet simplicity, Hunter Phelps discovered his refuge in the unspoken language of music. But as his talent took him from the small town of Niceville to the grand stages alongside country music stars, he faced challenges he never anticipated. The unexpected twist in his journey taught him invaluable lessons about the power of perseverance and the true essence of songwriting. Join us as we delve into Hunter’s story, unraveling the triumphs and tribulations of live performances and the art of creating music. Brace yourself for the unexpected twist that lies just beyond the horizon, waiting to be unveiled.

This episode is sponsored by:

In this episode you’ll be able to:

  • The unique experiences and life lessons only a small-town upbringing can offer
  • How your childhood hometown has evolved and developed over time
  • The sense of freedom and deep bonds forged in a small-town setting
  • Tackling live performance and songwriting challenges
  • The joys and trials that come with the transformative journey of parenthood
  • Candid shared experiences that paint a vivid picture of growing up in small towns
  • The nuances of urban development through the lens of our childhood hometowns’ transformation
  • The remarkable freedom we often overlook that underpins the small-town life
  • The heady world of live performances and enrich your songwriting process with our practical experiences
  • The heartwarming yet challenging journey of parenting, filled with many priceless moments
  • Meaningful experiences that resonate with a small-town upbringing
  • How your childhood hometown has transformed over the years, capturing the spirit of change and growth.
  • The undercurrent of unity and liberation that is integral to living in a small town
  • Enthralling accounts of dealing with the challenges that come with live shows and song composition
  • The fulfilling and stirring journey of parenthood with its myriad joys and challenges

00:00:05 – Bonding over Small Towns,
The hosts discuss the automatic bond that comes from meeting someone from a small town in the middle of nowhere. They mention their own small towns of Niceville, Florida, and Florella, Alabama.

00:01:12 – Changes in Niceville,
The hosts talk about how Niceville has changed over the years, with new places to eat and the addition of a Walmart. They mention that Florella, Alabama, the town where one of the hosts is from, has mostly remained the same except for the addition of antique stores.

00:03:01 – Missing the Saltwater,
One of the hosts expresses his love for being near saltwater and missing access to it in Niceville. He grew up on boats and being close to the bayou. The other host talks about growing up near Lake Jackson and encountering alligators.

00:04:44 – Alligator Encounters,
The hosts share their experiences with alligators. One recounts a story of a scout leader sticking his arm out to an alligator, while the other talks about seeing alligators run over by trucks. They discuss the food source and taste of alligator meat.

00:08:48 – Freedom and Small Towns,
The hosts reflect on the freedom and independence they experienced as teenagers driving to nearby small towns like Op and Clayton. They mention how country songs often capture this feeling of being in charge of yourself.

00:14:12 – The Challenge of Winning Over a Crowd,
Hunter Phelps discusses the challenge of performing in a small bar in South Dakota and winning over a crowd who may not know or appreciate his music.

00:15:07 – The Repertoire of Songs,
Hunter Phelps talks about the extensive number of songs he and his band knew and how they would play covers to win over the crowd when performing at Tootsies in Nashville.

00:16:37 – The Influence of Songwriting,
Hunter Phelps shares how his father, who wrote songs for artists, sparked his interest in songwriting. He also talks about the first song he ever wrote, inspired by a request for a jingle for a bar.

00:19:03 – Support from Hunter’s Dad,
Hunter Phelps discusses his father’s support for his music career, including being proud of his songwriting abilities. He also mentions how his dad helped him secure his first gig at the Mullet Festival.

00:28:26 – Controversy over “Breakup Sex” song,
Hunter Phelps discusses the controversy surrounding his song “Breakup Sex,” which received negative feedback from some parents. Despite the criticism, the song gained traction and helped propel his career in country music.

00:30:00 – Writing “Breakup Sex” on a retreat,
Phelps talks about writing “Breakup Sex” during a songwriting retreat with Ashley Gorley’s company, Tape Room Music. This was his first retreat experience, and he learned the importance of writing multiple songs a day to increase his chances of creating a hit.

00:31:42 – The impact of “Breakup Sex” on his career,
Phelps expresses gratitude for the success of “Breakup Sex,” as it opened doors for him in the music industry. The song led to more show opportunities, collaborations with other artists, and access to better writing rooms.

00:32:23 – The challenges of songwriting,
Phelps and the host discuss the challenges of songwriting, including the high number of songs that don’t get cut or become hits. Phelps emphasizes the importance of perseverance and building a vast catalog of songs, as success can come unexpectedly in the future.

00:35:11 – Triple play achievement and building reputation,
Phelps reflects on his rare accomplishment of achieving three number-one songs in a single calendar year. He credits his success to hard work, luck, and building his reputation as a songwriter. The host compares the achievement to artists’ paintings becoming more

00:43:26 – University of Florida Major,
Hunter Phelps talks about how he majored in building and construction at the University of Florida, which was influenced by his family’s background in construction. He also mentions that one of his buddies in college was the guitar player in his band, which eventually led to his music career.

00:44:47 – Fixing Things at Home,
Hunter reveals that he is handy around the house and does a lot of household repairs himself. However, he mentions that he would not mess with gas lines and knows his limitations when it comes to certain tasks.

00:45:50 – Dream of Building a House,
Hunter expresses his interest in designing and picking everything for a house but admits that he wouldn’t want to build it himself physically. He acknowledges that someone with a background in building construction, like himself, would have a more nuanced eye for the process.

00:46:34 – Background in Building Construction,
Hunter explains that his degree in building construction focused on commercial projects like hospitals, and his experience was more in scheduling and estimating plans rather than hands-on building. However, he still has a background in the field.

00:48:04 – Fun at the University of Florida,
Hunter reminisces about his time at the University of Florida and attending football games. He mentions that it was a fun school and recommends attending SEC football games at schools like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, and Florida for a great experience.

00:58:13 – The Joy of Parenthood,
Hunter Phelps discusses the joys and challenges of parenthood, emphasizing that the love for children only grows over time. He shares his desire to have more children and the unique ways parents interact with each of their kids.

00:59:34 – Siblings and Parental Interactions,
Hunter and the host discuss their experiences growing up with siblings and how their parents interacted with each child differently. They highlight the importance of understanding individual needs and personalities within a family.

01:00:22 – Future Music Plans,
Hunter reveals that he has new music coming out in 2023 and mentions the possibility of recording songs with his own vocals. The host encourages him to pursue singing and highlights his talent in that area.

01:01:12 – Family Time,
Hunter shares his plans for the rest of the day, picking up his kids from school and spending quality time with his family. The host wishes him a good day and looks forward to their next meeting.

01:01:24 – Farewell and Goodbye,
The conversation concludes with a friendly farewell as Hunter thanks the host for his time and expresses excitement for future endeavors. They bid each other goodbye until their next meeting.


Hunter Phelps was born and raised in Niceville, Florida, where he was introduced to songwriting at a young age by his father, who owned a small recording studio. When he wasn’t out hunting or fishing the bayous and bays of the Florida panhandle, he spent his days teaching himself to play the guitar and working at a local marina.

After high school, Hunter attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he began writing songs. He joined a band, started playing tailgate parties and bars around town, and quickly developed a loyal following.

Early in his career, he shared the stage with major label acts like Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Gary Allen, Keith Anderson and Michael Ray. Hunter moved to Nashville in 2012, before ever having visited the town and without really knowing how to break in to Music City’s circles. Armed with his guitar, he honed his craft in the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway and sharpened his songwriting skills in the writers’ rooms of Music Row.

In 2014, shortly after his self-released debut EP came out, Hunter signed a joint publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music and hit songwriter Ashley Gorley’s Tape Room Music, where his recent cuts include Florida Georgia Line’s “Wish You Were On It,” recorded for their upcoming album, Dig Your Roots. Hunter is currently writing and recording for his debut full-length album release.

Hunter’s website:


Tom Blake

By Fun, Mental Health, Music, Personal Growth No Comments

Imagine leaving everything behind and taking a chance on a new adventure with no guarantees. That’s exactly what Tom Blake did when he packed his bags and headed to California with just an MBA and a desire for something new. Little did he know, a phone call from a friend would change his life forever. Without any experience, Tom took on the challenge of managing the first Victoria Station restaurant, leading him down a path of unexpected twists and turns, unforgettable experiences, and cherished friendships. Discover how Tom’s leap of faith into the restaurant industry led to a life full of adventures in this inspiring story of taking risks and pursuing your passion.

This episode is sponsored by:

Habana Cuba (Be sure to use code “Gary20” to save 20% off your order!)

In this episode:

  • Embracing the new dating possibilities for seniors over 50 and the keys to making meaningful connections
  • His journey through the impactful life, career, and legacy of the one and only Johnny Cash
  • The rich history of the beloved Victoria Station restaurant and its lasting impression on diners
  • Expert marketing tips to skyrocket your restaurant chain’s success and expand its loyal customer base
  • The significance of socializing for seniors and its role in enhancing their quality of life

Timestamp of topics:

00:02:01 – From Airlines to Restaurants,
Tom shares how he transitioned from working in the airline industry to managing the Oakland Victoria Station restaurant. He also talks about the company’s growth and its decision to go public.

00:05:15 – Meeting John Denver and Johnny Cash,
Tom shares his encounter with John Denver and how he was mistaken for him by concertgoers. He also talks about his relationship with Johnny Cash and how he became the company spokesperson for Victoria Station.

00:08:29 – Why Did Victoria Station Work?
Tom explains why Victoria Station was successful, citing the need for quality prime rib and steaks. He also talks about the challenges the company faced during its expansion phase and the importance of paying attention to successful units.

00:11:22 – The Wiseman Trophy,
Tom shares the story behind the creation of the Wiseman Trophy, an award given to college football players by Victoria Station. He also talks about some of the notable winners of the award.

00:16:21 – The End of Victoria Station,
Victoria Station no longer exists as a standalone restaurant chain. There might be a spin-off chain in Japan, and a new restaurant being built in Virginia has artifacts from the original Victoria Station. Lifetime credit cards were given to notable figures, and the Wiseman awards were only given to eight people.

00:22:06 – Meeting Johnny Cash,
Tom Blake describes Johnny Cash as a kind and gentle individual. He tells a story of Johnny singing Puff the Magic Dragon to an 80-year-old woman on her birthday. Tom also talks about his experiences with June Carter Cash and how she was a pistol.

00:25:04 – The Highway Men,
Gary Scott Thomas and Tom Blake discuss The Highway Men and how they protected Johnny Cash from having to talk and laugh too much. They also touch on the relationship between Roseanne Cash and June Carter Cash.

00:28:51 – Johnny’s Gratitude,
Tom Blake shares a touching story of Johnny Cash inviting him and Bob Freeman to a concert at San Quentin Prison. Johnny expressed gratitude to Tom and always seemed to look out for those around him. Tom also shares a story about the inspiration behind Johnny’s song “One Piece at a Time.”

00:31:43 – June Carter Cash,
Tom Blake talks about the complexity of June Carter Cash’s relationships and how he had to be diplomatic about it. He found her to be a fascinating and remarkable woman.

00:34:02 – Roseanne and June,
Tom Blake talks about Roseanne Barr’s opinions on politics and how he cannot speak for her. He also mentions that the original mother cannot be replaced, but history has fondly looked back on Vivian, Johnny Cash’s first wife.

00:36:17 – Dating After 50,
Tom Blake talks about his column on dating after 50 and how the stories take on a whole new message as people age. He discusses the availability issue and how many seniors are looking for part-time relationships.

00:39:42 – Widowhood and Dating,
Tom Blake talks about the pain of widowhood and how it is a different thing altogether. He explains how dating at 75 and 80 is becoming more common for seniors, and many are looking for a lap (living apart together) relationship.

00:41:05 – The Bull Crap Barometer and Persnickety Daters,
Tom Blake talks about how the whole bull crap barometer goes way down as people get older and how dating at different ages has different challenges. He also mentions that seniors can get persnickety and peculiar with what they want.

00:45:38 – Finding Love After 50,
Tom Blake talks about his website,, and his newsletter on dating after 50. He explains that it is free to sign up, and there is no advertising except for him talking about being on the podcast with Gary.


Tom Blake is one of the most knowledgeable people in America on the topic of finding love after 50. Since July 4, 1994, when his first Finding Love After 50 newspaper column was published, he has written more than 3,800 columns and newsletters. Mature singles in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s are Tom’s audience.

For 16 years, Tom was a columnist for The Orange County Register in Southern California. In 2011, Tom began writing his On Life and Love After 50 column for Picket Fence Media, an Orange County, California, syndicate. His articles appear bi-weekly in the Dana Point Times, San Clemente Times, and The Capistrano Dispatch (San Juan Capistrano) newspapers.

In February 2016, Tom’s “On Life and Love after 50” article was added to a syndicate of six (Chester, York, Dauphin, Lebanon, Cumberland, Lancaster) newspapers in Pennsylvania called “50 plus Life ( His articles run bi-monthly in those publications.

He is the author of four printed books and several Ebooks. See his bookstore on this website. Tom was interviewed by Jack Ford and Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show as an expert on finding love after 50. He has written on every romance-after-50 topic imaginable, always with new information and a fresh perspective from the man’s point of view. To see Tom’s Today Show videos, click here.

Tom’s first book is titled, “Middle Aged and Dating Again.” His friend, country music singing legend Johnny Cash, endorsed the book by stating: “In the 20 years I have known Tom Blake, he has become an authority on dating and relationships.”

Tom’s second book is titled, “Finding Love After 50: How To Begin. Where To Go. What To Do.” John Gray, Ph.D., author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” stated, “A unique relationship book that addresses an important and growing niche of singles—those aged 50 and above. Easy to read and informative. Tom Blake is an expert on dating after 50.”

Tom also appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, live in the NYC studio, interviewed by Diane Sawyer. The topic was finding love after 50, with a focus on Internet dating for singles 50, 60, 70, and beyond. Tom has been a speaker and panelist at multiple national AARP conventions. To see Tom’s Good Morning America interview, click here.

He is a native of Jackson, Michigan, and has a BA degree from DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, and an MBA degree from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

You can find Tom at:

Russell Dickerson

By Music, Personal Growth No Comments

The journey of Russell Dickerson is one that’s full of unexpected twists and turns. From facing challenges in the industry to learning the intricacies of songwriting, Russell’s determination and passion have helped him overcome every hurdle. But just when he thought he had it all figured out, an unexpected twist came his way, forcing him to rethink his approach. What was this twist? How did he navigate it? Join us as we dive deeper into Russell’s life and uncover the secrets to his success.

This episode is sponsored by:

Winchester Western Wear is offering 20% off for the GST community! Be sure to tell them Gary sent you.

In this episode you’ll be able to:

  • Unravel the complex world of composing music and the many hurdles encountered by artists.
  • Comprehend the necessity of forming alliances and upholding one’s creative principles in cooperative endeavors.
  • Decrypt the challenging journey of establishing a bond with the audience via art.
  • Recognize the importance of audience engagement in the overall reception and appreciation of a song.
  • Delve into the captivating story of Dickerson’s musical evolution and the enchanting role of instruments in live concerts.

00:00:00 – Introduction,
Gary Scott Thomas introduces the guest, Russell Dickerson, and expresses his admiration for his music.

00:01:17 – Underrated Artists,
Russell Dickerson and Gary Scott Thomas discuss underrated artists and mention Bozzi, Bill Withers, BJ Thomas, and Mavis Staples.

00:06:21 – 40-Year Plan,
Russell Dickerson shares his plan to keep crushing it and be ingrained in country music for the next 40 years.

00:09:07 – Fan Connection,
Russell Dickerson talks about the importance of making a meaningful connection with fans through honest songwriting and putting on the best performance possible.

00:13:37 – Industry Giants,
Gary Scott Thomas asks Russell Dickerson who is more intimidating to work with, Ashley Goreley, Lori McKenna, or Dan Huff.

00:16:05 – The Creative Process,
Russell talks about the creative process of songwriting and how it can be messy. He explains how his opinion as the singer is essential in deciding what makes a good song and what excites him to perform.

00:18:02 – Gauging Audience Reaction,
Russell discusses the importance of gauging audience reactions during live performances. He explains how a song he loved fell flat with the crowd and how he uses fans’ reactions to determine which songs to play during tours.

00:19:46 – Marching Band Memories,
Russell reminisces about his time in the marching band and discusses how it helped shape him as a musician. He talks about the discipline and hard work required to be a drummer in a marching band and how it prepared him for the music industry.

00:21:09 – The Alpha Predator of the Band,
Russell and Gary discuss the sex appeal of different instruments in a band. They agree that drummers are the alpha predators when it comes to sexy in a band. Russell shares how he incorporates marching snare in his live performances.

00:25:22 – Wrapping up,
Gary and Russell wrap up the conversation, expressing their gratitude for each other’s time. They express their willingness to do it again and encourage listeners to check out Russell’s music on YouTube.


A Tennessee native from a musical family, there’s no question that Russell Dickerson has made a name for himself in recent years. After graduating from college, Dickerson felt called to take his music on the road, cutting his teeth while playing shows across the US, frequently for small audiences and an even smaller paycheck. That same drive has made Dickerson the first artist to release four consecutive career-starting singles that reached No. One on the Billboard Country Airplay chart since Luke Combs. He also joins Combs as the second solo artist and fourth act overall to have four or more singles reach No. One on the Country Airplay chart since its inception decades ago. Those back-to-back chart-topping singles include “Yours” (3X Platinum), “Blue Tacoma” (2X Platinum), “Every Little Thing” (Platinum), “Love You Like I Used To” (Platinum), and most recently, Dickerson’s current single “She Likes It” ft. Jake Scott has already been certified Gold with 170 million streams to date. This Fall, he will embark on a sold-out tour in the UK and headline a tour throughout the US starting in November.