"Let's put the O back in country/ well I'm rolling like a freight train/ comin' straight at you/ playing hillbilly music like I was born to do/ you know that ain't country music you been listening to." - Put The O Back In Country - Shooter Jennings

It's been rough and rocky traveling at the intrepid trio descend from the rugged grandeur of Big Sur and northern California to the smog cesspool of Los Angeles.

There's one puny posse of pestilence lurking in the pungent pits of southern California to leap before we escape to the cool mountain air of Colorado.

After being entertained by a pig, dog and a feline - Cat Country - on the coast north of the L.A. smog, we find a pit stop where rodents lurk in the glitter.

It's an ambush - mice aka Mickey @ Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Snow White, Seven Dwarves and diverse Disney dudes lay in wait in the bowels of Annaheim.
< Shooter Jennings

But after a dip in the pool spa at a motel called The Vagabond I notice a leg wound more painful than the incessant queues that litter this tourist trap.

While assessing damage and absorbing pain I find sweet solace - a Discman and Shooter Jennings debut disc Put The O Back In Country.

This soothes the frayed explorers on a San Diego Sea World sojourn but pain returns as we rise at 4 am for the escape flight to Denver.

Nothing prepares us for a three-hour wait in the urban jungle at LAX Airport - we miss the dawn flight despite arriving two hours early.


After being wait listed for an hour we hit the sky again and fly into Denver where country reigns again on radio.

It's smooth sailing west in a Liberty Jeep on I 70 where the aural soundtrack is 104.7 in Eagle County and 100.7 in Summit County.

Delineation is a result of mountains that tower above and block airwaves as we ascend to Vail - a quaint snow town nestling in the shadows of rodeo HQ Beaver Creek.

With weekly rodeos and accompanying country music this is real cowboy territory high above the windswept valleys and midst snow covered peaks at the start of summer.

By now the fetlock pain, accentuated by altitude leap, has pushed me into the arms of Dr Ronald Linton in the waiting room at the Vail Emergency Hospital.

I'm relieved to not being competing with rodeo casualties for attention.

My videographer Carol and East Burwood Rams Under 11 star rover son in exile, Jordan, escape to the aural bliss of a Sabbath CD launch of My Dad's Car by local country act Brendan McKinney - and my head thumps despite the flood of antibiotics.

By Monday my pardner can't stand my pain any more - I'm hooked up to an IV drip at the Emergency Centre and pumped full of bug killers for the Lone Star state trip.

Bemused medic Dr Matt Kamper and jovial helpers bid me adieu by singing All My Exes Live In Texas.

George Strait's spirit revives the soul of the weary wanderers.


This is indeed sweet music as we head east to Denver for the short flight south to old San Antone - country radio once again reigns in the shadows of The Alamo.

With soulful serendipity we find a hard-edged country station playing Radney Foster, Pat Green and fellow Texans as we make the midnight drive in a Pontiac Grand Prix to our river front retreat.

When dawn breaks our day we salute our hosts by returning to The Alamo where Davy Crockett fired his last shot in vain.

This may be a tourist trap, albeit steeped in genuine Tex-Mex history, but we two-step with the ghosts of Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, Travis and other long deceased heroes and heroines.

Now resistant to bacteria and tourism trinkets, we escape unscathed to the famed San Antone River Walk where boat is the alternate mode of transport when the temperature hits the ton.

With nocturnal temperatures nudging the ton this is what us old Shipwreck Coast dairy farmers and Geelong supporters, call character building.


It's another dawn and we head north to Austin for Kacey Jones' long weekend Mickey Newbury fest and gigs by Bruce Robison, Roger Wallace, Cornell Hurd, Tom Russell, Jeff Hughes, and James McMurtry.

With Kacey - producer of Kinky Friedman
- to host an episode of Nu Country TV - it's heating up.

We join The Kinkster on his Gubernatorial campaign trail and head north to Fort Worth for Shotgun Willie Nelson's July 4 picnic.

< Kinky Friedman & Kacey Jones

David Dawson reports again from the Lost Highway next week with more pure country artists banned by Australian commercial radio.

Meanwhile tune to C 31 on Saturday - 8.30 p m - for Nu Country TV.

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