Helen - You’ve performed on the Country Music Cruise all 6 years it has been in existence. Tell us about the experience from your perspective.
Wade - This year was a little tough for me because I was trying to balance a honeymoon with it. It didn’t work out that way because I was too busy. I actually had a little bug and was limping along this time at the start of the cruise. So if I seemed a bit lackluster I was really fighting it. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me. I was really sad about it because I wanted this cruise to be the best one yet. It seemed like a lot of people were perking a little low this time. Anyway, it was still fun. Some of my favorite artists were on there. The Patty Loveless show was the highlight of the trip. She sounds as good as she ever did. It was incredible. I got to play with T G Sheppard this year and that was a big thrill. I remembered all those songs from when I was a kid. I knew most of them. Getting to play the guitar parts from some of those old records was a thrill. I play for Johnnie Lee each year and he’s just as ornery as ever (chuckles).
Helen - On the cruise you always bring what I call “stellar” musicians.
Wade - This year Megan (Mullins) was there. She really endeared herself to all the cruise people as well. She’s incredible. Kevin Key is a great guitar player. He’s actually playing better than I’ve ever heard him play before. He’s an incredible musician. And John Howard on bass I became friends with him when we were playing for Randy Owen. And Chuck Tilley on the drums. I got to be friends with him through the Randy solo project as well. We’ve remained friends. He plays for a group called Six-Wire. I played with him at the new Governor’s Inaugural Ball. We are doing a lot of stuff together this year, hopefully. Then John Jarvis, on piano, played when we were doing Johnnie Lee and T G Sheppard. You don’t get any better than him. He’s written so many hit songs and played for huge artists. He was Rod Stewart’s keyboard player for a long time back when he was young. He’s still incredible and what a sweet man. His wife was in charge of the Elvis Impersonators. That’s her group. That’s how he kinda got involved with the cruise and we said, man you’re here, why don’t you just start playing with us. He was open to it.
Helen- And this year you did the Waylon tribute, which was recorded.
Wade - That stuff is right down my alley. I could sing those songs all night long. That’s my era when I grew up - the 70s and 80s were my childhood. I know so many of those songs and it was a big thrill to get to do that with Chuck (Meade). We’ve already been texting back and forth as to what we’re going to do next year.
Helen - Your role has changed from the beginning. It seems like they’re using you a whole lot more.
Wade - I’ve always heard that the best way to hold on to a job, is to make yourself indispensable. And I really, really try to do that wherever I go. I try to always be there and do whatever I can to help. They’ve certainly utilized it and I’m glad. I host the jam, I put that together. I’m in charge of hiring the musicians for the cruise. Of course I do the stuff with Deborah Evans Price (Faith Seminar). We didn’t do the guitar seminar this year, but we’re doing it next year. And the songwriter nights. And I play for whoever needs an extra vocalist and guitar player. (He didn’t mention that he does 2 full band shows of his own and that he is part of the Grand Ole Opry at Sea hour.) It works out great! I love it! It makes them think that they need me. I’m typically a good student of the older music and you’d be hard pressed to stump me on someone who comes on the boat. I’m thankful to have that. January is always the slowest month and to have that, and plus - to go see some sunshine. Typically to get in some warm weather in January and some of February is always a treat.
Helen - What’s been keeping you busy lately?
Wade - Today I did the Channel 5 taping. I had a meeting with Mike (his manager) about some upcoming shows and an album that I’m getting ready to start working on. Then I came home, walked some dogs, and started working on the house. I am really trying to get writers’ meetings lined up and get this new album started. I’m concentrated on that right now. I have some really good ideas. I have some new songs written that I’m still knocking the burrs off, but they’ll be ready when it comes time to start recording it. We’re still getting calls about the new song, “Who Saved Who?” and getting some business from that. That was a surprise, a big time surprise! It’s been good and I’m really thankful to have it.
Helen - Jack has come through for you in all sorts of ways.
Wade - That rascal, just out of the blue, you never know what’s going to happen. Lately I’ve noticed that he’s really starting to act more of his age and he’s missing a step here and there. It’s difficult, but we’ll make the best of it. He’s still happy and runs around like a pup sometimes Then he acts like an old man. I don’t know if he’s faking or not. He probably is. That rascal is smart enough to do that. (chuckles)
Helen - I’m glad things are really working well for you. I’m happy for you and Lea.
Wade - Going good and married life is suiting us and everything is really going ok right now. It’s a welcome change to have a little “peace in the valley.”
Helen - Take care and have a safe trip.
Wade - Good to talk to you. Bye.