Tag Archives: Bluegrass

If You Missed the Trial of the Century, Then Wait. There Will Be Another One Soon.

17 Jun

June 17, 1994 – I was at a Bluegrass festival being held at the Ward Ag Center in Lebanon. Porter Wagoner was the emcee, and I have no idea why because he was not a Bluegrass artists. Jim and Jesse performed, but I cannot remember who else was on the docket.

Why remember a long ago Bluegrass festival? Because word filtered through the crowd that O.J. Simpson, whose wife had been brutally murdered with her friend a few days earlier, was leading a low-speed chase through the freeways of Los Angeles. Helicopters were hovering over the white Bronco as O.J. and Al made their way through the city.White Bronco

As millions of people were mesmerized by the chase, I was listening to some of that good old mountain music. Through the years, I have seen the documentaries and the reruns, but the live version went on without me. In those days, you could not even bring it up on your phone. I know that is hard to imagine.

Of course, the events of that week led to a nationwide fascination with the case and the trial that found O.J not guilty. It was known as the Trial of the Century because everyone had an opinion.

This post could be about a lot of things. It could be about collective memory and the notion that everyone can remember where they were when a high event happened. It could be about the verdict and the opinions that followed. However, it is not about those things. It is about the fact that there was more than one Trial of the Century.

Everyone who remembers the O.J. Simpson trial thinks that it is the biggest legal event that ever happened. That know Judge Lance Ito. They know that it was the first time they ever heard the name Kardashian. However, there were earlier trials just as huge and just as fascinating to the general public.

1924 – The Leopold and Loeb Trial

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were students at the University of Chicago School of Law who wanted to commit the perfect crime. Together, they spent months planning the crime and murdered Bobby Franks, a 14 year-old boy. Clarence Darrow was hired to defend them, but his real job was to keep them away from the death penalty.

Loeb was killed in prison, and Leopold was released after serving 33 years.

1925 – The Scopes Monkey Trial

Tennessee outlawed the teaching of Evolution in public schools, and business leaders in Dayton decided to use that to gain some publicity. They “arrested” John Scopes for teaching the theory and sent word that a trial was to be held. It grew into more than they could have imagined with William Jennings Bryan agreed to serve as prosecution and Darrow agreed to be the defense.

The trial was broadcast on radio throughout the nation and became a fight between the forces of religion and the forces of science. Bryan died from the stress of the trial, and Darrow was foiled in his attempt to take the case to the Supreme Court. A technicality overturned the guilty verdict.

1935 – The Lindbergh Baby Trial

Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly a plane non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. This gained him more fame than he could have ever dreamed of. It also brought tragedy. His child, less than 2 years-old, was abducted, and ransom was demanded. There was an attempt to pay the money, but the child’s body was found a few miles from the Lindbergh home.

It seemed that everyone got in on the investigation, and suspicions finally fell on Richard Hauptmann, who was tried, sentenced and executed.

There have been numerous theories about this case. Did Hauptmann do it? Did the real killer get away with it? As the trial was going on, millions of people wanted to know.

Americans are fascinated by crimes. Heck, how many times a week does a crime get solved in an hour on some television show. However, those shows cannot compare to the real thing, and the public latches on to these stories as if they were “made for TV.” I guess those early ones were “made for radio.”

With that curiosity, we can be certain that there will be Trials of This Century just like there were Trials of the Last Century. Actually, we have already had one. I wonder what ever happened to Casey Anthony.

 

Mindful Meanderings at Music at the Mill

16 Feb

Last night, we went to Music at the Mill, a fundraiser for a local private school. Music at the Mill

A lot of people turned out to watch singers in various stages of their careers – some were searching for the spotlight while others were fading from it. Most of them did a great job, and a great time was had by all. Although, the Willis Clan stole the show. If you like Bluegrass and some old Irish tunes, then you need to check them out.

Collin Ray was the headliner. He is someone who I have heard of, but I was not sure what he sang. It turns out that I recognized several of his songs. However, it was a couple of other tunes that sent my mind on one of its meandering journeys.

Collin talked about the influence that Glen Campbell has had on his career and mentioned that he has put together a tribute album. As a sampling, he sang “Galveston“, one of Campbell’s signature tunes. It was a good rendition, although Collin Raye cannot touch Glen Campbell’s guitar skills.

Later in the set, he sang Don McLean’s “American Pie“. Most people, including me, sang along, but my mind also went into another direction. As people sang the chorus, I started connecting trivial dots.

“The day the music died” references the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson, the Big Bopper. “This’ll be the day that I die” is an homage to Holly’s song “That’ll Be The Day“. To take this thing further down the rabbit hole, Holly was inspired to write that song after watching The Searchers and hearing John Wayne, as Ethan Edwards, say, “That’ll be the day.”

So, listening to Collin Raye sing a song by Don McLean made me think of something that John Wayne said in a movie. However, it did not stop there. That is when I realized that he had just sang a song by Glen Campbell, who starred with John Wayne in True Grit, the movie that won the Duke his Oscar. These days, many critics think that he should have won the Oscar for The Searchers and that the win for True Grit was a lifetime achievement award to make up for it.

As I said, most people were singing, but my mind was meandering.

How I Ate My Way Through the Wilson County Fair

22 Aug

Wilson County, of which I am a citizen, is the home of the largest fair in Tennessee. Hundreds of thousands attend every year to see what the fair has to offer. It has something for everyone, which is too much to write about in one post. In fact, I don’t think I could fit the Wilson County Fair into several posts. It is truly an amazing event that would not be possible without the hundreds of volunteers who make it happen.Wilson County Fair

Over the past two nights, my wife and I went to the fair. On the first night, we watched the Fairest of the Fair pageant, which was sponsored by Beauty Boutique – my wife’s business. On the second night, we took her daughter to the midway. They were two different experiences, but one theme held throughout both nights. Food!

I can’t write about everything we saw at the fair. People. Animals. Rides. Contests. It’s a long list. Therefore, I am going to tell you how I ate my way through the Wilson County Fair. My wife was by my side, but I’ll leave her part out of it. If she wants you to know about her food experiences, then she can guest post at some point.

The first night started innocently enough. I had always heard about the great roasted corn. Hey, corn is healthy. I go up to the booth, and they pull out the biggest ear of corn that I have ever seen. The husks are pulled down to form a handle. Then, they stuck it in this big container of melted butter. It came out greasy, shining and completely delicious. Whoever came up with the idea of butter should go down in history as one of the all time greats.

The corn served as a good appetizer before going to the Rotary booth for a cheeseburger. Honestly, I was supposed to spend a night working in the Rotary booth, but I have missed a bunch of meetings. In other words, I missed the sign up sheet. It seemed like a good idea to make up for that by buying some food. Plus, Rotary has the best cheeseburgers at the fair.

While watching the beauty pageant, I got restless. Friends kept coming by, and I took those opportunities to get up and talk. Eventually, I needed to walk around. That’s when I headed to the general store to get a Coca Cola in one of those old-time bottles. Coke tastes a lot better from a glass bottle. I should mention that the general store sits in Fiddler’s Grove, a village that represents the history of our community. They play Bluegrass on the back porch.General Store

Back at the pageant, my wife said that she wanted to try a Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich. It suited me, so I went next door and got a couple. Honestly, it wasn’t the best grilled cheese that I have ever eaten.

After the pageant, it was dessert time. Luckily, Clayborn’s Bakery, a local establishment that has the second greatest donuts in the world, had a booth. In that booth were fried peach pies, one of my favorite desserts. Awesome does not come close to describing it.

Once that was over, I rolled to my car and mentally prepared myself for our impending return to the fair. However, I convinced myself that I was going to take it light. That meant making dinner out of a Walking Taco. This is where they cut a Frito bag in half and filled it with stuff. Fritos. Chili. Cheese. Lettuce. Salsa. Jalapenos. I reckon that’s it.

That one required some walking to work off what I had ingested. This meant checking out the model train display in Fiddler’s Grove. There was also a swing through the rabbit exhibit. Also, we looked at the photographs that had been entered into competition. Oh, I almost forgot the car giveaway.

With that much activity, nourishment was needed and was derived from the Red Velvet Funnel Cake. I am not a big fan of regular Red Velvet Cake, but putting it into a deep fryer improves it tremendously.

There are a lot more food options at the Wilson County Fair, but a fella can only take so much.

Grand Ole Opry Song

29 Mar

Most people probably know that Nashville is known as “Music City”, and those same people probably know that it is called that because of the country music industry. Nashville actually has been a hotbed of several musical genres. At one time, there was a strong R&B scene, and Jimi Hendrix honed his craft in the clubs on Jefferson Street. Bob Dylan spent a great deal of time in the city, and Elvis Presley recorded here all the time. Heck, the Black Keys and Jack White currently call Nashville home.

Despite a diverse history, country music was and continues to be the dominating form, and, these days, it is dominated by performers like Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown. I can’t name them all because I don’t really like what they do. Today’s country seems like a Frankenstein’s monster to me. Take a little bit of country. Take a little bit of rock. Throw in a few more things. Once, you are finished a monstrosity has been created. Personally, I blame Garth Brooks.

Nashville didn’t become “Music City” because of today’s stars. It became “Music City” in the early part of the 20th Century because of a radio show, the Grand Ole Opry. It could be heard every Saturday night on WSM, a powerful AM station that took its signal throughout the United States. In the days before nationwide concert tours, artists could get their music to the masses over the radio. Since the performers gathered in Nashville to perform on the Opry, it made sense for record companies to set up studios nearby. As years passed, Nashville became the destination for those who wanted to get in the country music business.

Sometimes, I think that story gets lost in the glitz and glamor of the modern country music industry. In the old days, country artists didn’t have laser shows at their concerts. They definitely didn’t run around the stage and shake their asses. They stood behind the microphone and sang about heartbreak and trains.

Jimmy Martin was one of the old-time singers.

Jimmy Martin

Jimmy Martin

Known as the “King of Bluegrass”, he performed on the Opry many times. Unfortunately, he faced the demons of alcohol abuse, and uncertainty kept him from becoming a full member of the Opry. Despite that, he recorded “Grand Ole Opry Song“, an ode to the show and the people who made it special. I thought it would be interesting to use that song to introduce (or remind) the blogosphere to some of the people who turned Nashville into “Music City”.

Come and listen to my story if you will I’m gonna tell

About a gang of fellers from down at Nashville

First I’ll start with old Red Foley doin’ the ‘Chattanooga Shoe’

Red Foley

Red Foley

We can’t forget Hank Williams with them good old ‘Lovesick Blues’

Hank WIlliams

Hank Williams

It’s time for Roy Acuff to go to Memphis on his train

Roy Acuff

Roy Acuff

With Minnie Pearl and Rod Brasfield and Lazy Jim Day

Minnie Pearl

Minnie Pearl

Rod Brasfield

Rod Brasfield

Jim Day

Jim Day

Turn on all your radios I know that you will wait

Hear Little Jimmy Dickens sing ‘Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait’

Little Jimmy Dickens

Little Jimmy Dickens

There’ll be guitars and fiddles, Earl Scruggs and his banjo too

Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs

Bill Monroe singing out them ole ‘Kentucky Blues’

Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe

Ernest Tubb’s number, ‘Two Wrongs Won’t Make a Right’

Ernest Tubb

Ernest Tubb

At the Grand Ole Opry every Saturday night

There  was Uncle Dave Macon his gold tooth and plug hat

Uncle Dave Macon

Uncle Dave Macon

Cowboy Copas singing ‘Tragic Romance’

Cowboy Copas

Cowboy Copas

Signed sealed and delivered with Sam and Kirk McGee

Sam and Kirk McGee

Sam and Kirk McGee

And the master of ceremony was Mr. George D Hay

George D. Hay

George D. Hay

There was Lonzo and Oscar a-poppin’ bubble gum

Lonzo and Oscar

Lonzo and Oscar

George Morgan singin’ ‘Candy Kisses’ yum, yum

George Morgan

George Morgan

‘Got a Hole in My Bucket’ ‘Bringin’ in that Georgia Mail’

We’ll sing ‘The Sunny Side of the Mountain’

And dance to the ‘Chicken Reel’

You can talk about your singers in all kinds of way

But none could sing the old songs like Bradley Kincaid

Bradley Kincaid

Bradley Kincaid

With his old hound dog ‘Guitar’ and the famous ‘Blue Tail Fly’

Stringbean with Hank Snow and old fiddlin’ Chubby Wise

Stringbean

Stringbean

Hank Snow

Hank Snow

Chubby Wise

Chubby Wise

Now, that’s country.