Tag Archives: Music City

My iPod Has Issues – This Week in Music City

22 Sep

Man, this is a busy week of music listening. Tonight, my wife, stepdaughter and I are going to see Lorde at the Grand Ole Opry House. Tomorrow night, my wife and I are going to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The tickets were a birthday gift to her from a friend. Friday night, we are going with a bunch of people to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center for an All Star tribute to Jimi Hendrix, which involves some awesome guitarists. Buddy Guy, Johnny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and a bunch of others will put their spin on some classic tunes.

I mention these concerts to highlight the fact that Nashville is truly Music City, and it is not all cowboy hats and pickup trucks. If you are a music lover, then you can find what you like somewhere in this town.Nashville

I also mention these concerts because, with the addition of that thing called work, I may have a difficult time putting together in-depth posts. Since music is the theme of this one, I figured it would be a good time to take it easy and see what is going on in the iPod.

“Just the Two of Us” by Bill Withers

“Comin’ Home” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Sabotage” by Beastie Boys

“Ballad of Davy Crockett” by Fess Parker

“Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan

“Texas Funeral” by Jon Wayne

“Blacklight Fantasy” by Freaky Chakra

“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

“Blood on the Saddle” by Tex Ritter

“Chico and the Man” by Jose Feliciano

“Make It Easy on Yourself” by Dionne Warwick

“He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones

“Touchdown Tennessee” by Kenny Chesney

“Angie” by The Rolling Stones

“2:10 Deadwood Train” by Crabgrass

“What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who

“The Legend of Judge Roy Bean” by Nevada Slim

“Little Darlin'” by The Gladiolas

“Friday Foster” by Roy L. Chandler

Now, I am ready to listen to some music.

Hey, Nashville! Be a Real Music City and Build an Amphitheater

17 May

Last night, we went to a concert. That seems to be a theme for us since I am a concert addict. This one had three awesome act – The Devil Makes Three, Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson. Before the show, I had planned on a post about the show and the crowd. Instead, this post is about the venue.

It is called the Woods Amphitheater and has a semi-appropriate name. The woods part is accurate. Basically, they went into the middle of the woods and put up a stage. As far as I could see, that was the only major structure around.

While calling it an amphitheater is technically correct, it is a stretch of the definition. The reserved seats were folding chairs. There were a few concession stands. There were no permanent restroom facilities. My wife refused to drink anything in the fear that she might have to use the portable ones.

After spending too much time in a concession line, I said that I would not come back if Elvis rose from the dead for one last show. And, I am a huge Elvis fan.

In short, I was disappointed with the setup. A stage with folding chairs is advertised as a major concert venue. Look, the owners are not worried about what I think. The concert was sold out, and I am sure they are making plenty of money. However, the city of Nashville should be worried. It bills itself as Music City, but it does not have a real outdoor amphitheater where people can enjoy major acts in the outdoors. There is no excuse.

On top of that, we used to have a great once called Starwood.Starwood

Last night, I started thinking about Starwood and how cool it was. You could buy reserved seats under a cover. They were actually bolted to the floor. If you wanted to bring a blanket and sit on the grass hill behind the seats, then you could do that, too. The best place to sit depended on who was performing.

Starwood was the place where I got kicked out of a Metallica concert. Actually, my buddy got kicked out, and I had to go with him.

Starwood was the place where Robert and I walked into the middle of a knife fight at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.

Starwood was the place where I saw The Eagles on their first reunion tour. They opened up by playing the entire Hotel California album.

A lot of people have some great memories of what happened on the stage and in the crowd at Starwood.

As I sat in the wannabe amphitheater, I tried to think of the people I saw perform at the real amphitheater. This is not a complete list, but some of the concerts are hazy.

The aforementioned Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Eagles in addition to:

KISS. Judas Priest. Hootie and the Blowfish. Edwin McCain. ZZ Top. Rod Stewart. Chicago. Elton John. Ted Nugent. Crosby, Stills and Nash. Motley Crue. John Fogerty. Rob Zombie. Velvet Revolver. Ozzie Osbourne. Alan Jackson. John Mellencamp. Jimmy Buffett. Def Leppard. Marshall Tucker Band. Meatloaf. Dave Matthews Band. Blues Traveler. Earth, Wind and Fire.

I have no idea how many more there are, but it is a bunch.

Starwood was not one of the all-time great concert locations, but it was better than what we have now. Nashville is a great place to listen to all kinds of live music. It has the Ryman Auditorium, which is legendary. It has an arena and a stadium for the huge shows. There are small places, like the Bluebird Cafe, scattered around town where great musicians perform every night. Heck, Dave Grohl did a surprise show there this week.

However, Nashville’s music scene will not be complete until it gets a real amphitheater.

 

Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry

19 Nov

Living near Nashville has many perks but being around a lot of great music is at the top of the list. You can go almost anywhere and hear talented people. However, there is one place that stands above the rest. The Ryman Auditorium sits downtown and was, for many years, home of the Grand Ole Opry, the radio show that put the music into Music City. I have been to the “Mother Church” many times for many types of concerts, but Friday night brought a completely different experience. Necole and I were able to go backstage at the Ryman for the Grand Ole Opry, which moves back to its home during the offseason.

Our hosts were Dr. Bob and Leslin, his daughter. Leslin was one of my students and has a great blog. They were able to get us in because Dr. Bob is the doctor who many stars see when they have issues with their voice. He knows a lot of performers and was able to provide us with this special experience.

We started the evening with a great meal at Sperry’s, one of Nashville’s dining institutions. Then, we headed to the Ryman. I was worried about getting a parking space because Justin Timberlake was performing across the street, but Dr. Bob and Leslin had that taken care of. We parked in the lot reserved for the Opry performers.

We walked through the alley between the Ryman and Nashville’s famous honky tonks. We made it to the backstage entrance, and the history began to hit me. Country legends had climbed those same steps to perform for a packed house and countless people listening across the nation on WSM radio. When their set was finished, they would walk back down the steps to the bars across the alley. That’s where they would kill time until the second show.

Up the stairs was a man at a desk with a list of names. Once we got past him, we walk through the door and were on the stage. The show had already started. Music was playing, and the crowd was clapping. Immediately, one of the backup singers hugged Dr. Bob and told us to come on up. We ended up standing next to the backup singers. Everyone in the audience could see us. In front of us was the announcer who introduces the acts and reads the commercials. Eventually, he walked over and talked to us.

At the first break in the action, I took a picture of what was going on behind the curtain.Opry 1

Necole and I were amazed at the casual atmosphere. As the music played, people were talking and joking around. It was like a big family reunion. The hallways were small, and people couldn’t help but bump into each other. At one point, Dr. Bob wanted to introduce us to someone. We walked over and had a good conversation about music and life in Middle Tennessee. He asked about our jobs, and we asked about his. Around the corner, Riders in the Sky were practicing, and Necole became more interested in them than the conversation. She had to have a picture, and I took it. I am not great a picture-taking, so the blurriness is the fault of the photographer.Opry 2

Later, the accordion player asked me what I did for a living. When I told him that I was a historian who researched the American West, he nearly fell out. He wanted to talk all about the history of cowboys and their music. That’s when I told him about the magazine I had that listed them as one of the top 50 artists of the Western music genre. He acted like he didn’t know it.

We went back to the stage in time to see an elderly lady perform. The crowd was cheering enough for us to know that she was a major star, but we couldn’t tell who she was. Dr. Bob found out that it was Jean Shephard. None of my group recognized the name, so I got to show them some of my knowledge of music history. She was a big star in the 50s and 60s but faced terrible tragedy. Hawkshaw Hawkins, her husband, died in the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline.

Eventually, it was time for the last segment, and the host walked into the wings. At first, all we could see was his red coat. When he turned around, we saw that it was Jim Ed Brown, another great star of the past. He sang a few songs before introducing the band that we had come to see – Old Crow Medicine Show. The newest members of the Opry brought down the house with an energetic performance that included “Wagon Wheel“, which was their song before it was Darius Rucker’s.

That’s when Necole and I realized that the guy we talked to earlier (back when Riders in the Sky was practicing) was the lead singer of Old Crow Medicine Show. Everyone around us was taking pictures. This is one that I took.Opry 3

That’s Jim Ed in the red coat, and the announcer standing next to him. The crowd loved Old Crow Medicine Show to the point that Jim Ed gave up his last song for them to be able to sing another one.

After the show, we walked back down the steps and into the alley. People were lined up to get into the honky tonks, and music could be heard coming from all of them. That’s when I realized that the alley is only a few feet across, but there is a long way from those stages to the one we just stood on.

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.