Tag Archives: Schermerhorn Symphony Center

A Steel Magnolias Kind of Weekend

5 Aug

I have never seen Steel Magnolias. However, this weekend brought two of its stars to the stages of Nashville, and we saw both of them.

Friday night, we saw Dolly Parton at the Ryman Auditorium. It had been over a decade since she played a concert in Nashville, but a local charity brought her back to town. The place was packed with music industry insiders, politicians and regular people. Despite the strange mixture, there was an electricity running through the crowd. This was not just a concert. It was an event. I have written about seeing Elvis Presley in concert, and, although I was young, I can remember a similar feeling.

I guess that was fitting because Dolly came out in a white suit that brought to mind something Elvis would wear.image-46

Writing a sentence using only first names brought something else to my mind. It is a rare level of fame when people know someone by their first name.

Anyway, the show was awesome. Dolly played a bunch of her more famous songs and played a bunch of instruments along the way. However, I enjoyed her stories. She talked about growing up in Appalachia and the struggles that her family faced. She talked about coming to Nashville as a teenager and eventually reaching superstar status. Despite that transition, she never forgot where she came from.

Dolly is a true entertainer who writes songs, sings and acts. However, it is her charisma and connection to the crowd that caught my attention.

Thursday night, we went to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center for a completely different kind of show. Shirley MacLaine was there to talk about her life and her career.image-47

It was also a strangely mixed crowd with those who wanted to hear stories about Hollywood and those who were there to be close to their spiritual guide. I knew that the latter would get what they wanted, but I was hoping there would be more about the inside workings of the movies.

It was an interview format with Ann Patchett, author and Nashvillian, doing the asking. I think she wanted to psychoanalyze Shirley MacLaine because the first question went straight to reincarnation. It was something about how playing different lives in movies may have opened her mind to the possibility of living different lives.

Well, Shirley MacLaine was having none of that. She knew that she had fought in the Civil War long before she was in a movie.

There was some discussion about her career, and some interesting stories were told. However, the spiritual realm dominated the night. That is fine. I expected it. However, I would have asked some other things like:

How did someone who grew up in Virginia make it to Hollywood?

What did your family think of that decision?

Who was your favorite dance partner?

I could go on, but I would rather talk about when the audience asked questions. There was a good question about the Rat Pack that led her to talk about the time John F. Kennedy decided not to stay at Frank Sinatra’s house.

Then, there was one questioner who said that he could see his deceased grandmother in the eyes of his cat. That led someone else to talk about the hierarchy of the cat world. There was also some talk about how we are living multiple lives all at once.

At some point, I told my wife that I was going to the restroom and that I may not come back. People can believe what they want. Heck, I am probably strange, too. However, I had enough mystical talk for one night.

Dolly Parton and Shirley MacLaine worked together in Steel Magnolias, which made the two shows kind of cool and connected. As I wrote, the shows were completely different. In one of them, I got up and threatened not to come back. In the other one, I did not want to miss anything.

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.

The Fab(ricated) Four

25 Feb

This weekend, my wife and I went to the Nashville Symphony with her dad. We do this quite often, as it is always a great performance in a great venue. However, this performance was a little different. The Classical Mystery Tour is a band that impersonates The Beatles with the backing of an orchestra.Classical Mystery Tour

I had read great reviews about the show but was not prepared for how cool it was. Impersonators can be hit or miss, and these guys definitely hit. They had the voices. They had the mannerisms. “Paul” played a left-handed guitar when he was actually right-handed. They also had the clothes. The band started with the mid 1960s suit look and changed into the Sgt. Pepper look. Then, they went to a 1970s style with “John” wearing his famous white suit.

I liked the entire show, but a few moments stood out. Hearing “Live and Let Die” with an orchestra was awesome. I know it is not a Beatles song and saying it was my favorite could be considered sacrilege, but it was awesome. I also liked “Imagine”, another solo effort. When it comes to actual songs by The Beatles, their rendition of “The Long and Winding Road” was great.

It was during “The Long and Winding Road” that my mind starting going to places other than the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. It went to a young man lying in the dark with his headphones on. That was me, and that is what I used to do every night before going to sleep. I cannot count the number of nights that I woke up with music still playing in my ears.

“The Long and Winding Road” was exactly the type song I would listen to. It is slow, melodic and, in my mind, kind of sad. Of course, I like all kinds of songs and have a fondness for heavy metal, but the slow and sad ones have always held an attraction for me.

As I listened in the dark, I would imagine myself being the sad one in the song. I would bring up any heartbreak or hurt that I had experienced and used it to bring up a melancholy mood. It may have been fatalistic and was definitely emotional martyrdom. However, that was me. I was always bad about imagining myself as the one in the movie who gave up the girl for a later cause. I guess that would make me Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.

In the dark, I would listen to these sad songs and play movies in my mind. In those movies, I was always the one who watched others walk away or was the one who was doing the walking away. I guess that is why I ended up having a good time in therapy.

I do not do that anymore. I still listen to sad songs, and they still entertain me. However, I do not place myself inside of them. I listen to them as an outsider who is happy with where he has ended up in life. Placing myself in sad songs probably meant that I was not happy with where I was in life. Now, that is not the case. I am happy with where I am.

That is a song with a different verse. That is also where my mind went as “Paul” sat at the piano and sang “The Long and Winding Road” as the orchestral sounds filled the room.

Hey, We’re Going to See Don Williams in Concert

4 Oct

Don Williams is playing at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Sunday night. I am super pumped. Necole is not very excited. She is going because I want to go, and I appreciate her doing that.

Don Williams is a great singer and, in my mind, is the epitome of country cool. He has had a bunch of hits and also co-starred in a Burt Reynolds movie filmed in and around Nashville. That would be the all time classic W.W and the Dixie Dance Kings.Dixie Dance

Spending time with Burt must have been enjoyable because Don mentioned him in a song.

In the early days of this blog, I put together a post about my favorite Don WIlliams song. It is roughly written and doesn’t include any pictures, but, in honor of the upcoming concert, I decided to link it. I hope you read it, and, if you do, I hope you enjoy it.

Sing a Sad Song

29 Apr

Thursday night, Necole and I went to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center to see B.B. King. Her Christmas present to me was a pair of fourth row seats, and I couldn’t have been happier with the gift. As we walked to the venue, I heard a George Jones song drifting from one of the honky tonks nearby. Only in Nashville will you find a symphony hall and honky tonks in the same vicinity.

The song made me think of the upcoming concert at Bridgestone Arena, which sits a block away, that was supposed to be the last for George Jones. Dozens of performers were coming to send the Possum into retirement. Knowing that he was in the hospital, I told Necole that I hoped he would make it through this final tour.

We made it to our awesome seats and watched an opening act before B.B. King came to the stage. He performs well for someone who is 87-years-old, but there were a few things that I noticed.

The band does the heavy lifting of the concert. They performed for ten minutes before he was helped to his chair at the front of the stage.

He tells a lot of stories between songs, which gives him an opportunity to rest.B.B. King II

Also, the songs are usually cut short of their original length, and he doesn’t play all the way through.

Please understand that these are not critiques. I was happy to see the King of the Blues and was happy that he is still able to perform. I just wondered why he is still performing. Does he need the money? Does he do it so the members of his band can have a steady income? Does he do it because he needs the music and the audience?

It could be the latter because he stayed on stage long after he was scheduled to leave. The bodyguards came to get him, and, eventually, the band stopped playing. All along he talked to the audience and greeted fans who came to the stage. He needed the experience to continue.

We, along with most of the audience, left while he was still there. We had seen the great B.B. King and heard his best known song, “The Thrill Is Gone“. As you can tell, it is a sad song, as most Blues songs tend to be. That’s one thing that connects Blues with Country, Nashville’s predominant sound.

Friday morning, news came across the wire that George Jones had passed away. Tributes immediately hit the Internet and other ways of getting the word out. I thought of the conversation that Necole and I had the night before and about the singer that the world had lost. It has been documented that George Jones lived a turbulent life and that he was, through the opinion of many people, the greatest Country singer who ever lived.George Jones

I don’t know where he ranks in the pantheon of Country, but I know that he epitomized the genre. He lived it, and he sang it. He sang the sadness that Country songs are supposed to be. The song that I heard coming from the honky tonk is considered by many to be the greatest Country song ever recorded. “He Stopped Loving Her Today“, written by a man in my hometown, is sung hauntingly by George Jones. You can hear the sorrow and the pain come through. Perhaps, he could sing that way because he could feel that way.

Last night, Necole and I went to Bridgestone Arena to see Jimmy Buffett.Jimmy Buffett

The Parrotheads were out in the finest grass skirts, sailor hats and coconut bras. As it is with every Buffett concert, the atmosphere was tropical and festive. As Necole said, it’s like he brings vacation to the people rather than the people going on vacation. He went through all of the favorites, and everyone sang along with him.

However, I noticed that several of Jimmy Buffett’s songs have festive music that covers up less than festive words. “Margaritaville” is about a man trying to forget a lost love. “He Went to Paris” is about the tragedies that an old man has seen in his life.

Even Jimmy Buffett sings sad songs, but he can also sing the sad songs of others. Near the end of a concert designed to be a beach party, he sang one of George Jones’, and he sang it in the arena where the Possum was going to have his last concert. That arena sits by dozens of honky tonks where sad songs by George Jones are sung every night.

All Hail the Gipsy Kings

2 May

Last week, I took my nephew down to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center to see the Gipsy Kings, a band from the gypsy settlements in the south of France that specializes in “rumba flamenca” music. I am not sure how to describe that, so here is a link to one of their most popular songs. I first encountered them while watching a Pierce Brosnan movie called “The Heist”. As the final credits rolled by, this strangely recognizable song played, and I immediately began to look up more of their stuff.

Anyway, I bought tickets to the show and thought this would be a good way to introduce my nephew to the symphony center and expand his musical horizons. I picked him up at school, and we arrived in downtown in plenty of time for the show. With some time to kill, I took him to Lower Broad and let him look into the honky tonks while it was still daylight and PG enough for him to peer in. Then, we went to the world-famous Ernest Tubb Record Shop where they used to hold the Midnight Jamboree after the Grand Ole Opry. Some of country music’s most famous artists once played throughout the night on the cramped stage by the back wall.

After that brief tour, we went to the symphony center and got a snack. This is a beautiful building with all of the amenities, but the restroom is a little hard to locate. I finally found a handicapped accessible under some stairs. I opened the door as a ravishing brunette walked by. That’s when my nephew informed me that I am supposed to let the toilet finish flushing before opening the door.

We made the way to our seats, which were pretty close to the front, and looked at the program. I had not told my nephew that the Gipsy Kings do not sing in English, but he figured it out while reading.

Nephew: Don’t worry, I’ll translate for you.

Lead Singer (upon hitting the stage): Buenos Noches.

Nephew (Mr. I made a 35 on the ACT, so I think I know everything): That means Good Evening.

Me (incredulous look on my face): I know what it means.

The concert commences, and my nephew continues to translate when they talk. Even he couldn’t translate when they were singing. I’m not sure if it was going too fast for him, or he was too mesmerized by the guitar playing. The Gipsy Kings are wonders with that instrument. Very Latin. Very European. Much like all of the women that were sitting around us. It was not the usual Nashville crowd, at all. What’s the word I am looking for? Exotic. The music and the people who came to listen were exotic. In fact, it was the first time I have ever seen people dancing in the aisles at the symphony center.

After the show, my nephew wanted to go backstage and get autographs. He is an autograph freak, but even I, the great ticket-getter, could not pull that off. Instead, we went to Big River Grille for dinner and were put in the corner. Our waiter resembled Ichabod Crane, and my nephew kept asking me if the people at the next table were Yankees.

After a meal that could have been warmer, I drove him home while he fell asleep. I tried to listen to my iPod without disturbing him because there was a Gipsy Kings song that I wanted to hear but that was not played. I finally found it as we pulled into his driveway.