I get too old, there's a place I gotta see
Climb aboard a Greyhound, go to Tennessee"
opening lines of a song I wrote a couple of years back titled
'Gotta Get to Memphis' and one of the reasons I'm boarding a plane
at Chicago O'Hare Airport for Nashville.
Before I get too old I've decided to realise two of my dreams.
The first to visit the Sun Studios in Memphis and the second to
perform at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. So here I am
with suitcase and guitar on what I hope to be the trip of a lifetime
on my first visit to the USA.
I find my seat has been taken by a woman who apologises and asks
me to join her. Seeing me board with my guitar she wanted to know
how I had managed to bring it on as hand luggage as she had always
had to travel with her guitar in the hold which as all owners
of cherished instruments know and often to their cost is not the
best way. Her name was Jan Maier and was visiting Nashville to
lecture at the Vanderbilt University for a couple of days. She
was also a musician and singer from the Boston area who writes,
performs, has a great love of arranging for choirs and has recorded
a CD. The seventy five minute flight seems like ten minutes as
we are engrossed in conversation about music, guitars, live gigs
etc etc. We part at the airport taxi rank but agree to meet the
following evening to continue the conversation and swap CDs.
Next morning being Sunday I take a cab to Broadway in downtown
Nashville. Eleven am and I couldn't believe it, Nashville, the
state capitol of Tennessee was devoid of traffic AND people. My
cabbie explains "We are in the Bible belt, nothing opens
until morning service has finished".
after midday and downtown starts to buzz and fill with people.
I head to where I knew the first beer I have in Nashville had
to be, Tootsies Orchid Lounge. This is around the corner from
The Ryman Auditorium, home for many years to The Grand Ole Opry.
This bar has been used by all the great Opry stars and musicians
throughout it's stay in downtown as the place to have a couple
of medicinal pre- show drinks to loosen up the nerves and to unwind
I have a couple of beers and absorb the atmosphere. The walls
are covered in signed photos, memorabilia and dollar bills and
live, real deal honky tonk country music. There is a whole load
of these bars around this area, Legends Corner and the home to
BR549, Roberts Western World to name but two which are great live
country music venues all day until 2am If you need a continuous
fix of country, this is the place for you. Enjoying the beer and
music in Roberts, I'm amazed when the band start auctioning items
to help pay for someones funeral. Outside the streets are filling
up with cowboys, farmboys and pickup trucks. It hits me then that
this is modern day life, not a museum. A city it may be, but it
has a very small town feel to it.
meet Jan at 6.30 as arranged for a meal and continue yesterday's
conversation. She conveys her enthusiasm of music with passion
and I'm sure her love of passing this on to younsters has drawn
many into the world of music making. She is indeed a charming
person. We agree to stay in touch and I look forward to playing
her CD "Mountain Skyes" (PO Box 1141, Waltham, MA02454-1141
or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Next day I mail all of my post cards hoping they arrive back in
the U.K. before I do then head for the George Gruhn guitar shop
to dribble over all the new and very collectable vintage instruments.
Suffering from hunger pains I head for the Hard Rock Café.
Exhibits here include a smashed Pete Townsend Gibson SG, Dylan
clothing, an Elvis hat and cape but best of all for me, the Gibson
ES295 used and signed by Scotty Moore, Elvis' guitarist on all
those groundbraking original Sun recordings in Memphis during
1954. It was great to see 'the one' as my own electric guitar
is a 1990 re-issue.
The Bluebird Cafe
it was upon me. One of the reasons for being here. The world famous
Bluebird Café, home to all the great Nashville songwriters
hosts an open stage night every Monday between 6 and 9 pm where
you must sing original compositions, no covers allowed. The doors
open at 5.30 with a rush to get a seat. You sign up by putting
your name on a piece of paper which is then put into a basket.
Twenty five names are drawn and that's who gets to perform. If
you are drawn first, you sing first etc etc. Looking around I'm
surprised how small the place is. A tiny stage, compact seating
area with tables, stools along the bar and on past to the loos.
There is a great buzz to the place and everyone is on tenterhooks,
anticipating the draw. I was seated with two guys, Todd and Kevin
who were knocked out when I told them I'd travelled 4,500 miles
just to sing there. A chap on the next table heard our conversation
shook my hand and wished me all the best but said he thought I
was probably a bit crazy. He came from Detroit and it was his
final try to get drawn before he had to move on. Unfortunately
he didn't, neither did Kevin but Todd got spot number 7 and I
got number 24. My instant feeling was relief which swiftly turned
to fear. What was the standard like? How receptive are the audience?
What if I'm not up to scratch? Etc etc.
The first artist was a young lad complete with hat who obviously
wanted to be a country star and he was warmly received. I think
that's what is so nice about open stages, everyone is in the same
boat and everyone roots for each other. The standard varies, some
superb, some not so good and the ages vary. Youngsters singing
of making it big in Nashville whilst other much older artists
just there to sing their songs for the love of it. Thankfully
the music styles are varied. Country, folk, blues, pop, jazz and
even downright odd. Two guys completely knocked me out. The older
one, the singer had a great voice and the guitarist, only a younster
had an amazing playing style of picking, strumming, tapping and
great fingerboard acrobatics. He reminded me of Tuck Andress.
They were a great act with great songs. As they passed me on leaving
the stage I grabbed the young guitarist and said they'd been worth
the trip from England. He shook my hand and thanked me as did
his partner later when he came over to check out my compliment.
The singer's nephew came and thanked me much later. The warmth
of the welcome here was greatly appreciated. It seems that everyone
is performing great epics tonight and pushing their maximum 8
minutes time to the limit. Number 21, 22, 23 and
folks, it's nine-o-clock, that's it for this week, you all be
early for next weeks show". The final words from Barbara
Cloyd who presents the open stage nights. I retrieve my piece
of paper from the basket which has now been stamped which means
I can put it in the second try basket next week. My new buddies
came up and said they were sorry I didn't get to play but they'd
be back next week.
The Bluebird has two shows every night so for a $7 cover charge
I stay on to see Mike Henderson, a guitarist I have admired for
years. He is an electric blues guitarist whose music and videos
I enjoyed when we were lucky enough to have CMT over here. There
is an hour or so break whilst the stage is set up and the place
fills to capacity. A huge guy with beard to match takes my money.
He reminds me of a grizzly bear but I didn't think I'd mention
it. The show gets under way and Mike is a dazzling player and
singer. His band consists of upright bass, drums and Jerry Lee
Lewis lookalike and soundalike piano player. Mike says "There
are two rules at a Mike Henderson show. Number one. No drinking
during the gospel songs. Number two. There are no gospel songs."
During the break I head for the loo and I see the great Kevin
Welch sat at the bar, not surprising I suppose as they are buddies
on the same Dead Reckoning Label. As I pass them I stop and say
what a pleasure it is to see both artists in the flesh, how much
I have enjoyed their music and that I had friends back in England
who would give their right arm to be stood where I was at that
moment. Mike said "Tell them to come over" but I said
it would be better for them to come to England. During all the
handshaking Mike bought me a drink while Kevin told me about his
last gig at the Borderline in London. Both artists just so friendly
and thought my trip to play the Bluebird was awesome. Another
story I can relate now
. "Hey did I tell you when Mike
Henderson bought me a drink
" I leave on cloud nine.
The cabbie says we are now passing through a rich suburb. "How
do you know" I said. "Because they have electricity
and running water" he replied.
I decide to move hotels to cut down on taxi fares and I move to
the Best Western Downtown Music Row on Division Street. This is
nicely positioned for Music Row itself and an easy 20 minute stroll
into downtown. Leave my case and guitar in my room and take the
lift to the lobby. Several guys with guitars about so feel at
home right away. Outside I ask directions from a chap sat in a
pickup. He points me in the right direction and I set off. Within
a couple of minutes I hear beep beep and "Hey buddy, jump
in, it's too cold to be walking" It's the guy in the pickup
and I'm sure he went out of his way to drop me in Broadway.
Street sign on Music Row
into the Ernest Tubb Record shop. If there's anything country
you want, this is the place to go. If they ain't got it, nobody
has. I browse for ages and buy, what else but a Chet Atkins CD.
I'm a member of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society and he was
my great hero. Whilst I'm in Nashville I intend to find anything
that was connected to Chet as he lived and worked here. I had
the great honour and pleasure of meeting and hearing him play
live when he came to England in 1994 and did a concert in Bristol,
which was something I thought I'd never do. I also take a photo
of the Duane Eddy CD section to send to the Duane Eddy Circle
as I'm also a member of that. I pop into Wolfys Restaurant where
the waitress says "I served Vince Gill right at that table
there sir".I bet she says that to all the customers. Buy
some gifts in Charlie Daniels shop and head back to the hotel.
The hotel bar just happens to be a songwriters venue called The
Hall of Fame. Every night they have writers singing in the round
which is a big thing here. A known writer will gather 1, 2 or
3 more writers or co-writers on stage and take it in turns to
sing their compositions going 'round two or three times. These
will be followed on stage by another round and so on and on. It's
similar to a singaround in an English folk club. The difference
being it is done on stage and nearly all the participants are
established writers. The music played here is mainly country.
The twang of the guitar matches the twang in the voice.There is
a term used among the Nashville writers. He's had a cut or she's
had a cut. This means the writer has had a song recorded and most
of these writers have.
The sun is shining as I stroll into the Visitor Centre which is
housed in the impressive Gaylord Centre, slap bang in the heart
of Broadway. I'm met by Bill, a very friendly chap who works here
one day a week to keep himself active during his retirement. He
booked a seat for me at the early performance of The Grand Ole
Opry on Saturday and also arranges the shuttle bus to pick me
up at my hotel. We chat for ages about the Bluebird Café,
local music and Chet Atkins. He wished me a great stay and hoped
the next time we met I'd be able to tell him I'd been successful
at the Bluebird.
Leaving Bill, I head for the Ryman Auditorium, which was home
to The Opry between 1943 and 1974. It was built in 1892 by Nashville
businessman and steamboat captain Thomas Ryman as a tabernacle
for the Rev Samuel Jones. It has been used over the years for
religious meetings, political debates, boxing and opera (hence
the name Opry). I had my photo taken on stage and was very humbled
to be where Chets casket and guitar stood during a memorial tribute
to him with some of the Nashville greats taking part.
Monday to Friday there is a trolley service between 11 am and
2 pm which brings office workers into downtown for lunch from
the commercial district. All the trolleys are named after a famous
country artist. I saw the Ray Stevens, Marty Stewart, Charlie
Pride and taking me completely by surprise, the Chet Atkins Trolley
which I frantically chase taking photographs. I pop back into
the Information Centre and was spotted by Bill who calls me by
name and hoped I'd had a good day. It must have been a full six
hours since we met. I was so impressed, what a memory and such
genuine goodwill. As I pass the Greyhound Bus Depot I go in and
buy a return ticket to Memphis on a worrying 6.15 am departure
the next morning.
I beat the 5 am alarm, probably through excitement or possibly
fear of missing the bus. I arrive at the bus depot 25 minutes
before departure time to see a fair sized assortment of passengers.
Rural Tennessee is very rural. Lots of trees, streams, rivers,
very rocky hills with the occassional farm complete with swing
on the porch. The landscape doesn't really open out until we are
halfway down Highway 40 towards Jackson where Carl Perkins lived.
The bus depot has a real retro 50's look to it which feels just
Hallowed Ground! - The Sun Studios, Memphis
in Memphis I am ready to burst with excitement and anticipation.
Memphis which has been the subject of so many songs. Home to so
much great music and musicians. I head straight for the Sun Studio
which is a hurried 25 minute walk along Union Avenue. I get to
Marshall Street and there it is. The most important place in the
history of Rock 'n' Roll and all the music that followed. This
is where it was born. I take some photos of the exterior before
entering the Sun Café to get my tour ticket. I buy a tee
shirt and a coffee, in that order and move to the window. Here
was a chap with an original 50's Gibson ES295. This model is synonymous
with this studio (there is a huge replica hung on the wall outside).
I ask him it's year and immediately we are in deep conversation.
It originally was a total wreck but he had rebuilt and refinished
it to it's now beautiful condition. I assumed he was trying to
sell it or had worked on it for the studio as an exhibit as it
was spot on for the era. We part as great buddies as the tour
is about to start. I thought the café was pure 50's but
Marion Keiskers front office is even more so. She was Sam Phillips'
secretary who played such a huge part in the discovery of Elvis
Presley. We pass on into the studio which again is a working studio
so there is a mix of old and new instruments and equipment. I
got the feeling the tour guide was doing it for love rather than
money, that was until he said that tips would be appreciated.
To me this is hallowed ground. To enter this room is one of the
great moments of my life. This is what the word awesome was created
for. The walls are covered in black and white photos of Elvis,
Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Howlin'
Wolf and many more. To see the floor tiles laid by Sam himself,
the old foam insulation tiles and listening to the music recorded
in this very room nearly fifty years ago which so changed my life
brings me out in goosebumps. Sam has loaned or gifted back the
actual microphone used by Elvis. I photograph it and I run my
had over it. What feelings. It is like touching a religious artefact.
I linger, but all too soon it is over and I am back in the Café.
Chico with Chet Atkins Statue
the free Sun Studio shuttle to Gracelands and do the complete
Platinum Tour, then catch the shuttle back to downtown. I walk
up and down Beale Street, home to the blues, W C Handy, Muddy
Waters and B B King. The music blares out of all the clubs, bars
and restaurants in one big cacophany of blues and zydeco. After
dark this must be a hustling, bustling heaven. I go into a restaurant
where the sound system is playing some great music and I savour
the tastiest southern fried chicken, french fries and mustard
BB King's Club & Beale Street, Memphis
bus doesn't leave until 6.30 so I decide to check out the Gibson
factory retail shop. I saw a Lucille signed by B B King and was
told that he and Scotty Moore had played there in the past month.
The residents of Memphis and Nashville are spoilt with great live
music. Nothing worse than going into a guitar shop with no money
so leave just with photographs. The 6.30 bus eventually leaves
at 8.50 among scenes of pandemonium but I get on and arrive back
in Nashville at 12.35 am What a day.
Another busy day planned. Ten in the morning and I arrive at The
Country Music Hall of Fame. This is a very impressive, newly custom
built building in downtown Nashville. The front façade
represents the black and white keys on a piano in the vertical
position. This place is a must visit for any country music fan.
It is laid out on three floors. One for Nashville and Tennessee.
One for Austin and Texas which really are the two great centres
of country music. The ground floor houses a record shop, merchandising
area and restaurant. There are many interactive displays and I
spent well over four hours here. It's a shame you are not allowed
to take photographs. Many of the exhibits are light sensitive,
so it is understandable.There was a whole display of Chet's guitars
and his plaque in the Hall of Fame which I would have loved to
photograph. A nice touch I thought was Waylon Jennings plaque
which was draped in black ribbon and yellow roses as he had died
recently. Return back to the hotel to shower and change. Tonight
it's the Opry.
This is out of town in Music Valley and is a $9 return shuttle
trip and well worth the hassle free trip as the car parking is
horrendous. The Opry is big, big business. It is surrounded by
Opry Mills which is a massive retail and entertainment complex.
The Opry House itself is huge and impressive. The show actually
is a live radio broadcast with each half hour having different
sponsors. It was strange to see all the advertising jingles and
slogans being performed live onstage. It gave a real feel of 50's
radio broadcasting authenticity. It was a strange combination
of ultra modern surroundings and technology with old fashioned
down home programming.
Chico on the Grand Ole Opry Stage at the Ryman
appear on the Opry stage you have to be an Opry member and this
is by invitation only. The purity of your music and your morality
has a bearing on your suitability which is strange as some of
the lifestyles of some of these good christian people has been
colourful to say the least. Artists in tonights show include a
young squaredance troupe, a country comedian, veteran rhinestoned
artist Porter Wagoner, singing legend George Jones, young rising
star Brad Paisley and the superb Trisha Yearwood. If you visit
Nashville, you must visit the Opry.
My hotel is situated next to Music Row. This is the music business
area packed with recording studios, record company offices, publishing
companies, writing houses and the BMI and ASCAP offices. This
is the last great Tin Pan Alley on earth and the reason this city
got the name Nashville, Music City USA I try to find Chet's old
office here but fail.
into the Ryman Auditorium to book a seat for a show this coming
Saturday and was immediately recognised after my visit there last
week. I've become a familiar figure around the downtown area and
I am welcomed everywhere with such warmth. I contact Ralph Murphy
at the ASCAP offices hoping to fix a meeting to see if he can
help to get my songs heard. He was out of town last week but was
due back in the office today. Sadly, Harlan Howard, one of Nashvilles
great writers died over the week end. He penned great classics
like 'Walking after Midnight' and 'I Fall to Pieces'. He and Ralph
were great buddies so it has fallen to him to make the funeral
arrangements but he leaves me a message saying we will meet later
before I leave. It being Monday, the time has come to try my luck
at the Bluebird again. Arriving in the hotel lobby I'm greeted
by another guitar carrying guy. "How ya doing" he enquires.
"Fine" I reply. "Where ya going" he continued,
"The Bluebird" said I. "So am I. I've got a van
in the car park come on with me". I didn't need to be asked
twice and we shake hands and introduce ourselves. His name is
Doug and he's from Indiana. He tells me he comes here fairly often
to try his luck at the Bluebird and tells me about some of his
previous trips. We talk guitars and songwriters talk all the way.
A small queue has formed by the time we arrive all frozen to the
spot in a cold biting wind.
immediately get into conversation with the guy in front who is
a local writer called Bob. We grab a table and although we are
strangers to one another, we talk easily together like old friends.
We drink coffee, firstly to warm up then to soothe throats ready
for the upcoming task. Doug and Bob put their names in the first
try basket and I get to put my stamped ticket in the second try
one. Barbara Cloyd arrives on stage and recites the rules and
announces the names and order of tonight's lucky writers. Sadly
my two compadres are not drawn but I'm drawn number 20. Last week
I was on a high just to be there but tonight I feel a bit nervous,
probably because quite a few people from last week have arrived
to see if I get on and to hear me.
I relax myself when I climb onto the stool with a bit of intro
chat. I say I have travelled over 4,000 miles to realise my dream.
To walk through that door, step on this stage under the neon bluebird
and sing some of my songs. Their appreciation of that is shown
with whoops and yells which settles me and I launch into 'Move
On Down'. That finished, I thank them for sharing my dream and
finish with 'I Can't Let Go'. This song has always drawn people
into it and thankfully tonight is no exception. The audience seem
to hang onto the lyric and gentle guitar strum and pick. Before
I know it, it's over. Leaving the stage I'm met with backslapping
and handshakes from people I may probably never see again. Doug
shakes my hand when I get back to the table. He took a fair few
photos with my camera and hoped that at least one will be usable.
So do I. Doug and I stay on for the second show. Again it was
Mike Henderson and again he was just great.
My local radio station, BBC Wiltshire Sound were aware of my trip
and they rang me 6.30 am local time, 12.30 pm UK time and interviewed
me live on air and invited me to go into the studio on my return.
That evening I go to the Station Inn, the home of bluegrass in
Nashville. Tonight it's Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time.
He was a CMA award winner for his hit 'Murder on Music Row'. This
was a very political and controversial song about the inclusion
of drums and rock and roll guitars into country music to get radio
airplay and the almighty dollar.
The doors open at seven and the show starts at nine so being the
new kid in town I arrive at 7.15 to beat the crowds. When I enter
Lin the barmaid arranging the seating and generally
getting sorted for the evening. No one really arrives until well
after eight. For once I didn't bother to bring my camera which
I was beginning to regret because the interior of this place is
amazing. The walls are covered in posters, neon beer signs shining
out of the gloom and a sea of tables with not one matching chair.
I have to take some photos of this place so as it's close to my
hotel I decide to go back and get my camera. I explain to the
woman on the door and ask if it's OK to leave briefly. "Sure
honey, I won't forget ya, you go right ahead" she said in
a gorgeous warm Tennessee drawl.
Chico on stage at The Bluebird Cafe
place fills up quickly as start time approaches and the music
is phenomenal. Larry Cordle plays a sweet sounding Martin dreadnaught
and the line up is female fiddle and harmony vocals, string bass
player who had the most fabulous high harmony and sometimes lead
vocals and banjo and harmony vocal. The lead flatpickers technique
was jawdropping. He played a Santa Cruz dreadnaught which just
spat out notes in his fiery solos which drew intermittent applause
from the knowledgeable audience.
During the break who should walk in and sit down quite close was
Bob, the guy I met at the Bluebird last Monday. I tap him on the
shoulder and his face lights up when he turns around. He introduces
me to his girlfriend, Louisa as "this is the English guy
I was telling you about". They insist I join them and it
turns out she is, surprise, surprise a songwriter from Texas and
has been in town about 3 months. At the end of the show, they
insist on giving me a lift back to the hotel even though I tell
them it's very close. We swap CD's and part with warm handshakes
and good wishes.
Chico with superb songwriter Bob Spanburgh at the
Station Inn, home to Bluegrass in Nashville
day I pick up a copy of Rage. This is a free weekly booklet of
gig listings and a comprehensive whats on. I see in the music
list that Bob is doing a gig on Monday. I also see that he has
been hiding his light under a bushel as he was awarded artist
and song of the year in 2000 at Tin Pan South which is an annual
festival of songwriting. I also see that Tony Joe White is doing
a gig tomorrow night which starts at 10 pm in a bar called Third
Friday night is warm and as I stroll through downtown and the
area is packed. People and music spill out of the bars and restaurants
and the atmosphere is electric. The venue is packed but I squeeze
through to the bar and get a beer. I join a couple who had the
last vacant chair in the place at their table. Joe and his wife
Candy immediately welcome me with the usual "Hey where ya
from?" when they hear my accent and reply with the standard
"Welcome to Nashville". We talk about our lives and
music, we buy each other beer and they even invite me back to
their home for Sunday lunch. Our conversation is interupted by
a Louisiana growl of "Let's swamp it up a little". An
apt intro as I've ever heard. He starts the evening solo with
acoustic guitar, harmonica and that voice and joined later by
his bass player who just happens to be a buddy of Joe and his
drummer called Boom Boom. The place boogies and erupts when he
sings 'Polk Salad Annie' and 'A Rainy Night In Georgia' is just
electrifying. At the end of the night I buy a CD from Tony's sister
and ask if he'll sign it. "Sure will honey, you come with
me". She takes me by the hand and leads me through the place
to a tiny dressing room. While his sister goes off to find a pen
we talk for ages about his music, the gig and the possibility
of some English gigs. He even shared some of his scotch with me.
Wow, another tale to tell. We shake hands and I drift off into
the warm night. I've just been in the company of one of the coolest
guys on the planet. Again, what a night.
Seven pm, Saturday evening and I'm sat on one of the Rymam Auditorium
wooden benches. Tonight I'm at a benefit concert for the Mental
Health Association of Middle Tennessee. The seventeen acts include
Mike Henderson, Kevin Welch, Tony Rice, Nickel Creek and Steve
Earle so it's gonna be a feast of great music. A surprise guest
was bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley. His one song was received
with a mixture of awe, respect, reverence and a standing ovation.
Old time and bluegrass music seems to be having a resurgence in
popularity which in my humble opinion is a good thing for real
and roots music. The concert concluded at 12.15 am The $30 ticket
price was fabulous value for money. The guy sat next to me said
"Well, what did you think of that then, Buddy?". I replied
"My head is alive with the music, but my backside was dead
from this wooden seat" He laughed and agreed.
I'm met with a bright, sunny, Sunday morning so decide to go and
find the venue of Bob's gig tomorrow night when I intend to turn
up and surprise him. Five minutes after leaving the hotel, the
surprise is on me. A screech of brakes, beep beep and a "Hey
Chico, we're going for breakfast, come and join us". It's
Bob and Louisa. This is so strange. I tell them I've come to haunt
them. Louisa has to work so Bob suggests we hang out and do some
picking which we do all afternoon. He drives me around the bits
of Nashville I haven't seen and we go into Tootsies to see a buddy
of his. He is one of those superb country pickers with the perfect
tele and Fender amp sound. Also in the band is a pedal steel player,
again a great player, but how all the pedals work was still a
mystery to me when we left. Louisa had to work on later so Bob
suggested we do some more picking. I say "As we are both
writers, why don't we write a song" which is exactly what
we did. Bob left saying he would pick me up tomorrow at seven.
Monday, my final day. I get my meeting with Ralph Murphy at ASCAP
and find him a charming, softly spoken man. He plays a couple
of my songs and enjoyed 'Roll Along'. I leave with my fingers
crossed. Bob rings and said he can't get tonight off. Could I
do his gig? Panic, the word doesn't even come near, but game?
You bet I am. I rehearse an hour set when Bob rings to say everything
was OK again for tonight. I think I was relieved. We arrive at
the venue, a cosy little restaurant called Guidos and Bob introduces
me to Kevin, his regular partner and guitarist. They do a set
of mainly covers and I see what a powerful guitarist and singer
Bob is and I'm mightily impressed. His name is Bob Spanburgh and
if you ever get the chance, go and see him. You will not be disappointed.
He calls me up on stage and introduces me as his English buddy
and we do our new song which was well received. He left me on
stage solo and I perform 'Move On Down', 'Ray Crolls Rag', 'I
Can't Let Go' and 'I Nearly Made It'. Just about the perfect end
to my stay in Nashville.
I'm pretty OK with my own company and did this trip alone but
if wished to visit Nashville you may prefer to go with friends
or even organise a group visit. It is the capital of country music
but the live music scene there is very varied, so whatever your
musical taste buds desire, they will find it here. I was welcomed
everywhere with warmth, genuine friendship and great humour. I
am currently experiencing withdrawal symptoms so, hopefully, I'll
see ya there.
article was first published in the Autumn 2003 edition of Folk