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Tag Archive: Nashville


Cameron and I got to the Ryman Auditorium about noon on Friday. After we got up and drove to Kentucky so Cameron could get a few 6-packs of Ale 8, a drink he likes that can only be found in certain places. When we got back to Nashville, we drove to Music City Center, parked the van, and checked my guitar into the bag check for Summer NAMM. Then we walked the two blocks to the Ryman Auditorium.

We took the self-guided tour and it wasn’t as easy as you would think. But we wandered around and worked it out. Cameron enjoyed it, and it’s always a special thing, but I was a little disappointed. Only because I had the chance to see it before the restoration. I was fortunate to tour the Ryman when you could see the back stage dressing rooms. We would call them closets. Just enough room for them to change clothes and sit waiting.

With the exception of the theater, the restaurant, and the stage lighting, it still looks pretty much the same. When we left I had to have a beer at Tootsies across the alley – as did the performers when the Grand Old Opry was still at the Ryman.

Then we headed back to Music City Center….

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

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Doobie Jones, Dan Roark

Cameron and I arrived at Skully’s Saloon about 6:30 on Thursday June 28. It’s called a dive bar, but it’s one of the biggest dive bars I’ve seen and has a stage. But it’s between railroad tracks at a railway station, so there’s that. It’s in Old Hickory, just northeast of Nashville on the Cumberland River.

Doobie Jones and I opened the Music City’s Unsigned Best Songwriters Night hosted by Billy Lee of Truckstop Honey. Doobie is a card and writes some interesting songs. I played three songs from my new EP, Hello Out There. The crowd was very receptive.

The following is the line-up with links. It was a stellar group of songwriters, all playing their heart out. I didn’t get a chance to hear the last two sets of songwriters because we had to get back to the hotel. But I have no doubt they sang their hearts out as well.

Take the time to follow the links and listen to their music – you won’t be disappointed. Billy was a good host and he and Amanda Jo Kielpinski (Truckstop Honey) had colorful songs. Arvie and Bunny Bennett were a gracious couple and sang some really nice songs.

I felt a little out of place not being in the local group. But songwriters are a pretty accepting lot as a general rule. Arvie and Bunny made me feel like I was part of the group. Arvie apologized for not being there early enough to hear me play. They had gotten ready, got in the truck, and it wouldn’t start. I have no doubt we’ll keep in touch. Billy has invited me back so they’ll get a chance to hear me play.

Dan Roark/Doobie Jones

Luke Hatfield/Jerr Grunn,

Marc Oriet/Arvie & Bunny,

Truckstop Honey,

Jeffrey Allen/Christina Valentino,

Jeff Dezern/Eli Locke,

Andrew Ullman/Colt Stroud

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

If you were ever at a Stuckey’s when they were around, you know they were a far cry from anything associated with adult products. They were rectangular buildings at countless exit/entrances on highways with a green roof. They had a lunch counter and you could get chocolates, candies, and souvenirs. When the company closed, the buildings were left empty.

When my son, Cameron, and I were driving to Nashville for Summer NAMM – a yearly trip – I noticed that the Stuckey’s buildings in Tennessee have been re-purposed. They are now part of the Miranda’s chain of Adult Stores – toys, videos, and lingerie. Your pornographic one stop shop.

I couldn’t get a picture because of the trees, and I’m not about to get any closer to one than I was driving by at 75 miles an hour. But I do think the re-purposing is ironic or disgusting – I’m not sure which. Maybe both.

Then we were miles down the road and it didn’t matter anymore.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

My last posts were about seeing my old friends and hearing my friend, Tim Duggins, had died. I also mentioned Joel Nichols, my musical partner for twenty-five years who died in 1999. While writing the last post, I learned from Bruce Eugene Gibson that his mother, Charlotte Gibson, was in the hospital and not doing well.

Cyndy and I met in high school and dated after graduating. It would have been a blind date, but I knew here. It was a strange evening. The other couple was more interested in fooling around than we were. That Sunday, Cyndy called and invited me to a Super Bowl party. At the party I met Bruce and Charlotte Gibson, and Joel Nichols. Bruce Eugene was asleep in the bedroom, being a newborn.

After that party, Bruce, Joel, and I got together to play music. That was the beginning of Southern Plains. We would practice at Bruce and Charlotte’s apartment. I wrote a song for Bruce Eugene called Today A Child. It’s on my Chasing After Wind cd.

Joel and I moved to Nashville a year later. After Nashville, I moved back to Dallas and went back to school. I kept playing solo. Off and on I would play with Joel, after he moved back to Dallas. I also played with Tim occasionally. Although Bruce played with Joel and I at times, it was hard for him to deviate from his schedule. I lost touch with Bruce and Charlotte.

During the R. L. Turner High School’s 100th anniversary celebration a few years ago, alumni from all years were invited to the homecoming game. Each class with members present would be called out onto the field for celebration. Bruce E. had graduated from Turner so we talked after the game and he met our boys who attended Turner at the time.  He also works for Metrocrest Services and I volunteer for their Sack Summer Hunger program.

Charlotte has had health problems for a while, but she was a fighter. This time she just didn’t have enough fight left in her. And another door closes on a part of the past.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

916 Acklen Ave., in Nashville

When my family went to South Dakota on vacation to see where our parents met and were married, we found out that the church where the wedding had been had been torn down. It became a running joke that continues to this day. Anytime we couldn’t find the building we were looking for, I would say “they tore it down.”

Last Friday, the 14th, after visiting NAMM one last time, Cameron and I then drove to the area of Nashville where I lived in the ’70s. Going

Picture of a bad picture from the ’70s

through Hillsboro Village, we saw that the Villager was still open. Joel Nichols and I played there. Of course Belmont College and Vanderbilt College have expanded incredibly. There is a fraternity on Music Row. It’s quite a bit different than the street I walked with my songs on cassette, shopping publishers. Thankfully though, it’s still recognized as Music Row, there are still some publishers there, and most of the businesses are music or arts related. In the same buildings, with a few remodels.

916 Acklen Avenue today

A number of years back, Cyndy and I took the same basic drive, although it looked quite a bit different. I wanted to show the children the house I lived in. And – you saw it coming didn’t you – they tore it down.  In the picture above, the door on the far right was the door to our apartment upstairs.

I wanted to show Cameron where it was and I wanted to get a picture. 916 Acklen Avenue is a parking lot for the church across the street. Which is larger than it was then. There was a lot of good music made in that house. A lot of other things were done there too, but mainly a lot of good music. I wouldn’t expect a historical marker, but they could have at least put a plaque in the sidewalk. Just sayin’……..

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Crystal Gayle

Cameron and I arrived in Nashville in time to  check into the hotel and be at Music City Center to register for Summer NAMM  just before 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 13.  After a mad dash around the show floor, we headed upstairs for the American Eagle Awards of the National Music Council  (NMC).

David Sanders, director of the NMC, welcomed the audience  and talked about the awards and the past recipients. Then he introduced Richard Leigh, who introduced Crystal Gayle before presenting her with the award. During her acceptance speech, she talked about growing up in Butcher Hollow and how valuable music was to her and what a vital service the NMC and its members do to involve children in music. Gayle asked Richard to play while she sang Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. Which is only appropriate, considering he was the songwriter of the song.

Patti Smith

John Ingrassia introduced Patti Smith and presented her award. He talked about her long history of arts, music, and activism involvement. He said that she was also a very good and devoted mother. When Patti reached the microphone, she said that she hadn’t known she was going to have to say anything, so she didn’t bring any remarks. In true Patti Smith fashion, it was not long before she was off and running about activism, music, and working together – quite eloquently, in her own way. She sang a song with her bass player on acoustic guitar. There was noise and activity around me, so I didn’t get the name of the song.

Paul Shaffer introduced Harry Shearer with the worst introduction I have heard- and I’ve heard a few. He said he had his comments on his phone, but I’m not sure there was anything on it. He babbled some stupid jokes – including one that I will not repeat and that repulsed the audience. Everyone held their breath for a second, wondering if he had really said what they heard. Harry’s reaction seemed a cross between surprise, pain, and trying to act nonchalant. Then Shaffer sat down at the keyboard to play a song for Shearer. I think it was supposed to be funny, but it fell as flat as his jokes, only with music – which wasn’t all that swell either.

Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer brought it back in line by talking about the real reason he was there – as a passionate advocate for creators and artists. Among other things, he was voice-over artist on The Simpsons and writer for Fernwood 2 Night. He played bassist Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap. He has received to this day $18 for Spinal Tap. An effort has been underway for some time for those involved to recoup the money they should have made. That is a large part of what fueled his activism for creators and artists.

After Harry’s acceptance speech, the entire ensemble joined together on stage to play Patti Smith’s People Have the Power. Shearer played a ukulele bass and Shaffer actually sounded good on keyboard. Patti felt the spirit rise up in her. No doubt stirred up by the memory of co-writing and performing the song with her late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, from MC5. Many people got into the spirit of the activist song while others weren’t quite sure. As an old hippie, I thought it was great. It was a perfect end to the awards.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

 

Sanger-Harris

Sanger-Harris

[Read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4] As I mentioned in an earlier post, McCord Music was upstairs on the right side of the wing toward Sanger Harris. When our house burned down – see part 4 – I bugged the crap out of my parents to replace at least one of the two guitars that had burned in my room. For some reason, they were a little more concerned about the blackened house on Courtshire Dr. with no roof.

I finally convinced them that my way of dealing with the situation was with a guitar and writing songs. I can be stubborn. So I went to McCord at the mall and bought another Yamaha to replace the one that had burned.

By the end of the school year, we were back in the house. During the summer, I started working at the car wash at Forest Ln. and the Tollway. In front of the Pizza Inn by the Safeway. Then the Pizza Inn became Kel’s Kitchen. It now sits empty. The Safeway is now an Antique Mall. Or was last time I bothered to check.

I was still working there went I started at Richland College before transferring to NTSU, now UNT. When I had some money saved up, I talked my dad into co-signing a loan for a Martin guitar. Thanks in large part to the staff at McCord Music.

A year and a half later, I took a break from school and moved to Nashville with Joel Nichols. One day while we were working at Deli Junction (our day job), Joel got a phone call. One of our roommates called to tell him that our apartment had been broken into and his guitar was stolen. It turned out that it was my guitar that had been stolen, along with anything that you could play music on or with. When Joel looked into his room off of the kitchen, his guitar was still there. We figured it was a friend of his that didn’t want to take his guitar.

Fortunately, my parent’s home insurance policy would cover the guitar and tape recorder. I took the bus back to Dallas. Unfortunately, the insurance wouldn’t pay out enough to replace the Martin. So I took what they gave us and went to McCord Music of course. I sat in one of the listening rooms, surrounded by guitars. Most of them were in the price range. A couple of them were a little more. I’ve always thought positively.

I came to an Alvarez. I played a couple of songs and then called the salesmen back. I told him I’d found my guitar and he could put the rest up. The sound actually fit my voice. It had a clear pick guard and the wood matched my hair. I had my guitar.

That’s my history with McCord Music in Valley View Mall. Although I was in there at least a hundred times over the years. That Alvarez guitar sounds better today than it ever has. You can hear it at my show on Sunday.

Peace be with you.

Brittnee Belt

Brittnee Belt

Okay, still trying to catch up….I had the privilege of being included in the Taste of Texas Songwriter Showcase at Stan’s Lakeview Draft House in the Colony on Friday, September 9th. Brittnee Belt, of Pink Couch Studios, was the host. She is also the booking agent for Stan’s. Some of the performers at her showcases came through her music school.

Ashton Edminster opened the show with an

Ashton Edminster

Ashton Edminster

hour set. I believe Ashton is 15 years old. She kept on rolling, even after having feedback issues. I followed Ashton and played a half hour set. I began with Hello Out There, my song for those on the autism spectrum. Then, looking out at the crowd, I realized that 8:30 on Friday night was not the time for a soulful, introspective songs. So I switched the next two songs with humorous songs and finished the set as planned.

Seventeen year old Harper Grace spends time in Nashville writing and co-writing songs. She has a natural grace and is improving in live performance. One could tell she was intentional in what she did and how she moved and performed.

Jade Nickol followed Grace. It was difficult to keep their ages straight, because all the girls were teenagers. I think she was sixteen. Jade has an easy going style, not taking herself too seriously.

Layne Elizabeth

Layne Elizabeth

Next was 14 year old Layne Elizabeth. Brian Lambert, who came next and has been part of the Denton scene for years, and I were watching the girls perform. We  were commenting to each other – noticing things they said or did that will change or cease as they improve or simply in time. Watching Layne I turned to Brian and said, “I like her.” She made no bones about not knowing anything much about love. Her songwriting belies her young age.

Brian Lambert is broadening his reach to Dallas and beyond. He plays at Adair’s Saloon in Deep Ellum on most Mondays. One of the four songs he played was his Ballad of Tony Romo. He plays with the band My Kickdrum Heart when not playing solo.

Jacob (Cob) Vaughn played an interesting set on electric guitar. He had some good songs. Despite his opening line: “You’ve heard a lot of good songs tonight. That ends now.” He will be playing in an Afton Show at Poor David’s Pub on November 17.

Look for more pictures on my Facebook pages. You can also like my music page and send a friend request on my personal page while you’re there. Just saying.

Peace be with you.

Dan at session with headphones With only one session on Saturday morning, Cameron dropped me off at Music City Center and went to pick up a few things for the drive later that afternoon. I covered the booths at Summer NAMM I hadn’t been able to visit earlier. At 11 a.m., I went to one of the two booths where they held sessions throughout the event. The session was at the Idea Center Booth and was entitled DIY – Marketing for Musicians.

The two session booths had wireless headphones on each chair and the presenters had earphones and wireless mics. If you wanted to ask a question you had to flag down the person with the microphone. There were sound barrier sheets on each side of the “booth” to keep out the sounds of the exhibit hall as much as possible. There were times when the headphones or the mics would cut out, but that’s to be expected with speakers holding the wireless mics wrong, and a building full of electronic and wireless equipment and computers.

Half way through the session, I realized I probably wouldn’t learn anything new. The speaker was keeping to basic information. I’ve been to enough sessions on the subject that I should have a t-shirt. I became bored so I took the picture of myself with the headphones. But the information was new to some of the attendees, because they were taking notes like crazy. Which makes it worth it for them. And the information was not wrong, it was just the basics.

I took off my headphones and met Cameron. We went out on the terrace, got something to eat, and watched the band that was playing. Then we walked down and got in line for the American Eagle Awards of the National Music Council. This year Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, and the Grand Ole Opry were honored. I was looking forward to seeing them. We were finally let into the hall (after the VIPs had a chance to eat and meet and great).

When I read the program, I saw that Roy Clark and John Conlee were going to perform. Nice bonus! I don’t remember what Emmylou Harris sang, but Vince Gill sang a song about Merle Haggard’s passing that was great. Roy Clark sang “What a Wonderful World,” while a friend played the keyboard. John Conlee, of course, pulled out the rose-colored glasses and sang “Rose-Colored Glasses – as only he can do. (Check out my pictures on Instagram).

Then it was over, and we were on the way to Memphis. We checked in at the hotel, and headed for Beale Street. In the place we went for barbeque, there was a band playing. Within three songs of us sitting down, the band did Rose-Colored Glasses – just saying. Back to the hotel with a to go box. In the morning we packed, checked out, and headed for Dallas.

Peace be with you.

With Chris Martin

With Chris Martin

Cameron and I woke up early on Friday – although later than on Thursday – and stopped off for breakfast on our way to Music City Center. When we got to the exhibit hall, we visited the booths we had on our list that pertained to the church. It was going better than we thought it might. We found exactly the companies and services we had come to find out about.

We covered the majority of companies in the House of Worship area list in a little over an hour. We were walking out of the exhibit hall and we passed by the Martin Guitar booth. I noticed that Chris Martin, CEO, was at the booth. I waited until he was free, then said hi, shook his hand, and told him I’ve been playing Martin guitars for years. He thanked me and was kind enough to pose with me for a picture.

We found a seat in the hallway and went over the plan for the day. We decided it would be a shame to be across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum and not drop in for a visit. Actually, Cameron was planning to go and didn’t want to go by himself. Which I could understand. We had a couple of hours open before our next session anyway.

I was interested to see the “new” museum. I remember the original museum on music row from the ’70s. I

A piece of floor from the original Country Music Hall of Fame.

A piece of floor from the original Country Music Hall of Fame.

passed it all the time when I dropped songs off at music publishers who all had offices on music row. Some of the exhibits, I recognized. Particularly the older exhibits that haven’t changed. But there was plenty I hadn’t seen. If you visit Nashville and want to go to the Country Music HOF Museum, go during the week if you can. We drove by on Saturday and it was packed.

After the museum, we attended the sessions we needed to, including one on acoustical considerations for houses of worship and another on easy live recording (easy being relative). Then we headed back to the hotel and watched the Rangers game as we looked over information we had picked up from exhibitors.

Peace be with you.

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