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Tag Archive: Tennessee


I headed for Chattanooga two weeks ago Monday. I stopped over in Memphis and drove on in to Chattanooga on Tuesday. I played at Tremont Tavern Tuesday night. Then Wednesday night at Abbott’s Bar and Grill in Atlanta. I had a show on Thursday at Akademia Brewing Company with my friend, Joe Cat. So I was playing open mics on my way down. Hopefully setting up future shows.

Open mics are pretty much the same any where you go. The host is usually a popular member of the local music community. In the case of the Tremont Tavern, the host is Mike McDade. He’s pretty much a staple of the local scene.

I intended to get there when the list went out at 7 p.m., but I screwed up on the time change. Yeah, I know, but I did. When I got there, some of the local performers had already signed up. I added my name to the list, not all that concerned about the time. Check out was at 11 a.m. and I only had a two hour drive to Atlanta.

I got a beer at the bar and found a place to stand to watch the show and be out of the way. I missed Mike playing to open the show. But I only missed one or two on the list. I don’t know if it started on time or not.

There was the usual assortment of people playing the open mic. From those who don’t really have a lot of talent, but have friends who will show up and make noise to those who actually have a little talent and are working to get better. Needless to say, the latter had the most talent. Then there are those who think they are significantly better than they actually are. Yet they still need support, so I clapped too – but not too hard.

With the exception of those who showed up late because they only wanted to play for their own little group anyway, most of the performers stayed to hear other performers. Of course, two or three people played their set and left. Which is pretty standard for open mics.

I opened the out door for a guy coming in with a bag and a guitar case. His wife, I assume, followed him. He said hello to Mike, who told him he was next. Either the guy had showed up early to sign up and leave – which I doubt, or he had Mike put him on the list. Either way, he almost overshot his starting time.

He pulled his guitar out of its case. Then he opened the big black case he had. He pulled out three dulcimers. Then he pulled a stand out of the bag.  The third case – a bit smaller – held his pedal board, with looper. In the time it took him to get everything on stage and get it set up, someone else could have played. On the final of his three songs, he played all four instruments, two of them more than once, setting the loops up, and playing the one song – which took somewhere around six minutes. I understand that he had a show there that Friday and wanted to advertise. But all of that for three songs?

The girl pictured above was a regular who had a new song to try out. She was one of the performers who stood out from the rest. She was one of those people who make open mics interesting. As was another young man who played his songs in a practiced manner. He was playing a couple of places around town.

I played after the two people who followed the dulcimer player. I woke the place up to a degree with three songs from my Hello Out There cd in rapid fire delivery. After waiting to play – and having driven a good part of the day – I was fairly pumped. The crowd certainly seemed to enjoy my songs.

After a few more acts, I headed for the hotel. Next morning, I headed for Atlanta…

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

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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.

 

 

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.

Summer NAMM opening party.

Summer NAMM opening party.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable fourth of July weekend. I took the time to catch up on some things, like posts. My son, Cameron, and I went to Nashville a week ago to attend Summer NAMM. NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants. They have Winter NAMM in LA and Summer NAMM in Nashville. They will have one in Russia soon.

The three events are where music merchants – and prospective music merchants – come to show their products to buyers representing companies country-wide (and worldwide in some cases). There are also companies that fall into the category of the House of Worship area. They cater to everyone, but houses of worship in particular. Which is why Cameron and I were there.

We were representing our church, Christ UMC in Farmers Branch. The church is making some changes and we were there for information pertaining to the potential remodeling of the sanctuary. The A/V team, in particular. But don’t get the idea that as a singer-songwriter I couldn’t glean some information and contacts for myself. And having fun at the same time never hurts.

Cameron and I left home at 6 a.m. Thursday morning. We wanted to arrive in time to check into the hotel before going to Music City Center. Hopefully, we’d have some time after picking up our badges to wander around before Charlie Daniels was to play for the opening party. He had been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame earlier in the day.

Which is exactly what we did and how it went. We had time to walk around the exhibit hall and get an idea where we needed to go on Friday morning. Then we went out on the terrace and tried to find shade and not move a lot waiting for things to begin at 6 p.m. The food and drinks were free. Fortunately, Cameron and I were near a food table.

When it was time, we got some fruits and pulled pork sliders. We went to another table later for grilled corn on the cob and other things. There were only a few choices for beer, but when it’s free you just suck it up. They had water as well so that helped.

Charlie Daniels came on while we were eating our sliders. I have yet to hear any outdoor concert sound that is not lacking. Then there is the fact that it was downtown and sound was also bouncing off of the surrounding buildings. We may not have been able to understand him when he talked, but we could hear him when he sang, and that is more important. I haven’t seen Charlie Daniels in thirty years and he still sounds the same. They played a great set. We went back to the hotel, watched the Rangers game, and called it a day.

Peace be with you.

barbequeIn the shuttle on the way to LAX after the ASCAP Expo last year, Cameron and I were chatting with the driver. In the LA cross town traffic there was plenty of time to chat. There were the usual comments about the traffic, the weather, and the drought. When I told him we were from Texas, the conversation turned to food.

“What do you eat in Texas? I know it’s barbecue in Kansas and Tennessee, but what do you in Texas eat?”

When Cameron and I quit laughing, I decided to forego the pig-cow debate. He might not understand.

“We have barbecue, too. No matter what size town you go to in Texas, you can be sure there’s a barbecue place.”

“Oh, kind of like burritos out here, huh?”                                 Burrito

I guess it’s all in your perspective.

Peace be with you.

There was a story the other day about a man that sued a Pizza Hut in Tennessee for serving an excessively hard crouton. Let’s take this step by step. You walk into a Pizza Hut and place your order, which, evidently, includes a salad – with croutons. You are eating the salad and at some point you have a crouton in your mouth.

Okay, you begin to bite down the crouton and your teeth feel distinct resistance. If you are above the age of say, five, you give up and throw the crouton away. And the man had dentures so he had some history in the matter. Some people  like to make a point of squeezing the most money possible out of an event that was, in part, their doing.

I shared that story concerning legal stretches to tell you this one. I don’t remember what car or truck I was driving, but regardless, it seems I over-filled the oil. Don’t ask me how – I’ve slept a few times since then. But whatever I had done caused smoke, quite forcefully, to come out of the exhaust pipe. If you are old enough to remember the DDT trucks spraying neighborhoods, it wasn’t quite that bad. Yet that didn’t keep me from feeling conspicuous as all hell.

My fears were not unfounded. A cop pulled me over and wrote me a ticket for – get this – excessive smoke. To make matters worse, I was going through Highland Park when I got the ticket. I worried about it until the court date finally came. I had no idea how much the fine could be for “excessive smoke.”

I arrived on the court date and found my way to the end of the line. This was not, I’m sorry to say, my first encounter with the court system. But it was my first encounter in Highland Park and I had long hair. So I had no idea what to expect.

I finally reached the head of the line. I walked up in front of the judge and stood waiting. He confirmed my name and so forth. Then he got to the charge. He asked if the arresting officer was present and was told no. “Excessive smoke,” he read from his sheet. He looked at me and asked, “what the hell is excessive smoke?”

“I don’t know, sir,” I said as I shrugged my shoulders, “ I think I overfilled my oil so the car was blowing smoke out of the exhaust pipe. I was going over to a friend’s house to try to fix it when I was pulled over and given a ticket for excessive smoke.”

“Pay the ten dollar court fee and we’ll call it even. Next case!”

To this day, I still don’t know what excessive smoke is – at least in regards to a traffic fine. Or what the fine would possibly be.

Peace be with you.

Hunting Catfish

Cyndy and the boys with fishIt is not a trick title . A friend of mine who is visiting in Tennessee at the moment was sitting in the house, minding his own business watching tv one evening. Suddenly, without warning, he heard shotgun bursts not far from the house. He was accustomed to his son-in-law firing shots into the woods and at trees to “calm down.” But the sounds did not emanate from one person.

My friend went out and discovered his son-in-law and compadres at the small pond. They had become irritated that the lone catfish in the pond had eluded capture. They were annoyed that the catfish was eating the smaller fish – which is a part of nature. They had worked themselves up to the point that they were shooting at this poor fish with shotguns. I cannot imagine that they did the smaller fish a whole lot of good themselves.

The friend said something I will not repeat here, but that seemed appropriate given the circumstances – and God’s tendency for forgiveness. It does seem rather excessive behavior to conceive of firing a shotgun at one catfish in a pond. Accidents do happen and people could be hurt. It is certainly a frame of mind that I would not entertain. And we will not mention the shooting at small animals with assault rifles.

(The picture is of Cyndy and the boys with fish they caught quite a few years ago. The fish were caught with fishing poles, not shotguns or AK-47’s.)

Peace be with you.

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