Tag Archive: Tennessee


Southern Plains – Nashville Edition: Joel NIchols, Cat Waldeman, Dan Roark

[Part one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight]

This is a rare picture of the Nashville version of Southern Plains. It’s also a rare picture of me with a beard (it was short-lived). Cat Waldeman was a session musician and would help us get studio gigs occasionally, in between gigs and numerous jam sessions.

As I said in Nashville, part two, our core songs were Cold Wind Blows, River That Flows, and Can’t You See. Almost every show began with those three songs. I also talked about the three of us writing the music for Cold Wind Blows to Mostly Williams’ poem and I added some lyrics. Now you’ve got a picture (albeit blurry) to put to Cat’s name. Hopefully, I’ll run across a few more pictures that will be clearer.

In the meantime, here is a picture of the original Southern Plains.

Joel Nichols, Dan Roark, Bruce Gibson

 

_________________________________________________

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

[Read part one, two, three, four, five, six, seven]

My immediate concern following the robbery was to get another guitar – the sooner, the better. Fortunately, my parents’ homeowners insurance covered the loss, but not did not pay enough to replace my Martin.

I flew back to Dallas. The next day I was in McCord Music in Valley View Mall. They had sound-proof rooms in the back. I picked out about six guitars. Four were within the range of the insurance check, and two were in the “if I like one of these, maybe I can talk Dad into it” category.

I was apprehensive because I wanted a guitar then, but I wanted to get the right guitar. I don’t remember what kind the other guitars were. I picked up the first two, played them a bit, and put them back. Then I picked up the handmade bicentennial edition Alvarez. I loved the color because it matched my red hair. It had a clear pick guard which I loved. Then I began to play it. It sounded so sweet and when I sang it complimented my voice. It still does – and it really sounds good now with John Pearse strings. The only other set of strings the Alvarez has had on was whatever was on it when I bought it.

Obviously, I’ve never regretted my decision – or losing my Martin really.  I have three Alvarez guitars now. They’re all three great sounding guitars, although I still call that first Alvarez the “good” guitar. It’s the one I’ve got in the picture above. As you can hear when you listen to River That Flows that is out now from Southern Plains Revisited and other songs to come from that album, the Alvarez became an integral part of the Southern Plains sound.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.(

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

[Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six]

The rent on our upstairs apartment was $35 a month. I guess, with the house being in the neighborhood it was in, the owner just appreciated people who paid rent on time, took care of the place, and didn’t attract a lot of attention. That would change a bit, but that’s another story.

When any one of the four of us got paid, we would go to Spats in the West End for happy hour. Then we would pick up food and beer and head home. Joel and I – and anyone who happened by to jam – would play late into the night. When it neared three a.m. we’d head back to the store for more beer. Then the next time someone got paid, we’d do it again. But, with the exception of Spats, that was the routine on really any given evening. We worked at Deli Junction during the day.

One day we were running errands or somesuch. Joel was driving and I was drinking coffee in a styrofoam cup. We hit a bump and I held my cup up and didn’t spill a drop.

“I’m pretty good at that,” I boasted proudly.

Before too long, Joel stomped on the brakes. Of course I spilled coffee on my last clean shirt. And those were laundromat days. I was really pissed and couldn’t understand why he would do that just to be a smart ass. It didn’t take long for us to get past it, but I’ll never forget it. (I’m still pissed.)

________________________________________________________

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Paypal.me/danroark

916 Acklen Ave., in Nashville

[Read Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five]

Joel and I worked at a sandwich shop in Nashville called Deli Junction. We worked days so we could play or practice at night. One afternoon while we were working, Joel got a phone call. The look on his face told me something was seriously wrong. We couldn’t both leave. He said someone had broken into the apartment. He said he would let me know what had happened.

What had happened was that someone had broken in and stolen every music and sound device in the apartment. My Martin D35 guitar, cassette recorder, stereo, tv, radio, and so forth. Joel’s room was a small room to the left of the kitchen. His Martin D35 was still there in its case.

As we sat there in the den in silence that night, we figured it must have been somebody who knew Joel, so he didn’t take his guitar. As we talked, I thought about the tv against the wall under a blanket or rug – I don’t remember which.

“They probably just figured it didn’t work, so they left it,” I said. “Let’s try it to see if it works.”

We uncovered it, turned it on, and sure as shit it worked. We laughed and everyone looked at me.

“I didn’t watch Perry Mason for nothing!”

It took a while, but we replaced the stereo, the cassette recorder and so on.

Stay tuned for what I did about my guitar being stolen.

_________________________________________

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

[Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4] The picture is of tuna fish salad Cyndy made. I can eat tuna fish and tuna fish salad now. I haven’t had the impulse to gag when I smelled it in years…

….In the upstairs apartment at 916 Acklen Ave. in Nashville, we took turns fixing meals when we ate int. On one occasion when it was my turn, I decided to fix tuna casserole. It was pretty freaking good as I recall – as long as I’m not smelling tuna while I think about it. It received compliments.

After dinner we went out for drinks. We we got back, we drank beer and watched tv, among other things. The casserole dish – meanwhile – had been pushed to the side of the table in the kitchen. It got covered up by other things. With all of us actually working at the same time, as well as practicing and playing shows, the dish was forgotten, for a while.

But, it happened to be particularly warm for the next few days. We began to notice a smell. I don’t remember how long we looked, but obviously we found it. Which is when everyone looked at me and said, “you cooked it, you clean it.” So I did, alternately holding my breath and gagging.

Finally, it was over and I was seriously sniffing dishwashing soap. I will not describe it for a couple of reasons. One is because I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone else. The second is because I don’t know if I could accurately describe it and not run to the bathroom. As it is, it will be a few hours before I can have any of the tuna fish salad.

____________________________________________

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

(Read the first part of the Southern Plains story here. Along with what the cover of the album was supposed to be like if the distributors had let me use the cover I wanted.)

The next time Joel, Bruce, and I got together – with guitars and beer – we each played songs we’d written. We enjoyed each other’s songs, re-playing some so the other two could harmonize. We were excited about what we were hearing. I hadn’t had anyone singing along with me on my songs and I was blown away.

Joel returned to school in Nashville, Tennessee at Scarritt College, which is now the Scarritt Bennett Center. He came back to Dallas over the summer and we played gigs before and after Joel’s summer courses in Nashville, including a show at a party in Slidell, Lousiana. Joel then decided, after three and a half years, that he would forego returning to school to play gigs. I paused my own schooling to move to Nashville with Joel so he would finish his last semester (and play gigs) and live with his other two roommates on the second floor of an old house.

The painting pictured above is a painting of a picture of mine and Joel’s guitars crossed. More to come!

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

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.

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.

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