Saturday, April 25, 2009

A lost music venue in Music City

In my job of delivering prescriptions for Bradley Health Services, I get to drive all over Davidson Country and adjacent counties. Tuesday I even got to drive up to Clarksville, and see some cherished views of eastern Montgomery County.

Much of my driving is south-ward, into Williamson and Rutherford counties. One evening, due to the locations of the homes where I was delivering meds, I found myself driving back toward Nashville on Murfreesboro Road (US 41), and then turning left on Hobson to go to IH 20. At that turn is the former location of a music venue that has a very dear memory for me. You see, during my earlier residence in Nashville I got to go to my only George Strait concert, there at Starwood Amphitheater.

Starwood, only a year or two old at the time, was an open-air venue. It had a covered stage, with a small permanent seating area just in front of it (also covered, I seem to remember). Then beyond this was a large, smooth, grassy area where more audience could set up lawn chairs or spread blankets or just sit on the grass. I attended the George Strait concert with a Brazilian, Itamar, who was our houseguest while he was learning Engilsh at a Nashville institute. A couple other Brazilians from the institute also attended the concert. Patty Loveless opened the concert; among songs she sang was her recent hit "Timber, I'm Falling". I had to explain to the Brazilians what "timber" signified!

And then Patty introduced the headline artist, commenting something like "the Texan could sure fill a pair of blue jeans" -- which elicited screaming cheers from the young ladies in the audience! Even tho' the Brazilians and I were way back in the grassy area and thus Patty and George looked small, I was still glad to be there! And I've been glad ever since, since it's still the ONLY time I've been to a George Strait concert. Plus it was a great experience of Patty, and I'm liking her more and more over the years. And I judged the venue itself to be a good experience.

But alas! when I returned to Nashville in mid-2008, I was puzzled that I didn't hear on the radio or read in the newspaper anything about concerts at Starwood Amphitheater. I credited this to a name change, since so many things in Music City had had a name change in my absence. But then somebody at Operation Stand Down informed me that Starwood was defunct. This was rather distressing news for a music lover such as yours truly. Not as distressing, perhaps, as when Gaylord Corp. killed Opryland Park over a decade ago. But the lesser distress is due mainly to having experienced merely that one evening at Starwood, compared to dozens (perhaps hundreds) of days and evenings in the themepark, and those with a great variety of musical styles and artists!

So, as I drove past the old location and looked thru the bushes and small trees lining the roads, and I could see that even tho parking asphalt was still in place there was no sign of the stage and permanent seating. And of course there was a for sale sign. Yes it was a somewhat sad moment for me. But I find comfort in the lyrics of a song Patty Loveless recorded after she appeared at Starwood. "Life's about change and nothing ever stays the same."

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