Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Let's lasso some tomes, fellas!

Today I got to see, meet & greet my favorite saddle-pals, in a library. Hence, the title for this post.

You see, dear reader, the downtown Nashville Public Library is hosting a series of musical entertainment events in the library's courtyard. It's called the "Summer Series" even tho' this didn't commence 'til August and today's concert plus the remainder fall during Fall (pun intended). Hence, "tomes".

Today's performers were a quartet of fellas whom I heartily applaud for promoting, preserving and enhancing the music I grew up listening to: cowboy songs! Hence, "lasso".

They are Riders in the Sky, Grammy-winners from the cast of the Grand Ole Opry show, who last February performed with our own Nashville Symphony in the Schermerhorn Concert Center. Ranger Doug and the other three did a sort of prelude by being on "Coffee Country and Cody", the weekday wake-up show on WSM-AM 650 (which of course broadcasts the Opry). I was glad they did this, as I listened while driving and delivering prescriptions on this delightful sunny day. Bill Cody and his "sidekick" Charlie Mattos are often a bundle of laughs all on their own. So are Riders during their performances. Put the two groups together and you've got what we listeners got this morning: not just a bundle but a riot of laughs! And of course the announcements that the quartet of cowboy crooners would be at the Library, and that the album recorded during the concerts with the Symphony had recently been published and is now available.

The guys mentioned that they'd also performed during last year's "summer series" at the Library, and apparently it was on a day that set the record for high temperature here. There were jokes about the perspired appearance of the four, especially Joey the Cowpolka King.

But today's weather couldn't have been better for being outside! And Riders did a standard mix of classic old cowboy songs, their own compositions and humorous commentary. In addition to their album with the Symphony their Grammy-winning album recorded for the movie "Toy Story 2" came into play. To the great delight of the many kids present. (I should mention that the courtyard is surrounded by the building's second floor, which houses books and activities for children.) Shortly after they performed with the Symphony I had read Riders in the Sky as being a performance group oriented to kids. Well, if so then I guess I like the four so much because they bring out the "kid" in yours truly. And if that's so, then so be it!

Fellas, let's go lasso some tomes!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Music, Music, Music! here & there

This weekend, and part or all of the week leading into it, have Music City, a.k.a. Nashville, hosting the "Americana Music" convention. In fact the Americana Music Awards show was last evening in historic Ryman Auditorium.

"Americana." It's a fairly new name for a musical genre. I think I may have heard the term used while I was living in Texas; may even have encountered it during my previous residence in this state. But I've been almost immersed in it, sort of, since I moved to Nashville just over a year ago. WSM-AM 650, home radio station of the Grand Ole Opry show, will occasionally announce over the airwaves, that it's about to do some song "from the Americana files" of the station.

"Americana." I'm not exactly certain WHAT type of music this is supposed to be, other than I've heard that "roots music" used as a synonym. But this isn't much help, since I know even less about what "roots music" is! My initial deduction was that "Americana music" was some sort of a penumbra or an "aura" around out-right country music. That is, it encompassed country plus elements of other musical genres which either contributed to it or were influenced by it.

I did hear Eddie Stubbs, WSM's amazing fountain of all knowledge about country music (of the more traditional styles), comment about "Americana music" on his show one evening. I sure do wish I had written down notes about what he said! But from what I remember of his remarks, plus comments during this week on "Coffee Country & Cody", the station's wake-up week day show, I'm thinking it may be closer to a definition to say that it's any and all music produced IN these United States and performed by singers and/or musicians born in the USA. I don't know. . . perhaps "Americana music" is whatever the user intends by it!

But I do acknowledge that what I've heard on WSM or elsewhere that's labelled "Americana music" I like. But then again, I'm quite eclectic in my musical tastes. You, dear reader, will read much more on my blog here about country (and Western) music and Southern Gospel music than about other genres. The same's true on my earlier blog ("Glen Alan's San Antonio"). But please do NOT think for a skinny minute that I don't imbibe of many other musical genres and find them nearly as refreshing to my listening ears as C & W or So. gospel! I rejoice whenever I'm at a live outdoor jazz festival. . . I delight to sing the traditional hymns of the faith. . . I revel in a symphony orchestra's performance. . . And what I'd give to shake hands with Bach or Handel!

So, "Americana music", may you have a satisfying get-together here in Nashville.

And while we here are engrossed in this "Americana music" and hosting its convention, up to the north and east of us in Louisville they're hosting the annual gathering of a much older genre: Southern gospel music. It's called the National Quartet Convention. This used to be held here in Nashville, but just as I was getting captivated by SGM, Louisville lured the NQC away! Oh, well; perhaps that's all for the better for my wallet.

Southern Gospel is not only much older than Americana -- next year (2010) will be its centennial as an identified musical genre -- it was developed and identified right here in Tennessee, at Lawrenceburg, in 1910. And of course, with Nashville having so many publishing houses and already being the home of the Fisk Jubilee Singers (whose primary singing was spirituals) this city took an early prominence in the development and spread of Southern gospel. On that basis alone I believe it would only be right to return the NQC to Music City!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nine-Eleven. 9-1-1. Help!

My title for this derives from an editorial column printed in the Clarksville, Tennessee, daily newspaper shortly after 11 September A.D. 2001.

Yes, yesterday was the eighth anniversary of the terrible attack on these United States, when shadowy, little-heard-of terrorists of Islam took this country by surprise and shook us to our core. In Clarksville I'd just watched the movie classic "Stanley and Livingstone" on AMC or TCM early that morning and was channel-surfing. I kept encountering images of one of the World Trade Center towers in smoke. I stopped to find out why -- and watched the whole thing unfold. The attack on the second tower. The attack on the Pentagon. The crash in a Pennsylvania field after passengers on the fourth jet fought back against the terrorists and foiled their evil designs. The present on that date was far darker than the "darkest Africa" of the movie I'd just watched!

And the war goes on. . . .

Here in Nashville early in the morning I heard mention of the anniversary on the radio (WSM-AM 650). And later I read references to commemorating events that were scheduled to happen around the city. Too bad I didn't learn of these 'til after the fact -- I'd have like to have gone. But I did remember, and mused on that terrible day often thru'out this day (that is, yesterday, Friday the Eleventh).

Just this afternoon I read a business markee near Vanderbilt University, that said "remembering 9-11 / God bless the USA" or similar. During the days following that dark day, and around each anniversary since, this phrase is to be read all over the place.

"God bless the USA."

And I have to wonder, how dare we? How dare we ask the Almighty Holy One to bless a country that decades ago kicked Him out of public classrooms and displays on public property? How dare we ask the Holy One on high to bless a nation whose people have descended into all sorts of moral filth and an attitude of "anything goes"? How dare we ask God to bless an unholy people who murder thousands of unborn children yearly and who are quickly bowing down to everything that the homosexual agenda demands?

No wonder that Mohammed's disciples hate the West. No wonder their front-line soldiers attacked this country that terrible day in Ought One.

"God bless the USA"??? Truly rather, let us fall on our collective national knees and cry out with repentant tears, "God have mercy on us, a nation of vile sinners!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Catching up on "stuff"

Wow! I've been away from posting on my blog for several days. Perhaps a reason is that lots has been happening lately. Most of which doesn't merit a post here. But still, here's what has occurred that may be of interest. . . .

I had to work Saturday -- two days prior to the Labor Day holiday -- but didn't mind at all. And indeed, my final run in a white Ford Ranger for Bradley Health Services turned into a delightful evening journey south of Nashville, to the Cool Springs area (Brentwood-Franklin), Spring Hill, and Columbia. On the way I was listening to bluegrass on WVRY and WSM. By the time I made that delivery in Columbia I was into NCAA football. First, it was the Governors of Austin Peay State U (in Clarksville, where years ago I was an adjunct instructor). The Govs began their home opener in splendid fashion, pouncing on a miscue by visiting Newberry College's team, to score a TD with only sixteen seconds passed! They continued to play well (to eventually win 34-23). But after a half hour of that game I switched to the station carrying my beloved Vanderbilt Commodores. My Black-and-Gold team was also opening at home, against Western Carolina. And the 'Dores were even more powerful than the govs, winning 45-0! Topping this all off a couple days later was discovering that my undergrad alma mater, the University of Idaho, had won their opener, too! A conference game on the road, at New Mexico State! Opening wins and road wins had become rare happenings for the U of I Vandals! Perhaps all three teams will do well this NCAA football season of Ought Nine?

Last Sunday was a rather quiet day at church, Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). However, I got to read the Scripture reading for the Sunday, Mark 7:24-37. Reading aloud the written Word of God is one way I particularly desire to contribute to a worship service. Especially when, as in the reading for 6 Sept., the reading is from one of the Four Gospels, reporting the teachings and deeds of the living Word of God.

Did I describe church as "quiet" on this past Sunday? Well, perhaps, but still we had a pretty fair attendance for the eve of Labor Day. And our Associate Pastor, Michael Lehman, who delivered the sermon, preached with the passion that he always seems to display, and which I always appreciate.

Labor Day itself was an absolutely beautiful day to be outside. During a delivery for Bradley Drugstore the previous Saturday (or Fri.) I had to stop at MetroCenter Teachers Tower. While I awaited the elevator I read a notice that the place would have a fish fry on Labor Day, and it read like anybody was invited to partake of the low-cost feast. I remarked about the fish fry to the resident to whom I delivered the prescription, and she all but invited me, as she raved about the tastiness of the fish. So I hied myself to MetroCenter Teachers Tower in mid-day. And true, the fish, breaded and fried on the spot, was de-e-e-elicious! The weather too was delicious, perfect for enjoying a fish fry outdoors.

In the days since the holiday I've been getting better acquainted with a new next-door neighbor at Mercury Courts.. His name's Michael and he had just been released from serving a prison sentence. As I got better acquainted with him I kept thinking of all the inmates I had come to know thru volunteer service in Kairos Prison Ministries in Texas. I think Michael and I will become great friends as well as good neighbors!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"An Intimate Evening" . . .with Rhonda

No, dear reader, get your mind outta the gutter. I wasn't having a torrid affair last evening! No, indeed, the specific Rhonda and I were in a crowded theater, well lit. And anyway, the intimacy wasn't between the two of us. . . .

Confused? Want to know more? Here it is:

I attended the live broadcast of a show on WSM-AM 650, called "An Intimate Evening with Eddie Stubbs" His guest this time for the monthly show was bluegrass singer and instrumentalist Rhonda Vincent. I first heard of Rhonda about twelve years ago, on "Front Porch Fellowship", a show presenting bluegrass gospel recordings on Solid Gospel 105. At once I considered that "that lady can SING!" After a few years I heard her singing a general bluegrass song on "The Air Castle of the South". I was a tad bit disappointed, since up to that moment I'd considered that Rhonda sang only bluegrass gospel songs. However, since then I've learned that most bluegrass artists and bands -- from "the Father" Bill Monroe onward -- sing a mix of gospel and so-called secular. Also, I heard Rhonda several times guesting on the Grand Ole Opry show -- singing general bluegrass or gospel.

Then I moved to San Antonio for six and a half years. Just in the going there I feared I was leaving all bluegrass behind. Not true! There IS bluegrass to be had in the Lone Star State. But the genre is not as common as here in the Mid-South. And as I wrote to the host of "Front Porch Fellowship" upon my return a year ago, there wasn't much "Rhonda Vincent for the listening pleasure!"

Thus, upon my move here last year it was great pleasure to again hear her guesting on the Opry, frequently! Then twice earlier this summer I missed opportunities to experience live in person this woman whose talents I so admired over the airwaves. So when I was given free admission to the 2 September edition of "An Intimate Evening with Eddie Stubbs" I was almost beside myself with excitement! Once I clocked out from work at mid-day yesterday my focus was on the Ford Theater of the Country Music Hall of Fame and getting myself ready to be there. Yes, that means I donned a suit and tie, not for a date with Rhonda but rather to show my esteem for her talent.

But hold on a minute! The MTA bus that should have picked me up on Murfreesboro Road and then dropped me off at the corner of Fifth Ave. and Demonbreun outside the Hall of Fame just before seven (showtime) never came by. I wasn't about to wait an hour for the next bus, so I started hoofing it. Fortunately, after over a mile of walking along Murfreesboro I caught an unexpected in-bound bus of another route at a cross street. So I only missed about the first half hour of the two hours of "An Intimate Evening".

Now, if there was any other "downer" to this dream coming true it was that Rhonda didn't perform live for us. Most of the show is simply Eddie interviewing his Guest. At occasional commercial and news breaks the Guest will sign autographs and pose for photos, and the return to on-air will feature one of the Guest's recorded songs. But no live singing or picking.

However, the extended dialog is absolutely delightful. Eddie seems to know how to bring out the personal -- yes, intimate -- from the artist without nosy probing or stepping out of line. You come away from the show, whether there in the studio or listening on the airwaves at home, with a strong feeling that you know the Guest as a down-home person, like your next-door neighbor.

And Rhonda? She shared with us much about her background of being born in a musical family that would tour and perform widely from their home in Missouri. Indeed, brother Darrin is now the second half of the name Dailey & Vincent. Plus she spoke some about life on the road, and incidents in the tour bus. But what caught my attention the most were her frequent expressions of gratitude to her fans and her delight in mingling with us at outdoor festivals and other concerts.

After the show ended I went down to the floor or stage, to get my picture taken with both Rhonda and Eddie. This was another reason I dressed up; Eddie always wears a suit and tie, and Rhonda was fetching in fancy white pants and a maroon-ish blouse with huge pleated cuffs that flared out from her lower arms. I managed to let her know that this "Intimate Evening" was a dream come true for yours truly -- real after some 12 years! I also wished her the best on recording an upcoming all-gospel album which had been mentioned during the interview.

After all, my first experience of Rhonda Vincent was a couple of years of hearing her bluegrass gospel recordings on "Front Porch Fellowship". So, Rhonda, take that Good News and sing it to the world!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Incredibly "Chamber of Commerce" weather!

Nashville has been blessed with an unusually agreeable summer in this Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine, weather-wise. There was abundant rainfall until August and adequate during this past month. But it seems that after nearly every rain front has passed thru, there has been notably lower humidity, as well as lower than typical temperatures. Music City even set a record low "high" for the day about a month or so back. That is, on that date the temperature didn't even rise to the lowest previous measurement!

Can you say, "Cool"?

This past weekend, the final one for August of Ought Nine, plus the past two weekdays seemed like we'd ascended to the summit of this "chamber of commerce weather". Night-time lows in the fifties, day-time highs in th upper seventies under clear blue skies emptied of the typical high humidity by a front that passed thru toward the end of last work week. It was simply a blessing to be outdoors at every opportunity and every excuse!

"Papa" sounds good!

. . .and the grandchild hasn't even been born yet! Let alone learned any words, "Mama", "Daddy", "Grandpa" or otherwise!

So, what leads me to the "Subject/Title" of this posting? Well, as soon as I got word that we Grahams were to get a new member of a new generation, I spread the word, including at Mercury Courts, where I live. One of the Urban Housing Solutions staffers who works in an office next to the computer lab is Gina. And every time Gina sees me in the lab (usually when I enter and passing her open door I greet her), she'll say, "Hi, Grandpa!"

Well, that sounds good to me!