Monday, March 8, 2010

"Back to the Barn" in more ways than one

At the start of A.D. 2009, perhaps even in the final days of '08, WSM-AM 650 began an advertisement about how in 2009 they were going to be taking Nashville "back to the barn". I wondered just WHAT they intended to do; I even e-mailed Keith Bilbrey about this before Gaylord so shabbily fired the iconic deejay (and Opry announcer). Keith didn't give me much of an answer, as in "wait and you'll see". Oh, well!

Then, some time in this calendar year, it finally hit me what "back to the barn" meant! Later last year, after Keith's firing, the station began a brand new live music show. It's on Wednesday evenings -- which means I've never listened to it since that's choir rehearsal time -- out at the Loveless Café. This famous eating establishment and former motel is, or used to be, out in the country on State Hiway 100, just past the northern terminus of the historic Natchez Trace Parkway. (More about the "used to be" remark later.) The show takes place in a large (and I think rather new) barn located out back of the café and former motel rooms. It's called "Music City Roots" and is billed as featuring artists from Americana, bluegrass, and (pop) country music.

Perhaps because I've yet to actually get to listen to the new show (and probably never will), the fact of its venue passed me by. Then one day I was musing about the program -- and suddenly (like a freight train!) it hit me. It's in a barn at the Loveless Café! "Back to the barn"!

Well, yesterday (Sunday) I actually got to go out to that venue. After another supremely blessing time of Sunday school and worship at Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples) we had a potluck dinner in the fellowship hall. Dieta Duncan even provided a chocolate birthday cake for yours truly, even tho' acknowledging that my birthday is really NEXT Sunday. Well, dear reader, I gave some effort to moderating my eating -- a rarity for me at a church meal.

You see, I wanted to save space for later. Saturday evening I got a phone call from Ellen in Clarksville, that she and our daughter Sarah and Sarah's intended would be coming to Nashville Sunday afternoon to visit his grandfather in Centennial Hospital, and wanted to take me out for an early birthday supper. She having told me they'd be at Centennial first, I offered to go from the church to the Centennial Park-Vanderbilt area and hang out until they'd be ready to pick me up.

Therefore, after the church dinner I took the MTA out West End Avenue and walked thru the park to The Parthenon. After a time of just sitting enjoying the warmth of the bright sunshine and the sights and sounds of an abundance of citizens out enjoying the beautiful weather in the park, I decided to circumambulate the beautiful, historic and iconic building.

Late in the afternoon Ellen and the "young-uns" came by and picked me up. After just a bit of discussion we settled on going out to the Loveless Café for supper. So westward on West End we drove, past where it turns into Harding Road, past Belle Meade Plantation mansion, past suburban Bellevue and past Chaffin's Dinner Barn. I had wondered if Chaffin's were the structure of"back to the barn" because I didn't remember its relationship to Loveless. But it's considerably closer in to Nashville on Hiway 100. We continued on out to the formerly small, formerly rural community of Pasquo at Hiway 100 and Natchez Trace Parkway. Pasquo is definitely within the expanding development of metropolitan Nashville now, with a Publix grocery store and numerous other chain stores in a shopping center.

And Loveless itself has changed. As we drove up I saw that just past it was a Shell gas station that wasn't there last time (several years ago) that I'd been this way. The motel rooms have recently been changed into shops, including a prominent one called "Hams and Jams". Out behind it sits the new Loveless barn that houses "Music City Roots.

But after just a short wait for a table in the also now-larger café, we discovered that the food is as home-like and delicious as ever. The four of us chose to go with family-style eating: all you can eat at your seat, two meats and three sides along with the famous Loveless biscuits made from a "Secret recipe". I was delighted that the drink selection included Pepsi products and Sierra Mist. The fried chicken that was one of the selected meats was "nothing to write home about" (as Ellen taught me to say), but the meatloaf and especially the home-made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese more than made up for this! The biscuits themselves could have served as a satisfactory meal, being served with blackberry, strawberry and peach jellies and honey.

Thus it was that I, having finally figured out what "Back to the barn" signified, literally went back to that barn. Or at least back to the famous wayside café behind which it sits! And what a totally pleasant ending to a totally pleasant Sunday! So pleasant I didn't even waste time mourning that the Loveless Café isn't out in the country like it used to be.


John Walker said...

Hey...thanks for the blog on Music City Roots - Live from the Loveless. Just a couple of points to clarify...

1 - We LOVE and miss Bilbrey as much as you do.

2 - You kind of got the back to the barn metaphor, but it was not originally intended as such a literal reference. Before the Loveless Barn venue was chosen, the reference was to the original Saturday Barn Dance show on WSM, which evolved into the GOO. Back to the "roots" of live music on Radio in Nashville.

3 - Which brings us to the (pop) country reference. While the philosophy of the show is to ignore genres and categories,and set the bar by quality, the one genre we tend to steer clear of is (pop) country. (Con't.)

John Walker said...

Pt 2...

We have featured iconic legends like Emmylou Harris, Cowboy Jack Clement, Sam Bush, Nancy Griffith and many more...but we would be hard challenged to find anyone that fit the mold of (pop) country.

MCR is designed to provide a global platform to show the world there is more to Nashville that just (pop) country. (Con't)

John Walker said...

Pt 3...

Hope you can bring the choir to a Wednesday night show sometime...our treat! The Loveless Jam can get quite spiritual, so the pastor won't be too upset. He's invited, too! :)

We're hoping to have the Fisk Jubilee Singers out sometime soon...the very FIRST musical group to ever perform on WSM.

Thanks again for writing...hope to see you soon - out at the Barn!


Music City Roots Producers :)