Monday, July 19, 2010

And it's out: the Scene's 2010 YASNI issue

Yes! To my great delight at the end of last week (funny, I cannot remember if Fri. or Sat. --an episode of "someteimers disease"?) I saw the latest issue of the Nashville Scene, this city's major alternative rag. And the cover article presents the 2010 edition of the paper's "You Are So Nashville If. . ." completion contest.

The issue's cover is a cartoon which shows three men carrying musical instruments above their heads and wading thru floodwaters on Lower Broad (the river end of Broadway). Each man wears a different tee shirt of those which were produced after the Great Flood and sold to help raise money for flood relief and recovery. And at the bottom is this:

"You Are So Nashville If. . . your city flooded and all you got was a lousy t-shirt."

This is SO FUNNY! David Anthony's entry certainly beats the winner of last year's YASNI contest. The 2010 Second Place entry also alludes to the flood as well as to local politics: ". . .FEMA bailed out your Tea Party a--." (Bruce Arntson) Two other flood-related I found particularly amusing are "You can rhyme Omohundro" (Wando Weaver) and "All of your friends are now experts at removing soggy drywall" (Christian Bottorff). Concerning "Omohundro" please read my recent post about heroes of the Great Flood (1 July) or an on-line article from The City Paper.

On the other hand, Wando Weaver also entered one that hits close to home: "You are so Nashville if. . . you used to work for Gaylord." I'm certain the entry refers to mall and hotel employees who lost their jobs to the floodwaters. But yours truly used to work for Gaylord, too -- back before Gaylord murdered Opryland Park.

As for non flood-related entries, probably my fave is ". . .All of your city's 'alternative' papers are owned by the same large conglomerate (Ilissa Gold)". She's referring to the irony of the Scene and The City Paper both having the same owner. A related other entry of hers is ". . .The City Paper thinks you're too ambitious and confrontational."

Finally two entries both having to do with Nashville as both "Buckle of the Bible Belt" AND "Music City USA" are "YASNI. . .

. . .You can't tell if you're at a gay bar or a Christian music industry party. (Kevin C)" and

. . .You've sued your church over songwriting royalties (Sean Williams)."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Great news (partly) for Music City USA!

This week began with a sublimely endearing live experience of the genre of music which was born right here in Nashville. (Bluegrass - see previous post.) Now today, it's ending with great news published by Nashville's daily paper, The Tennessean! And I love the front-page, above-the fold, headline.

"On the Road Again: Country tours thrive"

The newspaper article features a photo of country singer Tim McGraw in performance at the Fan Fair (CMA Music Festival) held here just over a month ago. Tim and wife Faith Hill make their home just south of Nashville in Williamson Country (where many country music stars have their homes).

The article points out that while tickets sales for music stars' concert tours in general are slumping this year (down 17%), country artists are bucking that trend. And they're succeeding in part due to lower average ticket costs. E.g., Bon Jovi, highest-grossing act in sales, has average ticket price of over $94 and James Taylor/Carole King (wish I could have seen their tour when it stopped here) tickets average over $86. Compare them with Taylor Swift, third-highest gross sales, who averages just over $60, and Tim (#8 on the list) charges an average of $48.53 per ticket.

Now mind you, even the lower country average prices still are way above what yours truly could fork out for a ticket. So I won't be going to see Taylor or Tim any time soon, any more than I was able to see James & Carole!

Nevertheless, it pleases me -- and doubtless pleases many "suits" on Music Row -- that the news is good for the country concert tour scene. To read the entire news article's on-line version, which alas! doesn't feature the headline alluding to Willie Nelson's great hit song, go to

One last tho't, dear reader. My rejoicing for the good news re country tour sales does not blind me to the not-so-good news for other genres. Nashville is, after all, Music City USA: home of American music in many forms and genres. I do consider myself eclectic in my musical tastes, even tho' Country & Western and Southern Gospel are my two faves. Therefore, I hope and I shall pray that music genres in general will follow Country artists' lead, and lower ticket prices, which will cause larger crowds and greater sales.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Doyle, Quicksilver & bluegrass gospel

Last Thursday, 8 July, I was listening to WSM-AM 650, when it was announced that the ninth caller would get admission for two to Eddie Stubbs' monthly program "Intimate Evening" on Monday the Twelfth, at Country Music Hall of Fame. Eddie's guest was to be Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. And wouldn't you know it? Yours truly was ninth caller when Charlie Mattos picked up phone!

As a result, I spent a VERY delightful, indeed a very blessed, evening of listening to bluegrass, both recorded & live, and an informative and at times very humorous interview between Eddie and one of the legends of bluegrass music, especially bluegrass gospel.

Indeed, my introduction to Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver was listening to their recordings on "Front Porch Fellowship", Les Butler's bluegrass gospel show on Solid Gospel 105 radio ack in the late 1990s. (In this, the group share commonality with my favorite bluegrass singer of the female persuasion, Rhonda Vincent.)

The time leading up to the show's start at 7 PM was not so memorable, as first I missed the bus I needed to catch -- thank you Nashville MTA! -- and had to hitch a ride. Then when it got to be around 6:30 my fellow church member whom I'd invited to accompany me hadn't shown; I phoned him only to discover that due to an unanticipated business arrival to Nashville he'd forgotten all about the show & my invitation! He was very, very apologetic, and I quickly forgave him. About that same time I found out that the show wouldn't be in its accustomed venue of the Ford Theater of the CMHoFaM (still not completely repaired from flood damage) but rather in a nook of the CMHoFaM gift shop. Folding chairs were set close together for an audience of about 100, and the performance area was right there -- sitting in the third row back I could have spat and hit the mics! Talk about an "intimate evening!"

Then, as if fated to lift my somewhat fallen spirit, after I sat down, two vacant seats in front of me got occupied by Dailey & Vincent! So I got to speak with both these fellas who have so impressed me with their talent, their mutual friendship & faith, and their admiration for the Sadler Bros. And I got to speak with Darrin Vincent about the impact his sister Rhonda Vincent has made on yours truly!

Well, and if having Dailey & Vincent sitting so close to me didn't serve to lift my spirits -- which it did -- certainly the featured artists of the show did! After all, they're seven-time winners of the IBMA Vocal Bluegrass Group of the Year, and Doyle is an acknowledged leader and talented mandolinist in the bluegrass genre.

And the group performed live a couple songs off their most recently released album project and their most recent gospel album. This latter song, "Zion Medley", featured tremendous a cappella quartet singing, which at the final note had me up applauding and shouting "Hallelujah!" Many others in the audience joined in the standing ovation.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Yet another silver anniversary here in Mid-Tenn.

Last month the Tennessee Rennaisance Festival celebrated its 25th year of fun and history in tiny Triune just south of Nashville-Davidson County. Last week we celebrated the silver anniversary of the IBMA with a very enjoyable and memorable show of "Music City Roots" at the Loveless Barn. And yesterday another 25th was observed, this one for the General Jackson Showboat. Apparently 2 July 1985 was when the huge boat was christened.

I don't remember much about that christening. I presume it was either at the downtown Nashville riverfront or at its dock at Opryland Park. And I vaguely remember that the Opry's Porter Waggoner got involved in some way.

What yours truly DOES remember, very vividly, is the coming of the paddlewheel showboat to Nashville in A.D. 1985. It had been constructed in Indiana and launched on 20 April. It sailed down the Ohio River and up the Cumberland River, and it was BIG news here that it would arrive at thus-and-such date, about thus-and-such time.

My family and I went to the Clarksville Highway bridge then, to see this enormous floating theater. It really was awesome when it hove into view downstream! We weren't used to seeing anything sailing or floating on the Cumberland larger than the industrial barges which frequent it. Another paddlewheel showboat that already plied Nashville's river was much smaller.

Some years later we got to ride on the iconic showboat. That too was enjoyable. But nothing I associate with the General Jackson matches the wonder of its arrival here!

It would have been fine to board the enormous floating theater again. And considering that Gaylord Corp. was advertising retro cruise price of $8.00 per person, I'd have gone had I not had to work. The retro price reminded me of how in 1993 the Tower of the Americas celebrated the silver anniversary of HemisFair '68 and the Tower by charging the original (1968) price for elevator rides! Retro indeed!

I just love history. Especially when it comes back to life, such as in taking prices for things back to the original prices!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A look back at a Tennessee June

On this First of July in the Year of Our Lord (A.D.) Twenty-Ten, with the Independence Day holiday coming up in just three days, I reflect back on the past month and what it presented to me. Obviously, getting to see and hold my darling Theresa, my first grandchild, tops the list of memories which June presented to me! (See my posts on 15 and 20 June.)

I also rejoice in the fruit of June (and July), my fave -- the apricot. Funny that the fruit I enjoy the most seems also to have THE SHORTEST SEASON. And it was almost the end of the month before I remembered to go to the produce section in the grocery store to pick some for purchase.

And then there are the lightning bugs (aka fireflies). Memories of my childhood in the PAcific Northwest don't include these fascinating insects. Neither are they to be found in the parts of Texas where I live. But in Middle Tennessee they're abundant! Ah-hah! Yet another reason for me to be glad I moved from San Antonio back to "the greenest State in the land of the free"!

Because my worksite (or where I have to begin & end each work shift) Goody Wagons, is two blocks off the bus route (Dickerson Rd.), I walk up-hill a block, then down-hill a block. Coming and going. But I hardly mind the end-of-day walk away from the ice cream wagons. That direction, the second, downhill, block presents a wooded area to the left, and being a dutiful follower of pedestrian rules I walk on that side. The walk is always after dusk, and in June I would be greeted by at least half a dozen twinkling lights for the lightning bugs! And when the sky was clear, the critters seemed to echo, in a way, the stars up above. For the nighttime light pollution from Music City is dimmer right in the Goody Wagons area of town.

Alas! there's one blot on this otherwise idyllic scene. A block closer-in on the other side of Dickerson Rd. from my bus stop is a garish, strongly-illuminated, purple-painted building -- an "adult" store! What a contrast between the good lights of God's creation, and the evil lighting by humankind!

Nevertheless, the lightning bugs are delightful. And they easily keep my focus, so I can ignore the blemish.

Nor are these little flying luminaries the only fauna I've been enjoying as a result of my driving around in an ice cream truck. Early in June one of my Facebook Friends, who became my cyber-buddy eyars before FB and who shall remain anonymous, posted about how twice during a short car trip in an adjacent State a bear had crossed the road, and when they reached home "Thumper" was munching down a meal in the flower bed! Well, I've seen "Thumper" several times in the Nashville neighborhoods where I sell ice cream, and the rabbit's tree-dwelling, bushy-tailed cousin!

Finally, Tuesday's sunset, the eve for June's final day (no pun intended), literally took my breath away! Some of the scattered clouds in the western sky shone with a pink hue that got deeper until it was almost red at the end. Other clouds, shadowed, presented a blue-grey tint. The downtown skyline silhouetted in a similar tint, accented here and there by the usual lighting. The entire vision, with God's nature-painting above and human constructions below, was absolutely awesome!

What a beautiful ending (minus a day) to a beautiful month!

The Great Flood: Recovery and Heroes

Today marks the date two months ago that torrential rain began to cause streams to flood in West and Middle Tennessee. 1 May A.D. 2010 was the beginning of the Great Flood. Here in Nashville rebuilding, recovering and repairing continue. We are Nashville!

In my driving around neighborhoods near the Cumberland River or Mill Creek in my ice cream truck I will occasionally encounter graphic reminders of the flood, and how my beloved hometown's recuperation is on-going. And every now and then there will be news on the airwaves or in print, about the continuing effort. For yours truly, the saddest news was a week or ten days back, when it was announced that the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall will cost $42 million in repairs! And it will be several months still 'til it's open for concerts again. Meanwhile the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony, like the Grand Ole Opry show, keeps on keeping on in borrowed venues, of which, thank God, there are several here in Music City!

We are Nashville!

And, dear reader, I keep on contemplating memories of the heroes of the Great Flood! Lots of stories of heroism during the actual rising of the waters, their receding to normal and the immediate recovery were published or broadcast. I personally have a Top Three Heroes of the Flood.

One is a structure: the Omohundro Water Plant. This facility, which is well over a century old, is right beside the south bank of the Cumberland in my ZIP, 37210. The flooding river took out the other, newer, water plant, the Harrington. It almost took out the Omohundro, too. But volunteers, including inmates, feverishly stacked sandbags around the water plant, and managed -- barely -- to save it! Otherwise, instead of being asked to cut water use in half, Nashvillians would have had to rely on trucked-in H2O! So by inference, the heroes in this case will cover not only the plant itself but also prisoners and other volunteers who helped save it so it could save us some drinking water!

Another of my trio of heroes is Mayor Karl Dean. I already liked our Metro Nashville-Davidson chief, among other things because he supports dedicated funding and other features to improve mass transit here, and despite his pushing for the new convention center that Nashville doesn't need. But his calm yet firm, determined, handling of the disaster truly hiked my admiration for Mayor Dean! I think of him being to the Great Flood what our President was to Nine-Eleven: a real spirit-lifter, a lighter of the beacon of hope.

Nevertheless, my vote for greatest heroism and most positively lifting spirits of area residents is Jeannie Seely of the Opry! Her home on the river near the Opry House and her car were inundated. And yet the evening after the flood crested Jeannie was on the Tuesday Nite Opry, singing, speaking about the flood and its effects and sharing her distinctive sense of humor. One of my favorite quotes from the disaster is Jeannie saying, “It’s so great to be here. Somebody said, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to play the Grand Ole Opry tonight.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s not like I can stay home and watch TV.’ You can laugh about it or cry, and I don’t want to cry.” At her "stay home and watch TV" yours truly laughed out loud, and at her final comment I cheered out loud!

Jeannie continued to share such encouraging wisdom in the weeks since the flood. She and other music stars resident here have been very active in setting up and performing in area concerts to raise funds for flood relief. And doesn't this seem so fitting for the city that's famous as Music City USA?

We are Nashville!