Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Connie Smith (& me) at "Midnite Jamboree"

There's no denying that yours truly is a morning lark. Going to bed after 10PM is not my m.o. Therefore, I've never been to the "Midnite Jamboree" at the Texas Troubadour Theater in Music Valley near the Grand Ole Opry House. Indeed, if I've even listened to the second-longest-running live radio show (after the Opry), it's been infrequent brief segments of it and never the entire broadcast.

Such all changed this past Saturday, 5 November. Thanks to Facebook I got an invitation or notice that Connie Smith would be featured artist. I already knew I'd be working the late shift at the State Library and that a women's Walk to Emmaus retreat would be going on. So I made a "big day" of the Fifth!

Upon leaving work I first secured a room at a cheap motel, then ate supper at an IHOP in Hermitage, east suburb of Nashville. Then I went to nearby Hermitage United Methodist Church, where Nashville-area Walks to Emmaus are held, to participate in the "Candlelight" activity of the walk. A couple of my Clarksville neighbors also attended. As always, the Emmaus "Candlelight" was a blessing.

After relaxing an hour or so in my borrowed vehicle I drove to Music Valley Drive and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop (#2) with the Texas Troubadour Theater. After briefly browsing the bins in the record shop I found me a seat in the seventh row of the little theater.

Connie Smith was marvelous! The show's format was rather original, I think. Connie would sing one of her songs, then introduce a recording by somebody else; after which a pretty, nicely dressed emcee type would come to a podium at stage right, describe the album the song came from and how there was a price special on it -- "just tonite!" -- in the E.T. Record Shop. And then the final third (my guess) of the show was all Connie!

"The Rolls Royce of Country Music", as WSM's Eddie Stubbs calls her, sang several songs off her new album Long Line of Heartaches. It's her first recorded work in some 13 years (and before that was a 20-year gap), and some of the featured songs were co-written by Connie and her husband Marty Stuart. After hearing her sing a couple of these, I concluded that Connie Smith doesn't get sufficient credit as songwriter! And Nashville IS a songwriter's town.

One of the songs she sang off the new album was a Johnny Russell creation, "Ain't You Even Gonna Cry". I'd heard Russell sing it live, and I believe I've heard one or two other Country stars sing it. However, Connie sang it as tho' it were made just for her! I don't remember that she sang the title song, but I do recall "Anymore" and "I'm Not Blue" as I scan the songlist for the album.

Connie concluded the show, which ran a bit over an hour and a half, with her signature song, "Once a Day", then "Amazing Grace" and finally another Gospel song. Some people criticize Country Music stars who live a less-than-perfect life, record cheatin' and drinkin' songs and then turn around and record a Gospel album. They cannot so criticize Connie! She makes no bones about her Christian faith and she exudes the spirit of a devoted disciple of the Nazarene. This is one of the things that endears her to me, among female Country singers.

And experiencing her live and in person at the "Midnite Jamboree" is adding to the endearment!