Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two nights in a row at the Station Inn

We love this place.  This old venue just drips with history and musical karma.  It's fair to say that every famous bluegrass artist has played here, probably dozens if not hundreds of times. It's an old cinder block building without windows in what used to be a warehouse and vacant lot area West of downtown Nashville.  Now the neighborhood is "The Gulch" and is all high-rise condos and valet-parking restaurants--all surrounding the old Station Inn.   I chatted with the owner of the club and asked whether the neighborhood was going to squeeze them out, but he said he would keep on doing their thing as long as they could.  To me, the surroundings just make the place even more classic by contrast.

Friday night we saw New Town, a bluegrass band from Lexington Kentucky featuring Katie Penn as singer and fiddle player.  Katie had a brief country music career, but as her bandmate said, she wanted to get back to her lucrative bluegrass where she's made "tens of dollars".  New Town was a solid band with great vocals and tight musicians.

Saturday we arrived at 6:30 for a 7:00 door opening for a 9:00 show...and the line at 6:30 was already long.   In a town with about a hundred music venues to choose from on a Saturday night, this turnout is indicative of how popular is the band The Steeldrivers.  We've seen them a number of times, including twice last spring in Nashville and Gettysburg.  They are another solid, tight bluegrass band, but their big draw is their amazing bluesy lead singer, Gary Nichols.   These guys brought down the house.  Gary was a country artist previously and the fiddle player toured with Reba McEntyre.   Both of them joked that they gave up the private jets to ride a 12-passenger van and make the big bluegrass money.   I'm just glad that they're doing what they do!  My clip from last night:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday at the Bluebird

We've been in Nashville for over two weeks and hadn't been to the Bluebird Cafe yet, Nashville's premier songwriters' venue.   We tried to go the previous Sunday night but the line was out to the sidewalk and there was no chance we could get in (it only seats 120).   But tonight we had advanced tickets and finally got to go back to one of our favorite places.

Tonight the lineup was very strange, four completely different styles represented.  The format at the Bluebird is four or five songwriters sit in a circle with mics and guitars and go round singing their songs in turn.  There were two kind of nondescript singer songwriters who were just ok, but for me the other two were pretty good.   Steve Goodie is a comedian/songwriter/producer who did all comedy country songs (betcha didn't know that was even a category, did you?)  Some of his songs were funny enough, including a Tom Petty medley he called a "Pedley" (look it up on YouTube).  The stars of the evening were Leigh Nash and her husband.  Nash is the lead singer of Sixpence None the Richer, a one-hit band that had the pop smash "Kiss Me" back in 1999.   She is a really good singer and songwriter and did some enjoyable songs.  Here is an acoustic version of Kiss Me by Leigh:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday night band at the Station Inn

For the past 10 years, the TimeJumpers have played Monday nights at the Station Inn.   We saw them at their new venue, 3rd and Lindsley last week and they were great!   There is a new Monday night band at the Station Inn and we went to see them last night.

Val Storey,  Carl Jackson ( and Larry Cordle ( headline this band and they were yet another terrific Nashville assemblage of talent, Grammy nominees and winners.  They played traditional country, western swing and bluegrass.  Val had an awesome voice.   I don't have a video to post, but here is a YouTube of Carl and Val doing a nice duet:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Another awesome program at the Hall of Fame

First, let me pay my respects to Vince Gill, whom we saw play a few nights ago.  We saw a video of Willie Nelson accepting his induction into the Hall and he said "I thought you had to die to get this!"  Well, a lot of the inductees are dead, but one of the living ones is Vince Gill.  He has the sweetest voice and the smoothest guitar style around, and a great songwriter too.

We were at the hall to see an instrument demonstration complementing the Bakersfield sound exhibit.   A couple of typical Nashville types were on hand to play and sing.  Both of these guys (I didn't get their names) had played in bands with many of the greats and they had lots of stories to tell about how guitar styles evolved over the years.  We were in the rotunda of the Hall with all the plaques of the inductees around us.  The setting was very intimate (we were barely an arm's length away from the musicians). Here are a couple of clips of their playing:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More Tucker

Some of his fans have been asking for more Tucker on this blog, so here he is walking with Lynnae.

Biking the Music City Bikeway

We don't JUST go out to hear music in Nashville, and today we rode 16 miles of Nashville's beautiful bikeway along the Cumberland River.  We did a stretch called the Shelby Bottoms, which is East of downtown a few miles.  It was flat and smooth and not very crowded at all.  Hopefully we can do another section tomorrow, some of which goes right through the city, still along the river.  This picture was taken from a pedestrian bridge over the river leading to another segment of the bikeway.  It was 70 degrees and absolutely beautiful today.

Vintage songwriter at the Country Music Hall of Fame

When we were in Nashville last spring we be came members of the Hall of Fame. So we not only get in free anytime,.we.can attend their members-only events like the weekly featured songwriter sessions. Today we saw Buddy Mize, who was the Bakersfield era of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Buddy was funny and nostalgic. He sang songs he wrote for Johnny Cash, Marty Stewart and several other stars. He was an authentic relic of classic. Country music.

Remember the Byrds?

Chris Hillman was one of the original Byrds back in the 60s and he was instrumental in moving the band in a country direction with their "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album in 1968. After the Byrds broke up, Hillman created the Flying Burrito Brothers to focus even more strongly on country heavily influenced by Buck Owens and the Bakersfield sound. His next band was the Desert Rose Band formed in 1985. Last night we saw them play an acoustic set at the beautifully-renovated Franklin Theater in historic Franklin.  The band was great and they played some old Byrds and Bob Dylan songs in that unmistakable Byrds style.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Exit/In--Another great music venue

There is a big wall out front where all the artists that have played here are written. It's a pretty impressive list.
Tonight we're seeing Reckless Kelly, an Austin-based country rock band.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Timejumpers at 3rd and Lindsley

3rd and Lindsley is a great music venue several blocks south of the Lower Broadway honky tonk strip.   They being in alternative rock, singer-songwriters, country and on Monday nights, a Western Swing band called the Timejumpers.  This is a band made up of some of the best studio musicians in Nashville (and that's saying something!).  These guys are tight and hot and we were lucky that tonight they were joined by Vince Gill, long time country legend, 30+ Grammy winner and all around nice guy.  We saw Vince in Boston last year and loved him and we have tickets to see him again in Florida in January.  He is a hot guitar player, great singer and has written some of the sweetest country songs of all time like this one:

Anyway, the Timejumpers were great and we had another fun night on the town in Music City!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The world famous Station Inn with face-melting guitar update!

Three times the size of your living room, full of mismatched tables and chairs, painted black from floor to ceiling and wallls covered with bluegrass festival posters from 50 years. Every bluegrass great from Bill Monroe on down has played here...dozens of times.
Tonight it's 18 South, a local band that defies categorization. Jazz, bluegrass, blues, even a version of Woodstock, all make up their repertoire. Outstanding musicianship, virtuoso actually, with two bluesy singers, electric guitar, electric piano, string bass, acoustic guitar and drums. Not the usual Station Inn lineup, but outstanding...and a packed house. These guys obviously.have a rep in Nashville.

Here is a quick video I took of their HOT guitar player:


After the show I did a little research on 18 South and was impressed with what I found.  They really are a local hot ticket.  Check out this YouTube video of them on Bluegrass Underground on PBS.  Their guitar player, Guthrie Trapp is a legend here and you can see why starting at 3:00 on the video:

We're going to see Guthrie Trapp at least two more times before we leave.

Larry's Grand Ole Garage and Bluegrass

It started out as a garage and grew to become a Nashvillle official historic site. Sitting on pews, listening to old time bluegrass and eating home-made pumpkin pie. Priceless...and free.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Levi Lowrey at 12 th & Porter

Levi Lowrey is a singer/songwriter who was the first artist signed by Zac Brown's record label. He co-wrote one of Zac's singles and had Zac's drummer playing in his band. He writes awesome songs very much in the Zac Brown style.  We also found out that Lee Dewyze, winner of American Idol's tenth season, is going to be playing at 12th and Porter next week, so we might come out to see him.

Mama's Blue Dress at 12th & Porter

Four hot singers/pickers in a wonderful small venue. Opening for Levi Lowrey. We are sitting literally with our feet propped up on the stage.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Loveless Cafe and Music City Roots

Well, we had been in Nashville a whole three days, we'd only seen one concert (but a great one!) and I'd spent all my time working (I still do work, and pretty hard) or trying to fix our trailer's toilet (now that's a story you don't want the details on!).  So on Wednesday of our first week we decided to check out Music City Roots, a refurbushed barn out in West Nashville where they have live music every Wednesday.  I thought we would see bluegrass or folk music, but really had no idea what we were in for. 

We first ate at the Loveless Cafe out front, which was for me the best Southern cooking I've had yet.  Grilled catfish, turnip greens with pot liquor (don't ask), homemade melt-in-your-mouth biscuits with butter and berry jam.  Hmm, Hmm.  And the friendliest people, which is pretty much the norm in the South.  The music show was a kick in the pants.  It was being broadcast live on radio, so between bands they had live commercials (Mrs. White's biscuits, just like home made!) and interviews with the musicians.   We saw five bands ranging from Mississippi grunge blues to vaudeville bluegrass to alternative rock.  The twenty minutes per band was just about enough (none of them were really our style, which is bluegrass and straight country) but we had a great time and had found a neat new music venue to try again.