Today we are a bit over Nicole and Keith. We can see the building where they have a penthouse but they seem to have snubbed us. No invite to lunch or dinner yesterday on arrival and we had to walk around last night instead of getting a ride in Keith’s limousine. It is fairly dispiriting that they have treated us this way: after all, we have come all this way to drop in on Nashville and they don’t seem to care. I have crossed them off my Christmas card list and Graham is refusing to send them an invite to his daughter’s wedding on May 17. Our feelings have been hurt and there is not much that will fix that. We both agreed that even if Keith offers to try and make it up to us we would have to have a few harsh words with him!
So we were up early today and at The Ryman Theater by 9.30am for the guided tour, conducted by an elderly but spritely gentleman called Art, who had seen many of the legends of the Grand Ole Opry (held here for many years) in the 50’s. Art’s commentary was constantly entertaining and, because he comes from Georgia, was sometimes unintellgible. I recorded most of it and will play on the show. Graham was disappointed that there was no mention of Neil Young, who recorded the Heart Of Gold DVD here, and there was nothing about him in the museum.
Of course, there is also my family connection through fiddle player ‘Chubby’ (Robert Russell) Wise, who played here with Bill Monroe, as a member of the Bluegrass Boys, and also co-wrote ‘Orange Blossom Special’ (in the early 1940’s) which was recorded by Monroe and, later by Johnny Cash. Chubby also co-wrote ‘Shenandoah Waltz.’ No doubt this is where my predilection for music was first generated and passed down through the family. There is a mention of Chubby on a plaque outside the theatre but no mention inside. He died on January 6, 1996 at the age of 80.
Next it was a quick stroll to the Country Music Hall of Fame where we started with the tour of RCA Studio B, where Elvis recorded more than half of his entire catalogue. The studio is called the Home of 1000 Hits and that is a pretty accurate description. No mention, until I raised it with the tour guide, that Gillian Welch recorded Time The Revelator here in 2001. I guess Gillian cannot quite match Elvis yet. Like Sun Studios it was an eerie experience to stand in the place where so many greats had recorded.
Back to the Hall Of Fame, which is a massive building with a huge central feature (this year) on Hank Williams. It is a rather wonderful display and the whole building is impressive but we were a little annoyed that Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, astonishingly, did not have some kind memorial to it. Townes Van Zandt only rated a small mention in a brief blurb on Steve Earle and he is not in the Hall, which has a large display almost as big as The Pantheon in Rome. I reckon that they are totally blind to the contemporary country and alt.country scenes. A pity. Of course, Chubby Wise should have had an entire section to himself.
After this, it was time for some lunch in the form of some pulled pork sandwiches at Jack’s BBQ which we enjoyed despite encountering the surliest waitress/counter attendant so far on the trip. A sign boasts that Jack’s staff are the friendliest anywhere. It must be a very old sign.
A shopping expedition followed and that yielded the cowboy boot deal of the century where we were able to avail ourselves of the Buy 1 Get 2 Free Deal at Boot Country. Three for US$174 including tax was pretty hard to beat (even if they are made in Bangladesh and India). I got two and Graham took one (because he has less room in his suitcase). A western shirt at Nashville Cowboy on 2nd Ave. completed the outfit for me.
We went back to The Station Inn to see the Doyle and Debbie Show – a take-off on Nashville that was very funny indeed – and then finished the night by meeting Anne McCue for dinner at Demo’s.
A great day.