After we saw Graceland and Sun Studios, we drove the three hour ride to Nashville. It was where we spent the last five days of our vacation and I can only say I can't wait to go back.
We stayed at a "cottage" which is actually more like a carriage house behind the main residence. It was in a suburb of Nashville called Sylvan Park and it was quaint and accommodating. It really had just a bed a kitchenette, a bath/shower and a couch. It was really all we needed though, especially given that we weren't there much. These "Air B & B's" are really a nice change from a hotel. We had use of the outdoor patio with umbrella table and chairs as well, which made for a nice hideaway.
But most of our time was spent in downtown Nashville. Now, if you know me, you know I'm not a country music fan. I am a rock/indie/alternative fan primarily and if there's one kind of music I never really "got," it was country. Now I've always liked Johnny Cash and can appreciate a little Willie Nelson on occasion, but for the most part, I never intentionally turned on a country station.
So it was a little like the time I went to Disneyland with Donna and the kids. At the time, I was the ultimate Disney cynic, thinking it was "just for kids" and was just a big money suck. As Donna will attest, by the end of the trip, I was a Disney convert. I was more concerned with getting all the character autographs than the kids were and couldn't get enough of the rides. To be cliche, it is a magical place and it won me over and turned me into the tallest kid in the park.
I went into Nashville with this same kind of attitude and came out a country and western music convert. Not a convert in the sense that I'll dial it up intentionally on the radio, but as I've told people, I can now APPRECIATE it as a musical style. One of the bands that we saw on a couple of different occasions were The Silver Threads. I really came to enjoy this band. They helped me appreciate several things about the C&W genre.
1. The storytelling of Country/Western music is really captivating. The more I appreciate poetry, the more I listen closely to song lyrics. Songs like Working Man, Coal Miners Daughter, Crazy, Jolene and all the rest. I'd never heard Working Man before, but when I did, it almost brought me to tears.
2. Musical arrangements. Because most bands are stripped down to the essentials, acoustic guitars, drums, stand up bass and the occasional steel guitar, it makes it easy to appreciate all the play back and forth between them. I definitely have a new appreciation for stand up "slap" bass players like Slick Joe Fick. Tough work.
3. The voice of Eileen Rose, the female lead singer of Silver Threads made the storytelling lyrics even more beautiful. It's true that if you're playing in downtown Nashville you're probably pretty good. She was phenomenal!
4. Like a friend of mine said, "It's all just blues, anyway." He's right, and I love the blues, so this was a natural fit.
And I have to give a nod to a phenomenal guitarist I saw. His stage name the Legendary Rich Gilbert, lead guitarist for the Silver Threads. He TORE IT UP. For a guy playing in honky tonks, he sure showed he's ready for the big time. Every time he started a solo, I stopped what I was doing and watched. (I've always aspired to play guitar, so tend to appreciate those that actually can.) He played Ghost Riders in the Sky and it was heart stopping. If you ever get the chance to hear him, do it. Here's a link to a sample.
|Roberts Western World|
When it comes down to it, I loved everything about Nashville. The people are friendly and fun loving, the music is amazing and the food delicious. I can't wait to go back. Until then, I'll have to keep my newly discovered appreciation for country and western confined to my iPod.