Today is a rest day. No commitments until the Ryman Auditorium tonight.
Leaving the house we found the Bond Coffee Company ten minutes away by foot, an ideal breakfast and coffee spot that could well serve as our regular local. It’s in The Gulch just up from the renowned music venue The Station Inn.
After a great breakfast, we walked and walked – to the nearest Sun Trust Bank for some Sandra high-finance, to check out the Hutton Hotel where the Conference part of Americanafest is being held, to a T-Mobile shop to get a U.S. cell phone. Then we retraced our steps down Broadway where eventually we stumbled upon Manuel couture, clothier to Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Porter Wagoner and Jack White to name a few. In fact Manuel was the head designer for Nudie The Rodeo Tailor. Beautiful clothing but too early and jet-lagged to think about any purchases there.
On to Bridgestone Arena where there was a little Music City tourist store (another hat pin!), just on the edge of the colorful part of Broadway.
No desire this day for sight-seeing – we headed up Fifth Avenue to Walgreens to get some supplies and, for me, replacement reading glasses (left on last flight over here), followed by lunch at a new place – The Frothy Monkey – nice venue, one to keep in my mind.
Time to head back to the house for a rest, so another walk, past the Country Music Hall of Fame where we picked up street maps. While there in line, we were asked, after hearing our dulcet tones, whether we were “English or British” – tough one to answer.
We also found Cannery Row (where three of the Showcase events are being held – The Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom and The High Watt) which is going to prove very handy, being only 15 minutes walk away from our little rustic abode just out of The Gulch.
An hour turnaround and then back to downtown (another twenty-minute walk) for a meal. This proved to be problematic, time was running short and a couple of our preferred places from previous trips were packed out. We decided on a Blue Coast Burrito. We ordered and when I asked for a Light Corona, I was asked for ID – good thing I didn’t order a Jack Daniels!
So to the beautiful Ryman Auditorium. The feature tonight was a celebration anniversary for Leftover Salmon, a band that recorded a seminal album called The Nashville Sessions which was released on 14 September 1999. Produced by Randy Scruggs , the band called upon a long list of artists to help out with the recording and most of the album’s guests were here tonight recreating the sessions. The line-up of the band has changed a little over the years – tonight was Vince Herman, Drew Emmitt, Greg Garrison, Andy Thorn, Alwyn Robinson (drummer who would be lucky to be twenty by his looks) and Bill Payne from Little Feat. The guests were many and varied – John Bell, Sam Bush, Jeff Coffen, Elizabeth Cook, John Cowan, Col. Bruce Hampton, Jeff Hannah, Taj Mahal, Del McCoury, Rob McCoury, Ronnie McCoury, Todd Park Mohr, Darrell Scott, Randy Scruggs, Jo-el Sonnier, Sally Van Meter and Reese Wyans.
You could tell it was going to be a special night from the outset – a packed house and a standing ovation even before the band started. Bill Payne was announced as an official member of the band, The Nashville Sessions was available on the night on vinyl for the first time and the band about to release its new album High Country on US Record Store Day. Oh, and the entire event was filmed for posterity.
The band performed the album in its entirety and many many other tunes – a couple of songs from the new album and some killer covers – “Cripple Creek” by The Band and Little Feat’s “Willing”. Del McCoury played a song he performed on this very stage with Bill Monroe in 1963. I was taken by the diversity of the band’s sound, country rock, alt. country with plenty of soul and funk to mix it up. The jamming groove was amazing throughout the evening. The keyboard wizardry of Reese Wyans, the voice and presence of Darrell Scott (I am excited to be seeing him in Charleston in three weeks time) and Jeff Coffin’s clarinet playing were just brilliant. A special night of over three hours of music.
And then it was over. We ambled out of this wonderful place (I was however dismayed at the amount of rubbish, particulary beer cans left by patrons) and met up with friends Colleen and Bryant, exchanging views of the night and swapping notes for future Americana events. We have just heard that Lucinda Williams will be in town this week.
Another walk – back to the house with a stop via the local service mart for some provisions for breakfast and such. I was, however, not tempted by the new Lay’s flavour of Cappucino potato chips.