Arriving at The Hutton Hotel around 11am, we ordered coffees to go. During that short wait, we saw in the lobby, performers Robyn Hitchcock, Emma Swift, Melody Pool, Jim Lauderdale and Joe Henry.
Brian Wise from RRR radio in Melbourne Australia was doing a live recording of his show in one of the Hotel ballroom suites. He had a plethora of guests (is that the correct collective noun?) – The Audreys, Sarah Carroll, Chris Altmann (doing a great new song “the Darkness and The Light”), Melody Pool, Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift did a delicate duo set – a new Hitchcock song “Follow Your Money” was excellent.
Then it was aboard the shuttle bus – I was lucky enough to sit next to a gentleman from New Jersey – Joe Janci a songwriter and nice guy – check out his You Tube clips.
The Country Music Hall of Fame was having a session with Ry Cooder and it had been moved to a larger room to accommodate the demand. The interviewer was country music author Barry Mazer. Topics covered during the interview included Ry’s early beginnings, his first meeting with Flaco Jiminez, his development as a musician, an early collaboration with Taj Mahal, his stellar career as a session musician for people like the Rolling Stones, Townes Van Zandt and Little Feat, the 1970’s Cooder solo albums, the Hollywood scores (“The Long Riders”, “Paris Texas”), The Buena Vista Social Club project and some of his newer activities, with The Haden Triplets and Sam Outlaw. I have to say the hour went as fast as an hour can go, if you know what I mean. Captivating and engrossing.
We rediscovered our favourite coffee spot in Nashville – Dunn Bros on 4th avenue. A nice lunch and super service, and I enjoyed a flat white* coffee for the first time this trip.
The next step was to find our way to East Nashville. Catching the local bus was the option, and we found the depot easily enough, but getting the right bus route proved pretty tough. Eventually we got ourselves organised, with some help from the ticketing office and locals on the bus.
We arrived at The Groove Record Store, behind which Lone Star Music (check out lonestarmusic.com) was showcasing a number of Texas roots artists.
At the back of the record store, a tent and stage had been set up and there were free cocktails and beer, with burritos out front.
John Moreland has a starkly powerful and haunting delivery – great songwriting. Courtney Patton has a strong, pleasant country voice – The Trishas have recorded one of her songs. From Memphis originally and now resident in Nashville, Cory Branan has a new album out which I love. Today he was solo and was hard to ignore on stage – somewhat ramshackle set structure (most of the songs were based on crowd requests), flashing smile, sharp humour and a large stage presence – a really enjoyable set.
Matt the Electrician looks like a guy who can help you out with your wiring. And while he’s there at your house, he could play a few tunes – good voice and material. It’s taken me a while to be in the same place and time to see The Howlin’ Brothers, who were terrific. Traditionally based Appalachian Mountain music with youth and vigour. Austin-based David Ramirez I had heard in a song in a sample CD which I love – his was the closing set – weighty material, rich voice. A song called (I think) “You’ll Find The Light” was simple and simply beautiful.
This had been a long, great session and we met a nice couple from Ontario – Paul and Sheila – we had dinner together just outside the renowned 5 Spot music venue. Great pizza on a balmy Tennessee night. We bade our farewells, agreeing to re-connect at the Blackie and The Rodeo Kings gig the following night.
Finally we got a cab back across the Cumberland River to Cannery Row, an old factory site which now houses three Americana venues.
Arriving at The Mercy Lounge we caught the end of The Black Prairie who I am liking more and more – sometimes stark and unpredictable but always grabbing your attention. Amos Lee guested on one song that we saw. Back downstairs to The Cannery Ballroom where JD Wilkes and The Dirt Daubers were going manic, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, with their fiery, all-night boogie. I got a good spot for the next act, The Devil Makes Three. I have their latest release The Place I Left Behind and tonight’s set eclipsed their recorded material. Foot stomping, driving Americana music amongst many loving admirers – it was fun to be down the front soaking it up for this one.
A change of pace – to The Station Inn which was a couple of blocks away and had the added benefit of being on the way home – I had been there in 2010 to see Jim Lauderdale and it’s a famous bluegrass watering hole. Tonight I was excited to re-acquaint myself with Chatham County Line.
We caught the end of the preceding set, from Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay – they were fun – “I’m Just A Sexist From Texas” will stay with me for quite a while.
Chatham County Line have just released their seventh album, of which I have two. I caught them when they performed at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass event last year on a street stage in their home town of Raleigh North Carolina. Tonight’s set was terrific, full of classy playing, stage choreography sharing the one microphone, quality songs and playfulness. “Tightrope”, the title track from their new album, “Everything’s Going To Be Alright”, “Carolina” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night” were excellent.
So by set’s end at around 1.30, there was only one thing left to do – buy a Station Inn T-shirt before heading home.
Another exhilarating day.
*Flat White coffees aren’t such a thing in the US but the manager had an Australian barista visit (as a customer) who was invited behind the counter to demonstrate how to make a flat white Australian-style.