Musical Cup Runneth Over – Nashville Day 11

Read about our visit to Nashville’s music attractions

Our last full day in Nashville.

In the morning we headed up to Centennial Park west of downtown where the Parthenon sits quietly as the centrepiece among the vast park lawns. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.

Originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, the Parthenon also serves as the city of Nashville’s art museum.  It’s a bit odd, I must say, to have this homage here, but it does have one advantage over the original back in Athens – it’s finished!

 

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Driving back downtown, we espied a post office, where we all got cylinders for our posters for safe travel for the rest of our journey.

I had arranged to meet Amy Holms from the Musician’s Hall of Fame for a special tour of the museum, which honors all musicians regardless of genre or instrument.  Rather than focus on the stars, though, the museum celebrates the achievements of the great session players, some of whom have had little recognition.  There are stories around Garth Brook’s G men, Elvis Presley’s regular players, L.A.’s The Wrecking Crew, the Funk Brothers of Motown – there are exhibits around Capitol Records, Stax, the great producers and stars that were great players in their own way, such as Glen Campbell and Joe South.  Instruments played on seminal tunes and albums are on display, as well as space dedicated to the early beginnings of Jimi Hendrix and the time he spent in Nashville, where he honed his craft.  The MHOF timeline starts with the beginning of recorded music and inductees are nominated annually by current members of the American Federation of Musicians and by other music industry professionals.

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Music City Roots is a Wednesday night institution.  A live radio show hosted by the inimitable Jim Lauderdale, it is housed in The Factory (a fascinating building) in Franklin TN, less than an hour south of Nashville.

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Jim Lauderdale

After an introductory tune by Jim, the headliner tonight was on first – Mac Wiseman.  Now it would be remiss of me not to mention in some detail some of the achievements of this man’s unprecedented and unparalleled career.

  • he first recorded in 1946, making his the longest recording career of any American singing star alive
  • a member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys
  • an original member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys
  • Merle Haggard cites him as one of music’s great voice
  • Kris Kristofferson and Chris Isaak call him “a hero”
  • he’s a Bluegrass Hall of Famer
  • a National Heritage Arts fellow
  • he has recorded more than 60 albums.
  • he ran Dot Records in Los Angeles
  • he toured with Hank Williams, helping the troubadour to complete his greatest song, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,”
  • he was at the Grand Ole Opry the night Williams debuted and received five encores.
  • he starred on the Dean Martin Show
  • he was managed by Col. Tom Parker (Elvis Presley’s larger than life manager), firing Parker after the infamous manager insisted that he go onstage dressed like the subject of one of Wiseman’s hits, Davy Crockett
  • he recorded with big band leader Woody Herman
  • he became one of country music’s first international stars
  • he played the Newport Folk Festival with Joan Baez and her then-unknown discovery, Bob Dylan
  • he’s being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year
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Mac Wiseman

Mac Wiseman, now 89, brings his life full-circle, releasing a new album Songs From My Mother’s Hand, which finds him revisiting the songs his mother wrote down in her notebooks.  He brought those notebooks – aged, worn and well-loved – into the recording studio and sang from their pages.  The books may soon be under glass at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Recording artist Sierra Hull, whose on the bill at the World Of Bluegrass in Raleigh NC in two weeks, played mandolin in Mac’s band tonight.

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And now a word from our sponsors…

The rest of the bill was Australians, assembled by Dobe Newton (CMA president and Sounds Australia rep.), and they put on a very successful showcase, four great acts which exhibited quality and a statement of difference from the local U.S. artists.

Kevin Bennett continues to be a highlight (I’ve seen him so many times over here, he probably thinks I’m stalking him!) with the relevance, strength and authenticity of his songwriting and vocals.

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Kevin Bennett

Brooke Russell was without her band this time around but it did not detract from her breezy and beautifully pitched vocals.  She showcased two new songs which sounded pretty impressive, these may well form the basis of a new recording she will be looking to do upon her return to Melbourne.  If you can, I’d recommend you catch Brooke and get a good dose of her beautiful and wistful western swing.

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Brooke Russell

The Mae trio hail from Castlemaine, central Victoria and recently received acclaim at the National Folk Awards.  Their music has a traditional folk base but is refreshingly original, doing their own thing with quirky lyrics and arrangements.  Beautiful harmonies and a strong cohesion are also evident.

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The Mae Trio and Craig Havighurst

Falls are a duo from Sydney with a classical and jazz background, but their music is neither. With a string quartet and their interesting voice combination and material, they are ones to watch also.

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Falls

A jam of Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold” closed the show with all the performers (minus Mac) collaborating.

As well as the performances, all artists were capably interviewed throughout the evening, making it a fast-paced but appropriate homage to those on the bill.  Humour was streaked throughout and old-style advertisements were entertaining – it was in many ways as scaled down version of the Opry, but with more interesting roots underpinning

Thanks to producer and journalist Craig Havighurst for his hospitality for the evening.

 

Read about our visit to Nashville’s music attractions

Read about our visit to Nashville’s music attractions

Read about our visit to Nashville’s music attractions

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Author: Rob Dickens

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