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One of the Great Listening Rooms

We sit in on a Bluebird Cafe session

The Bluebird Cafe – Photo: LTTL
The Bluebird Cafe – Photo: LTTL

The Bluebird Cafe

In The Round

2 October 2019

Words: Rob Dickens

Images: Jim Jacob

It has always been a challenge to get tickets to Nashville’s iconic Bluebird Cafe. Since its starring role in the long-running TV series Nashville, that task has become even more difficult.

Tonight’s show was the first of two for the day – we aimed for the six o’clock in-the-round session but the tickets for the ninety-seat venue which has been operating in a humble Green Hills shopping mall since 1982, sold out quickly.

Luckily venue operators leave some seats at the back pews available for the door line. Tonight the doors opened at 5 and Jim and I stood in line for about ninety minutes to ensure we got in. Not only did we achieve that, we got prime seats, literally tapping-shoulder distance from one of the performers who, in accordance with tradition, are placed in a circle in the centre of this cosy, but historic place.

In The Round – Source: Bluebird Cafe

Tonight’s early set included Josh Allison & Judy Allison, Jim Parker, Brad Bulla and Mike Roberts.

Bios provided by Bluebird Cafe website, with commentary added by us:

Josh Allison and Judy Allison – Photo: LTTL

Josh Allison comes from a blue-eyed soul background with a commanding voice, and with wife and music partner Judy, the duo provides sweet harmonies. Josh & Judy can be found performing live 4 to 6 days a week across North Alabama/Tennessee for live venues, corporate parties and weddings. 

The couple passed a songwriters’ audition, doing well enough to be invited to this session. “Can’t Stop” and a new song “Driveway” were particularly memorable.

Jim Parker – Photo: LTTL

Jim Parker has a long and rich career – a founding member of The Illusions, recording with Lee Hazelwood’s LHI label, studio work with various recording artists including Sonny and Cher. He met a young John Anderson in Nashville and began writing successful chart songs. He is also the creator and host of a popular series at the Von Braun Center Playhouse in Huntsville, Alabama.

Jim provided plenty of highlights tinged with humour tonight – “Walmart Wedding Ring” and “Blood In The Water” stood out.

Brad Bulla – Photo: LTTL

Brad Bulla was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina with an early exposure to bluegrass and acoustic music. Brad began performing at festivals, fairs and concert venues, forming a band and opening shows for Merle Haggard, Charlie Pride and Ricky Skaggs.

Along with performing with bluegrass band, Fireball Mail, Brad operates Bulla Promotions – a promotion and management company based in Nashville. His song “The Dark Night Of The Soul” is based on two tragic losses, one as personal and as heart-breaking as it gets – not a dry eye in the house.

Mike Roberts – Photo: LTTL

Mike Roberts is one of the most respected and genuine musicians in the North Alabama region. Mike returned to Huntsville after touring solo for about fifteen years ago and the talented singer/guitarist is also known for his band, 5ive O’Clock Charlie.

His soulful voice and grounded lyrics were memorable – “Carry On The Torch” (an ode to Outlaw Country) and the tale of his struggles with depression, “My Soul” were excellent.

A line for the 9 o’clock show had formed outside during this entire session. As we filed outside, you could see the anticipation in their eyes.

Long live the Bluebird

BLUEBIRD CAFE SITE

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We sit in on a Bluebird Cafe session

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Author: Rob Dickens

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this lovely write up! You perfectly captured the essence of the venue and the artists!

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    • Thank you. What a special place!

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      • Great write up. We were behind you in line and reading this brought back “all the feels” from the show that night. The visit to that Bluebird is our favorite Nashville memory!

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        • Hey Hollie & Larry – thanks for the comment. What a great night! Hope we can catch up again – live the music.

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