Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nashville to Memphis

Friday Night in Nashville is a fun place. Occupying a handful of city blocks in downtown Nashville, the old fashioned bar and music filled area or your imagination is brightly light and crowded. It reminded Pat and I a lot of Hartford, a lot of big businesses empty at night, with just a few blocks of bars and clubs colorfully displayed for the choosing.

We arrived at a campground outside of the city by about ten miles and were greeted by a Christmas light show in full nighttime regalia just next door, and entertaining holiday surprise. The camper culture we’re learning is an eclectic one. People walk their cats on leashes, and have very elaborate set ups. We’ve seen some interesting inventions thus far, including tow behind waste water tanks that are basically like glorified children’s wagons that you tow to what we’ve learned is a “dump station”. Also things like huge white globes that people use to watch their dish TV’s, and some folks bring along an entire holiday decoration setup complete with light up animals.

After our arrival we met with a very helpful bus driver who was taking his rig home for the night to the bus station across the road from us. We were hoping to catch a shuttle to the downtown area that we were told was running (we waited an hour in vain) and he helped get us where we were going with pro directions! He made phone calls for us and even gave us coupons, a very helpful guy from the Grayline Bus Company, we thank you!

We made it to the downtown area thanks to our friend’s expertise, so quiet surrounding the nightlife, to walk downhill to bar owners hawking the “best bands in town” and music coming out of open air bars. We made it to “Roberts Western World” and got to listen to a couple bands, only one of which we got to hear the name of, the Don Kelly Band. We were all packed so deep down the long narrow passageway of the place I couldn’t even see (not surprising as most of you know my height) but the music was top notch. A real country and western band check them out. We roamed the streets trying to decide what band to hear, drank spicy hot chocolate, and talked about the music politics of the town. Both being performing musicians ourselves, we wondered what it must be like playing in such a famous city, a city built on it’s musical reputation and what the “real story” is.  There are such good bands that are playing for tips. Literally. There is much debate that surrounds this topic, and not living here myself I feel hesitant to draw a hasty conclusion, but I feel that musicians deserve a fair wage and that to the general public, a lot of things may go unnoticed. From the amount of work that goes into carrying gear from your house all the way to a crowded bar, to booking and finance, it’s a complicated business, and not everyone always has the musicians best interest in mind.

The creative prize of the night went to a duo playing drums and guitar running their amps off of their car battery, parked in an ally off the main street. Several street players lined the sidewalks playing everything from classical violin and drums while rapping, a very fast but fun sampling of the cities music culture.

 The next morning (this past Saturday now) we woke to temperatures that had to be in the seventies, we packed up our things and headed out for our half days drive to Memphis Tennessee. Our favorite stretch of road this far, central to western TN was beautiful, dotted with several state parks and wildlife preserves, the woodland slowly dissipates to a flatter landscape of open land and farm country. I’d like to go back and visit some of the parks there it seems to be a very beautiful part of the state.

 We arrived in Memphis on Saturday night, and ready for some more music. We’re trying to make it a point of our journey to at least get to hear a small bit of the music scene in each place we visit.

 I had booked a tour to see the Gibson Factory that is in the downtown area of Memphis and we arrived just in time after spending a little while trying to find a place to park with Beatrice. My father played a Gibson as a young person and then played it to me all while growing up. He purchased a really special little Gibson for me as my first guitar when I was ten years old. It sat around for a little while until I felt ready to play and didn’t mind having my fingers bleed to learn a bit. So the instruments have a special spot in my life.

In the Memphis

After our tour was done we headed down to the famous Beale Street, where just like Nashville there were bars and bands and way too much to choose from. It was around five so we didn’t get to see it really hopping. We got to eat some great creole food, and heard a band at B.B. Kings Blues Club. I sadly have no pictures of the factory as your are not allowed to take pictures, and I also have pictures of the street scene or restaurant because it was absolutely pouring rain the whole night, so you will have to imagine in your mind what you want Memphis to look like. Very different from Nashville it’s so funny that only a couple of hundred miles away the culture can be so different.

We went to our campsite, and after I left very little guessing for you all we woke up on Elvis Presley Boulevard the next morning…

Into Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley we went. My unhindered love of Elvis’s music as a kid I have to say still remains till now. His was one of the first albums I ever remember wanting to own, his name in gold letters in the top left hand corner with a black and white picture of him on stage. A fun  thing I've always wanted to get to do, I was glad for the visit.

On a side note I am unable to download any more pictures right now due to the computer making problems...I guess they'll have to wait,
Thanks for reading, till next time,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guess where...

We are now going to play a little game of guess where we are. I'll make it easy on you.
On our way to where we are now, we've seen several images and statues of this gentleman here. This is a ride in Seaside Park NJ.
At a hotdog shop in Williamsburg VA.
Missing his microphone in Nashville TN.

Where to next you wonder.....