Well actually – a bit of Sunday to go.
Last time we were here, Tom took me to Guitar City – sort of like a Walmart version (big) of Billy Hydes before the current sadness. I tried a few effects pedals for turning the bodhran into a (more) funky percussion instrument. Last time I wasn’t ready to commit, but this time there’s just the pedal – on special – irresistible.
But this isn’t about me – well – a bit.
Have spoken to Jed and Danna at the AMA office. They’re sounding remarkably relaxed on the eve of this major event. They’ve done it a number of times of course (this being the twelfth), but always have time for a chat. Will drop in tomorrow to touch base, confirm tickets for Awards etc.
Tom Mason (house host) has suggested that when in the ‘Athens of the South’, a dose of culture’s what’s needed. So, we’re off take in some Shakespeare of course. As well as being a talented, well known muso, Tom is involved in the local theatre scene and this is the 25th anniversary of the Shakespeare festival. It’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ set to a 1940’s jazz standards soundtrack. The all-original songs (of course – it’s Nashville) are great and perfectly suit the lightness of the play. Acting’s great and there’s a full house at he open-air soundshell in Centennial Park, on the same ground where we played at the Australian Festival all those years ago – and just adjacent to the Parthenon so recently featured on the in-flight ‘Nashville’.
Off to the Village Pub in groovy East Nashville to catch up with Mark Miller who was an ‘honorary’ Bushwacker at the Aussie Festival. He’s just returned from two weeks playing on the annual Garrison Keilor ‘Prairie Home Companion’ Mediterranean cruise (!). Has lots of great stories to tell about 60-year old Lutheran ouples from the midwest plunged into the European experience, and great to catch up.
The nice surprise is that – while at the bar, a voice says “what are you doing here?”. It’s old music mate Jedd Hughes – the worst email responder in the world. Jedd was one of our first graduates of the Country Music College back in the mists and one of the first to head off to the US (at age 17) to do the renowned music course at the University of Texas. His precocious guitar talent has seen him play for some of country music’s luminaries here, and he’s leading the band for Americana headliner Rodney Crowell these days. They’re showcasing this week, so will be great to see him play. I’ve been trying to get him involved in the Sounds Australia gigs for years – hence the emails. He’s promised faithfully to reply, and is keen to be involved. Fingers crossed, but looks like I’ve enlisted the first of the 2013 contingent. Totally unexpected, but lovely to see him.
Day 1 Proper
Today’s lots of running around, starting with the annual siteseeing tour of Nashville for this year’s winners of the Telstra Road To Discovery – Kelly Menhennett (songwriter) and Andrew Redford (performer). Hired the bus and off we go with guest tour guides Tom and Jeff Persson – ex president of the Nashville Kangaroos, to add some local credibility. Kelly and Andrew’s first trip to Nashville, so it’s the McMansions of the music elite, the ante-bellum mansions of the old money, Downtown, couple of Civil War sites (the Battle of Nashville was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy). Although it appears that the battle’s maybe not quite over yet …
Lots and lots of churches of course, and plenty photos of the kids in Music Row, where most of the music businesses have their headquarters. Nashville’s songwriting ‘industry’ is so important that all three major PROs (Performing Rights Organisations – the US equivalents of APRA), have their major offices here rather than LA, New York etc.
A fine time had by all, and we repair to meet up with Bill Page from Mushroom who’s annual task is to set up writing and industry contacts for the TRTD winners. Get to catch up with Felicity and Glen (Hanna), who’ve just got into town. Felicity’s going to busy as with her showcase, duties as official Tamworth music ‘ambassador’ as well as interviews and colour pieces to record for her ‘Saturday Night Country’ ABC radio show. Great having her here in that last capacity as it’ll be great promotion for the whole Sounds Australia venture back home.
Interview with The Tennessean, the major daily here (great promo) and then a visit to the AMA office to pick up all the tickets and laminates for the touring party. Then head off for a quick catch-up with the Chambers clan at Jack’s BBQ – ribs of course! Tom’s dog Errol (Flynn) just loves my visits – he being a vegetarian! Good to sit down with Kasey and Shane and Nash (brother, producer, manager), as they’ll be flat out until they leave next Saturday. They’re the first Aussies ever invited to perform on the prestigious Americana Honors (sic) and Awards Show – according to the Nashville Scene “The world’s best awards show”. Having seen three, I can’t argue with that. Although Eurovision might come close! Only joshin’. They’re excited about the awards, but even more so because Buddy Miller (Americana superstar) has invited them to participate in a special show at the historic First Baptist church (of course), singing and doing backing vocals for Emmylou!
Off the bed, as tomorrow the madness begins with ‘Tamworth Presents a Taste of Australia’ – our annual Americana preview show at the iconic Bluebird Cafe.