April 25, 2010

nashville trip diary- part 2 (the music & the ryman)

the ryman.... i was so overwhelmed just walking in. there were huge crowds all around. we later found out they were all going to see bon jovi at the theater across the rode, LOL!

the church pews killed my back. we sat next to some idiot who screamed "play the night they drove old dixie down!!!" for the entire show. i forget how dumb & rude people can be at shows.

but the show itself was wild. dave rawlings band played first. he & gillian are so skinny! he played 5 songs and it was just... i cried from the moment they started playing! it just sounded so good, and we were 1/2 way back but it looked like the stage was so close.

levon's band is huge. they came out next. he's 70 and has battled throat cancer as everyone knows, so i think people were a little nervous. he came out and looked so small and weak. then he got behind the drums and just beat the shit out of them for the next 3 hours.

his band has a horn section, and the baritone sax/ tuba player (howard johnson) was the highlight of the band. he even played tuba on "miss ohio" with gillian welch at one point!

levon sang a few songs and it i got goosebumps. his voice has changed, but it's still strong.

his daughter sings blues (the loud, screaming kind) and it's not my cup of tea, so i could have done without the blues numbers she sang. but it's nice to see him having a ball watching his daughter sing.

he also played mandolin on a few songs, and at one point jumped up and did a crazy dance that was hilarious and made the crowd go wild.

other guest musicians: sam bush (amazing mandolin player who took lead vocals on "cripple creek", one of my favorite songs of the night.) emmy lou harris was the unannounced special guest. she did "evangeline" with the band (like she did in the film "the last waltz") and i got the goosebumps. rodney crowell, some guy from the nitty gritty dirt band, and buddy miller also came out to do songs. buddy miller is a songwriter i've heard of, but didn't know much about. he's an old guy in a porkpie hat, but when he sang he just belted it out. his song was another favorite moment for me.

they played for over 3 hours. there were moments so beautiful that i cried, and songs that bored me. there were awkward moments (rodney crowell seemed distracted and sang at the wrong moment a few times.) they did some songs by the band, some of levon's songs from recent albums, & tons of cover songs.

the thing that struck me most was that everyone on stage (sometimes close to 20 musicians) were having so much fun. everyone was smiling and excited to be playing. you could feel the joy. everyone on that stage knew how lucky they were to be there, and they seemed to just love every minute of it.

totally worth the trip. we went back the next day for the backstage tour. an old guy named buddy did the honors. he walked us around the dressing rooms and explained all about the ryman. he told us about seeing hank williams play, how nice minnie pearl really was, and how his boss got him a dozen donuts every satuday night after the show. he talked about how the theater used to smell like fried chicken (people brought picnic baskets) and how everyone used fans to keep cool.

all of his stories ended up with everyone dying, houses burning down & people being killed. but it was entertaining!

we also went to grimey's record store, which is a little out of the way, but again, worth the trip.  bands like the black keys and gillian welch have played there, right in the middle of the stacks of albums.  i love just looking at old albums, remembering the artwork from when i was a kid and a gatefold album meant lots to look at.

we also hit record stores on lower broadway (ernest tubbs and another i can't recall the name...) when we got home dan brought out his turntable and we've been listening to albums all week.  old school!

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