Nashville or Bust

The trip that started a longer journey

Americana Music Festival and Conference, Day 3

Some days are just beautiful and some nights are just incredible. Friday was that way.

We woke up a bit slow as our clocks are working in reverse. Still reeling from the awards we decided to get out of the downtown grid for a bit and explore neighborhoods. Road trip within a road trip. Dig.

First on our list was to check out East Nashville, in particular the 5-points region. It’s a funky area filled with just about everything, including this:

Behold, the I Dream of Weenie microbus hot dog stand. We had a chance to talk with the Hot Dog man and we decided if timing works, we’re going to shoot back over for brunch on Sunday. It just proves that if you keep your concept central, really great things can emerge.

Right next to the microbus is Fanny’s House of Music. We decided to take a peek and boy were we surprised. Not only were there rooms of vintage guitars, amps and pedals but wouldn’t you know… vintage clothes, too. As I posted out on Facebook it was the perfect ‘His and Hers’ stop.

Dave couldn’t resist picking a bit on an old National. The folks who came in and out of the shop were from the neighborhood — musicians, artists, young parents. It was neat to hang out and get a different perspective of the total Nashville scene. It isn’t all rhinestone and cowboy. There is edge here, too, but its all collaborative, creating a vibrant texture we’ve yet to experience in other places.

So what do you go see after getting your hippie on? Well, you head west to the pastoral Natchez Trace in search of love. Yes folks despite the gooey pictures, we don’t have quite enough love between us. The magnet that I bought in the airport my first trip to Nashville in 2006 has been haunting us. It was time.

Destination: The Loveless Cafe. Desire: Biscuits and Country Ham. Expectations: Everything and Nothing. End Result: We don’t kiss and tell.

Even though we got there after lunch, the place was packed and Dave needed to eat. Lucky for us, we could order take-out and take advantage of the brilliant weather and handy picnic tables. It was an ideal way to soak up this landmark and treasure. We wondered who stayed in the motel 50 years ago. Honeymooners? Lonely hearts? Bank robbers? When the guitar comes back around you always need to give a nod to the bank robbers. It’s a rule.

Someday we’d like to come back and drive more of the 400+ mile loop of the Natchez Trace. Someday when we didn’t have a date night planned with our Buddy. On to music talk…

Now, I don’t know who has the bigger Buddy Miller crush… but Dave and I can’t get enough of this guy. It was a thrill and frankly, an honor, to see him accept his awards for both Instrumentalist of the Year and Artist of the Year at the awards show. We’ve seen him live two other times sharing the stage with amazing artists. We jokingly say we should ask Buddy and his wife Julie over for coffee and pie sometimes. We’d love nothing more than to just talk with him. He’s one of the most genuine and gracious people in the industry. And last night we had the chance to see him on stage with the dynamic and entertaining, Jim Lauderdale. So, while we were loving our respite we were also anxious to get ready for the Friday Night Showcase at the Cannery Ballroom.

The original line-up had a start time of 9:00 with Keb Mo. Buddy and Jim were scheduled at 10:00 and the North Mississippi All-Stars at 11:00. Not bad, right? It really was a fluke that I checked the website while we were getting ready because literally while we were noshing on biscuits, the music angels added The Secret Sisters to the line-up at 8:00. We first heard of the Secret Sisters early this year and I’ve probably spun their CD a zillion times. Theirs is one of those incredible ‘discovery’ stories and to have their first album produced by T Bone Burnett a stroke of excellent fortune. Dave and I had each voted for them as Emerging New Artist and were giddy to see them sing the previous night at the Ryman. The opportunity to catch them up-close and personal was our stroke of excellent fortune. It was great set and we loved the fact that they shared one guitar back and forth. Simple and beautiful. They previewed some of their new material as well as covered some of their favorites. Definitely ones to watch and enjoy for many, many years.

By now you know that almost every blog post is going to include one of those (in)famous ‘Dave and Jacqui Encounters.’ As the Sisters (what we call ’em) were winding up, they announced that they would be at their merchandise table to meet and great. Dave nudged me and said, “You should go say hello to the Sisters.” Why not, right? So, while he held our seats and Keb Mo was setting up, I wandered into the hall to wait and see if I could say hello and share with them our appreciation.

That’s what I was expecting to do and, while it did happen, sumptin-sumptin else happened, too. Jim Lauderdale arrived. Yeah, just like that. He was carrying his own guitar and walked right through the front door and into the lobby. I just happened to look up and see him and he was looking my way. It was bizarre as we were 5 feet from each other. I couldn’t be rude so I simply said, “Hello, Mr. Lauderdale” expecting nothing more than perhaps a nod. Boy, was I surprised when he said, “Why hello” and proceeded to thank me for coming to the show, hug me and kiss me on the cheek. (I’m still laughing as I write this because it was so … WOW.)

Laura and Lydia arrived a few minutes later. It was really nice just to let them know how much their music is enjoyed. They were sweet too and let me snap a photo. Beautiful people inside and out.

By the time I got back in the ballroom, Keb Mo was on stage with his son on drums. Dave had a funny look on his face and just shook his head. He was hoping to hear Keb play — and the drums were drowning him out. Then there was the issue with the lights… and his tuning… and the monitors. All in all, Keb was on stage for 22 minutes and they weren’t a good 22 minutes. The set was rescued when Keb saw one of his friends in the audience, Colin Linden who co-wrote “Life is Beautiful” with him. Keb invited him up to sing along and then surprisingly, handed his guitar to Colin. Zing! Without a warm-up or anything, Colin Linden smashed that song and had so much fun doing so. A big dose of sweet to counter-act the bitter. We’re glad we got to experience that otherwise it would have been a “Keb No” in our book.

A lot of people were disgruntled with the short set so they left to catch a different venue. This just made what was about to happen a bit more intimate. Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale took the stage along with the just-as-amazing Greg Leisz on pedal steel. It was an historic set because while these two have known each other for 30+ years and have shared a stage, they had never co-lined a full performance. In front of us were the Fathers of Americana doing what they do best — and if Jim Lauderdale’s kiss made me blush that hour of music had me on cloud nine. Dave, too. Buddy was just genuine and flawless. His voice can be so damned powerful and yet so sweet and gentle. Jim is just fun to watch. Their collaborations on both “Don’t Wait” and one of our favorites “Hole In My Head” had us stomping and grinning from ear to ear.

If happiness had a sound it would have been that. And we were just two giddy happy campers in the midst of it all. Sparks were flying all around. And guess what? They took last night’s opportunity to announce that after all this time, they are going to make a record together. Hot Butter Yes.

We didn’t think we had it in us to take in the crush that was inevitable with the NMAS crowd so we decided to head back home. Again our heads were spinning. Two fools lucky in love life and music. It’s always great when you can end the night on such a high note. ~Jacqui

October 15, 2011 - Posted by | AmericanaFest 2011, Everyday

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