Nashville or Bust

The trip that started a longer journey

Wait for that guitar to come ’round again… part one

It’s been said that you can never go back. You shouldn’t go back. Trying to go back will only make you sad, yearning for what you had, knowing what you lost. The weight of it all will leave you deep in your cups, cryin’ in your beer…(cue the record scratch) Well, that might be good advice for the masses, but when have we ever followed the voice of reason?

Hers & His at the coveted table in the Willie Nelson smoking section. Our names are etched in here somewhere.

A few weeks ago, we packed the bags, left the kids some pizza money (at ages 20 & 15, what could go wrong?) and hopped in the car. It had been a few years since we visited Nashville and given that this was the 10-year anniversary of how all of this started, heading south on I-65 seemed a proper and fitting thing to do. It was a Thursday afternoon, the weather was perfect and our simple mission was to arrive at Tootsie’s by 6 p.m., local. Unlike the happy accident of my 40th, THIS was a calculated birthday destination. And there at the door to greet us, with those bright blue eyes that crackle when he smiles, was Jake Mauer.

The years have been good to Jake–he’s been blessed with a beautiful family and for many, he has become a reason to go to Nashville. A true gentleman and delightful showman, his homage to the classics is not lost on us and his toasts and stories never get old. Like a good Tennessee whisky, Jake’s voice has mellowed for the better and his personal songwriting approach has become more textured and the stories refined. He was raised right, and we’re better people for having him in our circle.

I couldn’t have dreamed of a more appropriate way to be grateful for all that was my 40s and in the same motion, make welcome my 50s. Singing through the classics (thanks for the Prine!) as well as new material, Jake and his talented band put on an incredible three-hour set. While Dave and I thoroughly enjoyed every golden moment of it, being able to connect with Jake and chat throughout the evening made it all so very fine. From his stage and through the crowd, we toasted everything that has taught us and shaped us over this past decade. To life, to love, to alcohol (because no good story every started with a salad!) and to the honky tonk gods who once again made it so we could hold court at the Willie table, we raised our beer bottles high, letting the dust mites and ghosts of that place embrace us. Thanks, Jake.   ~Jacqui

Our 8×10 black and white among all the others… Tootsie’s. June 2018.










July 6, 2018 Posted by | The Birthday Trip 2018, The Birthday Trip, 2008 | 1 Comment


A few things that didn’t make the play-by-play…

This is Earl from Missouri. We met him and his wife, Jolene, outside the Ryman on our first day. He thought Dave was someone famous and asked to have his picture taken with him. Sensing he might be the famous one traveling incognito, I also snapped a pic.

Sometime between bar stop 4 and 7, Dave found Elvis and “double dog dared” him to give me a pinch when I walked by. Elvis still has it. Crazy Hound Dog.

Dave dismayed because he couldn’t sing at The Stage. Their band had someone who could already cover the girl parts. A girl!

I loved the neon. Would love one of these on the side of our house!

I once worked with an Art Director who had a thing for Kiss memorabilia. Kitz, this shot is for you!

And, leaving Nashville we spied this sign on I-65 before crossing back into the Bluegrass. Someone else must have been reading the blog. Hey, what happens in Nashville…  Sin always finds you out.

Until we return!

July 22, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | Leave a comment

Night two… Wow!

Talk about an incredible show. Opening act was Sharon Little from PA. Hers is a Cinderella story…. five months ago she was a waitress. Last night she performed her last show on the tour with Robert & Allison (she’s been the opening act in 34 cities.) She was so sweet and soulful; deserving of her standing ovation! As she thanked the audience for coming she mentioned that Robert Plant visited her dressing room before she took the stage one last time and gave her a hug. She then said, “I know I’m probably a nobody to everybody here tonight; but right now I feel like a somebody. Thanks again.” Then she and her band ripped a few more tunes. She’s honest. We liked her. And her jacket was straight vintage.

Robert and Allison played for over two hours… including a 5-song ovation. T Bone Burnett was in his glory. Buddy Miller strong. The utility player, Stuart Duncan, was amazing. If it had strings, he used it to fill the place with all sorts of sound and color. Together, they played material from Raising Sand as well as some standards and Zeppelin material re-arranged in the spirit of the project. The sound was eerie and slinky. And yeah hey mama, we liked they way moved and grooved. Robert’s dance steps were charming. Allison was beautiful, perfect and effortless. She liked being home.

And speaking of home, we realized as we left the Sommet our time at Nashville was coming to an end. There were three hours until last call so we headed across the street to Layla’s … the place with the hot dog cart outside and chicken wire on the side of the stage. The band was playing all sorts of ruckus stuff, the perfect counter-balance to what we just heard. In exchange for two bar stools in the back, we promised to keep watch of this particular beer can AND the precious popcorn buns. Civic duty.

Around 1:30, our friendly barkeep found us slouching on the job, took this picture on our camera as evidence and said we might think about heading home. After contributing the the tip jar of course! Gladly. Worth every dime!

July 20, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mama, make my hair bigger…

Caught in the act. Did you expect anything less? We’re off to pre-concert drinks, concert and evening out. So excited to see this show!

July 19, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | 2 Comments

Best name for an eatery ever! (Sorry Yagoot)

We’ve walked by this place a few times and took shots last night when it was closed. The letter ‘k’ is central to their branding effort. As is explaining exactly WHAT the heck they are to those who stumble by…

July 19, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | Leave a comment

Now that’s my sort of claim

Outdoor board promoting a local radio station: 96.3. They’ve got a claim that’s pretty locked and loaded, think? 

July 19, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | Leave a comment

Saturday Stroll

It’s very strange for us to have an unstructured day. Our only agenda item (and the thing that started this idea) is the Allison Krauss/Robert Plant show tonight at the Sommet Center. And since that’s down the street there’s no rush to do much of anything. ‘Cept stroll.

We spent some time at Hatch Show Print. The print geek in me oggled. Note: it is situated next to a store advertising: “Boots… buy 1 pair get 2 free!” and the print shop got my full attention. That there tells you something! The folks @ Hatch are open and friendly. Love the fact they have two shop cats who assist with printmaking. Our bag features the fancy footwork of either Huey or Maow .

From there we went to Gruhn Guitars. More drooling, this time Dave. Happy to report we were good and did not acquire a new stringed instrument for our collection. Least not yet. The day is still young!

July 19, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nashville … the first six hours.

So we hit the streets 4:00ish. Hard to say because we forgot about Central time and neither of us had a watch. Then again, who cared?

Watching Dave approach Broadway was hysterical. Kid in a candy store! All of a sudden… bam! Lots of bars, all with live (great sounding!) music pouring from them at a time when we should have been toiling behind a desk — and he didn’t know where to go first.

We opted for Rippy’s because the food looked good there. Our waitress, Kat, was the best ever. Shame I didn’t get a shot of her. Too busy taking dumb pictures of us. Rippy’s was having happy hour when we got there. Two-for-one beers. Oh, yeah. We stayed there a bit. They had to call Belgium to restock the bar.

Next was Legends. Dave was amazed watching the break down/set up of the different bands. Night Shift was the six piece and without a sound check … BAM! We stayed for a few but knew there was more fun to be had.

So off to Tootsie’s next. Yes, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge… home of one of the smallest stages ever but man, it has held a lot of talent. When we got there we were a bit confused… There was a guy singing along with the band. Open mic night? Well sort of. We hung around, joined the party, and learned that Josh Miller is with the Army. Getting ready to go back to Iraq this Tuesday. He wanted to have fun and the night turned into a salute/send off for our troops. The band was front man Jake Maurer on acoustic with three great players behind him (including a full drum kit on the smallest stage ever!)

Jake was great at taking requests. And if your request had an Andrew Jackson attached to it and some talent in your back pocket, well, you too could sing at Tootsie’s. For my birthday, Jake said “C’mon” to Dave’s desire to sing “Wagon Wheel.” After sharing the mic on sweet harmonies in verse one, Jake got Dave a mic of his own and it was just bee-yoot-i-ful!

Josh promised to keep America free and keep his buddies safe overseas. I whispered a little prayer into my bottle that he, and his friends, will come home.

There’s only so much beer you can drink (really!) so we decided to venture over to the record store. Again, Dave in a candy store! I was mesmerized by the 8 x 10 b/w photos of the C&W legends I remember as “sangers” of my childhood soundtrack. There was a particular shot of Dolly with the biggest hair ever. It was pure architecture. I lost track of Dave during this time, finding him a few minutes outside. Not sure what happened in the store… something about trying to order a beer and the guy just pointed and said “out there, son.”

So I took thirsty boy to Second Fiddle. We had a nightcap under the big banjo. Which reminded Dave that we never did wander into the guitar shop on the corner. Ah…. that’s for tomorrow before the concert.

July 19, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | , , , , | 1 Comment


Had a great drive and rolled into Nashville only to discover that our hotel is home base for some Miss Teenage America Scholarship … uuum they mean BEAUTY contest. Instantly, my hair seemed flat. Fixed it with some hairspray, dropped our junk and we are out the door. Later!

July 18, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | Leave a comment

Thank goodness for Radio Shack!

Lost the firewire to our little digi cam ages ago. And, all my luck, it has a round 4-pin portal that no one makes anymore. But alas, I got sm*rt and went to Radio Shack. Figured they had a gizmo that could plug my flash card direct into the computer. Best $19.95 spent today. Targus. What’s not to love?  Now we can further incrimindate ourselves by uploading pictures as we tell our (to be I’m sure) insane tale… 

Loading car once Dave gets off the phone then heading S on 75/71.

July 18, 2008 Posted by | The Birthday Trip, 2008 | , | Leave a comment