I once got to interview the late great Jerry Reed and he explained to me that at an early age he developed “an unreeeeeasonable love for the guitar.” I think that’s the case with the many amazing players who graced our stage last night. I knew I was going to love the show; I didn’t dream it would be such a hit. We sold out, without the benefit of a Vince Gill or a Keith Urban to pack the house. And one really nice guy said to me after the show it was the best one he’d seen out of like 25 he’d been to. If you’re a guitar freak, it was not an unreasonable statement.
Angela Easterling says that to beguile means to charm or enchant, sometimes in a deceptive way. Hmm. I didn’t see anybody trying to mislead anyone else last night, but a lot of folks were certainly beguiled by the five enchanting women who took the stage and offered five utterly different ways to invest songs with beauty. My wife and daughter and mom-in-law were in the crowd at the Loveless last night, so you know where my heart lies, but just between us, the presence and talent of all those starlets left me a little dizzy. Frontier Ruckus, I love ya, but it wasn’t the same.
They say Tennessee is really three states that don’t mix well: East, Middle and West. But we know better. When Bobby “Rocky Top” Osborne can pick along with Memphis soul veterans, a jazz banjo fiend and a Telecaster-wielding country twanger on a stage in Nashville, it gives us hope for reconciliation in these divisive times. They can’t raise the debt ceiling in Washington, but our own “gang of six” acts sure did raise the roof at the Loveless.
Well Nashville topped out at just 94 degrees yesterday, so that was quite a relief from, you know, the HEAT of the previous few days. The barn was chillin’ though, as always. And even with a whole lot of people there. Man, it was exciting to see such a great turnout for our quarterly Nature Conservancy benefit and a promising young lineup. It was a perfect scenario for a season opening show. And thus did Music City Roots, Eighth Edition get underway.
It appeared planned by somebody obsessed with symmetry, but it just happened to work out this way. Last night’s Music City Roots was bookended by Nashville duos – a pair of deuces as it were. It was like getting four artists in the space of two, yet even more because of mysterious multiplier effect that happens when great talents collaborate. It’s the power of two; it’s exponential.
You may have heard we had a little competition last night in the variety show with so-called-country-music category. While we did our thing at the Loveless Barn, a few miles away there was this slightly bigger show in a spaceship with very expensive lights and a TV broadcast with fancy pickup truck ads and so forth. But while they had Rascal Flatts, we had Randall Bramblett and Greensky Bluegrass. Where they had Kid Rock, we had Jim Lauderdale. And simultaneous to their duo mash-up of Jason Aldean and Ludacris, we had a duet of our own: Rhonda Vincent and Gene Watson.
Kelsey Kopecky, one of the two main singers in the Kopecky Family Band (and the only Kopecky by the way), is one of the more endearing people we’ve ever met backstage at Roots. When I first said hello, she was writing up set lists in purple marker – the kind that sit on the floor by musicians’ feet – and that’s pretty much par for the course. But I noticed a few minutes later that she’d gone an extra mile. Kelsey had written cheerful little notes to her bandmates and left them underfoot between the stairs to the stage and the microphones in front.
The Farewell Drifters are getting set to release an album called Echo Boom, their third. The title stems from the fact that this buoyant energetic quintet of twentysomethings are the sons of Baby Boomers. And as singer/writer/guitarist Zach Bevill said on stage last night, the songs for the project seemed to coalesce around the theme of what they’d inherited and what they’d been left to find out on their own – the paradox of being raised with maybe too much freedom and infinite choices. Music always seems to find the right balance between inheritance and individual expression though.
The Mississippi RIver, the great waterway of our nation, which has given the South so much fertile land, so much music and so much heartache, is swollen like it hasn’t been since Robert Johnson was the hot new thing. It’s topping levees and swamping homes. Our hearts go out to the folks in Mississippi and Louisiana who’ve moved to higher ground, leaving land and property behind to the forces of chance and nature.