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Showing posts from February, 2009

Tennessee Road Trip, pt. XII (Coda)

I'm writing from the Nashville airport. In two hours I'm flying home, leaving the van behind me at the garage in Lebanon for a replacement of a timing belt, a water pump (that they didn't discover had gone bad until this morning, so the part will have to be ordered) and potentially a new motor. The nice folks at the garage had never heard of thesamba.com as a parts source for VW stuff, so I told him about the $800 motor I found there, and how that beats the living hell out of $3000. I believe he'd be okay with me ordering that and having it sent to them (with its new timing belt and water pump), if we get to that point. Right now I'm trying not to think about the worst-case until I have to tomorrow. I missed an appointment with my therapist in Raleigh. Slowly trying to read his suggested book, Feeling Good . Smart Wife booked me a flight (yet another reason why she's smart) and promised to pick me up at seven when I get in. I finally broke down in tear

Tennessee Road Trip, pt. XI

I was going to say that, other than sitting in the back of a Fayette County police cruiser this morning for half an hour while my van was being searched for contraband, the trip home was easy and nothing special. The officers did not find any materiel and let me proceed with a stern admonition and my promise to always be a good boy. That was before it broke down outside of Lebanon and was towed to a garage. This time, at least I was somewhat close to an exit on Interstate 40 than before , so I walked up to the BP station and asked about a garage as I fished for my wallet in vain. The lady at the register said there was none. I was out of breath and slightly exasperated, so I hissed something under my breath like "what, do your cars never need repair?" which went right by her fortunately. She gave me the number of a towing service, and the truck showed up just as I walked back to the dead van/bedroom/dressing room/paperweight at the side of the highway. The driver saw

Tennessee Road Trip, pt. X

All right! We did a good job tonight at Otherlands . What a relief! I guess I was sweating it a little. The Folk Alliance convention was not exactly what I'd expected, and I wasn't sure by the end of the day yesterday whether we actually did belong at that confab, being old pop rock guys and not modern Woody Guthries. It's not that what we do is anything less than sincere; but we have never been the most portable of rock bands over the years, and this is our new step into uncharted territory that practically requires portability. Will our songs make the leap into the Quiet Realm of Folk? Apparently so. It sounded good to me, and the audience seemed well pleased with what they heard. Uncle Monk opened the show. That is Tommy Ramone (of THE Ramones ) on mandolin and Claudia Tienan on guitar. Both of them sing, and it's very pure and rustic and pretty bluegrass they write and play. It ain't "Blitzkreig Bop" by a long shot. Chris, Ilene and I pl

Tennessee Road Trip, pt. IX

Not much to report. Chris and I rehearsed a few more songs from the new album, and he tried to show me an Everly Brothers song he wants us to learn, but my head was not in the right place to concentrate on learning it. We touched on "Fall on Me", the R.E.M. song we will be playing at Carnegie Hall in a couple of weeks and finally decided who would sing what parts. Chris went back over to the convention with Robert, who had a gig. They both returned fairly early, and everyone hit the hay long before the festivities at the Folk Alliance had run their course. I'm so grateful we got to stay here with them rather than bunking in over at the Marriott Hotel, where I believe I'd be serenaded to sleep (or awake) every night after two. In other places around the globe, specifically Brazil and New Orleans, people are celebrating Mardi Gras. My host and hostess here in Memphis have been putting the finishing touches on their family costumes, in anticipation of the six ho

Tennessee Road Trip, pt. VIII

The big day. It began with all sorts of great motivated thoughts like washing the car and my laundry and changing strings in the morning that eventually dissipated into drinking a bunch of coffee and reading the Memphis Commerical Appea l over a bowl of Robert's homemade granola. Much more appealing, although lazier, too. My stupid cel phone, the highly-touted but ultimately not very convenient Sprint Instinct , has a GPS system. It's the first GPS that I've used a lot, so I don't know if this is really the way all of them work. The directions I first get are usually completely wrong. I follow the little lady's voice and try to do a u-turn with my van as I am ordinarily instructed (difficult to believe that I'm always pointed the wrong way, but I bet there are some people I know who would concur with the GPS); once I'm headed in what I believe to be the right direction, new instructions pop up with alarming regularity. I drive for a while and it set

Tennessee Road Trip, pt. VII

Today is my fifty-third birthday, and here I am in a meeting room at the Marriott Hotel in Memphis, getting ready to watch Chasin' Gus' Ghost , a documentary film on Gus Cannon and jug band music, after which John Sebastian will get interviewed. I can't think of anything much better for a birthday present. The Folk Alliance convention began yesterday, but I was too busy running out of gas and having flat tires to attend anything. This is what Chris and I are here for, to promote ourselves as viable entertainment for 2009. Just like all the other folk here. It's big business, this folk world. At least I'm not the oldest guy in the room. ( John Sebastian has just sat down in front of me to autograph a couple of Gretsch guitars. Dear lord in heaven.... Should I tell him we tried to borrow his autoharp from him once at Bearsville, reasonably raising his ire? No, maybe not.) I rode over here this morning and registered. Suddenly it occurred to me that this

Tennessee Road Trip, Pt. VI

I woke up in the nearly complete darkness of the Maches' upstairs apartment to a call from my family back in NC. All was well, and it was a nice way to start the day, thinking of the folks back home that I miss so dearly (cue Stephen Foster music). Robert and I went over a couple songs of mine that he's going to lend his mandolin talents to this weekend, and we drank coffee and talked about our kids and lives and the impending Continental Drifters reunion in May. Somewhere in the early afternoon, I called my wife's grandmother in Little Rock and asked if I might come and pay her a visit. She said to come on, so I backed the Eurovan out of the driveway and sped toward I-40, as Little Rock is a straight shot west from Memphis. It was a pleasant, easy drive for about an hour and a half. I had thought about getting some gas at the last exit at which I stopped. That thought floated back to me as the van made a familiar sound, like an air bubble in the gas line. I rolled

Tennessee Road Trip, Pt. V

I woke on Mike's couch, patted his dogs and went to shower myself. Then I quietly repacked my stuff in the van, now featuring a thin film of dog hair, and hit the road again. Full tank of gas and I was searching for a Cracker Barrel down the road, but I kept passing them by. In mind was a stop at the Loveless Cafe which I didn't expect to find. There to my wondering eyes appeared a sign with the Loveless as the food source at this exit, so I took it. Four and a half miles off I-40 at the start of the Natchez Trace, the Loveless is renowned for its secret biscuit recipe and country breakfasts. On the weekends, which is when we inevitably would come through with the dB's, there is a long line to get in. Today, however, I was seated immediately; my memories of a heroic meal there on an ancient morning was confirmed as not just consigned to history. I bought some preserves at the store, and began heading toward Memphis. I lived in the city for several months in 1978

Tennessee Road Trip, Pt. IV

Day 4 began packing my stuff at Skeet's and trundling it down the steel staircase to my van at 7:15 in the morning. I had a breakfast with a friend at the Pancake Pantry , a fine Nashville establishment that usually sports a line around the block on weekends. We were there on Presidents' Day so our table for two was pretty instantaneous at eight. I trust any restaurant that brings maple syrup to your table automatically, and the buckwheat cakes were made all the better with it. After breakfast, I got the music landmark tour of Music Row. Lots of places to record your hits. I saw McGhee Entertainment's facade and Blackbird Studio but the most exciting thing was seeing Ray Stevens walking up to the gate of the Ray Stevens Building as he was beginning his business day (you better take care of business, Mr. Businessman). Ray was my only star sighting while in Nashville, unless you count meeting Daniel Tashian at Brad Jones' Alex the Great recording studio. Brad I

Tennessee Road Trip, Pt. III

Knoxville at the Tea Room was wonderful fun with Tim and Susan Lee. How many years have I known Tim now? Seems like forever. They are two-thirds of the Tim Lee 3 , and they got up and did acoustic versions of songs they usually thrash through with electric, bass and drums. Great songs like "Saving Gracie (From Herself)". Tim loves him some minor chords, and he admitted to me that he has no use for passing chords; his songs are strong, simple and direct. Susan wasn't a bassist/singer/rock star when I first met her, but she's eased into the job with precision, like it was simply the later destination for her many talents--she does the graphics for the TL3 records, among other clients. There weren't a whole lot of people at the show, but that's okay since about half of them bought cds from me afterward. I was pretty good, I think. Wrote out a setlist so I wouldn't be stuck, but I ended up shuffling the songs anyway. After the show, I drove about fo

Tennessee Road Trip, pt. I

Please forgive the bulk of postings here as I catch up. I'm only a couple days in, and I promise I will be more punctual about posting. Without further ado, Part I: I started out this morning (Friday, the 13th) for Nashville, first stop on a week-and-a-half trip through Tennessee's larger cities. Tonight I'm playing at the Bluebird Cafe with Bill Lloyd, Kim Richey and Tim Krekel in a songwriters-in-the-round deal, the kind Robbie Fulks decimated in his song "Fuck This Town". I'm so new at it, comparatively, and such a stranger to Nashville that it doesn't bother me to get to hang with some friends and play some tunes for a night. Last time I did it at the Bluebird, it was Bill, Tim, Marshall Chapman, Darius and me. Al-Jazeera was filming, too. Tonight should be lower-keyed. I'll need to see if I can pull my van/bedroom into someone's driveway for the night. Because it's an hour later here, I suspect I'll wake up at my usual time, as if

Tennessee Road Trip, Pt. II

Nashville songwriters in the round was great fun last night. We had guests Thom Schuyler and Fred Knobloch , who it turns out somewhat began this tradition years ago. I was in the dark about this significance, but my compadres knew. Thom did a great song about Hummer ownership, and Fred and Tim picked a song they'd written for Delbert McClinton. Even without these guys, I found myself completely mesmerized by Kim, Tim and Bill's songwriting. All three of them are so versatile and have such deep catalogs. And they're all really articulate on the guitar as well. I listened on the way to Nashville (it's a few hours from Durham) Bill's Slide Show collection, Kim's 1999 album Glimmer and Tim's Soul Season--very VERY different from each other stylistically, but you can see where the circles overlap. I played a few songs from the Holsapple & Stamey record, a Drifters' song and a couple others that I can't recall right now. Every so often, I n

Ed Bumgardner

From the Winston-Salem Journal , February 3, 2009: Winston-Salem Journal cuts two workers in newsroom Two journalists in the Winston-Salem Journal 's newsroom were let go yesterday as part of the newspaper's cost-cutting moves. One was on the newspaper's design team, whose members create graphics and lay out and design pages. The other was Ed Bumgardner, a longtime music critic and features writer. Like many newspapers and companies in other industries, the Journal has been trying to reduce costs as revenues drop during an extremely difficult business environment. WE WERE WRONG (Oops, sorry, that was the title for the next section of corrections...) In an effort to streamline the costs of running a print newspaper, the Winston-Salem Journal has fired Ed Bumgardner, the long-time music writer and an old friend of mine. Ed has been the consistent source of music reportage in town for many years and has been a distinct, informative and original voice at the Journal .