Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Greetings From The 'Volunteer' State

Nashville, Wednesday 26 March 2008

I'm on my honeymoon in Nashville. During the flight on Monday I listened to the Tennessee edition of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour to inspire me musically about the trip and also learn some trivia about the state. Bob explained that Tennessee is known as the Volunteer state, was the 16th state to join the Union, has not one, but five 'state songs', has boasted three presidents and that the architect who designed the State Capitol, William Strickland, died during its construction and is buried within the building's walls. I thought the most spurious bit of Bob trivia was his claim that Nashville "is the only town where a banjo player can make a six-figure income". However, after our visit yesterday to the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, I'm certain Bob's right.

The New Mr and Mrs Smith, Yesterday

The museum celebrates the people who played on famous records, so there are exhibits on the likes of the Funk Brothers, who were on all the well-known Motown hits, as well as session musicians from Memphis, Los Angeles, Muscle Shoals and, of course, Nashville. The sheer number of instruments on display that were used on legendary recordings appealed enormously to my inner-geek. Having enjoyed an informal symposium at work the other week on Pete Drake and his 'talking steel guitar' I was beside myself to see the instrument that was used on Bob Dylan's Lay, Lady, Lay (as well as one of Pete's 'talk-boxes').

Pete Drake's pedal steel, as heard on Lay, Lady, Lay

My favourite exhibit though was Luther Perkins' knitting. It seems that the only way Johnny Cash's guitarist could keep calm in the presence of his speeded-up boss was to make knitwear for his family and friends.

Luther Perkins' knitting needles and a sweater he made for his wife Margie

It was an action-packed day. As well as visiting the Hall of Fame, we paid a brief tribute to the state's three presidents at the Capitol, had a tasty lunch at the South Street Smokehouse, saw the city's ridiculous full-scale replica of the Athens Parthenon, stopped for a milkshake at the longest-running restaurant in the city, watched a so-so local performer at the legendary Tootsies Orchid Lounge and finished off the day with a great gig by Stephen Malkmus. I guess it's hardly surprising then that I'm writing this at nearly 11am while Joanne is still asleep.

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Flickr: All photos from the trip so far

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