Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Marty Stuart Show Taping, RFD-TV Nashville, 10/20/08

To me, Marty Stuart is the hottest guy in country music. (For the record, his wife, Connie Smith, agrees with me. She told me that when I met them both at the Eddie Stubbs Intimate Evening radio show taping.) I think so not only because he looks fine. He is also an artist of integrity with superb musicianship who has proactively done so much to further the cause of traditional country music and be an encouragement to those who have paved the way. That should hopefully make him an eventual shoo-in for the Country Music Hall of Fame.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a taping of the Marty Stuart Show at North Star Studios. My understanding was it started in the morning, so I arrived, was instructed where to park and told to walk to some path where I would see people waiting to get in. All I could spot was the two front doors. I went in, gave my name to the front desk person, was told to go through and went looking for some direction. I saw Marty out in the hallway looking like he was headed for the studio but I didn't think it would be all that cool to follow him or even ask "hey, do you know where the studio is?". Eventually someone found me wandering about and began to help me find where I was supposed to be to wait with the others. But the person at the front desk said my contact had me set up to go straight into the studio. I felt like a VIP! I didn't even have a clue going in...I was just winging it, this all being firmed up for me just earlier that morning! (I found out later on that even the beautiful young lady helping us out with audience applause was clued in advance to who I was!)

I found the studio and went in. There were only a handful of others in the audience seats. I got a seat right in front and watched guest John Anderson, banjo player Leroy Troy, Eddie Stubbs and Marty and the Fabulous Superlatives. It seemed as though they were taping in segments. After a while they called a 15 minute break and so, still puzzled by the small turnout, I started to go in search of the ladies room. At that point came an influx of people through the doors. At that point I realized it was a rehearsal I was sitting in on! Duh! The nice people sitting around me did not sell my front row seat for $100 as they hoped to and saved it for me as I headed for the restroom. Then the real taping began and it was great fun.

After a lunch break, we lined up for the second taping. Unfortunately, none of us made it in for that rehearsal, but that was okay...I had a conversation with a lovely lady who works backstage hospitality for the Opry while waiting. The second taping had the Old Crow Medicine Show as the guests. The highlight of this show was a cool number led by Superlative guitarist "Cousin" Kenny Vaughn with everyone getting in on the act.

"The Marty Stuart Show" follows a parallel format to the Porter Wagoner shows of the 60s and 70s. Marty and the band start off the show, followed by a guest. As Porter had Dolly Parton as the regular female singer, here it is none other than Connie Smith. Comic relief is provided by old time banjo player Leroy Troy of Goodlettsville (recall that Speck Rhodes did so for Porter). Also like Porter's show, a gospel number follows...the ones Marty and the Fabulous Superlatives taped for these two shows were awesome. WSM's beloved Eddie Stubbs is the show announcer. All of Eddie's fans will be delighted that he gets much "face time", and we even get to hear him jam on fiddle with the Old Crow Medicine Show.

There were some very nice people on the crew helping us with warmup and encouraging us to be enthusiastic and all while instructing us with various applause sound levels (similar to a couple of the Gaither Homecoming video tapings I've attended).

I hated to have it all come to an end...what a great experience. The show begins airing on November 1 with a regular Saturday evening half hour time slot of 7 p.m. Central time on RFD-TV. Here's a clip to hold you until then.

After these last few days, how can I tell you how much I love this town?

Monday, October 13, 2008

George Adams, 10/18/08, VFW Post 1970, Nashville

For close to 20 years now, I've been actively supporting local musicians where I've lived (and encouraging others to do the same). I'm particularly talking here about those who have not yet experienced significant national fame and exposure. Since I've been doing this, I've found support falling into three different levels.

The first is where you go to a venue (or here in Nashville, most commonly the writers nights) and you hear some fairly strong people whose names you make note of to possibly see again when they turn up in lineups. The second is where you find those who stand out in particular and you make a point to go to their gigs fairly often.

The third level is the one people like me wait for...which is finding the diamonds. The ones that make it quite clear to me why I started and continue to do this whole support thing. The ones I become on fire for and write blog paragraphs and emails galore about, telling the world how amazing they are and why you should think so as well, or perhaps got lucky enough to be entrusted to promote them. Or, there's just something about their music that just makes "the wow" impact on you from the get-go. You can't always explain why in words. I noted once that sometimes you don't pick singers...they pick you. In this category in the Twin Cities, it was TD Mischke and Michael Loonan, who kicked this whole thing off for me in the first place. Sean Smith is another who could possibly fit into this category.

Welcome the newest addition to this third group--George Adams.

I found George as a result of my Radio Free Nashville stint, most specifically hearing his music on "Geo On the Radio", the show that is on before mine. I found some sample tracks and one full track on his MySpace and was completely blown away. That hasn't happened since finding Mark Lowry eight years ago...and the rest was history there. This guy has one incredible voice; if you've spent any amount of time in my blogs on or my website, you know how I feel about truly great voices. Plus, the songs, all originals, are great. George's monthly gig at the VFW Post 1970 in West Nashville went on my calendar and I became even more pumped for the gig after finding some short video performance clips.

What I heard on George's website was confirmed live. As far as I am concerned, he has the best voice I have heard in this town since I came here. In a smoky little VFW post hall with a "Cheers" like bar, he managed to outsing just about every less than superstar level male artist on the radio today and hold his own with all the rest. Now, I tend to avoid smoky places like the plague and my bedtime is usually long before the midnight closing time. But, I knew in short order I wasn't going anywhere after hearing just a couple of songs.

When I was driving out to do my radio show Saturday, I was listening to "Geo on the Radio" and heard him play "Everything That Glitters" by Dan Seals. He noted that he often performs it live. As I was listening to the cut, I said "yeah--that would definitely work for him". I asked George to do that song, and it was just as awesome a performance as I'd imagined. He also did "Life's Highway", "Somewhere In My Broken Heart" and several other covers that either made you forget or not care that someone else did them first because he made them all his. That of course is what a true artist does. I might also add he is a charismatic performer and his bio is accurate in that he has an entertaining way with an audience, all developed with years of performing around Nashville and elsewhere.

All I can say is, what a find George Adams is. This radio gig has its perks. I call these things as I hear them. Go to his websites and hear what I'm talking about. Then go hear him for yourself. He plays what he likes, and I like what he plays. So far, so good.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Silver Stars - Ryman Auditorium 10/4/08

I had a week off from my radio show due to some required training. That gave me time to head downtown and check out the HealthSpring Silver Stars finals at Ryman Auditorium. It being a "baby boomer" talent contest, it was certainly of interest to me in light of my radio show being titled and themed, Never Too Old.

I high-tailed it down there as fast as I could so I could make it to the pre-show meet and greet, in hopes of meeting my idol, Brenda Lee, who was one of the judges. Alas, I was too late--she'd just gone backstage. Lucky for me, though, I managed to spot Billy Block. Billy was heading up and hosting this surprise, with all the good he's done for showcasing talent in this town. I introduced myself and told him that like him, I also have a show on Radio Free Nashville. I explained I ran late to the event because of FCC training I was doing and asked if I'd missed Brenda. Well, he was kind enough to go find her and bring her to the door for a quick meeting. She was as sweet as I'd imagined. Billy Block, you rock--I can't thank you enough.

If ever an event was an example of the power of encouragement, this was it. There was so much joy and love going out to and from that stage. For some of the performers, the opportunity that Silver Stars provided them was nothing short of life-changing.

Opening up were four of the honorable mention winners: pop singer Sandy Merrill, charming spoon player Lucius Talley, yodeler Bonnie Bishop (beating a doctor's prediction of six months to live with a cancer diagnosis!), and gospel singer Clara Copeland, who brought the house down.

The competing finalists performed their numbers. Husband and wife Charles and Vonnie Garrett, performing separately with "Georgia" and "Misty" respectively; singer/songwriters Terry Pinnegar and Boomer Castleman each did an original song (Boomer is familiar to many folks as one half of the duo Lewis and Clark Expedition with Michael Martin Murphy in the '60s and the composer of the Monkees tune "What Am I Doing Hanging 'Round); pianist Darlene Shadden did "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"; Brenda Lee sound-alike Elsa Childers covered Patsy Cline's "She's Got You"; Hank Sasaki charmed the crowd with his autobiographical "Cowboy From Japan".

Winning finalists were third place winner "Uncle Doc Wilhite", reviving the spirit of Uncle Dave Macon; second place, pianist Jeannie Gleaves, who had a ton of audience support, playing a Gershwin medley. The winner was Thomas Maupin, a buck dancer accompanied by an old time trio (his banjo-playing grandson was as much of a showman himself!). In doing some research, I found one MySpacer who called Thomas "the king of all buck dancers."

It is clearly high time that this stigma regarding baby boomer agers, whether it be in the performing arts or in the job market, not being as viable as their younger counterparts, come to an end. We need to view more with our spiritual eyes and less with our physical eyes, and completely open our ears and hearts and let the gifts of this generation touch and enhance the world. This event showed without a doubt that it can, and should, be done. Bravo, Billy Block and bravo, HealthSpring.