About half the time when I am on the road, I never get out of the hotel, which is a shame since business takes me all over the country. The other half of the time, however, I try to take advantage of whatever spare time there might be and take in something special in the local scene.
Last week I was at the Tennessee State Bar’s session on Elder Law Basics in Nashville, at the Gaylord Opryland resort and convention center. Let me tell you, this was the hotel equivalent of Disney World with something close to 3,000 rooms under a biospheric glass roof. Until last week, I didn’t actually think there were that many American couples with matching NASCAR and Elvis shirts.
But enough of my elitist east coast snobbery (as at least one of my clients has pointed out). On Saturday night I took a tip from Smart Marketing senior copywriter Michael Lasalandra and went to the Bluebird Café in Nashville. This very special place doesn’t look it. In fact, it looks like a small storefront in a strip mall. And not even a nice strip mall. Inside are about 20 tables and a small bar. In the middle are four chairs, and four microphones. It is here that aspiring country singer-songwriters come and perform before they get famous.
The alumni include big country music names like Garth Brooks. Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson, Juice Newton, Mickey Newbury, Mose Allison, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Crystal Gale, Amy Grant, Delbert McClinton— as well as legends like Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Earle, and Emmy Lou Harris. Even the waiters and waitresses have considerable songwriting success, placing their compositions on the albums of C&W stars.
Along with Smart Martketing staff member Nichole Vanas, and Smart Marketing client Meg Rudansky we took in a regular show (called In The Round) in which four up-and-coming talents play in a circle, sharing music and banter in an intimate relationship with the audience. We saw Jude Toy, John Stone, Christy Sutherland, and Marcel (he only goes by one name). My favorite was Christy Sutherland, whose website you can visit here. I was particulary struck by her cut, "Men In Cars." She was nice enough to autograph her CD for me.
While jiving with the other musicians, Christy told of her current day job at the makeup counter in Dillards, and the (humorously told) humiliation of applying makeup to Reba McIntire’s legs, one week after she (Christy) had performed at the Grand Old Opry. She told of receiving a royalty check for $26, which was topped by John Stone, who said he got one for $13, which was topped by Jude Toy, who said she had received one for 10 cents. We were also treated to a guest appearance by John Ims, who performed his song "She’s In Love With The Boy" — a big hit for Trisha Yearwood.
In short, if you are in Nashville, don’t miss a visit to the Bluebird Café.