A week past Sunday I went down the hill from a little restaurant where I’d enjoyed a very hearty brunch with one of Nashville’s many great song writers. I was intent on parking within easy reach of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. ‘You’re not far away,’ my dining companion assured me. ‘Just turn left on Demonbreun St.’ I didn’t flinch but remember thinking, ‘What was that name he just said?’
A couple of days later, and in the presence of one of the city’s many other great crafters who turned to me and said, ‘You know we have a street here in town that most people who don’t live in the city can’t pronounce. It’s called Demonbreun Street.’ I laughed. Yes I’d been able to find it but was still not sure I could tell anyone else how or where to do the same thing given my inability to say the name. ‘And why would anyone want top go?’ I feel you hiss beneath your breath.
Well on that unpronounceable artery lies one of the great, perhaps greatest musical, museums of the world. The Nashville Country Music Hall of fame and Museum does so many things right it’s hard to find the slightest thing to dislike. In fact, on reflection, I cannot find a single thing. It’s ages since I’d been and I got so excited on the top floor that I almost didn’t leave time to see the thing I’d paid my entrance money to see in the first place. If you ever go you should follow your nose and you will not be disappointed. What comes over more than anything is the belief within the curators that country is a) great b)worth celebrating and c) carries within its timeline great stories of ordinary people. Along the way I was stopped in my tracks. I couldn’t really get over how great Marty Robbins, Webb Pierce and Carl Smith were in this great clip. I loved the introduction by June Carter too.
Eventually I got to Dylan, Cash and The Nashville Cats exhibition. I’d be listening to the accompanying record all week in my hire car and I’d fallen in love with the concept and, of course, so much of the music. On Tuesday I’ll be playing you some of the tracks from this brilliant double album and I’ll tell you a little of the story behind the exhibition, the album and the book.
I want to share with you some great moments I enjoyed when I saw Darrell Scott’s tribute to Ben Bullington and, at The City Winery where, a week later, I also caught a beautiful intimate evening with Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. In between times I saw a great double-bill of Sam Outlaw and Cale Tyson and with their respective bands at the Basement. So…lots of music from all of these people as well as some fine new things.
We will be down at the Quay this Thursday along with around 400 of you for our massively oversubscribed live show with Daniel Meade, Red Sky July and Andy Fairweather Low and The Low Riders. Next Tuesday we’ll play out the gig to everyone else who couldn’t make it.
On Sunday morning I’m back on the airwaves. Because BBC Scotland is celebrating music all next weekend we will be bringing a unique show to you. On the programme: The Soul Nation Gospel Choir singing live, Karine Polwart on protest, John Bell – Scotland’s most successful living song writer and our old friend Minister, Poet and all round good egg Steve Stockman. Much more too and it all starts this Sunday from 10 a.m. on BBC Radio Scotland. Do join us on all of this if you can.
Your comments about the Country Music Hall of Fame reminded me of another museum in Tennessee, though a few hours away in Memphis. Check out the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum if you ever delve into that genre and can somehow make it to that corner of Tennessee… and you haven’t already been (or at least check their website http://www.memphisrocknsoul.org/ which makes the dubious(?) claim that Memphis is mentioned in more recorded songs than any other city (my bet would be on NYC or London)).
Wikipedia also has a decent list of music museums in the U.S…though you have to click through the states to see the details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Music_museums_in_the_United_States