Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The benefits of living in Nashville

I have been meaning to write a blog with this title for some time, but I honestly think this could be a series of posts rather than a single post. If you are a music lover, hold on to your hat.

We have some of the BEST, I mean the ABSOLUTE BEST music here. If it isn't native to here, we ship it in. But there is an awful lot of native. Which is the subject of an entire post in itself.

But for now I want to tell you about two things in particular: The Ryman auditorium and the concert I saw there last night.

The Ryman...wow, where to start. It's truly a legend in itself. It was built in 1892 as a church! It was called the Union Gospel Tabernacle and it seated less than 3800 people. With the addition of the Confederate Gallery (balcony) in 1897 its capacity was increased to 6000. Shortly after Captain Ryman (the man who had it built) died, it was renamed in his honor and became the venue for many lectures and shows throughout the years. In the 1940's, the Grand Old Opry moved in and made the Ryman its home. There it remained till 1974 when the Opry moved to its new home-the Grand Old Opry House where it remains to this day. I remember hearing talk of the Ryman when I was young and how it had fallen into disrepair and the subsequent renovations that took many years.

Today it is beautiful and it remains a wonder. Even with the addition of the balcony, there is NO bad seat in the auditorium. It is said to have the second best acoustics in the world, surpassed only by the concert hall that is home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! Absolutely, any concert you attend there will astound you at the amazing quality of the sound anywhere you stand.

The Ryman is, for the music lover, a jewel venue. And last night, my wonderful oldest child, Megan, took me there for the Seal concert. This was my mother's day gift. Now I love his voice no matter what, but WOW. I don't have words. It was amazing. Top it off with time alone with my oldest daughter, a few reminiscent moments (like realizing that my baby was driving ME around downtown Nashville and learning that she likes the same music I liked when I was young and free of responsibility much like her). I mean if riding around downtown with the windows down and Kansas blaring out of your speakers doesn't bring back memories, then you haven't lived! We enjoyed a glass of wine at Olive Garden TOGETHER (before you teetotalers have a fit, one thing my daughter and I do have in common is a love for good food and good wine. But we both partake in MODERATION) along with that sinful black tie cheesecake and afterwards went to the Starbucks on West End and had a cup of coffee on the patio. We had a WONDERFUL evening. (Megan, I had a really GREAT time, thank you!)

We also discovered a new artist we like. Shane Alexander.

Now, this is a shameless plug for this guy, but before you blow rasberries at me, let me tell you this. I have grown up in the Nashville area. Spent my life here. I've been around "stars" and wannabe stars ALL MY LIFE. (That could be another blog post about the benefits of living in Nashville. The ability to get to see performers who are just starting out has some wonderful benefits, but occasionally you run into some that when they say they are musicians, you just nod your head and go "okaaaaayyyy".) I DO NOT get gaga over famous people.

Heck, Johnny Cash came into the store where my Daddy worked all the time. Johnny and Barbara Mandrell were "members" of the churches I went to although you didn't see them there very often. (yes, we live in the same town where Johnny Cash lived) My son fished off Lorrie Morgan's deck. Roy Acuff used to go for a walk in the mall in the mornings before it got crowded. Dottie West gave me a starburst. Louise Mandrell got mad at me. I worked at the Crook and Chase show in the late 80's as an intern. Heck, I even got asked for my autograph just because I worked with Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase! I've seen how people get crazy over anyone famous. I've seen stars make a**es of themselves. I have no desire to fawn over them. If you think for one second how these people have to smile and be nice to people who really do look and sound crazy, you want to avoid appearing like that at all costs. Especially when you have to live around them and deal with them on a daily basis. Besides, I have found that while some of them were genuinely very nice, most are so fake, I really don't want to find out that the ones I do like are the fake ones.

But this guy, Shane Alexander was really good. So I went up and told him, "Hey, I really like your stuff". He thanked me and I made way for the rush of gushers. I don't do that...ever. I just don't think the push through the crowd is worth it to make myself look just like them to a person who is probably already thinking, "these people are nuts!" while wearing a plastered smile. I don't blame them a bit. I really, really, like this guy's music. Go take a listen.

Benefit #1: One of the best music venues in the world-The Ryman.
Benefit #2: Getting to see great concerts ANY time-on any given night there is music being played SOMEwhere in Nashville.
Benefit #3: Getting to hear up and coming talent before most everyone else and
Benefit #4: Sometimes, A LOT of times, for free! (the original reason I wanted to write a blog by this title) But not last night.;-)