On Wednesday, it was time for us to really focus on the MUSIC part of MUSIC CITY. So, we headed to 3 landmarks within the downtown area. First we toured historic RCA Studio B where Elvis, Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Everly Brothers, Jim Reeves, Floyd Cramer, Roy Orbison, and so many others recorded their records. The pictures don't show much, but the feeling of just being where all those stars have been, seeing the piano that was played on all of those records, the old mics and lights,.... well, it was something!
Aaron was able to show us some examples of the machines he worked on when he was studying studio recording up in Chicago, and our magnificent tour guide played some tapes of the stars when they were trying to record their albums. Our family thoroughly enjoyed it.
We then headed back to the Country Music Hall of Fame. There we saw many of the outfits worn by the stars, hundreds of gold records, the Ray Charles exhibit, the actual Hall of Fame, and a few stars' cars. Below, Dad stands by Elvis' automobile.
Interesting Fact O' The Day:
The famous flashy suits worn by Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, Roy Rogers, Elvis and the like are "Nudie Suits", but the name is nothing to be embarrassed about! That's because the original designer to create the rhinestone covered and elaborate costumes (below, left) was Nudie Cohn. The Ukranian-American designer was born with the name Nuta Kotlyarenko. We saw the suits all over Nashville, and now other designers continue on with his tradition. Below (right) are some of Porter Wagoner's newer suits.
We then ate a barbecue lunch and headed up the street to the former Grand Ole Opry home, the Ryman Auditorium. It was first opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. After the death of its builder in 1904, it was named the Ryman Auditorium after him. It was also the home of the Trevecca Nazarene University. It then became the location for the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts from 1943 through 1974 and has had the greats in music perform from its stage. The view from the stage and from the balcony were both magnificent! Can you imagine what it would be like to perform here? Oh, if those walls could talk!!!
We took the backstage tour to see the dressing rooms and learn about the individuals who helped to start the Grand Ole Opry shows at the Ryman. The Grand Ole Opry was moved to the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974, and the Ryman mostly set empty until renovation started in 1994. Today, it is a museum in addition to a venue where performances are held once again. In fact, most of the Grand Ole Opry shows are held at the Ryman during the winter months. In 2001, the Ryman was named a national historic landmark and is in the national register of historic places. Because of its original pew seating and place in music history, the building is referred to as the "Mother Church of Country Music." It is also known as the home of bluegrass!
For many years, I've dreamed of going to Nashville to visit these places. Because I enjoy writing songs, I have also wanted to visit the Bluebird Cafe. Well, all of these hopes came to fruition in one day!
For over twenty years, the Bluebird Cafe has featured up-and-coming songwriters... about 2500 songwriters per year, in fact. And some of the songs debuted during the "in the round" performances and showcases end up on the radio a few years later sung by stars. Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea, and Dierks Bentley are just a few that have credited the Bluebird experience with helping their careers. A small, crowded club whose owners insist that everyone remain quiet during the performances, the Bluebird was a wonderful place to visit. We heard some great talent in a night that was hosted by ASCAP and bought a few CDs. Here are the ASCAP host, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Alyssa Bonagura, Jill Paquette, and Jonathan Kingham. You may know Carolyn Dawn Johnson from her hit "Complicated". Or, you may have seen her credited as the writer of Chely Wright's "Single White Female" or so many other hits. I was happy to hear that CDJ will be performing at our very own Illinois State Fair next Friday, August 17. YIPPPEEE!
It was a wonderful day in Nashville... one that will remain in my memory for many years to come.