Cloggers with shoes from hell at The Carter Fold

December 3, 2010

I’ve been going to the Carter Fold just across the Virginia state line from Kingsport almost as long as it’s been in existence–a one-of-a-kind acoustic performance center built and run by the First Family of country music. From the start, audience members have been welcome to get up and clog along with the songs. For years, people danced in whatever shoes they had on–sneakers, cowboy boots, work boots, and you name it. Now, however, cloggers are showing up with tap shoes designed to make as much noise as possible. Finally, a band said “Enough!”

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Pat Boone, Tennessean

October 21, 2008

Interesting piece piece in the Tennessean about Pat Boone, who lived in Nashville from age two through his college years at David Lipscomb.

Funniest quote: “Believe it or not, when I began, there was no such thing as rock ‘n’ roll,” said Boone, who counts Elvis Presley among his opening acts. “I’ve called myself one of the midwives at the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.”

He’s been called a lot of other things as well.

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Robert Plant on East Tennessee tourism

July 24, 2008

In an interview in Nashville Scene, Robert Plant talks about Cumberland Gap and other places he’s seen in Tennessee and in the South. Writer Rob Trucks quotes Plant as saying: “You know, this motel where I just pulled in to talk to you, there’s a jacket on the wall where the guy’s granddaddy who owns the place got shot by the sheriff for his moonshine thing. And it’s a little valley off the Cumberland Gap, and it’s still all there. It’s grandfathers, grandparents—it’s frontier stuff. And some of the songs that we visit, the performances, you know, it’s all about beginnings.”

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

When Ringo was a Nashville star

July 3, 2008

Ringo Starr, whose Beatles gave country music the biggest punch in the gut since Elvis, was a country music fan. You could hear it when he sang a Buck Owens favorite, “Act Naturally,” with the Fab Four on their Help! album. Just two months after the Beatles broke up in 1970, he came to Nashville to record a country album. Beaucoups of Blues was the title, and therein lies a tale told very well in this week’s Nashville Scene.

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Did Elvis visit England?

April 24, 2008

The Associated Press reports that Elvis secretly visited England in 1958.

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And did the King of Rock and Roll,
Make a trip without his pills?

–with profound apologies to William Blake

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

The end of the line for ‘No Depression’

April 23, 2008

I once pulled out a copy of No Depression on a plane and the person sitting beside me confided that he was dealing with depression, too. If he continued to look over my shoulder, he would have seen that No Depression was one of the best music publications in the country. The final issue of No Depression hit my mailbox yesterday, and now I am depressed.

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Knoxville’s Ida Cox sings the blues

April 17, 2008

Singer Ida Cox wrote the immortal “Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues,” but her fans have the blues over the lack of attention she has received over the years. She rose to fame in the late 1920s and sang in the famous From Spirituals to Swing concert in Carnegie Hall in 1939. Unlike many of her contemporaries, such as Bessie Smith or Ma Rainey, Ida wrote many of the songs she sang. She moved to Knoxville in 1949 and mostly sang in churches, although she stepped out of retirement in 1961 to record one last album for John Hammond with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and trumpeter Roy Eldridge. She died in Knoxville in 1967.

Jack Neely of Knoxville’s Metro Pulse has written about her, most recently this week, calling her “the best-known jazz or blues vocalist who ever lived in Knoxville.” Four of her albums are for sale on iTunes, so you can go there and hear this remarkable singer. Here’s some rare footage of her on YouTube.

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

20 all-time biggest record company screwups: Stax makes the cut

March 13, 2008

Stax Records of Memphis comes in at Number 14 with a bullet on’s list of the 20 Biggest Record Company Screw-Ups of All Time. Seems that the famous Memphis-based record company signed a contract with Atlantic records and didn’t read the fine print.

I had always assumed that the holder of the Number One goof-up designation was the idiot at Decca Records who infamously turned down the Beatles in the early 1960s, but this article asserts that the worse mistake the record companies made was putting Napster out of business. I have to agree. Details here.


This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

You meet the most interesting people at a funeral

February 19, 2008

I started giving eulogies for my grandparents’ funerals back in the 1980s. I had attended the funeral of an aged great uncle, and the service was led by a minister who clearly didn’t know the deceased. The preacher made a few remarks about Uncle Walt and then segued into a little sermon that would have applied to me, the person sitting beside me, or the next person to walk in the door. It was that vague.

And so, when my grandmother Bradley died, I stepped up to the pulpit and tried to tell the story of her life and what she meant to us. I have since done that for five relatives. Having a non-clergy person conduct a funeral is sort of like the talking dog–it’s not what he says as much that he does it at all. These performances are emotional high wire walking, but when you can pull it off without falling apart the experience is enormously satisfying.


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Ike Turner: 1931-2007

December 13, 2007

Ike Turner, whose role as a founding father of rock ‘n roll became overlaid with his image as all-time abusive husband to Tina Turner, died yesterday at age 76. Ike played piano on “Rocket 88,” recorded in Memphis by Sam Phillips and now deemed the first rock ‘n roll record. The New York Times has the best obit I’ve seen so far.

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