Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe sold to songwriters

November 9, 2007

The Bluebird Cafe, long famous for concerts of songwriters playing their work–and making sure the audience shuts up to listen to them–has been sold to the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). The official handover takes place on January 1 of 2008.

An article in today’s Tennessean quotes Bluebird founder Amy Kurland as saying, “I wanted to retire, but I didn’t want The Bluebird to go away.” The legendary club was where Garth Brooks was discovered in 1988, and artists such a Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood played there as well.

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Garth Brooks replaces Elvis as industry heavyweight

November 8, 2007

The Recording Industry Association of America has taken time out from suing 12-year-olds to announce that Garth Brooks has surpassed Elvis as the all-time best selling recording artist. Garth has sold a total of 123 million albums, while the King has racked up sales of 118.5.

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I doubt that Garth’s record, so to speak, will ever be broken. He hit his big numbers in the days before file-sharing and iTunes. Look at the dates on these mega-sellers: No Fences (1990), Ropin the Wind (1991), The Hits (1994) and Double Live (1998).


Current top music in Tennessee

November 4, 2007

BoingBoing links to an interesting site that shows the current most popular artists and albums for a particular state or country. The info comes from Gracenotes, the company whose database provides the song titles and other information when someone rips a CD. The number one album at this moment is Carrie Underwood’s “Carnival Ride.”

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Grand new opera for Nashville

September 27, 2007

Coming on the heels of the Nashville Symphony’s triumphal opening of the $123.5 million Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the city’s major opera company has announced plans for a new, $6 million opera house.

The Tennessean has a story on Nashville Opera’s new digs, which will open in the Fall of 2008. Having these new structures–and the fundraising campaigns that built them–so close together demonstrates the health of the arts in Middle Tennessee, the generosity of donors, and perhaps a need to give Nashville its old nickname: Athens of the South.

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Photo from Nashville Opera


Bluesboro gets religion; gospel music sells

September 7, 2007

According to this article in the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, the Bluesboro Rhythm & Blues Co. has gotten religion–at least on Sundays. Their Sunday gospel brunch has now become a staple on Sunday afternoons at the club.

The man behind the music is Janard Cross, youth pastor and choir director at Freedom of Worship Outreach Church. The first brunch was in July, and Bluesboro plans to have one at least once per month. The cost is $10 for food and the concert, $5 dollars for children 10 and younger. The menu includes Cajun catfish, fried chicken and other brunch items — from pastries, egg, sausage, grits, fruit and bacon to potatoes.

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Above is the menu for the heathen concerts. The brunches are held at 2:00 P.M. Only heathens would think “brunch” takes place in the middle of the afternoon–and only heathens would spell “dessert” with one “s.”

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 Bonnie & Clyde met Lester and Earl

August 16, 2007

The New York Times had a good story on Sunday about the 40th anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde, the Arthur Penn directed movie featuring the young Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters, with Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons in supporting roles.

While writer A.O. Scott ruminates on “the crucial episode in the entwined histories of Hollywood, American film criticism and postmodern popular culture” and ponders “the connoisseurship of violence,” he makes only one reference to what he refers to as “the skittering banjo music of the soundtrack.”

“Foggy Mountain Breakdown is “skittering banjo music”? Huh?

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Elvis on American Idol

August 12, 2007

I’ve never been a fan of American Idol, except when Boulder local boy Ace Young came in seventh back in 2006. I have to admit, however, that I was blown away when I saw the American Idol Elvis/Celine Dion duet on Youtube. You can–until they yank it–see it here:

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Stax tonight!

August 1, 2007

Tonight most PBS stations will host Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story. This documentary tells the story of how blacks and whites came together in Memphis to make music that still rocks the house. Names such as Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, Booker T and the MGs, and Otis Redding developed their sound in the Stax studios, which were located in a former movie studio.

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Memphis Magazine hits a home run

July 18, 2007

Glossy city magazines have an almost impossible task: producing good prose while simultaneously sucking up to companies who cotton to rich folks–and who, incidentally pay for the ads. That’s why you see those issues with lame stories such as “this year’s movers and shakers” and “the physician directory” with glowing little box profiles of doctors within an IV drip of an ad from their practices.

The July issue of Memphis magazine is about the best issue of this publication I’ve seen. The cover story is a 30-year look back at how the magazine covered Elvis, from their literally stop-the-presses September, 1977 issue–Memphis would have come out the month after the most momentous death in Memphis history with a cover on Dutch Elm disease and no mention of the King–complete with covers from all the issues during that time. Good stuff.

There is also a Chris Herrington article on the various out-of-town artists who recorded in Memphis. These include the Yardbirds, Neil Diamond, John Prine, Sonic Youth, Stevie Ray Vaughn, R.E.M, and Three Doors Down. Herrington then makes his case for what he thinks are four of the most significant albums recorded in Memphis by artists who did not live there: Dusty Springfield’s 1968 Dusty in Memphis, ZZ Top’s 1983 Eliminator, The Replacements’ 1987 Pleased to Meet Me, and the White Stripes’ 2001 White Blood Cells.

Memphis magazine costs a mere $15 per year for 12 issues, a bargain.

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


Bill Monroe homeplace and resting place

July 17, 2007

Allow me one more trip into Kentucky and then I’ll get back to Tennessee.

Bill Monroe is one of the few people who created a musical genre, and visitors to Rosine, Kentucky can see his birthplace and his grave. The 1994 documentary, High Lonesome, depicted him walking around the house in which he was born and reminiscing about Uncle Pen and family life on Jerusalem Ridge. The house at that time was an abandoned wreck. Monroe died in 1996, and the Bill Monroe Foundation has restored the house and opened it for visitors.

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