Nashville – The Rest of the Story

Alright. Enough dillying and dallying. It’s time to wrap up my Nashville visit double time.
The panels, well the ones I went to concerning mostly marketing, copyright/digital rights and online distribution – where excellent. There was a moment in one of the Friday panels, “Music Business Crash Course: Online Retail” where I dared to mention to A Nashville executive (David Ross, Publisher, Music Row Publications) that maybe part of the dwindling music sales might not be placed solely on nefarious online pirates and might partially be placed on the market finally realizing that the formulaic audio manure being shoveled onto them is, well, shit. As my example I mentioned “Like…Big & Rich.” “I LIKE Big & Rich” Mr. Ross stated matter of factly, though he seemed to me the kind of guy that would only have a country music CD in his BMW ‘s changer only if he was conducting business.

And the music…well, how do you put THAT into words, but I’ll try. There was the Friday Americana Listening Lounge (sort of an unplugged showcase where the complimentary coffee and cookies were set out) I had to squeeze into the capacity crowd to witness newcomer Hayes Carll, Dana Cooper, Jim Lauderdale, Kevin Welch and Texas outlaw legend Ray Wylie Hubbard entertained the crowd with an old style round-robin with Hubbard using Carlll’s guitar on his turn ‘cause he “Left his at home.”
This display was one-upped only by the legendary Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives at the Mercy Lounge where Marty’s lighting fast licks were matched by the man that that would win the AMA award for Best Instrumentalist the next night, Kenny Vaughn.
And that leads me to the AMA Award ceremony at the legendary church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium. Legends abound and each either presented with hysterical yarns. Vince Gill presenting Rodney Crowell with the lifetime achievement award reminisced about a time he was puking drunkenly in front of his kids sitting in the back of his truck said Crowell stuck his finger down his throat to make it appear normal. Gill remembers Crowell telling his kids “Daddy’s just tired.” Now THAT’S a buddy to count on!

The real surprise of the eve was Charlie Daniels getting the First Amendment Center/ from the typically left-of-center Americana Music Association Spirit Of Americana” Free Speech Award. (past winner of the award were Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson.) I’m all for differing points of view/the big tent etc. etc. some deserving twangified-Righties might be Kix Brooks (from the country Hall and Oates act – Brooks and Dunn) or Merle Haggard. But giving it to Daniels? This is a bit like giving a Edward R. Murrow Award to Rush Limbaugh.

Redemption was eventually achieved when the Austin-based singer/songwriter, James McMurtry (son of “Lonesome Dove” author Larry McMurtry) received of Album of the Year for his release “Childish Things” and the Song of the Year for “We Can’t Make it Here;” McMurtry was late to pick up the second award and he confessed being tardy due to having a cocktail across the alley at Tootsies Orchid Lounge.
There was more Leftie vibes at the end of the night when most of the night’s entertainers filled the stage at the end for a rousing version of “Blowing in the Wind.” It was a great ending as the sound filled that air and that compulsively genre interloper Elvis Costello looking for an open mic somewhere….anywhere.

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