First stop was the Bluebird Cafe, a rather unimpressive looking shop in a strip mall out a few miles from where you'd think everything cool would be. This 100 seat
On stage for the night was the song writer Gary Burr, who I'd never heard of, with his keyboard player Randy Hart. But Gary's a pretty big deal, especially in the alien world of country music. He played a couple dozen of his own songs, and I gotta say, he was great. He sang well, he was funny and self-deprecating, and his songs were great. And he brought friends. Fellow song writer Victoria Shaw, got up, along with her daughter Ruby, who stole the show (almost), got up and sang a couple (apparent) hits she co-wrote with Gary. Then Georgia Middleman got up and sang a couple, one of which is a new single about to be released by Keith Urban. And then a new girl country group, Stealing Angels, did a couple.
It had the feeling of being in a friends living room. The type of friend who'd pick up his guitar and casually belt out a song that you'd never heard before but had your foot tapping and a smile on your face. And he had other friends who would also blow you away and make you wish you'd picked up guitar in high school instead of percussion.
As Gary and Randy played on, Georgia got up and walked over to the front door to great a friend. "That dude looks like Tommy Shaw" I thought to myself.
She walked the friend and his wife back to her table, right past us. "That's Tommy Shaw!"
Then it got cooler... Gary called Tommy up to play backup guitar on a song. Tommy was a little reluctant. Then Gary jokingly needled him "Come on. It's just a blues in G."
Tommy was smooth, and cool, and genuinely enjoying himself. He said "I've been in Nashville for a week and it's like being backstage, everywhere you go."
And then it got better.
Tommy sang High Enough and killed.
And then it got better.
Tommy played Renegade. By "played" I mean tore the place down. It was incredible. He started playing it straight, and then Gary came in with some harmonies and second guitar and before you knew it, Renegade took on a soulful bluesy personality. Totally impromptu. Totally improvised. Totally cool. I love that song, and this was the best rendition. Ever.
Then Tommy sat back down, went back to his drink with his friends, and listened to more of Gary and Randy.
When it was all over, as we headed out the door with Bluebird T-shirts under our arms, we were giddy.
Even though we'd been up since 6:00a, we were flying high. So, we headed to 5th and Broadway where the live music is everywhere, sans cover charge, and fantastic fun.
We closed down Legends with a band (never got the name) who played a little bit of everything (Guns n' Roses, Keith Urban, Beatles, Daughtry, James L Dean, and lots lots more). They rocked and they had the place in the palm of their hands.
Getting back around 3:00a, I was pretty wiped. But I was doing better than the college kid across the hall.
And unlike this dude, I got up this morning for an invigorating run. In the rain. And chill.
[That's right friendly reader... today's special is a double-post... tales of last night plus a photo safari! I know!]
It was a very gray, rainy day. And it was a little windy to boot. Windy enough to set my high-cut short shorts to flapping.
Undaunted, I made off for the state capital.
Standing in the capital's front yard, in a perpetually off-putting stance, is Sam Davis.
What are you looking at?
At the spot of highest honor, at the front of the capital overlooking the city is Edward Carnack.
And little wonder. Mr. Carnack had a gift. We was able to divine the answer to a question, without seeing the question. The question was sealed in an envelope. He'd hold it to his forehead, and ... huh?
Oh. I'm sure he had some good tricks, too.
Andrew Jackson, 7th President, showing off.
As I rounded the corner from Andy J., I saw an odd looking monument. The name on it was James Knox Polk. "That's weird," I thought, "he has the same first name, middle initial, and last name as President James K Polk."
Burial site of James K Polk, 11th President of the United States
I'm a doofus.
Also buried here is Mrs. Polk, Sarah, Jim's wife.
Sarah Polk's blurb
"Asleep with Jesus." Uh... That's either creepy, or really inappropriate.
Not far from the capital is a reconstruction of Fort Nashborough.
Fort Nashborough - pretty cool. Smells like wood.
This is a new one, for me, at least...
Is it filled with donuts?
You'd think Batman's secret lair would be a little more subtle.
The Cumberland River with bridge, barge, and red curly thing.
This is where the Tennessee Titans lose to the Colts when they are playing a home game.
Humping back, mostly uphill, I paused just short of 5th and Broadway where the live music clubs are side-by-side, and for now, quiet.
Except for Tootsie's.
Tootsie's had live music when I ran by at 11:30a on Sunday morning. And it was packed.
Made it back to the hotel for a stretch and a shower.
I was starving.
We decided to head out to a landmark.
The Loveless Cafe is insanely popular. We had an hour wait. Luckily there were shops scattered around to browse in. Owned by the same family. Doesn't seem like there's a lot of incentive to shorten that wait.
The wait, totally worth it. The food was in- wait for it -credible.
Two eggs over easy. Oh, and a huge pile of the best pulled-pork I've ever had the pleasure of inhaling.
(Not pictured - stack of 3 plate size buttermilk pancakes, also best ever, also inhaled.)
You want to know why the South lost the war? Pork for breakfast. After this meal, had I been on the Gray team, I'd have gladly surrendered my allegiance to the confederacy for a nap.
Numbers 4.3 miles in rain. Felt great!