Tennessee Tunings

by | Jun 24, 2007

Pete Nawara painted this live at City Hall on Friday

We travelled to Nashville, a.k.a. Music City, for the weekend and managed to see six acts in four different venues. On Friday night we saw Dinosaur Jr. and The Black Keys at City Hall in The Gulch. As luck would have it The Station Inn–perhaps the most famous bluegrass bar in the land—is situated directly across 12th Avenue from City Hall. Between sets we wandered over and paid the ten-dollar cover to see Blind Corn Liquors Pickers, a bluegrass outfit from Lexington, KY. The two scenes could not have been more disparate. Inside City Hall, 1500 plus 20-something hipsters were willingly being pumelled by the power of electric guitar, whereas BCLP played to a tiny crowd of acoustic music lovers in a setting as comfortable as old boots.

On Saturday, we ventured out to the Grand Ole Opry in the heat of the afternoon because Jim Lauderdale was scheduled to play for free in the Plaza. We caught his soundcheck then realized he wasn’t coming on for another two and a half hours. So we headed back to the city and found an Italian restaurant in Music Row for dinner. After a nice bottle of Syrah from Washington, ceasar salad, chicken parm and pork loin, we made our way down 8th Avenue to Douglas Corner Cafe for Bruce Robison. Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore opened the show. Masterson currently plays with Son Volt, but this acoustic romp revealed another side. We also picked up his new EP, The Late Great Chris Masterson, which sounds great. Following Masterson, Robison and his band–which includes Whitmore on fiddle and mandolin–delivered 90 minutes of Texas-sized tales befitting his 6′ 7″ frame and Bandera upbringing. All this in an intimate Nashville room. It was a great cap to a good weekend.