Archives for category: Country Music Hall of Fame

The Janie Price Interview on the First Anniversary of Ray’s passing.

Janie Price, photo courtesy- Rick Moore

Janie Price, photo courtesy- Rick Moore

“If you knew just half of the story, you couldn’t get through it without crying. Ray came up to Nashville under the direst of circumstances. He was so ill, feeling so bad and weak. Chemotherapy just wears you out. This man just walked out of that house and, by golly, he got on that tour bus and he came back until he was satisfied he had that volume and that depth to his voice and then would resonate down to the lowest. Ray was able to do this. I was married to one of the most incredible men that has ever walked the face of this earth. This man was a true man. I am so proud to be his wife.” – Janie Price, December 2014

Ray Price spent the last couple of years of his life crafting his final masterpiece, Beauty is… The Final Sessions. A collection of carefully compiled gems, this is a love letter to his wife, Janie Price. Ray worked with legendary Record mogul, Songwriter and Producer Fred Foster [Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Billy Grammer, Ray Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Joe White, Larry Gatlin, Charlie McCoy, Al Hirt, Boots Randolph, Jerry Byrd, Billy Joe Shaver, Grandpa Jones, The Velvets and Robert Mitchum] to build on a bed of lush strings and orchestration reminiscent of the best of Countrypolitan.

???????????????????????????????????????A combination of Texas Country treasures by Cindy Walker [Until Then] and Willie Nelson’s “It Will Always Be” along with standards like Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” and the 1957 Vic Damone classic “An Affair To Remember” at the bequest of the love of his life has proven to be a benchmark for 2014 in modern day Nashville.

Ray Price was joined by Vince Gill [Beauty Lies In The Eye of The Beholder, Until Then] and Martina McBride [An Affair To Remember] on the most personal project of his career.

Janie Price took time to look at Ray Price’s final thoughts and to talk about his friends and recent discoveries regarding the modern age of digital media and social networking.

Brad Hardisty – The Nashville Bridge: Jeanie, it sounds like you have been busy promoting the legacy of Ray Price and his final recording over the last few months.

Jeanie Price, wife of legendary performer, Ray Price: I was down at Larry’s Country Diner and Jeannie Seely and John Conley were there and did a tribute to Ray. They sang some of his songs and it was so neat. I had co-hosted that with Bill Anderson a couple of months ago and they are in the process of getting that 5 DVD set ready. It’s already for pre-orders now. Larry Black had me come back to talk about that we did yesterday. I did the Mike Huckabee Show in October. He is going to do a special on Ray and that is going to air the 13th and 14th [last weekend] of this month around the time of Ray’s Anniversary of his passing on December 16th. I did The Texas Music Scene with Ray Benson. I went down to Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth and it was a day that they had their offices closed so they let us use one of they’re really neat rooms. I met with Dallas Wayne and the production crew all from Texas Music Scene there and filmed a documentary and that started running last week and the response we had from that was absolutely remarkable. I was on WSM with Bill Cody this morning so, I have been busy.

TNB: Who would have guessed that this last album would have such an impact?

JP: Absolutely. You’re telling the facts there because Ray talked to Fred and he asked Fred, he said, before he cut this album, “Do you think that it is humanly possible that an old fellow like me could possibly have another record in this industry? Do you think I can even chart or even get one released, get a record company interested in me?” Fred told Ray everything has changed in this industry and it is certainly not the same place that it was when you and I were in our heyday. But, Fred said, “I will tell you one thing, if anybody can do it, Ray Price can.” Fred Foster was right.

TNB: I think Ray did the right thing by insisting on having strings and the classic Countrypolitan sound.

JP: You know Brad, Ray and I were together forty five years. We were married 43 ½ years and I had taken over his business prior to that and I was there in the beginning of the time when Ray moved from Nashville and came back home to Texas. The reason that he left Nashville was over that very thing. It was the issue of the fact that he had wanted to enlarge the sound of Country Music. Ray wanted to take Country Music to town and to upgrade the sound and make Country Music something that everybody would be proud to listen to.

TNB: Ray was really one of the pioneers of the big Nashville Country sound.

JP: Ray Price paid the dues. He put his money where his mouth was and I can tell you for a fact. I was his book keeper and I wrote every check for Ray Price for the last 45 years and he spent his life’s fortune on moving Country Music into the modern day. When Ray and I first met, he was carrying a 22 piece Orchestra and he was working with so many violins and cellos and violas plus he had a horn section. He had so many musicians.

TNB: I bet that was a challenge on the road.

JP: Ray was working in places that didn’t have a stage big enough to hold them all. It was pretty funny. These guys would set up on the side of the stage. But by golly, he did it.

TNB: Strings were a trademark of his sound.

Ray Price publicity portrait

Ray Price publicity portrait

JP: Ray believed so strongly that the violin was the most classic and versatile of instruments. He said he felt that it replaced the human voice. So, by adding a multitude of strings all at the same time; eight violins, ten violins, it was like having a choir behind you singing. That was Ray’s imagination saying I think we can create this sound and we are going to be able to duplicate a sound that will replace all these people. The violin is going to be the one to do that. I think that he was right.

TNB: Eddie Stubbs [WSM], during the recent tribute, pointed out that Ray carried on the tradition of the violin or the fiddle at a time when it was disappearing in Country Music.

JP: Well, you’re right. The old time fiddle was going away so Ray just changed it. Ray said it was the same instrument and it just sounds different depending on whose holding it and how you play it. Ray wanted to hear those beautiful voice-like strings and so that’s why he had them playing.

TNB: Wasn’t that a great tribute?

JP: I was there that night. I was backstage and they told me they just wanted me to come up and thank those involved and how much we appreciated them doing this tribute. I was sitting backstage and I was on the right hand side of the stage facing the audience where the podium was and Eddie Stubbs was standing there. I was just enjoying the show. It was a sad time for me because it had only been three and a half months since I had lost Ray. At the end of the show, Eddie said, “Now folks, I’ve got a real special person here tonight. I want you all to make her feel welcome. I want you all to say hello to Ray Price’s wife, Janie.” Well, it just scared me to death. I had no clue that he was going to ask me to come out on that stage. After all, that is the Grand Ole Opry isn’t it?  told my sister my legs are just killing me. I cannot stand up and she said, “You better do something? Eddie Stubbs is standing there with his arm out wanting you to come out there.” I finally was able to get to my feet. I was out there and Eddie said,”Now Janie, I want to tell you somethin’.” Eddie told me the exact date in 1952 when Ray Price walked out on that very spot and made his very first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Eddie told me the song he sang. Eddie said “What do you think about that?”

TNB: I bet that was a surprise.

JP: I was just dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. I don’t know why it came out of my mouth but, I said how old was I? Ray was twenty years my senior and I was just thinkin’ that I was just a kid. I said, “How old was I? Eddie said “Janie, a woman who will tell you her age will tell you just about anything.”

TNB: That was a good safe answer.

JP: All the audience just laughed and that relaxed me and it just made me laugh. Eddie said “Well, I just want you to turn to this audience and I want you to tell these fans out here what this album means to you and what Ray’s idea and plans were for this album.” I don’t know how I got through it but I just turned to the audience and I told them that Ray had pancreatic cancer and he had fought it for twenty five months. Before he left this world, he had made the decision that he wanted to do one last thing. He said I don’t want to just go home and sit down and die. I want to do something with the remaining days of my life and do something that is meaningful.

TNB: How did he get started?

JP: Ray picked up the phone and talked to Fred Foster. He asked Fred if he would be a part of it and he said”I would love to be a part of this!” Martina McBride, when she found out about it, she was just so thrilled at the chance to be on the album with Ray. She came over and sang on “An Affair To Remember” which is the song that I just begged Ray to record for so many years.

TNB: I think anybody would have jumped at the chance to work with Ray.

JP: It was just a combination of a dream that my sweetheart husband had. He wanted to have one last album before he left this world and it has been left in my hands to go out and do the promotion and do everything that Ray would have done and had every intention of doing.

TNB: It must have been a huge undertaking with his health issues at the time.

JP: Ray had developed some serious side effects and had some health problems that were caused by those reactions that we simply did not anticipate that pro longed his ability to take chemotherapy. It was during that period of time when Ray was recovering from those side effects to the medication that the cancer had spread pretty quickly beyond where we would not be able to do any treatment for it and he realized that he was not going to be here.

TNB: I bet that was a difficult situation, knowing that this would his final project.

JP: He wanted to be here so badly. He wanted to be a part of another hit record and to leave his fans with one last album. He dedicated it to all the people who supported him all these years. So, he asked me if I would step forward and do what he would have done. I told him I had never done anything like this before. He said you are just going to have to make yourself available. He said I have got the right people in place.

TNB: Ray was confident in your abilities.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

JP: Ray said all you are going to have to do is what they tell you to do. I said but, I don’t know what to say. Ray said “I tell you what I want you to do. I want you to call my good friend Eddie Stubbs.” He said you ask Eddie, you tell Eddie that I want him to help you and give you support and to try to tell you how to handle these interviews. Ray said,”He will talk you through it” and he did. Eddie broke down and started crying when I told him what Ray said. Eddie Stubbs said “I would love to do that.” Eddie has spent many, many, many conversations on the phone in the beginning of this and giving me tips. I thought, I’m so lucky to have a master like Eddie Stubbs giving me pointers. Eddie is a big part of this. Eddie and Ray were close friends. Eddie Stubbs was closer to Ray than any other human being those last years of Ray’s illness and I know he called every week and talked with Ray as long as Ray was able to talk. When Ray could no longer talk, he started talking to me and Eddie kept an update with all his fans on his show on WSM. Eddie told Ray as long as I have a job and until they fire me, I am going to play a Ray Price song every time I am on the air.

TNB: What role has social media and internet played in helping to get the word out on this album?

JP: As you know, that is instant media and it just goes everywhere. It is worldwide. There is no limitation. Radio stations are limited as far as their signal will broadcast but internet is limitless. I have done several internet radio shows and they have gone all over the country and that has made a huge difference. It’s like it has opened up whole world. Now, that is hard for older people like us that are not accustomed. We think if we are texting on a telephone we are doing really good. These young people are becoming so computer literate and they just live on that internet. They do their entire life, business and everything on the internet so they are picking up on things. this morning when I was on WSM, Martha [Publicist] tweeted it on her account and Bill Cody did the same thing on WSM’s and Martha just posted “Janie Price is live on the air with Bill Cody and Charlie” and if you would like to listen, click on right now and within less than a minute there were 352 people on those lines in less than a minute. I don’t know how many people ended up listening to it but there were bunches of them.   Ray loved the internet. Do I have time to tell you what he said about it?

TNB: Go ahead.

JP: Ray opened up his Facebook page and it was something that just thrilled him. Ray had no clue that so many people would join his Facebook page and so after it was posted, there were 118 people that had already clicked on it. Before our web designer got off the line we already had 500 people that liked his page.

TNB: One last question. The newer Country is really different. Do you find younger Country fans that are going back and looking for the roots and recognizing Ray Price for what he did?

JP: From what we are being told, that is what has turned this record around. That is exactly what is happening. Ray’s fan base was the same age and he was 87 years old when he passed away. We have lost so many of those people. How do we account for all this huge gigantic sales of Ray Price’s album? Well, these people all had children, who had children, who all now have children and they all have been raised on Ray Price’s music. And it has been handed down and now people like Ray Benson are talking this project on The Best of Texas. There are so many new young artists on there and they have brought in so much of the young crowd and there is a younger generation that is just falling in love with Ray Price. We wish he was here to see this because that was always his dream. He said “I have been the singer for all these old folks all these years and I would love it if the younger generation would start liking my music. That would thrill me to no end.” He said, “That would make this old man’s heart proud.” That is what has happened.

Message from Eddie Stubbs, WSM Radio and best friend of Ray Price-

Eddie Stubbs and Ray Price at WSM, twitter photo

Eddie Stubbs and Ray Price at WSM, twitter photo

Ray Price was an extraordinary singer. He was a true vocal and musical stylist–an absolute American original. It was a special blessing to have known him for over twenty years. We did many, many interviews together over those years. There were numerous occasions that I drove four and five hours each way to see Ray in full-concert. I’ve never regretted a single mile of those travels. On-stage Ray Price was pure class–a term you rarely hear used to describe an act in any form of entertainment. He was a super-hero to me, and it was always a privilege to just to be in his presence.”

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmail.com
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SONY MASTERWORKS TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM BY
COUNTRY MUSIC ICON DOLLY PARTON

Dolly Parton Blue Smoke cover artBLUE SMOKE WILL BE RELEASED INTERNATIONALLY
IN CONJUNCTION WITH WORLDWIDE TOUR

NEW YORK, NY (December   9, 2013) – Iconic singer, songwriter, musician, actress and philanthropist Dolly Parton is proud to announce her latest recording   endeavor, a partnership between her own label Dolly Records and Sony Masterworks. The label deal will launch her new album Blue Smoke in New Zealand/Australia on January 31, 2014,   to coincide with her international Blue Smoke World Tour which will hit New Zealand, Australia in   February. In addition, Blue Smoke will be released in the United States and Europe in May 2014,   in advance of the Blue Smoke World Tour hitting England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Norway   and Sweden.

“We at Masterworks think that Blue Smoke sits with Dolly Parton’s very best recorded work, as global   audiences will discover when she begins her world tour in January 2014. We’re   very happy to be associated with this great American music artist,” says Bogdan Roscic, President of Sony Masterworks.

photo courtesy Webster & Associates

photo courtesy Webster & Associates

Dolly is the most honored female country performer of all time. Achieving 25   RIAA certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, she has had 25 songs   reach number 1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist.   She has 41 career top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has   110 career charted singles over the past 40 years. All-inclusive sales of   singles, albums, hits collections, paid digital downloads and compilation   usage during her Hall of Fame career have reportedly topped a staggering 100   million records worldwide. She has garnered 7 Grammy Awards, 10 Country Music   Association Awards, 5 Academy of Country Music Awards, 3 American Music   Awards and is one of only five female artists to win the Country Music   Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award.

As a zenith crown to the dreams of country music that originally brought her   to Nashville, Dolly was inducted as a member of the Country Music Hall of   Fame in 1999. And the litany goes on.

Dolly’s career has spanned nearly five decades and is showing no signs of   slowing down. An internationally-renowned superstar, the iconic and   irrepressible Parton has contributed countless treasures to the worlds of   music, film and television. Some of her hit films have included Nine to Five, Steel   Magnolias, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Rhinestone. Parton received two Oscar® nominations – one for writing the   title tune to Nine to Five   and the other for Travelin’ Thru from the film Transamerica.

 

??????????????????????“I believe if you ask any singer who was the greatest country music singer of all time, they would say ‘George Jones‘. He was without question and by far the BEST! I first met and worked with him when I was 13 years old; I am so very grateful that he was my friend.” – Barbara Mandrell

Reaction to the passing came quick and fast on the news that Country Music Hall of Famer, Grand Ole Opry member, and Kennedy Center Honoree George Glenn Jones died Friday, April 26, 2013 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was hospitalized April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.
Born September 12, 1931, Jones is regarded among the most important and influential singers in American popular music history. He was the singer of enduring country music hits including “She Thinks I Still Care,” “The Grand Tour,” “Walk Through This World With Me,” “Tender Years” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” the latter of which is often at the top of industry lists of the greatest country music singles of all time.

“A singer who can soar from a deep growl to dizzying heights, he is the undisputed successor of earlier natural geniuses such as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell,” wrote Bob Allen in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Encyclopedia of Country Music.”

George Jones 02Jones was born in Saratoga, Texas, and he played on the streets of Beaumont for tips as a teenager. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps before returning to Texas and recording for the Starday label in Houston, Texas. In 1955, his “Why Baby Why” became his first Top 10 country single, peaking at number four and beginning a remarkable commercial string: Jones would ultimately record more than 160 charting singles, more than any other artist in any format in the history of popular music.

Jones’ first number one hit came in 1959 with “White Lightning,” a Mercury Records single that topped Billboard country charts for five weeks. He moved on to United Artists and then to Musicor, notching hits including “She Thinks I Still Care,” “The Race Is On,” “A Good Year for the Roses” and “Walk Through This World With Me.”

Jones signed with Epic Records in 1971 and worked with producer Billy Sherrill to craft a sound at once elegant and rooted, scoring with “The Grand Tour,” “Bartenders Blues” and many more. Sherrill also produced duets between Jones and his then-wife Tammy Wynette, and in the 1970s they scored top-charting hits including “We’re Gonna Hold On,” “Golden Ring” and “Near You.”

By the time “Golden Ring” and “Near You” hit in 1976, Jones and Wynette were divorced, and Jones was battling personal demons. His solo career cooled until 1980, when he recorded “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a ballad penned by Curly Putman and Bobby Braddock that helped Jones win Country Music Association prizes for best male vocal and top single. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” revived a flagging career, and Jones won the CMA’s top male vocalist award in 1980 and 1981. He also earned a Grammy for best male country vocal performance.

george jones 03In 1983, Jones married the former Nancy Ford Sepulvado. The union, he repeatedly said, began his rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol and prolonged his life. He signed with MCA Records in 1990 and began a successful run, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. His guest vocal on Patty Loveless’ “You Don’t Seem To Miss Me” won a CMA award for top vocal event in 1998, and it became his final Top 20 country hit.

In 1999, Jones nearly died in a car wreck, but he recovered and resumed touring and recording. He remained a force in music until his death, playing hundreds of shows in the new century and collecting the nation’s highest arts award, the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement, in 2008. In late 2012, Jones announced his farewell tour, which was to conclude with a sold-out, star-packed show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on November 22, 2013. Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, Sam Moore, The Oak Ridge Boys and many others were set to perform at Jones’ Bridgestone show.

george jones 01Jones is survived by his loving wife of 30 years Nancy Jones, his sister Helen Scroggins, and by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews

Ricky Skaggs – THE Country Music singer of all time. The words ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes’ has never been more true than today.

Larry Gatlin – Years ago someone asked Coach Bum Phillips if Earl Campbell was in a class by himself.  Bum replied, ‘Well if he ain’t, it sure don’t take long to check roll.’  I say the same of the late great George Jones.  Rest in peace POSSUM.  You were always kind to me… THANKS.”

Sammy Kershaw – George Jones has been a major part of my personal and professional life for a long time.  I have been inspired by his music for the last 50 years and for 42 of those, I had the pleasure of knowing him personally and professionally.  He was IT to me.  George was and will always be my guy.  I am luckier than a lot of people on this Earth because God let me be a part of George’s life and him a part of mine.  And on this day, his song couldn’t be more true: ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.'”

Mel Tillis –I met George when he came to Nashville and we became good friends.  I’m really going to miss him.  The world has lost the greatest singer to have ever lived.”

Ray Stevens –George Jones may be gone but his music will live on forever.  What a great voice and a great friend.”

Pam Tillis –Country music as we know it would be vastly different if it weren’t for George Jones.  He’s in our musical DNA.  All country artists will have to figure out how to even begin to live up to his kind of legacy. ‘Honky Tonk Heaven,’ here he comes… though we’re not ready to let go.”

Restless Heart –The greatest most soulful voice in history is gone. RIP George Jones… the guys of Restless Heart will miss you greatly.”

The Marshall Tucker Band –We met George many times over the past 50 years.  This is a terrible loss for his family, friends, the country music industry and the world.  He’s the most identifiable and inspirational country artist that has ever lived.

-Doug Gray

Billy Dean –George Jones was a mentor and a giant to my generation of country singers. He was there for my first Ralph Emery Show appearance. Backstage I was so nervous and expressed concern to George that if Ralph Emery didn’t like me, my career may never get off the ground. The first thing George said to Ralph when they went on air was how nice of guy he thought I was.  George Jones was our country music soul singer, no doubt. Who’s gonna fill those shoes?”

The Bellamy BrothersWe’ve lost one of the greatest voices in history.  Prayers and condolences to his family.”

Sweethearts of the Rodeo –Sharing the same vocal booth with George Jones on ‘Traveller’s Prayer’ was without a doubt THE highlight of our career.  He was a true legend, generous and supportive and he will live on and on in our hearts.”

george jones final show–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Chips Moman at Country Music Hall of Fame, all photos – Brad Hardisty

Chips Moman was at The Ford Theater in The Country Music Hall of Fame as part of the “Celebrate the King” series on Saturday, August 19th and spent a little over an hour talking about over thirty years worth of work in the music industry. If there were a list of the top 25 people that are responsible for American music today as we know it, Chips would be there.

Chips, who grew up in La Grange, Georgia, got a ukulele when he was three and a guitar when he was four, hitchhiked to Memphis to stay with his Aunt when he was just fourteen. When asked why he decided to go to Memphis, Chips just said, “I had never been there before.”

Scotty Moore and Brad Hardisty at Chips Moman Interview

Chips, who rarely does such interviews, drew a five star crowd of musicians that worked with him, especially in the Memphis years. Original guitarist for Elvis, Scotty Moore as well, the members of The Memphis Boys, sessions cats from the American Sound Studio years featuring guitarist, Reggie Young. Also, Gary Talley from The Box Tops.

James Burton, the other prominent guitarist in Elvis Presley’s career was also there.

Chips, who grew up listening to Les Paul & Mary Ford on the radio as a young boy, was also asked when he first heard Black Music. Chips just said, “I guess it was while I was picking cotton when I was a boy,” which brought a little laughter. It was hard to get a straight answer when one of the architects of the Memphis Sound was just going to play off your last statement.

Johnny Burnette & The Rock and Roll Trio

Chips Moman started playing guitar on some Sun Sessions for Warren Smith. In those early days, he played guitar in road bands for Gene Vincent and The Burnette Brothers.

Chips left Memphis for a while and headed out to California and worked at Gold Star studios as a session player while learning the studio experience where Phil Spector would develop the “Wall of Sound” production techniques.

With that experience, Chips was ready to work with somebody to start an R&B label when he got back to Memphis. Chips had talked Jim Stewart into buying a tape machine and went to scope out a place for a studio with Paul Ritchie and it was really under Chips insistence that they purchased the Theater on McLemore Avenue in Memphis that would serve as the recording studio for Satellite and Stax releases.

Defining the Stax Sound,Chips writes “Last Night”

In fact Chips wrote the first big hit, “Last Night” by The Markeys that was on Satellite Records and helped to establish the Memphis Sound with the driving beat, horns and locked in guitar, bass and drums.

Chips was a true visionary able to play guitar, compose music, run a label and act as Producer for well over 100 Billboard hits during the sixties and seventies.

A little inside story, Chips owned a little British sports car where Booker T. & The MG’s got their name from.

When asked why he left Stax, the simple answer was that he wasn’t getting paid.

 

The first hit record out of American Sound Studio.

What happened next was the founding of his own studio, American Sound Studio, where not only did Chips continue composing and Producing, but, other great American Producers such as Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd worked to create some magic including the classic album, Dusty in Memphis by Dusty Springfield.

Elvis with The Memphis Boys at American

If you ever wondered how Elvis Presley ended up recording in Memphis, Marty Lacker, Elvis’ confidante who ran the day to day operations of the Memphis Mafia put that one together and delivered one of his finest albums in 1969, the Chips Moman Produced, From Elvis in Memphis, which featured some of Elvis’ greatest late career recordings, “Suspicious Minds,” “In The Ghetto” and “Kentucky Rain.”

After the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, the vibe had changed in Memphis and so did the music business. Chips began spending more time in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  Chips co-wrote “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” for Aretha Franklin whom he said was one his favorite singers at that time. Chips played guitar on that track along with tracks by Wilson Pickett.

Produced by Chips Moman

Although, Chips would have liked to see things get back the way they were in Memphis, they never did turn around and later on, Chips ended up producing a lot of great recordings by Willie Nelson, Gary Stewart, Tammy Wynette, Ronnie Milsap, and The Highwaymen.

Chips discussing Waylon Jennings

Chips penned, “ Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love)” for Waylon Jennings after hearing him talk about the place.

Chips earned a Grammy for writing the B.J. Thomas hit, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Done Somebody Wrong Song.”

Chips moved seamlessly from musician to songwriter to producer to studio owner in the triumvirate domain that was Memphis, Muscle Shoals and Nashville speaking in R&B, Pop and Country like it was water out of the same stream.

On the current state of Memphis…”It aint Nashville.”  Without being critical of Memphis itself, that statement was enough that not much else needs to be said. Chips went back in the 80’s to try to turn it around, but, although there are still some quality music coming out of studios in Memphis, the infrastructure that was there from the 60’s through to the early 70’s may never happen again.

Chips finally settled back down in La Grange, Texas where he raises horses. Chips said, “My Walking Horses are running and my Running Horses are walking.”

An afternoon with one of the greats – Chips Moman

With such a well respected lifespan in the music business there were certainly many milestones rather than one single event in the life of Chips Moman.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

David Andersen photo-davidandersenmusic.com

While the Honky Tonks beckon tourists from all over the world, there are two ambassadors that get right at eye level and can play with skill, discuss and share the heritage of Nashville. That is David Andersen in the lobby of The Country Music Hall of Fame, whose recordings are available in the gift shop and “ Mandolin Mike” Slusser with his weathered mandolin usually somewhere near Gruhn Guitars down on Lower Broad.

Both are top quality musicians. Both tell the story of Nashville through their playing, their interaction and approachability.

“Mandolin Mike” Slusser photo- Brad Hardisty

The difference is Mike is no longer allowed to sell CD’s out of his guitar case when he plays. Never mind the fact that the bands that play in the Honky Tonks, who also play for tips, sell their CD’s at the foot of the stage in the same manner.

Slowly but surely, the true Street Musicians have almost disappeared.  

Just four years ago, prior to the recession, a musician could survive on tips while connecting with tourists, other local musicians and figure out how to make it in Nashville.

Townes Van Zandt once commented that he made more money playing for tips on Lower Broad than gigging around town.

J D Simo at Robert’s photo- Collings Guitars

In the last few years, J D Simo did some street gigging before landing a spot with the Don Kelley Band at Robert’s. J.D. has gained notoriety for some great guitar playing and is now seen in ads for Collings Guitars in guitar magazines.

Years ago, Lower Broad attracted tourists because that is where the hit songwriters and musicians hung out. Lower Broad has continued to develop as a tourist playground while the street ambassadors, The Nashville Street Musicians are dwindling and getting no support from City Hall.

The ability to make it as a street musician has been severely affected by The Contributor vendors (not to put down a unique effort), the economic downturn and the fact that more and more tourists and locals do not carry cash.

There has to be a way to support and develop a healthy community of street musicians.

It is possible to develop a hybrid vendor license similar to the system used in Memphis on Beale Street.

“Mandolin Mike” Slusser with tourists Andrew and Rachel Downs from Birmingham, AL – photo – Brad Hardisty

It could be quite simple either by utilizing the downtown ambassadors or a non-profit street musicians union that collects license fees either monthly or yearly for specific locations. The fee needs to be low, as an example maybe $75 per year since musicians earn about 1/3 of what they used to.

The musician or group would receive a license that could be worn like a badge with a strap like a trade show or be displayed in the guitar or instrument case and be assigned to a specific spot like Beale Street in Memphis. A committee could get the spots cleared with the approval of local businesses where they would not be blocking any doors or foot traffic.

There could also be a few spots for weekenders that would need to stop in and get a weekend license and claim the spot.

This would stop random musicians from showing up and creating a nuisance without understanding local ordinances.  Musicians would also need to audition to show some sort of musical viability that honors the traditions of Nashville or shows strong performance, songwriting or playing ability.

I feel this could actually help to build on a great Nashville tradition without throwing musicians into the same category as panhandlers and vagrants.

My 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian, Soldano cabinet and Custom handmade early Samamp 45 watt all tube head made in Birmingham, Alabama by Sam Timberlake.

When I first came to Nashville, I got out on the block for fun, usually playing in front of Lawrence Record Shop, because, I wanted the experience and it was a way to develop chops and make a little money. One of my personal high points was when Little Jimmy Dickens stood and watched me play my 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian (that I purchased at Gruhn Guitars in 2007)through a little Roland Street amp and after about ten minutes, threw a $20 bill in the case and said, smiling,”Keep it up.”

Tristan Dunn at Cash Wall, sometime street musician, sit in with local bands. photo – Brad Hardisty

Their needs to be an advocate for the street musicians, true musicians that bring music up close and can discuss what it is all about with tourists and locals. It could be a benefit to downtown Nashville in the Lower Broad Entertainment District.

While Homeless Photographers and Writers are able to develop talents and abilities through The Contributor, homeless musicians and true troubadours are made to feel unwelcome and have all but disappeared.

Somebody start the discussion! We need to make it possible for musicians to be safe and able to ply their trade, making tips, selling CD’s, photos and buttons (making available, not verbally asking to buy) in the Lower Broad District. It can be tough surviving as a musician even with talent and ability.

It would be simple to kick out random wanderers if we had a vendor’s badge system and there were assigned areas along the route. Police would not have to make it rough for everybody, only those operating outside the guidelines.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Infinity Cat 10th Anniversary, Night 2 at The Zombie Shop – all photos / Brad Hardisty

At Exit/In, the night before, night one of the Infinity Cat Records 10th  Anniversary celebration , it was announced that things would start at The Zombie Shop,  Saturday night at 5PM. When I got there, some of the crew was heading out to eat instead of loading in. I stopped them and asked if it was still on. They said it would definitely start by 9 because there were several bands lined up.

This was definitely a casual 5PM start.  I headed over to Panera near Vanderbilt to check my email and chill for a while. I took them at their word and didn’t get back till after 10PM.

I didn’t get home till 3PM from the Exit/In show and I was low on body and mind fuel. This was not going to be an all-nighter when I got back to The Zombie Shop.  The Zombie Shop sits in an area where any pre-2011 buildings’ days are numbered. Just ask the Musicians Hall of Fame (or once was but now is not).

The Zombie Shop, Mopeds all over the back

The Zombie Shop sits directly south of the new Music City Center, with all its curves and gargantuan size, looking somewhat like a super- sized version of the Experience Music Project (home of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia). In the renderings of the new center, the area that comprises the Zombie Shop, looks like it is either new “swanky” office and mixed use (outrageously expensive) space or a new tree-lined boulevard.

One can only hope that the owners of the Zombie Shop get what this large warehouse style workshop with enough open area outside for about 50 cars get what it’s worth and not the shaft like the Musicians Hall of Fame.

To give you an idea, this area of town sits between the homeless shelter (a converted Sears store), Third Man Records on the backside of that and what used to be older cheap use industrial buildings slinking north towards the bright lights, big city of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bridgestone Arena and Lower Broad Honky-Tonks.

This has been essentially no-man’s land where homeless, vagabonds of the western world and punk and metal bands attracting local non-tourists who dare to venture. It was an area where you could be left alone.

Now, the city fathers have decided all things must be come new. So, like the Station Inn that now sits like an old RCA Victrola squashed by all the new zippity doo dah Gulch pricy lofts and swanky shops, this area is quickly being lost to development.

The Zombie Shop has been an all ages venue/hang out for a while and this was perfect for Infinity Cat.  This lineup included the more fast, loud, punk rock side of the label, like Cy Barkley and Heavy Cream along with Breast Massage, Slammers, Denney and The Jets, No Regrets Coyote and Dirty Dreams.

It was an all ages celebration with skateboards, broke down mopeds in the back, young kids, older punk mainstays and label supporters from all over the country.  Saturday saw an even larger crowd than at the Exit/In show.  This is the future of the label. There are a lot of kids buying Infinity Cat stuff that were not old enough to make it into the Exit/In 18+ show.

Cy Barkley & The Wayoutsiders

Cy Barkley & The Wayoutsiders were finishing their set when I got there.

Taking a look at the T-Shirts, I really wanted one of the sky blue T’s with a print of a cat with JEFF The Brotherhood underneath, but none in 2X. In fact, no 2X T’s! Man I can’t help it. I know I need to lose some weight, but, can’t get a 2X? There are more of us than just me.

Thinking about the Skyblazer album, I thought, I want it on CD so I can listen to the long jams while cruising along 65 at night when I head to Birmingham or Florida. It’s only on vinyl for now. Hey, I totally understand. Maybe, I’ll just have to get the vinyl. I still think MP3’s are wannabes. The only time I get MP3’s are when friends send them to me. I like my music to not sound like a BLT without the bacon and extra lettuce.

I ran into a lot of the Infinity Cat strays from Exit/In plus another 200 friends in one of the best house party style gatherings. Enjoy it while it lasts. This type of party might end up having to move out near Little Hamilton or something within five years.  I guess progress means jobs and I can’t fault that part of the equation.

Heavy Cream load in time!

The last time I saw Heavy Cream was almost two years ago, Jessica was in the catsuit and they played at Third Man during Next Big Nashville. That was almost a manic call during those times. The future of Nashville is anybody’s guess with all the “for sale” signs going up on Music Row. Alternative and Punk may not fully take the place of what the music business is losing, but, it makes the Nashville Music Scene more balanced where everybody is welcome.

Heavy Cream kick out the jams at The Zombie Shop, 7/21/2012

This may be Heavy Cream Mach II or III, with a new bass player and drummer, Tiffany Minton, providing a solid ticking away of the timing, not missing a beat. They were locked perfectly. I noticed I’m not the only one who thinks that. I read some reviews online from other shows this morning and they give the same green light. It seemed like the early Heavy Cream version was a group fighting against itself, timing and rhythm wise, which is an easy mistake playing very fast straightforward punk.

Underneath the Infinity Cat banner!

Heavy Cream reminds me of the loud raw energy of Raw Power era Iggy Pop & The Stooges with the comedic lyrical bent of really early Donnas or even pre-Donnas’ Ragady Anne.

Hit the floor!

Jessica has got that “Iggy Pop glare” going on where you don’t know what she is going to do next. If the crowd aint doing enough, Jessica gets in the crowd and starts egging them on. She wants a reaction. I can’t see her smearing peanut butter all over herself, but, she has that “Iggy style front girl bully pulpit” thing better than anybody else in town. Watch out, she can stare you down without blinking.

Everybody was in the cavernous garage when the girls hit the stage. Heavy Cream ripped through a lot of new material from Super Treatment, like “Louise,”recorded in San Francisco with Producer, Ty Segall. The new songs have that raw, loud tightness of other bay area punkers like the Dead Kennedys– “California Uber Alles” and the original MX-80 SoundSomeday You’ll Be King “ that was on The Residents, Ralph Records back in 1979.

Jessica McFarland / Heavy Cream / The Zombie Shop 7/12/2012

Super Treatment, with its almost other worldliness relation to the cover of The CrampsBad Music for Bad People may be the defining Nashville Punk album, much in the same way as Justin Townes Earle’s, The Good Life when it set off true Nashville Americana edge. Super Treatment fits within the true family tree bridging the Nashville Punk scene with West Coast and East Coast Bad Brains grit and swagger.

Jessica

Heavy Cream closed their set with Alice Cooper’s, “Is It My Body” done more in a “what-are-you-staring-at-leave-me-alone” kind of way and finally their biggest song to date, “Watusi” which got the frontline in a friendly Nashville style  slam dance frenzy.

Heavy Cream do the Watusi!

Infinity Cat hung on the back wall, overseeing the crowd as they exited into the dark streets with the new Gotham City Music Center hanging like a dark cloud over the night.

Infinity and beyond!

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Wanda Jackson at Mercy Lounge 2010

Easter is all about a renewal, as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what it means to us. Nashville itself is a town of resurrection, a place where Jack White has produced two great albums by Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson and where the underbelly that was East Nashville is the place to be.

Speaking of East Nashville, Bob Dylan came here in the Sixties to make a 180 in his career and where Robert Plant came just a couple of years ago to do just the same.  Speaking of which, I have heard that he has set up shop with Patty Griffin in Austin since the Band of Joy tour.

What is Nashville to me? A Californian-slash-Alabama bluesman? I started making the drive up to Nashville quite often starting in 2006 from Birmingham. I liked the fact that you could wander from one honky tonk to another and check out all the Telecaster blasters playing through mostly Fender tube amps almost any hour of the day.

I finally made the move after getting positive feedback about my songwriting abilities from a local publishing head at the end of 2007.

It was a very surreal world, where one Saturday morning, wandering around a guitar show, I ended up talking to Scotty Moore about how many Bill Black Combos, Bill really had.  The next minute, I am jamming on my 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian down on Lower Broad when Little Jimmy Dickens comes wandering out of nowhere and watches me jam for about 10 minutes, throws a $20 dollar bill into the vintage case and says. “Keep it up!” Mind you, I’m not making this up. In fact, if you are from Nashville, you know what I mean and are probably saying, “So what.”

I realized that everybody had a story, whether it was the Baskin Robbins on Lebanon that said Porter Wagoner used to come in all the time, or a snapshot in the window of Robert Plant stopping in to check out the guitars.

So what do I like about Nashville, now that I have been here a few years?

Strange Karma down on Lower Broad celebrating the bassist birthday!

Let’s see, there is more diversity than what outsiders would think, for starters, I have met a ton of Aussies and I, seriously, have never met one I didn’t want to hang with whether it was Anthony Snape or Strange Karma. I wonder if it was like this when Keith Urban first came here and was playing at the Guitar Bar? Did the Aussies start coming after Keith’s success or is Nashville a big magnet?

As far as diversity goes, you can get world class Indian Cuisine, of which I am all about Tamarind on Demonbreun. I’ve ate Indian food all over the place and that is about as good as it gets.  There are several ethnic communities here, whether it be Egyptian Coptic Christians or Somalis, the list goes on and makes for Eateries that go way beyond the meat and three.

Something is in the water in East Nashville, with several upstart, one of a kind places like Far East Nashville, not only your typical Vietnamese Pho and Vermicelli bowls, but, the actual family recipes fixed by the owners brother, in a totally unique way.

Porter Road Butcher Shop makes some amazing sausages featuring probably the best Andouille Sausage this far north of Bayou Country.  In fact, that is what I had for Easter. I could have whatever I wanted, so, I faxed three eggs with some sharp Vermont Cheddar and some of that Andouille Sausage on the side.

Nashville is a vinyl fanatic’s pipe dream, wandering between Grimeys, The Groove, Phonoluxe and the two Great Escape locations there is no reason to ever come up empty handed. In fact, there is a plethora of radio station promo copies which are usually on heavier, better quality vinyl.  Record Store Day is almost like a city holiday where a huge migration descends mainly on Grimeys by the thousands. My only gripe would be, is there no bootlegs? Back when, I used to travel over to Berkeley to Moe’s Bookstore and get vinyl Beatles bootlegs as well as concerts and demos engraved onto vinyl by everything from Queen to Aerosmith to The Clash it was something nobody else had.

Music is everywhere, as I laid down to bed the first few months in Nashville, I could hear music in my head like never before, like ghost radio stations, it seemed like there were thousands of songwriters who had passed on and never left Nashville, they were just trying to get that next big hit. It seemed as if there was singing in the netherworld and all you had to be was a little bit spiritually aware.

Tommy Tutone and Mario at Nashville Amp Expo

I think there are more Telecasters in a 30 mile radius than the whole state of California, where they were invented.  If you can’t find the perfect Telecaster, there are boutique builders from Mario Guitars in Murfreesboro to Chad Underwood in Lexington, Kentucky.

As far as electric guitar parts go, Rock Blocks Guitars has a wall of supplies juts minutes away.

Looking at the Musical Instrument section in Craigslist can be eye opening. You never know what you will find, anything from a 1964 Fender Precision sold by the bass player in Cinderella after a career’s worth of touring to a Gold Top Les Paul owned by Duane Allman. If there is a vintage Sho-Bud Steel around, no doubt, eventually, you’ll see it on Craigslist.

Southside Gentlemans Club at Burt's Tiki Lounge, newly acquired Dr. Z Stang Ray in the backline. 2009

My favorite personal story is about my Dr. Z Amplifier. I had been writing and playing my own brand of Ragtime Blues when I moved to Nashville. I had been using a 45 Watt Samamp from Birmingham when I got here and it was just too much. I was ready for a little 30 Watt or less combo. There are so many and I just decided to try them all. I brought my arch top with me and made the rounds from Corner Music to Gruehn Guitars to Rock Blocks. Finally, when I plugged into this Dr. Z Stang Ray at Rock Blocks, I had met my match, a simple tone stack, where you could really fill out the bass and a simple good looking black with white trim amp.  The speaker had been changed out to a Cannabis Rex and it had a sound all its own.

The price tag was $2100. I didn’t have $2100. In fact, even with selling some gear, donating blood and street gigging down on Lower Broad, I still probably would be $1000 a way. I needed that amp. I put it in God’s hands. It’s okay to say that in Nashville isn’t it? Well, that’s what I did, true story. I prayed and said, I’ve tried all the amps out that I can think of and that is the one that sounds right then tucked it away.

Well, things looked bleak when I lost my job in 2008, in fact, really bleak, I left Nashville, worked five months in Memphis, then that company went bankrupt and I ended up taking a job with a national company in Utah and moved out of Tennessee.

I never gave up on the music, I got my five piece ragtime blues band together in Utah, playing at Burt’s Tiki Lounge, finding some great musicians from an add I put out in Craigslist. On a whim in early 2009, I looked up the Nashville Craigslist and found that exact Dr. Z Stang Ray for sale. Guitarist, Gary Ishee, had put an add up that read something like this;“I bought this Dr. Z Stang Ray earlier this year at Rock Blocks and I need to sell it.”

It looked identical. I called him up and explained that I was stuck out in Utah, but, that I knew the amp and through our talk, he knew I was the real deal. I wired the money to his bank account including the cost to ship it. I bought it for $1250. I was able to come up with that only because I went out west to a company on a bad stretch, because of the economy, they let me have all the overtime I could handle. I got the amp in a big Roland amplifier box from UPS in Farr West, Utah and it was the exact amp. I sat there and cried. It was the exact same amp, in fact, the only amp I ever prayed about and I will include the picture of my group, The Southside Gentlemens Club playing at Burt’s Tiki Lounge a couple of months later with the amp in the backline.

Thank you Brad Paisley for input on the AC30 hybrid design, what a great amp. I still own it and fire it up almost every day in hopes to lay down some tracks here soon.   

Okay tracks, let’s talk about that. I was in Utah almost a year, when I came out here on vacation in September 2009. I had hoped to move back to Nashville someday, maybe when the economy got better, but, on a whim, I had kept in touch with a realtor, who didn’t give up on me, even though, I was out in the Rocky Mountain West. I will drop his name, because Kenneth Bargers is an amazing Realtor. He emailed me faithfully every month some houses I would be interested in.  When I was here for a week in September 2009, Kenneth Bargers took me around on two afternoons to look at houses.  I felt like I was back home, I wanted to be back in Nashville, I did not want to get back on the plane.

Daniel Turner

We found a house I really liked. The last night I was in town, I was hanging around and moping by the pool at the airport Courtyard over on Elm Hill Pike, not wanting to leave Nashville. I decided I needed to go do something, pull myself up by my bootstraps. So I got dressed and headed over to Commodore Grille to check out some songwriters. Cowboy Jack Clement was in the round and it gave me goose bumps. I thought, if I had stayed at the hotel, I would have missed this.  I decided I need to get back and I was heading out the door when I heard somebody call my name. “Brad!” I looked up and it was Daniel Turner, one of my music friends from Birmingham, Alabama walking in. I said to him, “What are you doing here?”  He explained that he was going to be playing the next round. It was a great reunion of old friends. I have so much respect for Daniel as an all around musician. He can play, write and sing. If anybody could make a great classic country album, he could. He has such a great voice, but, he had really been influenced by a lot of the Alabama Blues that is around Birmingham.

I went back to my hotel room on cloud nine. I could hardly sleep. I was going to find a way to get back and I did. I interviewed by phone and got a transfer. I found a house on Zillow.com and Kenneth Bargers looked at it for me and on his word, I bought it. In fact, Kenneth represented me at closing in November 2009 and I never walked into the house until the first week of December as an owner. It’s a true story, call Kenneth, if you need a Realtor and you can ask about it. He is the best Realtor in Nashville as far as I am concerned.

Kenny Malone at a clinic at Country Music HOF

Okay, so, I am back. I work hard. I have got to hang with some great musicians and do some great interviews. It’s been a great ride, but, I need to resurrect my own career. Sometimes, I think it would be easier to move down to Pensacola and put together a group from Craigslist and center on a little club or bar to be “our place,” but, there is the dream recording session, the possibility that I can put together, with a little cash or luck, Kenny Malone on drums, “Slick” Joe Fick from The Dempseys on Bass, the violinist I saw at Mike Farris’ in store at Grimeys and get a trumpet player that can play like Al Hirt and get this manic New Orleans meets Memphis circa 1940 music to record. I work hard at the music and I have some great friends. If that part of my career is supposed to “Resurrect,” it will.

For now, I will just enjoy the ride.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com