IBMA Travelogue # 12

Our own intrepid correspondent, Richard Thompson [bluegrassmercury], spent a week in Nashville in early October, having traveled from the UK to attend the IBMA convention. It was his first trip to IBMA in 20 years, and we thought that his post-IBMA impressions and reflections would be of interest both to others who were likewise in attendance, and our many readers who would love to have been there.

bluegrassmercury Travelogue # 12
By Richard F Thompson
Nashville, Tenn. Sunday, October 6

Eddie Stubbs at The Ford Theater, October 6, 2008 - photo by Karen ThompsonKaren and I spent the day relaxing and sightseeing, starting by the Cumberland River and working our way back up Broadway via First Avenue and Second Avenue.

I was disappointed to find that Fort Nashborough – the name of the first settlement – had been moved from its original site. I guess that it was part of the price of progress.

Although, it was largely a day free from music and, therefore, possibly of little interest to those who want to know about my bluegrass experiences, I found a lot of interest in down-town Nashville, if you look beyond the tackiness of NashVegas.

Viewed from the river, First Avenue looked as though the buildings were used as warehousing for goods landed from staging on the river bank. Viewed from Second Avenue, those same buildings appeared to extend through to the depth of the whole of the block. This prompted me to look closely at the buildings along the way.

The three storey Watkins Block along leafy Second Avenue was built in 1875, the two storey premises now occupied by Hatch Show Print was built in 1880, or thereabouts, and the oldest property in down-town Nashville – 102 Fifth Avenue South – was built about 1816. The Ryman Auditorium was built in 1892 and further out, but within our walking range, the Union Station building, an example of late-Victorian Romanesque Revival architecture, was opened n 1900 and the Hume-Fogg High School, a Tudor Revival building, has parts that date from 1855.

Among these older buildings is a variety of examples of more modern, but nonetheless still interesting, architecture, such as that for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Sommet Centre and the Frist Museum. However, the landscape is dominated by the 32-storey AT& T (a.k.a. Batman) building, completed in August 1994.

For the second time during our stay we had a late lunch at Merchants bar/restaurant on Broadway. This is Karen’s favourite place to eat.

We spent the early part of the evening at the Ford Theatre, at the invitation of Eddie Stubbs for his regular monthly Intimate Evening with ‚Ķ… His guest was Michael Martin Murphey, dubbed the “singing cowboy poet,” from Texas. Murphey who was in the city for an appearance on Saturday (10/4) at the IBMA Fan Fest and delayed his return home to accommodate the interview with Stubbs.

As well as talking to Stubbs, Murphey performed a few of the songs from his forthcoming bluegrass-orientated album Buckaroo Blue Grass on Rural Rhythm Records. He was accompanied by his son, Ryan on guitar; Pat Flynn, of New Grass Revival fame, also playing guitar; and Casey Henry, playing banjo. Among the songs that he performed was his classic Carolina in the Pines.

Following that we took a few photographs, capturing parts of Nashville at night, before returning to our hotel for a snack.

Editor’s note: A photo Richard is featured this week on the front page of WAMU’s Bluegrass Country web site as a part of their bumper sticker promotion. They have posted a number of listener photos with their WAMU bumper stcikers on Flickr.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.