Reflections of Nashville

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Alright, as usual my daily blogging of a trip didn't work out too well. Never can can a decent connection on a hotel phone with dial-up, and certainly not going to try too many times at $.50 a try. Anyway, I have had just about a week to reflect back on the trip. It included a trip to the Hall of Fame, celebrity home tour, and 2 nights of the Opry.

I had been in Nashville in June of 2004 the last time. I could notice so much change in the City since then, and especially going this time in an off-peak tourist time. The last time was during the CMA Music Fest (Fan Fair) where Nashville comes back to its roots of a music town for the week. This time, I got to see what the city is all about these days.

Country music is not the focus of the city anymore. Music Row is still there, the Hall of Fame is still there, the Opry is still there. But the feeling I got around the city was, well, not important to them anymore. The football team and the hockey team are more important it felt. Then again, there was a football game scheduled that weekend. That's where I noticed the city's preference. The Opry, both nights, at the Rymam, I saw no police presence. No help with traffic or pedestrian control (especially with the sidewalk closed.) The football game however, even as I pulling out at 9:30am, all over the place.

Country music in Nashville certainly isn't dying, that is for sure. It is still the home of the labels and all the businesses that play a part in the industry. It is just a little harder to find it and find people that take pride in it. Maybe this is one of the many reasons country music itself is not doing as well as I think it could. Just my thoughts of course...

Beside that point, the trip was wonderful. I can't think of a better way to spend an evening than at the Grand Ole Opry. Especially in the Ryman. What an awesome feeling. Then add one of the best lineups I have ever experienced at the show performing. Jim Ed Brown, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jean Shepard, and Bill Anderson.. just to name a few. Wow, what can I possibly say about it.

I hope my pictures turn out well. They go to the developer in the morning. We will just hold our breath til then.

Nashille Here I Come...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Well, finally. I get to go back to paradise, for me anyway. It's been since June of 2004 since I have been able to make the trip. I have missed going out, and usually try to go out at least once a year. I'm cutting it close this year, for sure.

I have lots planned already, and I always get into more than planned as well. I leave Wednesday and will have to return Sunday. I am hoping to be able to post a lot from the trip here daily, but just have to see. Technology never works the way I want it to in these situations.

In the next few days, I hope to be in touch more in giving you a real look at a country music fan's idea of an enjoyable vacation.

The bar set too low?

Recently, a member contacted me and asked for my opinion on a journal entry that Richard Marx has posted. One of the points in it really caught my attention. He mentioned "The" in regards to the level of talent in country music these days, and specifically was mentioning the CMA winners.

Well, as far as a stand point of CMA winners, well, the voting membership only can vote on what is out there to vote on. So, that point is fairly mute.

What I want to focus on though, is the overall bar. I do believe it is set low in the talent area. Big label Nashville is not looking for true talent. They look for market-ability. If they think the person can sing fairly decent, with a little help from the audio technology that is available, and have "that look and persona" that will sell records, then they have a new artist. It's sad.

When I look for really good music. I mean music with feeling, talent, and a dedication to the music, I look at the independent artists. That's where the music is these days. No doubt. There so many out there and far too many real good one to mention. However, those are the artists that get my attention. Sure a few exceptions like Alan Jackson and George Strait, for example are out there. Those are the ones that keep my passion for the music high.

So many so called country artists aren't that at all. They just so happened to end up in that category because that's who signed them. A lot of them don't know anything about the music they are in. They probably have never heard a song by Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Williams Sr., Hank Snow, and others of that caliber. If they have, its either been by accident, a cover song, or maybe just the biggest of the hits. The Opry's history probably is not known to them, except maybe that its where their manager said they need to go to, its 80 years old, and its held on Friday or Saturday.

Then there the ones that do know what they are doing in Nashville and are restricted in what they sing and do because of those large labels. They look at one thing: the bottom line. If it sells, lets do it. Tradition, heritage, talent, and honor to the music is much lower down on the list.

Until the big Nashville labels discover that what the fans of the music want is talent and true country music, that bar will be set low. Maybe they will notice that the independent labels are doing quiet well and take their lead, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. Also, until the label's management and decision makers come from those deep country tradition, we won't see it.

It is definitely heart-breaking to notice these observations, but that is the fact of the music business. Sure, I don't want to say there isn't any good music out there, but, I'm afraid you have to dig for it a little. Country music is still strong and alive, no doubt, but I believe that it could be so much stronger.