I have witnessed a Nashville treasure. I got to see an accordion solo.
For real though, my buddy asked me if I wanted to go see a group called The Time Jumpers. I had no clue who that was, but he promised a good time. Why not? I was thinking along the lines of a concert hall with some good music. What I got was anything from what I expected… and I loved it.
First, there are a lot of legendary and iconic places in Nashville. A name I hear frequently is The Station Inn. Now, honkytonks are not known for their posh, but when I walked into this place I thought someone was going to start calling out bingo numbers. It had old everything: wood paneling; a makeshift stage and bar; and PBR for sale.
I like those places.
The Time Jumpers are a group of world-renowned country musicians. Name a country song from before 2005; I betcha one of these guys has played on it. We’re talking three Grammy winners, several Opry members, a couple Hall of Famers…
Oh yeah, and one of them is Vince Gill.
Yep, 19-time-Grammy-Award-winning, 26-million-albums-sold, 18-time-CMA-Award-winner, member-of-the-Grand-Ole-Opry, has-a-star-on-the-Hollywood-walk-of-fame, married-to-gorgeous-Amy-Grant Vince Gill himself.
Now, Vince was a little before my time, but as a country fan (and Belmont Alum) I know all about him. There he was in this Elks Club Lodge-looking place with eight other musicians just jamming out for barely 50 people… And by the way, he wasn’t the featured artist.
Nope, Vince got brought on as a sub a while ago and just likes playing with them. Every musician up there took turns on the lead, and Vince was just another one of them. In fact, he was the last one of them. He didn’t host; he didn’t even play his own songs (one of the other guys played Pocket Full of Gold). In this atmosphere he is not the aforementioned Vince Gill; he was just a guy who loved playing music. When I write a blog about why I love Nashville and country music so much, this will be used as an example.
The rest of the band was incredible as well. Three fiddles, three guitars, a slide guitar, a bass guitar, drums… and an accordion. With solos. Now that’s something you don’t see every day!
One of the guitar players was nicknamed “The Guitar Buddha.” I don’t think I heard him say a word. I barely even noticed him off to the side of the stage… until he started playing.
Jimmy Hendricks, Keith Richards, John Mayer, Eric Clapton… all of them would have stared at this guy in awe and said, “Damn, this guy’s good!”
“Good” is actually the understatement of this still-very-young century. I have never seen anyone play such fantastic material so flawlessly and effortlessly. Not once did he look down at the guitar. I don’t even think he opened his eyes. Not to mention, his solos were all improv. Every time he had a solo my eyes were fixed on his fingers flying – and I mean flying – effortlessly through the chords.
During a jam session in the middle of a song, each player would often have a solo. It was a blast to watch, not just because I like jam bands, but because you could tell these guys were just trying to impress each other. They just stood up there and showed off.
Of these show offs was the slide player who apparently was a replacement for their last, Joe, who had passed away. In fact, Joe’s widow was the one taking tickets at the door. She does every week, and has since the beginning. This just added to the cool, small town atmosphere. Vince played a song he wrote for Joe, and it was one of the most emotional songs I have ever seen live. And I didn’t even know the guy. I got choked up, many people in the audience were blinking rapidly, Joe’s widow was sobbing and even Vince had tears in his eyes as he sang.
On the lighter side of the evening are the Swedes that happened to be there this particular evening. During the second part of the show a large Swedish man came up and accompanied the band on fiddle. I don’t know how he found his way here, but I’m glad he did because he was fantastic.
And then there was the girl. Marina. I had taken notice to this very attractive blond in Daisy Dukes all night (any male – or probably female for that matter – with a pulse took notice). She was also from Sweden and an enormous fan of Vince Gill’s. Vince invited her up to sing by saying the following:
“A really really attractive lady came up to me and told me she loved me… and I just looked and said, ‘you have to be shitting me.’”
First, the fact that Vince Gill swore made me laugh. But then the girl jumped up and ran to the stage, barely containing her excitement. At this point the women in the audience were smiling at the situation and the men’s eyes were transfixed in one direction with piles of drool starting to formulate beneath them.
The lady was actually the lead singer in a Swedish band called Cheatin’ Hearts named after the Hank Williams song – which is the song she sang. Now, we wouldn’t have cared if she could sing or not; she could have stood up there and muddled guttural Jabba the Hutt sounds and we still would have watched and applauded. But I feel as though in a venue full of older-generation Nashvillians, you don’t mess with Hank unless you can pull it off.
Thankfully, she did. The accent was gone, the pitch was perfect, and the tank top was tighter than bark on a tree. In the middle of the song, Vince’s libido must have kicked in, and while Marina was singing, he leaned into the mic, closed his eyes and said, “Amy Grant Amy Grant Amy Grant…” which got roaring laughter from the crowd. Ironic song choice as well.
So this guy is rich, famous, married to Amy Grant, a seemingly-all around good guy, AND funny?!
And holy Swedish meatballs, as I write this I found the link to this video that someone took! You’re welcome. Gawk along with us:
Even more awkward then I remember, yet I would have walked around Nashville dressed as Lady GaGa for a day just to be Vince up there. But beyond me being overly-excited about pretty foreign blondes, the video does a great job at showing the atmosphere. It’s small, kind of dingy and has an all around small town feel.
Anyway, the rest of the night was more wonderful, old-time country, jam band-style music. You couldn’t help but sit there and enjoy it. It was some of the best musicians in the genre all sitting in front of 50 friends having fun with their instruments. Give me that over Tim McGraw in a stadium any day. In fact, show me Tim McGraw ever do that.
As I said, this is an example of why country music is so great. It’s friendly, honest and talent-driven music being played for any Average Joe who will listen. And all just for the love of playing. I wasn’t even alive at the time that The Time Jumpers were taking me back to, but I felt as though I was there. I want to be taken back.
…as long as Marina is there.
Matt’s Midweek Music Post
An imaginative approach to business includes finding an escape from the everyday rat race. For me, it’s music. Sure, I work a little in the industry and have a small Music Business educational background, so it is work and play. But music is something I am very passionate about. My passion for music stems from the way songs move us. Songs have the ability to take someone out of reality and into a completely different dimension. Live music especially puts people in the moment, which makes it one of the best things in the world. Upon moving to Music City, I realized that this was where I needed to be in order to experience this phenomenon as often as possible.
So each week I like to write about music. It could be to bring people (including myself) a break from the ordinary day-to-day, or it could somehow relate to business. Either way, its to enjoy a moment each week and not think about the stresses of business.