2016 Music Road Trip recap

Just back from an 8-day #MusicRoadTrip. This was about pleasure over work, thus I didn’t play any shows. And, man, what fun it was. On Sunday, July 17th I hit Knoxville to see Greg Horne’s CD release show & got to see other Knoxville friends at his show. Greg was in great form and it was a super fun night. http://www.greghornemusic.com

Monday it was off to Nashville to explore and spend the night before heading to Memphis. I spent the afternoon walking around Centennial Park, getting some exercise (which often doesn’t happen enough on road trips), and taking in sites including the Parthenon. I also hit one of my Nashville favorites Grimey’s Records (http://www.grimeys.com) and visited Jack White’s Third Man Records (https://thirdmanrecords.com) for the first time (Unfortunately the recording booth was down. I was thinking I might record my version of Loudon Wainwright III’s “Motel Blues.”) If you follow Saturday’s Radio on Instagram, Tumblr, or Twitter you likely saw pics of various spots. 

Tuesday morning I headed to Memphis blasting Margo Price’s album, which I got at Third Man, while cruising down 40 West. I got into town late morning and easily found Beale Street and Sun Studio. In the afternoon I took a 3-hour site-seeing music tour - http://www.backbeattours.com/tours/mojo.cfm. We hit many many important Memphis music history spots - various Elvis and Johnny Cash homes, notable venues, studios - and I learned a ton. The highlight was a tour of Sun. The building next door has been converted into a fabulous gift shop and museum, and to see the studio itself, to see the size and dimensions and be in the same room as many of my favorites was enlightening. It’s a very small building. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Here’s Sun’s website: http://www.sunstudio.com

Later I headed to the Lorraine Motel, site of Martin Luther King’s assassination. They’ve done a very nice job memorializing the site and honoring Dr. King’s (and others) many great accomplishments. It’s kind of heavy being in a place like that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Civil_Rights_Museum 

On Wednesday I got to go on private tours of Ardent Studios (http://www.ardentstudios.com) and Sam Phillips Recording (http://samphillipsrecording.com). I’d seen many pictures and video from each studio, but being there in person really adds a new dimension. As with Sun, to be in the rooms where so many great records were created is an amazing experience for a music fan. I don’t like to take a lot of pictures during private tours, so I only posted a couple of things online and don’t have many photos for myself. These experiences will live on in my memory and I’m grateful to be able to have them. So thanks to the gentlemen who made them possible.  

After the tours I headed back to Nashville. It was a longer drive than it should have been, partially because I was so giddy over my Memphis experiences. That evening was spent hanging out with my Nashville hosts, listening to music, and discussing recording technology.

On Thursday I took another bus tour, this time of Nashville. It was on the upper deck of an “authentic London double-decker bus”. If you want a quick way to learn about a city, these bus tours are invaluable. I’ve spent a lot of time in Nashville the past few years so I already know a bit about the city. But there are a ton of things I don’t know and we ht a lot of places I’d never been. It was nice to see Bicentennial Park, drive by the Capitol, and see the football stadium, among other historic and notable sites. http://www.nashvilledoubledecker.com 

After the tour I headed back to Grimey’s and picked up some things I’d scoped out the visit before. After Grimey’s I got together with my friend Travis, who has a studio called Strangebird, and hung out for a enjoyable evening. We hit various instrument stores, thrift shops, and used record stores. I also got the opportunity to check out Strangebird’s new isolation booth. Travis is fearless when it comes to building things or taking things apart to make repairs. He’s creating Strangebird step-by-step and he’s done an amazing job. Check it out here: http://www.strangebirdrecording.com

Next I went back at my friend Jack’s, who graciously gave me a place to stay in Nashville. Jack is building a studio in his basement - http://www.fishtankaudio.com/Index.html. That evening I met Jack’s friends Dan and Stephanie of Coal Fired Bicycle (http://www.coalfiredbicycle.com). They’re musicians who have a lot more touring experience than I do and it was great to pick his brain about how it all works. We stayed up much too late talking; a decision I’d pay for in a couple of days. 

On Friday I headed to Knoxville. I got to stay at my friend John’s studio, The Arbor (website: http://thearborstudio.com), where we played a variety of guitars, listened to records late into the night, and had our usual great visit. Knoxville is a great town. John Harvey and Mary Podio recently moved their Top Hat Studio from Austin & built their new place from the ground up. It’s amazing & I’d love to record there someday. Here’s the website: http://www.tophatrecording.com. I also ran into Knoxville music stalwarts Tim and Susan Lee, who are always musically active and living the rock and roll life. I mean that in the most positive way possible and admire their dedication to the art. Check them out at http://timleethree.com.

Saturday it was off to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to see my cousin Jason and his family. Last year, thanks to Facebook, I reunited with Jason for the first time in 30 years. We just fell right back into place as far as being comfortable. He & his wife Mary Jane have been very encouraging toward my musical endeavors, especially at times when I’ve felt less than confident. 

On Sunday I paid for my adventures. I felt tired and achy all day and ended up sleeping for several hours during the day. Fortunately Jason and Mary Jane were very understanding and took a “No worries, your body is telling you it needs rest” position. 

On Monday it was off to Chapel Hill and lunch with my friend Jeff Carroll. Jeff is a mastering engineer who recently formed a band, Lemon Sparks, and made a record. We had a great visit & Jeff game me a copy of the Lemon Sparks CD. Let me tell you, this thing is great. Catchy, memorable songs, great arrangements & playing, beautiful package. This album deserves to be heard, folks. Check Lemon Sparks out at http://www.lemonsparksmusic.com

So that was my summer road trip. I had a great great time and I feel very fortunate that I can embark on such adventures. You can check out some pics on our Instagram page. Now it’s time to continue work on the next Saturday’s Radio album and a 2017 summer. Would you be interested in hosting a Saturday’s Radio show? If so, drop me a line.