Monday, December 21, 2020
Tennessee Touring: The Hall of Fame and Studio B
(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) Winding down our adventure in Music City and the home of the Delta Blues, we're left with one must-see from Tim's list, the Country Music Hall of Fame.
We could have also spent the evening out at the Loveless Cafe barn to see the Music City Roots TV show but, at this point, we'd seen eleven acts in different concerts and clubs along the way plus had a CD shoved into our hands as we walked Nashville's streets by a unknown artist trying to get known (turned out to be a compilations of Christmas songs and the singer sounded like an animated chipmunk).
It's Letty's turn to have a bad day with whatever virus we picked up in Tupelo. She bravely soldiers on but you can tell she's not feeling the love today.
Thirty degrees with a snowy rain is not particularly inviting either but at least there is reasonably priced indoor parking half a block from the Hall.
It's warm inside and the Hall has an instutitional smell (like a library or school) that is not sitting well with my sick wife. We get our tickets, enhanced with a tour of RCA's historic Studio B, and head on in.
Another audio tour, another hour or so of helping Tim punch the right numbers to match whatever display he's sitting in front of
It's interesting to a point...you get to see Nudie's sewing machine, Elvis's "solid gold" Cadillac, Webb Pierce's silver dollar and gun car (Buck Owen's had a duplicate of this car, now hanging over the bar at the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield), many musical instruments, outfits, and gold records.
My favorite exhibit, though I do not think it's permanent, was the Bakersfield Sound exhibition. Probably because I'm biased towards that city but it weaves a great history of the two men who dominated it...Merle Haggard and Owens...and the intricate, weirdly intersecting family histories they had together.
Other less familiar names like Homer Joy along with notables such as Dwight Yoakam are also put into the context they have with that California oil city.
We check out all the plaques in the actual Hall...a big rotunda at the end of the tour...then head back into the lobby to wait for the bus to take us to Studio B.
A ten minute ride (yes, the buses are wheelchair accessible) and we're at the back door of the famous studio. While it's mostly retired today (Studio A next door is it's current replacement), some artists still like to make special arrangements to use it, such as Marty Stuart on his Ghost Train album.
Elvis recorded over 200 of his songs here, more than any other studio.
The tour starts off in a small lobby and it's significance is explained to us as well as a listing of some of the top artists who have recorded there. At the end, we are ushered into the studio itself as we hear some more tales...
The lights are different colors so that they could be used to set the mood; Elvis liked to record at three in the morning; the room is perfectly acoustical, there is no echo at all, a special reverb box had to be built into the wall to accomodate those who wanted it.
We're allowed to sit at Elvis' piano...but not play it...and then we're off.
Nice addition to the Elvis Trail but still not as awesome as Sun Studio was back in Memphis.
The bus driver tying Tim down in the bus tells me an elderly gentleman who has just parked nearby is Harrold Bradley.
Harrold and his brother, Owen, opened up Nashville's first recording studio in 1954, starting the industry that Nashville now thrives on.
My wife wonders what the driver told me, so I tell her. Soon the word spreads to the tour guide who announces it to the bus. A couple of women sitting in front of us excitedly chirp up "finally, we saw someone famous here!"
After hanging with Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Ranger Doug and meeting Leon Rhodes, Anita Stapleton and seeing all the stars at the Opry, I'm thinking "if that's the only famous person you've seen on your trip, you ain't been trying hard enough..."
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