Saturday morning, I got up with the intention of getting on the road early to drive from Memphis to Nashville, which is about a three hour drive. I didn't want to rush, though, so I deliberately took my time getting everything together.
I drove over to McDonald's, ordered food and coffee, with lots of cream "on the side". I intended to drink that one cup of coffee with part of the cream, then make another cup of coffee with the other cream after I finished eating. When the gal in the window gave me my bag, I looked into it (which I have learned to do after one too many disappointing moments of getting home to discover something missing). There was no cream. I asked for six creams. The gal in the window said, "They are already in your coffee." I asked for six more. She looked at me for a sec, then handed them over. I figured I could dilute the over-creamed coffee with some I made. I got home, started to brew the coffee, took the top off the McDonald's coffee, only to find no cream in the coffee. It's a good thing I asked for more!!!
I ate a leisurely breakfast, savoring my second cup of coffee while I checked my email and my Facebook games. (I am addicted to Mousehunt.) I packed my overnight bag, then jumped into the bath. As I was letting my hair airdry, Brenda called me to tell me that she had to run a little errand and wouldn't be back until about 3 p.m. I told her that I would wait until a bit later to hit the road, which sounded great to me!!!
I finally left the house at 2 p.m. For directions to Brenda's house, I had her address and two specific directions from her. From I-40, turn right on Murfreesboro Road, then left on Nashboro Road. It sounded simple to me, so off I went. The drive to Nashville was uneventful. There was some light rain here and there, but nothing major. I love being on the road, listening to music and singing along. At 5 p.m., I heard the live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion begin on the radio. It was not until that moment that I realized that the show we were attending, at 9 p.m., would not be on the air. I'm not sure why I was so slow! Of course they wouldn't broadcast both shows!!! (My only regret in attending this later show is that there is no recording of it on the website, so I can't listen to it again! And "The Lives of the Cowboys", which did air on the show, was not repeated in the show I attended - very disappointing!!!)
When I reached the outskirts of Nashville, I pulled up my GPS and typed in Brenda's address. My GPS did not know the address. Well, I thought, no harm - I'll just look for the Murfreesboro Road exit. I got all the way to the other side of Nashville without seeing a Murfreesboro Road exit. Hmmm. I called Brenda. She said she wasn't sure where I had gone wrong. (She just moved to Nashville herself and had forgotten that I had to take one exit off I-40 before I got to the Murfreesboro Road exit.)
I decided to put the closest cross streets Brenda had given me - Murfreesboro Road and Nashboro Road - into the GPS. Eureka! I had directions. Off I went again. When my GPS unit announced that I had arrived at my destination, I looked up to find myself at the intersection of Murfreeboro Pike and Nashboro Boulevard. Sigh. I called Brenda. She asked me to describe my surroundings, which I did. She said, "You're here!!!" A few more turns and I was at her apartment.
I took my things in, we chatted a while, then we were off to the Ryman Auditorium. We agreed we would splurge again and park as close as we could get and ended up in the parking garage next door. Then we walked over in a light rain. I've never been inside the Ryman Auditorium before. It is the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, so it has seen a LOT of celebrity in its day. And, of course, it has appeared in many, many movies including a favorite of mine, Coal Miner's Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn and Tommy Lee Jones as Mooney Lynn (Loretta's husband).
Brenda and I had great seats down on the floor, in about the 8th row. The seats are wooden church pews. To my right was a very nice couple from Knoxville, Tennessee. The wife was a 54 year-old kindergarten teacher with a little girl voice. She and I were dressed almost identically, which was kind of funny to me. She mentioned that since we were not attending the live show that had to conform to a specific time frame, that the show was probably going to go longer than the typical two hours. (She was right - it turned out to be three wonderful hours!) As soon as we were seated, Brenda left to go get us drinks. We enjoyed a nice wine while we waited for the show to begin. Sound technicians came out and checked everything.
Then, out they came, Garrison Keillor and the rest. Tim Russell can do anybody's voice and did quite a few during this show. Sue Scott does the same for the female voice. But my favorite performer on A Prairie Home Companion is Fred Newman. That man can make any noise, from a train to a ship at sea to a car screeching around a turn. And he puts his whole body into each sound creation. This visual aspect of his work was unknown to me since I had only heard him on the radio. Now I have even more admiration for his work.
And the show's regular musicians are just spectacular. Richard Dworsky can play the piano like nobody's business. Pat Donahue is a fantastic guitar picker. (He did a really great song that was about stealing guitar licks from Chet Atkins, called "Stealing from Chet".) Gary Raynor was on bass. Peter Johnson played percussion. Andy Stein plays the violin and the saxophone
The Sam Bush Band was on the show this night. Sam Bush is an unbelievable mandolin and fiddle player. He was a nice addition to the show. He brought his band with him: Stephen Mougin (guitar), Scott Vestal (banjo), Byron House (bass) and Chris Brown (drums).
Garrison Keillor graduated from college in 1966. That means he is about fourteen years older than me, which makes him about 64. He has a ton of energy and obviously enjoys doing this show! He is a master story-teller and a pretty good singer. He is a star, but seems to really enjoy pushing anyone and everyone to the front of the stage. He is a great showman.
The guest that really surprised me was Brad Paisley. This guy is a superstar of country music. But on this night, with the exception of a couple of songs, he was just a member of the band. There was one skit that featured him. The premise of the skit was that he had gotten carried away by his passion for geology and his agent was trying to get him back into music with a live performance that featured a woman being shot out of a cannon and Brad singing "La Bamba". It was hysterically funny.
Later, when he was singing a song by himself, he forgot the lyrics and asked if anyone could help him remember. Someone from the audience sang out the "La Bamba" lyrics, cracking up the audience. Brad handled it all well. He is clearly a very humble man. He debuted two songs at the show. He and his wife have just been blessed with the birth of a baby boy. Brad sang "Anything Like Me', which he had just written. I suspect it will be a huge hit. He also sang another song about men who boast about "wearing the pants" in the family. I don't know the name of that comical tune (which he dedicated to a male heckler in the balcony section), but the punch line vocal is, "It's Not the Pants, It's the Skirt". It was very funny.
There was also a surprise visit from Little Jimmy Dickens, from the Grand Ole Opry. For those of you who aren't fans of the Grand Ole Opry, Little Jimmy Dickens has been a mainstay there for decades. He sings ballads that often have a comic air to them and he tells corny jokes. He also wears very "loud", rhinestone-covered outfits. You will recognise him on awards shows because he is older and is under five feet tall.
The whole experience was incredible. I am so very glad that I went to this show!
After the show, Brenda and I went to the Waffle House. I just love the Waffle House. You really see the salt of the Earth in the Waffle House. Our waitress was a large, butch woman sporting a black eye that neither of us dared to ask about. I had an omelette. It was really good. Brenda is a night person so she had cup after cup after cup of coffee. By the time we got back to the apartment, it was 2 a.m. Then we stayed up talking another hour. I felt like I had a hangover the next morning, which I didn't. Speaking of salt of the Earth, Brenda is such a wonderful person - so many stories!!! I am very happy to have made this new friend!
The drive back to Memphis on Sunday was beautiful, spoiled here and there with light rain. There are a number of lakes not too far from Memphis. I made a mental note to check if there are any rentals on any of the lakes I passed. That would be a nice weekend break!