Our time in Nashville to Celebrate Country Music, “Christmas Style” flew by way too quickly. We experienced exceptional weather considering the time of year – sunny, blue skies – no jacket needed.
Peter Smith who was my regular coach driver for years and his wife Geri are passengers on this tour. Peter complimented me saying he feels this is the finest Nashville itinerary I have ever assembled. He might be right – it was pretty awesome!
So many tour companies have been running the same-old Nashville tours for years. I’m not interested in the “same old” when it comes to ANY of my journeys so I spent weeks working on this itinerary in order to find one-of-a-kind experiences – it really showed this time – my passengers can’t believe how much I was able to pack into our 2.5 days in Nashville. Many of my Nashville country music friends went out of their way for this group.
Yesterday we traveled into the heart of the country, down picturesque winding roads and eventually we came to a crossroad and railway track where a small theatre with plenty of history stands. Waiting for us were 3 generations of the CASH family and they performed just for US. Johnny Cash’s brother Tommy has performed at our Walters Theatre a few times over the years. He sang for us, along with his son Mark Allen and Johnny Cash’s Grandson. Added to the band was David Langley a gentleman who was the superb, lead guitar player for legend, Ray Price for 10 years. There were some other singers too that joined this special performance including a young lady from that rural area who writes and sings her meaningful songs.
Tommy and I reminisced about his performances at our theatre. He asked about my family – he shared that he misses my Dad and that brought a tear to my eye. He said he would like to perform at our theatre, “one-more-time”, I said what-are-you-talking about (just one more time) and he replied that, “Retirement is Near”.
Their special Concert went on much longer than was scheduled so my passengers loved that! I jumped on the phone was lucky to be able to adjust our arrival times for the rest of the day.
During our short time in Nashville we also enjoyed another amazing, “private performance” by one of Nashvilles famous songwriters – Richard Leigh who deservingly is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The most famous song lyrics has had written is, “Don’t It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue” which was recorded by Crystal Gale (Loretta Lynn’s Sister). She also recorded 7 more of his songs including, “I’ll Get Over You”. Reba McIntyre recorded his beautiful, “The Greatest Man I’ve Ever Known”. “On Life’s Highway” was recorded by Steve Warner and Billy Dean recorded “You’re Only Here For A Little While”. The list of those that have recorded Richards songs goes on and on….
Richard Leigh shared many personal stories and stated that a broken heart is often a good thing because it often provides the inspiration for the lyrics of at least 2 songs!
I could listen to him sing for hours – his voice is so soothing and smooth. His guitar and harmonica playing are top notch too.
I am so thankful that the General Manager of the Patsy Cline Museum took time with my passengers. I first met him when the museum opened a few months ago and could not believe his knowledge. Patsy Cline personally replied when she received a letter from her fans. One of her greatest fans was a lady from Guelph, ON. The museum proudly displays the letters they shared back and forth. One of my passengers knows that lady’s husband. They have on display so many bits of Patsys memorabilia including the floral handkerchief that her Mother held during Patsys funeral.
My group truly enjoyed the music and stories from our two singing tour guides. He was the lead guitar player for Barbara Mandrell and she, an award winning gospel singer. They knew how to entertain us . Some of my passengers enjoyed dancing to their music. Everyone has asked me to make sure I convince my brother to bring them to our Walters Theatre so they can perform for you.
Country Star, Vince Gill and his wife Amy Grant mesmerized us with their angelic voices during their Christmas Concert at the historic, Ryman Auditorium – the Mother Church of the Grand Ole Opry. This was a Ticket Master event and we watched ushers trying to correct many seating issues – we were told that Ticket Master double booked seats…. When Amy sang, “Breath of Heaven” the capacity audience was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I thought it was heartwarming when a group of young violinists walked past us playing Silent Night prior to the end of the concert. Vince shared some pretty funny stories and jokes.
The icing on the cake was being in the audience to see Marty Stuarts 25th Anniversary Concert on the Ryman Auditorium stage. Many of his entertainer friends plus his 84 year old Mother were part of this lively show which was loved by all.
In between performances we enjoyed bountiful, delicious feasts – including Southern Cooking in a Columned Manor House and a hearty, German Meal in a Bierhaus.
This morning we sadly have started
our journey North. Santa Claus is making his appearance at the Nashville Santa Claus Parade this morning. We had to leave our Santa letters as we are on our way to Ohio’s Amish Country – sure hope he gets them!
Our journey continues….