Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Franklin to Nashville to Oxford to Collierville
Long Round Trip
       The long round trip began in Franklin, TN, with a grand benefit show at the historic Franklin Theatre for "Seeds for the Garden - A Benefit for the Carter Hill Garden Park". This is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin in the Civil War, also called the "five bloodiest hours of Tennessee history". Seven thousand Confederate soldiers out of 20,000 paid the ultimate price. The Union lost 2,000 men. Just prior to the incredible show, there was dinner with my friends Gloria and Marvin at Puckett's in Franklin. Bloggers must eat sometime!
          The show kicked off with the ensemble consisting of John Cowan, Alison Brown, Garry West, Claire Lynch, Bryan McDowell, Mark Schatz, Jarrod Walker, the group Wisewater (Kate Lee, Jimmy Shirey, Forrest O'Connor), and other first-quality musicians. The tune was a lively rendition of "The Girl I Left Behind Me".
          Following the opening song, the show moved smoothly and rapidly, with each artist doing
          a song. We will try to give you an idea here of how it went:
          First Set
          Claire Lynch Band: Kennesaw Line
          Wisewater: Soldier's Joy
          John Cowan: My Father's Gun
          Alison Brown Band: Medley of Stephen Foster Songs - Oh Susannah, My Old Kentucky 
             Home, and Angelina Baker
          Claire Lynch Band: Dear Sister, IBMA's 2014 "Song of the Year"
          Alison Brown Band: Tune with Civil War photo video onscreen
          Wisewater: Civil War Tune about a mother and her newborn baby
          Claire Lynch Band: Missionary Ridge
          Alison Brown Band with John Cowan and Claire Lynch: American Trilogy - Dixie,
             Battle Hymn of the Republic, and All My Trials Lord
          Ensemble: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (powerful!)
          Second Set (Music other than bluegrass)
          Alison Brown Band: Under the 5-Wire
          Wisewater: Call It a Night
          Claire Lynch Band: Snow Day and I'll Be All Right Tomorrow
          Alison Brown, Mark Schatz, fiddler: Shake and Howdy
          Wisewater: Coming Home
          John Cowan: Miss the Mississippi and You (popularized 1937 by Jimmie Rodgers)
          Alison Brown Band: The Wonderful Sea Voyage of Holy St. Brendan (voyage made
             1,500 years ago by Irish monk called Brendan; photo video of travels in rough seas)
          Children Hannah and Brendan: Described by Alison Brown as their 'road managers,'
             danced to Are You from Dixie?
          Claire Lynch Band with Alison Brown and John Cowan: From Lynch's
             "Moonlighter" album: Thibodeaux
          John Cowan with the ensemble: Callin' Baton Rouge (really fine!)
          Our next two stops were in Nashville, TN, at Parnassus Books on Saturday, November 15, 2014, about a mile from this writer's home place in Nashville, and on to Oxford, MS, at Off Square Books on Monday, November 17, where Southern author Rick Bragg regaled his loyal fans with stories about his experience in preparing his latest book, Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story. The book is available at bookstores everywhere and the usual online outlets. Bragg himself is entertaining enough, because he has traveled many of the same trails as has Jerry Lee Lewis. One story that Rick shared was about interviewing Lewis in his Nesbit, MS, home. Rick was greeted by a pack of dogs, then by a pack of Chihuahuas. (pause for you to visualize that scene) One Chihuahua, named Topaz, Jr., bit Rick Bragg! The author knew that this wasn't your average interview. He observed bullet holes in the walls and in the chifferobe in "the Killer's" bedroom. The .357 magnum was under Jerry Lee's pillow. Bragg interviewed Jerry Lee while the singer was in bed and in rather poor health. Bragg mentioned to the Parnassus audience that Jerry Lee was in pajama bottoms with little pianos in the design. Rick Bragg would have you to know that "Jerry Lee Lewis ain't like normal people." Jerry Lee Lewis would have you to know that "other people just wish they coulda done what I done!"
          You will have to read Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story to fill in the missing pieces of "the Killer's" life and troubled times, and there are a lot of missing pieces. The reading/signing at Off Square Books in Oxford, MS, went much the same way as it did at Parnassus in Nashville: Rick Bragg read a couple of short passages from the book, took questions and comments from audience members, and then signed books for a long time at each location. He stood for pictures and listened to others' stories about encounters with Jerry Lee Lewis. Despite his admission that he is not a patient man, Bragg showed mountains of patience for everyone who wanted a book signed or a photo.
          We shall close by saying that our beautiful town of Collierville, TN, with Parade Magazine's 2014 Best Main Street in America, will have to go some distance yet to compete with events at the Franklin Theatre, Parnassus Books and Off Square Books. It was a thrilling three days!
For more information:
Next read/sign event for Rick Bragg: December 6, 2014, at Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN
Parnassus Books www.parnassusbooks.net
Square Books and Off Square Books www.squarebooks.com/square-books
Rick Bragg speaking to fans at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN, Nov. 15, 2014

"Bear," the Parnassus Books official dog, Nov. 15, 2014

Betty with Rick Bragg at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN, Nov. 15, 2014

Rick Bragg at Off Square Books, Oxford, MS, Nov. 17, 2014

Rick Bragg at Off Square Books, Oxford, MS, Nov. 17, 2014

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