Friday, March 28, 2008
INCREDIBLE show. Unknown Hinson is the gonzo guitar player every singer wants to be, writes awesome hellbilly songs, and looks like some unholy cross between Eddie Munster and Brian Setzer. He absolutely tore it up. Ron said he'd have been happy to drive the whole way here just to see this show. And talk about stage presence, at one point, Hinson encouraged people to sing along but not too loudly because, "Womens need to hear the golden larynx of Unknown Hinson." Hank III actually has a tattoo of Unknown Hinson--how cool is that?
The Metro Pulse (Knoxville's equivalent of the ArtVoice) had an article on the Appalachian Museum and its incredible founder who has committed his life to preserving the artifacts of everyday life among regular people living in this area from about 1850s to 1950s. It's an incredible assemblage of buildings, furnishings, documents, tools, and much more. One of the highlights is the cabin of Mark Twain's parents, see above.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
"...part Baptist PREACHER, part caustic COMEDIAN, and part existential BLUESMAN...Olney shouted, moaned and howled his SHARPLY OBSERVED HARD-LUCK TALES and quirky character studies." - MTV's Urge.com
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Forgot to mention that we finally got to check out a Blue Plate special live at the WDVX studios--a one-hour live music show they do every weekday at noon. We listen to them on Internet radio all the time, so it was pretty surreal to be sitting there in person, listening to Matt Morelock and Red Hickey (seen in the photo with the WDVX logo) introducing the band (today, the Red Stick Ramblers). Planning to go back tomorrow and Friday. The studio is half a block from our hotel and there's a nice little lunch shop adjacent to the stage area, so it's a good start to the day.
Preservation Pub was great--it's a bar in an old part of town (walking distance to our hotel), on a pedestrian-only square with a lot of other little shops, restaurants, etc. Kind of like the commons in Ithaca.
As promised, Eric had us on the guest list. The show was terrific and had a chance to meet and chat with both bands throughout the evening. Nice folks. Also met a very interesting homeless guy named either Tim or Anthony (that changed from minute to minute) who decided that Ron looked just like some DJ from Ohio named Daddy Wags and proceeded to call him that all night. Met a guy who works as a river guide, too--interesting stories from working all over the US and South America. Also attending were some of our favorite DJs from WDVX (which Barbara and I listen too all day at work)--Red Hickey, Tony Lawson, and Matt Morelock. Had a chance to meet all of them as well.
After the show, which ended around midnight, everything on the square was closed. We were starving--hadn't eaten since leaving Memphis that morning. Came back to the hotel, but valet service was closed, so we could get our car only if we could find it, basically. Ended up getting delivery from a local Italian place, which turned out to be really good and a lot less hassle than wandering around a parking ramp trying to track down the car. A few games of Yahtzee later, it was nite-nite for us.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Arrived in Knoxville and checked into our hotel, which is right across the street from the WDVX studios, where we're planning to check out the live music every day at noon. Tonight, we're headed over to the Preservation Pub to see Christabel and the Jons--a great local band--and the Red Stick Ramblers.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sun Studios--there's another site I never expected to be so moving. Everything that's rock-n-roll started right here. We watch I Walk the Line pretty regularly, so it was hard not to imagine the scene where Johnny Cash nervously walks into Sun with a few dollars in his hand to cut his first record. A few years before, an 18-year-old Elvis Presley walked in the same way--as did all the off-the-street rock and blues legends (like B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, etc.) who were discovered there. The studio is exactly as it was when they were there--in fact, there's an X on the floor marking where Elvis Presley stood when he cut his first Sun record (he was so nervous, he had to stand with his back to the engineering room). The microphone that Elvis, Johnny, and all the others used is still there--and available for photo ops, as seen in the photo of Ron.
Graceland is a crazy operation--they have 700,000 visitors per year and they move you through in a highly organized fashion (but never faster than you want to go). I guess we both went into the adventure, at least to some degree, for the kitsch . . . but it was actually a pretty incredible experience. They did a wonderful job of giving you a sense of Elvis as a person (friend, son, husband, etc.) and as an artist (did you know he produced all his own records?). By the time we got to his grave site at the end of the tour, it was genuinely moving to be standing there.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Arrived in Indianapolis and, thanks to Hotwire (I'm now a believer), have an insane suite at the Hilton for $50. It's at least as big as the first floor of our house and much more lavishly appointed. We're at the center of downtown near an incredible memorial (shown in the photo). All around are brick streets, beautiful old buildings, and some great looking shops and cafes. We're headed out shortly for dinner and a Red Stick Ramblers concert, but hopefully will have some time to walk around tomorrow morning before we head out for Memphis. (Note: Ron is playing accordion in the next room, making this suite extra sweet.)
Came across this place on the way to Indianapolis. Incredible store full of every mineral, fossil, and whatnot you can imagine. Michelle's grandparents were avid rockhounds and traveled around the country to spots like this. Hard to imagine they missed this one, so it was kind of bittersweet to walk around and imagine them there. Bought a big ol' rock to put in the garden this spring as a little keepsake. It will probably cost us only $500 in extra gas to haul it home . . . c'est la vie.
Lunch at a little central Indiana diner called Jim Dandy's--started as a drive-through in 1950. If you squint and discount the blond hair, this photo of the Jim Dandy Boy looks pretty much like Ron did when the waitress brought him his bacon double cheeseburger basket.
A side road today took us to an unexpected treasure: the home town of our illustrious former Vice President Dan Quayle. Huntington is also the site of the world's best tribute to "the other guy"; the United States Vice Presidential Museum. As DQ himself once said, "Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things," so I'll leave it at that.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Markle, IN, (population 1200) is home to Ron's aunt Chris and uncle Steve. Ron's cousins Paula and Chris (and toddler Olivia) were also visiting for Easter, so we had a fun crew for Heineken, tequila, and highly competitive ping-pong play. Steve also has an enviable setup in a second garage where he works on his go-cart and we got to see their newly remodeled kitchen. Called it a night around 11pm and headed to the hotel.
Started out from Buffalo at 10am, determined to make our first stop a highly anticipated Waffle House visit. It appeared on the horizon just as Ron was about to faint from hunger. As the song says, "Don't matter where you go, they all got that special atmosphere." Turns out the one in PA we stopped at also starts employees at $9.50/hr. Ron suggest this for anyone of you who might be looking for some gainful employment. One word: GRITS!