US Road Trip Epilog: 24th July 2005

The Best Western in Franklin is a real dump. The rooms are not properly clean, Alex's has no remote for the TV and mine has a coffee maker with the pot missing a huge chunk of glass out of it. Which I then cut my hand on. The promised internet access is like going back to the days of 300-baud modems (when it works). They claim the place is currently being renovated. Can't happen fast enough in my opinion.

30 miles up Interstate 65 the Best Western in downtown Nashville is much better, even if it is twice the price. We're way too early to check in but can leave the car there and go off to explore Nashville. First stop is the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, followed by the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The highlight of the latter for me is still that old TV footage of Wanda Jackson. She may have later turned to country and then got all religious but she was a goddam spitfire in her heyday. The allmusic review of the 'Queen of Rockabilly' compilation describes her as maybe "the most sexually and musically subversive white woman ever to step in front of a microphone", and I can't disagree with that. The Webb Pierce Pontiac convertible from the 60's, reworked by famous tailor Nudie Cohen to include guns everywhere and bespoke interior (including a saddle), is another highlight. It may not be tasteful, but it sure is different.

The Bluegrass Inn
Daylight outside, a dimly lit bar and a tall skinny guy with a cowboy hat and an impossibly deep voice on stage. It could only be Nashville. I think this place is called the Bluegrass Inn, but I could be wrong.

After something to eat and a bit of a rest back at the motel, so I can watch the end of the NASCAR race, it's time to see some live music. It has to be said that most of the bands (though not that lot above) are fairly dire. It could be because it's a Sunday, but many of the bands sound like they're just going through the motions. And bad country music is far, far worse than bad examples of other music. Alex compares the most painful to being as enjoyable as root canal work with a hand drill by a drunk dentist, and he's not far wrong.

Silk 'N Saddle
Silk 'N Saddle on stage.

Our persistence pays off, however, when we go back to the place we started in. Silk 'N Saddle are not only, as you can see, far easier on the eye than most bands but they're also by far the best musically. The fiddle doesn't sound like a cat in pain and the mandolin is tasteful and understated. I can't help thinking that, especially if they can lose that terrible name, they deserve a wider audience.

US Road Trip Epilog: 25th July 2005 >