Landed in rainy Nashville shortly after 9 pm (everyone
keeps telling me 'this isn't normal' all week) and met Blair at
the airport after a long day of flying in from Oregon. We headed
over to Underground Sound, which is Blair's cartage company, to
snag a keyboard he was needing. Underground does cartage for a bunch
of musicians and it was fun to see some of Dan Huff's gear there
as well as a piano that Phil Vassar had recently used with the chart
for 'This is God' still taped to the top of it.
I hadn't had a real meal all day, we ran to the Cooker for old times
sake. Then headed out to Blair's place, where I stayed all week.
Blair will hate me for saying so, but he's the most talented pianist
and all around musician I've ever known. We moved to Nashville together
in 1988, and I moved back after not too long, but Blair stayed and
has made a name for himself as a session player, musician, and producer.
I love to do a search at places like Barnes and Noble to see how
many projects I can find with his name on them. Last
time I checked, they turned up over 80 cds they sell with his
name on them...and they don't even have all of them. Yes I'm bragging,
but I'm pretty proud of what my best friend has been able to accomplish!
Me and Blair, in his studio...or Blair and I for
all the grammar majors
We hit Starbucks, a guitar shop, and then went to Thai food for
lunch with Gordon Kennedy (wrote 'Change Your World' - Eric Clapton
recorded and it won Song of the Year, also Garth Brooks cuts, Carolyn
Dawn Johnson, etc). While at lunch (for all you OLD christian music
fans) we also bumped into Bob Farrel of Farrel and Farrel fame,
who sat down with us for a while to chat with Blair and Gordon.
lunch we ran over to Steve Brewster's (session drummer, Faith Hill,
Steven Curtis Chapman, and just about everyone else) place so Blair
could help him get his new mac going.
with Steve Brewster in the studio
5, we had our first TS session with Pat and Pete Luboff, who shard
about co-writing and getting to the heart of the idea, among other
Pat and Pete Luboff
also had a quick round of open mics following the Luboffs, where
I played one of my songs live, for the first time ever. We were
told to play ONE song before going up, but then were told to play
a second song, while on stage, since the next group wasn't ready.
Lesson learned...always be prepared, so you're not a geek like me
asking someone to get you your charts!
We ran out to Robin Crowe's Dark
Horse Studio, which was just amazing. I can't even begin to
describe it...visit the website if you get a chance.
Outside shot of Dark Horse
at one time it was a cabin owned by Wynona, but Robin has just continued
to add on to create this funky, cool recording environment.
Inside one of the many cool rooms at Dark Horse
Dark Horse, we ran out to Fun Attic Music (Mark and PJ Heimermans
company) to take care of some publishing stuff. I ran straight from
there to the TS seminar to catch the sessions that afternoon. Among
the speakers were Jerry Vandiver and Gracie Hollombe talking about
'Your First Cut,' Camella Kleindienst from Banner Music sharing
some publishing information, Barbara Cloyd who does the Ready for
the Row seminars and critique services, and Stan Lagrange spoke
a bit and played some songs. Immediately following the afternoon
sessions. Barbara Cloyd and Robert Linden, from Paramount, did in-room
live critiques. I think the last critique ended about 4 hours after
Jerry and Gracie
Barbara's in-room critique session
Robert's in-room critique session
night I was invited to play a round with CJ, which was scheduled
to start at 11:15. It actually started closer to 12:15, but was
a kick in the pants. Along with CJ, Robert Linden and TS member
Ruth Greenwood also played. We played 3 songs each in the round,
and got abused by a fellow hispanic guy who had control of the mic!
(ha! Lee was a great guy...very encouraging my first time out!)
I was back in Franklin by 2 in the morning :)
Sessions on Saturday started off with some legal talk by Elizabeth
Marlowe, or Tunelawyer, as many of the TS members know her. She
was followed up by Robert Linden who spoke and performed a couple
Robert was also in town writing with Michael
Peterson, one of my favorite country singers, who wrote and
sang 'Drink, Swear, Steal, and Lie,' and Michael offered to come
down and share at the session. Michael was both entertaining and
encouraging, sharing the story of his own road to Nashville. He
followed up by playing a couple of his new songs, which were both
very cool. A truly great surprise.
if all that wasn't enough, we were then treated to a round of Charlie
Craigs music live, with a couple of his special guest friends, which
was really fun. Following Charlie, Chris Wallin shared and played,
and really did a great job of showing what caliber of songs are
being written today in Nashville. Norm DeVasure popped in for a
quick Q&A, and Gayle Richardson of OnTrack Entertainment shared
a little about publishing, and pluggin services. Unfortunately,
I don't have photos for the last part of the afternoon, as my batteries
were dead. I'm sure Al will have some on his post though, since
I always saw him with a camera in hand.
night, we wrapped up with a little shin-dig at Blue Dessert in the
United Artist Towers. It was a nice way to unwind, get to meet a
few more people, play some songs, and hear others playing theirs.
Meanwhile, a snowfall was beating down on the city, and I got to
drive home to Franklin in a nighttime winter wonderland.
We went to Blairs church on Sunday morning, where his family attends
and where he plays on the worship team. After church we had lunch,
and spent the afternoon with a long time friend, Chad Segura, who
works for EMI Publishing.
Chad and Blair outside of Chads office at EMI
hooked me up with a bunch of Jump5 'swag' for my kids (Big Jump5
fans) and showed us the in-house studio, and writers rooms, and
offered to set up some appointments with some writers next time
I came to town. I've known Chad since he was in short pants (as
they say) but it's great to see him having fun in the business he
In the morning Blair helped me do a rush job on some music stuff
I wanted to get out, and then we hung out with Gordon in the afternoon.
This was a great visit. As if Gordon wasn't enough of an accomplished
writer, singer, and guitar player, Gordon's dad , Jerry Kennedy,
was also a famous musician, playing guitar for Elvis, Roy Orbison,
and many others. In fact, Gordon's dad IS THE guy you hear playing
the lick on the original Pretty Woman. Gordon still has that Gibson
335, and uses it daily on sessions. We listened to a Carolyn
Dawn Johnson demo they wrote together, that was done with the
335. On Tuesday, Gordon was in the studio with CDJ and Dan Huff
cutting the real track of the same song. (and I was on a plane coming
Blair and Gordon, playing the Pretty Woman 335
spent a few hours just looking at, and listening to guitars, amps
and demos. I had a great time, and Gordon was a truly great guy...which
makes sense, since he and Blair hang out together...another truly
great guy. Gordon has an impressive collection of guitars and amps,
both vintage and new, and a great story for just about each one.
I'll probably have to go rent Phenomenon again, just to hear 'Change
Your World' on the soundtrack...of course, as I learned in my TS
session, he won't make any performance royalties from that....since
I'm not overseas :)
Gordon with just a few of his super cool guitars. From L-R: 1959
Les Paul named 'Sebastian,' after it's original owner, Lovin' Spoonful
guitarist John Sebastian. More guitar players in Nahsville have
had dreams about the way this guitar sounds and plays than you would
believe. The next Les Paul was given to Gordon by Gibson to play
live on Saturday Night Live when Blair and Gordon were out with
Garth Brooks. Next to the SNL Gibson is the Orbison 335, originally
belonging to Gordon's father Jerry Kennedy. Last, an ultra cool
It snowed again early Tuesday morning. I was only in town for a
few hours before flying out at 12:30. All flights out of Dallas
had been delayed or canceled due to ice, so I got rerouted through
Cincinatti enroute to Portland. It was a beautiful flight, and I
was able to snag some great in-flight pictures for my kids over
was greeted in Portland by two beautiful sights...an amazing west
coast sunset while in the air, and my wife and kids at the end of
the gateway after I landed. Sorry, no pictures...I was too busy
week came and went so fast...and it was just a fantastic experience.
I'm thrilled to have met so many great people and also to have had
time to just hang out with my buddy and others. I look forward to
the next trip out!