Nashville Trip

Wednesday
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.

Since 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! Whoohoo!


Me and Blair, in his studio...or Blair and I for all the grammar majors

Thursday
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.

After 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.


Blair with Steve Brewster in the studio

At 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 topics.


Pat and Pete Luboff

We 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!

Friday
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

I think 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

After 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 they started!


Jerry and Gracie


Camella


Stan


Barbara's in-room critique session


Robert's in-room critique session

Friday 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 :)

Saturday
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 songs.


Elizabeth


Robert

Apparently, 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.


Michael Peterson

As 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.


Photo-Al

Saturday 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.

Sunday
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

Chad 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 loves.

Monday
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 home....bummer!)


Blair and Gordon, playing the Pretty Woman 335

We 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 sparkle Telecaster.

Tuesday
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 Montana.


Over Montana

I 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 huggin'!

The 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!

- Paul


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