Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Where She Always Wanted To Be....

He's in country music, where he always wanted to be...

First off, let me tell you, it was really a great night. Dailey & Vincent at the Country Music Hall of Fame... performing songs from their new CD "Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers." With all four Statlers in attendance.

We got over there at about 4:15 for a pre-party interview. To say it was chaos, was an understatement. Tons of media running around. And you put Harold Reid and Darrin Vincent in front of microphones... well... let's just say schedules - and seriousness - go out the window!

My buddies Wil and Langdon were there. They've been in Nashville recording, but they're no longer known as Grandstaff. They're going by Wilson Fairchild now -- their middle names. (Wil is technically a Harold Wilson Reid the 17th or something...) It was great to catch up with them. They've been writing with Gordon Kennedy. And somehow in the conversation we got around to Garth, and how they're thinking about going to Vegas sometime with Bryan.

But anyway... back to the media rounds. We went back into the HOF's green room when it was getting to be time for radio/print. There were about 4 media outlets there... and the parties involved were sort of making the rounds with no real direction. Kyle wound up talking to D&V, and then the Statlers were supposed to join them, but it wound up being Phil and Jimmy for a while... then Harold came in and pretty much, chaos overtook at that point. Don was tied up with another reporter who didn't share, LOL. Which made me a little sad, because as I've mentioned, I know Don's an XM fan, and we've never had him on the air with us.

Anyway, more people kept coming in to the green room... including Ralph Emory, and somehow, there wound up being this big group picture with Kyle and Ralph and the Statlers and D&V. And Karen Byrd - who is an even bigger Statlers fan than I am - insisted I get in there too.

So in this hodge podge of people, there I am, standing right next to Don Reid. The man who's voice completely melts me no matter how many times I hear those songs. He, I'm sure, has no earthly idea who he's getting his picture taken with -- Kyle hasn't ever met him either. And at one point, Jimmy reaches right over him and hugs me. The good news is, I didn't babble like an idiot. The bad news is... I didn't say anything. Chalk it up on the opportunity missed wall. Literally... we're rubbing elbows. And I can't find a "hello" in there?

Some photographer somewhere has a picture of unknown quality that I'm in, with the Statler Brothers. Will it ever make it's way to my desk? Maybe. Don's son Langdon even teased me about how good I did in there with them. Seriously, the room was about 10 x 6 and there were 20 people in it. But the reality is - I failed.

The show itself was SO good. This album is really outstanding. And I can't IMAGINE what it must be like to play these songs, with the guys who wrote them and recorded them, sitting in the front row. In the Hall of Fame. Their new bass singer, doing Harold's parts, was good, but very nervous. Everything else was just smack on.

Lots of other artists came out as well. Duane and Joe from the Oak Ridge Boys were there, Bill Gaither, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner. Charlie Chase and Lorianne Crook. Her hubby, Jim Owens was there. I've never met him, but I used to see his name as Executive Producer on all those TNN shows. It was his job I was after. Missed that opportunity too.

After the performance there was a reception in the rotunda of the Hall of Fame. The food, oddly enough, was NOT catered by Cracker Barrel. It was a nice reception, and I got to spend some time catching up with Jimmy's wife Nina. Cracker Barrel had set up a backdrop, and the guys spent the whole night posing for pictures and signing autographs. Knowing that the Ford Theatre holds 214... I would guess there was about 180 people there.

So as the night wound down, I said goodbye to Wil and Langdon, and left. The pics I took backstage didn't turn out. Just make another mark on the wall.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Statler Stalking. In the wrong state.

For some of you... these first couple of paragraphs are old news. Feel free to scroll down.

I was raised on country music. End of sentence. Not "country music and...." Just country. On the weekends we'd listen to Bob Kingsley on WMAQ out of Chicago. But most of the time around my house it was Tom T. Hall, Barbara Mandrell... George, Tammy, Loretta. On vinyl, on eight track. Donna Fargo, Dave & Sugar, The Oak Ridge Boys. But more than anything else, it was The Statler Brothers.

Long before there was a TNN, I was making music videos in my head to Statler songs. I may or may not have had a crush on one of them, but as I know know their children, I'd never admit to such a thing. I watched them on TV - their shows, awards shows, Barbara Mandrell's show. Somehow, I never made it to a concert. Maybe because going to Statler Brothers concerts was something that my parents did. I was going to take my Mass Comm degree and move to Nashville and work on their tv show. WAY cooler.

That didn't wind up working out so well. I personally blame a woman named Peggy. She worked HR for TNN, and she crushed every dream I had when she told me they weren't interested in an out of state broadcasting major willing to give up her summer and move to Nashville for an internship. As she told me, they had "plenty of qualified applicants from local colleges." I can still hear her voice. So we'll just say it's Peggy's fault that I've never worked with the Statlers. But that's not really quite the truth.

I do know the "new" Brother, Jimmy Fortune and his wonderful wife Nina, and have had the good fortune to vacation with them and work with Jimmy on several occasions. Two of the sweetest people to walk the earth. I even know some of the Reid kids... including two of the "next generation of Statlers" known as Grandstaff, whom I adore. But Harold, Don and Phil? Never met them. But that's not Peggy's fault.

I like to joke that someday Sandi and I are going to go Statler Stalking in Staunton, VA. (Say that three times fast!) I'll see the school they turned into their HQ, and back into a school again. I'll sit on the stools that serve as a monument to the quartet in the public park. I'll roam the grocery store aisles hoping to randomly bump into them. But the reality is... if I did see one of them... I wouldn't be able to speak. There's a precedent set. Don't tell anyone... but it appears I might be a bit... scared.

I don't know what it is exactly, but for some reason there's a big ole panic attack waiting to happen (or happening) when I think about what I'd actually ever say to them if given the opportunity. Would I tell them I'd probably still be directing local news in the cornfields if it wasn't for them and Garth? Should I confess that no matter how rotten my day is, I can blast their music through the office and make it better? Would they understand the significance if they knew for the past 13 years I've sang "You Are My Sunshine" to my daughter when she goes to bed?

One morning a couple years back I was leaving the Hilton Hotel in Nashville. I'd just left a listening event for John Rich's cd, and when I came down the stairs in the lobby, there, to my left, were all four Statlers. Wearing their Hall of Fame medallions. The night before they'd been officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. It was the perfect opportunity to meet them. To say hello. To get all four of them together, in Nashville... well, it might not ever happen again. Fans were talking to them, taking photos. Perfect chance. All I had to do was walk over and say hello to Jimmy.

Instead, I sat at the other end of the lobby and watched. And I was shaking like a leaf. After a few minutes, my co-worker Jon came walking through, and wondered what I was doing. Another perfect opportunity. I now had a picture taker! He offered to go over there with me. Perfect, when Jon's around he talks enough for both of us. I wouldn't even have to speak! But I couldn't get up. And I sat there and watched, until they finished up, said goodbye to Jimmy, and went up to their rooms. Then, and only then did I go over and talk to Jimmy. Opportunity missed.

Later that afternoon, I went to the Ernest Tubb record shop. Grandstaff -- my buddies Wil and Langdon - were performing there, while their dads -the two Statler Brothers who are really brothers - were doing an autograph signing. It was a great afternoon... I met all kinds of family members including Harold's wife, all the kids, their wives. Harold and Don were sitting behind a table signing books. I had a book already ~ they'd kindly sent me one, autographed. All I really needed to do was say hello. Don had emailed me once, (yes, I still have it, but I was so blown away I never wrote back) so I knew he at least knew my name, and he was a big XM fan. Just a hello. There was a table between us... it would be oh so casual... Surely, I could manage that. I mean... the first artist I ever interviewed was George Strait. It should all get easier from there.

Come to think of it, this was the second book signing of theirs I'd been to. Not long after we'd moved out of the CMHOF and they'd remodeled, the brothers Reid did a book signing. They sat in the very spot our broadcast booth used to be. And I stood in the corner and watched. Just as I did at the ET Record Shop, at one point being close enough they could have reached out and smacked me. And probably should have. Another opportunity missed.

Later that night, I saw Wil and Langdon at the Bluebird, along with Bryan Kennedy. Harold was in the audience - I remember blogging about how much he roared with laughter over "Cowgirl's Saddle." Again I got to chat with Brenda, Harold's wife. Her husband? Ummm... no.

So, you might wonder, why on earth I'm rambling aimlessly about opportunities missed. Regrets? Yeah. I regret that I'm one of THOSE fans... the kind I make fun of because they get so crazy starstruck. I mean come on... the stars are just PEOPLE. I regret that my parents don't have a photo hanging on their wall of fame of their daughter and four men in suits wearing medallions. I regret I never road tripped to a farewell tour concert, even though they didn't play Nashville and I didn't have road trip money. And I regret that I don't have some sort of magic pill that would quelch the anxiety attack I have every time I think about what I'd ever say to them if I had the opportunity.

Not that I'd ever have the opportunity. Because I'm not REALLY going to go Statler Stalking. In Staunton. And they've retired. It's not like they'd ever... come to Nashville. I mean, they're already in the Hall of Fame. So there's no real reason to come back. Unless there was something big. Like... some sort of tribute album. But it would have to be a really big deal. Something crazy, like the biggest act in bluegrass music doing a tribute. But, the reigning IBMA Entertainers of the Year have already covered a couple of different Statler songs on their albums. It's not like they're going to go out and do a whole tribute album. And sell it at Cracker Barrel. And then throw a party to celebrate it. And invite me to a little pre-party interview.

Because if they did that... I'd have to come up with something to say. I might even get to get that picture taken. And the very thought of THAT would send me into panic attacks that would cause me to write ridiculously long rambling blogs that probably have more grammatical errors than a KC press release.