WE HAD such a busy time of it in America, I didn’t get the chance to sit down and write it all up while I was there.
We were on the go from when our feet hit the floor until lights out.
Hence, the belated exploits through last week’s column and this one. I’ll have to condense our last part of the trip into today’s column or I could easily be writing until Christmas at this rate.
LAST week I was telling you about Memphis, where Angela Daly and I went for a couple of days while Marie was tied up recording her new album.
As it was Ange’s first visit to the States, I had to show her Memphis as it was only about five hours’ drive from Nashville, so we motored off down the interstate, stopping at Jackson on the way – just to say: “We’re goin’ to Jackson – look out Jackson town!”
Our first night in Memphis we dined at Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous Restaurant, one of the most famous places you could eat ribs in the world – and it was sensational.
Then we headed towards Beale St for bike night and to catch the Brad Birkedahl Band at the Blues City Café.
The next morning we toured Graceland in the morning and the historic Sun Studio in the afternoon.
Sadly, Graceland is so over-commercialised it’s almost too much. Everywhere you look is an Elvis souvenir or you’re forking out money for something or other.
I can understand how people want to keep Elvis’s memory alive, but all that overkill is just about destroying it.
Sun Studio was quite a contrast. Known as the birthplace of rock’n’roll, it was where Sam Phillips made the first ever rock’n’roll record in March 1951.
It was Rocket 88, by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. During our tour, our guide played us clips of this recording, telling stories about all the people who passed through the now heritage-listed
facility: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and so many other artists utilised the studio
created by self-taught engineer Phillips, whose aim was to capture the raw sound of Beale St on record.
That night we had dinner at BB King’s Blues Bar in Beale St where there was the most incredible soul band playing.
We made an early start the next day for Nashville, where we planned to catch up with Gina Mendello, Tommy Emmanuel’s manager, at her office.
Arriving there it was a sight for sore eyes for two Aussies so far from home to run smack bang into Tommy walking out the front doors!
Gina was a font of knowledge and made us both very welcome.
She’d just gone through the rigmarole of getting a passport reissued for Tommy and when I told her I’d lost mine, she set me up with all the paperwork and the lowdown on how to get another one in a hurry.
Love her work.
That night we were invited to dinner at Kalii and Jason’s place, but through the week I’d learnt Keith Urban was going to play three free concerts on Broadway.
We could eat any time, but it’s not every day you get to see Keith play for free, so that one was a no-brainer.
Ange and I returned to our motel, gave Marie the news we wouldn’t make dinner, then drove back in to Broadway.
As you’d expect on a Friday night on Broadway, it was packed, but we knew Keith’s first port of call was Legends Corner, so we waited there on the street outside the famous honky tonk, with the crowd growing thicker as the time drew closer to his arrival.
Part of the footpath and road had been cordoned off to allow Keith and his band enough room to run between Legends Corner, Tootsie’s and The Stage, the three honky tonks within half a block of each other.
He played about four songs to the packed house before making his farewell and heading out the door to the next venue, right near where we were standing.
Imagine the smile on Angela’s face when she called out to him, telling him we were from Tamworth, and got an autograph.
She will be forever now be known as “the legend of
On Saturday morning we took a tour of the Jack Daniel Distillery at Lynchburg.
As Ange pointed out, it was the polar opposite to Graceland, as we were able to tour the facility free of charge and were given a glass of lemonade on our exit.
Mind you, watching the processes that go into creating that beautiful Tennessee whiskey we could have had something a little stronger, but as it’s a dry county (since the prohibition era), no alcohol can be consumed on the premises.
There was plenty of JD in the shop at the distillery, but we continued on in to Lynchburg to buy some souvenirs and have lunch.
Our total outlay was about US$40, a far cry from the small fortune we outlaid at Graceland for the platinum tour and endless Elvis trinkets.
THAT night our friends Jason Roller, Kalii Palmer, Barbara Wilkinson and Marie had a gig at Jim Oliver’s Smoke House in Monteagle.
There was a large group of us for dinner and the acts on stage before their show were great, too. Then our mob came on stage and finished off the night.
It was a beaut gig in a top spot – highly recommended.
ON SUNDAY we packed our bags and headed back into Nashville for our last night in town before flying for LA and then home.
We did some last-minute shopping; I bought another suitcase (I did stimulate the American economy somewhat) and then got ready for our last night out in Music City USA.
Marie caught up with The O’Donnells at Rippy’s honky tonk on Broadway.
Ange and I stayed for a while then were picked up by the lovely Audrey Auld-Mezera and her gorgeous husband Mez, for dinner and a show.
We ended up listening to the most authentic country music in town at the Stone Fox, with Chris Scruggs and the Stone Fox Five.
It was a perfect end to a great holiday.
We almost didn’t get home. Only Angela was booked on the flight from Nashville to LA; no record of my booking or Marie’s.
Ange took charge and got this sorted quick smart. Then there was the small matter of my missing passport ...
Thanks to Meghan, an expat Aussie at the Australian Consulate in LA, I had an emergency passport issued within an hour of my 9.30am appointment.
When we finally touched down on Aussie soil in Sydney, all three of us agreed there was no place like home.
Although the holiday had been fabulous, packed with loads of exciting experiences, we had all missed our families and couldn’t wait to get home to them.