Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm No Rube

This blog's focus on California culture risks a serious misunderstanding: namely, that I'm not a man of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. By way of evidence, I offer the following fact; I just returned from my fourth trip this year to Tennessee. Need I go on? Didn't think so.

On this trip to Nashville, I made it to two clubs--the Station Inn for bluegrass and 3rd & Lindsley for funk. I've now hit the Station Inn twice, both on weeknights. "Straight-up bluegrass" is the proprietor's terse description of the house band on Tuesdays, a loose-knit group of gifted sidemen having fun. The cover is $5, pitchers cost the same. The band usually plays "Devil in Disguise" by the Flying Burrito Brothers and asks if anyone remembers them. Last time our host hollered, "We knew them before they could fly!" Decent-sized audience, good energy, not crowded. Hog heaven.

We also saw The Wooten Brothers & Friends, who play at 3rd & Lindsley on Wednesday nights. At one point, Regi Wooten's solo took him out to a front table, where he laid his guitar down flat and transformed it into a percussion instrument, much to the crowd's delight. The power cut out twice during their show, leaving us completely in the dark for a few moments, but nobody left, and the second time the audience kept the song ("Papa Was a Rolling Stone") going during the blackout. Again, $5 cover; not sure what the drinks cost because my host picked up the check. He also filled me in on the Wooten brothers generally; evidently, Victor Wooten was voted best bass player of the year three times running by Bass Player Magazine. (No one else had ever won it twice.) He plays with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and has his own group, too.

I also spent an hour or so downtown looking for a decent hat. In Nevada City last summer, I saw a great photograph of Buffalo Bill Cody, who was looking good. His hat was especially fly, so I figured this was my big chance to find one like his. No dice, but when I left the last store, I noticed the very same photograph of Buffalo Bill in the display window. When I mentioned that to the salesman, he gave me the story: It was a standard Tom Mix with a pencil-rolled brim. The crown, he said, looked like Bill sat on it by mistake. And the rakish angle, I'm sure, was a matter of superior personal style. The salesman didn't offer to pencil roll a brim for me; evidently, it takes two hours of painstaking work. To be fair, they didn't have my size anyway.

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