Monday, July 18, 2011


Every second week in July we move over to the Sheraton Music City in Nashville and host the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society convention. This was our 27th!!
I am really busy the whole time and don't bother taking my camera down to the registration desk because I know I won't have a minute to even think about pictures. However on Saturday morning I did bring it down and took this shot of the registration desk. We start on Wednesday with about 10 office depot boxes full of registration packets and by Saturday we're down to one. We register people coming the whole week and this year we had 1400 people.
It's hard to explain an event like this. A first timer this year just emailed me to thank us for hosting it and saying her Dad had told her for years how wonderful it was, but until she came she didn't understand it.
It is 4 days of music with 3 stages, 2 workshop rooms, 4 vendor rooms, a thumbpickers room and music everywhere in the hotel lobby and bar area.

 We have a grand finale on Saturday evening and that's when I sit down to listen to the music and this year I did bring my camera and tried to capture a bit of the moment. The music during the week is mostly finger style. It can be jazz, country, blues, whatever as long as it's played on the guitar. Singing is a very minor part of the event. We're done this so long and watched a whole generation grow up. For some years we were concerned about the legacy, would any young guys come along to take over. This year in a huge way, we saw that younger generation step up and show that, yes, they are playing, the legacy continues and, although Chet isn't with us anymore, his ambassador, Tommy Emmanuel is there encouraging young guys and they are working hard to learn their instrument.

The concert Saturday night started with George Hamilton IV. He's come before but each year we have new kids and we want them to hear the stories of Chet. George had to be first because he had to get over to the Opry for the second show. He is a funny man and so kind to come tell us about his friend. They all miss Chet so much.
 Did you ever hear of the Ventures? Well, Nokie Edwards played with the Ventures for years. Hearing that music is absolutely awesome. He comes, and our core group of players back him up each year during his set. For Saturday evening we also asked him to play with Brooks Robertson. Brooks has been coming for years. He was the protege of Buster Jones who, unfortunately, passed away a couple of years ago. We've watched Brooks grow up into an amazing player. He is a nice guy too. Couldn't be a better kid! You can't capture everything on the camera but I wish I had been able to get the grin that he would have sporadically as they played together. Moments like that are magic!
 Another gentleman that has been playing and recording for years is Bucky Barrett. We've gotten to know him the last couple of years and found him and his wife, Gigi, to be the kindest gentlest people. Bucky played Saturday evening and got amazing sounds out of his guitar. He also told a few stories about Chet.
 Last year Scottie Moore (remember him? He played with Elvis all over and recorded alot of songs with him) gave us a guitar that Chet had given him years ago. We brought it to the convention and Pat Kirtley played it on stage. I think this is a tradition we'll continue each year.
 John McClellan is from near St Louis. He teaches at a college and had this quartet come and play the Brandenburg Concerto for us. It was 5 minutes long and very cool, a change from alot of the other music that was played. On an aside, after the show was over and everything was being packed up, one of their guitar stands was still sitting back stage. We gave it to John to deliver to its owner. It is kind of like we're mother hens at this deal, making sure they don't lose their equipment. I could tell you stories....
 We had alot of young players performing at this concert. You have to understand that to play Saturday night is a huge honor and each one out there is rightfully on stage. The player on the left is Ben Hall. He won a guitar about 5 years ago and wanted to play right then which, of course, we said, sure. Well, we had no idea how good he was then already. Now, he's a real showman and someone to be on the lookout for. He's a solid player and a good singer. He was accompanying Chet's sister Billie Rose. Billie Rose sang a song she recorded years ago with Chet. Billie Rose just wrote a book about her life. I have a copy and can't wait to read it. I did steal an hour just to look at all the pictures in it. Fascinating. On the right side of the picture is Meagan Taylor, Billie Rose's granddaughter who is becoming a really good player. Chet's legacy is coming down through her. Seems like that guitar is too heavy and big for her, but she plays it well. Playing bass is John Nichols from California. He is a pro and we're thankful that he can take out a week to join us and back up alot of players.
 Oh yeah, also accompanying Billie Rose is my DH, Mark who spent a couple of late nights listening to a recording to get the part right for the mandolin. Mark is the president of CAAS and I help him with registration. He deals with the hotel and invites all the musicians that perform all week, does the schedule and keeps things running.
 Last year a couple of guys came that were a duo. On the left is Loren Barringer from NJ. On the right is Mark Mazengarb from New Zealand. The two are very good together but on Saturday night they also got to play with their hero, Tommy Emmanuel. This was magic. I suspect you can find some of their music, and in fact, any of these guys on you tube! It's worth a listen.
 Sean Weaver has been coming to CAAS since he was 12. We've watched him grow up, study at Belmont and now is making a living in Nashville. I think he's playing with Vince Gill's daughter's band, if I'm not mistaken. He's playing a Kirk Sand guitar that was heavily damaged in the flood last year in Nashville. He sent it back to Kirk who was able to take it apart and rebuild it. I hope others were able to do the same with their instruments.
 Do you remember Floyd Cramer? Well, his grandson can play just like he did. Here he and Meagen were doing some songs, recreating something Chet and Floyd were involved in. Backing them up is Jim Nichols, also from California who is our core band! He is a solid musician.
 The grand finale. I couldn't fit everyone into this picture but at the end of the evening, and it was a good 3 hour show, all the major players come on stage and play one last song to the delight of the audience.
That was my week. Sleep was optional. We do this once a year.. get together with friends and make new ones. We'll do it again next year. I have all the boxes from registration. I'll go through them, repack them, make my shopping list for next year and then pack them away for awhile.
No weaving this week. I did wear my new scarf to the concert. I'm not really a scarf person but I did enjoy wearing it. I hope to weave more of them. Did get an order for one.....
On to new challenges for this week!


LA said...

I knew you'd have some grand stories to looks like the convention went very well!!!!

Bonnie said...

Sounds like it was a hit. Looks like a lot of fun. Now maybe time for some sleep and down time.

Tina J said...

I am glad you made it thru another one! One of these years I am going to kidnap my husband and take him!

Anonymous said...

Roxie sez
What fun! Thanks for sharing.

Benita said...

Man-O-man-O-man! I wish I had been there. I grew up on Old Gospel and Bluegrass music and my dad is a 5-string banjo player. I'll bet there were lots of toes tapping that day.

Anonymous said...

Approximately how many people attended the Saturday night concert?