Monday, July 14, 2014

CAAS 2014

It's been a whirlwind 2 weeks! I didn't post last Monday because all I'd been doing was getting ready for this past weekend and it was a full time job! My husband is president of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society and we host the annual convention in Nashville. This year was our 30th convention at the Sheraton Music City. We kind of take over the hotel with 1300 people attending which includes about 70 performers and workshop leaders. It's a massive undertaking that I couldn't do without the help of the people shown below, my crew! These couples come from as far as Texas, Florida and Canada to help me each year. We take care of all the registration. Alot of people do register ahead of time but we have many that just show up and pay at the door. 
 The convention is 4 days long with 2 stages, 2 workshop rooms, 3 vendor areas and music everywhere. However, I don't get to see the music. I'm at the desk the whole weekend from 9am til 11pm. It's a blast meeting people each year. Many of them become friends that we love to tease (and get teased back!). It's a family atmosphere  with people of all ages coming to enjoy the music and the friendships that they develop each year.
I do make time to hear DH's set each year (if I remember!) This year he was on stage 2 with his friends performing songs they worked on after arriving. Jim's from California. Zach's in Utah now and Mike and Mark are from Knoxville. Doesn't matter that they live so far apart. When they get together the music flows.
 The one evening that I actually sit down and watch the show is Saturday evening. The show starts at 8pm and this year actually was over about 11pm. Sometimes it's gone alot longer. They try to keep it short but it's hard when there's so much talent and they want to cover so much. This concert is always a tribute to Chet Atkins. It used to be his night to perform and now we perform his music. We also showcase the music from up in Muhlenberg County in Kentucky. Joe and Paul played some Merle Travis tunes.
 We had alot of performers that evening but I'm just showcasing a few to give you highlights of what the convention is like.
Scottie Moore was a backup player for Elvis and toured the world with one special guitar. It was a guitar that he kind of bartered with Chet to get. Actually, Chet liked one of his mikes that he had on his desk at one point and Scottie gave it to him. A couple of weeks later Chet sent over a guitar. This guitar is the one. Scottie decided that instead of having it in a museum, he wanted it to be played to encourage young players. So Mark brought it on stage to talk about and show everyone.
 During the convention the guys look around at all the young players to see who should have the special honor of playing Scottie's guitar. This year they had a tie. It's pretty intimidating to be in front of hundreds of people (we make the room really big for the last concert) and perform but these kids did it! First Parker Hastings played the guitar with his friend backing him up.
 Then it was Samuel Grounds turn. One is from Kentucky and the other from Oklahoma. They met at the convention Wednesday evening and played all weekend.
 That's one of the big reasons we do the convention. To encourage young players to push themselves to do the best job they can and keep playing, challenging themselves and becoming the players that will take over as our players retire.
In keeping with that, Meagan is Chet's great niece. She plays with Jason who is Floyd Cramer's grandson. However, the big hit that evening was when she brought up her young daughter to join her in a song. The next generation is starting with Chet's great great niece beginning to perform. She stood on a chair to do it and everyone loved it! She was awfully tired by then. It was after 9pm before they came on stage but she did it great!
 You all know Jerry Reed from Smokey and the Bandit? Did you know that he was a first class guitar player who wrote a bunch of tunes? Chet recorded alot of them and the guys learn them. His daughter Seidina is performing now and did some jazz numbers. Way cool!
 This year we had a guitar ensemble perform. They came down from Boston's Berklee School of Music. I think they really learnt alot from everything going on. I'm hoping the group will come down each year. The students change each time but the inspiration they give and get will continue.
 Then it's time for the grand finale. This time there were only a few guys on stage. If everyone that had played came on they wouldn't have had enough amps for them to plug into! That's Tommy Emmanuel up there leading the group with Joscho Stephan from Germany sitting on the chair in the middle. On the left is Shawn Weaver, then Jim Nichols, Guy Van Duser and John Nichols playing bass behind them.
That's just a flavor of the 4 days of music. Decisions have to be made because you want to be in two places at the same time. We apologize ahead of time for that dilemma! Sleep was optional and we're all sleep deprived right now!
So it's back to work. I've got boxes of convention stuff to go through, organize and store for the next year. Alot of guys went home determined to practice like crazy this year so they can play at open mike next year and a bunch of them were bemoaning the fact that it was 361 days til we did it all again! I am glad for the break!
This week is another hectic one because by Wednesday I'm in Asheville setting up for my show. I'm heading for bed early tonight!!
Hope you get to weave this week!


Linda said...

Looks like it was another wonderful convention. We hope to make it next year.

steel breeze said...

Looks like you had fun. Intrigued as to why there's a cardboard cut out in the first picture! :)