Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cheekwood 2016

On Thursday June 23 The WannaBeatles played an outdoor concert at Cheekwood, as part of  their summer concert series. 

Cheekwood is a beautiful Nashville institution, acres of wooded hills thoughtfully curated with inventive displays of art. This particular season, we were delighted to see creative tree houses on display.

British flag indicating historic reproduction of actual castle
Another view of castle

This particular afternoon the stage was set up on a sloping lawn further back along the gravel roads leading into the property. We couldn’t park close to the stage, so Cheekwood staff helped us carry gear in a golf cart.

Along the way, we discovered more playful and colorful houses.
 Another colorful and playful house

 And one of the most elaborate toy train sets ever constructed, this one with a particular Tennessee theme. Bloggin’ Bryan couldn’t resist capturing that kinetic sculpture as a cell phone video, offered for our readers’ enjoyment.

The music playing along, appropriately enough, is “Freight Train Boogie.” Alert viewers will also notice reproductions of famous landmarks, like the Tennessee state capitol.

It was a hot afternoon, where shade made all the difference between surviving and withering. Unfortunately, our stage was unprotected during the hours we needed to set up, as  the summer sun was slowly making its way behind the trees.
Setting up in sunshine
Installing the pop up banner behind the drum kit
Bloggin' Bryan with hot weather gear -
hat and shades - for literal "coolness"
Our hard working sound man in the heat
And our stage with the sound gear he single handedly set up
Merch table in the shade

Another creative tree house on lawn, 
stage in the distance

The usual disclaimer goes here: no photos of the show, due to the photographer being engaged as a performer onstage. We appreciate your understanding, and invite your good faith in imagining that we had a great show, and a splendid time was had by all.

Cheekwood’s summer concert series is a great chance for local families to enjoy a musical picnic in a beautiful setting. 
We appreciated seeing so many children dancing in front of the stage, and we were grateful for the assistance of the Cheekwood staff in carrying our gear in golf carts back to our cars.

Thanks also to our friend Leslie Mathey for handling our merch table that evening, to the local food trucks for providing delicious meals, and to Techworks, the local sound company who labored in the sweltering heat as a team of one.

We're happy to be part of such a special Nashville institution.

-Bloggin’ Bryan 27August2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Puppet Festival

On Saturday June 18, we had two gigs. 

It started at 7:00 am, showing up at the Nashville Downtown Library to play for the International Puppet Festival. This was followed by a trip to Smithville, Tennessee for a wedding reception that evening. 

To add excitement to the day, WannaBeatle David was planning to return from a trip to Florida the night before our early morning show, but ended up stranded in Washington D.C.  after a late flight caused a missed connection. 

David's predicament led to a burst of creative energy in the WannaBeatles administrative offices that Friday night. WannaBeatles Nathan and Dennis, with extra help from Nathan’s wife Sally, sprang into action, finding and purchasing a new plane ticket for David, which would require his waiting at the airport until 4 am to catch a flight to Nashville. 

Getting David to Nashville in time for the gig was only part of the problem. Getting his drums to the gig was the other. 

After extensive discussions of options, Nathan displayed his native New England skills of pragmatic problem solving. He drove with Sally to David’s house in Nolensville, where he found the extra set of keys, opened David’s garage, located and loaded all of David's drums into David's van, driving David's van back to his own house, while Sally drove back in their car, finally arriving after midnight.

WannaBeatle Bryan, unaware of this nocturnal activity, arrived as planned at Nathan’s house 6:30 am Saturday morning. Nathan explained what had happened the night before, concluding with the new plan: the only way to make everything work was for me to drive David’s van containing his drums downtown, while Nathan drove his own, carrying his gear and mine.

We would have to wait for David to arrive at BNA, find his car, then drive to the Library to arrive in time to set up and play at 7:00 am.

And so, there was an extra level of improvisational excitement added to our morning. Not to mention a bit of lost sleep, especially for David, who had to spend the night in the airport.

But the emergency plan worked, and David arrived to greet us in the parking lot attached to the Library.
Arriving downtown with Dennis, Nathan and David's drums
before David arrives
Meeting in the parking lot for David's big adventure part 2
The empty tent before loading in our gear
Setting up for sound
Dennis coordinates information with production team

The Puppet Festival starts Saturday morning with a parade at 9:00 am. The WannaBeatles are scheduled to play immediately afterward, so we have to set up and be all ready to play before the parade starts. That's what makes it such an early morning.

But it makes for an interesting time before we play, watching a parade devoted to puppets created for the occasion. 

Announcing the beginning of the parade

The crowd assembled, with view of Library
One of the floats in the parade
A lengthy serpent puppet, 
requiring several handlers to keep it aloft
A duck puppet

The parade went longer than expected, but we finally started, and entertained the people under the tent, and the crowd beyond. 
Bryan and Dennis jammin' onstage
Pulling out the clarinet
WannaBeatle Bryan steppin' out

Wireless guitarist wanders into the crowd during a solo
More signs of a wild crowd

The Library did a great job of hosting the event, providing all the entertainers a cool room with lunch and snacks. 

After our set, Mr. Steve the Music Man performed, as we packed and gathered our equipment, retrieved the cars from the garage, and loaded them up. There was just enough time to drive to David's house, where he could gather clothes for the evening gig, and we could ride together in his van to Smithville.

Smithville is one of those smaller towns in Tennessee, not located near an interstate. Our route was through smaller roads, gently rolling terrain, expansive farmland, and sketchy cell phone reception. 

But we arrived at Evins Mill, a beautiful resort, to unload our gear, carry it down steps and through several rooms to set up to play the wedding reception in the dining room. 

Nathan captured a couple of shots of the resort, built on the site of an old grist mill.
Evins Mill
A new bridge to the old mill

There are no photos to show the gig itself. We were set up tightly in a corner, and there were beautiful flower vase settings on each table. We were allowed to join the wedding guests in the line for our meal, and took our plates to a cozy den on the lower floor. 

Five hours later, the party was over, and it was late Saturday night, with some tired WannaBeatles, when we finally loaded back up to drive back to Nashville.

David was especially glad that day was over. But we made it through both gigs just fine, in spite of the unexpected challenge of a missed plane the night before. Thanks especially to some quick thinking and acting by Nathan, Dennis, and Sally, The WannaBeatles met their latest emergency and turned it into a satisfying victory.

-Bloggin' Bryan 24August2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Crockett Park 2016

Sunday June 12 was our annual concert at Crockett Park in Brentwood. This has always been a big show for us, playing a free show for a local crowd sitting on the expansive lawn with their picnic coolers, blankets and chairs.

We usually add a special guest for our Crockett show; this year we invited an American Idol contestant named Joshua Wright. He's a fine singer, and a very nice guy, who brought his own Texas soul to a couple of classic Beatles songs, "Something" and "Help." 

Nearly empty stage as we arrive to set up

Loading in at the rear dock of the Eddie Arnold Amphitheater....
WannaBeatle David brings in his drum gear
While our faithful sound man Jody Fraser hauls in lights
David is proud to be working out, getting (back) into shape
WannaBeatle Dennis sets up the retail display 
Nathan checking out his keyboard
David checking his cell phone at the drum kit
Dennis and a crowd starting to assemble
A sound check for Joshua
Gatorade to replenish electrolytes on a hot day
Our yellow submarine prop
And a crowd getting larger as showtime draws near

We played two sets, one before sunset, another after dark. There were dozens of dancers of all ages gathered at the cement area in front of the stage. It was a classic summer evening, with enjoyable music filling the air. 

Joshua did a fine job with the new versions of "Something" and "Help." 

We don't have photos of the concert, so we'll just let this small selection provide an inside view of how The WannaBeatles arrive and set up to play our annual Crockett Park show. 

-Bloggin' Bryan 17August2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ashland City 2016

On  Friday June 10, The WannaBeatles returned to Ashland City’s Riverbluff Park for their annual Summerfest. 

Nathan and I drove up together, out the Briley Parkway up Route 12, arriving at the stage to find WanaBeatle David already there setting up. 

Nathan's 4Runner parked behind the stage
stage ready for load in
David’s been working out

This was rare, a WannaBeatle gig starting with three of us arriving before Dennis. Usually Dennis plays the role of our resident Brian Epstein, arriving early, checking the stage dimensions, scouting locations for the merch table, and negotiating dinner plans. 

We took advantage of this opportunity to pretend to scold Dennis when he arrived a few minutes later, pointing to our watches as he pulled up, as if his tardiness were spoiling the flow of our well-oiled machine. 

We were early enough to explore the fair grounds, to see the other offerings that would keep the crowd entertained and well fed.
Enough lemonade for a regiment
Flashy fast food options
Just in case we missed 
the medical reference in their name,
Flatline Grill presents their mission statement: 
"If you're experiencing Food Coma,
we've done our job."
One attraction we had not noticed before:
Zombie Hunters. 
The sign assures us it's "Family Friendly."

We loaded our gear and worked with the sound crew, as they put monitors and mics into position.
Dennis and Nathan at sound check

David in shades
Horns set up for WannaBeatle Bryan
Nathan and the sound men

As is our usual custom on this gig, we ate supper at Riverview Cafe across the river, at a table that looks across the Cumberland River to the fairgrounds, where our stage is set up.
Nathan, David and Dennis peruse menu

Then, we drove back across the bridge to the stage again, put on our gig clothes, and listened to an interesting opening act, Tarryn Aimee Smith. Playing mandolin for her was Scott Neubert, a fine player who's crossed paths with Bloggin' Bryan over the years, so we said hi.
Scott Neubert on mandolin, with Tarryn Aimee Smith 
and her band

We had the enthusiastic Marie as our one woman welcoming committee, wearing her black shorts and red suspenders to achieve a show-biz flourish. She announced us from the stage.
Our friendly announcer Marie

We also saw our friend Daryell Smith, the army veteran from Arkansas who makes his own ball point pens out of deer antlers and rifle shell casings. He gave us a sample last year, which we photographed for the blog. 
Daryell's hand-made ball point pen

Daryell is also a photographer, whose photos of last year's show added a lot to our blog from that show. Here's the link:

Ashland City was hot, but we had fun, and so did the people who gathered to hear Beatles songs.

Thanks to Marie, and our hard working sound crew, for making it a successful evening.

-Bloggin’ Bryan 15August2016