Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cadiz, and David's Dad

It's time to learn how to pronounce another town in Kentucky: Cadiz.

Although it looks like it could have the accent on the second syllable, it's pronounced by the locals to sound like "Katie's."

Geographically, from a Nashville perspective, it's on the other side of Ft. Campbell, so it's not far past Clarksville. 

But to the Kentuckians who live there, it's a town with a unique history and role, as the county seat of Trigg County, which is where Land Between The Lakes was formed after the U.S. government built dams on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers.

Cadiz is small, just over 2,000 population, but they have lots of spirit. They run the Trigg County Country Ham Festival, which features, among many attractions, the world's largest biscuit. 

The WannaBeatles were chosen as their Friday night entertainment at the Trigg County Country Ham Festival.

They were excited about our coming there. Kim Allen, with local radio station, WKDZ, interviewed us a few weeks before the show, with a conference call we took at Dennis's house. She interviewed us again after we arrived, during their live coverage of the festival.

On October 9, John Lennon's 75th birthday, we drove up in two cars, Dennis and me in his Camry, and Nathan and David in Nathan's van.

We were greeted at the Cadiz Fire Department by Kerry Fowler, who led us to the parking area behind the stage.

Sign on the door of Kerry's truck

David's Dad

Dennis and I discovered after we arrived at the stage that David had been on the phone to his family in Florida, where he learned his father was dying. This was a major life event to deal with in the middle of a normal job, and it brought a layer of sadness to an otherwise enjoyable day. 

As we went through the motions of loading gear (with townspeople assisting,) getting interviewed for the local radio station, and posing for photos on the statue of a pig, David was absorbing the weight of the news, while finding moments to talk to family members and investigate airline schedules,  to plan a trip to Florida as soon as possible.

Knowing what was going on for David that afternoon explains why he looks a little distracted in the photos. As it turned out, he found a flight out of Nashville early the next morning, but his father died before he could get there. He spent the next week in Florida for the funeral and to be with his family, which meant we had to find another drummer for a few gigs that couldn't be avoided, and that's another story, coming up in another blog.

But meanwhile, back in Cadiz, we met WKDZ radio personality Kim in person, as she interviewed us on the street for their local coverage of the event.
David, Nathan and Kim at the WKDZ tent
Nathan enthuses as Kim offers The WannaBeatles their prize
Kim offering us a free ham

Dennis found a great opportunity for his unique wit, calling the free ham "The Jewish Dilemma." That made David laugh.

We were dealing with rainy weather, but there was a cover over the stage, so the only question was whether the audience would get rained on.
David setting up his drums
Nathan with his Hofner
Our sound man
Installing hay bales in the rain

We were impressed with the energy of the people of Cadiz.
(insert street sign, city hall)

Street sign
City Hall, which also served as our dressing room

And we were treated with great hospitality.
During Ham Festival, there are plenty of images of pigs around town, but this golden statue near the stage seemed to be the most distinctive.

The WannaBeatles posed for a final goodbye on the golden pig before saying goodbye.

As a followup, I had left my ear plugs on the stage that night, and Kerry made the effort of contacting me and mailing them back to me. In that package, he also included special maps and brochures of Cadiz, and an official Key to the City.

Key to the City of Cadiz 
(not to be duplicated without authorization)

The WannaBeatles have never received a key to any city before. It made us feel like Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz. Now you see why we will be happy to return to Cadiz, whether it's for another Ham Festival or just an ordinary day.

Thanks to Kerry Fowler, of the City of Cadiz, and Kim Allen, of WKDZ radio, for your hospitality. You really made us feel at home.

Bloggin' Bryan 29December2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

Meryl's Retirement

The classic question for bloggers is Quantity or Quality?

Do we put out an abundance of blogs, keeping people supplied with fresh material on a daily basis? Or do we take our time, carefully considering each word that enters the blogosphere, because we treasure the time, energy and attention of our fans?

Or is this big question a smokescreen, hoping to keep you from noticing that our blog has brought you neither Quantity nor Quality?

Well, in any case, some of our shows do not have a large number of photos connected to them, and this blog is a good example of a short one. And one that's long overdue.

On September 24, The WannaBeatles did a special show for Meryl Kraft's retirement party at the Gordon Jewish Community Center. 

We've played plenty of shows at the JCC over the years, and we appreciate all the energy Meryl brings to the place.

That makes us wish we had a photo to illustrate her ebullient personality and the fun we had playing at her party, but you'll have to use your imagination.

The one breakthrough the WannaBeatles experienced at that particular gig was the introduction of an official "RocknRoller" cart that has finally been acquired by WannaBeatle Bryan.

My first time trying the RocknRoller cart

All the other WannaBeatles have been using these clever carts to haul their gear all these years, and wondering why I couldn't get with the program. Maybe it was the challenge of finding space on top of all the other gear to load the folded up cart into the car. Maybe it was the expense. It was probably just laziness - an odd excuse, since getting the cart makes life easier, whenever gear needs to get from a car to a stage, which is every time we play.

But The WannaBeatles overcame my resistance the best way they knew how:  through the Good Yoko.

Holly consulted with the boys, and bought exactly the right size RocknRoller for my birthday, which was the day before we played the party for Meryl. So I embraced the challenge of fitting all my WannaBeatles gear onto that cart, held in place by a bungee cord or two - following in the footsteps of my bandmates, who've been dealing with these practical issues for years.

Thanks David, Dennis, Nathan and Holly for the cart! and congratulations, Meryl, on a wonderful life with so much activity at the Gordon JCC.

-Bloggin' Bryan, 29 December 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Berea, Kentucky

Those who read music may recognize a melody by Leonard Bernstein. It's one way to help The WannaBeatles remember how to pronounce a place where we'd never been before.

Berea, Kentucky is an interesting town. It's small, but loaded with energy. It's a college town (Berea College, founded in 1855 as the first interracial and coeducational college in the south), with an active local arts scene. 

Their annual Spoonbread Festival includes hot air balloon rides, a 5K run, a motorcycle rally, and a spoonbread eating contest. 

The historic Boone Tavern in Berea, built in 1909, has hosted such luminaties as Henry Ford and the Dalai Lama.

And now, at last, Bereans can say they've heard The WannaBeatles.

We drove up there Saturday, September 19. We were greeted by friendly staff who organized various portions of the Festival.
Greeted by Sandy upon arrival, getting oriented
Dennis and David with Phillip, our master of ceremonies,
who allowed us to use his RV as a dressing room, 
which was parked conveniently right behind the stage.

Another local guy, Chad Hembree, helped us set up our table next to the tent where Spotlight Playhouse and Acting School, his company, was promoting their upcoming season.
Chad helps Dennis set up table

Who knew that a musical had been written 
around a two dimensional cartoon character?

We met our eastern Kentucky friend Skip Benton, wearing his WannaBeatles tee shirt, who helped us at the merch table.
Skip helps Dennis at the merch table
Dennis, David, and Nathan on the grounds

We wandered around the festival, tasting Spoonbread (a delicious warm bread pudding type of treat) and other festival foods. We began to suspect that "Fried" is one of the major food groups.

We had plenty of time before our 7:00 pm show. Other bands were on the stage, so we couldn't set up. We actually took some time to lie down and rest in the RV behind the stage while other bands played.

The Missing Trousers

After the last band played, we had limited time to set up.
Then, just about 40 minutes before the show, we encountered a big problem: Bloggin' Bryan had forgotten his black pants. 

The "civilian" trousers I had on were light green. If I had been wearing black jeans, it would have been a passable alternative, but this was totally unacceptable to our uniform director, WannaBeatle Dennis, who does his best to keep us looking and acting professional.

The funny part is that this goof up was a repeat of an almost identical goof up in another small town a few summers ago, when I had to drive Dennis's car to a local store to find some black pants in my size, buy them, return to the dressing room, put them on, and go onstage, all in less than twenty minutes.

This time I had over twice that much time for the emergency errand. So a local friend (Skip's wife) drove me to Wal-Mart, where I found a pair of black pants (for $12), returned to the RV, and got onstage in time for the downbeat of our show.

Not all of my equipment was in full working order when Phillip announced us. So the first song was a blur, my mind on autopilot, like a traumatized soldier in combat when time stands still - I remember fumbling with my cords and switches rather than singing and playing, aware of precious seconds ticking by as the band performed without me, as I desparately attended to technical details so that I would have the cornet up to my lips in time for the crucial part at the end of "Magical Mystery Tour."

But after that shaky opening song, we hit our stride and delivered a fine show to an appreciative crowd under that big tent.

And we had a great time.

Here's one photo from that show taken by a local fan who posted it on facebook:

Thanks Berea, for all your hospitality, fine fried food, and one timely trip to the local Wal-Mart.

-Bloggin' Bryan, 30November2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gallatin 2015

On September 17, The WannaBeatles returned to Gallatin, TN to do their monthly 3rd Thursday concert on the courthouse square.

It was a beautiful afternoon.
WannaBeatle Dennis sets up harmonica holder
WannaBeatle Nathan adjusts his mic
WannaBeatle David, with new haircut, checks his drums

Over the years, The WannaBeatles have developed some history with Gallatin. We played many times at The Whippoorwill, located right on the square, a restaurant/music venue which sadly is no longer there. 

Within a block of downtown is also the historic Palace Theater, where we filmed our "We Wanna Meet Paul" video, which has now surpassed 20,000 views.
The Palace Theater also contains an administrative office, which became a hospitality suite for us. 
WannaBeatles on the poster for 3rd Thursday series

It was a return to a familiar landmark to visit the Palace Theater again, and use their lobby rest room as our dressing room. They also provided us with a nice supper of barbecue.

Dennis changing into stage clothes
David all dressed, hanging out in lobby

We had our old friend Larry doing the sound for us, who had been at the Whippoorwill many times, and does lots of local shows.
Stage with banner before show
The lovely Miss Leslie displaying our merchandise
Cool dancer before the show
The Sumner County Courthouse, as viewed from the stage

As usual, we have photos from before the show, but none during the show, since Bloggin' Bryan is too busy during the show to take pictures.

However, some music buddies visiting from Brazil happened to catch our show, and they included a clip of our performance in their recently posted youtube video. Here's a screenshot of that moment:

Our live action occurs, as the photo indicates, at timing mark 2:27. The entire video can be viewed at this link: https://youtu.be/gShBwhiA-2A

We were happy to meet with fans after the show. 

We encountered a couple who made us aware that there is such a thing as a Topo Gigio tee shirt.

Since The WannaBeatles include an Ed Sullivan impersonation in our show, the name "Topo Gigio" is almost as familiar to us as "Magical Mystery Tour."
The Topo Gigio tee shirt

It's impossible to anticipate every level of cultural enrichment that comes our way as a result of this unique destiny of being The WannaBeatles. All we can do is enjoy it as it comes along.

-Bloggin' Bryan 18 November 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Clifton, Tennessee

On Saturday September 12, The WannaBeatles went to Clifton, Tennessee, a lovely little town on the banks of the Cumberland River.

We were playing at their annual Riverbend Festival, on the Main Street stage.
Unloading by the river
(Notice wrought iron railings on upper balcony -
a small touch of New Orleans style)
The other view: unloading backstage, 
with a stage hand in a hurry
WannaBealte Dennis cheerful at river view

We had some extra time before our sound check, so Nathan and I took a stroll down Main Street.
A view of the stage from behind the sound booth

WannaBeatle Nathan on Main street

There were other bands playing the same stage, through the entire day.
Another band onstage

I took a photo of the monkey sticker on my guitar, a reminder of my granddaughter Ella, with a view of the river. 
Ella's monkey

We had friendly local folks helping us with our merch table. 

WannaBeatles Nathan and Dennis explain the square

We tried setting up our new banner, but it was too windy.
Dennis setting up banner

We were treated hospitably at a downtown restaurant called The Pirate's Lair, where they served all their performers a large classic Southern meal. 
Onstage for sound check
sound check cont'd
A pile of instruments ready to go onstage
Dennis and David checking gear before show
Mr. Cool WannaBeatle David ready to go onstage

We played, the crowd enjoyed it, and, because Bloggin' Bryan was busy playing the show, we have no photos to prove it.

After the show, we returned to The Pirate's Lair for more food, to hang out with our new local friends who were helping serve the food and manage our merch table, and to change back into civilian clothes.

Before leaving, we posed for a photo with the pirate.
A fond farewell to The Pirate's Lair and Clifton, Tennessee

Then we drove back home to Nashville, tired but grateful for such a fun way to earn a living.

Bloggin' Bryan 11November2015