Keb' Mo' with The Time Jumpers

Keb’ Mo’ with The Time Jumpers

I grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry on a big old battery powered radio; I’ve spent a lot of my life pickin’ and singin’ country music; I’ve traveled all over this country and the world.

But I’ve never been to Nashville. Not until last Monday night.

The “why” is too long a story but suffice to say we were driving from Pittsburgh to Scottsdale, AZ and when I looked at the map I saw this was a perfect opportunity to correct a lifelong oversight. Sus, practical woman that she is, contacted Tim O’Brien for some suggestions as to how to spend one night in Nashville. He wasn’t able to personally guide us but his itinerary was spot-on.

Tim suggested some barbeque at Jack’s on Broadway. Check.

For music he suggested a few clubs, depending on who was playing. We went for Tim’s first choice: 3rd & Linsley, featuring The Time Jumpers. What a show! The band is composed of solo musicians who know how to play as a team. The ensemble pieces brought memories of Bob Wills and solos had the full-house crowd clapping and cheering.

At the end of the evening surprise guests included Mike Horowitz, an Army vet with four Middle East tours to his credit; a Nashville legend (I have to confess I didn’t know him) improbably named Sleepy LaBeef; and some great blues by Keb’ Mo’. Check and Mate.

Robert's, Nashville

Robert’s, Nashville

We shared a cab with a couple from North Dakota who come to Nashville for a few days every year. They cheered our decision to finish up the night at Robert’s, a honky-tonk bar on Broadway a block and a half from our hotel. That was another stop that had been recommended by Tim O’Brien. Check again.

When we fell into bed that night we felt we had had a great taste of Nashville, and a desire to return.

The next morning we headed west on I-40, were reminded of Merle Haggard when we saw signs to Muscogee, intercepted the remnants of Route 66 at Oklahoma City, where we spent the night.

Roger Miller Museum, 01The following day we were running at the speed limit in western Oklahoma, Sus half asleep listening to an audio book, when I suddenly took an exit off the freeway. “What’s going on?” “I just saw a sign promising the Roger Miller Museum. We’ve gotta stop.” Anyone, my daughters included, knows I NEVER stop for anything other than gas or a call of nature when I’m on a road trip. So this had to be big.

Big River

Big River

Four miles of Route 66 as a bonus, we pulled into Erick, Oklahoma and there it was, on the corner of Roger Miller Boulevard and Sheb Wooley Street, a neat red brick building with wonderful photographs, quotations, scraps of paper on which he had scribbled the beginnings of his iconic and strange songs: “King of the Road,” “Dang Me;” a beautiful poster for the Broadway hit, “Big River” for which Miller wrote the music, and which I had taken Kid 2 to see in New York in 1984; the Honda 90 motorcycle he bought with a little bit of the advance check for “Dang Me.” All of this with a personal tour from Paula, a wonderful gravel-voiced woman who loved showing off “her” museum. I was in heaven.

Route 66

Route 66

When we were back on I-40, Sus reached to start the audio book again. “Wait. I just need a few minutes to look at the country and continue my nostalgia trip.” After a time to absorb what I had just seen, singing to myself “…trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let 50 cents…”, the audio book was on, and I heard in my mind “…you’ll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico…”  and we were headed west.



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