Coal Miner’s Daughter Comes Full Circle

musings 250_edited-1Loretta Lynn debuted on the Grand Ole Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium in 1960. In 2014, she headlined a show there for the first time and I was there. As wild as that seems, it is understandable in that the Ryman has only been hosting solo concerts for the last 15 years or so. Regardless, it was a treat to be there on many different levels. She played two shows (Friday and Saturday) and I attended the Friday show.

I grew up in Waverly, TN which is a scant 10 miles from Hurricane Mills, Tenn., where Loretta has had her ranch for several years. I went to school with a couple of her daughters and in a strange twist of fate, one of my sons goes to school with one of Loretta’s grandkids. During my growing up years, I wasn’t a country music fan, but have grown to appreciate some of the music I shunned in my youth. Therefore, when I learned of her two shows, I was decided it was time to go see my neighbor – Loretta.

Watch a short video of Loretta’s performance

The Ryman was packed on a stormy Friday night. Loretta’s daughter, Patsy, came out and welcomed everyone to the show. She talked about her mom having entertained folks for 54 years!  That’s a long time for any musician or singer. The surprise of the night was the opening act – Brandy Clark. With a wonderful voice and a single band member (acoustic guitar) to back her up, she captivated the packed house with her songs. She proved her songwriting chops by playing two of her more popular songs that she wrote – “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert and “Better Dig Two” by the Band Perry. After about 30 minutes, she gave the stage over to Loretta’s long-time backup band – the Coal Miners. They were led by her son, Ernie who sang two songs to get the crowd warmed up.

lorettaThe crowd went nuts when Loretta came out. She spent the next hour singing her songs and cutting up with the band. Most of her banter was with Ernie who would tell off-color jokes and his mom would fuss at him. She clipped through all of her hits at a pretty good pace. Her vocals were strong. Not just strong for an 82 year old – strong period. She was suffering from a cold or sinus junk, commonly called the “Tennessee Crud”, so that caused a couple of missed words to cough; but her band would step right in and keep on singing. There was one mix up with the set list where we got the first verse of a song a second time. About halfway through her set, she did sit in a plain folding chair to rest her back.

I noticed that when she was standing, she basically stood in one spot. At first, I attributed that to age, but it hit me – most classic country acts did that – stand and sing. There wasn’t a whole lot of moving around I guess until Garth came along and brought rock & roll theatrics to country music.

While classic country may not be my cup of tea (sweet please), you have to respect Loretta for her enduring songs, vocal strength, and classiness. I was glad that I was there for her first time to headline the Ryman. Thanks, neighbor.

The Root Word is “Class”

musings 250_edited-1Remember way back in English class when we learned about root words?  The fact that several words can be tied back to a single word?  Well, the root word for this column is “class”.  Over the last few weeks, I purchased tickets to three separate shows coming up in the next few months.  On the surface, they don’t look like the other, but the root word is class for all three.

Loretta Lynnclassic county.  Loretta is one of the female pioneers and legends of country music and is headlining the Ryman for the first time.  Of course, she played the Ryman when it was the home of the Grand Ole Opry – before the “new” Opry house was built 40 years ago.  Though I grew up 10 minutes from her home in Hurricane Mills and went to school with her daughters, I have never seen her perform.  This lady is a touring machine, still playing several shows a year.  I am really looking forward to seeing her.

Styxclassical music.  Styx is performing with the Nashville Symphony in February at the Schermerhorn Symphony center.  I have always loved listening to classic rock with an orchestra.  Whether it was the Moody Blues or Lynyrd Skynyrd with the symphony, the same ole songs are refreshed.  Skynyrd’s Tuesday’s Gone is incredible with strings and horns.  I saw a TV special where Styx performed with the Cleveland Youth Orchestra and was completely blown away.  Lady  or Crystal Ball promises to be a treat.

Bret Michaelsclass act.  Bret is playing the Franklin Theatre in September.  The Franklin Theatre is where I saw Mac McAnally and is a very cool place for a show.  I use the word class with Bret for a reason.  My youngest son was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes (T1D) 14 years ago when he was just 18 months old.  Bret was also diagnosed with T1D when he was six and has been an advocate and fundraiser for T1D agencies throughout the years.  I had the occasion to meet Bret a few years ago during a soundcheck.  I told him about Kyle and we chatted about Kyle, Bret’s T1D, and a little bit about music.  He was a very nice, down-to-earth guy and we wound up chatting about our respective diabetes worlds.

If you have read my columns for any length of time, you have seen that my taste in music is varied, and my recent concert ticket purchases could be Exhibit A.  I will let you know how these shows go, until then “stay classy San Diego”.

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