We LOVED Tennessee Shines

If you have never been to Tennessee Shines, you should definitely try it out. T and I won tickets to the event at a charity event for the ETCDC (a non-profit that T sits on the board of) a couple months back and were just now able to use our tickets.

Anyway…we were a little unsure what to expect, though we know the Bijou never puts on a bad show, so we were excited. Also exciting was that we were doing a middle of the week, couple’s night out, date night, just the two of us. I mean, we spend a lot of time together, just the two of us, but sometimes we forget to take a night to do something out of the ordinary, that is super fun, that we both enjoy alone…Just. The. Two. Of. Us. So that was the really great part.

So I worked the afternoon and then walked over to BBandT to meet T, he changed clothes and we walked to the Bistro by the Bijou. Part of our prize from the silent auction was a free dinner there, too. Unfortunately, Wide Spread Panic was playing at the Tennessee Theater so downtown was crazy. The Bijou was packed and they said we couldn’t eat there because they had reservations backed up all night. So we headed down the street to the Brewery, but could see from all the way down the street that it was PACKED OUT. So we headed over to Market Square and ate at Oodles. We split a bottle of wine, had some yummy pesto fondue and then a yummy meal. After we finished up, we walked to the Bijou and went to the show.

The line up for Tennessee Shines was as follows (this is quoted from the website): “In addition to Tim O’Brien and The John Cowan Band, banjo player Alison Brown and The Dismembered Tennesseans will join The John Hartford Stringband, for their performance of songs from the Compass Records release Memories of John.”

So, because we didn’t know ANY of these bands, we weren’t blown away by the line up, but little did we know, we should have been. The show was awesome. T and I loved, LOVED Tim O’Brien. What was so cool about the night though was that the John Hartford Stringband…an awesome mixture of string instruments (obviously) that used to be headed up by John Hartford. John Hartford, a really influential bluegrass musician, most recently recognized for his contributions to the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, died in 2001. T and I didn’t know this last night, because the way they talked about him made it sound like he had died very, VERY recently, but it was just a really cool atmosphere with these guys playing string instruments they had been playing all their lives together…it was basically like sitting in on a jam session on someone’s southern front porch.

Even cooler, the Dismembered Tennesseans, another string band made up of old men with awesome instruments (musical, I mean)…have been playing together for sixty years…SIXTY years. It was so awesome. Tim O’Brien got 18 bucks out of me for a CD and then $11.99 more from me via iTunes because I liked him so much. He sang a great song called “Letter in the Mail” here are the lyrics:

I got your letter in the mail
Throwin off my sense of scale
I felt you touch my heart today

But the postmark says you’re far away
Across the fields and desserts wide
The mountains in the western sky
Out where the sun sets on the sea
So very far away from me

Shadows fall upon my hand
Movin west across the land
You’re only half way through your day
When I put my dinner dish away
As lonely as I’ve ever been
I long to hear your voice again
So I called you just to let you know
I miss you and I love you so

The farther I go down the track
The more time I spend lookin back
I wander through my memories
More precious now than gold to me
I close my eyes and I recall
When I was young and you were small
You know I miss those times back then
But today you brought them back again

I got your letter in the mail
Throwin off my sense of scale
It made me happy it made me sad
To read those words “I love you dad”

For those of you that know me really well, you know why this song resonated with me. I literally cried while he played it. And cried both times I heard it today in my car…possibly because I had just left my office at the City/County building for the last time with a card in my hand from one of my favorite people…a great mentor, Dwight Van de Vate. He is my boss, as most of you know, in the mayor’s office and was such a great teacher and friend the whole time I worked there. I started at the Mayor’s office when I was 19 so I’ve sort of grown up there. Dwight has been there for it all, and I really look up to him, personally and professionally. We have a father/daughter type relationship that means a lot to me–in that he shows up when it matters…even if he was late to my graduation ceremony. So, anyway, that song was awesome and I suggest you download it because it will be well worth the .99 cents you’ll pay on iTunes.

Another song we heard at Tennessee Shines is one that I’ve had on my iPod forever. I was surprised when I heard it because, like I said, none of the bands on the line up rang a bell to either me or T. But, little did I know, the song’s original writer was the John Hartford that was being memorialized at Tennessee Shines. So it was kind of cool. T loved the song, which was great because every time I hear it, it actually makes me think of him…because he works in tall buildings…or A tall building.

Here are the lyrics to that song:

Someday, baby, when I am a man,
and other’s have taught me
the best that they can
they’ll sell me a suit
and cut off my hair
and send me to work in tall buildings

and it’s goodbye to the sunshine
goodbye to the dew
goodbye to the flowers
and goodbye to you
I’m off to the subway
I must not be late
going to work in tall buildings

now when I retire
and my life is my own
I made all the payments
it’s time to go home
and wonder what happened
betwixt and between
when I went to work in tall buildings

and it’s goodbye to the sunshine
goodbye to the dew
goodbye to the flowers
and goodbye to you
I’m off to the subway
I mustn’t be late
going to work in tall buildings

It’s super sweet. T even sent the lyrics to me today via email. I got it as I was leaving work for a lunch…right at the time I was feeling very overwhelmed about leaving my comfortable job for something new and unknown. It was perfect timing from him, as always.

So…moral of the story…check out Tennessee Shines because I don’t think you will be disappointed. 🙂


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