Friday, July 8, 2016

2015 Nashville - Music City

The lovely Suzen Pope and Andy Jackson at "Tootsies World Famous Orchid Lounge" on Broadway, Nashville.
Sure, my visit in the Nashville realm was last year in July, but as coincidence or good planning would have it, my friends, Andy and Suzen from Bracknell (near London), UK are revisiting the US - currently in Clearwater, Florida area. Since Andy announced that Suzen said, "Yes!", wedding plans are taking shape. Can you imagine TWO weddings? The first and official one will be in the UK this Fall and the American "Beach Party" version will be held around Christmas time in Florida. A lot can happen in a year. Last summer they were "just good friends". LOL

As my planning evolved separately, I'm currently visiting southern Indiana so my English friends and I won't be able to spend time together this trip. It's sad, I know, but at least those nasty, biting "No-see-um" bugs (aka Biting Midge) won't be getting a piece of my legs, feet, arms, neck, face and ass this year. I hate those little buggers.

Not my hand photo, but my legs looked just like this example. The bites are as painful as fire.
I've researched repellents and concocted a home remedy that is a sure-fire recipe. I hope those folks are right, but I haven't been brave enough to re-visit Florida to find out. I wonder .. I'm sure they don't have these bugs in Tennessee .. do they?

I try to always get a shot of my camp sites wherever I go. Two Rivers Campground, Nashville.
Andy and I met online back in 1997 during a random chance visit to a chat room arranged on some old software called, mIRC. Apparently, it is still available for download, but popular social media has made chat, video chat and even Internet phone calls possible. I didn't come here to discuss that. So, "Snaps" requested a private chat with "CameraJim" and the beginnings of an overseas electronic relationship was formed.

At last, .. after some some 17 years of online chats, e-mails and photo/video sharing, we meet.
Through our years of common personal challenges in our respective photography businesses and other issues, we've grown as friends through mutual trust, respect and pride in our own country. When we finally met, I presented him with a gift .. a parchment reprint of the 1783 Treaty Of Paris. I thought it interestingly appropriate that the Treaty ended the War of American Independence ending hostilities between our two countries. Of course, in retrospect, I should have found something else to give him. There was still the War of 1812 to fight historically. I thought it was a friendly gesture.

At our first meeting at the B&B, Suzen snaps a photo of a musician and a "wannabe".
I arrived earlier in the week at Two Rivers Campground on Nashville's east side and reserved a week. Andy and Susen had flown into Florida, rented a car and drove up to Nashville to stay at a Bed & Breakfast in a stately home in a really comfortable part of town. Together, that night - knowing that alcohol will be part of our evening festivities - called an Uber Cab to get us around town. Our first stop was Tootsies and later to visit another famous bar for musicians - Douglas Corner.

Andy has also been working on his song writing for the Country Music market. He had phoned ahead to place his name on "the list" for all singer-songwriters who wanted to share their music on the hopes of being discovered. I brought my guitar with us, Andy tuned it and made ready. Meanwhile, Suzen and I ordered round after round for the three of us as we listened to the music. It seems to me that there is a lot of love gone wrong in country music. After a couple of hours of hearing these sad tales, I told Suzen and Andy that I was ready to slit my wrists and call it a day. We laughed. I felt so sorry for Andy in that with the 40 entertainers on "the list", he never got the opportunity to perform.

Susan and I clown for Andy's iPhone camera at Jimmy Buffet's.
So, as we closed-down that bar and waited outside for our Uber Cab ride back to their B&B where my car was parked and began to make plans for later in the week. I told them that a $10 round-trip shuttle ride from my camp to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Restaurant was a fun and educational ride. So, later in the week we ate a Cheeseburger in Paradise .. literally, then visited B.B. King's Blues Club for a few more beers.

Andy and I during a musician's break at B.B. King's - Nashville.
We passed lots of bars, restaurants and famous country music venues on our downtown walk to B.B. King's. As it was during the week, attendance was a little weak at the club, but the music was good. The headliner for the evening was none other than "B.B. Queen". Mr. B.B. King, himself, approved her use of that stage name. The faster-paced, electrified Blues was just what I needed to be energized. The Blues music is about sad situations between men and women, but it's more about the healing afterward rather than the pain that seems to permeate Country music. As Country fans, Suzen and Andy were just putting up with my tastes, because they are hardcore American Country music fans from England.

Most camps have fire-rings, other camps, you bring your own to burn marshmallows.
Good fun can't last forever, so on their last night in Nashville area, Suzen and Andy took an Uber Cab to come visit me at camp. We built a campfire, toasted marshmallows to make S'mores, had a good visit while I showed them what "camping" in America is like in a commercial campground and Andy tried to tell me about "Caravan" in England.

Snif-f-f-f, toasty!
We talked until the mosquitoes and the humidity got bad, then went inside and turned on the A/C to take a break from the heat. The night would never last long enough and finally, at the pre-appointed time, another Uber Cab driver was waiting at the front gate to take my friends back to their B&B.

"Awww. Let's get one more shot.... c'mon, just one more shot." I said it in a reacting voice just as if the bartender had just turned up the lights and yelled-out "Last call!" Hastily, I set up this timed exposure so that I could get into the picture too. I think it's one of my favorites.

As the Uber Cab honked for "last call", my camera nabbed this last shot.
The next morning, Andy and Suzen would return to Florida and I would return to Indiana a day or two later at the end of my planned stay. You know how I love using the swimming pools in camp.

I have lots more photos, but I couldn't post them all. There was too much to see, too much to show and lots more stuff that, by themselves, wouldn't tell any sort of story other than, "I was there and I had a great time." It was the only time I visited the Hard Rock Cafe and didn't have a burger.

Nashville is an interesting place with lots going on. Along Broadway, every bar has live music, but the entertainers play only for tips donated in a tin bucket, pickle jar or open cloth bag. There is never a cover charge and drinks aren't exorbitant .. all things considered. Moonshine, however, sells for $7.00/shot but it won't match the "good stuff" I've sampled elsewhere, but it was pretty good just the same. Our campground even sponsored a band of musicians to play for campers on Wednesday evenings - also for tips. Here's a little sample video. Bobby Troup, who wrote the song as a jazz number, would be pleased his music is still being appreciated - even in boogie-woogie style.

Update: Andy just sent me this photo from THIS year's visit to America. Seems he's growing a beard. Yeah, he'll fit right in here. Suzen was born in Speedway, Indiana - Home of the Indy 500.

Suzen and Andy visiting her folks in Florida - 2016.
I've never seen Andy happier. It must be love. Pretty girls do that to a guy.



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