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Archive for April, 2011

WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.

What is ANNOYING me this week?

That it is cheaper to buy a new printer, than to buy two new ink cartridges for the old one. 

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A day of Poetry in July

LISTENING TO:

5 – J.J. Cale.

SOME OF MY DOINGS.

My blog heading plays upon the title of one of my favourite films Jazz on a Summer’s day, this movie documented the Newport Jazz Festival of 1958 and was ground breaking in its approach to filming concerts, its defining methods were used to produce the film of Woodstock in 1970. Whilst I can’t offer you the relaxed atmosphere of peace and leisure of Newport in the late 1950’s, last Thursday saw me attend a meeting in Nuneaton to discuss the Nuneaton’s Summer Day of Poetry which will take place on 2nd July.

I will be the Poet in Residence and will be wandering around the town throughout the day, observing, listening, tasting, smelling and touching and then turning all of this into poetry, which I will post on a live blog throughout the day. I am also planning to be tweeting and encouraging people to tweet lines of poetry to me which I will then use to create some collaborative poems.

I will be using all the tried and tested methods of eavesdropping, so marvellously developed and encouraged by Jo Bell and David Calcutt in the Bugged project. Listening in to other peoples conversations is now a legitimate artistic research thanks to Jo and David so if you are in town that day you may find your conversations being broadcast as a poem at the open mic.

On the day there will be poets reading and performing in the Market Place, by the George Eliot Statue, in the library and at Waterstones Bookshop followed by an open mic at the Crown Pub in the early evening.

There will also be book sales and poets from the Nine Arches Press. The event is being promoted byNuneatonand Bedworth Borough Council and is supported by Warwickshire County Arts, The Nine Arches Press, The George Eliot Fellowship, the Polesworth Poets Trail and Nuneaton Library.

It is also hoped that we will have some Minstrel Poets who for a donation will create poetry on the spot using a word provided by the donor. We are also looking for some action artists to draw images in response to the poetry, which is an interesting twist as poets normally respond to works of art.

The children will be given an opportunity to make one of my amazing Poetry Kites, whilst there will be opportunities for the less technically minded who are not aficionados of Twitter to write lines of poetry which will be built up into a town poem throughout the day.

The day will close with an open mic in the Crown Pub where poets can relax with some real ale at the Pints and Poets early doors.

The event will be raising money for the Mary Ann Evans Hospice, who are celebrating 20 years this year, through street collections and a JustGiving page.

The group that met on Thursday saw representatives from all the supporting organisations, who were all fired up with enthusiasm to bring poetry out onto the streets to new audiences.

So if you want to read or help out in any way then please contact me, if you can’t make it on the day then do follow the tweets and the blog and donate through the justgiving page. Details of which will be given nearer the day.

The Shindig in Leicester last Monday was a really well attended event and as I arrived a few minutes late I struggled to get a seat, which in my opinion is great as it shows that there is a real thirst for poetry inLeicester. The event was a collaborative evening between Crystal Clear Creators, who ran the first half and Nine Arches Press who ran the second half.

Gary Longden reviewed the evening and you can find his review at:

http://behindthearras.com/pubreviews.html#Shindig

Spoken Worlds on Friday moved to its new location at the Old Cottage Tavern and I’d like to thank Gary Longden for his great review at http://www.behindthearras.com/pubreviews.html#spoken2. It is much appreciated.

Last week also saw me talking to Deborah Hadfield about here forthcoming film Sweetest Love, the production progresses at a pace with further developments to the script and some wonderful time spent  on casting, from which she tells me to expect an exciting announcement in the near future.

Deborah has also agreed world wide distribution for the film through A1 Distribution which sees Chris Abbott come on board as one of the producers.

Producers Nick O’Hagan, James Young of Giant Films are also now on board.

You can keep up with Deborah’s progress through the film website and face book pages.

http://www.sweetestlovemovie.com/

Now to my list of lost poets, which you will notice is now on its own page with the blog links to each of the poets.

My lost poet this week is Langston Hughes (1902-1967) he was born in Joplin Missouri and raised by his Grandmother inKansas. He later moved toNew York where he was part of the Harlem Renaissance, which saw a racial pride focus on uplifting the voice of the Negro through intellect and the production of literature, art and music.

He is described on his page on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langston_Hughes as

“Hughes stressed a racial consciousness and cultural nationalism devoid of self-hate that united people of African descent and Africa across the globe and encouraged pride in their diverse black folk culture and black aesthetic.”

He was one of the few Black writers in his time, to promote racial consciousness as an inspiration for black writers and was to influence writers such as Jacques Roumain, Nicolás Guillén, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Aimé Césaire.

Patricia E Bonner describes Hughes poetry 

“Langston Hughes’ harmonious fusion of poetry and music produced an exciting and provocative new poetic style and art form that sang the blues and crackled with the fire of jazz”. The text holds weight with its fluent, comprehensive, and comprehensible language.”

Bonner continues by offering brief but crucial of blues and jazz, in order to give the reader a sense of why Langston Hughes was influenced by the music.

“The text succeeds in concentrating on the poetry rather than just on the music. ”

Also, Bonner delves into the impact jazz had on Hughes’s life, and not simply his writing, which effectively personalizes and explains his desire to fuse music and writing. The article provides essential background of the music, as well as shedding light on why the music influenced Hughes, culminating in the establishment of Hughes as the founder of the jazz poetry movement.”

 (From Bonner, Patricia E. (1990). Cryin’ the Jazzy Blues and Livin’ Blue Jazz. West Georgia College Review, 20, 15-29.)

What a wonderful description, poetry that “sang the blues and crackled with the fire of Jazz”, it is my love of the Blues and Jazz, which first introduced me to the works of Langston Hughes. His poetry exploring the world through the musical timings and cadence fused with words of solitude and anguish, to create the new form of Jazz poetry. It sings of Cotton Hollers, Bebop, Gospel, Jazz and the Delta Blues.

His first collection the Weary Blues published in 1926 includes “The Negro speaks of Rivers”, which he wrote in 1920 whilst on a journey toSt Louiswhen the train crossed theMississippi. Lines from this poem are inscribed on the granite wall of the Rivers of Tennessee Fountain in the Bicentennial Park in Nashville and for me are the only words on the wall that really mean anything.

COMING SOON DOINGS

Readings in May.

3rd May – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry

17th May – The Fizz 7 – Polesworth Abbey

20th May – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent

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WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.

What is ANNOYING me this week?

People who moan about the same old things but never do anything about them.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A wooden, elastic band powered car.

LISTENING TO:

Various versions of One Bourbon, One scotch, One beer.

My favourite is the John Lee Hooker version followed by the George Thorogood version.

I can’t think what the Glee version is like – maybe I’ll give that one a miss.

SOME OF MY DOINGS.

I am inspired by the Secret Writer’s, April Fools list of 40 things that she has never done before and wants to do before she reaches 41, you can see her progress on her blogspot.

http://secretwriter1.blogspot.com/

My list is to find 50 lost poets. Poets who were either popular once but have gone out of favour, or had a modicum of success in their day and have been somewhat under appreciated.

The first poet on my list is Michael Drayton (1563-1631) who is often eclipsed by his contemporaries, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and John Donne. If these four had been the Beatles then Michael Drayton would have been George Harrison. A very talented writer, who was overshadowed by the extra-ordinary talents of those around him. Though having said that, I would not want to say which of the other three would be Ringo Starr.

Drayton was born in Hartshill, Warwickshire, to a farming family, who were tenants of Sir Henry Goodere of Polesworth. It was Sir Henry who brought young Michael to Polesworth as a page and provided him with an education in the school room above the Abbey Gatehouse. Drayton developed his poetic skills in the company of thePolesworth Circle, which included Jonson and Donne, along with the architect Inigo Jones.

Drayton wrote his Ideas Mirror, a set of sonnets that declared his love for an unknown lady, who we now know to be his patron’s daughter Anne Goodere, his love was unrequited and Anne went on to marry another, but she remained friends with Michael and the other poets and they were often guests at her marital home in Clifford Chambers. See http://www.bartleby.com/214/1004.html for more details.

Ideas Mirror contains one of the poems that we have included on the Poets Trail, To the River Ancor, where Drayton confides in the river of his love for Anne and how she inspires him along with the forest Arden which he alludes to the Greek poets comparing it to the valley of Tempe and the river itself, which he considers his Helicon.

Another poem in the series is perhaps his best known “Since there is no help let us kiss and part”. The full collection can be read at http://www.luminarium.org/editions/idea.htm

Perhaps his other best known work is PolyOlbion, his description of the landscape ofEngland, which to me as poet who explores landscapes is a treasure of descriptive, historical verses that allow us to compare the landscape four hundred years ago with our landscape today. PolyOlbion, Many Albions or Many Englands is a concept that still hold true today with the many diverse cultures and traditions that make up our country. Along with the development of the land, through the industrial revolution and now the industry has waned, the re-generation of the natural environment as we have seen at Pooley. I wonder how much of the landscape Drayton would recognise if he were to wander around Polesworth today.

PolyOlbion was written using Dr Philemon Holland’s translation ofCamden’s Britannia, as it clearly follows the same structure asCamden’s work.  Dr Holland lived and practiced inCoventryand it is most likely that Drayton had access to his translation. More recently Paul Farley revisited PolyOlbion with his Electric PolyOlbion for the BBC.

A reprint of Polyolbion in three parts is available from Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Works-Michael-Drayton-Collected/dp/1402165617/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303126921&sr=8-1

The Leicester poet Matt Merritt is also a promoter of all things Draytonian and has his PolyOlbion blogspot at http://polyolbion.blogspot.com/

Matt will be the guest poet at the Fizz in July.

The classroom where Drayton was taught is now part of the development of the holiday lets at Polesworth Abbey Gatehouse.

http://www.vivat-trust.org/properties.php?pid=102

I admire Drayton, most of all for following his own path, writing on subjects that interested him, his language and style maybe of his day, but it is never-the-less engaging. The cottage where he was born is no longer there and his classroom is now a lounge come dining room. However the fireplace in front of which he wrote Idea’s mirror is still there and this is now our Tempe as poets place their hands upon it before reading at the Fizz.

My list of lost poets is included after my Coming Soon Doings, watch it as it grows.

Last week saw me reading through the submitted poems and making my selections, which will be discussed with the other judges before the final selection is made. This has been a particularly hard task as there are so many great poems.

I am meeting over Easter with the other main judge to decide our final selections to be presented to the group for confirmation. Then the work can begin with the interpretations into the installations, in time for them to be installed in early July.

It was good to see some sunshine this weekend, let’s hope it lasts. After Easter I will be working with two poets to make films of their poems, one a suspense filled montage that will be filmed at night, the other retracing a walk to meet a love, with a twist at the end.

Tonight sees me at the Shindig in Leicester and Thursday at a meeting to discuss Nuneaton’s Summer Day of Poetry – followed by Spoken Worlds at its new location The Old Cottage Inn –Burton-upon-Trent. 

COMING SOON DOINGS

Just a couple of readings in April.

18th April – Shindig Leicester – The Western, Western Ave, Leicester. – 7:30pm

22nd April – Spoken Worlds – The Old Cottage Inn – Burton-on-Trent. – 7:30pm

List of Lost Poets.

1. Michael Drayton – See Blog 18th April 2011.

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WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.

What is ANNOYING me this week?

Nothing much

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A poem by a youngster from Worcestershire.

Come to the Fizz in May if you want to hear it.

LISTENING TO:

Chris Casello Trio – another band I saw at Robert’s Western World, Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee.

http://www.chriscasello.com/store.html

SOME OF MY DOINGS.

So the dust of Memphis and Nashville has settled and the weather in the UK over the last weekend saw a great improvement from when I left for the USA and is considerably less dangerous than the Nashville tornados.

Friday saw the deadline for the poetry trail poets to make their submissions and by the end of the day I had received 56 poems from 16 of the poets who attended the workshops. There is some excellent poetry that has been generated as a result of the workshops, the speakers and just standing out in the landscape breathing it all in.

I am grateful to the poets for their enthusiasm and passion to research the themes, which saw individuals visiting Pooley outside of the workshops to get a more personal view and one poet partaking in a one of the weekly Coffee and Gossip sessions held with many of the ex-miners wives and daughters.

The hard job of selecting the poems for the trail has now started, with so many considerations already guiding the task, such as the poets can only have one poem on the trail, many have written several that are worthy of a place. Also some themes only warrant one poem on the trail but there are many poems that cover that theme.

It is however real pleasure to go through the poems and if I could include them all then I would. I am now thinking more seriously about producing an anthology to include not only the selected poems but also the best of the rest, there have been too many excellent poems produced to lose them.

Saturday saw a family barbeque followed by Sunday Lunch with my Sister for her birthday. Sunday afternoon was spent in the studio with Jimi, creating guitar loops that he can use in his sound vistas for our future films.

As a guitar player I was never very good and was mainly tolerated as rhythm guitar player in the bands, Apollo, High Mileage and Strange Beings back in the 70’s due to my ability to write lyrics. I can however knock out the odd original riff, which Jimi can use with some percussion and synth sounds to get something really decent.

After about two hours my fingers ached and we had around 56 tracks which Jimi can break down into considerably more loops. But we did not finish there, we moved into avant-garde music or sound effects depending on how Jimi uses them. This involved messing around with a bottleneck on the guitar strings that had been put through a fuzz pedal (that takes me back), which gave some really strange but pleasing sounds.

We also played around with an idea that I picked up from Brad the tour guide at Sun Studios in Memphis, which involved weaving a dollar bill between the strings of the guitar and then strumming a rhythm to get a percussive sound, this worked really well, especially with the fuzz pedal cranked up to full gain and sustain.

This is how they got the drum sound for Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues according to Brad, who then went on to demonstrate it.

I haven’t had a guitar session like this in nearly 30 years and it was so good to get back to it and I look forward to what Jimi does with loops on our future projects.

Jimi’s blog can be found at http://hydranoidmusia.wordpress.com/

Congratulations to a good friend of mine and fellow poet. Antony Owen from Coventry has just had his second collection of poems published.

Antony’s new collection of war poems follows in the traditions of the previous generations of war poets, entitled The Dreaded Boy, it is published by Pighog Press.

I have heard him read most of this collection as he has developed it over the last eighteen months. The poems challenge the reader to go to places that they do not want to go, but really need to go, to understand the reality of modern warfare. They draw their inspiration from the Afghan and Iraq wars; Antony has spoken at length to soldiers and their families about the impact of these conflicts

This collection is an informed often challenging set of poems that when Antony reads them, he delivers with a calm, peaceful tone, it allows the listener to take in the horrific violence and fear without shying away from it.  

I think they should be read in the same way, taking time to engage with these forthright verses that have at the same time a sensitivity that only comes from a poet who cares about his subject.

Antony will be reading from The Dreaded Boy as the guest poet at the Fizz in September, in the meantime you can get copies from:

http://www.pighog.co.uk/authors/Antony-Owen.html

Last night saw me attend the ArtSwitch Networking event in Tamworth. ArtSwitch is Tamworth Borough Council’s arts initiative which aims to bring artists from all mediums together, from musicians, to dancers, to theatre and film, with poets and writers, fine artists and photographers and to look at how their skills can be used to develop community arts projects as well as making contacts for personal projects.

It was a really useful meeting and I met several people who are working on some really interesting projects.

The Shoebox Theatre develops new plays through youth projects and has now moved into Film.

There are a few music projects, which offer both technical expertise in studio crafts and the chance for people to make their first CD.

I was really inspired by the creativity that is going on, in and around Tamworth and I hope that as a poet and film maker I can help some of these projects and share my skills.

There are some interesting events that are coming up.

Barry Hunt, who was one of the poets who attended my Pooley workshops, is running a Master Class in Song Writing. Here is a link to Barry’s website

http://www.barryhunt.co.uk/452.html

Student Films are being shown at the Inspire Film Festival in June.

http://www.inspirefilmfestival.org/Inspirefilmfestival/Home.html

There are also family events built around heritage in the Castle Grounds.

If you are involved in the Arts in the Tamworth area then you can find out more about ArtSwitch here:

http://www.tamworth.gov.uk/leisure_and_tourism/arts_and_entertainment/arts_development/artswitch.aspx

COMING SOON DOINGS

Just a couple of readings in April.

18th April – Shindig Leicester – The Western, Western Ave, Leicester. – 7:30pm

22nd April – Spoken Worlds – The Old Cottage Inn – Burton-on-Trent. – 7:30pm

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WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.

What is ANNOYING me this week?

Hanging around airports

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Beale Street – Memphis.

LISTENING TO:

The Stacy Mitchhart Band – Live at BB Kings.

SOME OF MY DOINGS.

Since my last blog I have been to Tennessee and back. We went on the Elvis and the Southern Sounds tour organised through Arches Direct. Now I must say from the start the thought of an organised tour did not fill me with delight, but as this was booked at the last minute and had to be fitted in with the poetry trail commitments, then this was the best option. I am happy to say that  I am a convert to these organised trips. It was a hectic schedule of Memphis and Nashville, but all the worry and hassle was taken away from us, we just had to make sure that we got on the coach at the right time. Patrick Neilson, our tour guide, took the strain, kept us amused and informed without giving us an information overload, after all we were on holiday.

The trip started in Memphis, home of the Blues, Rock and Roll and Elvis. We stayed at the Heartbreak
Hotel on Lonely Street, the hotel was a little faded but comfortable and more than adequate for our needs. Day one started with a tour of Memphis, with our tour guide Dee who at times was a little confused, I suspect she was more interested in getting her Elvis story across, everyone has an Elvis story. But we took in the Levitt Shell where Elvis first performed, His school – Hume High School and also the Lorraine Motel, now the Civil Rights Museum where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was killed on 4th April 1968.

Scene of Elvis' first gig

Across the street is a lone protestor Jackie Smith, who for the last 23 years has protested against the Motel being used as a civil rights museum, she was the last resident when it closed and holds a belief that the Civil Rights museum as a tourist attraction would be better utilised as public housing. Whether you agree with Jackie or not, her protest does make you question why the museum is there and if it is for me “the tourist” then I should ensure I go away with an understanding of the message it wants to convey and that goes for all museums, if I am not prepared to engage with exhibits to gain the understand then it may as well be public housing. Perhaps because she is there, then her protest is self defeating, she makes us consider the museum more and then take away the understanding, which on the scale of tourism has potentially a greater value, than it would serve as public housing for a few people. But it was only because she is there that made me think of that way.

Jackie Smith - Provokes thought.

We next visited the Rock n Soul Museum, where to a guitar lover there are some fantastic artefacts, not just guitars owned by stars such as BB King, Howlin Wolf and others, but guitars that were wonderful examples of their time and showed the development of the electric guitar. There was a great display of how Sun Studios (more on that later) and Stax records developed. Stax being the great Soul label, where musicians of all races stood side to side and played; the music that resulted was in the soul of everyone.

The afternoon was spent at Graceland, the famous home of Elvis Presley, which he bought in 1957 for $100,000 and where he died twenty years later. I am not a big fan of Elvis’ music; I always preferred singers and musicians who write their own material. I am however now a bigger fan of Elvis the man. His home is not as big as you imagine and is decorated in the main as a homely, comfortable place to live. His extravagances are in his TV room, the Pool room and the Jungle room, but these were his dens where he relaxed, so why not. He was a great philanthropist both to social groups and individuals. Everyone has an Elvis story because he spent so much time with ordinary people; he always found time for everyone. This came across as genuine and not a manufactured branding to encourage the tourists.

The Branding came in the gift shops, where they put his face on everything from Notebooks, to ashtrays, to jackets, to pens to bottles of water. It is obvious who is “Taking Care of Business” now.

The evening was spent on Beale St, where else would any Blues fan want to go, we had dinner and then caught the set by Memphis Bluesman David Bowen.

The next day was an early start as we headed into Mississippi to Tupelo where Elvis was born in a humble two room wooden shack that his father built.

This in my opinion was one of the best tourist experiences that I have ever seen. Care had been taken to show how Elvis lived for the first thirteen years of his life, before the family moved to Memphis. The two small rooms, where he learnt to crawl, walk and talk are furnished with examples of period furniture, donated by local people as the originals have been long lost, but it was laid out as the Presley’s had it, as Elvis’ father Vernon, had been consulted on what should be where.

Just over three years ago they moved the chapel that the Presley family attended, from its site a little further down the road on to the birthplace site. They have renovated it and now show a 15 minute film of how a service would have been conducted in the chapel in Elvis’ day. I would encourage anyone who is thinking of making a tourist experience film to invest in a trip to see this film. It is shown using three screens, one at the front and one either side. The screen at the front shows the service, whilst the side screens show the congregation. The surround sound system draws you into s that you are in the middle surrounded on three sides with images and sound that makes you part of the experience. You are not an observer of a re-enactment that happened 70 years ago, that means nothing to you. You are a participant, invited into the fold of this small community church, for a few minutes maybe, but never-the-less, it gives you a real memory to take away.

In the afternoon we returned to Memphis for a tour of the Sun Studios, where Elvis cut his first record, and greats such as Johnny Cash also started their careers. Sun Studios was a small unassuming building in its day, now it has a large cream Gibson Les Paul hanging above the door and large Sun Studio mural painted on the side wall. Inside there is a small front office and behind this the studio and the control room. Simply laid out, a DIY build with angled acoustic tiles, painted white. The studio now has images of the singers who have recorded there.

Sun Studio's - No longer unassuming.

Some people have an idea that a studio is some sort of glamorous well furnished place where the stars go to record. But this too me was exactly what I thought a studio should look like, this was the office, the factory, to get the right sound only the necessary items needed to be there. Whilst they had marked the spot where Elvis stood when he started to mess around with the song, “It’s alright Momma” and they had the microphone he used, which they assured all the Elvis fans amongst the group did not have any of Elvis’ DNA on it or in it, for me, I wanted to know where BB King and Bono stood when they recorded “When love comes to town.”

Day three saw the move from Memphis to Nashville, home of country music. We arrived in Nashville around 3:00pm and were back on the coach to the Grand Old Opry by 5:30.

The Grand Old Opry is the country music showcase radio show and now TV show, which has been running since 1925. It is now broadcast from its own purpose built theatre in Music Valley. It has a standard format of four 30 minute parts, each part sponsored by a different company, each part having its own presenter. Because it is broadcast live, it has to run to time and is a slick operation when it comes to putting on a show.

I enjoyed the show, not so much for the music, which had a mix of country, hillbilly, bluegrass and Shetland Isle folk music; yes I did say folk music from the Shetland Isles. Country music is not my type of music, I just do not get it, but it was good to experience it in the company of those that do get it. It is a great family show, with whole families getting into the whole show, even the kids joining in with their enthusiasm for whooping and hollering.

Like English folk music, which I do get, there are families with many generations in country music, when we toured the Country Music Hall of Fame; there was a great display on Hank Williams’ family, now into its third generation of country singers. It brought to mind the Waterson Carthy families in English folk music. I have always admired this building on traditions through families; there is something really good in that.

Day Four saw us start with a tour of RCA Victor’s Studio B, this was where Elvis recorded over 200 songs after his contract was sold by Sun to RCA. Like the Sun studio this was another unassuming building, surrounded by equally unassuming buildings, all recording studios. Studio B with it’s pale green stucco walls is highlighted by two large plastic guitars at either side of the building, like quotation marks, it almost goes T’da here I am.

It was here that we had more freedom to explore and could get into the control room and talk to the sound engineer. This studio is now longer used as a full time studio, so why would they have a real engineer there, why not just let us see the control desk with its knobs and slides, its channels and tracks and let us move them about, have out photos taken pretending we know what we are doing. So why the engineer, because we as a group got to record a version of “Can’t help falling in love” which will be number one in our house at Christmas but not available in stores or on the internet, what a treat you are all missing.

Looking like I know what I am doing.

The day followed on with a tour of Nashville and an evening of Dinner and Country music at the Nashville Night Life Dinner Theatre – which if you have ever been to a Social Club in the UK on a Saturday Night – you will get a picture of what it was like.

Our Last day was a free day and brings the reason for the heading of this blog post. There was talk of storms coming in, but the tour guide seemed to think it would be OK, it was a storm warning and they had them all the time. By lunch time we were heading downtown to find some food, it was raining lightly and we made a pace to get to the Big River Brewery pub. As we passed the Bridgestone Ice Hockey arena, a siren began to sound and as it pulsed other sounds disappeared, a silence fell between the pulses. We had no idea what this meant, but it did not sound good. We continued on to the Big River pub and just made it inside when the winds blasted through and the rains came. We were just glad that we had made it inside and were not getting drenched in this down pour.

The bar was fairly empty but those that were there were watching a TV screen, the channel completely taken over on Storm Watching and those that were in the bar were obviously agitated by what they were seeing as they watched the weather map with its black, yellow and red patches as they drifted through central Tennessee and were now overhead Nashville downtown was covered in a patch of red.

The rain poured down and was so heavy it almost drowned out the lightening flashes; it was only the thunder claps that seemed to slap the top of the building that indicated a flash had occurred. Still we watched not really knowing what was going on and still not overly concerned, we were in the dry and it would pass over.

After ten minutes, I realised that it was more serious than this and that I did not know what was going on, how to read the map, where we should move to if it became unsafe. A guy at the bar was watching the storm maps both on the TV and on his mobile phone. It turned out he was from Kansas and was used to this type of storm, although it was a little early in the season, so was taken a little by surprise at the ferociousness of it.

He told me that the yellow and red areas were the storm and the front edge of the storm was known as the squall, this was heading south east into the black area of the map, where you had to watch in case the squall split and started to turn, this would become a tornado.

Storm Tracking

If that happened then we were to head to the bathroom as there was no glass in there, they were built that way for precisely this reason.

So now I knew and watched with an equal anxiety until the storm passed over, until the map turned to green and we were left with a little light rain.

It was later in the hotel, when the news reports came in that showed that around Nashville, four funnels had formed, three of which had touched down, these had been bouncing tornados, they didn’t drive themselves along the ground ripping out everything in their path, but bounced between ground touch down to ground touch down, most of the time touching in fields but occasionally ripping out trees and the roofs of houses.

Then came the footage, taken by a film crew from a car, which had been forced to stop just around the corner from the Big River pub. Here we saw the Newspaper vending cabinets, heavy metal boxes flying through the street, hitting the cars, and then floating off as the rain water sought out a place to drain. The car rocked leaving the camera man unsteady, as people caught on the streets fled into doorways. No sooner had it started and it was gone, the red and yellow passed on to the next district, leaving debris on the street, which was cleaned up as soon as it was safe to do so.

By the evening there was still a light shower and the odd rumble of thunder as we headed downtown to BB Kings Blues club, the crowd was not as big as it could have been, but we still finished off the holiday with a live band The Stacy Mitchhart Band, whose sound was reminiscent of Van Morrison or the Commitments. Here was a bluesman in a country music town, this was a good way to leave with The Blues.  

A great night out before heading home.

COMING SOON DOINGS

Just a couple of readings in April.

22nd April – Spoken Worlds – The Old Cottage Inn – Burton-on-Trent. – 7:30pm

18th April – Shindig Leicester – The Western, Western Ave, Leicester. – 7:30pm 

Some Links to some of the places mentioned in this weeks blog.

Archers Direct – Elvis and the Southern Sounds Tour

http://www.archersdirect.co.uk/product-detail/496/19/0

MEMPHIS.

Heartbreak Hotel

http://www.elvis.com/graceland/heartbreak_hotel.aspx

Graceland

http://www.elvis.com/graceland/

Rock n Soul Museum – Memphis

http://www.memphisrocknsoul.org/

Sun Studios

http://www.sunstudio.com/

Beale St.

http://www.bealestreet.com/wordpress/

Tupelo – Mississippi

http://www.tupelo.net/things/detail.aspx?cat=1&id=15

NASHVILLE

Grand Old Opry

http://www.opry.com/

Country Music Hall of Fame and Studio B.

http://countrymusichalloffame.org/

The Big River Pub

http://www.bigrivergrille.com/index.php?pg=location&sub=loc&location_id=22

BB Kings Blues Club – Nashville.

http://www.bbkingclubs.com/index.php?page=nashhome

Nashville Night Life Dinner Theatre

http://www.nashvillenightlife.com/

Stacy Mitchhart Band

http://www.stacymitchhart.com/default.aspx?6

 

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