That’s correct folks before I even attempt to delve into this immensely huge ordeal going on down here I want to say that last night we hammered attendance for the bar and drank them completely out of PBR before Hillbilly Casino even got done playing. The first night all of the music took place at the Nashville Palace and both bars were going strong all night, the first night took place in the back bar. I got to town about 11am and went out and visited graves all over Nashville and left flowers on Paycheck and Jones. I also visited Marty Robbins and Tammy Wynette.
There is SO MUCH going on at once and it’s all SO HUGE you just cannot take it all in at once. I met up with some old friends from Muddy Roots field life Cracker Nix and his family he runs Cracker Swamp Productions and Aaron and Devilyn Carver whom do various projects in the Michigan area. We went out shopping at various record shops and antique stores before I went over to the Palace for a meal and the music. I also stopped at Cracker Barrel for the Live Waylon Jennings album that I will be writing about in a future article.
It all started with swing dance lessons and there was indeed a good sized group of people involved, learning how to dance some very wild dances. I’ve never been a really big dancer myself but I really enjoyed watching them while I was getting set up for the first act of the festival which I’ll go into. Every Wends you can catch then first act of this festival Nathan Belt And The Buckles.
He opened his set with all kinds of rocking upbeat tunes like “Good Rock’n Tonight” and “Honey Don’t”. You are always going to have covers and that’s not a bad thing in ANY WAY, in fact I am on day 2 as I write this and I have heard about 50 covers already from some GREAT bands. The first one of the night was from Lefty Frizzell and the song was “always Late”. He did a wonderful job on that song for sure and I enjoyed his original song he followed up with called “400 miles to Heaven”.
They then began a barrage of upbeat cover songs including “My heart skips a beat’ and “Crying Time” both made popular by Buck Owens in the early 60’s, and “Oh Boy” from Buddy Holly And The Crickets. He did an original song called “Misery” and I plan to run down to the Palace one night and get his album and I’ll do an artist feature on him soon. He played ‘Be Bop A Lula” and a Carl Perkins song called “Matchbox” which was recorded in 1956 on Sun Records, now that was indeed a great tune and he did it well.
After another Buck Owens song he played an Elvis song ‘That’s Alright” and I learn new things every time I do this. I learned the B Side to that song was ‘Blue Moon Over Kentucky” which was originally a Bill Monroe song from I believe 1946. His last two songs were “Sweet Dreams Baby’ and “Four Letter Words”.
At this point I was really impressed with how efficiently everything was run, and the sound was GREAT. I had trouble hearing Lucky Tubb and I really didn’t get a good list on him but we shall delve into that later. I’m on day 2 right now, writing in the lobby and waiting for the ballroom doors to open for the huge main show. I MUST SAY that Mr. Jason outdid himself beyond my expectations here, I mean I cannot describe the events all going on at once. More on that in my day 2 of this job.
Rockabilly Hall of Fame member Billy Harlan is a Legend in his own right. I learned a lot about him this weekend. He is from not far from where I live, he’s from Muhlenberg county Kentucky and has contributed to Country Music along with Rockabilly and others. In 1955 he began to work for Hawkshaw Hawkins and Jean Shepard, penning the hit song “My Fate Is In Your Hands” that Hawkins cut in 1956. He played that song third in his set last night, the first song he played was “I Wanna Bop”. That song was recorded in 1958 by him. His second song was “Teen Jean Jive”, and that sounded just as good as the old records. He put me to mind of Ray Price in that his age and time have NOT altered his voice or musicianship.
He has a history of playing in bands for Ray Price and Jerry Reed as well as many others. It’s amazing how much Rockabilly fits into Country Music and is a pillar of it’s overall foundation. All of these Legends have played and wrote for the Legends of Country Music in some form.
His next song was called “I Ain’t Elvis” and it was followed by one of my favorite John Prine songs that several people played this weekend called “Mulhenberg Country” which was from his first album. In fact The Everly Brothers were from this area of Kentucky which is why he played “Bye Bye Love” next, which was from 1957 and it was wrote by Felice Bryant whom also wrote “Rocky Top” and “We Could” for Kitty Wells. So it all fits together like a big puzzle, see? You already see the relevance and roots of Rockabilly Music has on Country Music. He closed his set with a song called “This lonely man” which was an original. This Kentucky county had a huge relevance and impact on all kinds of music as it also brought forth the Legendary songwriter Merle Travis who was famous for writing “Sixteen Tons”.
After his stellar set which was probably one of my top 5 picks of the whole festival they had some square dancing lessons from The Hog Slop String Band. At this time I spent some time buying shirts and visiting with people..SO MANY people I haven’t seen in ages. At first thought I had an idea that the people that came to the first part of the festival which you could attend for a separate price would not attend the whole festival..but I was wrong. Attendance from what I could see was over what I expected for a first year of any festival I have ever witnessed. I have been a long time patron of Muddy Roots Music Festivals and this was a very different setting in positive and negative ways. There were some things I did not like that happened during the festival but It’s o.k.