In the weeks approaching the trip Bill Miller, from the official website, had made arrangements for a special price at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Nashville. It would be good that so many people from the forum would be staying in one place. Each day seemed to get better as plans were then announced for a party at the hotel after the Memorial Show. Just a few days before I was due to leave the really exciting news came through that members of Johnny Cash’s band would be playing at the party! Andy Novak would be playing lead guitar and handling the vocals with Cash band members Earl Poole Ball, W. S. ‘Fluke’ Holland and Dave Roe backing him.
Leaving Gatwick Airport on Friday 7 November I arrived in Nashville and my hotel early in the evening. A bite to eat, a drink and an early night prepared me for the busy time ahead.
On the Saturday I paid a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and took the opportunity to visit the world famous RCA Studio B, where Elvis recorded many of his hits. I had been there with Carole back in 1998 but it was fun to go again.
I also had the opportunity to meet up with Lou Robin and his lovely wife Karen for about half an hour at his hotel. It was the first time I had met Lou although we had spoken on the phone many times. They were both so friendly and complementary about my work. Lou gave me my ticket for the Memorial Show to save having to sort it out on the night.
Sunday evening I at last met up with Bill and Shannon Miller. Along with other forum members we sat around and chatted till late in the evening. It was a pleasant surprise when Kathy Cash joined us and spent time chatting to us all.
On Monday morning I was booked into the Country Music Hall of Fame Library and managed to find loads of information about John that I used in future issues of the fanzine and in my updated book. I also spent time researching for my book on Linda Ronstadt which has since been published in ebook format.
Before the Memorial Show I had the opportunity to attend the Press Call held at Tootsies, a bar in Nashville, and also the Sony Music Party. It was there that I had the opportunity to meet and talk to Rosanne, Kathy, John Carter, Reba Hancock, Amy Willis from Sony Music and also Jimmy Tittle. They all made me feel so welcome and I thank them all. I enjoy the work I do on the Fanzine and realised how much the family appeciated it when Reba came over, hugged me and thanked me for all the work I do in keeping John’s music alive. It was at the party that the family were presented with a special plaque commemorating the event.
These were just a few of the other great performances - Ain’t No Grave (Fisk Jubilee Singers), Understand Your Man (Rodney Crowell), What Is Truth (Kid Rock), Guess Things Happen That Way (Cowboy Jack Clement), Rock Island Line (Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives), Hurt (Sheryl Crow), The Rebel -Johnny Yuma (Johnny Western), Tennessee Flat Top Box (Rosanne Cash), There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang (Kid Rock and Hank Williams Jr.), If I Were A Carpenter (Willie Nelson & Sheryl Crow), Sunday Morning Coming Down (Kris Kristofferson) and See You Again (Jimmy Tittle & Sheryl Crow).
By the time I made it back to the hotel the party was well underway with the band really rockin’. Although I missed some of the songs I still caught performances by Andy Novak, his 12-year old daughter who sang Tennessee Flat Top Box, Johnny Counterfit, who had the audience in stitches with his impersonations and Earl Poole-Ball. All the band took time out to chat and have their photos taken.
When I returned to my room there was one more surprise waiting. I had a telephone message to say that if I went to the offices of MCA Records in Music Row they would have an advance copy of the Unearthed box set for me. This was organised by Lou Robin and I was so grateful. It was a fantastic end to a wonderful day.
Before Calling it a day (or night) I gave Carole a call to tell her how the trip was going. I was quite upset that she hadn’t been able to make the trip as it would have been so much better sharing the whole experience with her.
On Tuesday Mike Horan gave me a lift out to Music Row where I picked up my copy of Unearthed and then and dropped me off in Music Valley where I spent the afternoon shopping and visiting the Opryland Hotel, where Carole and I stayed during our 1998 trip.
Wednesday came round too quick and it was time to leave. I said my goodbyes to the forum members and also Bill and Shannon and left for the airport. I had a long flight ahead and was glad to get home but I will never forget my trip, the kindness shown to me and all the new friends I made. Thank you everybody.
There were so many people who made trip to Nashville such an enjoyable and unforgettable experience and I apologise for anybody who I may have left out: Lou & Karen Robin, Bill & Shannon Miller, Jim Pearson, Missy Pearson, Mike and Mary Ann Horan, Andy Novak, Kathy Cash, Rosanne Cash, John Carter Cash, Jimmy Tittle, Reba Hancock, Earl Poole Ball, W. S. Holland, Burl Boykin, Amy Willis (Sony Music), Sarah Brosmer (MCA/Lost Highway). Also the forum members Pat, Kelli, Birgit, Brandon & Christy, Bill, Jason, Debbie, John, Susan, Tom, Kay, Dan H, Nancie, Dan S, Tony, Matthew, Michael, Ernie.
Last but certainly not least my wife Carole.