Sunday, July 30, 2006

Nashville - Play Day #1

I am sticking around Nashville for a few extra days to relax and have fun and try to make a few plans for November. Originally, I intended to play some open mics, but we all know you can't play an open mic without a guitar. (It still just turns my stomach!)

I have a great hotel right on Music Row, near where we stayed for our honeymoon. It's not 'great' as in 'glamorous', but it is within walking distance of everywhere I want to go, they have a pool, and my favourite cafe is right across the street. I call that great.

This afternoon was all about resting. I said my goodbyes at the school, made some plans for tonight, and got a drive over here. I made long leisurely phone calls home. I watched TV and sprawled out on queen-size bed (no more dorm cots for me!).

Then I wandered over to the Lifeway Christian Store. Many of you will have been to your local Christian bookstore, including the lovely Mitchells in Toronto. Well, let me tell you - Lifeway is like the Walmart of Christian bookstores! It's just huge! Today was my second visit (first time on the honeymoon) and I haven't even made it into the book section yet. There are gifts and cards and Bibles and novels and even Christian gum. (seriously!) But for me, it's all about the music. In Toronto, there will be a small section of Southern Gospel and it will mostly be Gaither stuff. Here there are racks and racks of Southern Gospel, and tonnes of other Christian and gospel music as well. But really truly, the mission today was for backup tracks. Again, in TO, tracks make up a tiny section of any store, and they are primarily praise and worship songs. But here, because everyone performs with tracks, it's big business. My goal is to buy 10 tracks, which I figure will be a good start to planning an entire tracks-based concert. Today, I spent an hour listening to songs, finding arrangements and keys that suited my voice and my mission. I bought a few, but I didn't get through the whole section, so I am planning a second visit before leaving for home.

Tonight, I attended a concert at River of Life church. (Many of you will remember my River of Life experience from last year...) Each year, this church is host to an awesome week of free Fan-Fest concerts with some of the top Southern Gospel musicians around. Last year, I attended this same concert after school, and that's where I heard Mercy's Mark and Kirk Talley. I have since become a fan of both! Tonight's concert was incredible! I went with a family from school and we really had a terrific time.

The show opened with my songwriting teacher, Daryl Williams. He's the music director at the church, so he and his trio and the River of Life choir opened things with a great shout of praise. Later in the night, we had a set just with the trio, which was amazing! Great songs and great harmonies.

The show featured several family groups, and a fired up performance from the New Imperials. I saw them last year as well, and it was neat to see how much tighter they've gotten even over the past year. Powerful voices with a strong stage presence.

But the highlight of the night for me was Karen Peck and New River. I've been a fan of Karen's for a while now. Very late on Saturday night, they sometimes show old clips from the National Quartet Convention, and this is how I first heard of Karen Peck and New River. They are a mixed trio, of Karen, her sister, and a tenor. Their songs are great, and as a group, they are warm, funny, gentle, and highly engaging. But for me, Karen was the thrill. She's a soprano with a beautiful voice and incredible communication skills. It was a real masterclass on telling the story through song. I got the chance to meet her after, and it was just so great to be able to speak to her and tell her how much I'm inspired by her. She's a little more country than me, but we have the same vocal range, so I bought a few tracks. So exciting!!!

After the show, we all stayed out late finding some place to eat, talking, laughing, becoming friends.

Today wasn't really restful, but it was definitely relaxing and joyful. Getting up early for church tomorrow. Need to have a sleep-in day soon!

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