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Nashville Cats

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I have never been to Nashville….or Memphis…..or Austin.  3 heinous crimes for a person who likes music as much as I do. So I have to say I was a little excited about knowing we’d hit 2 of the 3 on this trip. As we crossed the Cumberland River I knew it was going to be all right. As has happened before on this trip we arrived in town right when we were able to check in at the hotel…so we did.  A little nap and we were ready for some ‘Q and the visit with our cousin, Meg.

We drove past Vanderbuilt University (yes, where Jay Cutler attended) and visited with meg for a few before we ventured out on a pleasant half hour ride through rolling countryside on our way to the evening’s BBQ joint, Martin’s (Martin’s BBQ Joint!).  We drove through some pretty ritzy areas…in S by SE Nashville.  Huge homes…all new.  Meg came to Nashville to work as a radio/music engineer and spent time in Reba McIntyre’s studio. Her friend is the personal assistant of Kimberly Williams…Brad Paisley’s wife. Alas, our closest touch with fame in Nashville.

Martin’s was out in Nolensville…and an odd little place it was.  We walked in and certainly didn’t know how it works…no one said a greeter, no host/ess.  Kinda busy even though we were there at 7:40p. We waited till we felt awkward and while Meg and I found a table, Rog (of course) ventured up to the “window” to inquire how we get served.  It turns out you look uo at the menu on the wall, make your choice…tell them behind the counter…go sit down and they bring it to you. So we did that…covering the menu with our choices.

Meg chose the unusual item…Beef Brisket Redneck Taco…and it was pretty awesome.  It looked like it was beef brisket on top of a cornbread “pancake” with cole slaw on top. She said it was delicious.  Rog had the “Big Un” pulled pork and I had the beef brisket.  Of course we had a half slab of ribs to share.



…and of course no trip to Nolensville would be complete without a bathroom poster to post:


All in all we agreed Martin’s BBQ Joint was one of the best we had been to….so far.


And now, for the evening’s entertainment…off to, “NashVegas”…as Meg called it. It’s “The Strip” in Nashville, Broadway St.  I’ll say this…we were in Nashville on a Thursday night and Broadway was jumpin’!


We made our way down Broadway to the river…where Meg told us about the nasty flood they had there 2 years ago.  It was amazing to hear just how high the flood waters made it to. Along the way we managed to stop at Michael’s for ice cream where this charming sign was near the cash register:


Meg told us about the famous honky tonk, Tootsie’s, and how packed it was and that we would have just as good a time at Robert’s, so off to Robert’s we went:


We stayed for 2 songs (hey….now, now)…by a band doing covers and they ended with a 10 minutue version of the Allman Bros’, “Ramblin’ Man”.  I was quite happy!  Good choice, Meg!!

That pretty much concluded (except for parking right in front of the Ryman Auditorium!) our tour and I’m very grateful we had a local guide.  Thank you so much Meg!

Seems like we avoided huge crowds everywhere we went…e.g., the Nashville Predators are in the 2nd round of the NHL playoffs and they were out of town that night.  Luck us.

On to Memphis….




Louisville or Bust

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ImageBust.  That’s the gist of it.  We rolled into Louisville on Derby weekend (how smart is that?) but went straight to our intended destination: The Smokehouse BBQ.  An unassuming exterior led to an unassuming interior.  Our waitress was pleasant and relatively efficient.  Rog and I were somewhat excited about the BBQ prospects because there were 6 different BBQ sauces on the table.  W e did what we had come to do…we ordered different things so we could try a variety of products.  he had the brisket and I had the pulled pork.




 It was OK.  That’s it.  We are now official BBQ snobs…because this BBQ was…OK. The big disappointment was the mac n cheese.  Looked and tasted like it came out of a box, really.  Score = 0.  OK, the sauces….Rog said, “How can 6 sauces be bad?”. I don’t know but they were mediocre at best.  So we quietly left Louisville knowing our next stop would be Nashville… where we’d see our cousin…and all the Nashville sights.

The BBQ Tour 2012

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OK, so it’s not All About Music this time…but it’s coming. We ARE going to Nashville and Memphis eventually.

Right…so my older brother, Roger and I decided to take a gastronomical tour of a few prominent eateries as outlined in the hugely popular show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Our trip would commence and finish in Chicago with stops in West Lafayette, Indiana, Mooresville, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky and both Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. It is to take 5 days.  So far we’ve been to 3 places and I am sitting very happily in a hotel in Plainfield, Indiana…attempting to sit up straight while I type.

Day one was a night.  My brother Dan joined Rog and me for a wonderful BBQ meal at Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe in Burbank, Illinois (of all places!).  It was outstanding.  And as has happened a couple times since, it is the table visit by the restaurant owner that sealed the deal on the quality of the locale.  As for the food I had the Ribs and Brisket combo and we shared a jalapeno cornbread among us.  The meat (both pork and beef) was uniformly tender but I have to say, i really liked the sauce.  It was spicy, just the way I liked it.

Rog thought the brisket was “Special” and he’s thrilled Chuck’s is so close to his house!Image


Day 2 brought a pleasant drive south (yes, that John Hiatt reference was for you, Lisa) into the college town of West Lafayette, Indiana….home of the Purdue Bilermakers and the school of choice by my friends Drew and Lori, but also both my uncles and grandfather. Rog and I almost missed restaurant…”Triple XXX” as you could argue it doesn’t look like one.  But it is a “cash only” diner known for having breakfast all day, homemade root beer and a burger I had with peanut butter on it.  Unique. I had the root beer (excellent) and Rog had a chocolate malt.  A fun place…probably even more fun after a rough night in college.Image


The afternoon was spent continuing south to our hotel in Plainfield, Indiana and the much-anticipated night venture into Mooresville for Zydeco’s…a Cajun restaurant in a place you wouldn’t expect.  Rog and I had such a good time.  The owner, Deb, was fantastic!  Chatty, witty and fun.  The food was authentic New Orleans.  We really enjoyed the combo gumbo and jambalaya…spicy and delicious.  Rog had an unusual corn chowder called Crawfish Maque Choux…and it was nearly the best of the lot!  Great time, interesting decor…a real N’awlins place!




OK….more to come…tomorrow, cuz we;ll be in Louisville….at Smokehouse BBQ!

April 20, 2012 – Coffeehouse at All Saints

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UPDATE: April 20, 2012 – Coffeehouse at All Saints 1.

Sunday, April 15, 7:00 p.m., University Chorale and Choral Union: Fauré, Britten, Bach, Tompkins | MSU College of Music

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Sunday, April 15, 7:00 p.m., University Chorale and Choral Union: Fauré, Britten, Bach, Tompkins | MSU College of Music.

Les Miserables

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A dark and compacted version of this magnificent production finished at the Wharton Center on Sunday. The voices were splendid. For the 5th time I was moved and changed by this “best of all musicals”.

October Offers Variety

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October 1 provided the “every other year” fundraiser for the MSU Choral Society, a board I have been on and off of for years.  It is a fun night for all.  It always includes the best entertainment from the Choral Conducting grad students….who are so very talented, even when they are NOT conducting!  They sang, played piano and generally entertained us all night. The raffle and silent auction were also very successful.  Many thanks to David Rayl, Director of Choral Activities at Michigan State University for his support of the “Cabaret”


Jersey Boys at The Wharton Center

October 2 Nicky and I finally saw Jersey Boys.  The reason I say, “finally” is because of the way the Wharton Center at MSU marketed the musical.  It was “sold” to us in 2010 as part of the 2011 season.  A little odd.  But it was explained to me that producers are looking for guarantees before they bring a show on the road and this one needed advance sales.  Not sure why.  It was wonderful.  The singing was outstanding all night long.  As someone pointed out to me, “they sang better than the originals”.  It’s true.  I went back to YouTube the next week and listened to many old Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons gigs and this Broadway production at The Wharton Center was darn near perfect. This posting feels extraordinarily dated, as the show has moved on a long time ago…but we were there, that night, to see a splendid performance by all.


On Thursday the 6th we were invited to see our friend, Linda Abar, perform with the spectacular jazz guitarist, Elden Kelly. They were beautiful together at the delicious, “Mumbai” Indian restaurant in East Lansing.  Our friend, Candice Wilmore, has been booking jazz groups at Mumbai for some time and Nicky and I have enjoyed a couple of them.  We love to hear Linda sing and were also very impressed with the musical styling of Mr. Kelly.  He flew over the fret board…never overpowering.  We really enjoyed this duo in a very comfortable setting.


On October 14 we participated in the annual fundraiser for the Episcopal Ministry at MSU (by cooking Puree of Pumpkin soup for 100!).  Part of the night includes entertainment by the talented and always amusing, “MSU Accafellas“…check out the link to hear a Beatles Medley on YouTube.  They sing at events around campus and were were fortunate to catch them in such an intimate atmosphere.


As usual, we had The Coffeehouse on the 3rd Friday (the 21st…Heather and Em’s birthdays!)…but unfortunately I have not one note saved about it! So, let’s just say we had a great night and we’ll report more in November.


A Birthday Party

Sunday Oct 23 proved to be a lot of fun, some of which was unexpected.  Nicky and I were honored to be asked to join in the festivities celebrating Dr. Dick Johnson’s birthday at the University Club at MSU.  One may ask why this would make a blog about live music.  Well, some of you know that Dick Johnson’s son, Doug, is on the faculty at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and a fine jazz pianist as well.  He has performed with the lovely and truly amazing

 Esperanza Spaulding and the talented and phenomenal saxophonist, Grace Kelly. On this day. to honor his father he played with local favorite, Sunny Wilkinson. They did 3 numbers and ended with all of us singing, “Happy Birthday”.  Wonderful!


MSU Choral Society Pre-Glow

Then Nicky and I went to the lovely home of Bill and Shirley Paxton’s to enjoy a “Pre-Glow” for Mozart concert I was singing in on Nov 5.  The Pre-Glow is a gathering of folks interested in supporting the MSU Choral Society, a group dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the graduate Choral Conducting students at Michigan State. Pre-Glows involve a delightful “party” including hors d oeuvres and wine and a program with a speaker talking about the upcoming MSU Choral Union concert, Mozart’s “Coronation Mass”.  The speaker this occasion was the Assoc Director of Choral Activities at MSU, John Reed. John did a wonderful job having brought photos he projected ten feet high on the living room wall…photos he took in multiple trips to Salzburg, Mozart’s hometown.  Thanks to Dr. Reed for an informative a fun presentation.


Matt Bliton

We finished a busy “live music” month on Saturday the 29th at Gone Wired Cafe in Lansing enjoying our friend, Matt Bliton and his band.  Matt told us he was working on a new CD and played a couple numbers from it.  Great stuff from a talented guy.