When you hit the road on a vacation like this by yourself, it's good to have a few stops along the way where you know a friendly face. I say it's even better when the friendly face is a good looking woman. And when that good looking woman has good looking friends, well it's damn near perfection. Oh wait, AND they all like to party? Well, looks like Nirvana has been achieved. It is with this preface that we arrive at the Nashville leg of my trip.
Fresh off my unplanned afternoon with sobriety in Lynchburg, "NashVegas" was the perfect stop to remind myself of what it was like to bat my liver around like an old tennis ball. Fortunately, Heather Venesile, a good friend and a former co-worker of mine in my previous non-radio life (far left in the picture here), lives in the Nashville area and was kind enough to provide me with a chaperone and shelter for the evening. Like me, Heather is someone who decided that life is too short to sell maintenance contracts on telephone systems and decided to chase her dream of becoming a famous jazz singer. Akron, OH was not big enough for both her and LeBron, so she loaded up the truck and headed to Nashville. For a sampling of some of her work, you can click here. Or check out the video below from the BlueBird in Nashville. She can get after it.
So I arrived in Nashville around dinnertime on Sunday. I came into the city on 2nd Avenue just a few blocks away from LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. For the first noticeable time on my trip, I really missed having my kids with me; I mean it would've been one of those beautiful father-son moments to be able to tell them "Kids, there's LP Field ... that's where Vince Young barely cracks a 70.0 QB rating every week!" And then they could gaze out the window and act impressed .... "Whooooaaaa ..... coooooool ..... "
I pulled into one of those parking lots where you walk over to the computerized parking attendant machine, put in some money and it spits out a receipt that you leave on the dashboard. That's the new wave of parking lot commerce. All I could think about was all of the poor parking lot attendants that this machine has rendered jobless. I mean sure it's probably less costly for the owner of the lot to run his business by using a receipt-spewing computer to handle the cash, but I miss that personal touch of pulling into the lot and having Ahmed or Gus indifferently grunt at me while I hand them a twenty spot to leave my car in their midst for a few hours. The times they are a-changin'...
With my car parked safely under the watchful eye of Wall-E the parking droid, I walked around the corner to Broadway Street to head over to Rippy's, which is a bar that has some good BBQ and live music. Actually, every bar on Broadway Street has music, and most of it is live. It's like Broadway is one big iPod, with every genre of music represented somewhere on that street. Even those of you who like shitty ten minute dance club beats with the same lyric repeated over and over 150 times can find a home in NashVegas! All inclusive, baby!
I went up to the balcony at Rippy's and was greeted by Heather's friendly face and was pleased to make the acquaintance of her boyfriend/producer, Mike. I wondered what that must be like to date your producer, and decided that I probably would not go ahead and find out for myself any time soon. I mean, my producer Kyle is a good dude and all, but all things being equal, I'll wait until they promote one of our hot female interns to producer before I decide to go down that road.
As Mike, Heather and I split a combo rib/onion ring/wing platter, we gazed across the street at the Sommet Center, which is Nashville's big indoor arena (home of their NHL team and where a lot of big concerts come in). The billboard was flashing with a chronological list of all of the upcoming events, including a Poison/Dokken/Sebastian Bach show coming on Tuesday, July 8. One of us (um, I'm not sure who) made a comment about how that would be a cool show to go to; it may or may not have been me who said it ... I'm just saying. No sooner had that sentiment been expressed when the middle aged fellow next to us at the bar said "I'm playing in that show". I would've called bullshit on him except this dude looked like he played in an 80's hair metal band -- long, scraggly, blonde hair ... laid back, glazed look in his eyes ... I mean, he seemed legit.
He introduced himself as "Jeff Martin, the drummer for Dokken". Now if this were 1986, I'd have happily believed him, bought him a drink, and begin to scramble to remember one Dokken song so I could converse with him for more than 30 seconds. However, in 2008, I'm older, wiser, and more jaded. I did what any self-respecting 30-something male would do -- I pulled out my blackberry and said "Hold on, dude. I need to look you up on Wikipedia." So I did just that, and I have to admit I was hoping against hope that he was legit. Because let's face it, sitting and drinking whiskey with the drummer from Dokken makes for a much better story than sitting next to some dude pretending he was from Dokken. Well, much to my glee, Jeff Martin was legit ... unless it was a lookalike posing as Jeff Martin, but I don't think that's the case. That would be like someone posing as Wesley Wright. "Who?", you're asking (if you're not an Astros fan). "Exactly", I reply.
I was giddy. I mean, when my brother Kevin and I would crack on hair metal bands back in the day and we had to come up with a random one to punctuate our jokes, we always used Dokken as our go-to random metal band. I can't name one of their songs, but I can now name one of their band members! JEFF FREAKING MARTIN!! HELL YEAH!!
So for the next two hours, we proceeded to get ripped with Jeff. The drinks and the Bret Michaels stories were flowing freely, to the point where Jeff had almost convinced our bartender, the lovely Merritt (pictured to the left giving double rods) to cancel her vacation plans which were slated to start on Monday so that she could come to the show on Tuesday and meet Bret Michaels. I don't know if she ever did end up canceling her vacation, but the big board had "YES" as a solid -150 when we left later that night. Jeff was quick to want to take pictures of Merritt because apparently Bret Michaels has some sort of finder's fee that he passes along to other band/tour members who are able to bring in the most, uh, talented "fans". And we're not talking some Michael Scott finder's fee like Chili's coupons either. We're talking legit four figure payouts. I started thinking that if those drones in the Lottery Oasis at the state line were smart, they'd stop buying 50 scratch-n-wins and head to Nashville to try and find Bret Michaels a few pieces of ass. I think the odds and the payouts might be better.
It was time to wrap things up at Rippy's so we said our good byes to Jeff. He asked me if I needed tickets to the show on Tuesday, and I responded casually with "Nah, I gotta head out of here tomorrow to go do some videos in Russellville, Kentucky with Kige Ramsey." Probably not completely familiar with Kige's work, Jeff nodded his head and in a tone of voice that would indicate he was somewhat impressed said, "Sweeeet". I nodded my head and said "Yeah, it's cool man", acting like I was getting ready to film the lead role in the next Ironman movie ... when in fact, I was getting ready to film two three minute videos in my man Kige's wood panel studio at his parent's house. That's how I roll.
The rest of the night was gravy. Heather, myself, and her lovely friends Anne and Whitney (pictured at the top of this post with Heather flashing double rods) consumed many drinks and endured many crappy ten minute dance mixes at another bar down the street whose name escapes me. The music there was mind numbingly brutal, loud, and repetitive. Now if they had played some Dokken .... now that would've been totally sweet.