26 December 2007


Directed Nostalgia

I had the opportunity last week to take a quick road trip up to Tennessee and back. Left Tuesday, spent that night in Atlanta. Drove up to Nashville on Wednesday, then to Memphis on Friday. Drove home Sunday, 850 miles in 13 hours almost exactly.

The occasion that motivated this was Cloverbottom's playing at Springwater last Wednesday, 19 December. Cloverbottom was part of the Nashville punk and new wave scene in the early 1980s, a scene so underground that "even the hip will know" crowd often missed it. They had a compact, directed sound with tunes that were loud, fast, and fun. Their former drummer, Bryan de Beanne (Bryan Talbot) ended up with Mike McCurdy and me making up X-04. So when I heard they were playing, I wanted immediately to go and hear them, and when the opportunity became real, I took it.

Cloverbottom II
The show was excellent. Okay there were other bands on the bill that didn't exactly fit the Cloverbottom vibe (one man's opinion). They weren't bad, and, in fact, Spirit Dog had a good sound (although I'm pretty sure they could get that with three, at most four, of the members instead of the six-person line up. Guitar, bass, drums: the rest is fluff) and did the third-best arrangement of Eleanor Rigby I'd ever heard (after the original and the Aretha Franklin ones). And Ghettobilly was fine.

But Cloverbottom was the attraction. No new material, just three guys who had had a chance to reflect on what the sound had been and what the sound was supposed to be. Their effort, their practicing paid off. I had never heard them so tight. (Not that I can accurately recall particulars of performances from way back when, but I can remember being down front under the low ceiling at Frank's many times.) Not a missed note to my senses. (Complete set of pics here.)

As well as the band members, Rock Strata and Johnny Hollywood in addition to Bryan, I got to see old friends. Had dinner with Mike McCurdy who couldn't make the show. Saw my nephew Sam and his friends at the show: they've taken this bent for old local punk, but who can blame them. (Aside to Sam: You dance like Shermie in Peanuts.) Got to see Gigi Gaskins and Robb Earls. Got to see all of Bryan's family but Ellen.

Mike, Nicole, and Mason II
The next day, I rode down to Lawrenceburg to see my brother Dan, his wife Suzie, their son Mike, Mike's bride Nicole, and Mike and Nicole's new son Mason. A great dinner and a great time visiting. Complete set of pics here.

With Mary Ann and Barna Gibson
Before driving to Memphis the next day, I (1) went to the Hermitage [pics] to see the home of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the USA, and (2) visit with Barna and Mary Ann Gibson, of Knoxville, but formerly of my home town of Centerville, Tennessee. I had thought I would come back home via Knoxville to see them, but when I found out they were going to be in Nashville, decided to see them there and then drive to Memphis and do some visiting there. Hadn't seen the Gibsons in probably 25 years, so it was good to spend some time catching up with them. They are very special people, who were there for me at a time in my life when I needed someone to be there for me.

Memphis was kind of low key. (It's Memphis.) Saw a few old friends and got my Christmas shopping done.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. I got to see quite a few people from my past who matter to me to this day. There were others I'd like to have seen, but I left much to chance. Chance was kind to me in many ways.

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Thanks for the props. It was a great surprise to have you there.

- BT
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