With 20 travellers on the Jumbo Tour, from Qld, NSW, Vic, the NT and SA, we had a ball in
LA, seeing and meeting Merle Haggard at his show at the Crazy Horse Saloon.
Bus Driver and " Miss Bill ".
After finding our rooms we did the first of many workovers of the ice-cream parlor then scrubbed up for the Brenda Lee and Mel Tillis show at Mel's Theatre. Left, Norm and Pauline meet Brenda Lee. Right, John, Daphne and Gloria in the foyer of Charley Pride's Theatre
Between all of us, we saw heaps of shows including Moe Bandy, Mickey Gilley, Daniel O'Donnell, Tom Brumley (Buck Owen's Pedal Steel Player), Barbara Fairchild, the Oak Ridge Boys, Country Tonight, Johnny Lee, Shoji Tabuchi and even Andy Williams. We shopped out the outlet malls and enjoyed a wonderful morning at Silver Dollar City.
Thursday morning Wayne Horsburgh
dropped by to share breakfast with us, and he came back again to sing a few songs at
Rosie's birthday Party on the lawn out front of the Atrium's ice-cream parlour. As usual
Frank went well out of his way to make us welcome, and there was a fair bit of duty free
Bundaberg Rum consumed, and an odd Fosters or two. Gloria & Daphne made some new
American friends walking through the carpark. We did playup a little, We succumbed
temptation and ran the 47 seat coach through the Drive-in at Frank's "Dairy
Queen" store on the Strip.
Roger Brashiers, the boss, gave us a warm welcome, and after signing autographs for the travellers who recognised him from his TV commercials Downunder, he dedicated the party to Bill Barlow from Concorde and little ole me (Rosie) because we were celebrating our birthdays, plus George and Margaret Watson (who were celebrating their second anniversary, with us on tour) and the honeymooners Nyree and Trevor, who by now had left happy vendors in every shopping centre from Tijuana to the Lynchburg Hardware store. We all had a great night relaxing and dancing, playing shuffle board and eating catfish and hush puppies prepared for our pleasure. Of course we did get a few samples of the hometown product, the smoothest Tennessee Sipping Whiskey.
Shelbyville where we overnighted is just up the road, so in the
Miss Bill gave us the tour around Nashville to get our bearings, and we visited Flash's hotdog stand on Music Row for a snack before going down to 2nd Avenue to terrorise Miss Tootsie's staff, drop in on the Wild Horse Saloon and check up on the other sites of the area like the Ryman Auditorium so everyone could find their way back during Fan Fair week.
Monday morning we all gathered in the Magnolia Lobby of the Opryland Hotel (with only a couple getting lost) and strolled around to the CMT/TNN studios. Marylou and the girls from CMT took us around the studios, and we all wound up sitting out front in the Opry watching Alan Jackson rehearse for the MCN/TNN Awards show held later that night and hosted by Randy Travis, LeAnn Rimes & George Jones.
We picked up our Fan Fair kits and headed out to the Fair Grounds for the first shows of the week I couldn't possibly tell you how many acts we saw, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Terri Clark, Tanya Tucker, Tracy Byrd, Pam Tillis, Sammy Kershaw, Joe Diffie, Collin Raye, Chris LeDoux, Alan Jackson, BR5-49, John Berry, John Anderson and Little Texas to name just some. On stage for the first time was our own Keith Urban and the Ranch. After seeing the shows backstage with Keith for the last 3 years, to finally see him on stage was a real hoot. The weather held reasonable well and when not out at fan fair we got to visit with lots of our country music industry friends.
On Tuesday we had a wonderful dinner at the Cafe Milano with the folks from CMT and June Smyth, the Tamworth Festival Coordinator for the Tamworth Council. Johnny Paycheck did a fabulous show, and we met with him after the show. Mark Chesnutt was a paying customer so we were in good company.
Midweek the CMA threw a bash for all the international press where we caught up with more of the wonderfully helpful industry friends we have in Nashville like Jeff Walker, and Jewel Coburn who, with husband Barry, manage BR5-49 and Suzy Bogguss. Chuck Mead from BR5-49 showed us all his Hank Williams tattoo.
The Country Music Hall of Fame has a fabulous collection of Hank Williams memorabilia on display from Marty Stuart's collection and we spoke with Marty about that back stage at Fan Fair during the week. Along the way we caught up with my good friend Lisa McLaughlin who works for Trisha Yearwood, and we got to record a song with Trisha, "XXX's and OOO's", in her Fan Fair booth. Aussie Fiona Kernaghan opened the show on Wednesday night for Joy Lynn White and we caught up with her for lunch in her garden on Thursday. Troy Cassar-Daley and his wife Laurel Edwards were in town meeting with his American Record Company, Sony Music, and we took him around to meet with the folks at CMT who have been playing his videos. While we were there he got the royal treatment including his own backstage visit to the Grand Ole Opry, where he got to perform from the stage for the very appreciative audience of 6... Myself, Ron, Reyn, Mary Healy and Marylou Perry from CMT and his biggest fan Laurel. Thursday night they came around to delight the whole tour with an impromptu performance of songs and stories in the Presidential Lobby of the Opryland Hotel. The security staff were a little concerned until they heard him sing, then they too settled back to enjoy the show as they went about their duties.
Friday morning at Fan fair was a real highlight. The "Working Mans" show as it was billed was hosted by George Jones and featured Merle Haggard (at Fan Fair for the first time in 15 years), Charlie Daniels, Ricky Van Shelton ( with his new moustache), Johnny Paycheck. "Newcomers" Sara Evans and Steve Wariner sat in as well.
Friday night we had our show at the Grand Ole Opry with Porter Wagoner, Jean Shepard, Bill Anderson, Ricky Skaggs, the Whites, Connie Smith, Skeeter Davis and a whole stack of greats. The following morning as the rain again began to pour down from above, but we were on the bus and out to Nashville Airport, headed our separate ways again. This year about 30 travellers came all the way home with us, the rest peeling of to travel further afield in Florida, Texas, California, the Carolinas, Washington and all over the USA.
We'll be back to do it all over again next year, with more Aussies in tow no doubt, and loving it!
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