1997 group photo

 

 

The 1997 Tour to Branson & Fan Fair in Nashville, USA - Diary & Photos

Some of the pictures on this page will link to other photo pages.

Well, this is the unlikely looking group we ended up with in 1997 as we unloaded at The Atrium
Inn Motel on Green Mountain Drive in Branson. We'd only just met each other for the first time about a 2 hours ago when one plane from Las Vegas, and another from Los Angeles landed in St Louis airport and we all boarded the TWA jet for Springfield.

Here's the unlikely looking mob that joined us in 1997.

meeting Hag at the Crazy Horse 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.
Ron, Merle, Rosie & Rhonda from the Wild Horse Saloon
(click here for more Merle photos from '97)

We'd done Disneyland, Universal Studios, and visited Mexico before 7 more joined us for the weekend in Las Vegas at the Hilton Flamingo. The 19 on the Original tour had just flown in from Australia with Reyn via an overnight at the Sheraton LA, and flew on with Ron direct to St Louis Missouri, to join up with everyone already there.

Lunch In Califia, Mexico lunch in Mexico

Pat and Miss Bill Pat the Bus Driver and " Miss Bill ".
The coach trip from Springfield to Branson was a friendly one, as folks settled into a new rhythm, meeting Pat, our driver from last year, with "Miss Bill", our faithful local guide, roaming the bus, catching up with our 9 travellers from previous tours, chatting and reliving old stories, handing out peanut crackers to everyone. Frank and Sue were ready for us at the Atrium Inn, endowing the newly-weds Trevor and Nyree with the honeymoon suite with the jacuzzi and a welcoming bottle of champagne. Charley Pride Theatre

meeting Brenda Lee at m-m-Mel'sAfter 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.

Wayne Horsburgh visiting Silver Dollar CityThursday 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 to temptation and ran the 47 seat coach through the Drive-in at Frank's "Dairy Queen" store on the Strip.

party time in and at the AtriumLeft, Ron, Miss Bill, John, Pat, Frank, Rosie, Sue at Rosie's birthday party at the Atruim Inn. From Branson we motored on down to Memphis, in time for an afternoon visit to Graceland for some, and others like Robin and Ferna from Vacy, and those Giles girls, Susan and Dianne from Tamworth, who had been before, joined Ron, Reyn and I visiting the Titanic exhibition in the Memphis pyramid. We enjoyed dinner on Beale St at the Rum Boogie and strolled around listening to the Blues. Next morning after picking up two more South Aussies, Noel and Heather, at Memphis airport, all 48 of us squeezed into the 47 seat coach and we set off for Lynchberg.Driver Pat gathers evidence!
It seems we managed to embarrass our sheltered young bus driver Pat, by referring to the "Jump Seat" on the steps as a "Dickie Seat" but regardless of his ever reddening cheeks, there was a lot of competition for this coveted position beside the driver, Bob Frazer from Sydney winning out in the end. Pat got his own back in the end by pulling out the video camera, and recording the antics of our friendly shopping team from Australia whenever they flashed the plastic.

Pat the life sized Jack Daniel made the lunch call in Miss Bill's hometown of Lawrenceberg at the David Crockett National Park (It's not Davy you know!). After introducing some of the younger travellers like Ashley, Margaret and Michelle to grits andwaiting for the group to finish a little souvenir hunting in the lynchburg hardware store in Lynchburg gravy, we cruised along the Tennessee back roads with one eye on the weather. Nashville had been raining for 4 weeks without a break, and after a short rain shower as we toured the Jack Daniel's Distillery with Sammy and the boys, it started to clear up. By the time we were  into our party on the hilltop above Lynchburg, the sun broke through.
here's some more photos from Jack Daniels,Lynchburg, Tn.

Roger Roger, Nyree and Trevor 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. sunnies are the go after a visit to Jack's place

Shelbyville where we overnighted is just up the road, so in the morning
it wasn't a long trip into Nashville, but still there was a head or
two nodding along with the gentle singing from the back rows.

Miss Tootsie's Orchard Lounge Nashville, TnMiss 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.

George hosts the TNN Awards ShowMonday 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 theAlan Jackson on the Awards Show 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 John Berry relaxes at his booth at Fan Fairout 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.

June, Johnny, Rosie, Ron and ReynOn 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.

Marty Stuart and Hank Williams?Jewel Coburn and Chuck's tattooTroy & Hank?Troy and Laurel watching video of Lefty Frizell at the Country Music Hall of Fame

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. Rosie and Laurel with Trisha YearwoodAlong 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.

Hag on Fan Fair Working Man show Ricky Van Shelton, Haggard and Jones for more Hag photo's click here

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!

check out the Fan Fair Tours for this yearIf you'd like to get details of our tours, drop me an email
or give us a quick call, or keep your eye on these pages
around September-October each year. Rosie Adsett.


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