Monday morning we took a scenic route out of Mississippi, and headed to Jackson, Tennessee. Jackson is the hometown of the great Carl Perkins and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
The Rockabilly Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping the legacy of rockabilly music alive–and to instruct in exactly what constitutes rockabilly. To form the genre, there must be elements of southern gospel, hillbilly (country) music, as well as the sounds of the black singers That was once found in the fields. These were the sounds Carl Perkins heard growing up a poor sharecroppers son in Jackson, and that is what formed his music.
The atmosphere in the museum is friendly and down to earth. Lee was our tour guide, and he did his best to get us involved in the experience. We held a pair of Carl Perkins actual blue suede shoes, and we got to play the actual drums of D.J. Fontaine (Elvis’s drummer.) An entire room was dedicated to Elvis, even though he only made five rockabilly records.
I was particularly interested in a singer named Ronnie McDowell who was in some of the displays. McDowell is one of the acts we will see Wednesday night at the Music City Roots show in Franklin. Lee was full of information about McDowell, so it increased my interest in seeing him perform. McDowell is best known for a song he wrote after Elvis died called “The King is Dead.” Yeah, I haven’t heard of it either (until I saw it on YouTube), but then, I wasn’t an Elvis fan in 1977.
After purchasing a t-shirt, making a donation, and signing the wall, we bid a fond farewell to Lee and his crew who are performing their labor of love for rockabilly music in Jackson, Tennessee.
We arrived some time around 5:00, and by 6:30 we were settled into The Listening Room to get dinner and hear the Song Suffragettes.
The Suffragettes are a loose collection of female singer/songwriters trying to make their way in the big city. The line-up is different every Monday night. The idea here, of course, is that you might see someone now that will become famous someday. The singers each took a turn singing one of their own songs for three rounds, and then finished with one they sang together. The Listening Room is where people go to listen–so even though food and drink is being served, the atmosphere is respectfully silent. A cheeseburger, a local draught, and some fine music was a great way to start our stay in Nashville.
Once the show was over, we walked back to our hotel, with a quick stop into the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. Music was everywhere in this brilliant city, bustling and exciting and full of life.
On to more adventures today!