Tuesday, August 20, 2012
Memphis to Nashville
Since we only have to drive from Memphis to Nashville today, a trip of a little over three hours as we figure it, we think we have plenty of time this morning to do a little more sight-seeing around Memphis.
Joyce has a quilt magazine with an article about an installation of aluminum quilts at City Hall here. It sounds like a must-see, and it turns out to be spectacular. The artist, Greely Myatt, designed this installation, known as “Quiltsurround,” to hide unsightly utility equipment on the City Hall concourse. Her artistic medium is scrapped aluminum signs from a city roadwork shop--signs that had been damaged by storms, accidents or vandalism. She cut the signs up, just as other quilters cut up fabric, then used pop rivets to assemble her aluminum scraps into brilliant interpretations of traditional quilt patterns.
An old-fashioned trolley runs on tracks through a plaza nearby, and Dick suggests we hop a ride on the riverfront line. For just $1, we enjoy a scenic ride around town.
Then we zip right back to where we began the day, just in time to catch the noontime tour of the Gibson Guitar Factory across the street from our hotel. As the release we signed before entering warned us, the factory is very loud and dusty, and no photos are allowed. We are amazed to find that there are very few robots here--almost everything is done by human beings operating wood working machines or hand tools. As expected, our avid woodworkers Dick and Fred are entranced, but Joyce and I find it pretty interesting, too. The plant turns out fifty guitars per day, and each guitar takes about three weeks to complete (including hand-painting the body and applying fourteen coats of lacquer).
It is after 1 p.m., and time to hit the road for Nashville, where we have tickets for the Grand Ole Opry tonight.
By the time we stop for a quick lunch, crawl through rush hour Nashville traffic, and make our way through the line-up of cars waiting to check in at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, it is close to 6 p.m., and our Grand Ole Opry show starts at 7. A glass of wine, a little snack and we are off to the Opry.
The entertainment tonight is legendary. Because Elvis week celebrations just finished up the road, some past members of Elvis’ band are in town and in playing form, including his good friend James Burton who drops in to jam with another band on the official line-up. Our big surprise is Lisa Marie Presley, who is making her Grand Ole Opry debut. Once she starts singing, we understand why this is her debut, and we predict she won’t be back again soon. Alas, her daddy did not pass on his music genes to Lisa Marie.
For country music fans, here are the performers we saw: Larry Gatlin, Casey James (an American Idol winner), Jimmy Dickens (a 93-year-old who doesn’t have much of a singing voice left, but is a terrific stand-up comic), Del McCoury Band, Steve Wariner, Lisa Marie, and Rascal Flatts (who rocked the place crazy).
We finally sit down to dinner at 10 p.m.! We can’t remember the last time we dined at such a late hour, and we don’t anticipate doing it again anytime soon, but we actually enjoy it at the time. Country music energy coursing through us kept us awake just long enough to get through dinner and back to our rooms.