4/25/24 Nashville at Ethel’s Tabernacle with Amy Ayler & Van Burchfield

It’s always been hard to find a show in Nashville despite the fact that I have a lot of friends who play music there. It was looking like I would play a house show at my brother Brad’s house, but he just started a new job and was busy with that. Then my buddy Daniel Binkley (and OG Big Kitty band member) found a spot for it at a bar I’d never heard of called Ethel’s Tabernacle, not too far from Brad’s house. He put a ton of effort into setting up this show, trying to work it out at Dee’s and other spots but nothing worked out until Ethel’s.

I knew Ethel’s Tabernacle was a special place when I saw the weedeater lying across the picnic table beside the out-of-commission 70s-era Lincoln sedan up on lifts. The place seems rather recently designed to look like an old dive bar, not in a Disneylandesque gentrification manner but in the purest spirit of crusty weirdness. It’s decorated with a bunch of street signs that, well, aren’t typically used for decoration, like “Bike Lane” or “Pedestrian crossing” signs. There were a few tools, monkey wrenches and a pressure guage, just sitting on the table closest to the entrance, that stayed right there all night long. There was a dusty, ripped-up umbrella with smiley faces on it hanging on the wall with a sign over it that read to the effect of “The creepiest umbrella in the world, discovered in a junkyard.” And many other details that I’ll refrain from, so you have something to look forward to, when you get a chance to see Ethel’s for yourself.

Some friends showed up who had moved to Nashville from Chattanooga, and we chatted while getting ready for Amy Ayler and Van Burchfield to open the show. They played some really quality old-time music, fiddle and guitar which I haven’t heard much of in a while. Amy also sang a couple of songs really well – I very much appreciate how they jumped onto the show.

As for the Big Kitty portion, Rolly Lighthouse opened things up and blew up a balloon which was quickly sucked up into an air duct. She then attempted to throw confetti all around but it stayed in two hand-formed clumps, which made her laugh. Then yours truly emerged from her ashes and sang the songs that have become almost standard from the 28 previous shows on this tour. At the end, feeling like I was noticing that people might be wanting to go, I said I would finish up the set. But there were a few requests – Chuck Draper requested “Tendernessee” which I hadn’t played yet on the tour but remembered without any hiccups! Then “The Boy Who Smelled Real Good” and then I just offered up “Chico,” because I knew that some people there would probably remember the great Joseph “Chico” Woods. It was a spectacular night, truly, that emerged out of seemingly nothing. And so the tour is coming to a close. I rolled into Chattanooga just a few minutes ago, with a lot of emotion, and typed this up, ready to play the last two shows before going back to France.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *