For this fun story I need to take you back a few months, like nine months. Yes, that is correct, this all began in April when I saw that The Judds were going to do a final tour. Reading that news took me back to a memory of going to The Judds Farewell Tour back in the day when they came to the Columbus Clippers (baseball) stadium. I have to be honest, I wasn’t into the country music scene then but when my friends and their mom asked if I wanted to go, I couldn’t pass up seeing the powerful female duo that was causing a huge commotion in the country music world. With that memory running through my mind, I mentioned the news to Michelle and the next thing I know, we had tickets to the final show in Nashville, TN on Oct 28, 2022. The only question going through my mind then was, is their show going to top the show I saw years ago.
As I was sitting at a Ford dealership, waiting for my oil change to be finished, on April 29th (my birthday) I was thinking about how we celebrate birthdays different as we get older. Knowing myself, I was probably thinking “it’s just another day” or “I love buying cars, I might as well walk around the car lot”. Yep, I have definitely left a dealership with a new car while sitting and waiting for an oil change. Ok, it might have happened a couple of times! I am actually no longer aloud to get an oil change alone anymore. Ha Ha!
Following a great birthday, on April 30th, just the next day, my heart was broken by the news of Naomi Judd passing. Naomi has been in my life for years, like many others, and one of my first favorite country singers. The harmony of their voices would melt butter and then the next minute you would be rockin’ out to the badass guitar playing of Wynonna Judd. I still remember my college dorm leader dancing and singing The Judds every day in the early 90s. Over the many years, my admiration and respect grew as I learned more about how they came from a harder way of life. While Naomi was working as a nurse trying to give a better life, she always kept the love for music alive. It has been shared and known that even after she left the nursing scene, Naomi continued to treat everyone with love and as if she knew everyone. April 30th was a hard day and will always have mark on my heart.
I had mixed emotions when it was announced that Wynonna Judd was going to continue the tour but as more of a tribute. I immediately thought about how strong Wynonna is but at the same time hoping she would have the time and space to properly mourn the loss of her mother. It would be hard for me to continue on without my mom, but I totally understand how Wynonna feels closer to her mom on stage. I was sad to know that I was not going to see The Judds (Wynonna and Naomi) but also excited because I was going to see Wynonna, Martina McBride, and Trisha Yearwood.
October 27, 2022, came and it was time to head to Nashville for a fast-two-day whirlwind. As any other drive, I was amazed by the beautiful colors that God painted along the way. Fall time of the hills was not disappointing at all. All the way down, I kept telling Michelle Lee that I couldn’t wait to run into famous country people, I mean, we were going to Nashville for The Judds concert! Arriving into Nashville, we met up with a good friend of Michelle’s and had a wonderful lunch. Following lots of laughs, it was time to get our room at the great Union Station Hotel Nashville Yards. Michelle Lee has always wanted to stay at this hotel so, of course, that is where we stayed. Now, just so you know ahead of time, unlike I did, the hotel is haunted. Yes, the first thing I did when I got in the room was made friends with all the ghosts and left the tv on all night. Call me a sissy but I need my sleep. Haha!
The Union Station is a beautiful hotel that was the former railroad terminal designed by Richard Montfort, chief engineer of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, and built in the 1900. It ceased train operation back in 1979 and stayed empty until opening as a hotel in 1986. The inside of the hotel is absolutely stunning. The structure is composed with parts of the original building structure along with some of the original train schedule boards. On top of keeping the train décor, they added tons of art that encompasses music. The lobby and bar area have a beautiful arrangement and great atmosphere for having events. The woodwork throughout all of the hotel was amazing, the entry way even has a guitar sculpture that is made out of scrap metals and stands probably 8-foot tall.
After getting our things unpacked and freshened up form driving all day, we headed out to have dinner with Tina Adair. Being able to catch up with Tina and have some amazing grits was a must during our quick trip to Nashville. After an awesome dinner and many laughs, we said our “see ya laters” and headed to The Station Inn to see Tommy Kamel and Wolfpen Branch (Aaron Bibelhauser). It was my first time ever at The Station Inn and my first time seeing Wolfpen Branch live. I enjoyed all the music. Not sure what song it was but the bass player seriously killed it – in a great way! I love when the bass is really included in a song. It was also a nice surprise to look back at the sound board and seeing Michael Prewitt of Special Consensus.
On October 28, 2022, we had delicious breakfast at the restaurant inside the Union Station Hotel. The second day in Nashville started off with a chilly walk over to Music Row and met up with Adam Engelhardt (Engelhardt Music Group) at Sony Music Publishing. Being able to have a tour of an actual recording studio was indescribable. To stand in the place that some of my favorite music was created was magical. While in the studio, Adam played a song of Tina Adair’s for us to get the true experience of how the music sounds at the board – FREAKING AMAZING!
After an outstanding time at Sony Music Publishing, we walked down to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. As we walked through the halls and rooms of the museum, it was honestly a lot to take in but at the same time fun to experience the past of country music. I was able to see: Lester Flatt’s guitar, Earl Scruggs’s banjo, Bill Monroe’s mandolin, Hank Williams guitar, The Wall of Gold Records and outfits of any big-name artist you can dream about – Reba McEntire, George Strait, The Judds, Minnie Pearl, the members of the Hee Haw show, and so many more. It was a quick walk through due to our time restraint and being so crowded.
When I walked into the Rotunda – WOW! From eye level to about knee level and all the way around the Rotunda are the plagues that honor the great artists/musicians/idols that have, in some way, touched each of our hearts. All around the area above all the plagues on maroon background are the words ‘WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN’ in a color of gold. Above that is a dome with windows that magically illuminate the room with the light from the sun above. To make the visit even more emotional, Jerry Lee Lewis had just passed prior to our visit. During our viewing of the Rotunda, there was a guest book that we were able to write our condolences that was going to be sent to the family of Jerry Lee Lewis. What a humbling time! Keeping in mind that a few days prior to our visit to Nashville, the Class of 2022 Country Music Hall of Fame Members were inducted – Joe Galante, Jerry Lee Lewis and Keith Whitley.
When you are in Nashville, there is no time for sadness! We gave our blessings and promised to look at the good! We headed over to Broadway for a nice stroll through the jamming music, yelling happy people (more probably drunk) and eye-shocking outfits. Of course, we had to check out Tootsies, Honky Tonks and walk by the Ryman Auditorium. Nashville never disappoints! While grabbing a bite to eat, we listened to a street performer that was collecting money to help fight MS (multiple sclerosis) – I had to contribute because his voice was amazing! Whether it was actually money to help fight it or for the man to have a couple extra bucks, he deserved it. The disease is horrible and even with his symptoms, he was out working hard at his dream.
The night of October 28th is here, it is time to change from tourist to concert goer! We got down to the arena early and enjoyed meeting a couple ladies, from the Midwest, in the line. Once in, we got our necessary poster, concert shirts, soda and popcorn for the concert. We had great seats – up in the club section off stage right. While I was taking in the moment, I decided to talk with the guys that were sitting next to us.
All of a sudden, the concert began, and it was UNBELIEVEABLE!!! It opened with Martina McBride absolutely blew my mind – her show was energetic and yet heart-felted at times. It was awesome hearing those 90s songs. Then Wynonna came out and tore the stage up with her high energy and powerful voice that is like no-other! Next thing I know, Trisha Yearwood comes out to join. To top the evening off, Brandi Carlile had showed up and joined in on numerous songs! I had to rub my eyes and pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream. It was a country music night like no other! Wynonna Judd and her crew did an absolutely beautiful job entertaining fans and honoring her mother, top notch!
The two guys that were sitting by us were from Canada and were absolutely fun to sit next to during a concert! The best thing about getting to know them was that we found out that I finally met someone famous! After talking with Neil and Donny all night, we discovered that Donny Anderson was a huge musician from Canada and was actually in Nashville doing some recording.
On the final morning (Oct 29th) we headed home. Spending the last couple fast days in Nashville were amazing but definitely need to do it again with more time! As we drove through the beautiful hills and up through Kentucky, we decided to stop at the cemetery in KY where Michelle Lee’s brother was laid to rest. Her brother Jimmy was a huge, probably one of the biggest, supporter of Michelle Lee and her career as a broadcaster.
I am 100% sure that our trip to Nashville, TN was successful in regard to seeing The Judds concert, meeting famous country people, hanging out with friends, hearing wonderful music (country and bluegrass), learning new things about the music world (people and industry) and much more. The biggest thing that I can only hope for the next time is MORE TIME! Nashville is such beautiful and happening city, it is not meant for just two days. Maybe we can make it multiple two day trips or something. Time will only tell.