last week in live music: pam tillis
Ah, Nashville. If you live and work there, chances are you're either a professional musician/Industry type or a professional Baptist. My dear daddy, who is the latter, and mom, who is neither, have adopted a student who wants to be one of the former through their church's adopt-a-student program. She's a sweet girl from my favorite Southern town, Oxford, Mississippi, and she happens to have a job that got us half-price tickets to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel's Christmas spectaculare, the Pam Tillis Christmas Dinner Party.
So last week we ventured over to the hotel for a lovely dinner and the show. We got nice seats and had started to enjoy dinner when another group was seated at our table. In one of those only-in-Nashville moments, it turns out to be none other than a country star from another age, Jeannie Seely, "Miss Country Soul" and the first woman to wear a miniskirt on the Opry herself. And her friends. What are the odds? Another couple was seated at our table right after that and everything from there on out was just too funny for words. One interesting part of the conversation centered on who bought Johnny's house. We never actually said who Johnny was, but we all knew it was the Man in Black. His house recently sold but no one knows who bought it. Good times.
As for the show itself, well, it was a good reminder of how capable Nashville is at overproducing everything. Pointless storylines and precocious children dressed as dancing elves got in the way of Tillis's strong voice, which was unfortunate but not unexpected. The overall effect was a Branson-in-Nashville feel, which was fine, but not something I'd probably choose to go to again. Tillis mostly sang holiday standards and songs off her new Christmas album, and a medly of several of her hits, including "Maybe it Was Memphis."
I don't usually go for this slick Nashville stuff, but there's a soft spot in my heart for Pam Tillis since she and her sisters went to our summer camp and her sister Carrie was the president of the alumnae association a year or two ago. At camp, it's tradition to sign your name on the walls of your cabin with the year. The year I was fourteen, I spent the summer staring up at the ceiling at "Pam Tillis '72" and thinking that was pretty cool. At the 45th reunion, my sister and I somehow ended up sitting with the Tillis girls. We like them. They're sweet girls. And for a nice evening that was a gift from a family friend, an hour of dancing elves isn't so bad.
(Photo: That's Jeannie Seely's hair blocking your view of Pam Tillis.)