Saturday, November 11, 2023

Classic rock in Nashville, Tennessee

Recently I read an article on the brain that stated that to keep the brain sharp one needs, apart from good nutrition and physical exercises, to learn new things and have a variety of experiences. This will help the aging brain's neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to change and adapt. Experiences change a brain's physical structure and keep it young. In the last three weeks I certainly had a variety of experiences. The day after arriving in Georgia I went to the Marietta chalk festival, see my last post here. Then at the end of my two-week stay there I traveled north to visit apple orchards. The next day I walked up trails in a remote state park in the North Georgia Mountains, followed the next day by a visit to the largest and most prosperous plantation and historic home of Chief Vann, the 1790s Cherokee Indian leader and wealthy businessman. Upon my return to Nashville my son-in-law called me and invited me to join him and his visiting cousins to attend the Nashville Symphony on Thursday November 9th. His cousins, from Goa, India, enjoy music and this was a different type of concert. It was to be the rock band the Jefferson Starship accompanied by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
Of course, I was ready to go. The Jefferson Starship is an offshoot of the original Jefferson Airplane group formed in San Francisco in 1965. The Jefferson Airplane became a pioneering "psychedelic" rock band and was the first to be known internationally. My late husband and I attended their concerts in San Francisco and the Bay Area. I just looked in a bag I brought back from my garage in Georgia and found several posters from that time, including the August 1966 concert at the Fillmore Auditorium which we attended. The Jefferson Airplane also headlined the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, which we also attended. They headlined other famous concerts, such as the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and the Altamont Free Concert of 1969. Two of their songs "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" are among the 500 Greatest Songs of all time, and were played on Friday.
One of the Jefferson Airplane's musicians was Paul Kantner, who when he split from the group in the 1970s founded the Jefferson Starship band. Their catalog included their own songs as well as rock classics. Grace Slick, the Jefferson Airplane's lead singer, joined the Jefferson Starship and kept singing her well known tunes such as Somebody to Love, as well as White Rabbit, which she had written. Kantner died in 2016, age 74. Grace Slick was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, wrote a book and retired from her musical career. Now 84 years old she lives in California and paints. In the pictures below she is to the right of Janis Joplin, in the 1960's, and now in her Malibu studio.
Below, some of her paintings.
The Jefferson Starship keeps touring the US and internationally (they were in Japan last January.) They had 15 energized performances scheduled for 2023 and one of them is this weekend with the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Center, shown below. We had seats on the balcony on the left.
First we parked the car near the symphony hall then walked a couple of blocks to the Assembly Food Hall for dinner. While going there we went down Broadway. It is Nashville's famous street packed with many places to drink and listen to live music. It was raining but there still were many people queuing to enter all the bars and honky tonks pumping their music out into the street. They had the walls and windows open so the music was quite loud. The bands and singers could be seen on stages and people dancing on the floor. All types of music could be heard: classic country, rockabilly (southern style rock,) blues, guitar, karaoke, old time music, bluegrass, etc. These places are open every day from 10 am to 3 am and there is no cover charge to enter them. Even being Thursday night with rain, they were packed. Below is Broadway at night and on a weekend.
Many musicians and singers live in Nashville and the surrounding areas. I hear it is not uncommon to see famous country stars come into a club and stage an impromptu performance. Tourists come here from the US and overseas. Nashville also has a reputation as being a top destination for bachelorette and bachelor parties. They come from all over the country and ride in open air buses down Broadway, wearing cowboy's hats and boots, drinking and carrying on loudly. They ride in "transportainment" vehicles, some can pedal while drinking. These vehicles can be buses, tractors, trucks with hot tubs and so on. Click on collage to enlarge. Photos below courtesy the Honky-Tonk Express.
Being a rainy Thursday night in November, I only saw about 3 of those party vehicles - they come mostly in spring and summer weekends. We reached the Assembly Food Hall and took the escalator upstairs. This is a European style multi-level culinary and entertainment place. It is large, about 100,000 square feet with 30+ eateries and bars, three live performance stages and a sky deck with views of Broadway. We decided to eat Vietnamese food. It was very tasty as each restaurant has been hand-picked for its high quality food.
Then it was time to go to the concert. The Jefferson Starship band consists of co-founding member David Freiberg (rhythm guitar/vocals) who also co-founded Quicksilver Messenger Service (another San Francisco band from 1965) - David is 85 years old. Another classic member is Donny Baldwin on drums, 72, then Chris Smith on keyboard with bass, Jude Gold the lead guitar, and singer Cathy Richardson. In the photo below, Donny Baldwin is on the right, Cathy Richardson with Jude Gold on top of collage and below, David Freiberg on left next to Chris Smith and Jude Gold.
In January 2020 I had been to this Schermerhorn Symphony Center to see "Salute to Vienna," a New Year Viennese Style celebration - see my post here. My daughter had come with me then, but this time she is attending a medical conference in Miami Beach, Florida, and had to miss this performance. The design of this concert hall provides vivid acoustical clarity. During the year a broad range of classical, pop, jazz, and family concerts are offered here. The sound was truly very clear.
Being on the balcony we could see both the symphony musicians and the Jefferson Starship group quite well. I tried to take some photos with my cell phone. They are not very good but they give an idea of the show.
Cathy Richardson has great vocal abilities and delivers vigorous harmonies. David at 85 has retained his sensational vocals. This band does not sound like a "senior" band, that's for sure. Photo below courtesy Stefan Nilsson.
David Freiberg is not the only star performing in his 80s. Many artists of that age have also kept their energy and vocal strength, such as Paul McCartney of the Beatles, at 81, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, at 80 and Ringo Starr who is still touring at 83. Their sound is still fresh and relevant. Below on right Mick Jagger, and Ringo, David on left and Paul.
Jefferson Starship performed for about 45 minutes with sets from the Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship classics and their newer songs. Then there was a 15 minute break followed by another 45 minutes of music. I wish I could have a video sample of this performance but I found a short on YouTube of Jude Gold playing Empryonic Journey. He is truly a super guitar player. This had been a terrific show with excellent music from the 60s, 70, 80s to the present, as they are still evolving. Their music was full of rhythm, energy and joy. It was a thrill to listen to them and a lot of fun.
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