Final Thoughts on the Journey

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Charlie McCoy told me they sorta had a hard sell in music.  Food on the table, the mortgage and the electric bill all come before expendable income, or at least it should and music is an expendable item.  Even if there is expendable income  there are many ways that it can be used, especially in the 21st century, so in that sense, the purchasing of music is expendable.  That is very true.

But the listening to music and the making of music is necessary for our souls.  It’s food for the savage beast. Even the littlest of souls need music.  A crying baby can often be soothed by a song.  Children sing as they play, those who can whistle often whistle while they work.  Many couples often have “their” song.  Mama has an impromptu dance party with her little ones when a fun song plays on the radio.  The slaves used song as reminders that they were valuable, they used lyrics to communicate to other slaves.  When Saul was troubled, he’d call for David and his lyre. God designed us for song.    In some way it isn’t an extra commodity, but it is a necessary.   Like a good book, music can transport us to far off worlds. Lyrics can speak when we can’t. Music reaches our soul when words fail us.

Recently, I’ve been reading Crystal Evans Hurst book “She’s Still There.”  This week she’s encouraging her readers to find “an” answer.  Not “the” answer but an answer that is part of the journey to “the” answer.

As I read this particular chapter, I found myself wondering about Uncle Chip and his buddies, and the music and their lives.  They didn’t plan to change Nashville.  They came to Nashville to do what they loved. They had fun while they did it. They didn’t look for “the” answer, they found an answer many times over.

For many of them an answer came in Atlanta with Bill Lowery

Others, found an answer in Louisiana, or California, or Missouri.

Ray Stevens found an answer when he moved from the big studio to the little house.

Fred Foster found an answer when he left the farm.

Elvis found an answer in a little recording studio in Memphis

Uncle Chip found an answer when Reed offered a couch to sleep on

These guys all found an answer by making the trip to Nashville and staying there.

And the world found an answer when they listened to the music.

God gave them talents and they didn’t hold back. They kept finding an answer, one answer at a time. And they made a difference because they offered their talents and gifts to Nashville. When I think about these guys, their passion, their talents, the dreams they chased and caught, the way they enjoyed the music, and their lives, I am astonished.  Even when they weren’t living to seek God’s glory, God was using their talents to make some great music.  Music that touched people.

Jerry Reed found an answer when he started asking questions

Buzz Cason opened his home.

At some point Chip and others joined them.  Many of these guys found an answer around Buzz’s kitchen table.  (And there’s another miss!  Buzz!)

Guys from all walks of life are still finding an answer (I hope). Last I knew they were gathering around a conference table at a construction company early on Thursday mornings while Pastor Jerry leads the group.

I wrote stories about the music these guys made, but I pray the stories propel you to seek the Savior these guys knew.   That’s what Uncle Chip would have wanted.  He would have wanted to tell the world about his Savior.  His buddies that sat around that table with him and studied the Bible would want you to know too. They’d want me to tell you that Jesus is more important than the music they made.

By the worlds standards, Uncle Chip was a good man.  He was always upbeat, pleasant, kind and concerned about others.  I saw it firsthand and heard it from every person I talked to and met.  But I know he would tell you otherwise, because when you know the love of Jesus, you realize how great a sinner you are without him.  You realize that you need Jesus as your Savior.  Uncle Chip knew that.  By the end of his life he found himself more in love with Jesus than with anything else life could offer.

When Chip decided to have the bypass surgery, he knew it was risky.  He knew he might not make it through.  As he prayed about it and considered his limited options he concluded that whether he lived or died, it would be a win! If he lived he’d have a better quality of life, if he died, he’d be with Jesus.  Those of us who know Jesus know his words are absolutely true.  Paul spoke similar.  To live is Christ, to die is gain.

I am reminded of the story of Esther.  God brought her to the place he had appointed as Queen  “for such a time as this” She was in the right place to have an audience with the King.  Her position saved the Jewish Nation.

I believe God brought these men and so many others together in Nashville for such a time as this.  For the music, yes. Songwriters, guitar pickers, pianists, harmonica players, drummers, engineers, producers, singers and so many others.  God isn’t partial, he gives his gifts to the unjust and to the just.  Their talent and abilities came from God when he created them before they were even born.  But I also believe God brought these folks together for the Gospel.  Not just for the change He made in their lives, but  that His light might shine to those that listen to the music, to those that learn about their lives and seek to find Jesus for themselves.

Those guys, Chip and his buddies, aren’t the only ones with gifts and talents. Each of us have them. You may not sing, you may not play or be musically inclined at all.  But I know God gave you talent.  Maybe you haven’t found it yet.  Maybe you’ve struggled.  Chip struggled with health issues for a large portion of his life, I wrote about that 3 years ago. But you know what?  No one lives problem free.  Maybe you have physical pain, or chronic illness, or maybe your pain is emotional.    You might need to know that God is there with you.  He didn’t cause whatever you’re going through, but he allowed it to grow you, to strengthen you and to show you how much you need him.  I know that seems counter productive, but I know firsthand, it’s true! I know that Chip and a lot of the folks I sat down with would want me to tell you that God is real.  He’s not dead.  His desire is for you to give up yourself and to live for Him!

The kindness Jesus has shown is the price he paid.  His life, his blood in exchange for your sin, my sin, Uncle Chip’s sin.  None of us have done one thing worthy enough to deserve even one of the blessings he’s given us, and yet he blesses us over and over in ways we often don’t understand.

Chip finished well.  He went from loving Budweiser and golf to loving Jesus more. Once saved, he never drank another Budweiser, maybe he continued to play the occasional golf game?  I’m not sure.  But a conversation about Jesus was never far away.

I had planned a trip and was slated to spend the night with Uncle Chip and Diane the day he fell. The next day, he had the heart attack that led to the surgery.   The next week, he was lying in a hospital bed scheduled for the surgery as I drove back through Nashville.  We all knew how serious this surgery was, we knew it was risky.  Wild horses couldn’t have kept me from stopping in and seeing him.  We prayed together before Diane and I went to dinner.  I held the hand that God had used to build fences, to remodel all sorts of places, that built at least one car and beautiful furniture and played  some of the music we all love. Those were also the hands that had held his Bible.

He made it through the surgery just fine but he never regained his strength. One afternoon about a month later he lay in the hospital bed and began to have trouble breathing.  He was tired and wanted to go Home. Later that afternoon he slipped from this world into the next.

I’m still sad that I missed the time with him that we had planned, but God’s divine providence was different and even better.

Several years before his death, Chip was helping to install the new baptistry at their church, he decided he needed be baptized.

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The smile he was known for is even bigger in this picture as he makes his way to prepare for his baptism

This came about in part, because of a patient wife who prayed and would often ask  if Chip wanted to go to church with her, and a little bible study that began around the kitchen table at Forge Seat.

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One of the gathering places of the bible study


Thanks for taking the ride with me!







This and That and Another Light Bulb Moment

If you can’t make somebody happy with music, there ain’t no sense in doing the music         Chip Young


Tomorrow is the 31st day of the month and the end of this years challenge.

Thanks for hopping in and riding along with me.  I pray I gave honor to Uncle Chip and the friends he thumbed around with in Nashville.  I pray I did their stories justice and made the journey entertaining and informative and a little fun.

I remember this same feeling three years ago. Like there’s so much more to be said but not enough time to say it. There were a lot of people I would have liked to have chatted with but I didn’t get the chance.  I wish I could have taken more time, been more thorough.  For reasons beyond this, I wish life hadn’t thrown that curve ball two years ago.  I wish I could have written this while it was fresh. But the words weren’t there then.

Even so, God has been good.  Listening to the recordings I made were painful, like a lot of folks I don’t like listening to myself, but listening to them almost took me right back to where I was two year ago.   I can see the love Jerry Kennedy had for my Uncle as he spoke about missing Chip’s smile or hearing “Heeeeeey J.K.” when he’d answer the phone.  I can almost taste the chocolate bar Ray Stevens shared with me while we chatted at his little studio on Music Row.  I nearly bounced out of my chair earlier this month as I listened to Gordon talk about Black Eyed Peas.  My heart warms as I think about driving up to Boxwood and walking through the Southern Ground studio all these years later.

When I began this journey I wasn’t sure I’d have the words. Even now,there were days when the writing was hard, but I pushed through and did it.  I’m sure these guys had days they didn’t want to make the music, but they got themselves up and went on because they had to do it.  Uncle Chip did it after he received the call that his mother had died. He finished the session then left for Atlanta. Uncle Chip was a lot like Grandma, just plain lovable, so I know he’d rather have skipped out and left the session.

I missed some things because I’m inexperienced and because I wasn’t diligent in note taking.  One afternoon in Glenn’s home studio/shop I had the recorder going, but then forgot to save it before I turned it off.  We were just chatting about things of yesteryear, nothing special, but that afternoon is gone.  How could I have taken notes as Diane and I lived together those 2 weeks when I was there?  Looking back, I know I should have gone straight to my laptop that Friday evening after Bruno and the sightseeing group pulled out on that big bus.  Because of this, I’m not sure it’s my best work. But it’s the best I have to offer.

I’ll have a little more to say as I wrap this up tomorrow.   But today, I want to post some more fun stuff I found as I was piddling around.

A couple of things I discovered by happenstance, which we know isn’t.  Shane found a record titled Guitar’s Greatest Hits; Tom (Tomlinson) and Jerry (Kennedy) in a thrift store this past Sunday afternoon.  The album cover had a little bio on  Jerry Kennedy, and on Tom too.   From it I found that in his younger years Jerry Kennedy was called Jerry Glenn.  Jerry Glenn had a record deal when he was 10, not for guitar, but for vocals. It made the top 10 on the country charts!

This tune came next.  RCA waited for Jerry Glenn’s voice to change, but his contract expired before it did, by then Jerry Kennedy was on his way to becoming a great guitarist and producer.  As far as I know he never went back to vocals.

Wouldn’t have been funny if Jerry Kennedy had been involved with this little Shel Silverstein  project?


Reggie Young has a new CD out, Forever Young.  You can find it on Amazon and several other outlets.  He and Jenny Lynn have also done an album together, Be Still.  It is a beautiful compilation of instrumental hymns.  You can find it on Amazon too.

I can’t imagine music without these guys.  Writers, musicians, artists, producers, engineers, they all played a part in making the music we love.  No matter what genre of music you like, many of these guys affected it somehow.  It takes everyone working together, especially back when most musicians and artists met in the studio and knew the way each other worked well enough to play off each other to make a great sound. When everyone wanted to give their absolute best and they were willing to be innovative and willing to try new things. That’s what makes great music.

Maybe that’s why it’s frustrating to watch as Nashville changes again. And the light bulb clicks on again in my brain for another moment when things are coming together.

When these guys came in they weren’t trying to change country music, they were using their talents, trying to make it better. Fred was instrumental in slowing down the work, instead of 4 songs in a session, the musicians would work on a song until they made it the best they felt it could be.  That’s why Kennedy called Chip to see if he could run over in between sessions to tweak a little tune by Mel McDaniel that ended in the number 1 spot in 1984.

It wasn’t about cranking out tunes.  It was about being artistic and meticulous. Like Rudy told me, it was about finding the right sound for the song whether it was clanking two Craftsman wrenches together to resemble a pick digging for gold  in California or a Rickenbacker guitar for a good song that never made number one.  I believe they did that with all the songs they worked on back then.  Every song can’t be a number one, but these guys were about making every song they worked on the best they could make it.  Maybe that’s the light bulb moment;  maybe these guys feel that the work they did, the task they accomplished, has been abandoned for convenience once again.  Instead of making quality they feel like there’s some back-peddling.

Cranking out tunes has overtaken the desire to make music be the best it can be.

Technology might be continually improving, but is it making music better?  I believe Fred is right when he says much of the music being cranked out of Nashville won’t be memorable–he’s one that definitely would know what it takes to make a memorable tune.  Today, there seems to be a lot of  technology coming out of Nashville instead of talented musicians, artists or innovation.  Is that taking it too far?  Maybe, but I’m gonna leave it out there to be massaged for a while.

The guys I’ve written about made a lot of people happy with their music.  I wonder if that’s what’s happening today.  For a lot of years I wasn’t listening to mainstream music.  I was listening to more Contemporary Christian Music and hymns.  When I turned the radio again I found a lot had changed.  Maybe happy is what’s missing from today’s music.

Here’s a little clip by NAAM done in his house in 2012.

Forgive me if I posted Fred’s little interview earlier this month.   I can’t remember right now and need to skedaddle so I don’t have time to look. The stained glass in the background is from the Young’un Sound studio.

These guys know what makes good music that makes people happy.

This part of the journey ends tomorrow.  After that, I’ll keep working.  I’ll try to post updates here and on the Facebook page I made.  I may post other fun facts or things I find interesting along the way.  If you find something, or have something you think this project needs, feel free to use the contact me page.



Bruno Tours

I left Nashville the 2nd time on a Saturday morning. The Friday before, I traveled a little ways east and met up with my Dad and Malachi at Cracker Barrel so we could be back to Diane’s for Bruno’s Elvis tour that would arrive by charter bus that afternoon.

I told you about Bruno in the last series.  He and Charlie began offering tours several years ago to the people in Bruno’s homeland.  Uncle Chip and Diane took a couple of trips to Sweden and Uncle Chip performed for his fans there.  I have a picture of him onstage somewhere and can’t find it now…it must be on the other computer. Here’s a couple of others I was able to find from past tours.

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One of the earlier tours in Uncle Chip and Diane’s backyard
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Bruno, Charlie, Chip and Jerry Reed


I kind of knew what to expect. I’d seen some pictures and heard some stories.  There had been different people there to greet the tour over the years.  This time I knew there would be about 40 people on the tour. I knew D.J. Fontana and Ray Walker, one of the Jordanaires, would join Charlie, and Reggie and Jenny. Jay McDowell would be bringing one of Reggie’s guitar from the Musicians Hall of Fame, and I didn’t take notes and I don’t remember what session the guitar was used for now and neither does Malachi. Awwww. drats!

It had rained that morning and threatened rain all afternoon, so the group would gather in the driveway instead of the backyard, unless more raindrops fell, then we’d move everyone to the garage. I knew there would be strong coffee, and by strong I mean, it could almost stand up without a cup strong. There would be delicious soft and chewy cookies from the bakery at the local grocery store.

Bruno’s tour group from Sweden. Left to right. Sitting with guitar, Reggie Young, Jay McDowell, Jenny Young, (in black jacket and jeans) Ray Walker and Charlie McCoy. All the people were the tourists, and they were ADORABLE!

While the coffee was brewing, we prayed that the rain would hold off as we set a few chairs on the driveway so the guys that needed to could sit while the tour stood around them and listened.  The rain held off but I don’t think it would have mattered.  The group was delightful!

Bruno introduced Charlie who greeted the tour, introduced the guys and Reggie’s wife Jenny, remember she played with Waylon. Charlie played some harmonica, and Reggie’s guitar and they chatted about Elvis.

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 Charlie’s playing a fun little song on Reggie’s guitar. Elvis’s first drummer, D.J. Fontana.

Afterward, the group was free to wander, to visit with the guys, to sample the cookies and coffee while they walked through the front room where Diane has several memorabilia items on display from the Elvis years.

Malachi and I helped Diane serve cookies and coffee and chatted with people as they came through the kitchen. One sweet gentleman shared with me that he had been on one of the previous tours, before Uncle Chip died. He told me how wonderful it was to get to meet him and to visit with him in his home. He shared his memories with me from that tour.

Malachi and I were both asked for autographs and a couple of the folks even wanted pictures of us. What? I’m Chip’s niece, Malachi is Chip’s great nephew, we’re nobodies. I’m sure some of the folks visited with Jenny. I didn’t think to ask how many autographs she had given that day, but I’m certain she must have given several.

I told them I’m nobody, only Chip’s niece.

Oh yes! You’re Chip’s niece! I want your picture please!

I think Malachi gave more autographs than me, I don’t blame anyone, he’s a handsome dude.

Malachi and I with Charlie. 

A while later, the crowd dispersed. Back up the steps of the bus on to their next stop. A little while later Charlie, D.J., Reggie and Jenny went home and left us with great memories of some super people. Malachi, Diane and I chatted about how sweet it was that these precious people wanted our autographs and pictures of us. Diane says that happens every time they come.

Even today, 2 years later, I sit with tears in my eyes as I think of the hospitality that Malachi and I were shown by those precious people that were interested in a little music history.

The tour has changed over the years. For a time, they’d make a stop at Studio B where Uncle Chip would tell them the gun story and others would share their memories of working with Elvis as the tour sat in the studio where a lot of the magic happened. When that was no longer an option, Bruno asked if Uncle Chip and Diane would open their home to host tours. Over the years, they’ve hosted many tours together and Diane has hosted several tours by herself. Every tour is different. It depends on who is available. Billy Swan and Bobby Bare came out to entertain one time after Uncle Chip died.

Billy told me that studio musicians often get more attention internationally than in the United States. After being present during that tours, I believe it. These people were so excited to meet these guys. To hear their experiences from them.

But these guys aren’t gonna be around forever.

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The Five Legends  Charlie, Chip Scotty D.J and Reggie

D.J. passed away in June of this year at the age of 87.

Here’s a 15 minute clip of D.J. talking about how he came to work with Elvis.

Who’s left? Reggie is 81 years young and Charlie McCoy is 77. He’s older than he looks or acts. His energy level is contagious, but, like the others, and all of us, he’s gonna die one day. I’m glad Bruno is interested in getting their stories told.



Sunday Funs 2

Want a little Chip Young?  Yes I do!!! I’m not sure where this is picture is taken, but I’m pretty sure that’s the Super 400 that kept him and Diane from seeing Kenny Rogers one night a few years ago.  Remember that little family trait I mentioned the other day when I told you about the car they rebuilt out at Jack and Gretchen’s?  It sure sounds good and he sure loved having that guitar.

Fred said Chip played like he lived, I agree.








Maybe if Fred had gotten a hold of this, Uncle Chip might have made some waves as a singer too…I think it needs some do waps.







How about a little vintage Dolly singing her first hit, released in 1967 produced by Fred Foster on the Monument label before she signed with Porter.  The cut was on Dolly’s first album Hello, I’m Dolly.

It’s from the Bobby Lord show in 1967.  Back then, blondes, brunettes and redheads all had big hair.  Since then, big and blonde has definitely worked for Dolly.  She has become one of, if not the most successful woman in country music and in several other venues too, and not all in the entertainment industry. The Imagination Library, is a foundation that gifts books to children regardless of income.  It began in Dolly’s hometown, Sevier County Tennessee in 1995 and has expanded across the country, into Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.    In other words, she’s a pretty smart lady for a dumb blonde.






Here’s a link to Monument’s first release and also it’s first hit.  Billy Grammar’s, Gotta Travel On.   The song itself was covered by many artists for many year, including Bobby Bare, Chet Atkins, and Bill Monroe.






In respect to the passing of Tony Joe White this week, I thought I’d post a tune that didn’t really make the Country hit list.  This little number was recorded by Tina Turner and a funny story I found on the Jonesboro Arkansas ABC affiliate’s website.

White said also in 2006 that Turner was taken aback when they first met.

“She turned around and looked at me and started hysterically laughing and couldn’t get her breath,” he recalled. “She was doubling over and I thought, ‘Are my pants unzipped or something?’ Finally she got her breath and came over to me and gave me a big hug and said, ‘I’m sorry, man. Ever since ‘Polk Salad Annie’ I always thought you were a black man.’



Want a little insight on studio musicians?  Reggie didn’t read music and neither did Uncle Chip but they made some great sounds!




And the original 5 A-team members


I’m feeling the crunch of day 28.  I could post a plethora of things I found and I would love to, but I just can’t.   One more short one of Reggie playing the intro to I Can Help in Sweden.  I’m sure he was there with Bruno.


Happy Sunday y’all!

A History Lesson; The Gathering- I Hope I Get This Right

***Author note.  I’ve got some of the perfectionist in me. (not the grammar though haha, but I want the information to be as right as I can get it.). I hate posting what I know is not complete.  I know this series is a rough draft,  you’ll find this post missing a lot of information. it’s a rough draft of the rough draft.   I’m determined to keep the goal in mind.  Write. Write is the goal! I’ll come back to it later and tweak it out. ***

I was just a little thing when all this magic was happening. A mainly weekend visitor to Murfreesboro, so I didn’t see much.  The only session I remember in the log cabin was the one with Billy Swan, the one after I Can Help.  The album was Rock and Roll Moon, I think. I still have the album.   I had it in the car when I wen to visit Billy and left it sitting in the seat.  I told him I had it, but I didn’t go back to the car for it that day.  Maybe I should have just because.

I’m not sure how it happened that I  was there for that session.  Was it a weekend session? I don’t think they did weekend sessions? Or were we there during  week for some reason. It seems like I might have been.  Maybe my Grandma was spending a week there… I remember watching M.A.S.H. on a little black and white t.v. while sneaking spoonfuls chocolate chip cookie dough from a yellow tube in the fridge that was sitting next to it.  No one ever said anything about the missing cookie dough, but it was cookie dough so I’m sure it was noticed.  The other really great things about food at Uncle Chips was bread toasted in the oven, not a toaster.  The backside was soft and the topside was crisp.  Squeeze fake butter.  Today, I wouldn’t touch the stuff with a 10 foot pole but back then, it was super cool because you didn’t have to wait for it to melt. Breakfast was always good at Uncle Chip’s.  Sorry about that little detour back to the Boxwood kitchen.

As I’ve heard these guys sharing the stories with me, I do have vague memories of overhearing Uncle Chip telling my dad some of them as they were working.  But the swimming pool, the tractor and Budweiser’s were much more interesting to me than paying attention to what the grown ups were talking about. With a lot of help from Chip’s friends I’m piecing together things that I wasn’t paying much attention to back then.

One of the things I’m just putting together how all the studios, the artists, the songwriters and the musicians worked.  Figuring out that the musicians converged was easy.  But I’m a little slow on some of the other things.   You might remember from the previous series, I was also a little slow on the thumb-pick vs flat pick difference and had to go back to do a little research.  As I delve into the world of figuring out when what studio came along, and who worked where, and how it all came, I’m counting on you guys that were there to correct me when I get something wrong. My buddy and more especially Chip’s buddy Glenn told me a bunch of this as we were hanging out but I didn’t have the voice recorder running, I didn’t take notes and my head was swimming, overloaded with all that was happening.  (Sorry dude) He’s out touring with John Anderson while I’m writing this, but I’m certain when he reads it he’ll help me get it more right because that dude has a lot of knowledge and memories stored away, and much like Uncle Chip, he’s kinda quiet about it, unless you ask him.

Nashville was in the recording business from the 1930’s forward.  The Grand Ole Opry, WSM and the Ryman with a few others scattered here and there, but these venues were in downtown Nashville and very centered on Hillybilly music.

The Owen brothers were working for Decca, they tried to rent a couple of places downtown to do their work.  For one reason or another those places didn’t last.   It led them to look outside of downtown where they found a little house in a quiet little mixed zone neighborhood on 16th Street in 1954 after the 2nd place fissiled.

Thus begins the journey to the building of Music Row.

Making history was not in the forefront of anyone’s mind at that time. Making music was.  Jessi Maness, Sports and Entertainment Nashville

The Bradley’s gutted the first floor of the little house and made some hit records.  But they wanted more than music, they wanted a television studio too. Quonset Huts were in high supply for reasonable prices.  They bought one and placed it behind the little house.  Good thing zoning laws weren’t what they are now, we might never have had the Quonset Hut.  At this point, they either outgrew the house or one of the artists wanted to try the Hut.  Either way, the Hut became the recording studio and television?  What happened there?  Did they ever have a television studio at the Quonset Hut?

In 1962, the sold the place to Columbia.   Columbia tore down the original house (ouch!)  but left a little glimpse of the Hut around a building filled with office space.  The Hut closed down in 1982.  I believe the last record cut there was John Anderson’s Swingin, but again, I could be wrong.   Musician, producer and philanthropist, Mike Curb purchased the place, restored it and created a Foundation to protect it.  He allows Belmont University to use it as a recording classroom. Some great artists recorded there, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Brenda Lee and Bobby Vinton.

I believe this is also where Dylan also recorded the Blonde on Blonde album, but I could also be wrong. Jerry Kennedy?  Charlie? You guys were there, have I got this right?

I’m also just realizing the significance of this event to Nashville.  I told y’all I’m slow.  Nashville had been recording Hillbilly music for a long time but NYC and California were the places to be if you were anything else.  There might have been some other places…but those seemed to be the hubs for what was happening in other genres.

Which means having Bob Dylan chose Nashville over New York City was big stuff!  It put Nashville on the map for music. That was the beginning of the shift.  Nashville began to steal away the music from NYC and CA.  Nashville started becoming more than Hillybilly music.

Studio B came after Quonset Hut.  According to their website, it was built by Dan Maddox in 1957 and was known as RCA Studios until Studio A came along.  Go figure B came before A.  It’s history is well documented and it’s the only studio of the era, to my knowledge, that the general public can tour.  Chet Atkins worked here.  Elvis, Dolly and so many others recorded at Studio B.

I know I’m missing a lot here.  Fred Foster co-founded Monument, named after the Washington D.C. Monument,  in 1959 in Baltimore, Maryland, with a DJ named Buddy Deane.  Deane wasn’t around long, and Fred moved the studio to Nashville.  Monument was housed in the once Presbyterian church.   where he found Roy Orbison. Bill Porter worked with Fred as a producer.  Monument made history in 1962 when it produced Leona Douglas,  the first (and maybe the only?) black female country & western artist.  I like it but it doesn’t sound very country to me.  What do you think?

Did Fred have two different studios at one time, Monument and Foster Sound?  I haven’t quite sorted this out.   Foster Sound was housed in a building formerly owned by Sam Phillips, of Sun Studios and operated for four years, from 1964 through 1969.

I’m almost to that swimming brain point again as I’m sorting this stuff out.  I should have paid better attention to Glenn–Ha!

Masterlink came into play somewhere.  It was a part of Monument on 17th at one time?  And was operated by Tommy Strong and Mort Thomason.  I’m not sure what year that began.  I believe it ended when Uncle Chip bought it from Fred.

Then, if I’m not mistaken, after Monument or Foster Studios, came Studio A.  It was the brainchild of Chet and the Bradley brothers working together and opened in 1965. (Just to put it in perspective, that’s the year I was born. ) It was a larger facility and could hold orchestras, choirs and live bands.   In 1977 RCA sold it and moved out of Nashville.  In 2014 it almost became condominiums even though it is listed on the National Registry of Historic .  Mike Curb and a couple of others saved it.  Yes, apparently a building that is listed on the National Historic Registry can be demolished.

Youngun’ Sound Murfreesboro came in 1968 and moved to Nashville in the late 1970’s.

Other studios have come and gone.  Ray Stevens tried his hand at a bigger studio but discovered pretty quickly that it wasn’t what he really wanted.  He bought the little house across the street and had his little recording studio on Music Row until he built CabaRay.

All of these studios claim to be the pioneers of the Nashville Sound, and of the Nashville numbering system.  As I’ve written, I’ve also put together in a little way the music converged to make the Nashville Sound and kinda sorta what it meant.

Country music was bluegrass or hillbilly music until these guys came along.

Fred Foster told me that a handshake was always good enough for Uncle Chip.  They’d draw up papers just in case anything ever happened to either of them, but for them it wasn’t necessary.

Chip’s word was his bond.  He sold the house after the McCullough family kept asking him to sell it.  He threw out a price he thought was preposterous. It wasn’t so preposterous, they accepted and he converted the little studio into  a guest house and moved himself to Forge Seat and the studio to 17th Ave.

This was also about the time he and Debbie separated.  I’m sure it wasn’t his finest hour but that was one thing I never heard him talk about.

There’s more that I could include about the studios/songwriting and numbering system.stuff but I’m running out of time.

Here’s a little Mickey Newberry recorded at Youngun’ Murfreesboro  with a little Chet on the guitar, and not country at all.


Here’s a video listing of Youngun’ Nashville when Jolson was selling it,  While I know it’s business, shame on the realtor for suggesting it be razed for high rise condo’s.  Thank you Zac Brown and Southern Ground for preserving history!


I’m also putting together the A-Team.  It seems there was an original group of five. ?  Others, like Uncle Chip came in and joined the first call group at a later time.   I told ya I was a little slow…













A Little Trip to the Country

Uncle Chip was more than music.  He loved working with his hands in many ways and was a bit perfectionistic at everything he touched.  His diligence to excellence and pure talent is why he succeeded at most everything he did.  In all fairness, I’m sure he attempted some things he failed at, although I’m not sure what it would be.  His work at Boxwood did not go unnoticed to a passerby many years ago when Uncle Chip and Dad were rebuilding the fence out by the road (she wanted to hire them to fix her fence when they were done at Boxwood).

He was responsible for bringing some shine to Forge Seat in Brentwood, TN also known as the Samuel Crockett House when he owned it after selling Boxwood.  Shortly after he and Diane married, they looked at another antebellum home to restore, but by God’s divine providence that didn’t happen.  It would have been too far from the doctors and medical facilities that he needed.  They purchased a pretty normal 3 bedroom house in a suburb of Nashville.  Uncle Chip and his father in law worked together to put their touch on it.  Their touch included building a beautiful enclosed porch that in many ways, reminds me of the old porch on the log cabin in Murfreesboro.

Uncle Chip also had a sweet spot for old cars, sports cars and nice cars.  Several of the guys that I visited with that were around in the early days mentioned Chip’s little sports car, what was it?  They’d say.  I’d answer it was a Jag wasn’t it?  Oh yeah!  I think this is it, circa 1967.  It’s also the car Chip had when he married Del.  I know this because there’s a little picture of me giving Uncle Chip a big ole smacker while Del, maybe not so patiently, waited.    I don’t blame her, it was her day, not mine.  In my cuteness and love for him I kinda stole the show at least for a moment captured in time.

Chip 1967

He also had a sweet little dark green Mercedes convertible sometime in the late 1970’s or maybe early 1980’s.  I think that was the car him, Megan and Glenn came in when we saw Michael Jackson at Neyland Stadium in, was it 1984?

I ventured to many places and met up with several people those weeks I was in Nashville a couple of years ago. Not all of them were musicians.  Diane and I made a little trip out to visit with  Jack and Gretchen.  Jack owns his own business in construction, and they have a nice little place not far down the road from Boxwood farms.  Jack first met Chip on a Work and Witness project with their church in Memphis, they were there to do some work at a sister church in Memphis.

Chip and Diane pulled in late that evening, he opened up the back of his Trailblazer and had all sorts of tools piled in the back.  Most folks that came to work didn’t have tools so Jack took this as a sign that they would be friends.  As  Jack, a self admitted perfectionist, found out how meticulous Chip was and the friendship was sealed.  The two of them and three others  stuck together doing their many travels with the Nazarene Work and Witness program over the years.  They made several trips to Costa Rica and one to Phoenix.  That trip was memorable because Chip got really sick and Jack and one of the other guys stayed back from sight seeing.

One  morning during one of the Costa Rica trips, Chip had given a devotional about having patience.  You know what’s coming don’t you?  God’s sense of humor.  That evening they were all tired and worn out from working hard.  They were snug in their beds when they hear all sorts of hollering and carrying on outside the window.  It seems sometime in the late hours a group of teenagers, I’m guessing maybe a youth group from one of the churches,  pulled into the compound.  It didn’t take long and Chip had had enough.  He popped up out of bed, went to the window and gave them a word or two.

The next morning Chip came out of the room apologizing for losing his cool.  The guys assured him that if he hadn’t fussed at those kids one of them would have. Those kids were being unruly and rude, obviously there were no adults around to shush them.  Yep, someone had to do it.

Chip took his guitar everywhere he went and everybody loved it.  They’d eat peanut butter and pineapple. (I might have to give that a whirl one day. What was it that Elvis liked to eat? Bananas and something weird….oh yes fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches with lots of butter and maybe some bacon thrown in for good measure.  Is that a musician/entertainer thing?  Weird food? On the other hand, we’re talking bacon and butter, so maybe it’s not so weird after all.

Jack told me they got into trouble a few times because they’d often get hungry before mealtime and sneak off the job site to grab a bite.  They really weren’t supposed to do that because meals were provided but in all fairness, Jack explained that mealtime in Costa Rica comes at 8 or 9pm. Well past Uncle Chip’s bedtime.


Uncle Chip used Jack’s garage to do most of the work on this old car. It happened kind of by circumstance.  Chip was telling Jack that it needed welding and fabrication work on the front end.  Instead of spending money, Jack said he could do i, so they  trailered her and took her out to Jack’s garage.  Every day that Uncle Chip drove out there, he’d go by the Parker’s to pick up his father-in-law and they’d spend the day working.  Jack would show up after he got his crews working.  And the mailman,  Ronnie who built his own cars in his spare time would stop by often enough that they all became pretty good friends. it’s probably a good thing Jack’s place was the last stop on his route.  Uncle Chip and Mr. Parker became such good friends with the mailman that when they found out that Ronnie’s brother had gotten sick and died, they put on their dress clothes and went to the funeral with Jack before they started work that day.   Did you catch that?  Uncle Chip and Mr. Parker had never met Jerry but went to his funeral because his friend Ronnie had lost his brother.

That’s the kind of man Diane’s daddy is and Chip was.

About 9 months and a lot of bucks later, the project was complete.  It probably took so long because Diane would tell Uncle Chip no more money on parts.  Well, Jack that’s kinda a family thing.  A budget?  What’s that? Several of us are thankful for our spouses that reign us in when we forget there’s no money tree in the backyard.









Thursday Throwback

Another Thursday with a crazy busy day ahead of me. I may not make it back to write, but wanted to give you a little something…I’m working on some new posts but haven’t had time to finish them this week…it’s the real world her in Kansas City MO.

Here’s another throwback from the first series…I didn’t even try to fake this one with Rudy…a Rickkenwhater????

In 1986 The Gatlins released the album Partners.

Chip had a slew of guitars, 30? 40? 50? Maybe more, when he was in the business.  He had a Rickenbaker among them.   Rudy kindly explained that it produces a distinctive sound, tinny even, and mentioned The Birds, I guess I sounded dumbfounded because he started singing “To everything turn turn, turn…ahhhhh yes! The light bulb went off and I knew the tune and the sound he was referring to.  (You have to remember, I’m a young pup and I’m NOT a musician).

Chip and Rudy wanted to use the electric Rickenbacker, was it a 6 string or 12 string? Rudy couldn’t remember, but they were waiting patiently for the right song.  In 1986, they got their chance. When the song came along, both Chip and Rudy looked at each other, neither said a word, but they each knew. Chip trotted to his guitar room and brought out the Rickenbacker. And that is what you hear on the song.

Rudy says, “Back then they used what felt “right’ for the song.” And it seems Chip was a genius at knowing what was right.

The Rickenbacker was right for the song, Changing Partners.

Rudy was kind enough to call me after Diane sent the email that began all of this.  And he was kind enough to allow us to chat again after I realized how ridiculous I had been the first time around.  I’m over my starstruck, fangirling, so if you or Steve or Larry have any other fun stories to share from the studio, ring me back.

Happy Thursday!