Nashville – Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge…Debi Champion’s Songwriter Rounds at the Commodore Grille…

Suffice to say…that once I actually got to Nashville (approaching Nashville, I encountered a bit of a weather-issue on the Interstate, in heavy traffic.  You could see a long ways off, and it appeared as if we were heading directly into the path of what looked like the beginnings of an enormous funnel cloud.  I was honestly scared.  There was nowhere for any of us to go…stuck in traffic.  But, as we got close, it turned into a heavy downpour.  Inconvenient, but not life-threatening)…and once I actually found reasonably-priced parking near Lower Broadway/Music Row (another story)…I found myself quickly immersed in a state of photography (and music!) nirvana.

I really only had a few hours on Music Row (and that included finding dinner), and really wanted to go to the historic, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, so I headed there.  Three floors…three bands…and a rooftop patio-bar…all packed to the walls with locals and tourists (like me).  Mind you…this is a typical Sunday afternoon on Music Row.

I checked out the bands on each floor, beginning with the first.  Each band was really good, but the band on the top floor quickly grabbed my attention, as much for their music, as for photographic potential.  The members of the band were all photogenic…they were all super-fun…and I could get right up to the stage at various angles (not always an easy proposition on Music Row).

This band must have had a name, but they didn’t announce it.  Whoever they were, they were all good musicians…particularly the female fiddle-player (She was aMaZiNg.  And she seemed to like having me photograph her, as she looked long and hard, directly into my lens a couple of times, while she was playing.  Too perfect.).  And three or four of the members were really good lead singers.  So, that combination packs a wallop.

I’m also playing with this new camera lens, which is fast and sharp.  The “fast” aspect allows you to create great background and foreground blur that makes your subjects pop out in the image.  You can also add one of the camera’s own features of choosing one specific spot, like a person’s face (or even a person’s eye, in a close-up) to focus on, which allows you to further capitalize on foreground and background blur.

Long story, short…here are just a few of the best of the images from Tootsie’s where I try to capitalize on these features.  Suffice it to say…I had a blast.

Then, it was on to Debi Champion’s Songwriter Rounds and Songwriter’s Open Mic at the Commodore Grill, in the Holiday Inn, just a couple of miles from Music Row.

I love Debi Champion.  She is a very sweet, and extremely supportive host.  The main event, the “Rounds” are by invitation.  Three performers at a time take the stage…each with their own microphone and stool…and each introduces and plays one song at a time, until they’ve each played three songs.  Then, the next group of three is invited up, and the process repeats.  There were four rounds last night, I think, so that is a lot of songs.

At the end of the night is the Songwriter’s Open Mic, again, where three performers at a time take the stage.  Open Mic participants are only allowed one song each, which is fine.  It’s already been a long evening, at that point.

Here are a few of the best photos I took of the performers (I didn’t take many):

And, as on my last trip, Debi was more than happy to take photos of me with my camera (and this new lens).  I gave her a crash course in how to use it, and she did an amazing job.  As I was performing, I noticed that she seemed to be having a blast with it, moving around in the audience to capture a variety of angles.  This lens is very addictive.

Here are two of Debi’s best images of me:

I don’t have video of my performance, but I think I did well.  I definitely had a blast playing…even just one song…and afterward, with her warm smile, Debi volunteered that, “You did good”.  I can’t ask for more than that.

Today I’m heading to Meridian, MS, basically a little more than midway between Nashville and New Orleans, my next real stop.  I’ll be taking some local routes through Florence and Muscles Shoals, AL, where I’m hoping to stop and revisit a photo-op from my last trip.

All I can do is try “stuff” and see how it works out.  Wish me luck!

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