All posts tagged: National Preservation Conference

Exploring Savannah’s Gem of a Cathedral

A week would generally be enough time to explore large sections of a city the size of Savannah, Georgia. Time to linger among the live oaks and Spanish moss in the historic squares, eat at the growing list of restaurants, visit the museums, and share stories with friends and strangers in the coffee shops and bars scattered throughout the downtown. Plenty of time…unless one has a conference to run. Well, run is actually much too strong a word.  While technically responsible for ensuring that last week’s PastForward 2014 – the National Preservation Conference went off without a hitch, there are many staff members who carry a far heavier load as we worked to reach that goal.  Much of my oversight actually took place over the past 18 months.  Once the week of the conference comes, I just “enjoy the field trip” as Candice – the former elementary school teacher – says at times like these.  At the conference, I often have my day structured by others: be here to welcome this group, then go there …

Is This A Great Country or What?

If you have had it up to here with screaming right-wing talk show hosts or pontificating left-wing bloggers or just three days of rain, I have the perfect antidote:  the Vintage Roadside 2009 Road Trip Slide Show. Each year Jeff and Kelly from Vintage Roadside travel the back roads from Portland, Oregon to the host city of the National Preservation Conference and take pictures and blog about the experience.  (Vintage Roadside makes great t-shirts that honor the wonderful mom-and-pop roadside attractions, motor courts, motels, tiki lounges, drive-in restaurants, bowling alleys and roller-skating rinks found along America’s back roads.)  This year the trip took them to Nashville, Tennessee.  You will laugh out loud, you will be amazed at the quirky attractions that still remain on America’s roadsides, and you’ll marvel at what a diverse country we live in.  So take my recommendation – visit their slide show and spend a few minutes with this great country. Thanks Jeff and Kelly.  It was wonderful to spend a bit of time with you in Nashville.  Thanks for what …

Sitting In With Off the Wagon

Earlier this week, fellow preservationist and bluegrass lover David Price came up at the National Preservation Conference and invited me to sit in with his band, Off the Wagon, when they played the Southern Regional Reception on Thursday evening. I jumped on the wagon! Off the Wagon is a good young bluegrass band in Nashville (the next night they were playing at the world-famous Station Inn).  So as you can see from the photos, I enjoyed the chance to sing and play Sitting On Top of the World. Twas in the spring, one sunny day, My good gal left me, Lord, she went away, And now she’s gone, but I don’t worry, “Cause I’m sitting on top of the world. The band helped cover my mistakes (and my lapses in memory) and I had a great time.  Lots of friends and colleagues from our Southern Regional Office and beyond had a chance to enjoy it as well. I’ve inserted a video of Off the Wagon – without the interloper – playing New Camptown Races. Enjoy. …

From the Stage of the Ryman Auditorium…

Even for a guy who gets to work with some amazing people and visit some of the country’s most wonderful historic places, yesterday was an extraordinary day.  (And not just because I passed 10,000 visitors to More to Come…the DJB Blog – thank you readers.) Nope, the picture says it all.  I was privileged to open the National Preservation Conference from the stage of the historic Ryman Auditorium. For a bluegrass loving preservationist to have a chance to speak from the place where Earl Scruggs came onstage some 60 years ago with Bill Monroe to play White House Blues and give birth to bluegrass music was an honor.  To be able to tell 2,000 conference attendees why this place matters was a thrill.  To be able to hear the bluegrass I’d chosen over the Ryman’s speakers for the 30 minutes before we kicked off the conference was just a rush.  I knew it was going to be a great evening when the Laurie Lewis tune Who Will Watch the Home Place? – with its haunting …

Sleep is Overrated When You’ve Got Music to Fuel the Soul

At the end of a busy first day at the National Preservation Conference in Nashville, I took off to the Grand Ole Opry House with about 20 close friends for the taping of a PBS special celebrating 40 Years of Rounder Records.  (Look for the show on March 10, 2010.)  While it started late and ended even later, it was an amazing evening of music. Here’s just a few highlights: Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas playing that great accordion-driven dance music from Louisiana, where the “crawfish got soul and the alligators got the blues.”  My accordion-playing friend Jim Harrington would have loved it.  As my colleague and seatmate  Caroline Barker said, “If I could move my feet like Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas I’d be a dancer instead of a preservationist (perhaps).” Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn singing and playing Keys to the Kingdom.  I heard them do the tune at Merlefest, but it was even better in the controlled setting of the Opry House.  Then Bela and Jerry Douglas played a duet …

Union Station: A Personal History and a Preservation Success Story

Having just arrived in Nashville for the 2009 National Preservation Conference, I find myself in the lobby of the Union Station Hotel waiting for a room and for my meetings to begin.  That left me time to think…which can be dangerous. Union Station is a Nashville landmark.  It is a beautiful old pile of a building and the lobby (see photo) is stunning.  But I think it is a landmark and was – in the end – saved from the wrecking ball because it has so many personal connections to people in Middle Tennessee.  Take me, for instance. My parents were part of the post-war (WWII) marriage boom that begat the well-documented baby boom.  Both were from the small town of Franklin, located about 20 miles from Nashville.  My father had just graduated from Vanderbilt and he and my mom were married in the First Baptist Church in Franklin.  Before beginning his life-long career with the Tennessee Valley Authority, my father and his new bride had a honeymoon to take. Luckily, they had relatives (my …

On the Trail of Uncle Dave Macon

Andrew, Claire, and I spent much of today in Readyville, Tennessee, with my brother Joe, sister-in-law Kerry, and their family (more on our visit in a later post).  Joe is an ornamental blacksmith and fellow lover of bluegrass and old-time music.  So it seemed fitting – after a day of playing Old Joe Clark and other tunes with Joe and his son Joseph – that I take Andrew & Claire on an educational trip by hallowed ground:  the burial place of Uncle Dave Macon. Affectionately known as the “Dixie Dew Drop,” Uncle Dave was a vaudeville performer and one of the first stars of the Grand Ole Opry.  He came out of a 19th century performing sensibility, but also was one of the first country musicians to take advantage of the new technology of radio. After his death in 1952, Macon was buried between Murfreesboro and Readyville in the Coleman Cemetery.  A new road to Cannon County now bypasses the cemetery, but I turned off the four lane and went over to the Old Woodbury …