Bluegrass 45 —“50 years ago this week” Week 7

For a Slide Show of photos from this week’s BG45 travels, check this web address:  http://frobbi.org/akira/1971_BG45_WK_07/

1971/7/29 Thursday—Day off

Sab made us breakfast for the first time—he made almost all the lunches & dinners so he was excused from breakfast duty—however, it was a very simple Ochazuke-Nori with rice and seaweed.  Liao, Toshio & Akira went to a pool, but it’s too cold.  In the evening Dick took us to a mall and we bought pants, shirts and shoes but Josh didn’t like them.  After taking us back to our apartment, Dick went home and brought his wife and daughter (Sheila and Tami) over.  We had to dress up and show them our new outfit!!  This is the uniform you see on our Caravan album and also in a movie Bluegrass Country Soul.

1971/7/30 Friday—Leave For Nashville

I fixed everybody breakfast.  We went to Dick’s and set up our tent in the backyard to dry out.  At 10:30 pm we left Hyattsville on our way to Nashville.  We took the same route as when we traveled to Berryville, but we passed it—looking back now I guess Interstate I-66 was not finished yet.  We passed Winchester, Roanoke, Knoxville and to Nashville.  It was pouring cats and dogs and hard to drive.  I felt sorry for Dick who drove all the way.

1971/7/31 Saturday—Nashville

We arrived in Nashville at 1 pm.  We met Mr. Yamamoto in front of the Opry. He was from Osaka and loved country and bluegrass.  He was one of the boys who hung out at Lost City.   We got rooms at the old historical James Robertson Hotel.

We walked around the Opry and Broadway.  Records at Ernest Tubb’s shop were extremely expensive and Roy Acuff Exhibits charged $1 to get in.  Outdoor speakers were playing music the whole time—what a noisy town, well, I guess it’s the Music City.

When we got back to our room, Dick was not happy. The Opry office thought Bluegrass 45 was a part of a tour group coming from Japan this weekend and when the tour was cancelled, they thought we were off also.  Dick pulled all the strings he had and he managed to get us to play one song around 10:30 pm.  We discussed what song to play and decided on “Wild & Reckless Hobo,” a fast straight bluegrass song.  

We rehearse a little bit and then we took a nap.  We got up around 9 pm, packed up and went to the Opry, but they would not let us in.  While Dick was making calls, a young gentleman came out and ordered us to leave because they got a bomb threat!  At first we thought he was kidding but then the audiences were coming out to the street and police cars were coming in.

It was just when they finishing the first set when everybody had to get out.  Eventually no bomb was found, so they resumed the show around 10:30 pm and they let us in to a back room.  We watched the Osborne Brothers’ set from the side of the stage, changed our clothes and got ready.  We were scheduled to appear during Jack Green’s set.  We were surprised to find out his wife was Japanese.

I kicked off “Wild & Reckless Hobo” on mandolin, but we had trouble hearing each other and our timing was awful.  When we got an encore, Sab was smart enough to kick it off on banjo.  It was not our best performance, but still we played on the stage of the Opry!!  Afterwards we went out to dinner and then went to bed.

1971/8/1 Sunday—Leaving Nashville and Traveling into Canada

When we checked out from the hotel, we discovered that we had a flat tire.  So, we went to see Country Music Hall of Fame while Dick went to get it fixed.  It was neat to see Carter Stanley’s guitar in the Hall of Fame.

Mr. Yamamoto decided to come along to Canada with us, so we went to his hotel and he packed his luggage.  We ate burgers and left Nashville at 2 pm heading to Toronto to pick up the LP prints.  We went into the state of Kentucky for the first time.  We passed Louisville and Toledo and crossed into Canada from Detroit at midnight.  When we stopped somewhere near London, Ontario, many stars were out and I saw the Milky Way for the first time in my life.  (Note: Air pollution in Japan was terrible back then, but it’s much better today.)

For this Nashville/Toronto trip Dick drove his 1967 Oldsmobile 442 convertible.  Since it’s a convertible, both ends of back seats housed a mechanism for the top and seat space was much narrower than a regular sedan.  With Dick, Mr. Yamamoto and five members, it was total of seven people.  The people in the front bench seat was not a problem but four in the back was tough and sometimes one of us had to lay on top of three others’ legs.  Out of five members, I was the only one who brought an international driving permit, but I was not used to large cars, power steering, power break or driving on the other side of the road, so I was scared to drive.

1971/8/2 Monday—Fiddler’s Green in Toronto

We arrived in Toronto at 5 am.  It was a 14-hour drive from Nashville!  We slept until noon, got a sub at Mr. Submarine and checked into the Warwick Hotel.  We did some sightseeing and then napped again.  We stopped at Dick’s friend John’s place, borrowed his upright bass and headed to the Fiddler’s Green club.  We had Dick driving, five members of Bluegrass 45, Mr. Yamamoto and a bass!  It was little crowded for sure.  We played two sets at Fiddler’s Green, bought fried chicken and subs and ate in the hotel room.

1971/8/3 Tuesday—Leave Toronto

I couldn’t sleep well.  I woke up at 7 am and moved to a sofa.  I finally got up around noon.  Josh went to a record store and Dick went to pick up the LP jackets, but they were not ready.  So, we checked out from the hotel and went to John’s house to kill some time.  In the evening the jackets were finally ready, so we picked them up and hit the road at 9:30 pm, heading back to Maryland.

1971/8/4 Wednesday—Back to Maryland and the Country Gentlemen Reunion at Shamrock

Early in the morning Dick got tired so Mr. Yamamoto took the wheel.  He was a veteran driver in Japan but he was not used to power steering, so Dick decided that he’d better drive.

We got back to Maryland around 9 am and then Dick and I drove to Annapolis to pick up our bus.  In the evening Dick came over and drove us to the Shamrock.  As soon as we walked into, current members of the Country Gentlemen (Charlie Waller, Bill Emerson, Jimmy Gaudreau & Bill Yates) performed several songs.  Then John Duffey replaced Jimmy and finished off the first set.  The second set started with Charlie, Bill Yates, Duffey & Eddie Adcock.  For the first time in my life, I heard the trio vocals of Charlie, John and Eddie live!!  “Long Black Veil,” “Tom Dooley,” “Hit Parade of Love” and others—my most favorite vocal trio.  After that, Bluegrass 45 performed a set but halfway through Josh broke a string and the rest of our set was a disaster.  Gents’ current members closed the evening.  What a day!

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