The Concert Tour: Days Ten & Eleven


Oct. 25th, 1991

Texas receding into the late night distance, a few too many viewings of the Austin City Limits tape under our belt, we retreat to our bunks as the bus churns toward Nashville. Eddie will be driving all night, likely splitting the shift with Billy. I'll never know if that happened or not, as I crash hard right through until noon the next day, blearily regaining consciousness, the bus parked in (ahem) the parking lot of our motel.

As before, we're stopping here to allow Eddie to rest, and break up the trip. The plan is to 'share the wonder' of Opryland one more time, this time venturing inside to be shown around by Shannon and hopefully to connect with Roy Clarke, one of Danny's many well-known friends and admirers.

But that's tomorrow, and today there's, well, nothing. Time to kill at the motel, on the strip by the highway, surrounded by, well, nothing. OK, other motels and restaurants. Sad to say, that is really the extent of Day Ten, a pure vegetable experience. People are basically crashed, reading, watching TV, resting. The highlight of the day occurs when I'm off with a book and myself to Shoney's for dinner: being served by a waitress who calls me "hon," "darlin'" and "lil' doll" all in within the course of the meal. AND, she lets me pour my own coffee, pointing to the pot resting on the next table, "There's coffee right there if you need it." (Please know this isn't sarcasm. Given the level of the boredom this schtick is pretty refreshing!) Walking back, I'm almost run over by a couple of good'ol'boys in a beat-up pickup truck, and I connect with my wife via an outdoor standalone payphone, installed inexplicably alone along the access road leading back to the motel.

And, that's it, for Day Ten.

Oct. 26th, 1991

This is it. We're now one twelve-hour drive from home. Unfortunately, we miss seeing both Shannon and Roy Clarke at OpryLand. There's no apparent reason, some kind of basic communication snafu, though Roy Clarke was never definite. We do run into one of the other musicians however, and he offers to take us around. We tour the TV studio, and the big stage of the new "improved" Grand Ole Opry. It's in a large hall bedecked with red. The stage is set, complete with the old-style mike stands featuring radio station call letters and sponsor's ads. There's a large wooden circle, about three feet across smack in the middle of the stage. Yellowed wood, dark with age and littered with dark grooved circles about the size of a quarter. This is, we're told, a piece cut from the original stage at the famous Ryman Auditorium, where the real Opry held court for 30 years. Bass player John Previti speculates the many small circular impressions were caused by the thousands of upright basses gracing the stage over the years.

An interesting (well, for drummers anyway) drum set also graces the stage. It is "ambidextrous." That is, it has two of practically everything, set-up symetrically, so drummers who play traditional or reverse ("left-handed") set-ups can hop up and play with virtually no changover time. Good idea.

Disappointed that we see neither Shannon or Roy Clarke, we prepare to hit the road. First, we leave Shannon a prank note written on a leftover cue card:

--Will Hoseya

Typical Danny—who enjoys silly-name word plays. (We once did a jazz gig as "Dixon TheDirt.")

Our final diversion finished, we are really in the bus, really-truly heading back. Even a relatively short tour can seem an eternity; everyone is glad to be going home. As we leave Opryland, there it is again, the familiar cheeseball-goodbye marketing schtick:

Come Again, and Share the Wonder

One thought we do share: it's wonderful to be heading home.






  In Memorium
Danny Gatton
Danny Gatton 1945 - 1994

Introduction || A Hot Band || The First Gig || Tour Plans
Day One || Day Two || Day Three, pt. 1 || Day Three, pt. 2
Day Four || Day Five || Day Six || Day Seven
Day Eight || Day Nine || Days 10-11
Epilogue || Feedback


© 1991, 1996 by Brian S. Alpert. All rights reserved.