This Road Of Music

By Alan Rhody

It's been an emotionally mixed fall so far, with some great moments and some very sad ones. A great moment came with Tom Russell's visit and gig in Nashville at the Sutler in early September. Tom is an exceptional singer-songwriter I've known for quite a while. We've co-written one song, "10¢ Lemonade", and I think it'll find a good home soon (other than on a demo tape).

Tom and ace guitarist Andrew Hardin put on a wonderful two-set acoustic show and had the full house wanting more, as he usually does. Among Tom's more notable songs are "Spanish Burgundy" and "Navajo Rug," the later co-written with Ian Tyson of Ian and Sylvia fame. He also wrote "Outbound 'Plane" with Nancy Griffith but didn't perform it that night.

Then there's the incredible tale of a poor Mexican lad and his fighting rooster, "Gallo Del Cielo," also written with Tyson. Tom Russell has carved himself a definitive niche in the singer-songwriter world and anyone not familiar with him should check out his two latest releases on Hightone Records. One is a collection of cowboy songs and the other, "The Long Way Around," details his twenty-five or so years on the move.

On the down side, I have to make mention of two musicians who passed on recently.

John Denver, who shook up Nashville's country music establishment in 1975 by winning the CMA's Entertainer Of The Year as well as Song of the Year with "Back Home Again," died in an ultra light crash in October.

I have to say that Charlie Rich's burning of the envelope on stage after he read John Denver's name was a moment of high hypocrisy, since at the time Nashville and especially Rich (whose music I dearly care for) had a lot of pop music in what they were doing. Their big complaint was that Denver had boarded the country bandwagon to success. To me he had as much place in the popular country music field as he did in the popular folk or pop charts. And he had as much of a place there as anyone. The mix of folk, country, pop and rock was hitting a peak at the time and is what eventually brought me to Nashville in 1976 to try out my own music. The world lost a great champion of the environment and a wonderful entertainer when it lost John Denver.

Roy Huskey, Jr. was one of the world's most renowned country and bluegrass bass players. There will not be another to come close to his natural ability in the studio or on stage anytime soon. He played on practically every country or folk recording done in Nashville that needed an upright bass part during the last ten years or so. He was one of the warmest and most genuine human beings I ever knew and it pained me deeply along with many others when he died of cancer on September 6, 1997. Roy had an uncanny talent of natural pitch and "ears" in general. He could walk into a room and tell you what note or key would be most conducive to that room. He also had his own way of putting colors to notes, which was later discovered to be the exact same colors as Catholic monks had done.

We'll miss you terribly, Roy.

I'd like to end on an up note. I completed a fun trip up through northern Indiana and on to Ontario in early and mid-October. It was great to open for the legendary Tom Rush at Front Porch Music in Valparaiso, Indiana. I held a writer workshop the following Saturday as well as headlining. The Ontario trip was a treat, with the fall colors being particularly intense and the air brisk! Seeing old friends and writing with Toronto's Murray McLauchlan. (Our song "White Water" appears on Murray's CD "Gulliver's Taxi" on True North Records).

I also introduced hand-painted Alan Rhody T-shirts which went over 'well, each one being an original piece of wearable art. They will be available at my upcoming dates at least until the end of the year.

Speaking of upcoming dates, I will be at the Rudyard Kipling for a show on Saturday, November 29, after playing Picasso's Coffee House in Elizabethtown, Kentucky on the 28th. Those two dates will follow the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville on Sunday, November 16 and the Frank Brown Songwriter Festival on Perdido Key, Florida/Gulf Shores, Alabama November 6-8.

Have a great Thanksgiving and I hope to see you soon!


Alan Rhody is an award-winning songwriter and painter and can be reached for information or product at P. O. Box 121231, Nashville, TN 37212 or on the World Wide Web at: http//www.songs.com/ar or by fax at (615) 298-5146