Saturday of the Boogie was a blast from the past and Sunday was a ball from morning to evening!
I started off the day going to brunch with friends from Atlanta who were visiting Nashville: Tiffany, Emily M., and Emily B. Another fun get-together!
Stu Arkoff’s Hawaiian Band
Then it was on to the Pool Party! My mother, who came along on the trip with me, enjoyed this part of the Boogie the most. We lounged tropical drinks-in-hand with the beautiful sounds of Stu Arkoff’s Hawaiian band playing in the background. Stu Arkoff, also known as A Man Called Stu, is an Australia native who now calls Nashville home. In his Hawaiian band he plays the pedal steel with bandmates on ukuleles, upright bass, and guitar. Their tropical-western tunes as well as mid-century motion picture themes created just the right atmosphere for a sunny pool day. It even inspired some fancy dancers:
My mother, who is originally from Italy, really believed the next song was a traditional Sicilian tune, or perhaps a lesser-known song from The Godfather. Do you recognize it?
After consulting with Stu, we found out that it actually was the Henry Mancini theme from the 1963 film Charade starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, but he agreed that it did sound Sicilian. Upon watching Charade on my return home, I found the original film score to sound much more like a theme from the classic James Bond/Billy Strange era than Stu’s band’s pared-down interpretation. The tremolo ukulele in place of mandolin, and the song’s waltz-like structure, would certainly fit in among traditional Southern Italian music. I could also imagine it being played on accordion in France, which makes sense since the film is set in Paris. It had us fooled!
After the Pool Party jaunt we had a brief time to explore and decided to head to the Nashville Palace for their Record sale. So many records, so little time!
Then it was time to get ready for the evening’s events! I managed to curl my hair into retro rolls, put on my leopard dress and Mom donned her Western shirt and we were ready to go! Here we are waiting for the shuttle outside the Nashville Palace:
While waiting at the Nashville Palace, I filmed two songs from the provocatively-named but traditional country band 50 Shades of Hay. The following video features lead singer Wendy Newcomer takes on the Kitty Wells classic “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” Nice rendition:
50 Shades of Hay
Then it was back to the Presidential Ballroom! I could not wait to see JD McPherson and Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes! I met my D.C. friends the Rock-A-Sonics there and we watched the show together.
JD McPherson hails from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, a fact that this original Okie could also appreciate. He is now quite a recognizable name in mainstream music as well as rockabilly scenes. He has modernized his rockabilly sound but much of his music still stays true to his rock-and-roll roots. You may be familiar with his 2010 hit “North Side Gal.” I am a bit late to the party with JD’s music but I really enjoy it; especially hearing him play live! He puts a lot of passion into his performances and I believe that the next song “Let the Good Times Roll,” is what a ray of sunshine would sound like if it had sound:
Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes
The legendary Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes was the band I was especially excited to see, and they lived up to my expectations! While The Ronettes’ lineup may have changed, Ronnie still had her classic full voice (and hair)! It was a performance I could truly call “heartfelt” and “once-in-a-lifetime.” Ronnie’s stories of her early performing days with sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley added a historic and personal touch. She also gave a moving tribute to her sister Estelle, who had passed away in 2009, and to the late Amy Winehouse who counted Ronnie as an influence both in her aesthetic and musical style. Almost all of the performances featured either a giant vintage photo or video footage projected onto the background which added greatly to the atmosphere of the show.
The nostalgia of the concert and the memories of those who had passed were certainly manifested in the following song, a cover of Johnny Thunders’ 1978 “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” that Ronnie recorded in 1999 with Joey Ramone of The Ramones:
Now for the song you are all waiting for, the 1963 gem “Be My Baby.” It still sounds as good today!
Did you know Brian Wilson was inspired by Ronnie and The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” when he wrote the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby?” I never thought of it before, but upon listening to the first song then the latter you can hear striking similarities.
Ronnie and the Ronettes’ take on The Beach Boys’ 1964 “Don’t Worry Baby”
It was so interesting to hear Ronnie’s between-set commentary, especially about the Ronettes’ early days. You can hear her talking about their history before superstardom before she launches into the defiant girl-power anthem “I’d Much Rather Be with the Girls (Than Be with You),” which certainly slaps back at the hurdles Ronnie faced in life.
And for the last song, which was the finale, Ronnie and The Ronettes left us with the lovely “I Can Hear Music” of 1966:
What a truly special night, and Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes was by far the most moving performance I have seen in a long time. I really have no more words other than it was a spectacular show.
Toward the end of the night, I managed to sneak in a video of the B-52’s performing their world-renowned “Love Shack,” my favorite of theirs. I saw them before at a Halloween concert in Atlanta, but I wanted to have at least one video of them at the Boogie:
Post-concert picture with my friends Willie Barry and Eric Hurtt of the Rock-A-Sonics! What a fun night!
Here was my interpretation of the 2019 Nashville Boogie. What an incredible festival! I hope you enjoyed these posts and that I could bring some of the Boogie atmosphere to you. Keep rockin’,