The dichotomy, and those two very different days of musical performances, was one of the coolest dadgum things I've had the pleasure of experiencing in a while.
The Stones are one of only a few bands that have the right to be in the debate of Best Rock Band Ever. They're my mom's age, yet they strutted, plucked, played and sweated (a lot) for the crowd gathered in the middle of Nashville, and the sticky heat couldn't kill the awe of the audience.
Several people around us and in following days claimed it was the best concert they'd ever seen. Respectfully, they haven't seen enough concerts. I can only claim it was the best concert I've ever seen put on by people whose first hit came out more than half a century ago. But when you're witnessing a group of people do what they are best known for, even if they're only doing it at 60 percent of their prime abilities, you're still witnessing a moment of history. Even if you only saw Michael Jordan playing with the Wizards at the end of his career, you'll never forget it.
The next night, I held up a wall, with the help of a 25oz Yuengling draft, and let the unknown music from Lightning 100's "Music On Tap" event at midtown's Tin Roof wash over my ears.
Blue Mother Tupelo, a husband and wife duo that could be fairly described as "raucous Americana," opened up the evening. After their set, Ricky and Micol Davis were friendly as could be. When I told Micol their sound reminded me of Shovels & Rope, she thanked me but added, "We've been doing this a couple decades more'n them." You could feel the tiny bit of frustration behind her words, and having now listened to their most recent CD, Only Sunshine, I don't blame her. Their sound is, song for song, every bit as compelling and potent as Shovels & Rope. There are times on their CD when I'd swear Patty Griffin has made a guest appearance, but it's Micol. The lady can belt 'em out.
Who knows why one band sticks and another keeps seeking that upsurge? I'm just grateful they're still out there hammering away at it after 20 years.
My 2-hour Friday car ride gave me a chance to plow through both CDs twice over. I'm listening to them again as I write this, and every listen reaffirms my initial impressions.
Neither of these acts (or the third) will be the next Rolling Stones. They're never gonna be the main event at LP Field. I didn't get the impression such an endpoint is what they have in mind. In fact, what made my Thursday night experience the perfect denouement to the Stones was seeing the Street Fighting Men (and Women) of the Digital Music Era.
Some might believe it's a stretch to call music a calling, but I don't know why. It continues to be the most effective and efficient way to connect people to one another. They're in it for something decidedly different than simple fame or glory. Part of me believes they're in the music biz only because they can't not be, their hearts and minds won't let them escape. Imprisoned and or liberated by their drive to make music.