Monday, August 26, 2019

Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band

If you follow this blog, you know that my favorite group is the Beatles. I’ve been a fan since the early 80s thanks to Keith (Corky) Johnson loaning me all his Beatles albums during my first semester at the University of Kentucky. I’ve seen Paul McCartney three times in concert, most recently a couple of months ago. You probably know the only other living Beatle is Ringo Starr who is actually older than Paul (he is 79 as of this post). For some reason, it has never occurred to me to try and see Ringo in concert. I happened to get some sort of alert from Ticketmaster that he was playing in Champaign Illinois. Why would I even consider going there you might ask? I actually am somewhat familiar with Champaign. We go through it on our trips to see Josh and Shelby. If you go one mile east of the I-57/I-74 interchange, there is fabulous exit with a lot of good restaurants (Culvers, Longhorn and Einstein Bros). The Drury Inn at this exit is really good. And if you are willing to go a mile or so off the exit, there is a Krispy Kreme and a Portillos. Anyway, by the time I got in and tried to buy a ticket, the good seats were all gone. I checked around a bit and found he would playing with his All-Starr Band in Nashville. There were some good single seats left, so I went for it.

As I began to research, I found out that for years (since 1989), Ringo Starr has assembled several iterations of what is called “The All-Starr Band”. He gets other famous rock stars (usually four) and they play together. He’s had guys like Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, and Billy Squier. The current band is his Fourteenth iteration. The band is comprised of Steve Lukather of Toto, Colin Hay of Men at Work, Gregg Rolie of Santana, and Hannish Stuart of the Average White Band. I checked a few set lists and about half the songs are by Ringo. They either Beatles songs or his solo songs. At different points in the show, he’ll go back and play drums and the others will do about three songs each. This all sounded very intriguing. I got my hotel room in Goodlettsville (the rooms were much cheaper there) and got a Parkwhiz a block away from the Venue.
The day of the concert came and I headed for Goodlettsville (with a brief detour). I ate dinner and headed for downtown Nashville. The traffic was fine until I got to Downtown Nashville. Turns out that in addition to the All-Starr Band playing at Ryman Auditorium, John Legend was playing at Bridgestone Arena. So, downtown Nashville was a madhouse. Fortunately, I left early and was in no rush. The police were directing traffic so that did help. I finally made it to my parking garage and still got into the Ryman in plenty of time.

This was my first trip to the Ryman. It was the original home of the Grand Old Opry (before they moved it to the Opryland Megaplex). It took me a little bit of time to find the entrance (around back) but I finally made it in. It’s a beautiful facility. It used to be a church building and still has stained glass windows. You even sit in pews (with your seat number on the back to tell you where to sit). There is a main floor and a balcony. The facility seats only about 2300 people. The bathrooms were even nice. A friendly usher pointed me to my seat. I was about twelve rows from the stage. I settled in to wait for the concert to start.

Unlike his counterpart Mr. McCartney, Ringo and his band started right on time. They started with the Carl Perkins/Beatles classic Matchbox. Ringo sang his solo hit “It Don’t Come Easy”. He then did the song “What Goes On” by the Beatles. This is the only Beatles song that he shared writing credit with John Lennon and Paul McCartney with (the credit shows as Lennon/McCartney/Starkey). Then, each of the members of the All-Starr band did a song they were famous for. I especially enjoyed Rosanna by Steve Lukather and “Down Under” by Colin Hay. They brought back memories of my teen-age and college years. This process was repeated throughout the concert. Ringo actually left the stage during one set of the others playing. Steve Lukather did Africa and “Hold the Line” and Colin Hay did “Who Can It Be Now” and Overkill. Ringo did several Beatles songs (Don’t Pass Me By and Yellow Submarine) plus solo hits (You’re Sixteen and Photograph). He closed with the Buck Owens song (and a personal Beatles favorite of mine) “Act Naturally”. Finally, they closed with “A Little Help From My Friends” (with a riff of “Give Peace a Chance” mixed in). Interestingly enough, when the band came out from to take their bow, Ringo left the stage and didn’t do that with them. Also, this ended up being first concert I’ve been to (that I can remember anyway) that no encore was done. The show lasted about two hours.

I did run into one issue when leaving. I had parked in a multi tiered parking garage. I should have learned my lesson from attending Cardinal ballgames but I didn’t (at least I’d forgotten). It took about thirty minutes to wind out of the parking garage. At least, we dodged the crowd leaving the John Legend show. It actually took less time to get from Nashville to Goodlettsville then to exit the garage. But that was a very minor annoyance. I really enjoyed the concert, especially in the venue of the Ryman. If you have the opportunity to see the All-Starr band, I’d recommend you go especially if you are Beatles fan or a fan of one the groups represented.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Jefferson Davis State Park

If you know anything about me, I love history. I love to visit historic sites and the more obscure the better. Donna doesn’t enjoy this in the least. So, I will often travel to a site on my own which works out fine for both of us.

On a trip to Nashville I made recently, I was able to get on the road sooner than I expected. I had been telling myself for years that I wanted to visit the Jefferson Davis State Park in Fairview Kentucky. It’s about thirty minutes off of I-24 East. You get off at Exit 65 (the Cadiz exit) and go about thirty minutes until you get to the tiny town of Fairview. I’d been there with Donna and the boys years ago when we were vacationing at the Pennyrile State Park. I wanted to go up in the monument that is there and see the view but upon arriving, I found out the elevator was broken. I decided I’d make another visit and check it out.

Instead of having to follow a map, I was able to get there easily via Google Maps. You travel US-68 for most of the way. It is pretty countryside. It is an odd sight when you get a few miles from the State park and see this huge obelisk seemingly sticking up in the middle of the country. I got to the State Park and got out to walk the grounds. It is a pretty and well-manicured park with several concrete paths to stroll, picnic shelters, and even a playground. The main attraction though is the monument itself. It’s 351 feet tall and the fifth tallest monument in the United States. It is the tallest unreinforced concrete structure in the word, there is no steel reinforcement at all. It was built starting in the early 1900s and finished in the 1920s. It’s about 2/3 the size of the Washington Monument (both of these being obelisks).

After walking around outside for a bit, I decided to head to the visitor center. I went in to pay my money for the museum and to go on the monument elevator. To my amazement (and disappointment), the elevator was “down for maintenance”. I decided to take in the museum (It cost me 5.50, I found out later I had been given the Senior Discount (even though I wasn’t old enough to have gotten it). I will tell you there isn’t a lot to it. There are a few items that belonged to Davis and his wife. There were several displays that outlined events in his life. He was born there in Fairview but soon moved to Mississippi. He went to West Point and served in the Black Hawk War. He first married Zachary Taylor’s daughter. She died of malaria soon afterwards so a few years later, he married again. He fought in the Mexican American War and served as Franklin Pierce’s Secretary of War. He was also a member of House of Representatives and the Senate before being chosen at president of the Confederacy. Davis and Abraham Lincoln were actually born within a hundred miles of each other and moved in their youth to other states. After seeing the museum and briefly perusing the gift shop, I got in my car and headed for Nashville. I followed directions by taking KY 115 South and getting back on I-24 East at exit 89.

Is it worth the trip? If you’ve got an hour or so to spare and you are headed to Tennessee on I-24 East and you love history, I’d do it. I did find out I could have checked their website and seen the monument elevator was down for maintenance. I would certainly do that and perhaps even call ahead before I would go there

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Nashville Zoo

Earlier this month, we decided to take a mini-vacation trip to Nashville. We had not had a chance to see our nieces and nephews in quite some time so we wanted to take Lucy to see them. We planned to see them, spend the night, and then go to the Nashville Zoo the next day. I was able to get two rooms at the Townplace Suites in Goodlettsville with points so we were ready to go.

We got to my sister Melissa’s home and Charlotte and Catherine had gotten out their tea set. Lucy had a lot of fun playing that with them. Then, they played with their pretend grocery store and other toys they had. Needless to say, she had a lot of fun. Jonathan and I got in a game of Chutes and Ladders and a couple of games of Uno with Brody and Amelia. I ducked out to grab a couple of pizzas from Domino's using their 5.95 deal. Then, the girls enjoyed some Cookies and Cream ice cream for dessert. We had hated to leave because Lucy (and we) had such a wonderful time.

We got to our hotel and checked in. They had a nice indoor pool and Lucy really enjoyed playing in that. For dinner, I got us food from Krystal. I thought Lucy might enjoy the food that was more her size. She really enjoyed the “little bitty hot dog” I brought her. We ended up having a lot of fun having her ride around on a ottoman with wheels that we pushed around our room. We all went to bed early so we’d be rested for our trip to the Zoo the next day. We got up and had breakfast at the hotel and headed out to get there when the zoo opened. Surprisingly, we had little trouble with traffic given the time of the morning it was, and we got there several minutes before it opened (9:00am).

I had been to the Nashville Zoo several times before. Our family went to the Zoo when it originally opened. It was then located of the West Side of Nashville (in Cheatham County). From where we live, you didn’t even have to go to the actual city of Nashville to go to it. I remember it being several miles off of I-24. The zoo was then moved in the late nineties to the Southeastern part of Nashville. I had gone again when Jonathan’s Academic Team took a trip there. So, it’d been something like fifteen years since I’d been so I was interested to see how it was now.
First, it costs seven dollars to park. They do have ample parking there. Then, the cost is eighteen dollars for adults and thirteen dollars for ages 2-12. It’s a dollar less on Monday through Thursday and a dollar more on Saturday. They did offer a special deal on Fridays during the summer where if you are Kroger Plus member, you buy one adult ticket and get another for free. We were able to take advantage of that. There are also several things in the zoo that require an additional cost to do (train, carousel, several interactive exhibits). These tickets are two dollars apiece. However, when you buy ten, you get four tickets free. You can also bring food and drink in (with certain restrictions). So, keep all that in mind if you go to in order to save some money.

Our first stop was at the “Critter Encounter” exhibit. This is a shaded gated area with several different animals (goats and pigs) running around. Lucy loved this. She got to pet several and they even had brushes available to brush the goats. She really liked that too. We finally had to almost drag her away from that to see the other animals. It was a hot day, but fortunately much of the zoo is shaded. We kept her away from the huge play area they have because we knew she’d get really hot doing that. They have a large array of animals there. Lucy especially liked the pink flamingos, monkeys, and the tigers. They have an area just opened where you can walk around and see kangaroos. You can even get close enough to pet them. At the end, we went to ride the train. It is not the type of zoo train I was used to. It reminds me of the one at the Kentucky Oaks Mall. There are several small cars you can get into. The four of us were barely able to fit in one. Keep in mind the train does not go around the whole park. It goes in a path near to the Zoo’s safari area. It takes one ticket to ride per person. However, if the rider requires an adult to be with them (like in Lucy’s case), one ticket covers both rider and adult. We then went to the Carousel. We rode that three times with Lucy wanting to ride a different animal each time. The same rules applies to tickets to ride that. FYI, there are also machines near anything requiring a ticket that allows purchase of tickets as well. By this time, Lucy was pretty tired. However, there was a large spray station on our way out that blew a cool mist of water on you. Lucy loved that so much that we did that several times. After that, we left.

My thoughts on the zoo? It’s a good sized zoo. We were there three hours and still didn’t see it all. I am a bit spoiled by the zoo in Madison (where our son Josh lives) that is free and that is free to park at it. Look on the zoo’s web site to find discount days and also go during the week when it’s the cheapest (and least crowded). There aren’t a lot of hotels close to it but I would guess most people that go there either live in Nashville or are close enough to make it a day trip. Lucy certainly enjoyed it and that was what was the best thing about it for me.