On June 10, Royann Calvin of the popular country/rockabilly duo The Calvins was testing out an antique bicycle at her home in Mt. Juliet. Without warning and without any working brakes, the bicycle veered down a steep hill toward a stand of trees in a creek bed. There was no way for Royann to get off. She smashed into a tree at 30 mph, crushing every bone in the left side of her face.
Jim Calvin, Royann’s husband and musical partner, reports that she’s out of the hospital and recuperating at home after reconstructive surgery, which left her with three titanium plates and 18 screws in her head. Unfortunately, the Calvins had no insurance, and thus far Jim says they’ve incurred a devastating $66,000 in medical billswith more surgery perhaps to come.
To help out The Calvins with their expenses, singer-songwriter Vince Bell has turned his Friday-night gig at Windows on the Cumberland into a benefit performance. Bell, who was once sidelined by a bad accident himself, has announced that he will auction off requests at the show for Royann’s medical fund. Another friend has donated a Fender Stratocaster, which will be raffled off that evening. The show starts at 9:30 p.m.
In addition, Jim Calvin says that Thursday night’s “TownesFest” at The Sutler has turned into an informal Royann benefit. The evening kicks off a weekend-long celebration of Townes Van Zandt’s music; The Calvins were supposed to perform, since they were the songwriting legend’s backup band of choice just before his death last year. Jim says they will attend the event but won’t play. The lineup now includes Sheri Frushay & David Waddell and Scotty and Willie Melton, but several surprise out-of-town guests have expressed an interest in playing. Show time is 9:30 p.m.
In the meantime, The Calvins have been forced to cancel their playdates indefinitelybad news for anyone who’s ever seen their high-spirited, fleet-fingered performances, which made fans of everyone from Van Zandt to Marty Stuart. The couple opened for Loretta Lynn last month in Louisiana, and they were about to start an East Coast tour when the accident destroyed their plans.
“Royann’s doing pretty good,” Jim Calvin says. “She’s getting lots of flowers and e-mails from friends, and that perks her up.” Send Royann a line at CALVINSMUSIC@webtv.net. For updates on her recovery, or for information on how to contribute to her medical fund, look up The Calvins’ Web site at www.recoveryroadmusic.com/calvins.
Chet Atkins’ Musician Days continues through Sunday, and if you missed the “Witness History II” concert at the Ryman Wednesday, there are still plenty of events throughout the weekend that will allow you to celebrate musics from around the world, including these:
♦ Mark Knopfler’s free “Master Session” at the Blair Recital Hall takes place 2 p.m. Thursday, but seats may be gone by press time. Call 256-6414 to find out or to reserve a seat.
♦ Acoustic stages will be set up throughout the city, among them the Music Row NationsBank stage, where street performer Janet Falkner appears noon Friday with a band.
♦ Séanachie Irish Pub hosts Russia’s Electro-Acoustic Band and the Buddy Spicher Band 4 p.m. Friday. At 9 p.m., Murfreesboro’s The Secret Commonwealth hosts an evening with Australia’s Michelle Mussett and Ireland’s Dermot Maher, Brenda Castles, and Suzanne Lynch.
♦ Tiny Town, the group made up of local club fave Pat McLaughlin and members of the subdudes, headlines a free “Music City’s Best” show at Riverfront Park 5 p.m. Friday. Also appearing are Chris Knight (“Framed”), Billy Burnette, and Dave Pomeroy & the Enjoyers.
♦ In what should be the weekend’s can’t-miss show, vibraphone legend Lionel Hampton performs a free jazz concert 1 p.m. Saturday at Riverfront Park with guitarist Lee Ritenour, Calvin Newborn, The Gypsy Hombres, Victor Mecyssne, Herman Green, David Frazier, April Barrows, The Tennessee Jazz Orchestra, and local session masters Brent Mason, Eddie Bayers, and Matt Rollings.
For more information on events, clinics, and acoustic-stage locations, consult http://www.musiciandays.com. on the Web.
Last year, we sang the praises of The Oxford American’s first annual Southern music issue, which included, among other things, a profile of bluegrass sultan Jimmy Martin that read like Fear and Loathing in Nash Vegas. The new Southern music issue just hit the stands, and you should turn its glossy pages with fingers slickened by hot-chicken grease. “Southern music,” in the magazine’s broad terms, encompasses anything between fife-and-drum master Othar Turner and the Ben Folds Five; along the way, you get a report on the “home cooking” served by country-music theme restaurants, an account of the Sex Pistols’ Southern tour, and a piece by Daniel Cooper on Harlem-based multi-instrumentalist Olu Dara.
Those looking for local connections will want to check out Rosanne Cash’s tribute to Minnie Pearl; Nicholas Dawidoff defending Gillian Welch from purer-than-thou traditionalists; Bruce Feiler defending Music Row; Bill Friskics-Warren on the Nashville raw-musics label Revenant Records; and Michael McCall on The Mavericks. The main attraction, though, is a 19-song CD that includes the first released track from the Bill Berry-less R.E.M.; a sneak peek at the new Vic Chesnutt/Lambchop collaboration; and standout tracks by The Hackberry Ramblers, The Magnolia Sisters, and The Staple Singers. Pick up the issue at Mosko’s and other local newsstands.
As country music searches to finds its footing after the highs and lows of the ’90s, it still faces an age-old image problem. The dilemma couldn’t have been better represented than during an embarassingly strange tribute to country music recently on The RuPaul Show, a Saturday-night VH-1 program hosted by the world’s best-known drag queen.
RuPaul, dressed in a skin-tight, gold-lamé cowboy outfit complete with fringe jacket and stiletto cowboy boots, expressed a genuine affection for country music; he even spoke knowledgeably about some of the artists. “You know I love country music, don’t you?,” he said to his sidekick, Michelle. “Country music is the greatest music on earth!”
But the bulk of the show traded on contemptuous Southern stereotypes. Throughout the program, RuPaul and Michelle (who is also drag queen) staged a Hee Haw-styled skit in which RuPaul threw open the top half of a door and shouted out a question. The routine, packed with sexual innuendoes, included references to corn cobs, inbreeding, lazy men, and roosters and hens. “What do you call a cousin who fell in love with his cousin who is already in love with another cousin?” RuPaul asked. “My entire family!”
Worse than that, the host opened with a dreadful dance version of “Achy Breaky Heart,” changing the chorus to, “Don’t tell your Mama! Don’t tell Billy Bob!” And out on the interview couch, when RuPaul asked Michelle, “What’s your favorite thing about country music?,” the sidekick crowed, “Western wear!”
As the show suggested, some people out there still think of country music as provincial and unrefined. And yet RuPaul clearly thought he was putting on a tribute. After all, he did invite Pam Tillis and Crystal Gayle to perform on the show. And he certainly reached an audience that usually ignores country music. But in the end, the episode was little more than a good opportunity to camp it upwhich, granted, is RuPaul’s stock in trade. But for Nashville, all the show did was evoke the same silly stereotypes that have hampered country music in the past.
Elliptical dispatches: Many people have bad tornado stories to tell from April, but local piano player Gene “Geno” Haffner’s is worse than most. Not only was the house Haffner lived in destroyed by the storm, his musical equipment was also totaled. To help Haffner back on his feet, his friends have organized a benefit 8 p.m. Thursday at the Sherlock Holmes Pub on Elliston. Performers include Delicious Blues Stew, Audrey Malone & the Rhythm Kings, and the Gene Haffner Quartet....
How better to celebrate the 27th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death on July 3 than with The Lost Sideshow, a band that performs Doors classics as well as Morrison obscurities culled from bootlegs and unreleased recordings. “It’s a Doors-like thing, but it’s not exactly the Doors,” sez frontman Chris James. The group has been performing on weekends at Springwater, but for the July 3 show, the group moves to (where else?) The End....
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