Music City, USA

When we were staying in Nashville during the month of July, one thing I really wanted to do was experience "true" Nashville culture. In my mind, this involved famous artists giving free benefit concerts. Or at the very least, I wanted to see some great shows performed by some of my favorites. This proved harder than anticipated to do. Some of the artists that Eric and I love the most were either out of town or not performing at all during the month of July...but in the end, we persevered and succeeded.

The first event really was a free benefit concert by a famous artist. Michael W. Smith performed a praise and worship event at Eric's home church (Belmont) during our third week there for a ministry called Caleb Company, which trains up young leaders and has an involvement with Israel and the Jewish community as well. One of Belmont's former pastors is a good friend of Smitty, and thus the benefit concert. It was less a concert and more a time of P&W led by Smitty on the piano, but as we sat in the front row of the balcony and enjoyed some great worship time (and it wasn't too loud to bring Maggie along), it was a great time none the less.

That next weekend we headed to Third and Lyndsley for a Sandra McCracken show. We sat at a table two feet from the stage and stared up her and Derek's nostrils while they performed some great acoustic songs from her most recent album, Red Balloon. In fact, they were the opening act for some other guy, but as we didn't know who he was, and had another engagement (see below), we took off as soon as they were done. My one regret is that they didn't play "She Must and Shall Go Free." Great song.
From there, we headed back over to Belmont to see Concerning Lions, which is a terrific up and coming band...not that we're biased (as we're related to them). Jonathan and Brian (husbands of Sami and Jena) were doing a few shows in Nashville that weekend to raise money for an EP (short CD) that's coming out soon. Both their regular and acoustic shows were fantastic, and they performed a number of originals as well as covers of Cold Play, MWS, and "Never Grow Up" from Peter Pan. At the risk of sounding like a blog reviewer, you should really check out their music.

On that note, I just have to share a very quintessential "Nashville moment" here, which actually took place in Chattanooga, where Brian and Jena live. Brian works at an awesome ice cream place in 'Nooga called Clumpie's. It was a quiet day in the store, and Brian decided to put on the new Concerning Lions CD, which he had just received a copy of. A man approached Brian at the counter and expressed interest in the music. After a short conversation, he told Brian to give him a call the next time he was in Nashville, and handed over a card. It was Andrew Peterson!!!! We love Andrew! That's the kind of thing I, as a Nashville outsider, think happens every day to people who live in Music City, USA. Like how everyone in LA knows movie stars.