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Letters from Camp: Front Porch Fiddling

Photo by Barbara A Lane

By Nashville Naturist

Nashville.  Music City, U.S.A.  Ask a native what they think about the city’s transformation and be prepared to get an earful.  

Three-sheets-to-the-wind bachelorettes do Dixie drag in make-believe honky-tonks.  Make-believe mercantiles sell made-in-China cowboy boots, cowboy hats.  Country costumes.  Bachelorettes in “last hoedown before the showdown” t-shirts puke out of Ubers.  Beer-soaked boys piss on the street in front of make-believe saloons.  Throw punches in front of make-believe speakeasies.  Bachelorettes hoot.  Cover bands play bro jams.  Bachelorettes holler.  Nashville.  Music Shitty, U.S.A. 

I won’t wade too deep into that kerfuffle, but I will suggest that if you want to experience real music, you’ve got to get out of Nashville.  Get away from the city.  Away from the business folks, the backers, the investors and their investments, away from the commercial songs that check off all the boxes, shout out all the buzzwords.  Drive until the lights of the million-dollar condos disappear in the rear-view mirror, until the sounds of the party bands fade into the night.  Drive off the eight-lane highways and onto the two-lane roads.  Wander around until you happen upon a small-town bar with a rickety stage in the corner.  A motel that still has live acts in its smoky, wood-paneled lounge.  A front porch smothered in gourd vines, where fiddlers and pickers rock in rocking chairs.  That’s where you’ll find music.

Tyler Hughes – ‘Little Hot Pink House Trailer’

There’s music in the old nudist camp I call home.  It’s a place where morels are gathered from the woods and fried in a cast iron skillet in the community kitchen.  Catfish are hauled in from the river and boiled outside in a cauldron.  Folks float on inner tubes in a muddy lake.  Folks toss rusty horseshoes on a mossy meadow.  At dusk, moths flutter about strands of string lights strung up around a tin-roofed pavilion.  Folks gather.  A fellow mentions that he plays guitar.  A camper comments that he keeps a fiddle in his teardrop trailer.  A woman dusts off a harmonica.  Before you know it, there’s a band putting on a show.  An informal collaboration.  Bits and pieces of various songs are strung together into a performance.  Nudists emerge from glowing tents and trailers.  Clapping, singing along, making up lyrics, dance steps.  A little more of this, less of that, softer here, louder there.  Music just sort of happens.  Aged fingers pluck guitar strings.  Coyotes yelp in the distance.  Fireflies flicker in the pines.  Sweet honeysuckle on a hot summer wind. 

Juan & the Pines – ‘Birds Winding Down

Country music. Folk music.  Mountain music.  An old language.  Unpretentious.  Pure.  Recollections, sentiments, declarations, patched together like an heirloom quilt sewn from well-worn scraps of old clothing.  Exquisite beauty pieced together from the ostensibly mundane.  Like words fumbled into an awkward confession of love that’s whispered in the woods on a humid summer night.  Uncertain, vulnerable, authentic, unforgettable. 

Jake Blount – ‘Boll Weevil/Half Irish

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