Grounded In Nashville With Soccer Fever

Oh boy, did we have a great time at the Holland House watching the finale of the World Championship Soccer: Netherlands versus Spain! Cees Brink-man’s formidable speakeasy at West Eastland has the best cocktails I’ve ever tasted during my drinking trips around the world and for this occasion featured typical Dutch bar fare like bitterballen and gehaktballetjes. A great mix of Dutch and Americans showed up, most of ‘m dressed in our team’s orange jerseys. Even one German guy in his favorite black-and-white jersey contributed to the fun despite the disappointing loss of the ‘champions’ from the Fatherland – famous British player Gary Linneker defined ‘soccer’ as ‘there’s 23 guys in the field and after 90 minutes the Germans win’. I missed Gitano, the Argentinean guitar-slinger with whom I bet that the finale would be Netherlands versus the Argentineans. However, the second best team, Spain, did win. And, after an exciting month of continuous TV watching I could finally go back to my daily routine of listening to, and writing about, music.

Henriëtte and Chris, Nissan IT-ers, invited their fellow Dutch to their 4th of July party. We brought Kathleen Jones along, a Belgian country singer we first met at the international CMA night two years ago. Kat fell in love with Nashville and with mandolin player Frank Ortegel. Last September she and daughter Yana courageously decided to leave Belgium behind and buy a one-way ticket to Music City. Kat and Frank got married 9/11 (oops!) and have since been showing off their musical talents in the many establishments of our town. I’m happy to congratulate her on the greencard in the mail and hope we’ll be seeing her a lot, enjoying the wonderful tunes and voices of Frank and Kat. Germany’s rock ‘n roll pride Scorpions bid their fans farewell at the Bridgestone Arena. The band decided to call it a day after 45 years and 100,000,000 albums. The band that featured guitar talents Michael Schenker and Ulli Roth left us with incredible tunes like “Winds Of Change”, which was actually produced by Dutchman Erwin Musper, who opened his wonderful Bamboo Room Studios some time ago in Highland Heights on the Kentucky side of Cincinnati. Scorpions’ frontman Klaus Meine is the only hardrocker I ever heard whistle on stage. He got away with it and made it a signature sound. Another great German headbanger band from that era is Accept, best remembered for their “Balls To The Wall” album. Their guitarist Wolf Hoffmann has spent the last two decades as photographer in Nashville with his wife Gaby, whom I worked with in Europe during my days at BMG. Wolf has recently taken Accept on the road and just returned from Istanbul. Gaby and Wolf are working hard on a new project: classical tunes with heavy electric riffs. In 1997 Wolf released the album “Classical”, featuring evergreens like “The Moldau” and “Pump And Circumstance”. This year the Hoffmanns will take it up a notch and get a band on the road with hot violin players, cellos, standup basses and a great multi-media show.

From metal to something completely different: western swing! My father listened every Saturday afternoon to Frans Poptie & his Swing Specials on VARA-radio in the Netherlands. That nostalgic feel of the fifties overwhelmed me again while enjoying the Time Jumpers at the Station Inn. At their regular Tuesday-night spot the Time Jumpers offer a great menu of goodtime music á la Bob Wills, American standards, and… the hits of their guitar-player Vince Gill. A pity JT doesn’t have a dance license, every song made Deborah and I twitch to dance. But we vividly remembered JT threatening to throw us out when we we’re dancing in the aisles to one of our favorite bluegrass bands. The Time Jumpers feature friends and guests; that night the legendary George Hamilton III made one of his rare appearances.

I lured Vince Gill into trying out the La Llama guitar that my friend Teye built for Mick Taylor. Teye was going to give Mick his guitar on stage in Texas during a guitar battle of the two in “No Expectations”. Unfortunately the man who made such a difference to rock ‘n roll with his contributions to “Sticky Fingers” and the recently re-mastered “Exile On Main Street” album was hospitalized after a great show in Northampton, Massachusetts.  The long-awaited trek through the US of the former Rolling Stone got shelved again. I put a Siamese sister of Mick’s La Llama, a double neck guitar, in the hands of Nashvillean rock ‘n roller Sean Smith who just finished a great review of it for the September issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine.

It’s a little weird to conclude my contribution this month sitting in the sun at the island in the center of the world, New York City, trying to decide on my musical highlight for this month. We saw the Afrobeat Broadway musical “Fela” last Saturday, an incredible experience. But I should limit my choices to Nashville and vote for Victoria Shaw & Friends, live in the Listening Room at Cummins Station. I recognized one of Victoria’s friends but couldn’t figure out when or where we met or what her name was. An A-ha! moment came when she was introduced as Robin Meade, anchor woman of CNN’s Headline News’ morning show. Victoria is producing an album with Robin and also a new album for American Idol finalist, petite Diana DeGarmo, who missed winning the third season by a margin of 2%, but showed a formidable set of pipes at Victoria’s show.

Well, that‘s all folks,

Evert Wilbrink