A little old man on Broadway

I was working the Music City Lounge on Broadway one cold, rainy night back before Broadway was “revitalized”. The crowds were thin, the tip bucket was nearly empty, and the bartender was playing tiddly-winks with beer caps.

I was working the Music City Lounge on Broadway one cold, rainy night back before Broadway was “revitalized”. The crowds were thin, the tip bucket was nearly empty, and the bartender was playing tiddly-winks with beer caps. A little old man, shabbily dressed with rain dripping off the brim of his shapeless hat, wandered in the door, looked around hesitantly for a few moments, and then shambled toward the bandstand and took a seat at a rickety table in front of me. A waitress brought him a beer and he fumbled in his pockets for enough loose change to pay for it and sipped it slowly and watched us play with cloudy, red-rimmed eyes. A faint smile lit up his wrinkled face and he settled back, gathered his tattered grey overcoat closer around his thin body, coughed, and lit a cigarette. He didn’t look like he was gonna be a big tipper.

When we took a break he motioned to me with a gnarly hand and I stopped by his table and listened to his story.

He was bad sick and on his way to a VA hospital up North somewhere. He had an hour or so to kill before catching a Greyhound at the terminal up on 8th Ave. He loved country music, and wanted to hear a little of it before he began his journey. He said we were a great band, just great, and he especially liked the steel guitar. He hadn’t been able to get out much lately, because of his illness, and he didn’t have many friends anymore. Family? Oh, a sister somewhere that he hadn’t heard from in years. He didn’t think he’d be coming back to Nashville anyway, and he didn’t know anyone where he was going. His hand trembled when he raised the beer to his mouth, and he had a faraway look in his eyes as he talked.

He left when we started the next set; he had four blocks to walk in the rain. I never saw him again.

Author: Cal Sharp

Nashville pedal steel guitarist for over 30 years. Credits include Stonewall Jackson, Little Jimmy Dickens, Red Sovine, Faron Young, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Johnny Russell, George Fox, Vern Gosdin, Del Reeves, Gilley's, the Palomino Club and a few others. Retired from the road, playing sessions and clubs locally. I also develop websites, like this one and other music-related sites. Contact me if you need a website. Email: cal at caligraphics dot net or fill out the contact form. http://www.caligraphicsdesign.com/contact/

3 thoughts on “A little old man on Broadway”

  1. I spent some time in Indy back in the early 70’s. I was an Army Recruiter stationed in Mpls Mn and had to go to Indy for some schooling at the Army Base there.. I remember some clubs there.. JD Copperfields.. ( won my first singing contest there ) Still got the T shirt. lol The Outside Inn and the Blue Room East.. all were playing country music there.. .good memories.. Met this Indian lady.. She took me home and taught me all about ” soul travel “.. I’ll tell you all about it sometime. Worst gig I ever had was when I got reassigned from Nashville to New Jersey. I was so friggin depressed because of the assignment that when I left Nashville in my little Toyota Pickup with a topper on it. I had all my music gear including PA. When I got to the exit in New Jersey I just kept on going for almost 2 hours. I had totally convinced myself to just leave my existing life, 18 yrs in the Army, my family and just keep heading north to Canada to never be seen again. Somehow I convinced myself to just turn around and do what I’m suppose to do. Anyway, after playing 4 to 5 nights a week in Nashville I hadn’t had a gig of any kind in like 4 months. I get this call from this guy to play a steel gig about 100 miles away. It paid $250 so I took the gig without asking a lot of questions. It was a drummer, this guy playing rhythm guitar on the back of a flat bed trailer. This guy played all fast songs and everything like 2 times the speed of the original. If that wasn’t bad enough he was jumping up and down on the back of this flat bed every song he sang. I had two Session 400 amps. The re verb springs were just a bangin and clangin all over the place. I asked him to stop jumpin and he said it’s all part of the show. Show ?? What show.. there were like 10 people there. After about 45 min of this I just got up, said I’m done, keep your money and never call me again. Only gig I had for 2 years in NJ. I was so glad to retire from the Army there and move back to Nashville.. Do you remember when I met you Cal. I was playing a gig in West Palm Beach Fl.. you were with Faron then about 1980 I think. A mutual friend of Farons and mine, Jimmy Colburn, used to be front man for Lefty. He had moved into the area and started hangin around the club where I was playin. He said that Faron was coming into town and asked if I wanted to meet him.. Well you and the band showed up one the evening before you were going to play I think. You, Richard Bass and the fiddle player, don’t recall his name. Some how, I don’t remember how, I ended up spending some time with Faron at the hotel. He had always been my favorite singer and I was just in awe. Getting to have that private time with him, just talkin, bull shittin, getting to know him a bit. I have always cherished that time I got to spend with him. Then later when I moved to Hermitage I got so see him around from time to time and he still remembered my name and how we met in Fl. I was so flattered that he would remember me. Jimmy and I came out to the high school where y’all were playin.. That was pretty cool too.. Oh well, just takin a trip down memory lane. I love your blog on here and read it from time to time.. Thanks for keeping us all informed. 🙂

  2. Yeah, Johnny, I remember. The fiddle player was probably Leon Boulanger. Faron could be a cool guy to hang around with if he hadn’t had too much to drink. He liked people and was very approachable. I’ve worked with artists who couldn’t even remember my name, but Faron would take the time to get to know you and he wouldn’t forget.

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