Without wanting to make him sound like he is 100 years old, Garry Smith has been a solid foundation in Brisbane’s commercial music scene for close on four decades. A Conservatorium trained musician, revered producer and all round nice guy, Garry’s musical influence reaches beyond this mid-sized Australian City. His abilities are respected nation wide. He has succeeded at all that has been put before him.
Then, one day a recording session was booked that changed Garry’s life forever. A singer, newly arrived from the US, asked Garry to produce her Americana Music CD, giving Garry a lot of research material so he could ‘get’ the many varied styles.
From that moment on he was smitten. This infectious and important mix of genres hit him right between the ears. Before long he was on a plane heading to the Nashville Americana Music conference.
In his own words ‘I was being blown away by the virtuoso musicianship and the far reaching influence of the Americana Music Triangle’ – three points bound by Nashville, New Orleans and Memphis.
Friendships were quickly made and plans carefully devised: to create a rolling tour through the AMT. Open to all, but being marketed to Australians and the US, this tour is something to leave music lovers in awe of great talent and incredible history. Breathtaking in its authenticity, this is a ‘real’ music lovers dream experience. Sure you get to go to Graceland and the Grand Ole’ Opry, (what tour through this area doesn’t) but the Americana Music Tours go deeper and better. Searching out real acts in smoky jazz bars and places only the locals know, like the Rattlesnake Saloon between Muscle Shoals and Tupelo, a massive Limestone cavern, that holds up to 1000 people, and yet easy to drive past if you don’t know it’s there. In Mussel Shoals the tour takes in Fame studio where the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett all recorded some of their biggest hits.
Tour sizes are intimate, not too large to be enjoyable
15 days. 1200 miles: from Nashville to New Orleans, Memphis and everywhere in between. Americana Music Tours takes you on a road trip unlike any other, exploring where history made music and music made history.
This tiny triangle between Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans is the birthplace of 9 different musical genres: Blues, Country, Rock ‘n Roll, Gospel, Jazz, R&B/Soul, Zydeco, Southern Gospel and Bluegrass. This music came from Native Americans, Cajuns, Celts, Africans, French Canadians and the German Czechs who all called this region home.
This fantastical musical road trip visits all the world-famous music landmarks as well as the little known locations where some of the world’s favourite musicians, lived, worked and wrote gold-records.
Americana Music Tours visit New Orleans’ best jazz halls to listen to real jazz and to the home of blues masters John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters in Clarksdale, Mississippi. In Clarksdale you overnight at Delta Cotton Company Lofts, located above Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club. The tour takes in the studio where the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett all recorded some of their biggest hits – Fame Studios in Mussel Shoals, Alabama.
Of course, the tour also stops at Tupelo, Mississippi to pay respects at Elvis’ birthplace. You can learn how to play harmonica from a real Mississippi Delta bluesman and ride an Airboat in the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.
And because enjoying all that fine music works up an appetite there are plenty of opportunities to experience the Triangle’s other claim to fame – delicious food including fried chicken, authentic barbecue, jambalaya and gumbo. This is authentic southern food at its best.
The first tour in March 2016 is already fully booked but at the time of writing there are still seats available for April, May, September, October and November. Visit http://www.americanamusictours.com to find out more.
If you love music you’ll love this trip down the highways and through the back roads that are paved with the solid gold records, that helped define a century.