Anyone who regularly reads this column knows that I am a HUGE fan of country music, a passion that dates all the way back to a week ago Saturday. That’s when I visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.
Me, the wife and sons Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5 went there, while visiting college frosh No. 3 during his cawlidge’s “Parent’s Weekend.”
It’s got to be waaaaay more common for a “Parent’s Weekend” to include some tailgating and football rather than visiting museums, but No. 3’s cawlidge has no football team. The school did have a couple athletic events to offer, however, most notably women’s volleyball matches. I actually would not have minded going to see them, and No. 4 son (age 16) surprised me by also lobbying to go. Largely on account of seeing a poster featuring the team, and surmising that all of the young women are “hot.” Good thing he said it and not me.
But country music won out, mainly because that’s where the wife wanted to go, and so she and her five marginally interested menfolk made our way from the campus over to the museum edifice.
One of the first things visitors to the Hall of Fame do is visit a special exhibit area. On our visit, this space was devoted entirely to the life and career of Reba McIntire. There’s tons of stuff on display, such as her elementary school report cards, junior high yearbook pictures, and the like.
There’s also an enlarged photo of her family, taken in the early 1960s I think, and which included her brother, who is named “Pake.” My kids are always on the lookout for unusual names, and we all agreed we could not think of one other person we had EVER met or heard of named Pake. I haven’t been able to unearth the origins of this name yet, even after arduous research on the internet that must’ve lasted at least 37 seconds. Although I did learn that “pake” is Hawaiian slang meaning “stingy,” “miserly” and such-like. Anyway, if he ever takes up college football, I’ll be putting Pake McIntire on my annual All-Interesting Names Team. Not sure how likely this is to happen, though, since he’s 60 years old.
Next, we strolled past a long, tall Sally. . . .wait, check that, it was a long, tall wall covered floor to ceiling in prints replicating concert posters and promotions for country artists across the decades. One of them is a poster for performances by Elvis Presley in Jacksonvillle, Florida, Aug. 10-11 (1956, I found out when I got home and ferreted out the poster on the internet; this was just a month before Elvis first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show).
Tickets to the show cost a budget-busting $1.50. (Yes, that’s one dollar and fifty cents.) But you have to figure it was worth it, since besides Elvis, the audience got to see an “All-Star Cast” including The Jordanaires, Phil Maraquin, Frankie Connors, the Blue Moon Boys, “and others.”
The Jordanaires are pretty well-known by country and pop music aficionados like me as the long-time back-up vocalists to Elvis, and many other big acts. I find it curious that none of the guys in the group, which shifted personnel over the years, was ever named “Jordan.” Or “Aire.”
Phil Maraquin is, I think it’s safe to say, not so well known, or at least not to me. He was a comedian, whose signature bit was expelling golf balls from his mouth. A newspaper review I discovered online, from the Lakeland Ledger, covering the performance of this same troupe at a show in Lakeland, Florida three days before the Jacksonville show, says the comic “coughed up a million golf balls,” no doubt enthralling a theater full of Elvis-loving teens.
Frankie Connors was an Irish tenor, who apparently had an even tougher time connecting with the crowds “while singing at an Elvis concert in Toronto in April, 1957, Connors was booed! By polite Canadians!
That’s being pretty stingy, miserly and such-like with the love, but it’s topped by that Lakeland Ledger reviewer, who wrote that the concert overall was “of a caliber well worth the $1.50 admission, with the exception of Presley.” Doesn’t that just take the pake!