Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meeting Musical Comedy "Royalty"

Today, I publish my 800th blog post. And for once I have something to write about that is worthy of such a significant milestone. Hope you enjoy my story. It's about one of the best things that's happened to me in a while. 

One of the things I love about life is that there are times that at the end of the day you have done something or been somewhere you never ever imagined when your feet hit the floor that morning. This past Friday was one of those days. 

Up until about 2 in the afternoon it was an ordinary day. I was driving around Bowling Green for my job. That's when I turned on the radio and heard someone on a local station interviewing one of my all time favorite comedians and singers, Ray Stevens.

I have been listening and enjoying Ray Stevens' music all my life. Many of his comedy novelty songs are among my all time favorites.  When I was a kid lip-synced to two of his songs for a pair of talent shows. 

While listening I discovered two things that would change my day. Mr. Stevens mentioned his newly released book about "Music City USA" called "Ray Stevens' Nashville". He also announced that he was going to be doing a book signing at the local Barnes & Noble at 6PM that night. 

A spark of excitement swept through me from my head to my toes. Out of the blue I had an opportunity to go and meet one of my musical idols. I wasn't going to miss it.   

After work I drove directly to the bookstore, made my way through the rain and got inside. There at the front of the store, just to the right was Ray Stevens. He was sitting at a card table signing books for the people already in line.

I went to the back of the line of about a dozen and a half of people who were waiting to get their books autographed. 

As I waited, I was blessed with yet another unexpected unique experience. 

Standing just in front of me was a young lady holding a fiddle. It was a typical looking instrument with one exception, it was covered in names signed in black marker. 

Curiosity got the best of me. I just had to find out about the stringed conversation piece. 

Although we weren't formally introduced, I subsequently discovered that this young lady is named, Mary Rachel Nalley, a local and very talented bluegrass fiddle player. 

I started out by trying to tell her an old joke about the difference between a violin and a fiddle. She responded by with a "if I had a nickle for every time I've been asked told that" kind of answer. 

Well, that was a challenge to me. I'm not a "hack" conversationalist. I believe, I'm pretty good at asking interesting original questions. So I started to "interview" her about the decorated fiddle. 

She showed me the signatures of Bill Anderson, Bobby Bare, Jack Greene and, the one she was most proud of, Merle Haggard. 

We talked about others she would like to have sign it. She mentioned bluegrass artist, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton, and a couple others. 

We also discussed her personal history as a musician. She is quite accomplished. She talked about having played on stage with the group "Riders In The Sky" when they were in town last year. She has also played on stage at the Grand Ole Opry with Mike Snyder. 

Our conversation was very interesting and made the time waiting in line go a lot faster. It was a pleasure meeting her. 

As I got closer to the front of the line I got to a place where I could see Ray Stevens up close. 

Finally, after about 20 minutes of waiting I got my few seconds with the comedy/country music legend. 

With my cell phone in video mode, I did my best to get as much out of what was a relative brief encounter. Here's a link to my You Tube video showing what I decided to do. It turned out to be pretty good.  Ray Stevens Interview

Although he seemed rather surprised by my question and didn't give me an exact answer to my question I was pleased that he was friendly. I really am happy that with his last comment you can see that classic Ray Stevens comedic side glance and facial expression. That made my day. 

After I stopped the video I told him that I have always considered him a Clown Prince of Musical Comedy. He smiled and said "Well, I appreciate it." Next came the visual documentation with a picture. 

After the flash, I shook his hand and walked away. That was the end of a very special encounter. 

I left the store with my autograph and a bunch of great memories. 

I was in a great mood the rest of the night. It was just amazing how everything fell into place for this to happen. 

When I left home that morning I had already planned on going into Bowling Green after work so stopping at the book store was not a change of plans. 

I was supposed to drive my daughters-in-law to a Brantley Gilbert concert (he's a country singer) in Nashville on Friday but decided not to go. I was also fortunate enough to have turned the radio on at the right time to hear the Ray Stevens interview. 

I must admit I have a tendency to be a "glass half empty" kind of guy. But what keeps me going is with each day comes the potential that God is going give you a blessing that you never expected. 

That's what happened on December 5, 2014; the day I met Ray Stevens. 

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