I must admit that when my husband suggested we attend Saddle Up! in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for a long weekend, I was less than thrilled. He’s a fan of cowboy music--not country music, cowboy music--and I have listened to his cowboy CDs over and over. I just didn’t think I could take a weekend of yodeling, but I agreed to go. After all, he’s gone to a few things with me that weren’t his cup of tea.
To my surprise, I had a ball. Thankfully, during the nine hours of concerts we attended over two days, there was very little yodeling, and I discovered at least two artists I’d like to see again. The trip can be broken down into activities: music and shopping.
Before the first concert on Saturday, we stopped in Stages West. I thought we were shopping for cowboy boots for my husband, but instead he wanted to get me boots and a hat. How could I turn down that offer? No flashy, pointy-toed boots for me--I managed to find a good looking more subdued pair. And, I had to laugh when I was told I was never going to find an adult cowboy hat in my size--apparently size 6.5 is fairly uncommon--and was directed to the children’s department for something that might fit my pea head. The “fitter” went with me, and we tried on one youth size and several 6.75 adult hats until he concluded the black youth hat was the one for me.
After a late lunch, we headed over to the LeConte Conference Center for a 3 PM show. The first artist I was intrigued by was Ray Doyle, whose music has an Irish flair and covers more than the cowboy experience. We picked up his CD The Emigrant Tale which includes versions of The Water is Wide and Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy, two of my favorites.
The band that had me tapping my toes, though, was Hot Club of CowTown, a high energy trio who bills itself as a hot jazz and western swing band. They’ve appeared at jazz, bluegrass and folk festivals and even toured as the opening act for Roxy Music in 2011. They performed Friday afternoon and closed out the Saturday evening concert, and if they come anywhere near Atlanta again, I’ll do whatever I can to see them. I’d like to have their latest CD, described as:
An exuberant collection of 14 Gypsy songs and American Songbook standards. Our first-ever album dedicated exclusively to the Gypsy jazz and French swing of Paris in the 1930s, featuring the band’s sparkling spins on standards in the style of legendary hot jazz titans Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli
For my husband, the highlight was Don Edwards, who is known as America's Cowboy Balladeer. If you saw The Horse Whisperer, you may recall him having a small part as Smokey in that movie. He also sings the song Coyotes that plays during the final minutes of the documentary Grizzly Man. He performed in all three concerts.
We couldn’t leave without checking out the outlet mall. With an eye towards our summer bicycling trip in Normandy, France, we did some significant damage. As I texted to a girlfriend, “Surely I needed skinny black jeans and accompanying tops for France, right?” Suffice it to say, I got all that and more, and my husband found a few things too.
Yippee ki yi yay! You know your trip was a success when you’re already talking about returning the next year.