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The Chet Atkins Appreciation Society Convention

July 7-10, 1999

(click underlined words to see photos)

Day One: Wednesday

The Chet Atkins Appreciation Society held its 15th annual convention July 7-10, 1999 in Nashville at the Music City Sheraton Hotel, and the convention proved to be the biggest and busiest yet.

Having been to the convention the last 5 years, I noticed a difference immediately upon arrival on Wednesday. The registration area, which is located just outside of the main ballroom, was deluged with attendees who had arrived and were anxious to get their badges and begin the adventure.

Day one is normally the slow day, the day folks get their bearing, check out the program, see who is performing where and when. You rest up from your travels and prepare for the week. But this time the halls and meeting rooms were already beginning to gather pickers who were trading licks and stories and playing tunes. One room near the rear of the hotel was known by folks in attendance as the "Kirk Sand" room because it contained a large display of guitars made by guitar-maker Kirk Sand of California. The room was a popular picking place all week.

I walked up on two guys who were furiously playing "Jerry's Breakdown" and one of them, Joe Jackson from Indiana, just looked up and smiled, never missing a note. I was in awe of great pickers all week.

Another meeting room was occupied by the Thumb and Fingerstyle Guitar Players Association, Kentucky Thumbpickers Club and Georgia Fingerstyle Guitar Association, and members of these clubs were on stage playing literally all week. Although I never had the nerve to try, I sensed I would have been welcome to hop up on the stage and pick at anytime.

On a couch off to one side of the entry way to that room was Bob Saxton, a great picker from Goodlettsville, TN who told me what he thought about Chet and I scribbled down his words for use as a quote on the website. He also showed me a plaque he had received recently proclaiming him the official picker of the U.S. space program, an honor he is very proud of.

Tuck Raisor, the President of the Kentucky Thumbpickers told me a great story about how he once met Merle Travis backstage before a show. Travis sat with his head hung low, slowly stringing up his electric guitar, moaning and groaning. He was apparently suffering the effects of a nasty hangover from the previous night and he was elated when Tuck offered to string up Merle's Super 400 for him. On with the show!

Mark Pritcher (President of CAAS) and Pat Kirtley spent a few minutes with me and we talked about Chet and websites and the convention and how it all has grown so fast. Mark and Pat do most of the work to put the convention together and they do a terrific job. Duck Baker joined us for a few minutes and he had apparently suffered nerve damage and had a bandage around his elbow. But he said it was getting better.


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