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.