Blue Plate Special: Christabel and the Jons

I can’t believe I’ve written over fifty posts and I’m only now getting around to mentioning one of the coolest and most unique attractions downtown: The Blue Plate Special. It’s not a culinary delight (OK, maybe food for the soul), but rather a daily live music show broadcast on WDVX from their studio at 301 Gay Street. Some days are now broadcast from other locations, such as this show I stumbled upon recently on Market Square. Fridays have gotten so big they are now broadcast from the Square Room to accommodate the crowds of 200-300 people.

Where to start? The history of music on Gay Street would rival the history of the music on any street in America. Yes, I’ve been to Beale Street and Music Row. Dolly Parton, Roy Acuff, the Everly Brothers, Archie Campbell, the Louvin Brothers, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Chet Atkins performed on early live shows broadcast over WNOX and other early radio stations. On this little street, I’ve personally seen Bob Dylan, Earl Scruggs, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Bobbie Bland, Koko Taylor, Joan Baez, Jefferson Starship, Merle Haggard and B.B. King, not to mention about a million (estimated) others. Hank Williams died on this street. You get the idea.

I mentioned the great Cradle of Country Music Walking Tour in a recent post and a helpful reader pointed out that it is no longer available. I’ll get to the bottom of that and correct it if I have to publish it on this blog, myself. It was awesome. I can’t find a link that includes the history of this great street, but I’ll keep working on that. What an oversight!

So, a few years ago local hero Tony Lawson set out to single-handedly preserve the precious music of our area and provide an alternative to commercial radio and classical-only public radio. He gave birth to WDVX which originally lived in a trailer on a mountainside, but eventually moved to Gay Street, reconnecting with that grand tradition. Please go to their web site and learn about the station and make a contribution.

Red Hickey

Which brings us, finally, to the show. Christabel and the Jons played on the square, hosted by Red Hickey of WDVX. Christabel has grown so much as an artist. She does her own brand of softly swinging indie country music. She would probably hate that amalgamation of a description, but that’s as close as I can get. Check her out and you’ll likely get enchanted. It was a hot day (haven’t they all been lately), but she and the group plugged on and played a delightful set. They are touring west and north this summer, but have a couple of shows scheduled back home in the fall. Be sure to catch them. If you want a sample, two of my favorite songs are I Believe and Say I’m Crazy.

Enjoy more photos below. Remember, all pictures on the site may be enlarged by clicking them.