Just when you thought that there wasn’t anyone else left for tribute album treatment, here comes You Don’t Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold on Plowboy Records. This effort is the brainchild of Shannon Pollard, Arnold’s grandson who founded the Nashville-based label initially as an outlet for this release. Pollard solicited the help of Nashville transplant Cheetah Chrome to help with production chores. For the unenlightened, Chrome was a member of Cleveland’s Dead Boys who worked their way to New York City in the late 70s to be a part of the original CBGB’s punk scene. The pairing of these two led to a rather eclectic mix of current day artists comprising the tribute roster.
Both Pollard and Chrome were on hand this Friday afternoon at Grimeys. Pollard played drums for the house band while Chrome played guitar and sang his song from the record. They brought along three other artists to play their covers from the record: another grandson of a country legend, Chris Scruggs; cameraman cum singer, Pete Mroz; and special Chrome invitee, Bebe Buell. In fact, Chrome’s call out to Buell to participate led to her rediscovering her birthplace in the south and to becoming a Nashville resident.
Pollard kicked off the event with a brief history of his grandfather’s amazing track record. Known as the “Tennessee Plowboy” (thus the label’s moniker), Arnold charted songs in seven decades selling over 85 million records. In addition to once owning most of what is now Brentwood, Arnold was the first Opry artist to record in Music City. He was instrumental in getting the industry established in town. He died in 2008 just shy of his 90th birthday. Pollard said that his intent with the Arnold record was to “honor him in the way he wouldn’t want it done.”
Taking the floor first were the band Drivin’ N’ Cryin who needed to make a quick exit for an early afternoon “Frist Friday” show over at the museum. Tackling the rather wordy ballad, “Wreck of the Old 97,” lead singer Kevin Kinney worked from a lyric sheet that he had taped to a facing record bin. The band then did an unrelated original number, “The Little Record Store Just Around the Corner” from their latest EP which they dedicated to Grimeys.
After a short break to reset, Chris Scruggs delivered the one true countrified performance of the day. Following his stellar vocal, he stayed on to lead the house band for the remaining three guests. Seeing Scruggs play has whet my appetite to see one of his regular Sunday night gigs at West Nashville’s Stone Fox.
Next up was Pete Mroz who left his duties as the day’s video cameraman for a great reading of “Cattle Call,” one of Arnold’s signature songs and the last one Pollard said he heard his grandfather sing.
Bebe Buell then fronted the band thanking Chrome for the invitation to town that made her fall in love again with the South. She added, “We were Punk Rock kids together in the 70’s.” I later spotted Buell with Chrome at the Blondie / X show at the Ryman. It will be interesting to see if she will make an impact on the local music scene like she did back in the early punk and new wave days.
Finally, Chrome traded his electric for an acoustic and sat down very un-punk like for a reading of his song from the record. Like Buell, he is not the greatest singer in the world, but both legendary music figures showed us how their hearts were in the right place in honoring Eddy Arnold, a true country legend.
You Don’t Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold is now available on both CD and vinyl.
- Wreck of the Old 97 (Drivin’ N’ Cryin’)
- The Little Record Store Just Around the Corner (Drivin’ N’ Cryin’)
- Just a Little Lovin’ (Will Go a Long Way) (Chris Scruggs)
- Cattle Call (Pete Mroz)
- Hold You in My Arms (Bebe Buell)
- What is Life Without Love (Cheetah Chrome)
Drivin’ N’ Cryin’:
Kevin Kinney—Vocals and Electric Guitar
Dave V. Johnson—Drums
Sadler Vaden— Electric Guitar
Eddie Arnold Tribute Band:
Chris Scruggs— Electric Guitar and Pedal Steel
Cheetah Chrome— Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Wes L’Anglois— Electric Guitar