If you are looking for a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Nashville, I highly recommend the free concert experience of Musicians Corner in Centennial Park. On most of the pleasant weather weekends throughout the year, you can see several up and coming acts and a closing set by an exciting headliner in the permanent stage set up in the city’s major park. You will also find food trucks galore to meet your every need and best of all, a respectful listening audience. OK – there will be a few barking dogs and crying babies, but this is a much more music-driven crowd than the fiasco that Live on the Green has become.
On a recent Saturday, my lawn chair, sunglasses, water bottle and I found a nice shady spot just in time for Robyn Hitchcock’s 4:30pm to 6pm headlining slot. What more wonderful way is there to spend a lovely afternoon than the live concert experience of trying to unravel the mysteries embedded within a Robyn Hitchcock song.
Taking the stage alone with just an acoustic guitar, Robyn politely responded to his introduction as being from England by making it clear that he now resides in East Nashville’s Shelby Park. Quite adept at playing this way, the man has a luring style that makes you feel like he was sitting on the couch in your living room.
Robyn cheekily introduced each song with subtly absurd directions to his sound man such as “Make my vocal on this one sound like Graham Nash” or “Make my guitar sound like a well-played 12-string.” Listening to Robyn’s song intros alone made the trip downtown worthwhile.
Before bringing on his surprisingly unnamed band, Hitchcock was joined for two songs by his good friend, the lovely Nashvillian from Australia, Miss Emma Swift. After singing Robyn’s “Queen Elvis,” together they created the day’s most sublime event with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman,” a song that Dylanologist Robyn reminded us came out of Nashville.
Hitchcock, the guy with the best collection of mod-looking shirts in town, then switched to his electric guitar kicking off a sold set with his band that touched on both his past efforts and his latest eponymous Yep Rock release. The solid rhythm section of “Jons without an ‘h’” lead the way boosted by Anna McCue’s cracking lead guitar. Like Ms. Swift, McCue is another East Nashville transplant from Australia, and man, can this woman play some sizzling guitar.
Calling it his encore despite not leaving the stage, Hitchcock’s Beatlesque four-piece band ended the afternoon with a cover of “A Day in the Life,” and a splendid time was had by all.
PS Please be sure to catch my recent “11 Questions to a Nashville Musician” featuring Robyn Hitchcock.
- Balloon Man (solo)
- When I Was Dead (solo)
- N.Y. Doll (solo)
- I’m Only You (solo)
- Queen Elvis (with Emma Swift)
- Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan cover with Emma Swift)
- I Want to Tell You About What I Want
- Saturday Groovers
- Madonna of the Wasps
- I Pray When I’m Drunk
- Virginia Wolf
- Autumn Sunglasses
- Queen of Eyes
- Be Still
- Brenda’s Iron Sledge
- Mad Shelley’s Letterbox
- A Day in the Life (The Beatles cover)
Robyn Hitchcock—Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars
Emma Swift—Backing Vocals (tracks #5 & #6)
and his band:
Anna McCue—lead guitar