Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Nashville Cast--And Cats

Del McCoury's bluegrass band sings a song called "Nashville Cats" that describes the concept of being one of too many guitar pickers in that music city, and it might also be applied to others, English teachers included. Three of my colleagues and I presented a paper last weekend in Tennessee at the NCTE Conference there, and nearly 200 people were in attendance, many of them interested in what we had to say. Thousands of teachers, from grade school to college, attended the conference, and it was heartening to hear all the good things that teachers across the country are doing to promote good writing and effective reading. We were a dime a dozen those few days, but we left knowing a lot more about how to be good teachers.

But the conference wasn't the only thing on the table, and we got to visit one of my sisters and check out the Grand Old Opry at the Ryman Auditorium (where the lineup included Emmylou Harris, Hal Ketchum, the Del McCoury Band, Jean Shepherd--singing "I'm Tired of Playing Second Fiddle to an Old Guitar"--and the Riders in the Sky, among many others). Others included Pam Tillis, Nanci Griffith, Carolina Rain, Ray Scott, and that guy that sings "Pop a Top Again"--Jim Ed Brown. We spent an evening on music row, where every little hole in the wall had a band just bristling with talent.

It was much the same way looking through the conference schedule, with almost every presentation a home run.

Check out the photos here--note the wife's new boots and my sister's first pair after moving to Nashville a dozen years ago. That's Emmylou in the white hair.

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