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Views and opinions: Fame isn’t always endgame in pursuit of musical career

As I pen this column, I am sitting in a Nashville hotel. This city is arguably the center of the universe when it comes to country music. I passed by the Grand Ole Opry and waved; I saw various billboards promoting shows and venues as I drove in. I have seen Music Roll and the Ryman Auditorium.

You just can’t come to Nashville and not feel the presence of every artist, known or otherwise, famous or never-heard-of. The city has this musical aura around it. Or at least, that is the feeling I get.

I couldn’t help but think of all the performers over several decades who have come to this city to find fame and fortune, with just their hopes and dreams – and they still do. I see performers on street corners and small bars all over the place, and I try to put myself in their shoes when I have a chance to stop and listen.

Each has a different story to tell. But all have the same goal: To make a living in the music business.

Now, a living can mean a lot of things. I used to know some folks who toured in what we called, back then, a show band. They did the hotel circuit and made a good living at the time. They never cut a record nor were they “famous” by any stretch of the imagination, but they made a living during the time they performed.

I for one think there are advantages to making a living without all the fame. Of course, that is coming from someone who often played for free just to get the thrill.

I heard a recent interview with one of the most popular country music performers in the country, and he said the folks in Italy, where he had recently vacationed, didn’t know him and he kind of enjoyed walking around with that anonymity.

Some performers are so well-known they can’t leave their homes without drawing a crowd. I’m not sure success to that magnitude would be worth it.

So, for all the performers here in this town and around the world looking for that one big break, I wish you well and hope your dreams come true. These hard-working musicians I’m seeing in Nashville deserve it.

I say that with the caveat, be careful what you ask for – you might just already be having the time of your life.


Bluegrass Johnson comes from a long line of country music performers and enjoys a passion for the rhythm and melody. From the hills of Kentucky, he will offer his opinions on a variety of music. Readers with questions or comments may write to Johnson in care of this publication.