12th & Porter – Nashville, TN

We set out in the am for Nashville with hopes to get there by 8 or 9 pm. It was a 12 hour drive. The ride was mostly uneventful. The scenery was lush – kudzus growin all around – so many shades of green. I really miss this is California which is quickly turning into a desert.

We stopped in Knoxville for some food. I don’t think I have ever been there before. It was so inviting – we all wanted to stay longer! It was a small detour and much needed. The hotel we were booked at for the next 3 nights had some sketchy reviews even though the pictures looked good. We started to research alternative places to stay. Mostly everything was booked or super expensive. We decided to check it out for ourselves and make the decision then. Many hotel chains will take a picture of their one renovated property and post it as a specific location.

We arrived close to 9. Clem, Gretchen and I went to each room – one was full of smoke and on the highway and the others were renovated and totally fine. The location was kind’ve seedy – just off the highway – but it was our best option. Gretchen and I did decide to shack up because of a few guys who were creeping around. We wanted to keep the rooms that were in well lit areas and close to each other for safety reasons. Gretchen and I pulled out our party dresses and got ready for a night on the town. Clem was in but Angeline was gonna get some rest and stay in.

We called an Uber for a pick up. for those of you who don’t know what ‘Uber’ is …..basically it’s a car service that you sign up for – get the app – put in your cc # and no money is exchanged. You are able to see cars available in your area and exactly how many minutes away they are from you. They also tell you the driver’s name and make/color of the vehicle. The Uber came and scooped us up. Three giddy girls lookin for music and cocktails on our first night off in a week. The driver was very cute and he knew it. Needless to say – we had fun with him. He told us that he was a musician – even played harp. By the time we got out of the car; I had arranged a harmonica lesson with him AND he was coming to Robert’s Western World for a drink. Each one of us – unknowingly – had texted Angeline that she had better get her ass out of bed because we just found her date for the night. After Matt finished his drink – we sent him back to the hotel to pick her up.

It was so much fun to be there. I loved the band that was playing – doing Hank right. It was EXACTLY what I had wanted. My friend Frank Melfi – Nashville native and rock and roll photographer suggested it. Clem’s original band ‘Stars Turn Me On’ were opening for Zepparella the following night; so her bandmates Justin and Judah came out to play. Angeline arrived and we all laughed, drank, and danced!

Later we ventured across the street where there was a rock band playing. It was weird to not be performing. Angeline went up to the band and said ‘we want some Zeppelin’! and they said ‘oh we know some’ and she said ‘no – we want to play some Zeppelin’! Before you knew it – we were on the stage – saddling up with their gear – in the middle of their set – playing ‘Ramble On and then later back for ‘The Ocean’. So this is what we do on our night off!!!! Hell Yeah!

The next morning came quickly. No matter how sleep deprived I am – I can’t sleep in. So I was up early trying to catch up on my life outside of tour. Today I was going to hang out with my old pal Frank. We met in the early 80’s in NY. He is the long time friend and photographer for Robert Plant. We have run into each other over the years at RP related events. The last time I saw him was at the Zeppelin show at O2 Arena in London. He was my tour guide for the day. In typical tour tradition; I asked Angeline if she wanted to join. All the girls were invited but both Clem and Gretchen had other plans.

I should’ve known where the day was gonna go when we started off the day with Bloody Marys…a Bloody Maria for me. He took us to his favorite lunch place where everyone knew him by name. He had already eaten and had been waiting for us to call so he just drank.

Here we are….Cheers!

After we were fed and watered…..off to shop! I had to check out ‘Two Old Hippies’! In my other life I used to sell them clothing. I had invited the owner Mollie to the show as well. I was hoping to get my candles in there too! Also, in my other life I co-own an amazing candle company called ‘Whole Lotta Light’. These candles are made by an incredible woman and friend who you will see latter in the blog…when we get to Dallas. Please check out our website at http://wholelottalight.com Punch in the code ZEP for a 10% discount – this is a special code for Zepparella fans.

We also sell them at our shows!!!!

Frank fed the meter and we went in for a quick look around. By the time we left, I think that Frank had been back to the meter 4 times. They had such cool stuff! I narrowly escaped with only a few bucks in my pocket. I managed to rationalize buying some smokin black lace up heels, freakin awesome bell bottoms and a cool pair of embroidered jeans I couldn’t live without! Both Angeline and Frank agreed that I had to do it. This is what happens when you start your day off with a Bloody Maria. I thought if I spent money it would be on some vintage cowboy boots…wrong again! Angeline got out of there easy but then found another place to plunk down our earnings. Frank is such a character and fun shopper. So many men would have hated that experience – but he just flowed right along with us encouraging our every move and giving his honest opinions. He’s a very excitable fella so when it was good- he most certainly confirmed it with enthusiasm. However, all that shopping made us thirsty! Oh look….there’s a bar next door. Angeline and I were so happy with our purchases. Before the drinks were ordered I had the shoes on! I had to wear them as much as possible on the tour because I could see that they would be sitting in my closet once I got back home – wouldn’t be wearing these suckers to pick up my boy from school or at Soccer….yes that’s right…I’m officially a soccer mom! Can’t you tell?

New shoes, fresh drink and then some fun photos…this was our sightseeing! Oh it didn’t matter – yes I wanted to stand on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry…but we were having ourselves a time! I will return again!!!!! By the way, my friend Isis had informed me that it was National Tequila Day. I have to honor my holidays! Here’s a little taste of our shoot:

After shopping and afternoon cocktails… We headed back to Frank’s lake house. He has an amazing place on a majestic lake….wow…I could so live here…..right on the water….
Frank took us on the tour – his house is a museum of photographs that he has spent a lifetime capturing. His Led Zeppelin archives are beyond EPIC……we watched a video of ‘Tea For One’…the only time it was ever played! This song is the next stop on the Silk Road of Zep just after ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’….the natural extension or continuation of the bluesy soul melting personal favorite I love. After all these years, it was so nice to be here and to spend this time with Frank – getting past the backstage banter. We sat out there on his porch listening to the greatest music…watching the sun do down on the glistening water and taking silly pictures. The next day we texted him and let him know that we would be getting back on the horse and riding out! He said that he felt like a bag of hammered shit and once he got his head screwed on he would come out to the show. I felt like I had visited some sacred ground and many ghosts…a spiritual cleansing for sure. Sometimes, a day off means a day of reconnecting to what is not there….on the road…and so you dance and sing with memories. Maybe today we would make it to the ‘sites’! As it turns out there wasn’t much time before load in so we just got ourselves down to the music part of town and meandered around contemplating cowboy boots and tattoos. Eventually, we got thirsty and stopped in a honky tonk where there was a band playing my mama’s song…’Stand By Your Man’. I felt her with me the whole time. I guess that was what Nashville was going to be about for me on this trip. I definitely want to come back when there is time to truly explore.

We played at 12th and Porter – a venue that was sort’ve off the beaten track. Frank came with all his gear and told us that we were veterans because he was still in recovery from our excellent adventures the day before. I was looking forward to playing music in Nashville and to sit in with Clem’s band ‘Star’s Turn Me On’. I was very underwhelmed by the venue and the way they treated their bands. It felt like we paid to play. We had a great smaller audience but we knew everyone in it. We had folks come from Chicago, Indianapolis and some family members of dear friends….all bearing gifts. It was a sweet ending to our stay here.

As always ….sending gratitude to all who came out, the very fine hospitality, the love we received and to Led Zeppelin for giving me the greatest songs to sing.

Down to the bayou….New Orleans!