When I heard Sam Schmidthuber, local Morgantown’s singer and songwriter, signed a a record deal with Nashville’s famed Century II Records and Allen Karl (Century II CEO) and was planning to go to Nashville to record and also preform for Veteran’s Day, I texted my daughter-in-law, Gloria Quaintance, who set things in motion for a weekend get-away to Music Valley.
Sam would be performing at the historic Texas Troubadour Theater, originally founded by the legendary Ernest Tubbs. We added the Grand Ole Opry, the Bluebird Café and the Gaylord Resort to our destination list and were on our way to celebrate Veteran's Day.
Berks County met Nashville Nov. 8 on the flag draped stage of Texas Troubadour Theater’s “Music City Hayride” show for Veterans Appreciation Weekend.
An Honor Guard started the night filled with a lineup of country music performers.
Then, Quilts of Valor, an organization founded at Walter Reed Hospital with a mission to cover all combat service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor, presented a Quilt to veteran Dean Holmen, founder and CEO of “Music City Hayride.” To date 230,000 quilts have been given nationally.
Sam Schmidthuber brought down the house singing Trace Atkin’s “Arlington” to an audience of veterans, a military color guard, and country fans.
“I’m one of the chosen ones. I made it to Arlington!
And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property, I'm on sacred ground, And I'm in the best of company. I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done. I can rest in peace
I'm one of the chosen ones. I made it to Arlington, And every time I hear twenty-one guns, I know they brought another hero home to us We can rest in peace ,’cause we are the chosen ones, We made it to Arlington, Yeah, dust to dust, Don't cry for us, We made it to Arlington."
“It’s an honor to honor the veterans tonight. If it wouldn’t be for them, I wouldn’t be able to be on this stage tonight to live my dreams,” said Schmidthuber.
Holeman said, “Sam is the future of our industry. He has that special star quality. I book him when ever I can. I went with him today to the recording studio.”
"He is handsome and has the IT factor,” added singer Layne Smith.
The next night we were on to the Grand Old Opry, the longest-running radio show in the country since 1925. WSM is staged live and broadcast every week from the Ryman Theater in downtown Nashville, the show that made country music famous.
Sitting in the pew-lined theater we were witness to a storied and colorful history brought alive. The traditional square dancing, the line-up of musicians and singers swept magic over the stage where many of the ‘greats' were launched to stardom.
Any moment it felt like Minnie Pearl or Johnny Cash and the Carter Sisters would walk on stage as the veterans in the audience were called to rise to their feet over and over.
Sgt. Noah Galloway a Freedom Iraqi War Hero, now a motivational speaker and fund raiser, addressed the veterans present.
“We have a heart for the military. If we didn’t have those people, we wouldn’t be hanging out here tonight. Especially sending out the show tonight to anyone deployed in a foreign land.”
Darryl Worley performed his famous “Have you forgotten”.
“I hear people saying we don't need this war. I say there's some things worth fighting for. What about our freedom and this piece of ground? We didn't get to keep 'em by backing down. They say we don't realize the mess we're getting in, Before you start your preaching, Let me ask you this my friend, Have you forgotten how it felt that day, to see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away? Have you forgotten when those towers fell? We had neighbors still inside, Going through a living hell, And you say we shouldn't worry 'bout Bin Laden. Have you forgotten?”
The oldest Honky-Tonk in America ‘Tootsies’ is still just around the corner in the alley. Some of the greatest Opry Stars, Patsy Cline, Hank William, and Ernest Tubbs went there to wet their whistles and pick their guitars.
Today you may find Kenny Chesney, Kid Rock and others adding to the atmosphere of Tootsies! Music Valley and Nashville is still the place where the stars go home.
To learn more about Nashville watch PBS Special “Country Music by Ken Burns” at pbs.org/kenburns/country-music.
Our final stop was the Bluebird Café, another place where many artists find a place to make their mark. The line to get in stretches around the corner.
That night, we came to listen to Rory Calhoun in the “Listening room” shh, no talking. It was storytelling time as this singer and songwriter spun his tales of inspiration and story lines that became lyrics and then songs.
It was an enchanting, fun time, with country music fans listening to fresh talent.
On the wall was a sign, “Behind every hit is a songwriter living his dream.”
Dream on Sam, you just recorded two new records this weekend. Hope you’re the songwriter behind that next hit!