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Posted: July 31, 2011 12:00 a.m.

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Rowe: Music and roadtrips

I finally get a chance to write about something I am very passionate about. Now don't let your mind start wondering, ‘cause it ain't what you're thinking and besides, this is a family friendly paper, you know. There's lots of things I like to do when and if I have any extra time which rarely happens. One thing that doesn't require any effort is listening to music and music affects people in different ways.

I've always had a deep appreciation for all kinds of music and I was blessed with the natural ability to play piano. My parents enrolled me in piano lessons as soon as I started school and I continued until junior high school. By that time, my piano teacher had almost given up on me because I was bored with playing the selections she chose to help hone my skills. My problem was I tend to play by ear, so if I heard it I could play it, but at that age, all I listened to was rock and roll and that's what I wanted to play. By high school, I had signed up for chorus and there, under the direction of Mr. Tony Rucker, we learned to sing Diana Ross and Barry Manilow along with some old classics and standards. I also learned to appreciate classical music and once attended a performance by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and that was a unique experience.

Throughout it all, country remained what I loved the most and to me, if it ain't country it ain't music! Along with albums by AC/DC, Journey, Reo Speedwagon, Air Supply, Foreigner and James Taylor, I had an even bigger collection of country music by Freddie Fender, Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr, Crystal Gayle, Donna Fargo, Anne Murray and many more.

As I got older country music was the only thing I listened to. In the early 90's, I heard Rhubarb Jones play a song by a new country artist. I couldn't help thinking how talented he was and that he was following the traditional country sounds of Merle Haggard, George Jones and Conway Twitty. From the first time I heard Tracy Lawrence singing ‘Sticks and Stones' with his country twang and deep baritone voice I became a big fan. Tracy has been singing country music for 20+ years now and one of his most popular hits is ‘Find Out Who Your Friends Are' and he continues to come out with some of the best there is in country music.

One year we went to Opryland for vacation and enjoyed seeing all there is to do in Nashville and have returned several times. Opryland is no longer there but there is still plenty to do in Nashville, especially during "Fan Fair' or ‘CMA Music Fest' as it is now called. We've been going to ‘Fan Fair' since 1998 and look forward to it every year. My daughter and I have been several times and really enjoy our time together and this trip was no exception. Several of my friends have told me I should write a book, but some things that happen in Nashville are better left in Nashville, and I treasure my friends too much to spill the beans.

Every year our trips are special, fun and memorable but this year was a real doozy. I rented an economy car that would be good on gas since prices had gone up so much and when I went to pick it up, they took me to the car and I almost had second thoughts about the whole trip. It was new, roomy and reliable and loaded with all the bells and whistles but it was short, squashed up and kinda resembled a spaceship. My daughter fell in love with the car after she drove it most of the trip and even named it. About halfway through our trip we finally figured out how to make the rear wiper go off so we really were a bunch of nerds in the nerdmobile.

We talked all the way home and laughed and have already planned our trip for next year so if you're looking for something fun to do next summer, tune into a country station and head north to Nashville - there's much more to Nashville than just country music!

Beth Rowe may be reached at

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