Me and Tennessee

Then that ol’ song comes on…  Together we’re singin’..

Any trip to the USA should include a visit to the music heartlands of Tennessee – Memphis and Nashville.

For taking photographs in the middle of summer however, it gets hot  – 100F hot – and has the harshest of harsh sunlight, so glare and shadow are going to be a problem.  I’d the trusty bog standard Olympus E450 with it’s 2 kit zooms which were fine as with the extreme brightness, wide open apertures weren’t going to be much use. And with a lot of colour being washed out with the bright light, black and white was the way to go.
So – a tale of two cities.

Music City

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Ernest Tubb’s record shop, South Broadway, Nashville

Nashville’s South Broadway is exactly as you would imagine it  – all guitars, boots and beer, and it doesn’t disappoint.  Everywhere you look there’s neon signs offering all you can eat and drink to the soundtrack of country music.  It’s a friendly city, accessible and has a laid back charm.  There’s a lot more downtown than SoBo – there’s loads of walks by the river, countless music venues, Tennesse State Museum and many country music museums.  However you’ll invariably end up back on Broadway with a beer in your hand and wearing a new hat.

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Tequila Cowboy, South Broadway
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Layla’s
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Honky Tonk Central, South Broadway
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Boots – one of many offers
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more than boots
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Joe
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Wasted away again in….

For the big music venues, there’s the Bridgestone Arena on South Broadway but for the ultimate in country experience, there’s the Opry – a few miles out of town, and for $35 you can get an unforgettable country music experience.

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The wonderful Grand Ole Opry
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Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

For sports, there’s the NFL (Tennessee Titans) , AAA Baseball (Nashville Sounds) or the Nashville Speedway – it’s about $10 for an evening’s racing.

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When you’ve had enough music, there’s cars

Memphis

About three hours away, Memphis is a very different experience.  Where Nashville has a folksy touristy charm, Memphis has a wee bit of an atmosphere – a bit more tense, a much harder rock, blues and soul soundtrack and its central attraction Beale Street has an edge that’s great to experience but with a completely different feel.  Still it’s well worth a visit – there’s Gibson Guitars, Rock n Soul and Stax Museums, loads of music venues and in like Nashville you’ll not go hungry or thirsty.

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Gibson Guitars – a great visit and you get to play some
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street bar, Beale Street
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Beale Street, Hard Rock Cafe
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Reassuring – no guns in this bar..
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Blues singer, Beale Street
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Sullivan’s Bar, Beale Street

Out of the cities, there’s a lot of Irish Heritage sites – this was the Rogan family homestead, 19th Century immigrants from Co Down.

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Finally, no matter where you go you’ll be in the presence of Elvis Presley.  Just don’t stand on the King.

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More Tennesse pics on the Flickr  https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1FiUpC

Chiang Rai Utd v Big Bang Chula FC

When you’re travelling around the world, you often experience things that are so different from your normal day to day life  – food, language, culture and customs – while other things are pretty much universal.  Football, with its globally consistent rules and multinational structures, transcends location and culture.
Turn up at a match and you could be anywhere.

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Chiang Rai is the northernmost city in Thailand – a delightful, quirky place about 16 hours by train/bus from Bangkok – and hosts a top division league side – Chiang Rai United.  The Thai T1 league has 18 sides from around the country and all have badges, logos and designations in English as opposed to Thai, with many “Uniteds” and “FC’s”.  The opposition on this hot July evening was the splendidly named Big Bang Chula FC.

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The Singha Stadium is beside the airport about 15 minutes drive from the city centre (taxi is the best way to get there – and make sure you book one for after the match..) and it’s a fine modern stadium.  Outside there are the usual hordes of fans in replica kits and a number of stalls selling them – naturally I bought one.

Food is one big difference from the Irish or English leagues. In the absence of cheesey chips, there’s an array of spicy kebabs from 10 baht (0.20 GBP) each.

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no manky pies or Bovril
drinks
cold drinks are essential in the 30 plus temperatures
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fans

Inside it’s open, largely uncovered and all-seater with the stands tight to the pitch.

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Before kick-off there was the formality of the Thai National Anthem.  This seems to have largely disappeared from European sporting events (excepting internationals) but like the States, where the anthem is sung everywhere from MLB and NFL down to local Friday night speedways, in Thailand they like to do the anthem at most public gatherings.  And as is common, it’s accompanied by a royal video clip.

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be upstanding and screen-facing, for the National Anthem

 

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5000 miles from the UK and there’s always a Man United fan..
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the Chiang Rai United rhythm section

On the pitch, there was a mix of players from Thailand and around the world including a few Brazilians.  A home team ex-pat favourite is Mark Bridge, an Australian and leading goalscorer.  The match itself was exciting affair resulting in a 2-2 draw, the crowd was noisy, the food was good and our taxi turned up on time after the match.  A perfect evening.

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He makes it 1-0
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Mark Bridge, Chiang Rai United
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Final score 2 – 2.

Kit:
Canon 5D, 70-300 and 50mm lenses;
iPod (6th gen)

more Thai footie photos on the Flickr https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1qvnR9