I attended my second concert since covid on August 21, 2021. Russ and I saw Colin Hay and his band in the Caverns in Pelham, TN, about halfway between Chattanooga and Nashville. It was vastly different from my experience at the James Taylor/Jackson Browne concert in Roanoke, VA, about two weeks earlier.
For starters, it was far less crowded than the concert in Roanoke. At full seating capacity, the Caverns can accommodate 850 people, versus the 9,000-10,000 capacity of the Berglund Center in Roanoke. The Caverns also required us to provide proof of vaccination to attend the show (or a negative covid test), whereas there was none required for the Berglund Center. Masks were “strongly suggested” at the Caverns, but only “respectfully requested” in Roanoke. And the ambiance of the Caverns was pretty surreal. It was cool – literally and figuratively, at just 59 degrees inside the “venue,” making masking far more comfortable than it had been in Roanoke. (Note: I masked for the entire show in both venues.)
We stayed in the Smoke House Lodge in nearby Monteagle, TN, and rode to the Caverns on a charter bus. Before the show, we toured the other cave onsite – a steep descent into the earth, a little slick in spots, but impressive once we reached the interior. My favorite part? You have to understand my fascination with graffiti, I guess, but there was writing on the cavern walls dating back to the 1930’s.
The show, of course, was exquisite! It was my third time seeing Colin Hay, the first two times it being him alone in an acoustic set, but both in similarly intimate settings at the Paramount Theater in Bristol, Tennessee, and in Whitesburg, KY. His back-up singer, a woman named Cecelia Noel, was amazingly energetic; I felt like I needed to don workout clothes and join her onstage. His keyboardist/saxophonist/flautist flat-out ROCKED the show! Although my heart leapt over the old hits from his Men At Work days, I was impressed by the songs from his new album, I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself, especially his cover of Glen Campbell’s iconic “Wichita Lineman.” His opener was Dave Poltz, the guy who co-wrote “I Was Meant For You” with Jewel back in the 90’s. My favorite part of Poltz’s segment of the show was his penchant for telling a tale! While he’s certainly musically talented, the man’s storytelling abilities were incomparable!
If you ever get a chance to catch a concert in the Caverns, I encourage you to do so. It was my birthday gift from Russ, and an impressive and memorable night, to be sure