Photo Gallery | Nostalgic sounds come to music fans 'Country Fried'
The twang of a tune from Patsy Cline may be the last thing some late nighters expect to hear when walking into a pirate-themed bar on Broad Avenue. But as bar patrons pass the mast at the ship-shaped bar and walk deeper into the establishment the fleet of cowboy hats becomes evident, and the sound of golden-age country music grows louder from a band in a small corner.
Complete with a pedal steel player, Country Fried Friday celebrates real, vintage country music of WSM radio out of Nashville – played live by Memphis' own Big Barton.
Acoustic guitar and trumpet player, Jeremy Shrader, said a former bartender and booking manager at The Cove had the idea for a country-themed show once a month. They tried it, and a year and a half later songs from Hank Williams to George Jones still play proudly.
"We all wanted to so something, and it fell together. [The Cove] has always let me experiment and try different things," said Shrader who is also seen around town playing jazz music.
With a focus of country music from the 40s to 60s-era, the band rarely plays anything beyond the 1980s.
Shrader says he believes it is important for Memphians, and Tennesseeans in general, to share this genre of music. As Nashville obviously has its ties to country music, so does Memphis with its legendary greats including Johnny Cash and Charlie Feathers – to list a few.
Although, Elvis and the blues overshadowed country music's takeoff in Memphis, Shrader said southern blues and country music share the similar story of a personal tragedy. And that many people, fans of golden-age country or not, can relate to the songs played during Country Fried Friday.
"It's become a study in a way, and it's fun. People dance, have a good time, and sing along – so many people know these songs. They may not seek it out, but once they experience it ... Then people share a very common feeling," said Shrader.
Even for those who are unfamiliar with the two-step, bartender Evan Potts said most people end up getting into the swing of things once they recognize an old tune.
"Big Barton plays all of the classic country. None of that drinking margaritas on the beach country," said Potts describing a typical Big Barton show.
Named after Big Barton's creek outside of Dixon where Shrader's mother grew up, the band also consists of Mid-South locals including Adam Holton, Logan Hanna, Richard Alan Ford, Jesse Williams, Steve Barnat.
Country Fried Friday goes down the first Friday of every month.
In particular to the upcoming show following Independence Day, the band argues that it does not get much more American than Hank Williams, Sr. They promise All-American country music from 10:30 p.m. into the early hours Saturday morning. (Note to parents: The Cove is a 21 and up bar.)