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SlideSHOW: Sam Wiseman Snaps Jerry Reed Night At 3rd & Lindsley

Jerry Reed, the Georgia-born Country Music Hall of Famer who lived from 1937 to 2008, was one of Nashville’s most extravagant Southern characters. He was a hillbilly wildman, a kick-back good old boy, a screen actor, a clever songwriter, a consummate entertainer, and a guitar picker so ferocious and original that Chet Atkins himself studied his moves, signed him to RCA Records, and made several duo albums with him.

Reed also made some of the funkiest records in country music in the 1970s, including the slinky, butt-shaking syncopation of “Amos Moses” and “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” That’s part of what inspired bass player and DJ David Guy to assemble and organize an impressive cast of musicians and singers last week at 3rd & Lindsley for a tribute to Reed. There wasn’t some anniversary or specific occasion, but who needs one? When I saw the lineup and the prospect of a few hours of music spawned by an under-appreciated artist I love, I ran down to secure my favorite seat at the bar.

The question hanging in the air was who had the guts to play some of those wicked Jerry Reed instrumentals, and the first answer was Nashville recording artist Brooks Forsyth who took on some of the deep catalog tunes, including “Jerry’s Breakdown,” a hot 1972 duo with Chet. This one (with its sultry ooh-ooh-oohs) brought out the first of many appearances by the harmonious vocal trio of Rachel Rodriguez, Keshia Bailey (of LadyCouch) and Americana artist Lauren Morrow. More guitar mastery would follow from the smoking duo of Sean Thompson and Adam Meisterhans, who took on the signature instrumental “The Claw” on nylon string guitars in a particularly vintage Nashville moment.

Roots rocker and Cafe Rooster Records owner Brian Wright sang “The Preacher & The Bear,” “The Bandit” (an underrated Outlaw tune from a certain soundtrack that would come back later in the show), and a defiantly original take on Merle Travis’s “16 Tons” with hearty background vocals from the ladies and sax and organ from super sideman Robbie Crowell. David Guy himself took over for a couple of personal favorites, while slides of his extensive Jerry Reed LP collection splashed on the screen behind the band. Also taking turns at center stage were Nathan Kalish, Sophie Gault, Adam Chaffins (with Brit Taylor), Allen Thompson, and Boo Ray, who captured Reed’s gangly soul perfectly on “Almost Crazy” and “Alabama Wild Man.”

But when I think back years from now, I’m going to particularly remember leads from Lauren Morrow and Joshua Hedley as the night reached its climax. Morrow took on “Georgia Sunshine” with a state native’s pride and a timely “Go Braves” as she kicked it off. Her warbling voice is one-of-a-kind in today’s country scene, and she convinced me that the 1971 album title cut is a lost classic. Then came Lower Broadway hero Hedley to celebrate and elevate some of Reed’s biggest songs, including “Amos Moses,” “Guitar Man,” and finale “Eastbound & Down.” Between memories of seeing Smokey & The Bandit with my dad when I was eleven, the vivacious twin electric guitars of Thompson and Meisterhans, and Hedley’s suave honky tonk mastery, I found myself involuntarily up and out of my bar stool for this one.

A huge amount of work went into this show, coordinating a couple dozen twangsters and working up 26 Jerry Reed songs, many of them rather tricky. Quite a few cover/tribute bands play 3rd & Lindsley on the reg, so how about we call this crew “The Snowmen” and give them the stage a couple of times a year?

Nashville photographer (and drummer) Sam Wiseman was on hand, and we’re excited to showcase his coverage of the night.

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org