Madisonian Summer '22

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Summer | 2022

Issue 1.4

Elizabeth Cook She’s

HANK SNOW’S RAINBOW RANCH

Just

JOB BILLIARDS CLUB, A MADISON MAINSTAY


Founder & Publisher

Editor-in-Chief

Creative Director

Associate Publisher

Managing Editor

Layout & Design

Ad Design

Editor-at-Large

Advertising

Contributing Writers

Lisa McCauley Scott Hylbert

Benjamin Rumble sales@theeastnashvillian.com

Chuck Allen

Kristin Whittlesey Randy Fox

Carlene Carter Leslie LaChance Andrew Leahey Todd Snider Butch Walker

Chuck Allen

Benjamin Rumble Photo Editor

Travis Commeau Illustrations

Benjamin Rumble

The Madisonian is a quarterly magazine published by Kitchen Table Media. All editorial content and photographic materials contained herein are “works for hire” and are the exclusive property of Kitchen Table Media, LLC unless otherwise noted. This publication is offered freely, limited to one per reader. The removal of more than one copy by an individual from any of our distribution points constitutes theft and will be subject to prosecution. Reprints or any other usage without the express written permission of the publisher is a violation of copyright. ©2022 Kitchen Table Media P.O. Box 60157, Nashville, TN 37206

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Contents cover story

Summer | 2022 | Issue 1.4 features

8

commentary

Editor’s 7 Letter

‘She’s Just Elizabeth Cook’

BY KRISTIN WHITTLESEY

cover shot

Friends and colleagues share stories of the Madison musician

COMPILED BY ANDREW LEAHEY

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It’s All About the Pool (and the People) What makes JOB Billiards Club a Madison mainstay BY LESLIE LACHANCE

Of Travel I’ve Had My Share

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Coming home to Hank Snow’s Rainbow Ranch BY RANDY FOX

Elizabeth Cook PHOTOGRAPH BY EMMA DELEVANTE

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Editor's Letter BY KRISTIN WHITTLESE Y

If

THE STARS DOWN THE STREET

you’ve lived in Middle Tennessee for any length of time, you already know there’s an unwritten but ironclad rule about how Nashville treats our resident celebrities. We … don’t. Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman in the Target parking lot. Jack White having dinner in a Brentwood strip mall. Will Hoge and his family watching Brandi Carlile from the lawn seats. What’s the common denominator? Nobody was bothering them. Of course we know they’re there — that Aussie actress, in particular, is hard to miss — but we let them be. (A personal favorite was when I was in line at Home Depot and someone came up behind me with a trolley overflowing with rolled-up area rugs. “What would anybody be doing with those?” I wondered. Then I looked at the purchaser. It was Marty Stuart. Fully coiffed and Cuban-heeled, because of course.) But the live-and-let-live attitude so prized by Nashvillians

and celebrities alike? I trace it back to Madison. Back to the early ’50s, when Hank Snow lived on the Rainbow Ranch and Mother Maybelle Carter would drop by to play cards with Snow’s wife, Minnie, and little Carlene Carter rode her bike in the street. The stars were our friends and neighbors, and we treated them that way. And today? That’s all still true. Now Carlene is one of those famous neighbors, along with folks like Elizabeth Cook, Josh Hedley, and Allen Thompson, plus members of Leftover Salmon, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Sheryl Crow’s band. But the character, camaraderie, and “live and let live” attitude are exactly the same. So join us as we take a look at musical Madison’s places and people and get to know your rhinestone-studded neighbors just a little bit better.

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Elizabeth Cook photographed by Emma Delevante in Madison, Tennesee, July 2022. Stylist/art director/HMU — Cybelle Elena

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’She’s Just

ELIZABETH Coo

’ k

Friends and colleagues share their stories of the Madison musician

e Compiled by

Andrew Leahey Photography by

Emma Delevante

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Have you ever heard Elizabeth talk? It’s a geographic experience. Central Florida swamp talk and Southern street slang and Georgia twang. —ANDREW LEAHEY

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Andrew Leahey: Bandleader

In the beginning, it sounded almost too easy. A weeklong European tour with Elizabeth Cook. Four of us playing festivals in Scandinavia and stuffing ourselves with smoked salmon. Things came apart as soon as we landed in Stockholm. Luggage was missing. My guitar pedals were stuck in Iceland. Bassist Kevin was still in Nashville, the victim of a last-minute flight cancellation. Jet-lagged, the rest of us gathered in the hotel lobby to make a plan to save the tour. There were other bands in town, friends from Nashville who’d also crossed the Atlantic that week. That’s how we found Michael, who agreed to learn more than a dozen of Elizabeth’s songs in a single evening and join us on bass. Our drummer, Dan, waited for his lost luggage until the last minute, then made peace with the fact that he would perform in the same sweatpants he’d worn on the plane. The show should have been a mess. Everything was different: our clothes, our roster, even the two-pronged outlets that powered our borrowed amps. But once we locked into the stomping thump of the show-opening “Bones,” everything else fell into place. A touring band can access a secret reserve of energy after everything else has gone to shit — a “fuck it” mentality that usually results in some very cool gigs. We rode that wave for 60 minutes. But Elizabeth? I think she’s been riding it for at least two decades. I first met Elizabeth backstage at Basement East in October 2017, two days after Tom Petty died and about 20 minutes before we were supposed to play a very unrehearsed cover of “Room at the Top” together. She became friends with Emily, my wife, in about 10 seconds. After the show, I invited myself into her life.

“We should play more music together,” I said. “I don’t drink, I’m a good van driver, and I always share my gummies.” She replied, “You’re hired!” Have you ever heard Elizabeth talk? It’s a geographic experience: Central Florida swamp talk, Southern street slang, and Georgia twang. Whatever you call it, the sound is very much her own, and it’s earned her a longtime side hustle as a DJ on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country channel. Albums like Elizabeth’s Aftermath have their own dialect, too. I listen to “Stanley By God Terry,” and I hear a very specific Bible Belt biography. “Bayonette” is seasick boogie. “Perfect Girls of Pop” sounds like the car ride to high school in 1988, the FM radio dial caught halfway between stations, R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” bleeding over into Rosanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache.” “I feed the fire, fuel the flame, I live to play another day,” Elizabeth sings on Aftermath’s “Daddy, I Got Love For You,” a song about reflection and resilience. She’s been writing a lot of battle-scarred beauties like that one lately. I think it comes from a long history of rolling with the punches — deaths in the family, departing band members, a van whose engine just won’t stay fixed. But her best songs don’t focus on the trauma as much as on the tenaciousness it takes to keep moving forward. Fuck it, indeed. Elizabeth is a storyteller who has told her own story many times. To listen to her — on stage, on SiriusXM, on albums like Aftermath and Balls — is to know her. That’s why I wanted to turn to her collaborators and contemporaries, allowing them the chance to tell what they know, too. It’s time to give the storyteller a break.

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Troubadouring with Todd Snider Friend and tour mate Years ago, I was really in a funk. A lot of my friends were trying to help me get out of it, and Elizabeth said I should get myself some flowers. I had this truck I’d rented, so we bought a shit ton of flowers and loaded them into the truck. We got in the truck … and couldn’t get it to start. Next thing we know, some guy is walking up to the window wanting to know why Elizabeth and I were in his car. I guess we’d come out of the store and walked to the first truck we saw, like a couple of stoners. We were sitting in there trying to make the truck go, and the guy is like, ‘What the fuck are you guys doing in my truck?’ And I replied, ‘Troubadouring.’” Elizabeth is like Lou Reed and Loretta Lynn. She’s just an anomaly — an artsy-fartsy chick who’s been everywhere, done everything, grew up in a trailer, writes great lyrics that don’t fit into the suburbs, and can also gut a deer! When she opens for me, I don’t like going onstage after her. I like everything else about it, but audiences love her, and it’s hard to follow that! It’s nice to get close like that to somebody who you admire so much. Sometimes she’ll read me lyrics first, then play the song. And I’m like, ‘This is great! You’re doing autopsies and letting people watch.’ It’s really like she’s opening her heart and showing everybody what’s in it. They say rejection is fuel for artists. And I’ve certainly seen Elizabeth get kicked around for not fitting in. Years ago, when she got offered a big tour with Wilco or something, her old label was like, “Who’s that?’ They didn’t understand it. She needed their financial support for that tour, and instead, they offered her cash to get bigger boobs. (And that’s just ridiculous. Guy Clark doesn’t have to get bigger boobs.) That’s when Elizabeth said, “OK. I get it now. It’s gonna be a longer ‘drive to town’ than I thought.” Musically, she keeps going out there. She’s exploring, and it’s all held together by the poetry she writes. The stuff she says on her albums is getting denser and more complicated, and I don’t know anybody who uses language quite the way she does. People hear her music and they say, “She should have more.” And she should. But let’s not ignore what she has. She’s free as the wind.

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Elizabeth is like Lou Reed and Loretta Lynn. She’s just an anomaly. an artsy-fartsy chick who’s been everywhere, done everything, grew up in a trailer, writes great lyrics that don’t fit into the suburbs, and can also gut a deer!

— Todd Snider

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Butch Walker: ‘When do we start’ Producer of AFTERMATH Elizabeth said, “Hey, would you ever be interested in making a record with me?” “Sure,” I said. “Why not? Sounds super fun to me.” I was out west at the time, still living in California. She said, “I’m just gonna fly out there and play you these songs on a guitar.” I was a little taken aback, because nobody ever does that. They’ll usually send me crappy voice memos, or fully fleshed-out demos of songs. She shows up at my studio, sits down, pulls out a guitar, and the first song she plays is “Stanley By God Terry.” And after I heard that, I just said, “When do we start?” Elizabeth writes from an Americana Gothic perspective, and her voice is very, very magnetic. When she’s talking on her radio show, I think people are drawn to her

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Dolly-esque endearments. When she sings, there’s a fragility to her voice that does remind me of Dolly, but there’s also a lot of character and, well, balls, not to miss the opportunity for the pun. It’s really amazing that a voice like that is genuine, because a lot of times people are just putting on that urban-cowboy-cosplay bullshit in cities like Austin, Nashville, or L.A. But this is the real her. She has absolute permission to wear all the Nudie suits she could ever want, because she can back it up by being the real thing. (As opposed to me, who owns a Nudie-style suit but is basically a recovering metalhead.)

ELizabeth writes from an Americana Gothic perspective, and her voice is very, very magnetic. — Butch Walker


Swimming pool problem solving with Carlene Carter Musician, friend, and Madison neighbor Elizabeth and I have solved a lot of the world’s problems while floating in my swimming pool. There’s a bunch of musicians who live in Madison now, just like back in the day when Hank Snow lived up the street, and my grandma played cards with Minnie Snow. It’s a community here, and it’s familiar to me. A lot has changed, but these are still the same streets I rode my bicycle on. I have deep roots in Madison, and Elizabeth is setting down deep roots as well. She has a very Madison life over there at her house, with the garden and her crazy dog, DuRail. I’m so proud of her. I’m so happy she lives here. On my album Carter Girl, she came into the studio to sing on two songs with me, but we got along so good that I used her on six of them. She’s great at singing with other people. It’s just a natural thing for her. We can just look at each other and sing together, and it feels like family to me, which is

why I dubbed her an honorary Carter girl. And I don’t do that! There’s not anybody else who isn’t related to me who has that title. We’re connected, though, and I value that so much these days. I don’t know what I would’ve done during COVID if Elizabeth and I couldn’t have made this pact to hang out together and have wonderful afternoons while taking a dip. Aftermath is a perfect progression for her. When she was signed to Warner Bros., she didn’t feel like she fit the mold of the Nashville

cookie-cutter country thing. I remember feeling the same way. She doesn’t have a particular genre. She’s just Elizabeth Cook. That’s the space she needs to be in, and that’s where she’s at. It takes a lot of bravery to not conform. To not worry about how you’re going to fit in. But if you don’t like what you’re doing, what kind of career is that? I had a reputation for being difficult, but it was just me wanting to do things a little differently. I wasn’t reinventing the wheel, I just wanted to do things my way. I see Elizabeth doing that, too. She’s following her muse, which is perfect. That’s the best advice I could ever give anyone else: Be yourself, be unique, and don’t be scared of what people expect of you. Don’t listen to what anyone tells you unless they have your best wishes at heart. And keep your publishing.

We can just look at each other and sing together, and it feels like family to me, — Carlene Carter

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All of JOB's 30 billiards tables are recovered in fresh blue felt at least once a year, and even more often for the most popular.

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It’s All About the Pool(and the What makes JOB Billiards Club a Madison mainstay By Leslie LaChance

R

Photography

by

People)

Chad Cr awford

icky Gamble doesn’t like to brag, but when someone tells him they’ve heard his place has the best pool tables in town, he’s not surprised. “I’d be aggravated if that weren’t the case,” says the owner of JOB Billiards Club. “All the tables get new covers every December. And the pit, 19, and 29 [the tables that get the most play] get re-covered at least twice a year.” JOB has 30 billiards tables spread over three cavernous rooms tucked away on the south back side of Madison Town Center [formerly Madison Square], so keeping them well-covered is a significant investment in vivid turquoise felt. Wait, blue? Aren’t pool tables supposed to to use the classic green felt, which supposedly hearkens back to the sport’s origins as a lawn game for French nobility? Simply enough, blue shows up better on television, according to Gamble. And that’s especially helpful each January, when Pool Action TV livestreams the Music City Open Nineball Championships from JOB. The event draws professional players from around the world to shoot for high-dollar prize money on those freshly covered tables. According to Gamble, only one billiards club in the Southeast has more tables than JOB, and that one is in Atlanta. Thousands of distracted commuters drive past JOB on Gallatin Pike every day without a second glance at the billiard club’s bright awning. Those who do notice it probably imagine the pool hall hassles and hustles they’ve seen in movies and television. But brave the hustler cliches and stop in to shoot a few games. What you’ll find among the many Diamond-brand tables are lots of regular folks who love the game. It’s mostly men, but there are enough women to make for real competitive play. Of course there are eight ball and nine ball, plus variations on both, along with cutthroat. There’s also snooker, which uses

15 red balls, six numbered balls in various colors, and a white cue ball. Played on a 10-foot table near the entrance, it’s an advanced game for the more accomplished player of cue sports. But the casual billiards player need not be intimidated by JOB. Players of every level are enthusiastically welcomed, with league play most nights of the week for those who want to take things more seriously and improve their game. Michael Cooper started playing as a novice at JOB last fall and was invited to join an American Pool Association (APA) league team almost immediately. But don’t be too impressed because, as Cooper points out, each team must have a certain number of entry-level players to qualify for tournaments. It’s a way of getting new players involved to keep the game thriving. “I was entry-level and just looking to improve,” Cooper says. “Here, it’s never hard to get a table. Everyone is friendly. It’s a nice culture, and there are lots of fun, odd people you might not meet other places.” Like most of the JOB regulars, Cooper appreciates the fact that the focus of the establishment is billiards. “Other places have pool tables, but there might be ping pong or other games, or people are there just to drink and socialize. Here, it’s just about the pool. I mean, they have some dart boards over there, but I’ve never seen anyone using them.” “Yeah, [the dart boards] don’t get used much,” Gamble admits. And while JOB has a full bar, the owner spends much more time handing out sets of balls and opening tables for play than he does pouring drinks. “It’s not like a normal bar where people just come to drink. A lot of my customers maybe have just one drink or none. And we don’t ever have altercations because people don’t come here just to drink. It’s not that kind of place.” JOB also has a respectable menu of pub fare, so players don’t need to leave the premises to get a decent burger and fries.

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Owner Ricky Gamble presides over the JOB Billiards Club bar, where he spends as much time dispensing sets of balls as he does rounds of drinks.

These guys come in to see each other every day, as much as they do to play pool. I don’t think they’d even play if they couldn’t argue. —RICKY GAMBLE

PAST IS PRESENT In fact, JOB began with a food business. The founder, James Oliver Blaylock, owned Madison’s Montague’s Market in the early 1970s. When a convenience store opened nearby, Blaylock decided to take his grocery business in another direction and converted the market into a deli, which included a pool table. The game attracted so many players that Blaylock knocked out a wall and added three more tables. In 1988, he took over one of the storefronts at Madison Square and opened a proper billiards club, christening the new establishment with his initials — JOB. Over time, two neighboring

storefronts became vacant, so he expanded the business into those rooms. And JOB today looks a lot like it did in Blaylock’s day. “I put in flat screens instead of the old televisions and opened up some spaces in the wall. I put in that other bench,” Gamble says when asked about any changes since he took ownership in 2010. “That’s about it.” He kept the dark wood paneling, the tournament room’s wooden spectator bleachers, and the vintage table lights emblazoned with the Camel cigarette logo. (Tobacco and pool have a deep history together, which makes it tough to separate them even now. Smoking is

still allowed at JOB, which means the club is only open to ages 21+. Go early in the day to avoid the evening’s accumulated haze if smoke bothers you.) At the club entrance, around the back of the strip mall, patrons are met by a life-sized statue of a man and woman holding pool cues. The man stands beside the woman, who is bent over an imagined table, a gleam in her eye and a slight smile on her face as she lines up a killer shot. Glass cases along the walls are crammed with tournament trophies going back decades. On the facing wall runs an enormous mural of cowboys shooting pool in a barbed-wired

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corral under a night sky, draped with a long string of old-style snooker scoring beads. Elsewhere, movie posters from The Hustler and The Color of Money hang alongside beer ads and pool cues. The blue-topped tables are lined up in neat rows under individual wedges of light, an inviting geometry in the otherwise dark and hazy rooms. JOB is the kind of place that honors its history in both professional and amateur play. Along the upper reach of one of the rooms hang custom-made wood carvings depicting various pro players who won championships at JOB back in the days when cigarette brands still sponsored professional pool, such as the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA) tour. Jeanette Lee, Allison Fisher, and Karen Corr all have played at JOB. So have Bobby Pickle, Francisco Bustamante, and Jose Parica. While the names might not be as widely recognized as those of NBA and NFL stars, these folks are royalty to billiards fans. The walls are covered with photos and memorabilia from the many tournaments hosted at JOB. There’s also a photo memorial dedicated to JOB regulars who have passed away.

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‘AFFORDABLE AND REASONABLE’

S

o yeah, pro and semi-pro players are no strangers to JOB, but the club is still very much an everyman’s kind of joint. “It’s a game anybody can play, whether you just want to come out and play for fun and have a drink or, if you want to, take it seriously,” Gamble says. “It’s not like golf, where it takes a lot of money to play. You can play pool here for an hour for $6. It’s a lot more affordable and reasonable than other sports.” JOB hosts amateur league play most nights, with as many as 170 players taking shots. There’s the aforementioned APA, the USA Pool League (USAPL), the Billiard Congress of America (BCA), and the Music City League. Plus, there are open tournaments with prize money every weekend. However, outright wagering on billiards is illegal in Tennessee (even if Gamble’s name might suggest otherwise), so don’t ask. Ahem. Dedicated pool players only get better with practice, obviously, but ask any regular player, any true aficionado of the game, if they are any good, and they’ll never admit to it.

Take, for example, a JOB regular who goes by the name D.J. “I’m here every day,” he says when asked how often he plays. So he must be an awesome pool player by now, yes? “No, I’m terrible!” he says, laughing. “That’s why I’m here every day — to get better. There’s a lot of really good players in here; it keeps you humble. There’s always somebody better than you. “This is a billiards club,” he adds. “Ricky doesn’t run it as just a pool hall or bar. It’s for people who love the game.” Another regular, Bob, chimes in. “I’ve had some young friends thinking it’s just about ‘I want to win.’ But no. It’s about getting better.” And really, what keeps the regulars coming back isn’t the game, or even the great tables. “It’s definitely about the people,” Gamble says. “These guys come in to see each other every day, as much as they do to play pool. I don’t think they’d even play if they couldn’t argue! They just play and argue and argue and play and have themselves a pretty good time.”


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Hank Snow in his den with many of the souvenirs he picked up in his world travels, circa 1970s. Courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum

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Of Travel I’ve Had My Share Coming home to Hank Snow’s Rainbow Ranch By Randy Fox

“I’ve been everywhere, man!” In the 1962 country classic “I’ve Been Everywhere,” Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Snow rat-a-tat-tats more than 90 locales, chronicling travels across North and South America in a rapid-fire delivery that’s as catchy as it is staccato. In a career that spanned 66 years, 140 albums, and 80+ chart singles, Snow was indeed a hard-traveling troubadour. But there was only one place he considered home: the Rainbow Ranch in Madison. Now restored and operated as a home-stay rental by Snow’s great-nephew, Cal Blakney, and his wife, Sandy, Rainbow Ranch is a rhinestone affixed to the tapestry of Nashville’s musical history and a hidden jewel in the hills of Madison, just as Snow intended. Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow was born in Nova Scotia on May 9, 1914. After a turbulent childhood, Snow signed on as a cabin boy on a fishing schooner at the tender age of 12. He was first exposed to country music through American radio broadcasts and, after teaching himself to play guitar, began pursuing a career as an entertainer.

By the end of World War II, Hank Snow, “The Singing Ranger,” was one of the biggest country stars in Canada. He spent a good portion of the late ’40s crisscrossing North America with a traveling tent show that included music, comedy, and a trick riding exhibition by Snow and his beloved show horse, Shawnee. In late 1949, Snow and his family moved to Nashville. With Ernest Tubb’s support, Snow joined the Grand Ole Opry in January 1950. Five months later, he scored a No. 1 hit with the locomotive drive of “I’m Movin’ On.” That record launched a run of more than 80 U.S. chart hits over the next three decades. More immediately, it gave Snow the confidence to buy the Rainbow Ranch. In July 1950, Snow paid $14,900 for an unfinished house on slightly over three acres. Before the Snows moved in, they added a large den and office, which would soon become one of the first home studios in Nashville. Knotty pine paneling and Westernthemed fixtures were installed throughout. Snow also began constructing a detached garage and a concrete block-and-wood barn near the back of the property. Snow valued his privacy and home life due to his turbulent childhood and early nomadic career. To that end, he built a second garage in the basement of the house and installed a trap door

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(L) Hank Snow and Shawnee in front of the Rainbow Ranch barn, early 1950s. (R) Snow in his second home studio, circa 1970s. Photos courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum

that led to his den. Nicknamed “Dracula’s Hatch,” it allowed him to enter the house directly, away from prying eyes. Over the years, Snow continued adding rooms to the house. In the mid-’60s, he added a trophy room/office/ home theater and small workshop next to the den, which had been taken over by recording equipment. Next came the additions of a large living room, a new den with a fireplace, a small bathroom, and an expanded basement. In 1970, Snow made another large extension to the back of the house, with a separate entrance, to accommodate a complete recording studio and larger office. Snow filled his home with Western-themed furniture and artifacts, mementos of his long career and travels around the world, family photos and portraits, and a dizzying array of electronics and recording equipment. A pioneer in home recording, he began making demos at home in the early 1950s. He progressed to cutting basic studio tracks at home, to be overdubbed and mixed at RCA’s Nashville studios. Eventually, he was able to cut entire albums at home. In his 1994 autobiography, The Hank Snow Story, he wrote, “We took a lot of pride in our new home from the first day we moved into it. We intended it to be our one and only home.” And Rainbow Ranch remained Snow’s home until he passed away on December 20, 1999, aged 85.

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‘Someone needed to preserve it’ Its history as a cherished homeplace notwithstanding, by the time the property was listed for sale in November 2014, the house had been vacant for several years and had fallen into disrepair. “Our daughter was living in Nashville, and we’d been coming to Nashville for some time to visit and loved it here,” Cal Blakney recalls. “We found out that my cousin, [Hank’s son] Jimmie Snow, was going to put this house up for sale and ended up buying it from him because I just felt someone needed to preserve it.” Although Rainbow Ranch had obvious familial and historical appeal, restoring the property proved challenging. “It was rough,” Sandy Blakney recalls now. “The plumbing was all frozen and burst. There was a hole in the roof where a neighbor’s tree had fallen. All the electrical needed to be redone, and the last tenants had large dogs, so there was a lot of damage to the flooring. Plus, vines were growing over everything in the backyard. You could barely see the barn.” The Blakneys’ first thought was to restore the house for their retirement, to escape the harsh Canadian winters. However, the costs of restoration and taxes soon nudged them toward opening it as a short-term rental, albeit with a unique twist — a domestic museum designed to be lived in.


Clockwise from top left: Hank Snow & the Rainbow Ranch Boys (L-R: Snow, Chubby Wise, Kayton Roberts, Bobby Wright, Jimmy Widener), late 1960s; Snow’s final solo album for RCA, Instrumentally Yours, Hank Snow, recorded in his his home studio in 1979; Snow in his trophy room, early 1960s. Photos courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum

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There are definitely days that I think we were crazy to be doing this, but knowing how it’s gone from where it was to where it is now is a remarkable feeling.

— Sandy Blakney

“We kept it as original as we could,” Sandy says. “The original denim blue bathroom fixtures were still there, but the pink ceramic tiles were cracked and broken, so we replaced them with modern white tiles. The kitchen counter had been damaged so badly that we had to change it out. We couldn’t get the original color, so we got a retro-style counter that was close to the same color.” Fortunately, much of the original furniture and many of Snow’s personal possessions were still in storage and now have been returned to their rightful places. You’ll even find one of Snow’s ubiquitous toupees in a place of honor in the home studio. Other original items have been repurchased by the Blakneys or returned to them by others. They’ve filled in the gaps with period-appropriate items and a few country music artifacts, such as a leather sofa once owned by Opry star Porter Wagoner. Even Snow’s custom 1968 Silver Eagle tour bus has been restored to its parking place in the backyard, thanks to a sharing agreement with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The Blakneys still make regular trips to town to work on the

property and welcome guests. Thanks to neighbor and property manager Terry Tyson, Rainbow Ranch has hosted hundreds of guests since opening for rentals in 2016. “When guests come to stay, they get a walkthrough tour of the house so they can understand and appreciate what pieces are original,” Sandy says. “Sometimes they don’t know the history, but by the time they leave, they do — and they’re fans!” Strict preservationists might be horrified that a historic home is open to extended-stay guests, but perhaps there’s no better fate for Rainbow Ranch. It has become a place where guests can enjoy a small measure of the “home and hearth” joy it brought to Hank Snow. “There are definitely days that I think we were crazy to be doing this,” Sandy says. “But knowing how it’s gone from where it was to where it is now is a remarkable feeling. When we had what we called our ‘grand opening,’ we invited several family members for a barbecue. “Jimmie Snow’s mother-in-law walked in, and she was shocked. She had seen it right before it sold. She started to cry, and she said, ‘It smelled so terrible in here. It was just so awful. How did you get it to be this house again?’”

Rainbow Ranch, 312 E. Marthona Road, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and will soon receive a historical marker from the Metropolitan Historical Commission. For more information and rentals, visit hanksnowsranch.com.

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"MAGIC" MAPLE AROUND THE SHOP, WE CALL THIS 200-YEAR-OLD TIMBER "MAGIC" MAPLE. CUSTOM BUILT HUTCH BY GOOD WOOD.

V IS IT O U R 13 , 0 0 0 S F S HOWROOM & LUMBE R S TOR E LOC ATE D 1. 5 M IL E S F ROM D OWN TOWN N ASH VI LLE . 13 07 D I C KERS ON PI KE, N AS HV I L LE | 615. 45 4. 3817 | G OODWOOD N A S HVIL L E . C OM 28 |

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| Summer 2022