Adding a soulful twist to his hit, “If You Ever Have Forever in Mind,” Vince Gill helped celebrate Friday’s (June 9) opening of the Musicians Hall of Fame during a jam session at the new attraction in downtown Nashville. The free concert and grand opening coincided with the CMA Music Festival.
The Musicians Hall of Fame will honor musicians of all styles, so it was somehow appropriate that most of the songs performed during the two-hour jam session leaned toward rhythm & blues. Among those receiving a special welcome from the Nashville music community were drummer Uriel Jones, guitarist Eddie Willis and bassist Bob Babbitt — members of the Funk Brothers, the famed studio band that played on countless sessions for Motown Records in Detroit. Nashville-based vocalist Marcia Ware, who tours with the group, was featured on Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.”
Two Nashville session musicians — guitarist Brent Mason and keyboardist John Hobbs — teamed with drummer Danny Seraphine (a founding member of the rock band, Chicago) and bassist Will Lee (a member of The Late Show With David Letterman band) to serve as the house band for the jam session. Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns was also featured. Other Nashville residents participating included Felix Cavaliere (keyboardist and lead vocalist for the Rascals), David Hungate (former bassist for Toto) and Gary Tallent (bassist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band).
Cavaliere performed Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” and a Rascals hit, “Good Lovin’,” and returned to the stage later to join Lee in singing “Slow Down,” a Larry Williams rock classic popularized by the Beatles.
For country fans, the highlight was the return of multi-instrumentalist Charlie McCoy, whose studio work included sessions with virtually every major country artist to record in Nashville during the ’60s and ’70s. McCoy also recorded with Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, Ringo Starr, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan, among others. McCoy brought along two harmonicas to play a flawless version of Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart” and a spirited romp on “John Henry.”
The Musicians Hall of Fame is located at 301 Sixth Avenue South within walking distance of other downtown attractions, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Ryman Auditorium.