The Medders Go To Prison
How did this opportunity arise? A local musician named Allan Douglas has been doing this for a couple of years, and he asked me to play the Metro Prison back in December of last year. I couldn't do it then, but I made sure to be available next chance I got, which turned out to be July 22. There were several of us, including Allan, Annie Williams, and a guy named Chris who sounded a lot like Roy Orbison or early Elvis.
What were your biggest fears about this gig opposed to others? Last minute second thoughts about the setlist included the fear that we would come across as unqualified to sing songs like my own "Gunslinger" and Buddy and Julie Miller's "Little Darlin'" which opens with "Little Darlin' love is not a crime / if it is then let me do my time / lock my heart up, throw away the key / I'm a prisoner that don't wanna go free." At the same time, my spirit was telling me that the audience would love it, so we went for it. At other gigs, my fears are that people won't listen, that I'm performing in vain. At the prison, nothing could be further from the truth.
Did you feel like Johnny Cash? I did feel like Johnny Cash. I have San Quentin on vinyl, and the audience response to us was similar to that record, which is rare in Nashville. Priscilla Jeschke, who sings on our album, was sweet enough to accompany me.... couldn't help but have a bit of a Johnny and June vibe.
What do did you walk away with after your performance? I remember most of their faces, some of their names. I thought about how while the inmates are shackled geographically, they have become free of many things I and a lot of us in the "free" world are a bit bound by; things like pride, trying to come off cool, the pretense of success, you name it. I walked away with the hope of seeing them in the world someday, and the fear that if I did, it would be different.
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