You guys have all heard me talk about Tootsies in Nashville. I stop by there whenever I visit Nashville and am taking one of my little strolls up Broadway, Fourth and Second Streets. I’ve never been fortunate enough to be there when someone famous walked in to do an impromptu show for the crowd. But that could happen.
Tootsies is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and Kris Kristofferson and Terri Clark have been announced as two of the performers who will take part in a special celebration at the Ryman Auditorium on Sunday, Nov. 7. The concert will be part of a Network TV special and documentary.
In 1960, Hattie Louise "Tootsie" Bess (pictured at right) took over Mom’s bar, where Tootsies stands today. Tootsie helped nurture the many struggling singers and songwriters who hung around the joint every day. Legend asserts that future icons like Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson resided upstairs when times got tough for them.
Saturday nights you could run into any of dozens of Opry stars at Tootsie’s, including Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Little Jimmy Dickens, and George Jones, but many of her steady customers never made it big in country music. It didn’t matter; Tootsie cherished them all, even though she knew she would never collect on many of the unpaid bar tabs she kept in a cigar box. She did, however, insist that her customers leave at closing time and sometimes she enforced her demands with a hatpin. Charley Pride, for one, was impressed. He gave Tootsie a jeweled hatpin to add a little class to her evictions. Tootsie Bess died in 1978 and over the next 13 years a number of people attempted to run the place, with little success, until current proprietor, Steve Smith, founded Tootsies Orchid Lounge.
Kris and Terri are the first two artists we know of who will be part of the 50th anniversary show, but others will be added in the coming weeks. Tickets to the show only are $40, and VIP packages are available for $150. You can get tickets and more information at www.tootsies.net, or Ticketmaster.
Tootsies has been an early launching point and home to a whole new generation of country notables. Country stars like Terri Clark, Emerson Drive, Joe Nichols, Lee Ann Womack, Montgomery Gentry, John Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Heartland, and Sugarland, have all stopped off at Tootsies on their way to stardom.
Talk to you soon! Have a great Wednesday!