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Homegrown & Ukuleles in the Heartland Make a Fine Pairing in Donelson

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Ukuleles in the Heartland hit a number of locations in the south during the month of July which included a stop at the Homegrown Tap Room in Nashville, Tennessee on July 16, 2023. Sunday's line-up featured Kirk Jones a uke performer and teacher from Huntsville, AL; Ray Cygrymus known for his work with a number of Pittsburgh, PA bands; and, the Webb-Tigert Ukulele Duo who are based out of Music City. All the performers are also singers.

The Webb-Tigert UKE Duo at the Homegrown Tap Room.

Homegrown is a hip local hangout located at 2720 Old Lebanon Road (Donelson Plaza). In addition to serving fine food, they have a lengthy brew list showcasing a number of local beers. Homegrown owners, Robin Davis and Jennifer Starks, are long-time residents of Donelson. Their goal is to provide an inviting environment in the shadow of downtown Nashville. Homegrown also hosts live music events such as Ukuleles in the Heartland.

Their sizable establishment has two rooms. On Sunday afternoon, the space towards the back called the Beer Garden was dedicated to Ukuleles in the Heartland which worked out well so that those in attendance could focus on the music and there was plenty of good uke music to be enjoyed along with brews that ran the gamut from light to dark.

Ray Cygrymuss at the Homegrown Tap Room.

Right at four, Kirk took the stage armed with ukes of various sizes to present a solid set of covers such as "Elvira", a warm rendition of Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" and an impressive "Wanted Dead or Alive" - who knew you could play Bon Jovi on a uke but Kirk can. Jones also paid tribute to Elvis and ended his engaging show with a medley of 15 rock classics but before he left the stage he was joined by other players for a quick jam.

Ray Cygrymus used some backing tracks and effects while he handled leads on the uke. He mentioned that they had recently performed in Memphis and visited Graceland which led to a tribute to The King and then Johnny Cash. Changing direction Ray played the KISS disco hit "I Was Made For Lovin' You" with a Latin flair on the uke.

Switching to a Les Paul Uke that sounded like a hybrid of the two instruments we were treated to Tom Petty's "Breakdown" flowing into an original tune followed by what Cygrymus said was the most challenging piece - the beguiling "Body Surfing". Inspired others joined Ray for a spontaneous version of "Call Me the Breeze" (Lynyrd Skynyrd).

Kirk Jones at the Homegrown Tap Room.

Robert Tigert with Lisa Webb invited David Martin on electric bass and Jim Alderman on accordion to accompany them. This configuration presented a mix of their songs and covers. One tune went back as far as 1938 on a blues piece called "My Baby Rocks Me" - it rocked. We also enjoyed the snappy "Sevier Park Strut" and the creativity idea of "B Flat" as the key of love. Their take on "If I Could Change The World" was impressive as was the quartet's whole presentation.

The Webb-Tigert Ukulele Duo demonstrated as did the others the diversity of the little four string instrument. Ukuleles in the Heartland at Homegrown was an engaging afternoon of music. If you are interested in hearing all that the uke can do consider attending UkuMele's 'Ukulele Extravaganza' at the Williamson County Performing Arts Center in Franklin, TN on August 26th, 2023 and hopefully Homegrown will host another uke centric event soon.

There was a lot of ukes at the Homegrown Tap Room.

Related Links: For more information on UKULELES IN THE HEARTLAND and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Webb-Tigert UKE Duo | Ray Cygrymus | Kirk Jones | Homegrown Tap Room


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