Country Legend, Mel Tillis will be performing at the Franklin Theatre on Friday, March 13th and Saturday, March 14th beginning at 8 pm.
Mel moved to Nashville as an aspiring songwriter in 1957 after Webb Pierce had a Top 5 hit with “I’m Tired,” a song Mel says Webb first heard Ray Price singing backstage at the Opry. He also wrote songs for other country music artist like Bobby Bare, Ray Price, Jack Greene, Kenny Rogers, and Ricky Skaggs.
At the same time, Mel launched a recording career that has yielded 67 Top 40 hits, including chart-toppers like his own version of “I Ain’t Never,” “Coca Cola Cowboy,” “Good Woman Blues,” and “Southern Rains.” In 1972, the Country Music Association named him Entertainer of the Year.
We sat down with Mel to ask a few question about his band Statesiders, what to expect from the show and about his new book project “Acting Sheriff.”
WS: For your performance at the Franklin Theatre, will you have your band with you?
Tillis: Yes, I’ll have my band the Statesiders that I’ve had for many years. I’ve had 3 guys for 46 years and 5 guys over 30 years. My bass man has been with me 17 years and we have a new fiddle player that just come on board he’s been with us about a year. We know exactly what the other is doing. I dress them up too, the look really sharp in their outfits.
WS: Your show is typically music and comedy, can we expect the same with this show?
Tillis: Yes, about the same, people wanna hear me talk and I’ve overcome a lot with my stuttering. A fellow came out to the show once and yelled, “Hey, Mel, I paid $40 to come hear you stutter and you didn’t stutter one bit.” I yelled back to him and said, “I’m tryin’ to quit.” Humor is the best medicine in the world, if it wasn’t for humor, I don’t think I would’ve made it.
WS: What is one of your best stories that audience request you tell again and again?
Tilis:Laughs…a bunch of folks like Foot, Foot Foot, and Foot Foot Foot and also The Cat Peed On The Matches. You have to come see the show and you just might hear one of these stories or others.
WS: Tell us more about “Acting Sherriff” project.
Tillis: I’m a big fan of Mark Twain and read somewhere that someone asked him do you have a special ritual for writing. He said, ‘Yes, I put on a pot of coffee, smoke a cigar and start lying.’ So that’s what I did…Actin’ Sherriff takes place in Palm Beach county, Florida, where I grew up. All is fiction and a bunch of lies. The story is about the Sherriff of Palm Beach County in 1947 that has to go in the hospital for a hemorrhoid operation and he appoints another cop as Actin’ Sherriff. It’s funny and you’ll have a lot of laughs. We’re still in the editing stages.
WS: Why did you choose the Franklin Theatre for your latest performance?
Tillis: Unfortunately, I don’t get to choose, the venues ask me…I’ve been reading and hearing about Franklin Theatre and now that I’ve been asked I’m coming with my Statesider band. We have a fun time on stage and really get the audience involved. I got to thinking that I’ve been in Nashville for 58 years and I don’t think I’ve done a show a show at the Franklin Theatre. So I’m really looking forward to it.
Thanks so much to Mel Tillis for taking time out to speak with us. To find out more information regarding Mel’s show at the Franklin Theatre, visit the Franklin Theatre website.