Vince Gill held his fan club party this morning at the historic Belcourt Theatre in Nashville during the CMA Music Festival. Wearing a black t-shirt that simply said “CHET” (in honor of one of his guitar heroes, Chet Atkins), he provided fans with breakfast and answered fan questions for more than two hours.
Vince shared personal stories about visiting his grandparents in nursing homes and learning to drive, talked golf, reflected on his decades-long career and discussed the state of the music industry with the neutrality of someone who’s spent a lot of years in the business. But when a fan asked if Vince had a favorite guitar, he and many in the theatre became emotional. SoundCheck, a storage facility near the Cumberland River where Vince and many other artists store their equipment, was flooded during the historic rains that hit Nashville in May – and Vince’s extensive vintage guitar collection was not spared.
“A favorite guitar… Well, I had a lot of them lost in a severe spring cleaning,” Vince said, referring to the flood. “But my dad’s guitar was safe. I think maybe 40 of those guitars got destroyed. But that guitar played the opening line of “Give Me One More Last Chance.”“
For Vince, the guitars he lost were not just guitars. They were the memories and moments of his life and career. “Those are my picture books,” he said. “Those guitars, they’ve got life in them.” Visibly choked up, Vince paused to collect himself. “I’ll be alright. I’ve bought four since the flood.”
Despite the personal losses Vince experienced during the flood, there was an event that kept everything in perspective for him – his daughter Jenny’s wedding. “The flood was the weekend of Jenny’s wedding. I said, ‘You can burn my house down, but you cannot take the joy of this weekend away from me.’ That made losing all that stuff a whole lot easier.”
During the party, Vince kept the tone casual and fans were made to feel like old friends. He played an acoustic set to wrap up the event.