Nashville has always had more than its share of characters and they keep coming, attracted by fame, fortune, the music business, and, sometimes, just a little attention. I was doing a video shoot of an artist at Oktoberfest in Nashville’s Germantown district when The Bang This Identical Twins magically appeared. I usually see them on Nashville’s Lower Broadway but I have the feeling they will go wherever crowds gather and wherever there are likely to be cameras.
The Twins always wear matching outfits right down to, in this appearance, cowboy hats, sunglasses, belts and buckles, cargo pants, sneakers, matching hairdos and facial hair, and ever changing t-shirts emblazoned with their slogan – Bang This.
The Twins will break into a synchronized dance when there’s music in the air and there’s always music in the air in Nashville. They play to pretty girls and cameras. For some unknown reason, when a pretty girl or a guy tries to dance with them, they move away. When they saw me shooting DSLR video, I was one of their targets. I shot a cellphone video of most of their synchronized dance.
The Twins never solicit donations like many buskers and street performers do. I’m not sure what Bang This success would mean to them – certainly not a record contract; maybe yet another YouTube video or an appearance in some tourist’s Nashville photos and videos. Maybe just making a pretty girl smile when she looks at them.
I’ve never heard the Twins talk except for one line they speak in unison in a very country dialect at the end of a synchronized dance, “If you don’t bang it, somebody will.”
After I filmed the Twins’ synchronized dance, my attention turned back to my DSLR video. Then, someone tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around. It was one of the Twins wordlessly handing me a small scrap of paper with the words Google Bang This scrawled in pencil. Great PR, Bang This, you made my blog.
Nashville characters come and go, spreading wonder, smiles, and quirky memories during their time in the not-the-big-time spotlight.
There was the Mutt & Jeff pair of Big Junior and Muscles who were granted backstage access to the Grand Ole Opry when it was at the Ryman Auditorium near Lower Broadway and were loved and protected by all the Opry artists.
Big Junior was a big, strong, highly suggestable man who worked for Purity Milk and was said to carry two huge metal milk containers when it took two other employees to carry one. Muscles was a scrawny street person who rarely spoke and wore several pair of pants to keep warm in the winter while selling newspapers on the street. He was always welcome to get out of the cold backstage at the Ryman.
Jerry Rivers and Don Helms, two of Hank Williams Senior’s band, were playing with walkie talkies at the Opry when Big Junior heard a voice that no one else claimed to hear. Jerry or Don, on the distant walkie talkie, convinced Big Junior that he was the long deceased Hank Williams and he was sending St. Peter down in a golden chariot to pick Big Junior up at a corner on Lower Broad.
When Jerry and Don left the Opry about midnight, they saw Big Junior still standing on the Lower Broadway corner waiting for St. Peter in his golden chariot. They could only convince him to go home when Hank Williams spoke again from the walkie talkie telling Big Junior there was a mistake and it was another Junior whose time was up.
And then, there were the Thompson Twins. They were from Michigan or some northern state and they gained attention by standing around on a Music Row street in 100-degree summer heat wearing matching full-length fur coats and fur hats.
I realize, other than their visual presence, I know nothing of the Bang This Twins – where they’re from, where they live, what they did or do for a living, what Bang This success would mean to them – and I’d like to know more. The next time I run into them, I plan to talk to them and learn more about their lives. I’ll report whatever I learn on this blog.