Sens. Alexander, Kaine meet in bipartisan border harmony

Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia met for a session of “nonpartisan harmony” at Bristol on the Tennessee-Virginia state line Friday evening, reports the Johnson City Press.

Whatever political differences existed between the two men were briefly cast aside during the 17th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion festival.

Except for the blue and red shirts.

With a piano at Alexander’s fingertips and a harmonica clutched to Kaine’s mouth, the two former governors joined the Virginia-based Buck Mountain Band to open the festival’s three-day event by performing on the prominent State Street stage.

… The duo needed a name for Friday’s performance, and Kaine was tasked with coming up with ideas, among them Two-System Party (his personal favorite) and The Capitol Hillbillies, but given options, Alexander chose The Amateurs because he didn’t want to set expectations too high.

… The two discovered their mutual admiration for music in Christmas 2014.

“It was a Saturday around Christmastime in the Senate. Now, doesn’t that sound like the start to a country song?” Kaine told the crowd.

“We weren’t supposed to be voting that day, but one of our colleagues, who will remain nameless (Texas Sen. Ted Cruz), had pulled a stunt. So we were voting all day long, and somebody brings Chinese food and an electric piano into the cloakroom. In between votes, we were going in (there) to sing Christmas carols, Democrats and Republicans, and that’s when I learned what a good keyboard player Lamar Alexander is.”

Kaine taught himself how to play harmonica while running for governor; Alexander began playing piano when he was a young boy.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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