Archives for category: Rock

NAMM is almost upon us!

Brad Hardisty with The Starlite Desperation, 2005, Pittsburg, PA, opening for The Donnas

Brad Hardisty with The Starlite Desperation, 2005, Pittsburg, PA, opening for The Donnas

If you haven’t noticed, changes have been the norm this year. Performer Magazine has changed their format and no longer carry the local “scene” page every month like they used to. I had been writing the Nashville page almost every consecutive month for nearly three years. Performer is doing a monthly online edition but with the realities of today’s readership, is only publishing a physical edition bi-monthly.

Brad Hardisty with Allison Robertson, The Donnas, Desert Moon event at Pappy & Harriets, Joshua Tree, CA, 2005

Brad Hardisty with Allison Robertson, The Donnas, Desert Moon event at Pappy & Harriets, Joshua Tree, CA, 2005

My interview with The Black Lips was featured on the cover just a couple of months ago. Performer has improved every year and has increased its national relevancy year after year. It is a first rate publication for the gigging and recording musician, especially for the artist that is trying to break out and can look behind the curtains at what other bands and artists are doing to get their message out.

Brad Hardisty, stage debut, tap dancing at age 5, San Jose, CA. The Beach Boys were scheduled at the same venue the following night.

Brad Hardisty, stage debut, tap dancing at age 5, San Jose, CA. The Beach Boys were scheduled at the same venue the following night.

Performer magazine Editor Benjamin Ricci, has been a great person to work with over the last three years and I hope to be involved albeit on a more limited basis in the future.

Brad Hardisty with Joe Buck, The Jackalope, Salt Lake City, UT, 2009

Brad Hardisty with Joe Buck, The Jackalope, Salt Lake City, UT, 2009

Due to several commitments, my goal will be to post at least one great interview per month as well as photos, occasional reviews and some editorial pundit talk on the state of all things music.

I still get great information via email from bands and publicists and hope to get current information out regarding Nashville and regionals artists.

Brad Hardisty, Tootsies, Nashville, TN, with Violet Moon's Guitar Strap- On custom guitar strap.

Brad Hardisty, Tootsies, Nashville, TN, with Violet Moon’s Guitar Strap- On custom guitar strap.

NAMM is next month and I will have some friends involved in the music business visiting from the music business, one of which is my friend Dana Marie from Violet Moon’s Guitar Strap Ons who will be in town for NAMM for the second time in three years. She designed an incredible guitar strap that I have been using for the past four years. She has designed straps for artists ranging from James Williamson [The Stooges] to J.R. Blackmore [son of Ritchie Blackmore] and is able to do incredible work right down to intricate detail as requested by the musician.

Still to come are pictures from Record Store Day!

-          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

Tristen performing at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tristen performing at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

2013 proved to be a year where Nashville didn’t make as  big an impact nationally as it should have with no major album from either Country or Nashville sub-genres making any real impact on any national or international best-of lists from Rolling Stone Magazine [other than Keith Urban noted] to Mojo or anything else in-between.

It’s not that there were not any releases with big expectations from our region, but apparently they didn’t catch on nationally or internationally for that matter. Missing in action on the best of lists were Kings Of Leon, Paramore, Jack White, The Black Keys, Taylor Swift and pretty much every record that Nashville Scene listed as the best this year including releases by Tristen and Diarrhea Planet.

Zac Brown continues to chart his own path in the Country music scene with his Southern Ground Festival, Southern Ground group of artists that is now headquartered in Nashville  and charting records that have more to tell; just recently putting out the Dave Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, the problem is, can one list a four song EP as an album? As an artist, I definitely can give Zac kudos for songwriting, performance and outright tenaciousness.

MODOC, Soulshine Pizza, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

MODOC, Soulshine Pizza, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

It’s not to say that these were not good records, but it shows the deepening divide between well crafted music and the ability to get it out there in some way where it becomes part of the collective consciousness and not just affect the local pub crawl or mini festival.

Most stateside best-of lists had Vampire Weekend at or near the top of their lists whereas in the rest of the world they might have made the Top ten in one major publication and barely scratch the Top 40 in other important music rags and blogs outside the United States.

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Rolling Stone probably had one of the most bi-polar lists that included everything from real music artists to “entertainers” such as Miley Cyrus – Bangerz in their Top 40 list whereas Miley Cyrus isn’t on any major serious list outside the United States. Henry Rollins had a polite way of putting it this way: there is a lot of stuff that Rolling Stone writes about that isn’t on his radar.  Rolling Stone has gotten so far away from its original intent that the 360 label controlled deal signed Entertainers make the front cover regularly as well as politicians and a great amount of type space is spent driving home the Editors personal political point of view. I can’t fault them completely; there is the occasional Ginger Baker or Merle Haggard interview perfection. They even have a great local Nashville writer, Adam Gold, who doesn’t really get to write that much about the real Nashville. In a town where a 1600 word piece could be written every week about records being made and shows being played by regional Artists, nine out of ten articles are reviews of the previous Nashville TV Show plot.  Why don’t they give Adam free reign and really show what this town has to offer?

Tim Easton & JD Simo at Grimey's 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tim Easton & JD Simo at Grimey’s 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

As far as America’s perception of Nashville, I can’t fault the Nashville TV Show. There are some great aspects that I enjoy such as the cityscape backdrops and watching the “Live” performances to see who is playing in the band as well as T Bone Burnetts choices for locally written music. I always like to see folks like Colin Linden or Jim Lauderdale on the small screen!  I am still waiting to see JD Simo, Kenny Vaughan or maybe Dave Roe. Of course, if they put Joe Fick on there, he would probably steal the thunder away from the movie star. Honestly, Hayden Panetierre does really well playing a damaged girl that is trying to do her best to be good / bad at the same time. She has a heart of gold and a heart of stone that makes yin and yang seem as normal as Corned Beef Hash and Shrimp and Grits on the same plate. It just seems that when she tries to do something good she ends up screwing it up. I’m not sure if she is suppose to be bi-polar or her Mother smoked crack while she was in the womb but she sure does need the reassurance of her fans.

Mojo is probably the best music major publication in the world and they managed to have a list that was almost devoid of pop schlock and had an Artist, Bill Callahan – Dream River at number one that didn’t even make a stateside list.

In Mojo, Memphis inspired Mavis Staples – One True Vine sat at number 21 whereas it was not featured on any lists in any major American publications. What used to be true is still true, foreign music fans seem to appreciate real American Artists more than we do ourselves. Guy Clark’s My Favorite Picture Of You  as well as Jason Isbell’ Southeastern cracked some great lists without making a whisper on any stateside lists outside of Americana specific publications.

lorde pure heroineOkay, the Artist that probably really got the short end of the stick in all the lists was Lorde. Lorde’s Pure Heroine probably had more impact than any other record this year whether I like it or anybody else does. Lorde has already been ripped off by K-Tel style sound-a-like commercials for Boss and Victoria’s Secret.  They ripped her off as blatantly as if somebody had tried to write a commercial that sounded like “Honky Tonk Women” or “Brown Sugar” back in the day and just call it advertising Muzak. Lorde definitely brings more to the table than Lady Gaga’s “Fashion” going after David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” instead of previous attempts at Madonna’s eighties catalog.

Okay, as far as local goes. I think Nashville Scene got it right for the most part, but, what about Ricky Skaggs or Modoc’s new albums?  There is a much larger alternative scene in Nashville than even where Nashville Scene went with its own list.

DeRobert & the Half Truths at The High Watt 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

DeRobert & the Half Truths at The High Watt 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Although regional albums didn’t seem to impact national lists this year, there are prospects coming up in 2014. For one, Nikki Lane has those Dan Auerbach produced tracks still waiting for a drop date. GED Soul is putting out their first full length vinyl, De Robert & The Half Truths – I’m Tryin’ on January 14th. Jack White is putting out new music by The Dead Weather.  One could hope for a new Kenny Vaughan album or even a revolutionary new Country album like Miranda Lambert’s Revolution  or how about a historical Live recording like Jerry Lee Lewis Live at Third Man from a couple of years ago.

Probably my biggest anticipated Nashville area release will be the new Mike Farris album which has been a couple of years in the making and should get a release date some time in 2014.

With the prospect that album buying is an ever shrinking source of revenue and has started to become a vanity project for almost everybody but a major label 360 signed Artist / Entertainer /  Dancer / Avatar, will the “best of” album lists start to disappear and be replaced by the “best live” performances since that is where the hopes for revenue are? I can’t answer that one. I still buy CD’s and vinyl and I don’t buy shrill sounding MP3’s. That is my line in the sand. I like liner notes, credits and photos so downloads don’t do much for me.

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

It seems that music in people’s lives is as important as ever, yet twenty million views on You Tube might only translate into 80,000 units sold.  In this kind of environment, an Artist might be safer to build a following in a sub-genre such as Americana, Blues or Bluegrass and tour on that specific festival circuit rather than to try to get a grass roots following on some new angle of Indie music and try to build up from the clubs. The prospect of never getting bigger than the clubs and eternally couch surfing are enormous in the current all-music –should- be- free- to- listen- to conundrum.

I have to admit that bands are becoming creative.  The Cult talks about sending out “capsules” of music in the future such as three new songs every quarter. Jack White has printed different band names on the CD’s he has taken on tour to sell to make collectibles out of “tour bought” merchandise. Infinity Cat has put out different covers or changed up colored vinyl to keep its catalog collectible among label followers. Creative marketing is as important as creative songwriting nowadays. A limited quantity of whatever seems to be a “buy” even though it may only bring in a limited amount of money.

Will there ever be a big budget grandiose masterpiece like Rumours or Dark Side of The Moon in the future? Maybe not but, if so, it would probably come out of a big budget Kickstarter campaign for a complete vanity piece that may only sell 20,000 units due to current radio formats and the free listening or subscription services now available. If there are less units of such a great masterpiece out there than the original Ramones album, will it be found and enjoyed 20 years down the road?

I can’t give up on the fact that somehow the music business will survive in some fashion that will keep creative people out there producing something new. I love going to see a band live but, will there ever be a budget for Quincy Jones style production on real music and not the flavor of the month?

Anyways, my best of list is based on a couple of criteria. I like it and it is regional, as in, from the south or with ties to the south and not necessarily middle Tennessee. I’ll keep it to ten because there are 20 and 30 and 40 lists; why not just make it essential?

andy t nick nixonNumber 10: The Andy T Band and Nick Nixon – Drink Drank Drunk

Andy T has been a regular guitar slinger on the blues scene all around town after arriving here via California and Houston, Texas. Nick Nixon is a native son following in the tradition of the Jefferson Street scene. This mix of a stew of standards produced and mixed by Texan Anson Funderburgh was the strongest Nashville Blues record out this year with a definite Gatemouth Texas Swing Blues influence and got the two with their band on Blues Festivals nationwide in 2013. Stand-out tracks: “Midnight Hour” “Drink Drank Drunk” “Have You Seen My Monkey?”

ricky skaggs bruce hornsby coverNumber 9: Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby – Cluck Ol’ Hen Live

Ricky Skaggs has been an Ambassador of Bluegrass to the world and his collaboration with Bruce Hornsby on piano turned out to be one of the greatest live events of the past few years. This recording captured from a couple of those shows features some great jamming with Bruce Hornsby kind of going to the roots after having toured with The Grateful Dead years ago. The in-between banter gives the feel of really being there. Stand-out tracks: “How Mountain Girls Can Love” “The Way It Is” “The Dreaded Spoon.”

MODOC_AlbumArtNumber 8: MODOC

MODOC has had great song placement in the last year or so that has put their music on television.  MODOC just plain rocks and “Runnin” has been all over the local airwaves. This album still has some legs after its release in August and will get a vinyl release after the first of the year. The Indiana natives have really stuck to their guns since arriving in Nashville about three years ago and have really improved their song craft and play every date they can.  A solid album is the pay dirt. Stand – out tracks: “Runnin” “Coward” “I Want You”

patty griffin american kidNumber 7: Patty Griffin – American Kid       

You could say Patty Griffin is from Austin and you could say that Robert Plant is from England, but let’s be real, they spend a lot of time here in Nashville and therefore are just as much Nashvillian as most of us who come from everywhere from California to Australia and spend perhaps a good majority of our lives here in pursuit of musical nirvana.  This may be Patty’s current album as the reigning Queen of Americana, but Robert makes enough guest appearances to let you know he is there without calling it a duet album. The North Mississippi Allstars make an appearance as well. Stand-out tracks “Don’t Let me Die In Florida,” “Ohio” and “Highway Song.”

jason isbell southeasternNumber 6: Jason Isbell – Southeastern

215 reviews and this album is still five stars on Amazon. Southeastern should be on every Top ten list this year.  Unfortunately, this was mostly shunned by American media while in Britain and Europe, where The Drive By Truckers were treated like The Rolling Stones, this gets what it deserves. Muscle Shoals will live on forever and Jason is definitely one of the favorite sons.  There are guest spots by Kim Richey (“Stockholm”) and Amanda Shires on “Travelling Alone.” There are a couple of southern rockers but most of this set would go over well at The Bluebird Cafe. Stand-out tracks “Flying Over Water,” “New South Wales,” and “Super 8.”

tim easton not coolNumber 5: Tim Easton – Not Cool

Tim encapsulizes everything cool about Nashville in one album that includes members of Robert’s regulars from The Don Kelley Band, Joe Fick [The Dempseys} on bass and JD Simo on guitar. The recording puts you front and center listening to real new Nashville Honky Honk music. What a concept! People travel from all over the world to hear it, so why not put it out to the airwaves.  If you missed the in-store that featured JD on guitar at Grimey’s, you missed one of the best in-stores of 2013. The songwriting has some gritty stories and moves things out past toney East Nashville to Riverside.  The old plywood acoustic sits in the middle of the mix. This one sits somewhere between Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and John Mellencamp’s Sun records effort a couple of years ago.  Stand out tracks include “Little Doggie (1962)” and “Four Queens.” “Troubled Times”

north mississippi allstars world boogieNumber 4: North Mississippi Allstars – World Boogie Is Coming

What can you say when the first two tracks start out with Robert Plant on harmonica recorded at Royal in Memphis? The Dickinsons along with Lightnin’ Malcolm are taking us for a ride through Holly Springs on this essentially covers album that plays out like a Midsummer Night’s Dream where R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough are still alive and Junior’s Place is still open for all night jams and ribs. Although Blues can let out your frustrations, this one puts on a smile and gets your groove going. Stand-out tracks

“Snake Drive,” Meet Me In The City” and “Goin’ To Brownsville.”

diarrhea planet artwork 2013Number 3: Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Diarrhea Planet is probably the best live show in Nashville right now, especially if you like guitar. They one up Lynyrd Skynyrd with four guitars. I repeat, FOUR GUITARS!  Watching them is like watching a Jack Black music skit on SNL, but the guitar work is pretty good and they are always entertaining and have some strong music that is designed for live consumption. Stand out tracks:  “Separations” “Ugliest Son” “The Sound Of My Ceiling Fan”

guy clark my favorite picture of youNumber 2: Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture Of You

Guy Clark pays tribute to his wife and wears his heart on his sleeve and his favorite picture of his wife on the cover. My Favorite Picture of You is an introspective soul searching masterpiece that makes one stop after every song and process the lyrics they just listened to. If Nashville is about songwriting then this is this year’s litmus test. Stand-out tracks, “My Favorite Picture of You” “Cornmeal Waltz”“Heroes”

tristen cavesNumber 1: Tristen – Caves

Tristen proves a point that you can follow your muse no matter what style in Nashville and create something cohesive, beautiful and unique. If this doesn’t become the huge record it should then it will become a cult album that everybody will want to show their friend and turn them onto. If Mojo ever gets a hold of this one, Tristen will be over in England and Europe playing to sold out crowds for the next year and it will be tough to ever see her play in the backyard at The Groove on Record Store Day again.  Tristen comes from the world where Pop means great songs like The Beatles, The Smiths, Fleetwood Mac or Blondie. Stand out tracks: “No One’s Gonnna Know” “House of War” “Dark Matter” “Monster”

-          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

The Clint Culberson Interview

Modoc, photo-Salomon Davis / Solo Photography

Modoc, photo-Salomon Davis / Solo Photography

We are really excited that local stations are willing to put us out there and help support what we are doing.” – Clint Culberson, MODOC.

MODOC has seen their fortunes rise after moving from Indiana to Nashville a couple of years ago. While most of the Hard Rock scene has faded, they have had a chance to write with Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes and had their song, “Devil On My Shoulder” featured in the promo for last year’s TV show, 666 Park Avenue.

Clint Culberson took some time to relate on the benefits of being part of the Nashville music community and what has turned MODOC from one of the members of the local scene into current real Rock, no-frills torchbearers on the verge of something even bigger.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Are you in Nashville right now?

Clint Culberson, Lead Singer, Guitarist, Songwriter- MODOC: Yeah, we are home.  We are leaving on Thursday for Alabama.

TNB: Where do you play in Alabama, I think I saw Tuscaloosa?

CC: Yeah, we are in Tuscaloosa and then we are heading to Arkansas for a couple of days.

TNB: Then you are back here on the 18th?

CC: Yes. We are back here in town on the 18th and then Bowling Green the 19th, I think.

TNB: You guys have a good wheel going on (around Nashville)?

CC: We are trying for sure.  We’ve got some good guys working for us.

TNB: As far as MODOC, the first time I saw you was during the last good Next Big Nashville Conference a couple of years ago at The 5 Spot. How long had you been in town?

CC: I think we were here for a little while. We had probably been in town for a year. We really changed when Caleb, our original bass player, came down from Indiana and we took it a little more seriously once he got down here. We said we really want to do this for a living and go after it.

TNB: So Caleb is actually your original bass player?

Clint Culberson, Modoc, photo - Salomon Davis / Solo Photography

Clint Culberson, Modoc, photo – Salomon Davis / Solo Photography

CC: Yes, he was the original bass player and he had decided he was going to stay back home for a girl and not move down here. We were not really sure where we were at as a band at that point. We had a guy step in for a little bit and we are still really good friends with him but, he was…you know, we kind of had to come to a mutual agreement. I hate to say it wasn’t mutual but, he wasn’t going to quit so we had to do one of those things that is never easy to do.

TNB: I would say that is definitely some strong bass that Caleb is playing on the album. I listened to the video you guys have up the other day recorded at Smoakstack. Is that where you did the new album?

CC: No, we just did a couple of live videos in there and what-not to have. This new album we did on our own, so, we recorded that record everywhere. We went from my garage to living rooms to bedrooms, kitchens where ever we could find good sound.

TNB: Is MODOC situated in East Nashville?

CC: Two of us are in East Nashville and two of us are in West Nashville.

TNB: So you are kind of involved on both sides of Nashville.

CC: Yeah. We cover the whole market.

TNB: So how do you like Nashville after being transplants, like everybody else, I should say.

CC: I feel like we have become, you know, part of this town.  It is home for us. We have met a lot of people, so that’s a little more exciting than the hills of Indiana. I think I would say I’m probably the most country out of all of us. I feel like I’ve probably picked up the accent more than anybody.  I don’t mind it.

 TNB: Are you the main lyricist or does the band work together?

CC: Mainly, I do most of the lyrics and writing on that side of things. But, the guys always have something. John comes to me most of the time, out of the three of them, with lyrics and what-not. You know, there are some songs that I’m kind of strugglin’ and not sure where to go with this and we will sit down and figure it out and it seems well and it makes sense. It is still coming from an honest direction, I guess.

TNB: Well, I love MODOC’s sound but, for me that’s the core. I have always liked bands that have come out of here [the south] like The Black Crowes, but also some of the newer bands like American Minor that was around a couple of years ago also American Bang which used to be Bang Bang Bang.

CC: Oh yeah.

TNB: Do you guys feel like you are getting really good local support? Are you getting radio support?

MODOC_AlbumArtCC: Yeah we are getting a little bit from Lightning 100 but also, lately; The Buzz has really been supporting us a lot actually. They were playing us before we even knew it. They were super into it, so, it is really awesome to know that they were picking it up before we even talked to them about what else we could do with them.  We are really excited that local stations are willing to put us out there and help support what we are doing.

TNB: Do you see any core areas in the Country that are starting to come back or come up with the real Hard Rock thing?

 CC: I think it comes and goes, I think a lot of people get excited for a bit and I feel like even though we have only been here for a few years, I feel like a lot of the bands that were doing somewhat close to what we were doing when we first got down here are no longer out there and so I feel like somewhat in a good way that we’re not the only rock and roll band, of course not, but, you know sometimes I feel like we don’t wear a funny hat or costumes so we are the only ones like us. That’s it.

TNB: I see you guys where you are at now, your songwriting is a lot more polished. I like it because it has some variety to it and it sounds like you guys are having a really good time, especially over the last year. What was the turning point? Was it songwriting here in Nashville?

photo - Salomon Davis / Solo Photography

photo – Salomon Davis / Solo Photography

CC: I think we are all aspiring songwriters anyway and we’ve always said the best song is what is going to go on that record and we had written a lot of songs. I think it just takes practice and we don’t want to limit ourselves on any specific kind of song or genre. You know, of course we are going to play electric guitar and play loud, but, I think we have been good about saying make the song be what it’s about and then worry about whether or not we are going to do it. So, we just finished a good album and we put it out there. We need to sound like us. We need to stop worrying about that. Early on, I think we did a good job of getting that out of the way and stopped worrying about songs being different and whether they mesh or not and it just depended on how it was recorded that makes it sound like you. What Ryan Adams has done over the last decade, a lot of his sounds are completely different and we are big fans of all of them and he gets a lot of shit for that, or he did. But, they couldn’t stick him into a particular genre and well… good for him. He can do whatever the hell he wants to and have a good time. It’s much more important to have a good time.

TNB: If I were to say where you guys are at right now, MODOC is like the bridge between The Black Crowes and Kings Of Leon because you are a little heavier Rock than the Kings Of Leon but you still have that depth of, you know, where American Bang was a little more of party mode, Modoc is more of a thinking band about lyrics and structure.

CC: Yeah, totally and I appreciate that. A lot of people compare us to Kings Of Leon and I just want to say thank you. A lot of people don’t know what to expect when they tell me that and I’m just, no, that’s an honor those guys are doing great.

TNB: You are more rocking. MODOC is leaning more towards The Black Crowes but you still have kind of that thinking mode plus some of your song structure is more modern.

CC: Right, yeah, we are big fans of those guys too. We actually got to write with Rich Robinson.

TNB: Did you cut anything that you actually wrote with him?

CC: We haven’t. It’s been kind of…not a bummer but we weren’t sure what we were wanting to do with it and he was wanting to Produce the songs that we co-wrote, so, rather than try to hurry up and get a bunch of songs done for he and I  or for the band… it’s kind of tough… he lives in Atlanta and he is also doing solo stuff and The [Black]Crowes now so it’s very difficult to schedule and I hope to write with him again but, for now, that is kind of on hold. I still have those recordings of what we had written on my hard drive and I go back once in a while and make sure I still remember those songs because they are good songs. We just have to find a place for them.

TNB: How did the song end up in the beginning of the TV show (666 Park Avenue)?

CC:  We were cutting a song that John had written and I had a good idea for a chorus so we knew that it was a good song and it was a dark song. We had heard that the Twilight people were looking for songs for the movie soundtrack for their last movie, so, we thought, well, why don’t we go cut it and see if we can get on that, you know, like every other fuckin’ band in the world. Obviously, it didn’t get chosen for that but, it actually worked out well to be put on the front of that promo for 666 Park Avenue. We just kind of pitched it to ABC right after we found out the Twilight people had passed on it. We put it on this record as well because we were happy how the song turned out for us.

TNB: Which song was it?

CC: “Devil On My Shoulder”

TNB: Oh, yeah, great song.

CC: Thanks man. I think we are going to do a video for it this fall. We kind of have to hurry up.

TNB: There are a lot of things you could do with that in a video.

CC: Oh man, I’m really excited about the idea. We have a really good Director. He used to be a good musician friend of ours but, he has turned into a pretty bad ass Director so, hopefully we can work with him on that.

TNB: That sounds great. Do you think you will probably ride on this album for another year before you cut something again?

CC: Yeah, I would say we will probably. We have had some talks and we might even go in the studio this winter to have an even bigger release next fall. It’s crazy, because we go in cycles of writing so differently so we try to catch that. If we are all writing on the same thing for a while and we are all in the same mode we definitely want to capture that all together and have some really good songs that go together that are all in the same time frame. There can be some similar things going on and tell a story in an album of where we were at, at the time. It’s hard not to want to record when you are writing if you have something to say and we usually do.

TNB: It’s good that you have ways of saying “let’s work on this” and “we’ll cut that.” I guess you have friends with different pieces of gear to record when you need to.

CC: Yeah, basically. Nashville is a big town with a lot of people with a lot of music gear so it’s not really that difficult to get a hold of some good stuff and make sure we have a big sounding record.

TNB: I hope you have something ready for Record Store Day because Electric Guitars and Guitar Amps always sound better on vinyl.

CC: When is Record Store Day?

TNB: It’s in April. It’s like a national Holiday here in Nashville. I mean, there are bands playing everywhere all day long.

CC: Yeah, I’m going to have to remember when because I feel like it’s kind of a blur. I’ve been to a couple of those over at Grimey’s.

TNB: The Groove was awesome last year. They had Chromepony and they had all the G.E.D. Soul Records crew.

Modoc, photo - Salomon Davis / Solo Photography

Modoc, photo – Salomon Davis / Solo Photography

CC: Chromepony fuckin rules! We actually played with those guys down in Baton Rouge last year on the way to SXSW. We are good buddies with those guys. We are definitely getting our record cut to vinyl here very soon. I think it is through a company out of Cincinnati called Soul Step.

TNB: Is it going to be available locally?

CC: It will be online for sure through them and I am thinking we will have the ability once we get those done and get our hands on them to get them to Grimey’s and other record stores as well. I’m not sure of the logistics on that. I am just excited to have it on vinyl period. It’s something that we have been wanting to do forever and it has just been trying to find a way to do it that isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg. I think it’s very good “branding” for the band as well to say “we like to listen to good music too and on a good source.”

TNB: What do you think the release date is going to be?

CC: I would imagine in the next couple of months. I think the deal worked out with them just this last week so I would say in the next month or so. I am waiting with baited breath.

TNB: I think Nashville was a good move for you guys.

CC: Thanks, man.

-          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

upcoming shows

10/12/2013 Conway, AR Bear’s Den Details   Oct 12 2013 at Bear’s Den in Conway, AR
10/13/2013 Nashville, TN 102.9 The Buzz Details   The Local Buzz Interview
10/18/2013 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge- 102.9 The Buzz presents “This Is Nashville” Details   Nashville, TN
10/19/2013 Bowling Green, KY Brews and Tunes Festival Details   Bowling Green, KY
10/31/2013 Indianapolis, IN Irving Theater Details   Indianapolis, IN
11/1/2013 Chicago, IL TBA Details   Chicago, IL
11/2/2013 Columbus, OH Victory’s Details   Columbus, OH
11/7/2013 Knoxville, TN Preservation Pub Details   Knoxville, TN
11/9/2013 Greenville, SC Radio Room

“The high point of the weekend was booking half a dozen or more acts that had never played Birmingham and hearing from SO many festival goers that loved them.” – Travis Morgan

 

Tedo Stone, Secret Stages 2013,-photo - Brad Hardisty

Tedo Stone, Secret Stages 2013,-photo – Brad Hardisty

Secret Stages beat the odds by finally lifting off this sultry wet last weekend in Birmingham with a new central location down on the cobblestone Morris Avenue backed by the trains going by on the upper deck above the Miller Lite Stage with food trucks lined up selling everything from gourmet Tacos to Hawaiian Ice or Snowballs depending on what coast you are from.

 The buzz had been building with bands on the bill from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ohio and points around the Southeast.

Das Haus, loud, experimental out of the box venue, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Das Haus, loud, experimental out of the box venue, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

One of the main additions over last year was an official Hip Hop venue – Matthews with a two day fest of rocking the microphone that kicked off with Mic Militia on Friday night and finished with Supastition  after midnight on Saturday or Sunday morning however you look at it.

Lazer/Wulf, Secret Stages 2013, photo _ Brad Hardisty

Lazer/Wulf, Secret Stages 2013, photo _ Brad Hardisty

 Most of the venues changed from last year with the exception of Das Haus returning with the ever permanent smell of Brats and a floor lamp that seems to always be turned on and perched a little awkward onstage which featured the loudest most punk sounds of local band The Dirty Lungs while Saturday offered more varied fare from Tedo Stone, the acoustic singer/songwriter styles of Jazzmine Garfield followed by the extreme experimental metal of Lazer/Wulf from Georgia playing in the set time of last year’s Georgia heaviness Black Tusk. It seems that Mastodon started in some fertile ground of a loud and proud scene.  This would be the perfect venue for Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream to play, okay; maybe it is a little smallish.

Silver Tongues at Pale Eddies, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Silver Tongues at Pale Eddies, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Lindsay Garrett- Volunteer Coordinator:

 “One of my favorite things this year was running into JazzMine Garfield on 2nd Ave in between her two sets while she was playing a few songs for people passing by.  She basically just stopped on a corner, sat down, and started playing.  She had fan girls taking video and snapping photos while she played her guitar and sang, totally unaffected.  And the entire time she had a smile on her face.
She’s a little gem.

 The reason this is a high point for me is because it was definitive of the Secret Stages energy.  Artists are thirsty to play for people who want to listen…  And fans feel like they have gained some sense of bonding/closeness with the musicians they love.”

 

JazzMine Garfield, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

JazzMine Garfield, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Jazzmine Garfield – Birmingham, Alabama

“They just saw me playing out and about and I got here with Secret Stages with Courtney.  I play anywhere and everywhere.  I will be at The Metro later and Iron Bar on August 15th.”

Most of the bigger Birmingham bands played Friday night sets like one of the longest running bands Through The Sparks, last year’s buzz band The Great Book of John on the Miller Lite Stage as well as The Grenadines who also signed to Birmingham label Communicating Vessels this last year releasing a 7 inch as well as a proper release for the well-produced first album that was available at shows over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, Model Citizen with one of the greatest songs ever to come out of Birmingham, “The Inner Fool” were nowhere to be seen this year.

Belle Adair, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Belle Adair, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Travis Morgan- Head Of Artist & Music Production:

“The high point of the weekend was booking half a dozen or more acts that had never played Birmingham and hearing from SO many festival goers that loved them.  The sweet synergy of music discovery.  We get to discover bands and then showcase them for folks in Birmingham to also discover and it’s a special bond.  Also, seeing everything coalesce was very special. Between the art installation from Joe Minter (featured in the New York Times in April), the graffiti, the amazing performances and the positive energy between bands and music fans, we soared like eagles.”

“I loved The Log Ladies, Adron, Healing Power, Amasa Hines and Ponychase.  The Great Book of John sounded great. I really liked Ante Meridian and Supastition was really solid too.  W. Stewart and Looksy performed great sets. Foreign Fields were terrific but I didn’t get to see them long enough.  Through the Sparks is (bias) one of my favorite bands of all time, so there you go.  Always good.”  

photo - Brad Hardisty

photo – Brad Hardisty

Rain was hard and heavy on Saturday afternoon and threatened to make things interesting like Saturday night last year when festival goers danced in the rain in front of the main stage, but as luck would have it, the rain stopped before things started up on night two. Although, the steam off the cobblestones didn’t stop until late into the evening leaving everybody as damp as the produce section at Publix.

Healing Power, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Healing Power, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Joey – Healing Power from Cincinnati, Ohio:

“We were invited and couldn’t turn it down. It’s an honor to be here. It’s a lot of fun.”

Wussy, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Wussy, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Matthews and M-Lounge were connected by a couple of hallways and a set of stairs that put one in the midst of a rap throw down before climbing a long staircase ending in the middle of a set by Wussy while The Parthenon (VIP Lounge) was just across the street and featured three sets each night.

Tedo Stone at Das Haus, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tedo Stone at Das Haus, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Tedo Stone from Atlanta, Georgia:

“We had talked to Travis back in the spring about playing and it got pro-longed and he ended up making it happen in the fall we are just stoked to be here with all our friends. I have never played Birmingham. This is our first time so we were stoked. It was an awesome crowd.”

There were a couple of secret shows which fit one of the main themes of musical discovery.  One of those sets was the final late night set at Pale Eddie’s which featured Adam Guthrie as his latest incarnation, ADAM ADAM. 

Adam Guthrie on Bajo Sexto, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Adam Guthrie on Bajo Sexto, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

As Adam was setting up, voices were asking who he was, if anybody had any idea where he was from.  It’s nice to know a well-established Birmingham guitarist who has played with everybody from Rick Carter; Heath Green to The Backrow Baptists could still find a new ear filled with intrigue and amazement. Truth be told, Adam is amazing just by his sheer ability to riff on anything from the aforementioned guitar, to his masterful Ukulele stroking, Bajo Sexto turned punk bass to playing a one stringed electric beer can.

Adam Guthrie – ADAM ADAM, Birmingham, Alabama:

Adam Guthrie, Secret Show at Pale Eddie's, Secret Stages 2013, photo- Brad Hardisty

Adam Guthrie, Secret Show at Pale Eddie’s, Secret Stages 2013, photo- Brad Hardisty

I am so proud to know Brad Hardisty. Travis and Tym, I’m not making sense. It was Travis, it was kind of a last minute thing so I called the people I knew, which were myself and Tym and I’m enjoying the camaraderie of the musicians to be honest.”

Isaac Karns of Healing Power, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Isaac Karns of Healing Power, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Secret Stages of 2013 found crowds of all ages and color mingling like it was a pub crawl in heaven with plenty of smiles and solid grooves especially from the last two sets at the Miller Lite Stage by the soulful alternative pop psyche of Healing Power fronted by son of Julian Assange look-a-like Isaac Karns and the last set by Amasa Hines with a full horn section.

Amasa Hines, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Amasa Hines, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN   thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

backtoback recordRecord Store Day has been a major phenomenon not just for the resurgence of vinyl, but, for musicologists and developing a deeper palette for this emerging generation.

One of the big features are Back-to-Back 7inch releases which have usually been two different bands performing the same song such as this year’s Deep Purple “Highway Star” with the flip side being Type O Negative’s version of “Highway Star.”

One release that could have been improved upon would have been The Stooges’ “No Fun” backed by the cover version by The Black Keyes. The current  relativity of The Black Keyes should not have been overshadowed by The Sex Pistols performance of “No Fun” as the only song performed at their final gig not only in the United States, but, as a band where Johnny Rotten stated ”We will perform one song and one song only…No Fun.”  At the end of the song Johnny is heard saying, “Have you ever felt you’ve been cheated?” That singular performance ignited the Northern California punk scene that brought forth The Avengers, MX-80 Sound and the Dead Kennedys to name a few. The Sex Pistols should have been the flip side. Can you music company tastemakers get it right? We shall see.

Let’s start with some serious suggestions for future 7 inch releases.

(Hyperlinks will get you a listen)

backtoback terry reidTerry Reid – Rich Kid’s Blues  / The Raconteurs – Rich Kid’s Blues

Terry Reid was Jimmy Page’s first choice for The New Yardbirds. Terry was busy enough with his solo career and suggested Jimmy Page check out Robert Plant who was in a band called Band Of Joy. The Raconteurs did a spot on rendition on their second album. This would be an easier one to see happen since Jack White has the label and reissue experience to make this one. “Rich Kid’s Blues” could be a great first introduction to most people for little known Terry Reid in the United States.

backtoback jimiChuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode / Jimi Hendrix – Johnny B. Goode

Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” could be the de facto rock and roll song. It is a 1-4-5 in major chords instead of 7th’s like the blues and the beat was fast. This was the song that any band could sit down and jam to see if things would work back in the 60’s and 70’s. When Jimi Hendrix performed “Johnny B. Goode” in Berkeley, California, it was caught on film and featured on Hendrix In The West and Jimi Plays Berkeley.  Jimi did “Johnny B. Goode” like he did “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, this was a total barnburner not only showcasing his ability, but, there may even be more of a mental back story then you know. Jimi’s mother named him Johnny when he was born while his Dad was away in the war. One of the last places Jimi was known as Johnny was staying with relatives in Berkeley, California before he went back to Seattle and his father legally changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix.  He wasn’t too happy about it. He insisted on being called “Buster” after a character from Flash Gordon.  So, in a way, Jimi is the real Johnny B. Goode in disguise.

backtoback hey judeThe Beatles – Hey Jude / Wilson Pickett – Hey Jude

Okay, while The Beatles “Hey Jude” may be one the longest singles ever and had a great story about Paul McCartney writing a piece of music for John’s son, Julian to help him get over his parent’s divorce, being a great supportive “uncle”’ Wilson Pickett’s version has an interesting twist as well.

It goes like this. Wilson Pickett was in the middle of recording an album at Muscle Shoals Sound in Alabama when the band decided to take a break and head out to go get some food and drinks. Wilson decided to hang out in the studio because he was black and didn’t feel like getting harassed by the locals and Duane Allman who was playing guitar on the session stayed with Wilson because he had long hair and would face some teasing by local folks as well. So, Wilson started jamming on the organ the recently released Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and Duane liked what he was doing, putting a little gospel soul into the British rock ballad. He started laying some guitar on Wilson and by the time the band got back in the morning, Duane and Wilson had the making of one heck of a “Hey Jude” cover. It was not only a great cover, but, is considered the record that started southern rock. The groundswell hit that spawned the Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and countless other Capricorn Records.

Okay how about some call and response 7inch?

backtoback bear catBig Mama Thornton – Hound Dog / Rufus Thomas – Bear Cat

Okay, we all know about Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”, but, let’s go with the original on this. Big Mama Thornton singing something that Elvis’ probably heard on the “Red, Hot and Blue” radio show in Memphis. Well, Sam Phillip’s over at Sun decided it would be good to put out a response to “Hound Dog” with the cut “Bear Cat.” The only problem was it was too close to the original and “Bear Cat” ended up in a big lawsuit at the time. Now this all happened before Elvis recorded at Sun.

Okay here is a call and response that is a really sly one. Let’s see if you caught this one.

backtoback the holliesThe Hollies – The Air That I Breathe  / Pink Floyd – Breathe

Both songs move at similar tempo and feature some lucid beautiful guitar. The Hollies have almost that slow Eric Clapton sans George Harrison lead while Pink Floyd has the flowing pedal steel going on.  It’s almost like Pink Floyd came up with the idea while listening to The Hollies. They say that Pink Floyd may have been watching film of The Wizard of Oz, but, maybe it was The Hollies as Pink Floyd sang, “Breathe, breathe in the air, don’t be afraid to care, leave but don’t leave me,” was really lead-n bridge as the first lines after the chorus by The Hollies, “Sometime all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you.”

Hey here is a debate I started.

freecovers.netQueen – Bohemian Rhapsody / Mott The Hoople – Marionette

You really need to know the back story on this to see a link. Queen and Mott The Hoople used to tour together in England before Queen really broke big.  They really got along well and Queen even referenced Mott in the song “Now I’m Here” off of Sheer Heart Attack in the line, “Down in the city just Hoople and me.” One time while enjoying “Marionette” which was written a couple of years before “Bohemian Rhapsody” I was really paying attention to the story line in the song. “Marionette” was similarly like a mini rock opera piece with changes in tempo and dynamics and told the story of a person trying to keep from selling-out, told in first person it starts out, “No Puppet, no liar, won’t bend my lips to wire.”  Before going to the chorus, “Marionette – I Aint One Yet, Teacher’s pet – will you better forget it.” Before the outro, “They gambled, with my life and now I’ve lost my will to fight, Oh God these wires are so tight … I’m just a Marionette.” It is a whole conceived story that could be with a true to yourself musician eventually losing his soul to the corporate music entity, but, the way the story is told is really resembles how Queen went through structuring a “song” like Bohemian Rhapsody” another mini-opera.

I decided to contact Ian Hunter directly through his website and the interactive Horses Mouth page to see if he ever felt Queen got the idea to do “Bohemian Rhapsody” from touring together and Mott doing “Marionette?”  Ian Hunter responded, “I’ve no idea. You’d have to ask them. You know Freddie was kinda like that anyway. They were what they were and we were what we were. We got on famously though. Still do.”

Okay, how about similar riffs?

back to back xX – White Girl / Nirvana – Come As You Are

Okay, the verse parts include similar almost dead-on riffs. X, who was considered the flag bearers of the Los Angeles punk scene, included “White Girl” on their second critically acclaimed album Wild Gift in 1981 while Nirvana slowed the riff down a little and featured “Come As You Are” on their second album for major label Geffen, oh, I mean DGC. While Nirvana did do a song called “About A Girl” I could never find a cover version of “White Girl.” The part where Nirvana sings, “No, I don’t have a gun,” is almost like X’s tag of “She’s a white girl, but I’m living with a white girl.”  Kurt Cobain described “Come As You Are” as lyrics about “people and what they’re expected to act like”. “White Girl” was John Doe’s ode to The Germs’ bassist – Lorna Doom.  John was dealing with attraction and good ol’ Catholic guilt being married to Exene.  While, he may have cheated a little “mentally” it was not John’s “Norwegian Wood” since Exene knew what it was all about at the time.

backtoback black sabbathRed Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away / Black Sabbath – Sweet Leaf

Okay, hey, Red Hot Chili Peppers sampled “White Girl” in one of their songs off of Mother’s Milk, so, were they just funkin’ thing up a bit while listening to Sweet Leaf off Masters of Reality? Hey Rick Rubin was producing the thing. Rick was also working with Slayer around the same time and he just produced the new Black Sabbath album. Rick was known for mashing things up like sampling Led Zeppelin on Beastie Boys tracks. Okay, here is my presumptive back story. Rick throws Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” up loud and lets the Chili Peppers jam with it until they come up with their own funky masterpiece.

Dude, you don’t want me running your record company because I’ll be too creative with these back to back 7 inch records and your mind won’t be able to handle it.

Well, the “Iko,Iko” super secret release was not bad.

-          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, Tn     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Rick Rubin has just produced another watershed masterpiece; ZZ Top’s best recording since Deguello. La Futura , out on American Recordings, simmers like Hot Chorizo Texas Chili with a layer of pure Agave Tequila set on fire bruja ja rising into the air.

This is what a career is suppose to be, a band that just keeps getting better and better and comes up with a crowning achievement decades later.  La Futura literally sits with The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magic and the Johnny Cash American Recordings as Producer Rick Rubin’s current best of the best.

Billy Gibbons voice is all “Whiskey and Gravel” kicking off with a Lightnin’ Malcolm meets Billy at the crossroads groove “Gotsta Get Paid”, just a double call and response to their own “Just Got Paid,” and the rap hit “25 Lighters.” No easy task, being a prequel to “Just got paid today, got me a pocket full of change,” and a current rap tune. Let’s call it, multi-tasking.

La Futura inset photo- credit- ZZ Top.com

The second cut is what made me go out and get a copy. I heard “Chartreuse’” all “Tush” all over the place on Elizabeth Cook’s Outlaw Country radio show on Sirius Radio the other day and I said “Whoa man, this isn’t just another ZZ Top album for a tour, this is choice grade T-Bone!”

Elizabeth has the best radio show on the air or internet right now. You can call it country, but, she is all over the place, a real tastemaker, literally the “Rodney Bingenheimer” of Americana. Elizabeth just may be the one person that cleans out the fuel injectors of what is now Country music.

Recorded at Foam Box Recording in Houston, Texas, ZZ Top take it back to the old neighborhood, even showing a little of those early day influences like “Over You” with its “Whiter Shade of Pale” late 60’s vibe, Mellotron strings even coming in.

Just when you think the album is going towards Eliminator without any electronic drums, Billy throws down some clean loud Les Paul talking to Mr. Marshall blues on “I Don’t Wanna Lose, Lose, You.”

The best way to describe the album is being back down to the bone dry boogie three piece, with decades of guitar tone knowledge that puts the microphone in the paper speaker cone and will cause instant goose bumps for all those guitar tone dogs that sit for hours in new and used amplifier shops looking for the Holy Grail, an old Park 50 Watt head, Brown Tolex Fenders, original Orange amp, a pre Mesa Boogie’d Fender Deluxe, a Hendrix era Marshall Plexi and then compare them to maybe a Dr. Z, Divided by 13 or Samamp. If you like Electric Guitar that just shreds with fuzzy warmth and revs like a 65 Corvette or six-pack Barracuda, this is it Brotha!

Photo – ZZ Top.com

La Futura deserves to be heard while driving in your El Camino, windows rolled down, the 350 double 4 barrel carbs just kicking a jet blast out the twin tailpipes and the 400 Watt Fosgate with an EQ Booster rolling the 8 track through the spindle.

The Eliminator car is on the back cover as a current day “Rat Rod” ready to roll in what looks like a vintage photo. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination and, no, I wasn’t paid by a publicist to write this, I just got to say it’s good for ZZ Top to be back for more than just a tour stop! Pica Talcon! Andale! Rapido! Man, I need a plate of spicy Texas Enchiladas covered in grated sharp cheddar and Queso Blanco; I’ll have to settle for Pepperfire’s Hot Chicken!

I have a couple of suggestions; U2, where are those Rick Rubin Produced tracks you should have put out? And …Eddie, next time take Roth and the Van Halen brood down to this Houston, Texas studio and let Rick Rubin Produce the dang thing.

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

David Andersen photo-davidandersenmusic.com

While the Honky Tonks beckon tourists from all over the world, there are two ambassadors that get right at eye level and can play with skill, discuss and share the heritage of Nashville. That is David Andersen in the lobby of The Country Music Hall of Fame, whose recordings are available in the gift shop and “ Mandolin Mike” Slusser with his weathered mandolin usually somewhere near Gruhn Guitars down on Lower Broad.

Both are top quality musicians. Both tell the story of Nashville through their playing, their interaction and approachability.

“Mandolin Mike” Slusser photo- Brad Hardisty

The difference is Mike is no longer allowed to sell CD’s out of his guitar case when he plays. Never mind the fact that the bands that play in the Honky Tonks, who also play for tips, sell their CD’s at the foot of the stage in the same manner.

Slowly but surely, the true Street Musicians have almost disappeared.  

Just four years ago, prior to the recession, a musician could survive on tips while connecting with tourists, other local musicians and figure out how to make it in Nashville.

Townes Van Zandt once commented that he made more money playing for tips on Lower Broad than gigging around town.

J D Simo at Robert’s photo- Collings Guitars

In the last few years, J D Simo did some street gigging before landing a spot with the Don Kelley Band at Robert’s. J.D. has gained notoriety for some great guitar playing and is now seen in ads for Collings Guitars in guitar magazines.

Years ago, Lower Broad attracted tourists because that is where the hit songwriters and musicians hung out. Lower Broad has continued to develop as a tourist playground while the street ambassadors, The Nashville Street Musicians are dwindling and getting no support from City Hall.

The ability to make it as a street musician has been severely affected by The Contributor vendors (not to put down a unique effort), the economic downturn and the fact that more and more tourists and locals do not carry cash.

There has to be a way to support and develop a healthy community of street musicians.

It is possible to develop a hybrid vendor license similar to the system used in Memphis on Beale Street.

“Mandolin Mike” Slusser with tourists Andrew and Rachel Downs from Birmingham, AL – photo – Brad Hardisty

It could be quite simple either by utilizing the downtown ambassadors or a non-profit street musicians union that collects license fees either monthly or yearly for specific locations. The fee needs to be low, as an example maybe $75 per year since musicians earn about 1/3 of what they used to.

The musician or group would receive a license that could be worn like a badge with a strap like a trade show or be displayed in the guitar or instrument case and be assigned to a specific spot like Beale Street in Memphis. A committee could get the spots cleared with the approval of local businesses where they would not be blocking any doors or foot traffic.

There could also be a few spots for weekenders that would need to stop in and get a weekend license and claim the spot.

This would stop random musicians from showing up and creating a nuisance without understanding local ordinances.  Musicians would also need to audition to show some sort of musical viability that honors the traditions of Nashville or shows strong performance, songwriting or playing ability.

I feel this could actually help to build on a great Nashville tradition without throwing musicians into the same category as panhandlers and vagrants.

My 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian, Soldano cabinet and Custom handmade early Samamp 45 watt all tube head made in Birmingham, Alabama by Sam Timberlake.

When I first came to Nashville, I got out on the block for fun, usually playing in front of Lawrence Record Shop, because, I wanted the experience and it was a way to develop chops and make a little money. One of my personal high points was when Little Jimmy Dickens stood and watched me play my 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian (that I purchased at Gruhn Guitars in 2007)through a little Roland Street amp and after about ten minutes, threw a $20 bill in the case and said, smiling,”Keep it up.”

Tristan Dunn at Cash Wall, sometime street musician, sit in with local bands. photo – Brad Hardisty

Their needs to be an advocate for the street musicians, true musicians that bring music up close and can discuss what it is all about with tourists and locals. It could be a benefit to downtown Nashville in the Lower Broad Entertainment District.

While Homeless Photographers and Writers are able to develop talents and abilities through The Contributor, homeless musicians and true troubadours are made to feel unwelcome and have all but disappeared.

Somebody start the discussion! We need to make it possible for musicians to be safe and able to ply their trade, making tips, selling CD’s, photos and buttons (making available, not verbally asking to buy) in the Lower Broad District. It can be tough surviving as a musician even with talent and ability.

It would be simple to kick out random wanderers if we had a vendor’s badge system and there were assigned areas along the route. Police would not have to make it rough for everybody, only those operating outside the guidelines.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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