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The Ryan Hurtgen Interview via The West Coast

Photo courtesy Perfect Beings

Photo courtesy Perfect Beings

Perfect Beings [My Sonic Temple]brings together elements that are well reminiscent of GenesisThe Lamb Lies Down On Broadway /  YesGoing For The One era Prog Rock with a new twist to a new era of sound with the spontaneous yet well thought out instrumentation recorded almost completely live with  strong vocals plotting out a rock opera for the modern chip ready times.

While Perfect Beings played it safe at first by posting the more ballad oriented “Walkabout” to YouTube, this only eludes to the multi-textured beast of greatness that goes from “Helicopter” with its “Going For The One” modern arena prog rock that could touch a lot of fans of the genre in the sweet spot of the ears that has been missing in music for thirty plus years to the 2112/Neil Peart style of ideas within the mammoth “Removal of The Identity Chip”  which could be a modern take on “Watcher Of The Skies”.

Johannes Luley during recording session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Johannes Luley during recording session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Founded upon the nucleus of guitarist, Johannes Luley [Moth Vellum] and vocalist / songwriter,  Ryan Hurtgen [Rene Breton], Perfect Beings does not disappoint on their freshmen release with like minded musicians, Dicki Fliszar [Bruce Dickinson] on drums, Jesse Nason  on keys while Chris Tristram [Slash, Marjorie Fair] manages some Chris Squire – Rickenbacker Bass squawk on some lines.

Although it is easy to reference some of the original prog era giants, Perfect Beings manages to hit some touchstones without sounding retro. It sounds fresh in 2014 and has been reviewed all over the web with very favorable quotes and every review, so far, on Amazon has given the album five stars.

To be honest, this will be the greatest prog album this year not only because they will make happy ears among die hard adherents, but, in fact, this is a great performance album that can sit on the top shelf with the above mentioned works as well as maybe Pink FloydWish You Were Here and it’s “Welcome To The Machine” motif.

Vocalist, Ryan Hurtgen is well known in East Nashville circles from a couple of years ago with his Rene Breton project. He made the move to California and in the end it has proven to be a really productive time.  Maybe it’s because he gets to surf quite often, or maybe it’s the So Cal attitude that works well. In any case, Ryan caught up with The Nashville Bridge to talk about this latest project and the meaning of music in these tumultuous unknown times in the music business.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How did you get involved in this project?

Ryan Hurtgen during Perfect Beings session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Ryan Hurtgen during Perfect Beings session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Ryan Hurtgen / Perfect Beings: Johannes had two others guys that he had on a prog rock project that he wanted me to come in and sing on. I said yes but, I never even met those two other guys. They dropped out.  The other two guys that he was going to start the band with dropped out and they couldn’t do it anymore. They had kids so, Johannes was like, “why don’t you and I start our own project?”

TNB: So, you were in from the beginning of this project?

RH: Yeah, we found the other band members through the web and started the band.

TNB: Was the prerequisite that they had to have a feel for doing the prog thing?

RH: Oh yeah. It just happened to be that the drummer, Dicki, who has played with Bruce Dickinson, has a daughter that goes to school with Johannes’s son here in L.A. and they met at a school function and they were talking about it. Johannes said, “why don’t you come jam with us?” Dicki came and we got the concept and so then there were three of us and then he knew Jesse from when he was in another band and he was totally into Prog keyboard things and decided to join the band too. So, we needed a bass player.We tried probably ten bass players and we found Chris Tristram on YouTube playing along to a Yes song and he had like a 100,000 views and it was just sick!  Johannes was like this is the guy that replied to one of our craigslist adds and that is how we found him.

TNB: I noticed that Chris sounds like, right off the bat, half way through the first song “Canyon Hill” like a little bit of Chris Squire.

RH: Exactly. That was exactly the style we were going for and he uses a Rickenbacker bass. So, we were going to go with this other guy just because we had to get the project going and then he contacted us and we were like, sure. Automatically

TNB: A lot of the ideas are like sci-fi but they are real like “Removal of The Indentity Chip.” That is physically something that could happen ten years from now. Did you guys kind of look at it that way?

Perfect Beings cover art. Courtesy of Perfect Beings.

Perfect Beings cover art. Courtesy of Perfect Beings.

RH: It’s based off the 2013 book by Suhail Rafidi, TJ and Tosc that was based on the future and it is fairly possible you know? In twenty years. We understand what is going to happen, you know how globally with the international concern how they use the tool for future ideas. Asia kind of understands this so, things are based on darkness and light and the idea would make it easy for us to communicate through.

TNB: Tell me about some of the other ideas, like “Program Kid” and things like that.

RH: Well, it’s an Opera that revolves around TJ and Tosc. So, it’s a story from the beginning and  I wanted to keep the idea of maybe dying like the portal from life to death.

TNB: Have you guys been gigging out in LA yet or?

RH: We have been opening shows out here.

TNB: Are some of the established bands aware of what you are doing?

RH: Well, we are number one on the Prog Archives. We are definitely getting a lot of really good recognition.

TNB: The thing is it fits that style but it is not a regression to the 70’s, it’s like a modern take on it really.

RH: I think it’s pretty unique, I think there are melodies with production skills, I can break it apart and then build it back up. We didn’t want to make Pop songs. We wanted to make an operatic piece of music.  I almost think that the Rock community needs to get out of the past a little bit and kind of see what is happening in the future and see places in the future. I feel like they’re really stuck in the 70’s like nothing is ever going to get as good as the golden age. You know what I’m saying? Progressive has a lot to offer like Dream Theater

TNB: I think of what like King Crimson did. Twenty years later, they sounded totally different then when they started, in other words, they are always looking at a new approach.

RH:  It’s kind of funny because, we are like mining the past in order to tell a story about the future, but it’s time to be in the present.

TNB: You are one of the most interesting people I have met. I thoroughly enjoy your progression of what you are doing and the different things that you are trying to do.

Dick Fliszar, Drums, Perfect Beings in session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Dick Fliszar, Drums, Perfect Beings in session. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

RH: In this day and age, as far as a label, it’s like everything I’ve done is just like because I was interested in going in a certain direction. Johannes and I have encouraged them to do a drum solo and play just as hard and as fast as you can in a certain section and we are going to embrace the feeling of the day. We are just trying to have fun with it so then let’s make it as complicated as we can, you know. We are not thinking like “we need to have a radio single”. We are thinking, no, we don’t need to have to have a radio single.

TNB: It was the same thing as with Rush on 2112 when they were told by the label that they need something commercial  and they went totally the opposite.

RH: I remember that. It was a different culture back then. It would have been interesting to be a part of, you know. You’d have to dog your manager. I don’t know if that’s smart but, you know, artists really know what they are doing. I mean, the music industry  had these old cigar smoking guys trying to figure out what was going, so they just trusted the artist to know what was popular and what was good so you know, they got a lot of good music out at the time. Nowadays, it’s like the A&R people and the label think they know what people like and they have taken it away from artistic integrity, you know.

TNB: Yes. I think it is even more so with Engineers and Producers because of what you can do with Pro Tools.

RH: Right.

TNB: Imagine if they had “quantized” Exile On Main Street or if they had pitch-corrected Billy Holiday?

RH: Right, yeah totally.

TNB: I saw the clip on you tube about how you guys recorded and I assume you recorded live.

RH: It was a live recording, right. There is no manipulation. We did overdub but…

TNB: I know you have excellent pitch and I don’t know if you tweeked it a little but, if you did, it was a minor change because there is no metallic sheen on your voice other than a special effect on your voice on the one song.

RH: We wanted the effect of a machine so you can hear that effect but, those other songs, I sang those.

TNB:  Any ideas about touring or doing any gigs around California?

RH: We have to get some people involved first. We don’t have any kind of management or booking so everything has just been done by us. All of the recording process. We are doing all of our own booking. We all have jobs. Some of us have jobs that would make it pretty hard to be out on the road right now.

TNB: That can be difficult.

RH: Yeah. I don’t know what is going to happen.  It is going to take some time to make it happen. If it does, it will be mainly in Europe. We are getting a publicist.

TNB: Europe, that would be cool.

RH: I want to play but there are a lot of things that we need to do before we are out there touring.

TNB: All you need is money.

RH:  Why isn’t creativity, why aren’t real artists honored with money now? Why can’t artists make money now with the internet? Information is free and there is a plethora of noise you know.

Photo art courtesy of Perfect Beings.

Photo art courtesy of Perfect Beings.

TNB: It’s a scary thought. One guy is releasing his album on a satellite and Wu Tang Clan is doing only one vinyl pressing and they are going to take it around on tour and then they are going to sell it for a million dollars to recoup their cost. It’s just bizarre. In a perfect world you guys would be on Atlantic Records working with some A&R guy who is into Yes who would be calling every FM radio station to get you guys on the air. There would be stacks of records at Tower Records when the release comes out.

RH: Yeah, totally. You are right. It feels really strange to me because we just released it and like we have just gotten incredible five star reviews around the board. I think it’s a masterpiece of music.

TNB: I think it’s sits with the best symphonic rock albums.

RH: I haven’t gotten any call from any labels. I can’t get people to call me back in the industry. People who have got it and listen to it, have given us incredible praise. I have been doing this music thing for a while now. I haven’t really asked for much, I have recorded on my own, I have toured on my own, I have put out records thinking that at some point I will make something really good and I am going to get better and better and then eventually it is going to be recognized and I am going to have a career.

TNB: The only real way now to make money is selling your music to commercials or like ESPN like this local band MODOC did.

RH: Yeah, this record is a Progressive Science Fiction Rock Opera, like let’s go out and sell a Pepsi.

TNB: It’s right in there with masterpieces like The Wall.

RH: Yeah, our culture needs stuff like that.

TNB: It’s like you have to find satisfaction in what you do for yourself.

RH:  All I can say is as an artist I am going to continue making more music that is more challenging and that is why I wanted to do a Prog Rock project, because it was challenging. I don’t want to play into that mainstream system based around commercialism.

TNB: Hopefully it pays off.  There should be a double gatefold copy of Perfect Beings around.

Jesse Nason, Keyboards, Perfect Beings. During recording of the new album. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

Jesse Nason, Keyboards, Perfect Beings. During recording of the new album. Photo courtesy Perfect Beings.

RH: I guess at this point in life I can say whatever I want and just say who cares. It’s not like I’m mad anymore. It’s almost a shame  because of what’s happening with the internet and illegal down loading, record companies have shut down, but, it’s not just record companies, a bunch  of artists have lost money. A lot of studios have closed down. Not only that, but it is people in hometowns in record stores. There’s no Blockbuster video anymore. There is no local record store. You know, those were jobs for local kids. Those businesses employed local kids in small towns all across America. They worked at a record store and not only did they work at a record store but they perpetuated good music to other kids in that community. There was a place in that community for people to hang out and I think it is interesting that we wrote this record and that is has all of these dystopian concepts in it and yet you see it happening now even with art itself.

TNB: It’s almost like half of the people that buy records now are musicians themselves.

RH: Musicians have become the commodity. Now, photographers and everything, it’s like, now I have a licensing company, pay me so many dollars a month and I’ll pitch your song, but there is no guarantee you’ll get anything. So, it’s like you have predatory music companies that have popped up all around and for good reason because everybody has Garage Band [software] and everybody can make their own record now in their own room with beats and whatever. It’s like, “I made a record and I’m going to be on a TV show.” They will never get a placement but they are paying a $100 per month and these guys are making money off of them. I don’t mean to be all negative. I am happy that we were able to make this record and there are people into this and there is absolutely a lot of beauty in the world.

TNB: We really need a product that is going to save the music business whether it is music or whatever.

Chris Tristram, Perfect Beings during recording session, photo courtesy Perfect Beings

Chris Tristram, Perfect Beings during recording session, photo courtesy Perfect Beings

RH: Well, Neil Young is coming out with PONO now.  The PONO thing is a cool thing and how cool is it that we are getting away from MP3’s? I mean, talk about saving the music industry. It really makes music sound good again. The listening experience is really important to people now and people are really excited about listening to vinyl with really good speakers and having listening parties and shit. Until people change the concept of, “I can listen to this on my iphone!” and just plug it in and have MP3’s then it won’t improve.

TNB: It’s like, I have been collecting a lot of vinyl over the last couple of years. I will pull out Bob Marley and people say it sounds like “full spectrum”. I will do a side-by-side of “Is This Love” on a CD remaster and the original vinyl and you can see the bits of Bob Marley’s voice that are missing on the digital copy.

RH: That’s vinyl, man.

-          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

Catching Up With Everybody

John Hatton backstage at The Mercy Lounge, The Billy Block Show, May 2014 , photo - Brad Hardisty

John Hatton backstage at The Mercy Lounge, The Billy Block Show, May 2014 , photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose was back in town working on her album and returned to The Billy Block Show at Mercy Lounge sounding better than ever. I was caught by surprise when I got a message from her current bassist,Johnny “Spazz” Hatton [Brian Setzer Orchestra] letting me know about the set that night.

Nettie was decked out like a prohibition era June Carter speakeasy chanteuse. John was sharing some of his knowledge on the upright with Billy’s son, Rocky Block who hosted later that night. Speaking of Billy Block, he looks to be recovering very well and was sitting in on the drums midway through the night with another group.

Billy was featured on the cover of Nashville Scene magazine recently behind the drum kit and everybody is happy that he is doing well.

John Oates, Record Store Day 2014, Grimey's, photo - Brad Hardisty

John Oates, Record Store Day 2014, Grimey’s, photo – Brad Hardisty

Record Store Day was another great success this year with the Groove featuring Nikki Lane who brought several copies of her new album on vinyl to be available only at The Groove until the official drop date several weeks later. The New West label vinyl sounded great and features local picker Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart) and Dave Roe (Johnny Cash) on bass. The album was recorded with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) at the helm really is a local Nashville tour-de-force.

photo courtesy of Ryan Hurtgen

photo courtesy of Ryan Hurtgen

More photos and stories from Record Store Day will be forthcoming as well as an extended interview with Ryan Hurtgen [former band Rene Breton during his Nashville days] and his new project out in California called Perfect Beings. The new recording done almost completely live sounds close to a modern take on 70’s prog like Yes, Gentle Giant and early Genesis. It has already been touted as the “Prog Rock Album of The Year” in some reviews.

Franklin, Tennessee is set for an extended Americana Music Festival dubbed the Americana Experience beginning on May 22nd and running for ten days! The Franklin Theater has featured several artists known for the genre such as Darrell Scott over the last couple of years.

There are so many events that have developed in the local area that Nashville Scene dedicated a month to month guide is this current week’s issue to help plan the summer months festivities.

On the short list, CMA Fest and Bonnaroo coming up next month followed by East Nashville’s Hot Chicken Festival on the 4th of July and the Tomato Festival not too long after that.

Uncle Dave Macon Days 2013 photo 1, photo - Brad Hardisty

Uncle Dave Macon Days 2013 photo 1, photo – Brad Hardisty

Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro is one of the best old time music festivals and competition in the country and features some great jams in the park July 11th-13th.

NAMM returns in July with KISS and Def Leppard playing the Bridgestone Arena on opening night.

I just got my second magazine cover with Performer Magazine in April that featured an interview with Atlanta’s Black Lips that was supposed to be about the new album production but ended up being about their recent tour of the Middle East that was made into an Indie film and seemed to be a mind blowing experience all these months later.

Tristan Dunn, jamming with The Tim Boykin Blues Band, Birmingham, AL, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tristan Dunn, jamming with The Tim Boykin Blues Band, Birmingham, AL, photo – Brad Hardisty

Birmingham utility musician and vocalist Tristan Dunn is staying under my roof for the month of May and jamming on blues harp and vocals with just about every band on Lower Broad as well as Printer’s Alley. Tristan is gigging with current American Idol alumnus Casey Thrasher in Tuscaloosa, Alabama tonight.

Outside commitments are keeping me busy and spread a little thin lately but I will get some things up real soon! It’s always a good day to buy a vintage tube amp or

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom


Alex Levine on The Kinks, New York Mayor Ed Koch and Underdogs

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos are clever without being cheeky, sincere without being preachy, self-aware but never too in on their own joke. Still, their most endearing trait is a simple one: They make murderously catchy, endorphin-boosting, shout-along guitar music with vigor and zeal. – Pitchfork, Zach Kelly

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos wear New York on their sleeves as a band of brothers that have been playing together since they were Wee Brooklyn Lads, taking in the sights and sounds of Nirvana and the social angst of the 90’s as well as The Beastie Boys and mixing it with New York’s best punk pioneers, The Dictators, The Ramones with the interweaving guitar techniques of Television and put them in a modern context of socially conscious East Coast Kinks with Hip Hop lyrics.

Ryan Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Ryan Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

While at The End this past Monday night, Alex made the comment that they thought about moving to Nashville. Nashville has changed and The So So Glos would bring a different slice of pie to Music City. Alex is not only busy with the band but with Adam Reich and Shea Stadium Studio in New York.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Tell me what is going on at Shea Stadium.

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

Alex Levine / The So So Glos: Every band that comes through Shea Stadium is documented and they are recorded by our Producer, Adam Reich who records all the bands and puts them up  at Live at Shea Stadium and archives them all.

TNB: Is it similar to the video you had that you did on KEXP Seattle that I saw on YouTube?

Adam Reich, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Adam Reich, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

AL: Yeah, yeah, it’s like that but, it’s just that all the bands at Shea are up there. You can look at full sets.

TNB: My favorite cut was “Diss Town.” I don’t think you have released that as a single.

Zach Staggers, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Zach Staggers, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

AL: It’s going to be the next single. I think.

TNB: I do like the video of “Son Of An American.” I guess that kinda shows you guys growing up playing instruments and all that kind of stuff, right?

AL: Yeah, that’s the way we started. We’ve been together for a while.

TNB: Yeah, you and your brother Ryan and I guess Zach ended up being your step-brother right?

AL: That’s how it all came together. It’s kind of the story of the band in the early stages.

TNB: As far as the sound, I was going to ask you how much Punk rock is around in New York or Brooklyn anymore? Is there a scene?

AL: We started the band about six years ago and we were definitely not in fashion or in style.  We were caught up in a lot of the Art scene and a lot of music shit parties and we were kind of always outcasts. There was noise rock or really hip shit. So, we kind of got into the DIY scene in Brooklyn and we helped  expand it. It seems like every day I see a new Punk band come out so I guess we were ahead of the times? I don’t know what to say about that.

TNB: Well to me, you are kind of a bridge because, obviously you have newer influences but, when you think of the original Punk that started in New York, I can hear that in your music  like The Dictators and a little bit of Television with the interactive guitar work that you guys do.

AL: Yeah, yeah totally.

TNB: I mean do you guys feel you are flying the flag for New York in a way?

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

AL: In some way. I think the mentality of all punkers is not necessarily what genre you play but, the energy and we are bringing a lot of different styles to the table. We’ve got Hip Hop. I don’t know if you hear that but, a lot of my lyrics are influenced a lot by Hip Hop. We are at the stage in music where  it kinda goes and it is just all mixed up in the Pop. But, the energy is Punk Rock. You know, pushing it a little bit toward the future. It is such a community between Rock and Roll and Punk Rock.  When it comes to music, I think we try to focus on a lot of different styles and there has been a lot of different kinds of music that we have been into from Motown to Country and Hip Hop as well as Punk Rock and Rock and Roll.

TNB: It is really upbeat stuff.

AL: Yeah.

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: When Punk Rock started out, it wasn’t all like bands like Fear and stuff. There were all different kinds of styles. Dictators were kind of cornball and they were having a good time.

AL: Yeah, my favorite stuff that they did was when they had those bittersweet undertones, you know.     The Kinks pulled that off a lot, like heavy social commentary and yet it was very poppy and happy in a big way but the subject is this really dark topic. I always like a bittersweet marriage between darkness and lightness, a walk on that thin line.

TNB: I think that is a good comparison with The Kinks. You guys name check a lot of things that put you where your band is from.

AL: Yeah.

Ryan Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Ryan Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB:  The Kinks talked about socio-economic things in a fun way about where they were from.

AL: Totally. I don’t think there are too many bands that talk about what they see nowadays for better or for worse, you know. They are always trying to do something simple. I think it is in our personalities to talk about it.

TNB:  I’ll tell you, starting your video off with Mayor Koch really cracked me up.

AL: Ha ha!

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: It was like how did you find that? How did you get permission? It was just hilarious.

AL: It was The Beastie Boys style that got us to think about using it.

TNB: Yeah, the video kind of reminded me of like a Beastie Boys video thing.

AL: Ed Koch, you know, kind of represented the whole of what New York is all about. In New York, you have such a perpetual underdog. We kind of see ourselves as underdogs in the whole music game because, you know, we don’t really have that much of a gimmick. We are what we are. We are not trying to sell much. We are just trying to live with the truth. A big deal to us is being underdogs.

TNB: When I looked at you guys you have this sense of dressing like uptown Beastie Boys but, also kind of like Television, where Television really didn’t have a look after Richard Hell left. They were just a band from New York and this is what we do.

AL: Yeah.

TNB: Anything coming up?

AL: Nothing really, just happy being back in Nashville and having a fun time.

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

-          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

The Tony Gerber Interview

debbie bond cbb_soulshiningcdcov_med_hr-2The Cotton Blossom Band sets a new bar in uncharted waters by mixing true Space Music with old time tunes and Hill Country Blues lead by Tony Gerber, Nashville’s true Space music pioneer for three decades and Mason Stevens whose ability on anything with strings lends to the crossover technique that demands everything from cigar box guitar to electric guitar with multiple effects.

The two are joined by Michael Doster who played bass for B.B. King for over fifteen years on upright bass as well as Roy “Futureman” Wooten [ of Flecktones fame] on acoustic and electric percussion.

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

An interview with Tony Gerber can go in any direction since he has proven to be the Renaissance man of Nashville’s music underground. You may not have even known that Nashville has its own Space Music epicenter but Gerber’s Space for Music project began in 1985 as a listening group following the weekly radio broadcast of Music From the Hearts of Space. The space music genre was just beginning to take shape, influenced by the groundbreaking ambient works of Brian Eno, Krautrockers like Kraftwerk, and electronic artists like Cluster.

As a member of the trailblazing electronic music band SPACECRAFT, owner of the Internet-based Space for Music record label and most recently as his premier Second Life music mogul, Cypress Rosewood, Gerber has helped popularize space music across the United States, Canada, Europe and far reaches of the globe through his prolific musical releases and hundreds of live internet broadcast concerts online and into the virtual world platform.

The Cotton Blossom Band is keeping busy since their first release came out this year. Upcoming events include a taped performance on March 16th at The Old Time Pickin’ Parlor followed by a performance at Noteable Blends on March 21st.

Brad Hardisty/ The Nashville Bridge: What was the genesis of starting the Cotton Blossom Band?

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

Tony Gerber / the Cotton Blossom Band: It was almost like there were a couple because there’s a radio show here in town, The Mando Blues Show.  When Whit Hubner started Mando Blues, it happened to be real close to where I live. I’ve known him for almost thirty years, so he is almost kind of like family. He asked me in the very beginning when he started the show, “You ought to come up with something so you can play on the show.” This was after we [Nashville] had flooded out from the 2010 flood so I am kind of like, Wow! I can actually play blues with that real life event but the truth of the matter is when I was about seven or eight years old, I started guitar with the fingerpicking styles of Leadbelly and stuff like that.

TNB: So, you started out on guitar and with early blues music?

Mason Stevens, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Mason Stevens, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG: I was attracted to that kind of old style blues, but over the years I have just been doing electronic music. I was pretty excited by the idea of putting together a blues project.  The first incarnation was actually with my good friend Doug Dillard from The Andy Griffith Show [The Darlings] and the real life Dillards and Tom Shinness who plays here in town and so the three of us originally played as a trio on the Mando Blues Show without any official name. At the end of year, I believe, Mason Stevens, who plays diddly bow and guitar in The Cotton Blossom Band got together with me. We’ve known each other since about 1986 and we have been playing together and staying in contact all these years. I really love his guitar playing, so we got together and just kinda tested out this new recording setup that I had.  I had my synthesizer and I had my Native American Flute in my hand and I just started singing an R.L. Burnside song called “Jumper on The Line.” When I did that, we stopped and looked at each other and got real excited about what we had just done and we said you know that really had a hybrid sound that was real exciting. We ended up starting the band as a result of doing that song. Mixing the synthesizers with the flutes, voice  was the actually the genesis point doing “Delta Space Blues.”

TNB: So R.L. Burnside has a hand in this new interstellar form of the blues?

Michael Doster, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Michael Doster, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG: That song is the signature part of what the sound is, but to take it one step further, during our concerts and on our album we kind of start out acoustic and we get a little more spacey as the concert goes with a mix of space blues/space jazz. You know it takes people into a little different realm and then we bring them back at the end with a couple of songs that are more space blues that we wrote.

TNB: What got you interested in Space Music?

Roy "Futureman" Wooten, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Roy “Futureman” Wooten, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG: I built a synthesizer when I was about fourteen years old and recorded sound on sound. The problem with Space Music is people just don’t know about it. There has never been like a real popular group other than maybe The Grateful Dead who had their own space out sessions.  Lots of times people comment that it reminds them of that a little but nobody has really brought Space Music into the forefront.

TNB: How does that tie into The Cotton Blossom Band project?

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG: One of the by-products of The Cotton Blossom Band is to introduce people to what Space Music or Ambient music is. So, that is exciting to me on a couple of levels you know.

TNB: One of the things that I noticed that really hit me was the Burnside song “Jumper On The Line” because of conversations I have had with Mississippi Blues musicians. They talk about where exactly the blues comes from; obviously the 7ths, well that comes from Egyptian music going back to Egypt. Also, the progression of how the blues feels.  A lot of them talk about their ancestors being scared because the Native Americans would be chanting and they played drums, of course. Black Americans played their drums hidden out in the Grove or whatever. They said that Indians actually scared them because of the Indian chants and that was also part of the blues and how it felt. When I heard you on the Native American flute, I thought of Othar Turner and the fife and drum African stuff. Did you think of that Native American aspect?

Michael Doster, Futureman,The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Michael Doster, Futureman,The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG: To be honest with you, no I didn’t because at that moment that we did that I had been playing Native American Flute, heavily, for the last twelve years or so. It is a natural thing for me to blend it in. They are pentatonic instruments so when you play the blues on the Native American Flute it is very natural.  I have studied a lot about Black Native Americans and it’s really a complicated “Pandora’s Box” that we are opening up surrounding that stuff. I mean a lot of people were going back and forth and Native Americans were going over to Africa and Vikings came up here and were picking up Native American women and going back over there to where you have Nordic roots music that sounds like Native American music. You’ve got teepees and different dwellings on the West Coast of Africa. People were travelling back and forth and sharing music for a long time.

TNB: Nobody knows where it all starts because even in Mississippi they have pyramid mound cities all up and down along the Mississippi and they don’t know who those people were.

Michael Doster, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Michael Doster, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG: Last year, I was with the Washitaw tribe. The Washitaw tribe goes back to ancient America like 4000 years ago. The mound dwellers, just like you said they were the mound builders.  The Washitaw were a very dark skinned tribe and they pretty much had the Louisiana Purchase. That was their land. You can look at old maps and you can see the name Washitaw. It shows up all over the place: mountains and rivers and all kinds of stuff. There are mountains that have been called that for who knows how long, you know I mean?  It’s an interesting kind of thing to think about for me, I guess, partly to because I am a mix. I am a true American. I am a mixed bag. I’m part Native American, there may even be some African American, I don’t know about the genetics thing but it is interesting how some of the music comes out. For me, I have just had this inner pulse thing that music, someone said I had, well you definitely have some African in you. I know that I am part Native American but it would ring true if how I feel music and how I am able to express it. 

TNB: The Cotton Blossom Band is a real change up for you.

Mason Stevens, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Mason Stevens, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG: The first album is Soulshining. We are trying to decide how to even release it or what to do with it. I mean it is not even officially out there yet because we are trying to decide if we want a label or how we are going to treat it, so before we do a blast of sending it out to radio stations and stuff, we want to make sure it is aggregated out there so people can buy it when they hear it. The Soulshining album is the first album that I have replicated and put out that has me singing on it.

TNB: Really.

Futureman, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

Futureman, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG:  I started singing on the radio at nine years old. I have been writing music all these years but I have never really went that route with the music. There have been a couple of projects that I did where we have the masters but they have never been released.  I have heard the “man’s” voice being optimum in your Fifties. I feel that, so I am enjoying using my voice and singing some of these songs that have been with me like “One Meat Ball” or “Summertime,” Some of these songs have been with me since I was nine, ten, eleven years old. The covers songs we did were kind interpretations that have been inside of me for all those years and now coming out to where I can see a passion.

TNB: You worked with Mason before and he also plays with some Delta musicians. Michael Doster worked with BB King so he has a solid blues background and then of course Roy “Futureman” Wooten who does about anything. How did you decide who to work with?

The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Brad Hardisty

The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

TG: Ok, well Mason and I started working together first and we did a few rehearsals and kind of came up with a few songs. We wrote a couple, two or three songs and worked up some arrangements on some of these others. I think I had posted something about that work on Facebook. I posted a song or things I was just working on, some blues pieces and Michael Doster commented on it and was really interested. When I talked about The Cotton Blossom Band he kept commenting and of course, I live on Cotton Blossom so that is where our name comes from because we rehearse here and that is where it was conceived.

TNB: Did you play with Michael Doster before?

TG:  Doster and I played together on a blues project called Aashid Himons’ Mountain Soul Band so I had known him since the late 80’s.

TNB: When does Roy “Futureman” Wooten come into the picture?

The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Steven Wilson

The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Steven Wilson

TG: I have known “Futureman” for a long time as well. When we originally conceived the project, I said we need to have a Cajon player in this project. It wasn’t till a year after, when we did a couple of gigs and stuff that I just kind of re-acquainted with Roy. We had a lot of weird stuff happen anyway and we just started to do stuff together. He would come over to my house and we would do Space Music together. Since The Flecktones have broken up, he has had a lot more time to do other projects. I did a black history month project for him.  I did a recording of his last broadcast for the virtual world and the recording turned out absolutely phenomenal. We recorded on this system that I am using based around an iPad and Presonus Mic pres and Auria. When I am onstage, I am actually mixing and multi tracking while I am doing all this stuff.   I have just been blown away by all the stuff that we record so I am just going to keep on doing it.

TNB: Roy could have overplayed, but it was like he tapped into what you are trying to do and he fit it right in there.

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Patrick Sheehan

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Patrick Sheehan

TG: Absolutely. Well, part of it is the simplicity of the Cajon. I mean he added a cymbal which he didn’t have the last time we did the show and of course the Wave Drum.

TNB: Are you going to add anybody else into the mix?

Tony Gerber and Futureman, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Patrick Sheehan

Tony Gerber and Futureman, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Patrick Sheehan

TG:  I am hoping that an old friend of mine Billy Robinson who is a lap steel player who played with Hank Williams back in the 40’s and 50’s and has been playing with Chris Scruggs will be with us for a gig or two starting with The Old Time Pickin’ Parlor on March 16th.

TNB: Any International plans?

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo - Patrick Sheehan

Tony Gerber, The Cotton Blossom Band, photo – Patrick Sheehan

TG:  I would like to take the group to Europe but it has to financially work for everybody because everybody is working and doing their own thing. I know that they would really dig it over there because Europe is into my electronic music more than in the United States and they love the Blues.

-          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

The Joel  Schneider Interview

My Goodness, photo - Jason Tang

My Goodness, photo – Jason Tang

The Seattle duo My Goodness , Joel Schneider and percussionist Andy Lum, make their first appearance in Nashville at The High Watt on February 23rd with Augustines in tow and a bass player!

My Goodness recently recorded a cover of Seattle’s early garage rock pioneers, The Sonics, “In The Sun” while on a tour stop in San Diego and had the event pressed to vinyl in time for fans during this cross country jaunt that brings the band through Texas before ending up in Tennessee.

While the band had been to SXSW in the past, they never made it to Nashville until now.  Joel Schneider took a few minutes with The Nashville Bridge to talk about the bands roots in Seattle and the opportunity to spend some time here in Nashville.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Is this the first time in Nashville?

Joel Schneider / My Goodness: It will be. Yeah.

TNB: You will like the High Watt.

My Goodness, photo - Hayley Young

My Goodness, photo – Hayley Young

JS: Nashville is actually one of the places I am looking forward to be playing at on this tour.  When we looked at a map the first time, I said I really want to play Nashville and then also I would like to go to Montreal. Those are the two places I can’t wait to play.

TNB: If I’m right, you have about 25 dates scheduled this tour?

JS: We had 30, but now we have 29 because we had to cancel Salt Lake City.

TNB: Cancelled! That sucks because even Salt Lake City is starting to have a little bit of a scene.

JS: Yeah.

TNB:  The thing that interested me when I was hearing your music is that it was not like  what some of the other two man bands are doing, I mean I hear a little bit of Jeff Buckley, a little bit of Blue Cheer. Can you kind of define what you are after?

JS: Something came up about Jeff Buckley before. I actually write the majority of songs on acoustic guitar at home. They kind of start off as more mellow tunes usually and then once I take them into practice and, you know, this whole band setting definitely changes things. We get a lot more heavy.  We add parts and what not.  I started playing back in high school. Andy [Lum] and I were really big into the all ages hard core scene, so we kind of have a background in pretty heavy music. A little later on, I got into a lot of soul and blues music and stuff like that. A lot of my writing is kind of a mash-up of the two and whenever I start writing at home it’s a different technique, but with the band it starts to get pretty heavy.

TNB: Are you out of the Seattle Hard Core scene or did you start somewhere before that?

JS: We started in Seattle. I started when I was a teenager and that was what the particular scene was at the time. We are definitely out of Seattle.  We have played together for a couple years now.

TNB: What’s it like in Seattle now?

JS: It’s pretty eclectic.  There are a lot of different little communities there. You can be between scenes which is what I like. You can be in a folk band and can still be friends with a heavy band. You can still support each other, which is really cool. There have been a lot of scenes that have come out of the city, but there has also been kind of a heavy scene that is starting to come up and there is a record label which just started up a year or so ago. They are really giving an outlet for heavier bands that have been around for a while to get the recognition that they are getting now, which is really cool, but, there is definitely a variety music in Seattle.

TNB: We kind of have our own collection of two man bands here, like Jack White moved here a few years ago and The Black Keys followed a couple of years ago and we have had Jeff The Brotherhood around for I think probably 6 or 8 years.

JS: Yeah.

TNB: Do you know any of those guys?

JS: No. As bands for sure, but, I have never met any of them. We already have met a lot of people on this tour. Our good friend Cody [Votolato] is playing bass with us. He is gone for a few dates so we are playing as a two piece for a few dates and then he will meet up with us. He will be with us in Nashville.   I think the addition of bass playing has added a lot to what we do.

TNB: Does Cody normally play in another band?

JS: He was playing in a band called The Blood Brothers for a long time. They are out of Seattle. He has been on tour with a couple of other bands, Telekinesis and Old Cave. He is just a really accomplished musician and he helps out a lot. He was our first choice and we are just lucky that he said yes.

TNB: What do you find is the biggest challenge of doing a cross country club gig tour as opposed to a regional tour?

JS: Just being away from home, bro! It’s definitely the longest I have been away. It will be almost two months since I have been home and we have girls back home so, just keepin’ that going, it gets a little tough but we are making it work.  I am having a good time trying to keep it light, you know?

TNB: Are you doing any in-stores while you are here?

JS: In Nashville, I am not a 100% sure, I’ll have to look. I can always check on that for you.

TNB: I saw you pressed a vinyl seven inch about the time you hit L.A.?

JS:  We came down and played a few dates last winter and there was a studio [Lost Ark Studio]in San Diego that invited us in to do a song for their singles compilation. We decided to do a Sonics cover and they decided they wanted to press us 500 copies of the song and they had us do a second song too. We just picked up the vinyl copies two days ago. It was really, really nice of them. They didn’t charge us or anything.  They sound great.

TNB: Hopefully you will still have some of them when you get to Nashville.

JS: They gave us a lot more than I expected them to give us so we should have some of them for sure.

TNB: Are you doing this around the same time as SXSW or are you going to come back?

JS: We played SXSW the last couple of years, but we are going to be in Austin a week or two before so we are going to miss it. We just signed to Votiv Records. If there is not a reason for us to go, I’d rather not.  It’s pretty chaotic, you know, down there. We went for a couple of years and it’s always a good time. It always feels a little stressful.

TNB: What are you looking forward to the most when you come out here?

JS: I think we have a day off after the day we play, so I just want to walk around Nashville a little bit. I hear the music scene around Nashville is amazing.  I want to check out a couple of clubs and listen to a little music.

TNB: There is definitely a lot of clubs here now. One of the most interesting things is over at Third Man Records they have an antique restored make your own record booth. And it’s from the 1940’s and Jack White restored it. It sounds like a 78 when you record on it. It looks like a telephone booth.

JS: Oh wow.

TNB:  Neil Young just got threw recording an entire album in there. You can walk in there and for $15 you can press straight to vinyl in the booth. If you have an acoustic guitar or something you might want to try that while you are here.

JS: That would be awesome.  It sounds really cool.

TNB: I hope you have a good time and looking forward to the show.

JS: Thank you.

-          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

The Luke Foley Interview

Luke Foley / Farewell Flight at The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley / Farewell Flight at The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Farewell Flight showcased new music off I Was A Ghost to a packed house at The High Watt last Thursday night with a strong bill that featured The Joy of Painting and Lorien marking the first release after reaching a decade as a band with a March drop date.

Farewell Flight at The High Watt, Feb. 2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Farewell Flight at The High Watt, Feb. 2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley, looking like a happier version of Jim Morrison’s “LA Woman” final Doors sessions era poet,  has developed into a full fledge Songwriter / Performer veteran that was at ease and ready to express fresh autobiographical lyrics about his “Quarter Life Crisis” that make up the new release.

farewell flight i was a ghostCITGO has featured the song “Places We’ll Go” from I Was A Ghost in their recent “Fueling Good” national ad campaign and Farewell Flight has become a favorite on Lightning 100 since moving from Pennsylvania to Nashville over two years ago.

Rabbit Campbell, Farewell Flight at The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Rabbit Campbell, Farewell Flight at The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

The band is now built solidly around the core of Luke Foley as well as Caleb Allensworth [drums, samples] and “Rabbit” Campbell  on lead guitar in much the same way Genesis became and ”then there were three” after Peter Gabriel’s departure.

Before the show, The Nashville Bridge spoke with Luke Foley about overcoming the anxiety of being an independent band with the realization of how strong their core fan base is after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: The lyrics seem like a mini storytelling Opera about events you have gone through. Is it really personal?

Luke Foley - Farewell Flight, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley – Farewell Flight, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley / Farewell Flight: Yeah I think it is. The stories pretty much stretch over the last three years, but also are reflecting on the previous ten.  So, it’s  very nostalgic in a sense since it is about me for the last few years, but it’s about myself for a good ten years leading up to that moment.

TNB: Two themes I really like are from “Breaking My Heart” where it talks about being 25 and “Quarter Life Crisis” which is a term I have never heard before. Also, “I Was A Ghost” where you are looking into the past then changes pulls you into the present.

Luke Foley, Farewell Flight at The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley, Farewell Flight at The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke:  I think everything, every person you meet is for a season and sometimes a season is for a really long time perhaps it is for your whole life. I think that even though you have people that come into your life for a short period, you can become incredibly close to people in that short period of time. It’s still in the natural and normal progression for them to move out of your life.  People end up kind of doing it eventually and that song is about that, no matter how natural and normal it is, it is hard to do.

TNB: As far as the recording congratulations because Farewell Flight has been together for over ten years now.

Farewell Flight, The High Watt, Nashville, TN, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Farewell Flight, The High Watt, Nashville, TN, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke: It’s been quite a while. I was actually looking it up last night because I was trying to remember how long we have been a band like when was the first show or something.  But, I think 2003 is a ballpark. That would be my best guess.

TNB: I know you guys have gone through a lot of personnel changes. How long with have you worked with the two other members of the current lineup?

Caleb Allensworth series of 3, Farewell Flight, The High Watt, photos - Brad Hardisty

Caleb Allensworth series of 3, Farewell Flight, The High Watt, photos – Brad Hardisty

farewell flight 02201412farewell flight 02201411Luke:  My guitarist, “Rabbit” Campbell has been with me since the end of 2008, I think. My drummer, Caleb Allensworth currently started with me at the end of 2011 and we are currently a three piece. We just parted ways with our bassist who was willing to come back when my drummer did in 2011-2012. He still lives here in Nashville. He is actually a roommate of the other two guys in the band. He wanted to do some different stuff.

TNB: I know you had been with Mono vs Stereo, but I guess there were financial problems and they got around to releasing your album in 2011. This time around you are Independent and financed this album with a Kickstarter campaign. Was that kind of a gut wrenching thing, realizing that you are going to have to do it on your own?

Luke Foley, Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley, Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke: I had really mixed feelings. So, yeah, Kickstarter… you know it was really hard and really easy to do at the same time.  We signed with Mono vs Stereo actually twice. We signed with them once and then the guy that ran the label, that signed us, left the label and we were left without a champion there and it gave us the option of: if you want to leave you can and so we decided to leave and then we were independent for a while. Then, the label was revived by these two guys. They really wanted to sign us, but they wanted to release an old record which we kind of fought against for a while, but I don’t know, we rolled the dice. We thought it would be a lot better having a connection with them, but it ended up turning out to be, you know, they are great guys, but it probably was not a great fit. So, once we left that label we went back to square one, although we are not just a band that just formed yesterday. We don’t have a record label, but at the same time it’s freeing to know that after six months [there was four months of planning and then executing Kickstarter] you don’t have other people involved and you are just able to do it all on your own timeline. It’s just really freeing and we really enjoyed doing that. It felt we were back to square one, but we really weren’t because over the years we have toured so much and we really had a great network of friends and fans that were able to get behind us and really help make the record happen. It is amazing to see how many people are still interested in what we are doing after all this time. It’s very humbling.

TNB: I remember when Mono vs Stereo wanted to change your name to Indian Summer and your fans fought it. That showed me that you had a strong base so that later on when you did this Kickstarter campaign you had somewhere to start.

Farewell Flight, The High Watt, Nashville, TN, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Farewell Flight, The High Watt, Nashville, TN, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke: Yeah, It’s definitely been very good. It’s cool. We don’t have a ton of fans, but our fans are very loyal and very fierce.  I think they really love what we do. I think it is because the music really connects with them on a very personal level. I think a lot of our fans relate to a lot of things that I have experienced. It’s like biographical tools for the people that listen to it. A lot of people have kind of adopted it as their own, kind of like, music for a movie. It’s like a score for their own personal life. I think that most people that listen to it kind of have that experience. I think that is why people are so fiercely loyal about our band even if there are not a whole lot of them.

TNB: “Places We’ll Go,” that reminds me of a Farewell Flight song, but you also took a lot of chances on this album.

Rabbit Campbell / Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Rabbit Campbell / Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke: Yeah, I think one of the biggest influences for me was the movie Drive.  I just love that movie and the soundtrack and then listening to a lot more “late 80’s” and “early 90’s” pop hits: the stuff I listened to when I was growing up. I didn’t know who the artists were. I just listened to the songs and I was just a little kid. There are songs by Phil Collins and Cyndi Lauper, even Springsteen stuff, you know, when you are growing up that you hear, but you don’t know who the people are. The songs are like a soundtrack to your life when you are little and so I think in keeping with the whole nostalgic thing, I think I was listening to the songs of my childhood and just a lot of that kind of music. I think that has a big play in what we do. I really wanted to lean heavily on synths and keyboards and drum machines on this record. I think that my own path is actually very acoustic stuff, so it‘s very hard. It was very difficult to get the emotion and the passion of what I was trying to say or get across with this new record. I think we accomplished trying to just get that rawness across.

TNB: It kind of has a little Prog or complexity in some of the songs.

Luke Foley - Farewell Flight,  The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley – Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke: Yeah.

TNB:  You relocated to Nashville in 2012. What brought you to Nashville?

Luke Foley, Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley, Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke:  I wanted to try something new. We toured for a good seven or eight years and we never had a booking agent. We did around 800 shows or something like that, completely independent and we always thought that was what was going to get us to the next level. It’s always a tough picture. We were working really hard, but it didn’t vacillate into anything happening.  I just kind of viewed that as “I can’t just keeping doing this over and over and expect different results to occur.” I was losing my mind. I had tried everything I could possibly do. What could I do differently? I thought; we have never tried relocating to a new area.  I made connections and built relationships, kind of like, you know, being in the right place at the right time or at least being in the right place all the time. That was our goal in moving to Nashville and I think it is already paying off. I think that a lot of the friendships and relationships that we are building have been very comfortable and helpful to our career.   A couple of things have happened here. I got our first placement on the CITGO ad. I got it from a person that I waited table on.  She just asked me what I was doing further than just living in Nashville. She was like, “So what are you doing here in Nashville other than wait tables?” and I said I write songs and play in band and stuff and she said, “send me your best track.” So I sent her “Places We’ll Go” and she placed it in a CITGO commercial. That doesn’t happen every day and I don’t really bring stuff up like that as a waiter like, oh well, I have a band check me out, you know, but I think that could never happen anywhere else except maybe L.A. or  New York maybe Seattle or Austin, but that never would have happened back in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The move was just to make connections with people.

Caleb Allensworth - Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Caleb Allensworth – Farewell Flight, The High Watt, 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: You are right. The thing that is interesting is Nashville is evolving into where some of the things that would happen in L.A. or Seattle are starting to happen here.  You came at a good time.

Luke Foley, Farewell Flight, The High Watt, Nashville, TN 2/6/2014, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luke Foley, Farewell Flight, The High Watt, Nashville, TN 2/6/2014, photo – Brad Hardisty

Luke: I am very glad to be here. It is such a cool place to live even if you are not doing music. My wife is not a musician, she is an artist and there are so many creative opportunities here for someone like her or anybody who does something creative. It is a very creative place to be and I am happy to be living in Nashville.

Farewell Flight, photo - Brad Hardisty

Farewell Flight, photo – Brad Hardisty

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

rhonda vincent only meRhonda Vincent decided to make it easy on all her fans by releasing a Double EP package entitled Only Me available on Upper Management Music toward the end of January with one disc of Bluegrass and another Country separated like The Hatfields and McCoys in different pews in the same church on a Sunday morning with more in common than they want to lay claim on.

Rhonda’s voice is strong and clear throughout the two discs that not only separates genres, but were recorded also with two different lineups showing contrast between fiddlers Hunter Berry on the acoustic filled Bluegrass set and Tim Crouch on the Trad – Country with a twist of the best of Texas approach to disc two.

Willie Nelson shares vocal duties as well as trading licks on the break with his old Martin on the title track, “Only Me” well into the middle of the Bluegrass CD.

photo courtesy Webster PR

photo courtesy Webster PR

Rhonda shows her ability to take different approaches on different songs with some strong George Jones meets Patsy Cline torch meter over the slow rockin’ “I Need Somebody Bad Tonight” which could have easily fit on the Country side with a little more bass, drums and some steel guitar.

The second duet comes after with Daryle Singletary and Rhonda on “We Must Have Been out Of Our Minds” again showing that Bluegrass and Country are just a stones’ throw apart with more than enough Blues and Country on the Bluegrass side of the fence.

photo courtesy Webster PR

photo courtesy Webster PR

While the Bluegrass disc does not disappoint, the Country disc seems to be the stronger cousin of the two with an all-star lineup that also features a prominent Mike Johnson on steel guitar sharing space with Catherine Marx and Michael Rojas on piano giving a nice bed for fiddler Tim Crouch and Mike Johnson to spar over. The Country disc is all about fiddle and steel.

This is definitely not AC/DC or Fleetwood Mac inspired Country that instead has a feel of an RCA Studio B Session of maybe the mid 60’s or early 70’s underscore going on. Fans of traditional Country are the big winners here especially on track two, “Once A Day” with a driving Buck Owens country rockin’ swing that features Gospel Quartet inspired back-up vocals supporting Rhonda on what would be the radio track on this set.

There is plenty of weeping steel guitar and strong vocals on “Teardrops Over You” and “Beneath Still Waters” that would fill up quarters in a jukebox alongside “Behind Closed Doors” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” and reminds one how cool brown naugahyde and low amber lights are with a glowing Seeburg jukebox by the back door that keeps playing music until morning comes.

The biggest jam takes place on the Bob Wills Texas Swing Honky Tonk flavored “Bright Lights & Country Music” with a lead- in fiddle fill sojourning into some jazzy guitar licks by James Mitchell before  the fiddle and steel shiver some notes together. A whole CD could have been built around this song.

Rhonda slows it down on “When The Grass Grows Over Me” before throwing on some more Bob Wills inspired fiddle and jazz guitar licks while Rhonda takes off with “I’m just drivin’ nails in my coffin, drivin’ those nails over you.”

This collection could have been divided by “ready-to-cut-a-rug” dance tunes and then a CD of tear jerkers which would have worked as a disc to wake up to in the morning or for dancin’ boots down at Robert’s and another for when the lights are low and the feel of melancholy has set in.

photo courtesy Webster PR

photo courtesy Webster PR

Rhonda proves that she didn’t have to decide on one or the other genre as her voice soars and ebbs and flows through brilliant dynamics but the backing band on the Country CD leaves one wanting more Time Jumpers style outings. One can only hope that when it comes time to cut it up live they get the chance.

The strongest cuts prove to be the jam filled “Once A Day,” “Bright Lights & Country Music” and “Drivin’ Nails” where Rhonda just cuts loose with a hot band.

Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom


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