Archives for the year of: 2011

My endorsement shot for Violet Moon Guitar Strap Ons

In Nashville, there is so much music press; it’s hard to know what people really like to read about. In having my own site, I’ve noticed I get readers from all over the world. I do get to write for other publications, such as Performer, Shake and Sleaze Roxx, but, on my own site, many times I just get to write what is on my mind.

Here are a few of the top articles this year, if you didn’t get a chance to read what others are reading.

Parrish with sister Stacy

I felt it was really up to me to write the tribute piece about guitarist Parrish Hultquist. The Utah rock scene, although very insular, had a lot of local bands in the 80’s. I met Parrish while we were still in high school and he is still considered the greatest guitarist to ever come out of that state. I not only wrote this piece for my site, but, another one that went out to Sleaze Roxx and was republished throughout the world on several Rock music sites including Hungary. His band Megattack, at the time was considered a supergroup by creating a band from members of The Jack, Mannequin and other well know Utah rock groups, their first shows were at the Utah Fairgrounds with capacity crowds of close to two thousand people before signing a record deal and releasing Raw Delivery on Dream Records in France. They got together for a reunion album Save The Nations in 2006 and two reunion shows before drummer Brian Sorenson went into a coma and Parrish returned to Spokane with health issues, which eventually took his life early this year.

The radio show on PureRockRadio.net in tribute to Parrish after his death was the biggest in Pure Rock Radio based out of Las Vegas, Nevada history. I was able to get in contact with former band members, who reminisced, while tracks from three bands he was a member of, Moviescreen, Megattack and Wolfgang played.

This is not only the biggest read article this year, but the most read all time, other than those who regularly go to my front page to see what is new. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, here is the quick link: Parrish Hultquist, Utah’s Greatest Guitarist Gone at 48

Evanescence Guitar rig at War Memorial show

In August I was invited to cover local band Fools For Rowan opening for Evanescence at the War Memorial. Armed with just my Smartphone, not able to locate a photographer in time, this article was linked to multiple Evanescence fan bulletin boards and was the most read show revue of the year. I’m sure it got interest in Fools For Rowan while giving Evanescence fans worldwide a little taste of the War Memorial gig, The funniest thing; I never know how shots from my phone are going to work. The best shot was the stage left shot of the guitarist rig before the Evanescence set.

Enjoy:  Fools For Rowan Open Evanescence Nashville Show

Jimi in Kentucky, Screaming Eagles

Jimi Hendrix will never cease to amaze people. I read a local interview that Bassist Billy Cox did about Jimi Hendrix time after being in the military in Kentucky. He was down in Nashville, playing on Jefferson Street, Nashville’s Beale Street, long before he went to New York City. I started doing Jimi citings, finding the places he stayed and where he used to play. In the late last year release, West Coast Seattle Boy, a DVD was part of the package that talked more about his time in Nashville.

 Although written late last year, I included this, because it is the second all time read article.  Brad Schreiber wrote an incredible book entitled Becoming Jimi Hendrix that really explained what Jimi was doing before going to England.  Jimi left his mark here. After talking to Civil Rights Photographer, Ernest Wither’s daughter, I was invited to speak in Memphis earlier this year about Jimi’s time in Tennessee. I did want to research more on the subject, but, I felt the one person who could really talk about those times would be Billy Cox, who still lives in Nashville. I spoke to Billy briefly about the invitation to speak in Memphis and invited him to speak about Jimi. Billy was not able to do that with the upcoming commitments of the Experience Tour this year. I eventually decided to leave the invitation to rest. Hopefully, Billy can speak about those early days, pre-New York in the future.

Jimi Hendrix in Nashville: Jimi Hendrix: The Nashville Connection

The August at Douglas Corner Cafe

I don’t write a lot about Country music since it is so well covered here in Nashville. I do like to write about breaking artists though. Especially when they are “that” good. One such group is The August who moved down here from Chicago. This article was the biggest read Country music article for the year.

The August with Jacky Dustin Sweet Emotion at Douglas

Eddie Hinton and Muscle Shoals nuff said

I picked up a copy of The Oxford American issue on Alabama Music. I was a part of the Alabama scene for several years playing not only with my band Furthermore, but with other local songwriters like Nathan Whitmore and Adam Guthrie. I consider those years in Birmingham to be some of my favorite times. I was shocked when I didn’t see word one about Eddie Hinton. Most of the musicians in Alabama would vote him numero uno when you talk about Alabama Music. This open letter was a huge read.

An Open Bama Letter to Oxford American

Anthony Corder, Tora Tora Live at Snowden Glen 2011

Last but not least, the most read interview here on this site was with Anthony Corder after the release of Tora Tora’s Revolution Day. This was an album recorded almost two decades ago, but, was never released until this year on Nashville’s FnA Records.  Tora Tora was the 80’s band that made it out of Memphis. They recorded all three albums at Ardent Studios in Memphis and always have a little bit of the soul and blues in the mix.

Anthony Corder on Tora Tora’s Revolution Day

One thing is for sure, there is no way to plan out what article is going to be big. It could go big because I wrote from the heart or because the band is bigger overseas. It could be for any reason and none in particular, but, music is still important to all of us and reading about the things that matter still has a place in Nashville.

As for next year, the biggest thing on my plate is my first band biography that I am writing under contract. It should be completed next year. That is about all I can reveal about that right now.

Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Strange Karma on Nashville set - Fade to Black

Monday Night saw Nashville State Community College’s PEG Studio rocking the campus with Aussie’s Strange Karma on a stopover between live dates in Chicago and Detroit before heading to the West Coast.

To be featured on an upcoming episode of Local TV Show Fade To Black, Strange Karma performed four numbers with hints of classic hard rock such as Led Zeppelin to Aussie style heavy Midnight Oil Rhythms of “America”, this is the first Nashville will get to see of Strange Karma live as well as an interview with show host, Steve Lockett and yours truly.

Jason McDonald - Strange Karma

Jason McDonald sat behind a DW double bass kit reminiscent of Cozy Powell, laying down solid percussion, wearing his DW sponsorship proudly with a full tattoo on his arm of the drum kit. Jason was playing in Australian Van Halen and Led Zeppelin tribute bands before hooking up with brothers Martin and Paul Strange.

Paul, was running his 58’ Classic Ebony Black Les Paul almost straight into the Marshall JCM800 half stack, employing just a couple of pedals, leaving a dense analog wall of sound, with nods to Jimmy Page as well as Paul Kossoff.

Martin & Paul Strange

Brother, Martin Strange fronted the band with a Jim Morrison presence and a little Robert Plant thrown in for good measure. These references may be a little over the top, but, in actual fact this is original Hard Rock with all the grit and none of the digital high end squelch ring of busy activity associated with so much computer processed ADD Ear Candy in today’s metal.

Bassist, Doe Prijono, of Indonesian descent who arrived in Australia in his youth, provides not only six string bass prowess, but, acts as the guy that everybody likes in the band. Everybody wants to hang with Doe, with a demeanor as smooth as a mountain lake and matching musical depth, the four members of Strange Karma spur each other on to higher climes.

Local band, Scarey Larry, had finished a TV taping of their episode of Fade To Black just prior and decided to hang for the Aussie’s set. It has to be said, every time I get the chance to hang with Aussies, the more I want to visit Australia. It may be that they are the only people on par for friendliness with Southerners. The only difference is they still have that daredevil west coast attitude as well.

Australians like to conquer the world and Strange Karma is willing to do it one American fan at a time.  Although their music is rooted in solid hard rock roots, it is their own thing with enough in the mix not to be associated with just one of the branches in the tree.

Dutch, Steve, Paul, Nashville South, Doe, Jason, Martin, Nashville North on Lower Broad

With just a short time between dates up north then on to two Texas shows, 11/24 & 11/25 before headlining a gig at The Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood on November 30th, Strange Karma wanted to make the most of their night in Nashville by celebrating Doe’s Birthday down on Lower Broad, cruising through Legend’s Corner, Roberts, where Eric Clapton found five vintage Stratocasters and built “Blackie” out of three of them when it was partly known as Sho-Bud Guitars, as well as The Stage before ending up at Full Moon Saloon where Megan Ellis just blew away the whole band doing everything from Patsy Cline to Stevie Nicks. The band was immovable till it was time to go crash before heading to Memphis to visit Graceland then head southwest to Austin, Texas.

Strange Karma plans on making a return visit to Nashville in the near future, especially with plans for a new album in the coming year, the current FnA Records release, Volume One is available now and the Fade To Black episode will be aired soon on NECAT Channel 19 in Davidson County and probably YouTube on a computer near you.

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

Hayes Carll Americana Fest 2011 Mercy Lounge

After the Americana Music Association Carnival pulled out of Nashville, the big question is, what does Americana sound like? A friend of mine said that it would have at least one acoustic instrument in the mix, to give it that authentic roots thing. Jim Lauderdale as he hosted the Americana Awards did a spoof show tune, “That’s Americana!” It was hilarious and it was great because Americana is not a particular sound.

Americana is one of the strangest music references ever, at least when the word “grunge” came along, it meant one of the bands that came out of Seattle at a certain time. Americana is like a radio format for everything that doesn’t fit the current formats, yet, it is getting some of their artists like Mumford and Sons into the mainstream. Not to mention Will Hoge.

A mention was made by one of the show reviewers in Nashville Scene that they were glad that the “old farts in flannel shirts singing post Grateful Dead stuff” were gone and they could have the Exit/In back.

I get the feeling that a lot of people are stumbling onto Americana artists and not even knowing it, in Rolling Stone or when their friend says “listen to this” and pulls up something on their IPod by The Civil Wars or The Avett Brothers.

If you haven’t heard about these artists in the last year, then you live in a bubble. Americana is not only an award at the Grammys now, but, a launch pad, much like Indie format radio, where artists can get their “legs” as they mingle with legends like Gregg Allman and Robert Plant who are flying the banner.

One thing that Americana is not is electronic. Americana may have some roots in any American genre such as Blues, Soul, Gospel, Country, Folk and on and on, but it is definitely not about Kraftwerk or the modern Pop that is all made up on an Apple computer.

Blind Boys of Alabama Americana Fest 2011 Cannery Ballroom

Americana is as much about Red Dirt singer/songwriters like Hayes Carll as it is the roots gospel of The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Blind Boys of Alabama, Alabama Music Tribute at Cannery opening night

I guess if you are looking for a root to Americana you would probably have to go back twenty years in Nashville when about sixty California transplants started gathering to Nashville. Some of them became mainstream songwriters like Jeffrey Steele or Darrell Scott (most recently, Robert Plant & The Band of Joy). The one thing that did happen is they shook up the system.

Kenny Vaughan Americana Fest 2011 Mercy Lounge

Back in those days, Rosie Flores and Lucinda Williams would hang out all night, shutting down two or three bars only to meet up with Billy Block for breakfast.  A good chunk of these people bucked the Country music machine at the time or made some changes to it. They stayed true to themselves and this whole Americana thing has kind of caught up with them and now they are riding a jetstream of new found respect and popularity.

People like Jim Lauderdale who can go from playing straight up bluegrass to roots country to writing Robbie Robertson style music with a Grateful Dead lyricist represent the diversity of what is currently happening. It’s like the alternate universe of “the music business as usual” with a handmade vibe.

Most of what Bob Dylan does nowadays such as Modern Times could be classified Americana.  Many of the Americana Artists really jump from box to box, especially Mumford & Sons and Justin Townes Earle, who have as much Indie respect as they do Americana clout.

Kenny Vaughan packed it in then packed it back up at Mercy

The most interesting thing is that the genre has strong roots outside of the U.S. in places like Australia and Europe. Many of the artists make more money over there when they tour. This is nothing new, we as Americans many times pass on what is really cool about our culture and opt in for the corporate sell, “the spin.”

Americana is mainly artist and fan driven; it is really Indie at its core. If you like the Muscle Shoals era Dan Penn written songs alongside The Avett Brothers, more power to you. It really is the old saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

Robert Plant, Entertainer of the Year, The Ryman acceptance speach

You don’t have to buy into acoustic singer/songwriters or flannel shirts and old farts to find something there for yourself. Chances are you are listening to some Americana format music without realizing it. If you’re not sure where to start then it might as well be Buddy Miller, Robert Plant said he heard Buddy the first time when he toured with Emmylou Harris a few years ago and he seemed to embody everything American music, blues, gospel, rock, you name it. Robert said that Buddy will always be a part of whatever he does in the future. Emmylou Harris, at this year’s awards at The Ryman, said, they should call the Americana Award “The Buddy” because he has won so many of them.

By the way, a note to the Nashville Scene writer, when you refer to a group of music fans as old farts, just realize that you are probably being referred to as an old fart by somebody, it could be an 11 year old on a skateboard listening to some punk band out of California and thinking the same about you.

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

Town Mountain on Mainstage

On the second night of World of Bluegrass, the boundaries were being stretched from groups influenced by Bluegrass music growing up, but, showing hardly a hint of a Bluegrass foundation to neo-modern traditionalists Town Mountain, the future of Bluegrass lies in a cross section of those that would hold high the Monroe flame at this celebration of the 100th Anniversary of his birth to seeing if Pat Benatar can go well with a side of Mandolin.

The Farewell Drifters

The Farewell Drifters, with a fairly current Americana meets Pop Music took the stage, with two releases debuting in the top 10 of the Billboard Bluegrass charts, Zach Bevill and the crew were a push forward with varied influences. The fact that they have progressed this far shows that a younger generation is carrying acoustic music across the universe.

Nu-Blu backstage

Nu-Blu, featuring the beautiful voice of Carolyn Routh, premiered a great video for a strong number, “Other Woman’s Blues,” before playing live to the full house. The real strength of Nu-Blu is their songwriting, even though they finished the set with Dolly’s “Jolene” and a Pat Benatar rave-up of “Shadows of the Night,” they have some interesting stories of their own to tell.

Crystal Shipley, Joe Zauner and Jed Clark

If there was a particular theme, it seemed to be that just about any acoustic music was welcome. Even in the after hours, showcases, which featured the Gypsy Jazz / Old time Texas style swing of Casey Driscoll, Taylor Baker and Brennen Ernst playing “Blue Skies”, was really a bridge to the Americana Conference and Folk Alliance.

Backstage with Randy Kohrs

Jim Lauderdale had one of the strongest sets, playing songs from Reason and Rhyme, with Producer and Dobro shredder, Randy Kohrs and a hot band hitting all the right spots. Jim is a neo-traditionalist chameleon that works in tall bluegrass and with Grateful Dead songwriters in the same breath. Jim has such a volume of output; he wears me out just thinking about it.

Jim Lauderdale with WSM 650 staff

Town Mountain was a fitting finish, with great musicianship and a strong nod to Bluegrass.  They were drawing in the lines and at the same time fresh faced.

Rodney & Beverly Dillard

Rodney Dillard of the generational Dillards (The Darlings, Andy Griffith Show) was taking a breather this year while his band was all about mixing it up.

Casey Driscoll, Taylor Baker and Brennen Ernst Showcase

The jams go late into the night. Some of the impromptu meet ups are what makes this fun. You could catch anybody from Crystal Shipley (The Dixie Bee-Liners), Joe Zauner on banjo and Jed Clark (The Roys) on guitar, just hanging on a cluster of couches talking instruments to see what happens.

Harry Fontana at Robert's

After hours, one could hang and catch the late night showcases or go grab a bite to eat down on Lower Broad in a couple of minutes at Robert’s listening to the three piece straight up Rock and Roll of Harry Fontana on “Rockabilly Boogie.”

Martin McDaniel at The Stage

A couple more doors down and the soulful country of Southern Alabama’s Martin McDaniel, with some of the most fluid guitar lines in town was at The Stage. Martin has been building a local audience ever since he arrived a few years ago, doing it the hard way, honky tonks and opening sets.

WAMU's Bluegrass Country Showcase

Music City; where music never sleeps.  

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

Acklen Park with all-star cast at Benchmark, Me in Who T-shirt

I got a call from Shantell Ogden last Saturday afternoon asking if I was close to Music Row. I just happened to be at Centennial Park at TACA 2011. Acklen Parkwas in the studio finishing up their next single “Great American Song” slated for release next spring.

They needed some background vocals. Shantell said, “How soon can you make it?”

“I can be there in about fifteen minutes,” I replied, I had to get back to my car in Hillsboro Village.

Chris Utley at Benchmark Sound

When I got to Benchmark Sound on Music Row, a top tier studio with nothing but the finest, I found Chris Utley (co-Producer) manning the board and was handed lyrics along with about ten others, along with a sheet to sign off.

We were in the big room in about 10 minutes, singing along with Acklen Park’s Marcum Stewart and Andrea Villareal.  We overdubbed about three takes of the group singing on the final chorus. This was more fun than golf, at least if the studio is your second home.

When we got back into the control room, there was some amazing music in the playback.  There were tracks by some of Nashville’s finest session players, Ilya Toshinsky – Lead Guitar/Acoustic, Rhythm/Session Leader/ who is the Co-Producer with Chris, Danny Rader – Rhythm Guitar & some leads as well, Scott Williamson – Drums, Jimmie Lee Sloas – Bass and Tim Lauer – Keys.

These players have hours of combined hit making experience, having recorded sessions for artists records that include: Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Trace Adkins, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, etc. just to name a few.

I got to say, I am really excited about this one. I think it is going to be huge on mainstream Country Radio; in fact, it should be the theme song for Country Music channel, GAC.

We will have to follow up on this one later.

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

Kenny and Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives started ripping it up a little after 8PM at the back of Ernest Tubb Record Shop like it was a Midnight Jamboree with The Buckaroos back in 62 on September 13th.

You could have been up the street at Bridgestone, listening to Journey and Foreigner playing a best of set, but, if you weren’t at Ernest Tubb, you missed what is happening now. Manuel Nudie, in a black on black striped tailored suit, didn’t miss it.

Introduction:" Kenny, it's time you put out your own record"

Celebrating the release of his first solo effort, V, on Sugarhill Records, it was Kenny front and center after an introduction by his beautiful wife, saying “it was about time.” Kenny has been ripping it up for years with everybody in Nashville from Martina McBride & The Ride to Marty Stuart, Mindy Smith and Mike Farris.

Kenny, Marty & His Fabulous Superlatives

Marty was comfortable being the supportive guitarist, boss, co-conspirator, this seals the deal.  With a frontline of nothing but Fender Telecasters, Paul Martin and his Fender Precision Bass, Fender Amps and Harry Stinson on the skins, this was a new chapter in the foundation that Buck Owens, Don Rich and The Buckaroos laid down, this is Honky Tonk at its best.

Tearin' it up!

Kenny ripped through “Lillie Mae”, “Country Music Got a Hold on Me” and other already gone classics. The delivery with a Chuck Berry story style and vocal range was as much Rock and Roll as it was timeless twin guitar attack that could have been Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West or Thin Lizzy.  

Speaking of Speedy West; Chris Scruggs made a guest appearance on Steel Guitar, already considered a Master by those around Nashville; it was pure vintage riffing almost hearkening back to that era. Chris mentioned after, that he will have a new Nashville recorded album out in the spring.

Marty!

Before finishing the set, they took off on “Country Boy Rock and Roll” from Ghost Train which left David Letterman and Paul Shaffer’s jaws dropped to the floor when Marty and Kenny  guitar shredded through their David Letterman Show promotional appearance just a few moons ago.

Kenny announced the last song, co-written with Marty, a Country Honky Tonk Rockin’ Gospel number, “Don’t Leave Home Without Jesus”. I don’t know what Church they play that at, but, I want to be there.

This is the perfect bookend to Ghost Train, this is what Lower Broad should sound like, from the Red Dirt scene of Oklahoma and Texas to the oil fields of Coalinga outside Bakersfield to Hank Garland and all that have gone before, this is the Country that puts a smile on your face.

Chris Scruggs Y'all!

While Kenny was going to continue the party at Full Moon down the street at 10PM, Marty escaped in his sleek Black Cadillac XLR Batmobile. This was the Nashville party tonight.

One of my Faves, Kenny at Mike Farris in-store

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

Andy May and Kenny Malone - photo courtesy, Kevin Schlatt Photography

There were all sorts of events both musical and public ceremonies going on around Nashville last Sunday. It was a slow time getting up and I wasn’t really up for the pomp and circumstance, but, I was up for some good music.

The Country Music Hall of Fame has a schedule of free demonstrations, concerts and films. September 11th sounded interesting with Andy May and Kenny Malone doing a “Guitar and Drum Demonstration” set in the Gibson Room at 1Pm.

This was an opportunity not only to listen to an interesting set but to ask questions and get some interesting answers and advice by a couple of masters.

Andy May is a guitar and mandolin player as well as a singer, songwriter, and music educator. Andy has won the guitar grand championship at the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention (Union Grove, North Carolina) and he has appeared with Brownie McGee & Sonny Terry, Merle Haggard, Nickel Creek, Mike Seeger, Pete Seeger, and others. He is a regular at Merlefest .

Kenny Malone is a percussionist who has performed or recorded with Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and others. 

Kenny Malone, not just a drummer, but, a master percussionist, brought world beat to Country Music years ago. One of the first records that he used Djembe drums and other percussion was with Don Williams. Kenny talked about how he likes to read the lyrics before he reads the music so that what he performs on the song doesn’t distract from the lyrics.

Kenny showed his newest set-up, five Djembe drums set up in a full pentatonic scale.  Kenny stated, “Several cultures independently found the pentatonic scale on their own. The pentatonic scale would be the black keys on the piano. When drums are tuned to a pentatonic scale, there is no discordance with the music being played and you can hit any drums together and they blend.”

Andy showcased his versatility not only by playing his own songs such as “Love is The Greatest Gift of All” off Blackberry Jam, on a Martin Acoustic through a Roland Cube which sounded 10 times bigger than it was, but, took requests from the audience to maximize what Andy and Kenny could do between Guitar and Percussionist, going everywhere from “Roll Over Beethoven” to “Star of the County Down” sung by Andy’s daughter.

Kenny showcased a new percussion piece for the first time which he decided to call “9/11,” in honor of the date.  Andy and Kenny both talked about deciding on doing the gig together on 9/11.   Rather than being about what happened on 9/11, it was a time to memorialize the 10th anniversary and remember that American Music is a blend of different cultures. Drums coming from big brass band European military music.

“The snare came from the battlefield. They needed something that would crack through everything. The snare was used to give directions on where to shoot or fight. It was code tapped out on the snare. The percussionist brought nothing into battle but a snare drum. It was dangerous work. Of course there is the Scottish drum and fife corp.”- Kenny Malone

Kenny- “When I was in the military, playing music was part of the job. When we passed a Russian ship in international waters we had the responsibility to play the national anthem.”

Andy commented about music being a mixture of roots in traditional folk melodies mainly known through older gospel music and religious traditions of different cultures.

Kenny made the remark that we are constantly blending musical forms noting that he was playing traditional African instruments as well as a snare from military tradition while Andy was playing an instrument that came out of Europe in various forms hundreds of years ago.

Kenny has been doing the acoustic guitar/drum duet thing for a while with Darrell Scott (songwriter, multi-instrumentalist) at Hippy Jack’s, the Americana Music Festival and the Folk Alliance in Memphis.

Kenny will be playing with Darrell Scott to celebrate Darrell’s new Country music release at the Station Inn on October 5th and 6th. This is a show not to be missed.

Before leaving The Country Music Hall of Fame, I stopped into the Ford Theater to see Bill Monroe’s appearance on Austin City Limits back in 1981 and 1986 and this was a tribute special aired in 1997. It was cool to see him and Ralph Stanley on the big screen. I guess 9/11 can be a day when we celebrate American culture and what we have given to the world. Music is the great communicator and no ideology or extremism can take away what we have been able to accomplish by blending this stew we call America.

Night Ranger, before lift off

My friend, Steve in Wichita, who may the biggest Night Ranger  fan in the world, insisted I go to their unplugged set at the Hard Rock Nashville at 7Pm. I was glad I went.  Not so much for the rare acoustic interpretations of their own songs but whatever came to mind.

Night Ranger w/Mark Volman - The Turtles

Kelly Keagy, drummer, is a Nashville resident and I have caught one of his unplugged sets he did with Mark Slaughter and Kip Winger (both Nashville residents) before but this featured six tequila shots each as well as a guest walk up of The Turtles – Mark Volman and a Night Ranger run through sing along with 200 of their closest Nashville friends of “Happy Together.”

It became a challenge to see what could be played on the guitar.  One of the biggest surprises was when Jack Blades asked Brad Gillis to tell the story about what happened when he took over the Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Oz tour after Randy died. Randy was killed in a small plane crash mid-tour and Brad came in and filled the guitarist shoes after a short audition to finish out the “Diary of a Madman” tour.

A little Deep Purple "Highway Star"

There were banners like “Randy Forever” flying in the crowds and he was met with the challenge of matching one of the greatest guitarists of the day when Brad was a virtual unknown outside of the California Bay Area.

Sharon Osbourne, who managed Ozzy at the time decided to give Brad a bad time. She said, “Oakland is cancelled.” Brad- “Why??” “Lack of ticket sales.” Sharon said with a frown, then after a moment, she smiled and said, ”just kidding, it sold out in three hours.” Brad was asked to stay on but was anxious to get back to record Night Ranger’s first album. This lead to an outrageously good acoustic rendition of “Crazy Train” with Brad Gillis ripping the Randy lead part on a Taylor. He got a roomful of cheers for that one.

Kelly singing The Doors "Roadhouse Blues"

After a few Tequila shots, Kelly celebrating his Birthday, began to reveal his age when he talked about seeing The Doors in 1968. After guitars started churning “Roadhouse Blues”, the band went full swing, on a great tribute to The Doors with Kelly doing his best Jim Morrison.

It was over the top moments like these one of which featured a full on Ritchie Blackmore ripping – Deep Purple “Highway Star” mid-song bust out as well as the fact that this was a benefit for families dealing with children with drug problems, You’re Not Alone  Organization, that made the cozy room above the Hard Rock Café feel like a private party for Kelly Keagy and 200 of his best Nashville friends.

Music is one of the things that pulls us together as a country, it helps to identify those special moments in our lives, for Night Ranger it was like Déjà vu. “Ten years ago on 9/11 we were playing with Journey in Detroit. Now we are still on tour with them. A tour that started in 1982…ha-ha…”- Jack Blades

Night Ranger will be opening for Journey and Foreigner tonight at Bridgestone Arena.

Kelly Keagy's copy official set list

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

Rick Carter at BAAM Fest 2011 (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

This year BAAM FEST, Birmingham Arts and Music Festival, took over where the highly successful Secret Stages Festival left off. Whereas Secret Stages was a mini-SXSW for regional Indie acts, the list of Artists this year was a high octane cross section of Hip Hop, Funk, Jazz, Rock and everything in-between.

Milyn Sattierfield-Royal & Toullouse,BAAM Fest 2011 (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

BAAM FEST was started a year ago to take the place of the now defunct City Stages.  Although City Stages featured national recording Artists with a mix of regional and local acts thrown in the mix, BAAM FEST has taken over the task of putting together a virtual Pub Crawl of the best of Birmingham.

Birmingham has a diverse scene and just about every genre and subgenre was well represented.

Rescue Dogs, Stillwater, BAAM Fest 2011

Almost every club worth its weight was involved including The Nick, Bottletree, Metro Bar, Workplay, Stillwater Pub, Speakeasy as well as some of the newer venues that have grown out of the re-generation of the business district such as Steel.

This year, there was not a VIP shuttle which made it hard to get around to some areas without hopping into a car. This worked for some clubs and not so much for others as it made it easy to stay downtown and hang out around Rogue Tavern, Steel and Metro Bar. The crowds seemed to be heavier in the business district.

Rickie Castrillo, Rojo, BAAM Fest 2011,(c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

If you had been drinking, you would be hard pressed to venture by car up to The Nick or Zydecos. This is something to think about in the future.

Phillip Hyde / Caddle BAAM Fest 2011 (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

It may just be by word of mouth, but some of the more stellar well known locals such as Rick Carter and Rollin’ In The Hay were a definite go to as well as the virtually created at The Nick, hard rockin’ white trash gothic style of Caddle.

Tim Boykin (Carnival Season, Shame Idols, The Lolas, Annexed Asylum) rolled out a full set of his heaviest incarnation yet with full on Zen Death Metal, Throng of Shoggoths at The Nick. Isn’t Tim the guy who did a cover of Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action?” Oh that’s right, if Tim can think it, he can play it. From what I hear Throng of Shoggoths makes Annexed Asylum look like Starland Vocal Band.

J. Grubbs & Southern Phoenix, BAAM Fest 2011

On the Hip Hop end, J. Grubbs and Southern Phoenix did a Rap meets Southern Funk meets blues thing at Steel on Friday night. Birmingham artists have been mixing it up with Hip Hop ever since The Agency were doing their Punk-Reggae-Rap thing at Marty’s back in 2005. Has it been that long?

Jon Poor Band, Steel, BAAM Fest 2011

The Jon Poor Band has been stirring it up with his blend of “Swamper – second – generation meets Jimmy Buffet” sound with the College scene for a number of years. He didn’t disappoint on Friday night at Rogue Tavern. Friday night  Rogue finished off with a Jazz set by The Chad Fisher Group.  Chad didn’t stop there; playing to a packed sardine set at Stillwater Pub the next night with local legend Heath Green and their project Fisher Green.

Heath Green at Stillwater/BAAM Fest (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

Fisher Green started off with the Joe Cocker version of “The Letter” before some of the standard Heath Green set numbers over the last few years then doing a couple of songs from their soon to (finally) be released album.

The Grenadines at Metro, BAAM Fest 2011

As far as Indie goes, The Grenadines were in full bloom with a late night set on Friday.  The Grenadines with the recognizable scene girl from the last few years, especially at Model Citizen shows, Lauren Shackelford in her fringe dress rocked the house. Metro Bar has some problems sound wise now. It was great that they took all the weird booths and stuff down, but now it sounds like one of those restaurants that are loud with dishes and silverware clanging around where everybody is yelling and still can’t hear a thing.

Metro Bar could really help itself by doing some ceiling treatment even if it were to hang about 20 flags from the 20 foot ceiling to dampen things a bit.

Neo Jazz Collective, Bob Marley, Jah,Civil Rights Institute,BAAM 2011

On a tip from Sound Engineer, Danny Everitt, I actually got up before noon to go catch the Neo Jazz Collective at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute performing a complete Bob Marley set. What a great group of Kids. They sounded great from horns to guitar to vocals that featured Carlito and a trio of girls doing great back up and lead vocals. It was probably one of my favorite sets of the weekend.

Chad Fisher at Stillwater/ BAAM Fest (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

I stuck around and watched The “Freedom Riders” Documentary after their set. That should be required viewing for all the schools in Alabama and Tennessee.  It was interesting to watch when the Nashville students from Fisk University and friends decided to get involved when the Northerners gave up Birmingham. It was a gutsy move. In fact, they left for Birmingham during finals week. That group of Fisk University students did not receive amnesty for what they did until last year, when they finally got their diplomas four decades later.

Fighting Meeces, Zappa time, Stillwater, BAAM Fest 2011

Saturday kicked off at Stillwater Pub with Fighting Meeces performing Frank Zappa’s “Peaches in Regalia” and Rescue Dogs performing Grateful Dead style originals before throwing in Pink Floyd’s “Time.”

Ricky Castrillo Trio, Zydeco, BAAM Fest 2011

After Hurricane Katrina, Birmingham gained a New Orleans treasure, Rickie Castrillo, who left New Orleans and made Birmingham home. In that time back in 2007, Rickie was doing a residency at Marty’s and everybody from Chris Fryar (The Allman Brothers Band, Zac Brown Band) to Daniel Turner took a turn to sit in and get to know Rickie and his unique style.  Rickie was well represented at BAAM FEST both at Rojo in a solo set and also a full band set at Zydeco.

rear- Daniel Long (Percussion, Rescue Dogs, The Agency, Furthmore), Daniel Everitt (Bassist, Sound Engineer), Lauren Long (Artist), front- Bobby Bruner (Bassist, Rescue Dogs) at Metro

There were so many groups to see. My story is only one of a thousand. When I look at the calendar, I wish I had seen Kendra Sutton, Jesse Payne, The Magic Math (featuring Van Hollingsworth), Mollie (when are you coming back to Nashville?) Garrigan and Daniel Turner, Clay Conner, Jubal John, Voices in the Trees and who knows what.

Three Feet Deep, Five Points, Southside

After a late night set, I stopped by Makario’s for Hummus and Chicken. If that wasn’t enough, while making my way through Five Points, I watched with amazement as Artist, 3 Feet Deep, was creating waves, birds and Orbs out of spray paint. I am now a proud owner of a 3 Feet Deep original.

This could be the best Pub crawl all year long. Can I get an “Amen?”

3 Feet Deep, artwork, Five Points News rack

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

Johnny Cash Memorial Wall August 2011

When a new sewer main was replaced just a couple of blocks from The Country Music Hall of Fame, a landmark was almost completely obliterated.  Street art at its finest, the Johnny Cash Memorial by Rex2, Pako, Audroc and Scar at 4th Ave. South and Molloy, was somewhere one could take relatives and tourists just a few blocks off Lower Broad and watch faces light up as they wanted to get their picture taken in front of the mural.

Johnny Cash Memorial Wall 2004

The Johnny Cash Memorial Wall was an oasis among the fading old glory of the original downtown. Day after day, I watched TDOT as they jack-hammered and imploded the road just a couple of feet from one of my favorite spaces. The wall became covered with debris as the street was dug up like somebody’s backyard getting ready for an Olympic size pool.

The words “Manifested Thoughts” and approaching trains all but gone.

Cash detail before damage

Couldn’t somebody have thought of putting a canvas up on the side of that building?  With all of the blasting shrapnel, eventually all that has been left is parts of the name CASH.  The train murals and phrases all but gone.

Pre-destruction," Andy Warhol style" Cash Multi-prints

Okay, it was street art.  Street art is part of Nashville. There are other more recent murals as well as the old painted logos of businesses of days gone by. These are things that people look for. A remnant of the past is part of what Nashville and Country music is all about. This was a great work of art.  It was an outdoor Andy Warhol/Banksy-“Mona Lisa” of the most recent member of the Sun Records Million Dollar Quartet.

Really, how could anybody do that? This is a meaningless travesty of justice and politics.

Tristan Dunn – 2010 at the Cash wallBrad Hardisty, Cash Wall 2010Hank Williams new appearance on the wall
Brad Hardisty, Cash Wall 2010

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

Fools For Rowan at War Memorial Auditorium

Playing to a packed house, opening act Fools For Rowan had the local support of Nashville fans when they started their 8PM slot.  A crowd of well over 1200 were already there to see the local rock faves featuring Lead Singer, Erin Mullins, decked out in full “Joan Jett” black leather and black tank top leading the crowd through the FUSE TV hit “Dead” as well as a cover of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”

Rachel Brandsness, Lead Axe Wielder, was a foil that kept the crowd going. Since when do people show up for opening acts anymore? Especially third bill? With the support of 102.9, The Buzz, the only non-classic Rock station in town, local fans were there to support a local act that is diverse enough to play Popfest and the SXSW Conference.  I think Nashville is ready to rock.

Fools For Rowan – 1200 plus crowd

On the same night that Maroon 5 and Train were playing at Bridgestone, a near sold out crowd where Kelly Clarkson was spotted having a good time, was taking hold as day turned to night at the War Memorial Auditorium.

This was a unique opportunity since it was Evanescence only Nashville show this year, spending most of their time in Europe where they still have a rabid following  weaving a fine line between radio ready songs and heavier then Dimmu Borgir Sonics.

For some reason a tornado had touched down in Fools For Rowan Drummer Jordan Cullens’ hair, with his blond mesh going every other direction, he still managed to pound out a solid set. I don’t know how he did it, with all that wind raging around him, but, everything came off smooth.

Art of Dying – Jonny Hetherington

Art of Dying, whether it is about the Tibetan Book of The Dead or George Harrison’s song off All Things Must Pass, played a solid set. The Canadians have landed. Their most recent album was produced by one of the biggest Producers of Modern Rock, Howard Benson (P.O.D., My Chemical Romance) and mixed by the guru of Metal, Chris Lord-Alge.

The main plus for Art of Dying is the vocal harmonies sans-vocal correction software.  Not that they sound like the two bands, but, it was kind of like P.O.D. with Bon Jovi/Queensryche harmonies over the top. The most important thing was Lead singer, Jonny Hetherington’s shirt, a full reproduction of the AC/DC Powerage album cover. How can you not like the guy?

Art of Dying has been on the radio with “Get Through This” but it was really the slow heavy stuff that included a cover of Alice in Chain’s “Man in The Box” where they really shined. Heavy and grooving worked best.

Evanescence at War Memorial – Nashville

This was really a celebration. If you wanted to see Evanescence this year in the States, this was the moment. There were those that could say they were there and the rest will have to just understand why Amy Lee really is the Black Swan incarnate in her black tutu style skirt, black hair and the voice of a female operatic Viking.  She conquered the world with that voice.  In today’s Katy Perry “La-La Land” where selling a million records makes you on par with Michael Jackson, “Fallen” sold seventeen million copies with  a beautiful balance between heavier- than- Sabbath and more melodic than Queen production.

Evanesence, stage right, lighted guitar case

The story of the Little Rock, Arkansas band is only a stone’s throw from Nashville where they were discovered by Producer Pete Matthews, who is not widely credited, but helped to develop the sound that is now Evanescence.  It’s always fun when you know the back story.

Amy stopped before she started when they brought out a grand piano mid-set. When she sat down to play, there was a string out of tune and she stopped, walked to the front of the stage and talked with the audience while a piano tuner did his job. With a voice like that, it wasn’t hard to believe she has a good ear.

Evanescence’ drummer was insanely great. The blond hair, was it Taylor Hawkins from Foo Fighters? No, it was Will Hunt, who actually played with Tommy Lee’s band. Will Hunt has showmanship that goes beyond some stick twirling. He honestly had some hand technique that was amazing.  He was tight as well.

Amy Lee

If you weren’t there, you missed it. There is nothing better than fantastic live performance. You can take your MP3’s and shove them…well you get it.

It was a beautiful evening and one of the better shows this year.

Editor note: I really appreciate the interest of Evanescence fans from around the world. Amy Lee is probably the greatest female Metal genre vocalist of all time. This report was to be about the show itself and it was announced from the stage, probably a local DJ who was the ringmaster, (also noted by those in attendance) that it was said this was the only U.S. show this year. Amy herself did a shout out for Fools For Rowan and Art of Dying for coming to play this “one-off” show. However to be accurate, I made editorial changes to reflect the Nashville show itself. As far as photos, I had an all media pass including photos, but they only let people with official laminates use real cameras to shoot the band.  Security actually pulled people aside that had the photo access wristbands with real Canon and Nikon cameras and had them shut off their cameras. However, I am sure there may be pro shots from fans in the balcony or out of view of security that may have been taken. All I had was my droid phone. I think my only decent shot was the guitar rack. If you took a decent shot of the band and would like it posted here, send it to my email address with a note as to the proper photo credits. Please note your facebook or website address so that I can verify you did take the shots. I have had fans from as far as Italy and Russia that have been logging in. I am sure they would enjoy seeing them as well. Thanks again for your input and the encouraging words on the Evanescence message boards. – B.H.

Leaving War Memorial Auditorium, post Evanescence

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