Archives for category: Aerosmith

Wanda Jackson at Mercy Lounge 2010

Easter is all about a renewal, as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what it means to us. Nashville itself is a town of resurrection, a place where Jack White has produced two great albums by Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson and where the underbelly that was East Nashville is the place to be.

Speaking of East Nashville, Bob Dylan came here in the Sixties to make a 180 in his career and where Robert Plant came just a couple of years ago to do just the same.  Speaking of which, I have heard that he has set up shop with Patty Griffin in Austin since the Band of Joy tour.

What is Nashville to me? A Californian-slash-Alabama bluesman? I started making the drive up to Nashville quite often starting in 2006 from Birmingham. I liked the fact that you could wander from one honky tonk to another and check out all the Telecaster blasters playing through mostly Fender tube amps almost any hour of the day.

I finally made the move after getting positive feedback about my songwriting abilities from a local publishing head at the end of 2007.

It was a very surreal world, where one Saturday morning, wandering around a guitar show, I ended up talking to Scotty Moore about how many Bill Black Combos, Bill really had.  The next minute, I am jamming on my 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian down on Lower Broad when Little Jimmy Dickens comes wandering out of nowhere and watches me jam for about 10 minutes, throws a $20 dollar bill into the vintage case and says. “Keep it up!” Mind you, I’m not making this up. In fact, if you are from Nashville, you know what I mean and are probably saying, “So what.”

I realized that everybody had a story, whether it was the Baskin Robbins on Lebanon that said Porter Wagoner used to come in all the time, or a snapshot in the window of Robert Plant stopping in to check out the guitars.

So what do I like about Nashville, now that I have been here a few years?

Strange Karma down on Lower Broad celebrating the bassist birthday!

Let’s see, there is more diversity than what outsiders would think, for starters, I have met a ton of Aussies and I, seriously, have never met one I didn’t want to hang with whether it was Anthony Snape or Strange Karma. I wonder if it was like this when Keith Urban first came here and was playing at the Guitar Bar? Did the Aussies start coming after Keith’s success or is Nashville a big magnet?

As far as diversity goes, you can get world class Indian Cuisine, of which I am all about Tamarind on Demonbreun. I’ve ate Indian food all over the place and that is about as good as it gets.  There are several ethnic communities here, whether it be Egyptian Coptic Christians or Somalis, the list goes on and makes for Eateries that go way beyond the meat and three.

Something is in the water in East Nashville, with several upstart, one of a kind places like Far East Nashville, not only your typical Vietnamese Pho and Vermicelli bowls, but, the actual family recipes fixed by the owners brother, in a totally unique way.

Porter Road Butcher Shop makes some amazing sausages featuring probably the best Andouille Sausage this far north of Bayou Country.  In fact, that is what I had for Easter. I could have whatever I wanted, so, I faxed three eggs with some sharp Vermont Cheddar and some of that Andouille Sausage on the side.

Nashville is a vinyl fanatic’s pipe dream, wandering between Grimeys, The Groove, Phonoluxe and the two Great Escape locations there is no reason to ever come up empty handed. In fact, there is a plethora of radio station promo copies which are usually on heavier, better quality vinyl.  Record Store Day is almost like a city holiday where a huge migration descends mainly on Grimeys by the thousands. My only gripe would be, is there no bootlegs? Back when, I used to travel over to Berkeley to Moe’s Bookstore and get vinyl Beatles bootlegs as well as concerts and demos engraved onto vinyl by everything from Queen to Aerosmith to The Clash it was something nobody else had.

Music is everywhere, as I laid down to bed the first few months in Nashville, I could hear music in my head like never before, like ghost radio stations, it seemed like there were thousands of songwriters who had passed on and never left Nashville, they were just trying to get that next big hit. It seemed as if there was singing in the netherworld and all you had to be was a little bit spiritually aware.

Tommy Tutone and Mario at Nashville Amp Expo

I think there are more Telecasters in a 30 mile radius than the whole state of California, where they were invented.  If you can’t find the perfect Telecaster, there are boutique builders from Mario Guitars in Murfreesboro to Chad Underwood in Lexington, Kentucky.

As far as electric guitar parts go, Rock Blocks Guitars has a wall of supplies juts minutes away.

Looking at the Musical Instrument section in Craigslist can be eye opening. You never know what you will find, anything from a 1964 Fender Precision sold by the bass player in Cinderella after a career’s worth of touring to a Gold Top Les Paul owned by Duane Allman. If there is a vintage Sho-Bud Steel around, no doubt, eventually, you’ll see it on Craigslist.

Southside Gentlemans Club at Burt's Tiki Lounge, newly acquired Dr. Z Stang Ray in the backline. 2009

My favorite personal story is about my Dr. Z Amplifier. I had been writing and playing my own brand of Ragtime Blues when I moved to Nashville. I had been using a 45 Watt Samamp from Birmingham when I got here and it was just too much. I was ready for a little 30 Watt or less combo. There are so many and I just decided to try them all. I brought my arch top with me and made the rounds from Corner Music to Gruehn Guitars to Rock Blocks. Finally, when I plugged into this Dr. Z Stang Ray at Rock Blocks, I had met my match, a simple tone stack, where you could really fill out the bass and a simple good looking black with white trim amp.  The speaker had been changed out to a Cannabis Rex and it had a sound all its own.

The price tag was $2100. I didn’t have $2100. In fact, even with selling some gear, donating blood and street gigging down on Lower Broad, I still probably would be $1000 a way. I needed that amp. I put it in God’s hands. It’s okay to say that in Nashville isn’t it? Well, that’s what I did, true story. I prayed and said, I’ve tried all the amps out that I can think of and that is the one that sounds right then tucked it away.

Well, things looked bleak when I lost my job in 2008, in fact, really bleak, I left Nashville, worked five months in Memphis, then that company went bankrupt and I ended up taking a job with a national company in Utah and moved out of Tennessee.

I never gave up on the music, I got my five piece ragtime blues band together in Utah, playing at Burt’s Tiki Lounge, finding some great musicians from an add I put out in Craigslist. On a whim in early 2009, I looked up the Nashville Craigslist and found that exact Dr. Z Stang Ray for sale. Guitarist, Gary Ishee, had put an add up that read something like this;“I bought this Dr. Z Stang Ray earlier this year at Rock Blocks and I need to sell it.”

It looked identical. I called him up and explained that I was stuck out in Utah, but, that I knew the amp and through our talk, he knew I was the real deal. I wired the money to his bank account including the cost to ship it. I bought it for $1250. I was able to come up with that only because I went out west to a company on a bad stretch, because of the economy, they let me have all the overtime I could handle. I got the amp in a big Roland amplifier box from UPS in Farr West, Utah and it was the exact amp. I sat there and cried. It was the exact same amp, in fact, the only amp I ever prayed about and I will include the picture of my group, The Southside Gentlemens Club playing at Burt’s Tiki Lounge a couple of months later with the amp in the backline.

Thank you Brad Paisley for input on the AC30 hybrid design, what a great amp. I still own it and fire it up almost every day in hopes to lay down some tracks here soon.   

Okay tracks, let’s talk about that. I was in Utah almost a year, when I came out here on vacation in September 2009. I had hoped to move back to Nashville someday, maybe when the economy got better, but, on a whim, I had kept in touch with a realtor, who didn’t give up on me, even though, I was out in the Rocky Mountain West. I will drop his name, because Kenneth Bargers is an amazing Realtor. He emailed me faithfully every month some houses I would be interested in.  When I was here for a week in September 2009, Kenneth Bargers took me around on two afternoons to look at houses.  I felt like I was back home, I wanted to be back in Nashville, I did not want to get back on the plane.

Daniel Turner

We found a house I really liked. The last night I was in town, I was hanging around and moping by the pool at the airport Courtyard over on Elm Hill Pike, not wanting to leave Nashville. I decided I needed to go do something, pull myself up by my bootstraps. So I got dressed and headed over to Commodore Grille to check out some songwriters. Cowboy Jack Clement was in the round and it gave me goose bumps. I thought, if I had stayed at the hotel, I would have missed this.  I decided I need to get back and I was heading out the door when I heard somebody call my name. “Brad!” I looked up and it was Daniel Turner, one of my music friends from Birmingham, Alabama walking in. I said to him, “What are you doing here?”  He explained that he was going to be playing the next round. It was a great reunion of old friends. I have so much respect for Daniel as an all around musician. He can play, write and sing. If anybody could make a great classic country album, he could. He has such a great voice, but, he had really been influenced by a lot of the Alabama Blues that is around Birmingham.

I went back to my hotel room on cloud nine. I could hardly sleep. I was going to find a way to get back and I did. I interviewed by phone and got a transfer. I found a house on Zillow.com and Kenneth Bargers looked at it for me and on his word, I bought it. In fact, Kenneth represented me at closing in November 2009 and I never walked into the house until the first week of December as an owner. It’s a true story, call Kenneth, if you need a Realtor and you can ask about it. He is the best Realtor in Nashville as far as I am concerned.

Kenny Malone at a clinic at Country Music HOF

Okay, so, I am back. I work hard. I have got to hang with some great musicians and do some great interviews. It’s been a great ride, but, I need to resurrect my own career. Sometimes, I think it would be easier to move down to Pensacola and put together a group from Craigslist and center on a little club or bar to be “our place,” but, there is the dream recording session, the possibility that I can put together, with a little cash or luck, Kenny Malone on drums, “Slick” Joe Fick from The Dempseys on Bass, the violinist I saw at Mike Farris’ in store at Grimeys and get a trumpet player that can play like Al Hirt and get this manic New Orleans meets Memphis circa 1940 music to record. I work hard at the music and I have some great friends. If that part of my career is supposed to “Resurrect,” it will.

For now, I will just enjoy the ride.

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

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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

courtesy Brian Cade Photgraphy

November 19th, mark it on your calendar, will be a big night for Rock City Angels performing live with a forward march and a look back to the storyteller past, where they will be celebrating the release of Midnight Confessions on FnA Records, a collection of songs recorded from Memphis to England with Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy fame on what would have been their second Geffen Records release.

Bobby Durango  talked about Midnight Confessions;  a collection of songs spanning three years after the release of their first Geffen album Young Man’s Blues. “We had the same A&R as Guns n Roses at Geffen and that is where they put their money and promotion”.  

The label didn’t give them an idea of when they would drop the second record, “The A&R guy just kept saying “This stuff is great but I don’t hear THAT SONG” it was almost like Geffen was saying we are not going to put money into this”.

Rock City Angels went through several lineup changes that even included Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy featured on “Heart and Soul” between 1989 and 1992 before they were sold a bad idea. “Bands are much more savvy now. I just wanted to be a musician, not a businessman. Our lawyer was in collusion with the label. He was the one who sold us on the idea of declaring Bankruptcy.”

Rock City Angels were told at the time by their own Lawyer that when it was done Geffen  Records would sign them again, when in actuality it was a way to wash their hands of the band without having to buy them out of their contract. The tracks that make up Midnight Confessions are works in progress that would have eventually made up their second Geffen release.

Bobby isn’t bitter, “If you listen to the record (Young Man’s Blues) it still holds up, a lot of bands can’t say the same thing.” Bobby hates being lumped in with the hair band scene, “We were more like The Stones. It’s time to clear the record. For the most part our fans know the difference”.

Rock City Angels has been busy this last year after the release of their newest material “Use Once and Destroy” a straight ahead rocker, “We were never about going after that elusive hit. We were after an overall theme like Aerosmith Rocks:  A great album. Use Once and Destroy is what would be an official follow up to their first album.

They will feature at least two gems from Midnight Confessions, ““Sweet Ambition” sounds killer and we have never done it live. We have an updated arrangement of “Shattered Shake””. Neither song has ever been performed live and will make their debut on November 19th at The Muse in Nashville.

They will perform songs from all of their releases, making sure to mix crowd favorites with newer material and diamonds from the past.  It will be a night that kicks off renewed interest in the band especially in Europe. “We just had a five page article come out in Popular One in Spain. We hope to get over to Europe; we have a lot of fans over there.”

There is still a lot of unreleased music as well as new stuff to the forefront. “Geffen spent a lot of money on the first album. We actually recorded it once with Producer Jim Dickinson (The Replacements, Big Star, Mudhoney, Mojo Nixon) and Geffen decided we had to re-record it and the second recording became Young Man’s Blues. I still have that first recording”. Okay, it’s time for Geffen to consider a re-release with both mixes.

The current lineup of Bobby Durango, Pagan Raygun, Jorge Hernandez, Mark Binko and Adam Keller is primed and ready for a killer show. “We have a great future ahead of us, so… fuck ‘em”. Enough said.

Rock City Angels - Midnight Confessions

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