Archives for category: Ardent Studios

2010, Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Lucinda Willianms, Hayes’ parents.

September used to be back to school month, now that school starts early, September is not only when the CMA’s hit Nashville, but, when the world comes for Americana, Bluegrass and where Next Big Nashville morphed into Soundland and moved to October.

While Nashville may be known for the CMA’s , Eric Church and Taylor Swift, it is also known for what Rolling Stone called the “coolest music festival in the world”, The Americana Music Festival hits the city for the ultimate pub crawl from September 12th-15th.

Dan Baird with Brad, 2010, Cannery Ballroom, Stones Tribute

Past years have seen everybody from Don Was to Robert Plant to Nashville’s Own, Justin Townes Earle put on some great showcases.  Last years’ awards show mashed up Gregg Allman, Robert Plant with The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars and Mumford and Sons (sorry, the name reminds me of Sanford and Son). In fact, it seemed like a hybrid MTV awards show where music mattered and all sugar pop was left at the end caps in Wal Mart.

This year proves to be no exception, some notable sets will be Memphis night at The Rutledge featuring sets by Jim Lauderdale and the Mississippi All-Stars, okay, yes, I’ll say it again, Jim Lauderdale and The Mississippi All-Stars also a late set featuring an all-star jam playing the music of Big Star.

For those with a traditional view of what is “Americana”, Corb Lund will be at Mercy Lounge this Wednesday followed by a tribute to the late Levon Helm. In fact the line-up seems to be all inclusive with The Wallflowers, Mindy Smith, Chris Scruggs, Rodney Crowell among others playing all over the place for several nights.

As far as Americana goes, the easiest party route is to hang between Mercy Lounge and The Cannery Ballroom with an occasional run to The Basement for some harder to find sets.

Don Was, photo – Brad Hardisty

The problem is, this year, there are some great line-ups at The Rutledge and the Station Inn that will make that shuttle route a little difficult and may necessitate borrowing somebody’s 20-speed bike to get around each night.

Peelander-Z at Exit/In, NBN 2010 – photo – Brad Hardisty

The awards show at the end of the event, always proves to be a magical evening at The Ryman. This year should be no different. I am rooting for Alabama Shakes in the Emerging Artist category as well as Jason Isbell (Alabama represent!) & The 400 Unit with Album of the Year, Here We Rest.

The Dillards, IBMA 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

Not to be outdone, IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Week runs from 24th-30th at, for convenience, The Nashville Convention Center and Renaissance Hotel. The IBMA Convention is not just about showcases, but, people are encouraged to carry around their guitars, fiddles, mandolins  and join in the jam sessions that run almost till the sun comes up every night.

You could say Ricky Skaggs is our local Bluegrass patron Saint, with yearly residencies at The Ryman and a new album, Music to My Ears coming out this month, but, there are many new young artists playing traditional bluegrass as well as pulling in some modern ideas and pre-war non-bluegrass styles.

This is the real rebellion. While the music industry is finding a million ways to make computers sing and dance and auto-tune any Disney character into stardom, both the Americana Music Festival and the IBMA World of Bluegrass celebrate real musicianship, communal collaboration and a reason for a Luthier to keep honing his skills in search of the perfect tone wood.

This recipe continues to build both communities with younger generations every year.

After all, how many times can the music business reinvent the 70’s and the 80’s?

Mike Farris hanging at Mercy Lounge, Americana 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

So, while commercial Country is now going to be shown every week in the night time soap, Nashville, basically re-spinning the movie Country Strong, “Americana,” which can claim anything from pre-war anthems to Red Dirt scene country and Bluegrass, New Grass and all its modern heirs are really the new cool. These two celebrations are really the underground cool.

As far as Soundland? What happened? Well, it’s now on October 6th and after a peak year three years ago that featured major music business players talking about the next generation of music delivery and several days of new music, it is now one day down by the river with bands that already play Lollapalooza and other big festivals.

Wanda Jackson signing autographs at Mercy Lounge after Jack White produced album showcase, Americana 2010.

There are only a few locals, when Nashville could really do a Next Big Nashville with such a burgeoning Indie Rock and other type Music Scene, we get Soundland with just a couple of token Nashvillians, PUJOL and Nikki Lane.  I guess we are going for national respect and now start-ups like Secret Stages in Birmingham are filling in the gap. Can I just say…huh?

– Brad Hardisty, Nashviille, TN

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 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

FnA Records will officially release the long anticipated Tora Tora follow up to Wild America; Revolution Day on February 28th on at 8:30 PM Pacific Time live on the air from Las Vegas, Nevada with DJ Cory Draper playing some of the tracks and celebrating with all the original members of the band; Anthony Corder, Keith Douglas, Patrick Francis and John Patterson.

It has been a while since 1994 when this gem was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee just like the previous two albums. Anthony and I sat down for an Indian Lunch buffet at Tamarind on Demonbreum, just off Music Row in Nashville to reflect back on that time.  Tora Tora has been lucky over the last few years doing reunion shows and playing Rocklahoma in 2008.

The release of Revolution Day has been long anticipated since the fans have been getting their first taste of the music from Revolution Day live over the last couple of years. Tora Tora fans, especially in their hometown of Memphis, Tennessee were excited to know that Revolution Day was going to see the light of day.

Brad: Everybody in the band is still nearby?

Anthony: Yeah everybody is still based out of Memphis. We actually ended on great terms when the record deal was done. Our A&R Guy Brian was a great guy, he also signed Soundgarden.

B: So who was your Management then?

A: We were with Loud n Proud which was based out of Brooklyn. L’amour’s was a big heavy metal club and we used to go there and rehearse for a first tour which was our first trip out of town, when we were going to promote our record, it was our first big tour. We would go there and stay out on Staten Island in some Loft apartments, with three of our crew guys; there were seven of us staying there in a one bedroom apartment.  So we’re driving into Brooklyn every day to rehearse at L’amour’s and go by the management office.

B: You were recording at Ardent, right? But, rehearsing in New York?

A: Yeah, we went out for eight weeks after the first record I think. We worked our way on from Pennsylvania, out in the boonies, places like the Cat Club, Vinnie’s,

B: And this was right after the first release?

A: Yeah after Surprise Attack. At the end we were with Bill Graham Management. About the time we were ready to wrap the third record, Brian (A&R) was offered a very lucrative contract to go with another label.

B: How did you get signed?

Tora Tora at Ardent during Wild America

A: Ardent had signed us to a production deal and they kept bringing A&R guys to Memphis to see us and A&M showed the most interest. They seemed the most genuinely interested in what was going on with the band. Brian (Artist Relations with A&M) was always really encouraging; he liked to hang out with us after our thing (in Memphis). We used to have this warehouse where we would showcase.

B: Was that like your practice space?

A: Yeah, we hung black garbage bags all over the wall and the front of the stage. Keith’s Dad had these 55 gallon blue barrels and we built a stage out of them. We put plywood on top of them and painted it. We would just recruit some of the Football players like from Ole Miss and they would run the door for us. They were security and the local DJ would announce us on the radio. He would say, “Hey tonight, don’t forget Tora Tora”. They would bring like long chairs and all kinds of stuff and just hang out and we would jam out all night. That’s where the record label came to see us play.

B: Did you have other bands playing gigs with you there?

A: Our first show was on Halloween and we had an opening act but after that we pretty much did our own thing.

B: Did you do the warehouse thing because there was pretty much one club or you had to open for a big name act?

A: The biggest problem was our crowd was under age so playing bars; they wouldn’t be able to get in. So it was a place, if you were under age where you could go and hang out and listen to lots of music. It was kinda cool. We did play at The New Daisy on Beale Street a lot. It’s like a little thousand seat Theater. We actually just played there in 2009 I think. It was kind of great to go back there and play in a place you grew up.

B: So what was going on around the time you did Revolution Day after a few years on the road?

A: About the time we got finished with recording our last, the third (Revolution Day) record, Keith our guitarist, was getting ready to have a Son, so he was thinking I don’t know if I’m up for doing another run on the road, maybe I’ll do the record, and of course we wanted him to go with us, we just said if you’re not going to go then we’re not going either. You know we had been playing together since we were kids.

B: So he didn’t think he would be able to do it?

A: Well, he just had a child that he wanted to be around. It was a big decision and at the time the other three of us weren’t married. Not to bring up anything negative, but it seemed like the timing was right to take a break, Brian (at A&M) was going and Keith was wanting to take some time off, so we were like you know what let’s just take a break and we’ll pick up where we left off or if we want to get back together we will.

B: So you kind of took a hiatus?

A: Yeah, and so we decided to do that and it took us I don’t know how long, fourteen years or something like that to get back. Everybody got back into their own life and had their things going on. I wanted to keep singing and I kept pounding it out with some other guys.

B: Were any of the guys playing in any bands or doing anything after Tora Tora?

A: Patrick actually did, he went on and did a thing with a band called Rail.

B: Was it the Rail that was on MTV and stuff back in the early eighties that won some contest and toured with Heart?

A: I don’t think so. Oh no.

B: When you started Tora Tora and got signed did you ever find out there were any other bands called Tora Tora?

A: We did, from the seventies I think.

B: Were they a U.S. Band?

A: Yeah, they were and they had a record called Made in Japan. It was funny.  I guess with the length of time and everything since their release we got permission and everything to get the rights to the name and go for it.

B: Nowadays with the internet, it is a lot easier to find out, but back then you would have to look through a library or for trademarks or something. Back then you wouldn’t know there was another band with your name unless you crossed regions. With a name like Tora Tora there was that possibility.

A: Right, we kind of found out on the back end, but it was enough time before we got the record deal and everything going.

B: When you were writing the music for Revolution Day there is a marked confidence in the playing.

A: We had grown so much out on the road. I mean on our first record we had never travelled. We didn’t have a lot of life experience. We just thought about dating girls, maybe catching a buzz or something. It was pretty limited but after our first record we spent two years out on the road and you could tell our eyes were just like opening.

B: Who were you touring with at the time?

A: We did a lot of touring on our own. We were brand new. We wanted to get out and get the chops, get our own crowd. It was about being in front of people, you know you can rehearse to death in a rehearsal room and hit every mark and great but when you play in front of people it turns into its own thing.

B: Now kids want to get in and do all these recordings and videos but what Rock and Roll is all about is going out and joining the circus.

A: Yeah we took three guys as our crew and went out and our A&R guy was there.

B: Did your A&R guy do merch for you?

A: No, He just wanted to go out with us on the road. It was great fun. I don’t know how other people work but he was pretty hands on.

B: That is really good though.

A: Yeah even Keith our guitar player got kind of close would hang with him. He would come up with all kinds of crazy stuff. One of my Birthdays, we were on our way to North Carolina or whatever and he would get ideas to go do stuff. There is nothing like being in a band together and just going out and doing stuff you like to do. We were getting so much better out on the road.

B: Well, when you think of the trilogy of Tora Tora albums it makes me think about Van Halen, on Van Halen it was just killer, and then when you get to Van Halen II, hey they have been out on the road, there just kind of more loose, relaxed and then Van Halen III it was like they thought we can do some crazy stuff, like with the drum beats and where they were going. It was kind of like Tora Tora was getting there, like now we can try some crazy stuff.

A: Yeah, we always rehearsed a lot so that when we got to the studio there were never any snares. Keith was always the perfectionist.  You know how it is, he was always creative. We were growing musically, but on that third record practiced a lot at an old studio around the corner from Ardent. We actually had done a lot of pre-production there for the Wild America record as well.

B: Are the first two A&M records still in print?

A: The first one (Surprise Attack) is, the second one is not. I think they only made about 300,000 units or something.

B: So what about Revolution Day?

A: I think we did stretch out musically.  We had a warehouse that was over by the airport and it was great we could get as loud as we want and there were planes like taking off. This was during the third record.

B: Did you know Rock City Angels when they were recording over at Ardent?

A: Yeah we knew them very well. I remember Bobby Durango and all those guys. Anyways, when we were at the warehouse, one of our crew guys had worked at Ardent and he was a great like Engineer guy and he could fix like anything in the world and he helped us mic up everything and did preproduction demos on 8 track cassette. That was some of the stuff we released on FnA Records.

B: Yeah some people are so into deep catalog stuff they are looking for stuff like that.

A: Yeah, I told FnA Records that was great even for us to have just to document that time.  We worked on that record for a long time and there are songs like “Little Texas” which is about this place in Mississippi where they are still toting stuff around it’s a farm area, a town called Little Texas, Mississippi. Lyrically it had stuff about my roots, more introspective.

B: So “Little Texas” is about where you grew up?

A: Yeah, a little bit. I mean the real place I’m from is called Avalon, Mississippi. It’s where Mississippi John Hurt is from, and you know cotton gins and little stores,

B: You know talking about Mississippi John Hurt; that was one of the blues players they went back to in the sixties like Son House.

A: My Granddad knew him. When I grew up, my family on my Mom’s side, they were all like porch players and my Mom played piano and my Uncle played guitar. The other Aunt sang.

B: Porch players? Like hanging out on the porch and jamming?

A: Yeah, porch pickers, they would all play and they got my Uncle to learn the John Hurt way of playing. So he would do it and play just like him. My Aunt could do it. I don’t realize it was something unique growing up there with my family jamming and stuff. My friends would come down with me to visit and they would be like, your family is playing this Mississippi John Hurt style and I would be like, no, let’s get out of here. I would never sing in front of my family. When I was about fifteen, a guy down the street from me was playing guitar and I’ll never forget, he got a Jackson, like he was all about it, it was pink and the slanted neck and all that. He got it and he was listening to a bunch of Dokken and all these things and I went down and he said you should sing or something. At first he got a snare, bass drum and a High hat and I was jamming with him and I was yelling over the drums. That is when I very first started singing.

B: Before that did you sing in the shower or anything like that?

A: No, I listened to a lot of top 40 radio and my parents listened to a lot of R&B and the bluesy stuff and they did Gospel. It was really important, because they were like strict Southern Baptist and we were at church every Sunday singing in church and stuff like that. It was definitely something different when I started singing with them and we started this group called Pioneer.

B: That was your first band?

A: We had done a couple of talent shows and a couple of Battle of the Bands things and then Patrick the bass player from Tora Tora talked to me one day. We saw each other at the Mall or something.

B: This was how Tora Tora started?

A: Yeah, he said we are going to have some auditions for the band and we wanted to know if you wanted to come by and sing. They were like into Iron Maiden and Rush, things I weren’t super clear with, and I knew some of the stuff.

B: You brought kind of the blues thing into it, kind of like they were these Metalheads?

A: Yeah, it wasn’t something like hey this is what we are going to do. It just kind of developed. They were playing like Cheap Trick, Rush 2112 and Iron Maiden.

B: This is a lot different than “Guilty”.

A: They had a following before I came in but it was more heavy kind of a Judas Priest thing. It turned into something a little bit different. After the first couple of times practicing it started changing and they were really teaching me a lot of things because I really didn’t know much about singing. I mean like timing and all that stuff. It was hilarious. I remember our first show we played out, like I didn’t move.  I stared at my feet. And they said you gotta move man. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think about every day. I mean I can walk by somewhere and smell the room and say I want to get up there right now or something will happen. The third record though,

B: What would you say would be the radio cut on the new album?

A: I don’t know, we had a lot of fun where we had girls singing back up and we had the Memphis Horns on one track (Memphis Soul). We had written with some more outside writers like Stan Lynch from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

B: Really, Stan Lynch?

 A: He had two songs on the second record, and I think he had two on the third record. I still talk to him this day. He had a great stand here in Nashville. On the first record we were against writing with other people, but then we co wrote “Guilty” and that was like pulling teeth. None of us wanted to go in there. We felt like they were trying to change us. We thought well we need to man up so I went in there and wrote with him. We thought this is totally going to change our sound and the label is going to hate it and the label people went “Oh my God, this is great! We got a single!” It was a learning experience and the one thing I am happy about now, looking back on it, especially being in publishing now, I encourage people to write with as many people as they can. You always take something out of it even if the song is not that great.

B: There is nothing wrong with mixing it up.

A: I think Keith tried a lot of different things on the guitar; he tried a lot of different tones and sounds in the studio. We had the luxury when we were at A&M, all six years, with recording everything at Ardent.  It was kind of our home base. John Fry is still a great mentor to me.

B: John Fry is still the “guru” at Ardent today.

A: Yeah, and they gave us the opportunity to like grow and be experimental. I bet we wrote sixty songs for Revolution Day. That was actually demo’d up.

B: Pre-production was a big thing back then. You could demo thirty songs and pick twelve or thirteen.

A: I think the culture is totally different now. Economics.  Money is not flowing around like it used to be.  Technology affords you the opportunity to just trigger it. The overall thing about Revolution Day that I just wanted to say is get it out to the people that want to have the chance to hear it.

B: The songs from Revolution Day always go over really well. I was at your 2008 show.  The fans like it, people want a copy of it.

A: It’s out all over the internet (poor MP3 quality bootlegs). We just said, let’s do a copy right. I’m surprised fans are still out there and they’re still loyal. They appreciate everything we do. I think about it every day.

B: I talk to a lot a people from bands from back in the day and I mention Tora Tora, being from Memphis and the album Revolution Day and I always get positive feedback. It’s always, I really liked those guys.

A: I think a lot of it is due to the team we had around us at Ardent. The band, the guys, they really had a sound. We would go bang it out in the studio till we had the right sound.

B: So with Revolution Day, maybe you’ll do some more shows?

A: Well, Keith has been writing some stuff and said “I want to send some stuff over to you, not bang you in the head, maybe acoustic stuff at first. Which is good, I was always the mellow guy. I would love to do something again other than just do shows.

After a pile of Tandori Chicken, Curry and Rice we were done and where we were going was into the future. It is possible that Tora Tora may have some new material in the future with the same four members that tore it up back when, but, for now Revolution Day is a fantastic album equal sonically to some of the best Metal of the era like Motley Crue’s Doctor Feelgood for Metalheads past and present to enjoy.

Tora Tora present times

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN