Archives for category: Billy Block

So Cal Tale Weaving  Nettie Rose at The Billy Block Show

Billy Block Into - Mercy Lounge 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Billy Block Into – Mercy Lounge 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose is a cross between a young June Carter growing up in Modern So Cal, instead of the Smoky Mountains with a Laurel Canyon era Graham Parsons partner Emmylou Harris singing thru the lens of a Gold rush street fightin’ San Fran Saloon Chanteuse.

Nettie Rose, Mercy Lounge 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose, Mercy Lounge 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose debuted on The Billy Block Show live from Mercy Lounge Tuesday night weaving tales from the San Francisco gold rush days to sharing her own stories of modern L.A.life.

Nettie Rose, Billy Block Show at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose, Billy Block Show at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Her voice is part plaintive Wildwood Flower , Wanda Jackson “Fuji Yama Mama” with a little scratch tickling the throat and sometimes pure catfight from a Boomtown Dance Hall girl that has been through too many “love ‘em and leave ‘em” romances from a transient California strike it rich past.

Nettie Rose at Billy Block Show, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Billy Block Show, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose had been in Nashville the past few days recording new songs, one of which ”Deaf Cowboy” was debuted during the six song set that gave Nashville a taste of California’s history and country music heritage as well as the first song she wrote, the sing-a-long “Ride, Ride, Ride.”

Lynn Shipley Sokolow, Fred Sokolow, Nettie Rose, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Lynn Shipley Sokolow, Fred Sokolow, Nettie Rose, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Current mentor and co-writer, Fred Sokolow was featured on some pre-Bakersfield Sound style Tele work as well as “Speedy West” Electric Hawaiian tone that played like on old California Town Hall Party 78 record.

John "Spazz" Hatton, with Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

John “Spazz” Hatton, with Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Upright bassist extraordinaire, John “Spazz” Hatton, who has played with Brian Setzer, kept the bottom end somewhere between early Bob Wills and Sun Records’ Tennessee Two percussive slaps when needed, like they were goin’ to play the Grand Ole Opry in 1952 and couldn’t use a drummer.

Lynn Shipley Sokolow, Fred Sokolow, Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad  Hardisty

Lynn Shipley Sokolow, Fred Sokolow, Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Lynn Shipley Sokolow on banjo gave the quartet a pre-war Americana feel to the evening.

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose referenced Ernest Tubb as an inspiration on one song as she seemed to pull back the concrete jungle of modern Bay Area Cali and The Sunset Strip to reveal a parallel universe where Nettie Rose seemed to be an ether conduit for hard living gold rush era women telling their story of living from Mendocino and Oakland [“Last Chance Saloon”] on down to pre-highway Southern California where somebody was on horseback trying to outrun the law going over the “Grapevine.”

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose did a cover of “Don’t Fence Me In” which fit the vintage motif although many songs reflected the current state of affairs written from a hanging out at McCabe’s Guitar Store point of view rather than partying with the ecstasy crowd.

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The poetic lyrics reflect a well-read deep thinker rather than an insipid “throw your hands up in the air” refrain and this will remind listeners that California is also the land of Lucinda Williams and Ryan Bingham as well as the growing up years of songwriters’ Darrell Scott and Jeffrey Steel.

California is also the birthright of Tele’s and Fender Amps, Bigsby tailpieces, Dobro guitars and The Byrds’ “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” as well as Rose Maddox’ pre-Rockabilly pumped up Hillbilly muse.

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The one thing Nettie Rose accomplishes better than just about any muddy roots artist out there today is that she is able to weave modern tales and vintage sounds like they can co-exist without some weird juxtapose which doesn’t box her in like, say for example San Joaquin Valley throwback Frank Fairfield who can give a definitive 110 year old style from the top down on a Thompson Square 10 inch but, has a style that is very hard to translate into a modern storyline.  

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The advance copy of People I Know shows diversity in storylines that go concurrently with real time to the California that the first Pioneers, Gold Miners and Okies experienced over the last two hundred years when it was the Wild, Wild, West. Colin Linden has production credits and is currently part of the team working with T Bone Burnett making music for the hit TV show Nashville

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose appears to have a good West Coast based team of musicians, music business friends and a three generation music family that are supportive of her quest and it appears that will be helpful in her effort to be a genuine West Coast modern Bob Dylanesque storyteller of the rough and tumble life of California’s golden years.

Nettie Rose preachin' the Cali Blues, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose preachin’ the Cali Blues, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

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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

Tommy Dalton could very well be the next Nashville Graduating class’ Jeffrey Steele.  Following “Damn Jeans” endorsement deal with True Religion Jeans, Tommy continues to grow both directions as a Songwriter co-writing new material with Anne Marie Boskovitch and other up and comers as well as the ability to front a band and rock the house.

Tommy had a full band last night for The Billy Block Show at The Rutledge sharing the bill with 80’s teen sensation, Tiffany, who has been spending some time in Nashville recording new material at Yackland Studios. Just like Keith Urban and Elvis, there were girls up front who knew the words to all of his songs even though they may have just heard “Something To Die For” at local showcases for the most part.

Tommy Dalton had a tight band featuring Eric Seals’ Tommy Lee flare, stick twirling and skin pounding under The Billy Block Show banner. I was surprised when Tommy announced that the band had only practiced that morning.

Only in Nashville, like Bob Dylan found out when he recorded Blonde on Blonde, can you find such passionate playing with musicians who get it almost as fast as you can think it.

Okay so why can I say he could be the next Jeffrey Steele? I haven’t met anybody who wouldn’t like to co-write with him whether an upbeat piece or a ballad. Tommy’s songwriting chops have been doubling every year. I met Tommy when he came down from the North Country in 2008 when he played an open mic night at French Quarter Café. He had the charisma and, okay, magnetism, it really didn’t matter that a lot of the structure at that time spoke “Goo Goo Dolls”; it was the potential at that point.

Jeffrey Steele with Tommy

He is one of those guys that you want to see succeed and his willingness to develop both on stage and with a guitar and a piece of paper that has got long-timers like Brent Mason behind him.

There will be those that prefer to see Tommy do his own songs while musicians like Travis Wilbourn (T. Swift, Hello Kelly) say they know him mainly as a songwriter. I don’t know anybody else in town, give or take another year or two, who has the potential to follow in Jeffrey Steele’s footsteps as a great performer fronting a full band as well as being a great Songwriter.

Tommy has been here since 2008 and every year he increases his ability times ten. I met Jeffrey Steele back in 2008 after a sold out gig at 3rd and Lindsley. He said “Brad, it took me eight years before I got my first cut but after that it just kept going. Let me know how you’re doing”.

Tommy Dalton has been here for three. I think by the time year five comes around he will be part of Country Music’s new class of Writers and Performers.

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

Mike Farris and The Cumberland Saints at Grimey's

 Mike Farris played with one of the largest bands ever to do an in-store at Grimey’s the night of October 26th, sharing that honor with Dark Meat and Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings playing a set list from The Night the Cumberland Came Alive which is already number twenty two on the Americana charts on its first day of release. 

The album was recorded live just weeks after the Nashville flood in just six hours.  Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart), Ketch and Gill (Old Crow Medicine Show) and The McCrary Sisters were a part of that session and were able to be a part of the CD release party.

Kenny Vaughan Breaks out at Grimey's

Sharing time with found Pre-War Gospel Blues gems were the originals “The Night the Cumberland Came Alive” written by Mike as well as “Dear Lazarus” that Mike co-wrote with Ketch Secor.

The all acoustic set lead to some great jamming between Ketch on Harmonica, Kenny leaning into the Guitar and some fiddle, Resonator and Upright Bass. It may have been Grimey’s but it might as well have been a church in rural Louisiana or an old juke joint in the Hill Country not long after the Memphis Jug Bands.

Mike even got an encore as he noted that only in Nashville can you walk in with a framework of songs that you would like to do and come up with such a great recorded list in only six hours. Mike will be at Music City Roots Wednesday night with special guest Jerry Douglas at The Loveless Barn which can be heard on WRLT-FM, The Lightning 100.

John Carter Cash

It was too early to head home so I stopped by The Rutledge for The Billy Block Show to listen to John Carter Cash play a more rocking set of songs off his latest release The Family Secret as well as Billy Block on drums with Mary Hartman and the Mistakes. Mary Hartman had garnered some interest with a few fans coming in from Kentucky and Chattanooga after seeing her set from last month on The Billy Block Show on YouTube.

Mary Hartman and The Mistakes

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

New Jersey Cat, , Sam Cooper, has been busy criss-crossing Nashville, splitting time producing, co-writing, hosting or playing songwriter rounds at The Bluebird Cafe, Commodore Grill and Douglas Corner, where he gets nuttin’ but the best entertaining songwriters on his tilt-a-whirl sets as well as gigging with Mary Hartman and The Mistakes.

Sam with Jamey Johnson on "Orange Man" Set

Things are getting interesting on this side of The Cumberland River, Sam may get his first official Nashville cut with his co-writing partners-in-crime Chris Gantry, Alex King, Brenda Enderson and Kate McCoy’s Dark Horse Hip Hop Country flavored “Orange Man” which features cameos by Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson and others may see the light of day with recording artist, Alex King.

Getting a significant cut in four years is a big accomplishment, but, the coffee percolates when he talks about playing with Mary Hartman and The Mistakes. “Billy Block posted a mention on his Facebook page to play drums. I called him up and he didn‘t hesitate to join. We are really excited to work with Billy. He does so much for musicians with The Billy Block Show and he was Lucinda Williams’ (Back in her Nashville days) drummer”. “I can’t say enough about Mary Hartman she oozes personality and sexuality, she is magnetic, a great performer.”

Billy Block

Being a performer comes from what he learned watching acts like The Bruce Springsteen Band opening for Cactus before they became The E Street Band. “One of the things missing here sometimes is presentation. I’m use to a song being a performance. A lot of songwriters just sit and play and could use some vocal coaching but they don’t bother.” Performance of the song is as integral as the lyrics to Sam. 

In fact, Sam comes with a background touring that includes the Northeast chitlin’ circuit soon after he and his father had an argument.  Dad told him to pack his bags back in 1971. He left Virginia not long after starting his sophomore year of college in Richmond with nothing but the clothes on his back and headed to New Jersey where he found a room to rent with some friends for $100 a month.  He eventually settled near the ocean in the Asbury Park area where he remained until 2006, when he discovered “home”–Nashville.

Sam had a background as a radio DJ, concert security, announcing bands and even started playing guitar and trumpet in the fourth grade but he never thought about actually being in the music business professionally and writing songs regularly until that move to New Jersey. He joined a bar band and hit the road. He got the bug performing many genres, but especially “soul” music.  “The Beatles were a huge influence on me especially when “A Hard Day’s Night” came out, but soul music is something that you just can’t fake.  My biggest influences are Ray Charles, Delbert McClinton, Stevie Wonder, Dan Penn, Isaac Hayes and a lot of horn-flavored desert island soul. I was really upset when I heard that Solomon Burke had died”.

Sam brings his own Jersey Shore rock and soul roots to songs like “East Nashville Girls”. Many of his songs are a celebration, a party; in fact he has a song called “Time to Party”. He has a wide palette that comes from his formative radio listening days. “The first three songs that I got hooked on were Ray Stevens’ “Ahab the Arab”, “Speedy Gonzalez” by Pat Boone and Bobby Darin singing “Dream Lover”. Anybody who has worked with Sam can’t help but laugh about that.

It makes sense since Sam can go from the romantic cinema “You Bring the Sunshine”, where one can envision sharing smiles and kisses with a sun tanned babe in the Florida Keys and then turns around and writes “Lee Ann Womack Truck” which he affectionately calls his “Bless your little heart” song to Music Row.

In a town where you get what you bring to the table; Sam is a Muscle Shoals laden Beatle beat master. One of his strongest songs “Red Bulls and Caffeine Pills”, an ode to the modern trucker or just commentary on a late night ride back to see his wife, Dawn,  in New Jersey veers with bounce- in- your- car seat rhythm ala “Get Back” to Preston Starr-ing in a McCartney Bass boogie thriller of a hook.

When Sam works, which is almost all the time, it’s like he is running his own club house, signing up memberships on his mailing list and getting friends out to shows like it was Madison Square Garden or at least CBGB’s when Blondie, The Ramones and The Talking Heads were breaking and making new rules. He always thinks about presentation whether it is a song sampler or sitting on a stool playing at The Bluebird Café. 

Sam not only thinks of himself, but those he admires, keeping everybody in touch with up and coming news through his website and social networking pages.  The most important thing is he can sing his songs breaking bread with an Eddie Hinton– Dan Penn- Donnie Fritts kind of gravel and whiskey excess and turn around and deliver what the song asks for, whether it is Tom Waits or Peter Tosh.

This year seems to be playing out like so many well-placed notes in a melody, a culmination of years of bar band covers and the last few putting pen to paper where songwriting and publishing are an art. If there have been any setbacks for Sam in his Nashville life, he has taken them like the Pinball Wizard getting a match for an extra game on a Kiss Pinball Machine.

Mary Hartman

Sam has a couple of upcoming gigs; John Carter Cash will warm up for Mary Hartman and The Mistakes at The Rutledge on Oct. 26th, followed by a show at Douglas Corner Cafe on November 20th.

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