Archives for category: Billy Cox

Marion James also talks about music back in the day and Jimi Hendrix.

Marion James,

Marion James, “Nashville’s Queen of the Blues” sings “24 Hours A Day” at Metro 50th Concert, photo – Brad Hardisty

This Sunday, September 6th, will mark the 32nd Annual Musician’s Reunion at The Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Printers Alley. Nearly a full day event, music will be starting at 3pm with the doors opening 30 minutes early. This year there will be over 20 Artists from Nashville’s storied past Jefferson Street scene to current up and coming Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Gospel and Soul.

Featured Artists will be recently signed nationally known Nashville act The Andy T Nick Nixon Band [Alligator Records] as well as local favorite Jack Pearson and many others.

Marion James - Nashville's Queen of the Blues at 30th reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

Marion James – Nashville’s Queen of the Blues at 30th reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

The first Musician’s Reunion show that celebrated the heyday of the Jefferson Street Sound and honored those that had passed away during the year was so popular the first time that it has become an annual event.Marion James “Nashville’s Queen Of The Blues” spearheads the event with the support of the Nashville Blues Music Community. Marion James is known for having Jimi Hendrix in her backing band back in the day as well as the top ten hit “That’s My Man” [Excello]. That song was re-released on 7 inch vinyl with the original Excello label on Record Store Day in 2014 in England and sold out quick. Copies can be found occasionally through Ebay as well as all of Marion James catalog .

marion James Hound DogMarion James went on to release a couple more singles with songs written by Larry Lee [Jimi Hendrix – Gypsys, Suns and Rainbows] who performed with Jimi at Woodstock as well as long time Jimi Hendrix bassist Billy Cox who also worked with Marion back in the day.

Marion James thats my manMarion has recorded a string of CD’s over the last two decades and continues to perform at special events around Nashville. Marion discussed a little of this and a little of that with The Nashville Bridge.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How many years have you done the Annual Musicians Reunion Show?

Marion James: This is the 32nd.

Regi Wooten at 2013 Musicians Reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

Regi Wooten at 2013 Musicians Reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: What was your favorite one that you did, what year?

MJ: Well, my favorite one was the first one.

TNB: What drives you to put these shows together?

MJ: I’m just used to it. I’ve been in show business for practically all my life. My husband [Buzz Stewart], he was a Musician and also an Arranger. So, it inspired me to go on to sing in the music field.

TNB: How many records did you actually have out? Has it been three singles and several albums in the last ten or twenty years?

Marion James find out what you wantMJ: Yeah, about three singles. The rest of them were CD’s. Not records.

TNB: What are your favorite songs to sing right now?

MJ: There is one of them that I am looking forward to recording again before this year’s out. It’s one of my friends who has been into the music for a long, long time. He sung this song and it was a hit called “I Need your Love So Bad” by Little Willie John. I really like that tune.

TNB: Little Willie John, cool! You’ll have some originals as well that you are working on?

John Richards at 30th Musicians Reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

John Richards at 30th Musicians Reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: Yes, I have. I’ve got two songs that I have wrote.

TNB: What’s been your favorite time, musically, in Nashville? Do you like it now or did you prefer it back in the 60’s or 70’s?

MJ: I liked the 60’s and the 70’s. If you are speaking of music, some of these songs that they’re singing now, they are getting’ away with a lot. I mean, back in the day we had to sing the melody right and the songs tell a story. But nowadays, you got a few that will get up and take one line and sing it one line all the way through and get away with it. But, back in the day we didn’t do that. We sung our songs and we played our music.

TNB: Back in the day, I know that’s a theme that brings back to memory the Jefferson Street scene. You also recorded a song called “Back In The Day” a couple of years ago. Do you remember how it was when there were a lot of clubs and a lot of things were going on?

MJ: Yes, it was very much active. You had a lot of musicians and there had been a lot of vocalists that was doin’ it at that time.

TNB: You could probably go see somebody play live about every night back then.

Debbie Bond, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond, photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: Yeah, they had a club just about every other block on Jefferson Street back in the day. They had a different act in each club. You went in and you really enjoyed it because it wasn’t the same thing all the time. So, if you go out on the weekend and say “Well, I’m goin’ clubbin’,” you could start from 6th and Jefferson all the way out to 31st in Centennial which was a Dinner Club. There was a different act all the way.

TNB: Wow. What were some of the big names that you really liked listening to?

MJ: There was Little Richard, Otis Redding and Hank Crawford was going to school at Tennessee State University. On Sunday, Hank would have the jam session at 28th and Jefferson in a little Restaurant there they called Hayes Rendezvous and all the students would go there at three o clock on Sunday and they would have a jam. All the musicians would come in and play. There was a musician, Charlie Dungers, that would play up and down Jefferson Street and he was great. He went away from here for a while and he was playing all over Europe and then he decided to come back home and play his music and also he taught at Tennessee State University. I think it was strange he was still teachin’.

TNB: I remember now that you’ve told me about Jimi Hendrix playing with your band back then for a while. Do you have any funny stories that you remember?

MJ: Well there are a whole lot of things about Jimi that were peculiar about him that we laugh about. So really, Jimi he was kind. One of the habits, I guess it’s natural for a person to do it but, I noticed that he never did like to wear no shoes. He would just walk barefooted you know.

TNB: I’d heard that he carried his guitar around either without a case or in a paper bag or something. He didn’t ever have a guitar case.

marion james night trainMJ: Yeah, yeah, he did odd things like that. He really did, you know. Like I said, he was a nice guy, very nice to go around with also. He was on the quiet side. I don’t know how you would say it but he never was a person that was always on a run all the time. He was just calm and quiet, you know.

TNB: Now when he got on stage though he kind of commanded the stage quite a bit, didn’t he?

MJ: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, he did.

TNB: He liked to show off a little bit I guess.

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., 30th Annual Musicians Reunion Show photo - Brad Hardisty

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., 30th Annual Musicians Reunion Show photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: He loved to show off and play that guitar. He came up with that act with trying to play the guitar with his mouth and all like that. He was a pretty good showman, you know.

TNB: Who are you looking forward to playing at the Musician’s Reunion show that is coming up?

MJ: I’m looking at Jack Pearson and Scott Holt. They are my two favorites when it comes to playing guitar. Jack Pearson was on one of my CD’s that I recorded. He did a marvelous job.

TNB: Do you think you will get up and sing with Jack Pearson?

Courtesy Marion James

Courtesy Marion James

MJ: Oh yes, I mean, you know, if it comes to that, I think I can cover it.

  • Brad Hardisty Nashville, TN
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photo – Brad Hardisty

Nashville’s Queen of the Blues, Marion James, who had a Top 10 hit in 1966 with “That’s My Man” on Excello Records whom also once had a young Jimi Hendrix in her band at Club Del Morocco, presided over the proceedings of the 30th Anniversary of The Jefferson Street Musicians Reunion & Benefit which celebrated the Rhythm and Blues era of 1950-1970 that was Nashville on Jefferson Street, 4th Avenue and even a part of the Printers Alley where the event took place last Sunday, Oct. 7th, starting at 2Pm at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar.

Marion James – Nashville’s Queen of the Blues, photo – Brad Hardisty

A great collectible program was available that had the lineup of bands as well as a comprehensive piece on the importance and history of the people and places that made up the great Rhythm & Blues era in Nashville.

There are mentions of Johnny Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Earl Gaines, Little Willie John, Gene Allison, and Christine Kittrell. The included story entitled; “Scuffling: The Lost History of Nashville Rhythm & Blues” was written by Daniel Cooper in 1996 and is one of the most comprehensive articles written about the scene that was played out at The Baron, Club Del Morocco, The New Era, The Club Revillot, Maceo’s (a great photo of Ray Charles playing at Maceo’s is featured in the program), Sugar Hill, Deborah’s Casino Royale, Ebony Circle, Pee Wee’s, even a beer joint called Behind The Green Door (Marion claims to have came up with the name of this joint).

Nashville had its own R&B imprints back in the day, Bullet, Tennessee Republic, Excello, Calvert, Cherokee as well as Athens, Sims, and Sound Stage 7.

The importance of Music City’s R&B, was just as huge as Memphis, although not as well known to the rest of the world. The music of Nashville was in thousands of southern state jukeboxes and being played on the mega powered Nashville pride WLAC back in the day.

Jimi Hendrix with The King Kasuals, Club Del Morocco, early 60’s

There are discussions right now to start a fund to erect a statue of Jimi Hendrix near where the Club Del Morocco once stood on Jefferson Street. While Seattle has every right to claim Jimi as their own, it was here along with best friend and brother in arms, Billy Cox, that Jimi spent his time honing his skills and developing his songwriting craft (building riffs with Billy that would show in later compositions) in probably the most demanding city then and now for a guitarist to prove his worth.

Jimi may have lost out a guitar dual to Nashville’s great and gracious Johnny Jones, but, performing in Nashville only strengthened his resolve and allowed Jimi the opportunity to tour with the powerhouse performers of the day like Little Richard & The Isley Brothers. Johnny later paid tribute to Jimi by releasing his own version of “Purple Haze” with Jimi’s former band, The King Casuals in 1969 on the Brunswick label for all you collectors out there.

John Richards, photo – Brad Hardisty

Starting at 2PM, the New Orleans feel of the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, began to heat up with local favorites John Richards, Miranda Louise and Delicious Blues Stew getting the party started.  The stage announcer, Peter Burger, plays saxophone with Stacy Mitchhart  and also got to play in Marion James during her “burn- the- house- down” set!

There was a great silent auction to benefit the Marion James Musicians Aid Society that helps to support the musicians that made the scene happen between 1950-1970; especially with medical costs. As you all know, being a musician means forgoing a lot of insurance benefits. It was a chance to give back to the community that gave us so much.

Classic Cropper by Michael Patrick Maness, photo – Brad Hardisty

I myself eyed a print of Steve Cropper signed by the artist Michael P. Maness, after a few bids, one very close to the cut off time, it is all mine! While there were several other great pieces of art of BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and an autographed Buddy Guy gig poster, it is rare to come across an art piece of Steve Cropper, my personal icon for what he has been able to achieve in his life, that so captured the essence, Hawaiian shirt, custom orange Fender Telecaster and all.  It will go on the wall next to my art print of another Memphis legend, Furry Lewis.

Those in attendance included Baton Rouge Bluesman Larry Garner, as well as current King of The blues in Nashville, Nick Nixon.  I had heard Steve Cropper was out of town, but, I did hope to see Billy Cox at the event with no such luck. I did catch him once hanging out with old friends at a Sunday night Blues Jam at Carol Ann’s, so; he is seen around town now and then. It would have been great to see Larry Carlton or Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys show up at one of these events, maybe, down the road apiece.

Tom Cat of Bad Moon Blues Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Bad Moon Blues Band featuring Tom “Tom Cat” Whisenhunt, who has won a pair of Blues Guitarist awards, did some Strat-o-castin’ which started turn the heat up in the joint.

Regi Wooten, photo – Brad Hardisty

As the afternoon settled early evening, it was Carissia and Company that set the bar featuring Regi Wooten on Guitar. Although his brother, Victor Wooten, may be more well known, it was Regi’s guitar style that inspired Victor to go for some of the things he is known for on the bass.

Carissia, photo – Brad Hardisty

Playing of “Taps” to honor those Nashville blues musicians who have passed on. photo – Brad Hardisty

Carissia and Marion James look on as candlelight procession starts, photo – Brad Hardisty

Before Marion James’ set, there was a candlelight procession honoring passed Jefferson street artists such as Earl Gaines and Jimi Hendrix, before making mention of those who have passed on recently such as Nashville’s Donna Summers and Bob Babbit. Finally, after a moment of silence, “Taps” was played by a lone trumpet.

Lola Brown (daughter of Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown, the first black female surgeon in the south) performed a stirring Gospel rendition of “I’m Goin’ Way Over Yonder” and Carissia took a turn on the classic Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready.”

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., photo – Brad Hardisty

When Marion James took center stage with “The Queen’s Band,” the tiny stage was covered with some of Nashville’s finest performers on everything from horns, guitar to Hammond B3. Marion had three backup singers, including Lola Brown. There were at least 10 musicians, including Samuel L Dismuke jr. Jr. on trombone, who Marion said she considered to be one of her sons onstage. There was no denying why Marion James is the current “Queen of the Blues.”

Everybody stopped for about 30-40 minutes. Nobody was eating their Cajun burgers or swallowing down a couple of fries. There was no talking or chitchatting or wandering around. Time stood still as Marion cut through like a hot knife in a stick of butter.

Marion James, “The Queen of the Blues”, photo – Brad Hardisty

It was an electrified performance that was not to be missed. Marion not only sang some of her classics, but, some of her new songs from the new release on Ellersoul Records, Northside Soul with the attack of Sister Rosetta Tharp in a street fight with James Brown. Marion won!

This was the main event, although, a great late night jam featuring the Andy T Band and Nick Nixon was still in the wings.  After several hours, the night built to a crescendo and I left with my Steve Cropper print rolled carefully.

photo – Brad Hardisty

It was the end to another successful year for The Jefferson Street Musicians Benefit sponsored by Jefferson Street Sound.

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

The 4th Annual Blues Spring Festival sponsored by New Hope Foundation took place at Centennial Park in West End on Memorial Day under record setting mid-90 temperatures that got almost as hot as the afternoon jam session.

Nick Nixon in 2PM Heat!

By 2Pm things were in full swing with veteran Nashville Blues singer, James “Nick” Nixon kicking into high gear performing, “No End To The Blues,” co-written by Scotty Moore in the middle of a scorching soulful set that even brought a little church to the afternoon proceedings.

Plenty of room on the skillet in the front row!

The Festival was not all inclusive to Blues, which also included Country singer Verlan Brock as well as  T.J. Hooker-Taylor doing a tribute to his father, R&B Vocal Legend, Johnny Taylor.

Blues from down under!

Musicians from both the Nashville Blues Society as well as The Tennessee Rhythm and Blues Society did their own jamming as well as supporting the solid line-up.

Mojo Workin’ 95 degrees in the shade!

Many of the local artists can be caught at Carol Ann’s weekly Sunday night blues jams as well as Tuesday night Rhythm and Blues.

Bobby Blue Bland and Elvis, Dec. 7th, 1956

The main-headliner, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Bobby “Blue”Bland, did not disappoint. For most of the show, due to the heat, most all the seats at the front of the stage were free for the taking to watch your favorite artist. Nashville was not ready for late August heat in May. It took a strong will and plenty of water to last a few hours out by the shell at Centennial Park.

Howard Hewett

Next up; The 12th Jefferson Street Jazz and Blues Festival on June 16th starting at 12 noon at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall Amphitheatre featuring headliner, Howard Hewett of Shalamar fame.

1963 dated photo, Jimmy (Jimi Hendrix) 3rd person – Billy Cox on Bass in Nashville.

For those outside Music City, Jefferson Street was Nashville’s Beale Street where even Jimi Hendrix played with Army buddy, Billy Cox after leaving Ft. Campbell Kentucky in 1962 in The King Kasuals. Jimi once even challenged local guitar hero, Johnny Jones, to a guitar dual back in those days.

Stretching out in the shade with some Carol Ann’s BBQ

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

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

 

Jimi Hendrix in Nashville

Word hit the street over the last two weeks like a brush fire in New Mexico: Rolling Stone wrote in print and on the net, Nashville has the best music scene in the country. I haven’t even read it yet because it is in the subscriber content on the web, but, I believe it to be true.

What was the turning point? The Kings of Leon? I don’t really think so.  The Kings of Leon had to go over to England to become big  in the U.S., kind of like Jimi Hendrix, in fact Jimi was gigging up on Jefferson Street with Billy Cox  and The King Kasuals for just a little scratch and room and board just a couple of years before he went to the U.K.

Paramore? Well, giving a little credit to a younger scene was a good thing when they were signed to Fueled by Ramen (sort of) yet there is no scene of bands trying to sound like Paramore around Nashville so it is its own thing.

Just a couple of years ago, Nashville was licking its wounds when Be Your Own Pet and The Pink Spiders, especially The Pink Spiders who went in with guns loaded and a Ric Okasek Produced album and an Artist Relations war chest were unable to break big.

Was it when Jack White moved Third Man Records down to Nashville, that is definitely a key piece to being Rolling Stone cool, with new 45’s by regionals being released almost on a Sam Phillip’s Sun Records schedule along with concert events that are showstoppers like the Record Store Day plus one Jerry Lee Lewis concert featuring Steve Cropper and Jim Keltner.

Okay, Jack White has given it the one two punch by introducing past icons to new generations  like Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose Grammy award winning album with Loretta standing in front of the East Nashville house where it was recorded.  How about when Porter Wagoner opened for The White Stripes at Madison Square Garden?  Who would have known that Porter’s final call would be an outstanding album, The Wagonmaster and a gig opening for The White Stripes?

Maybe, that was key in making sure that real icons are represented like Wanda Jackson’s great new album on Third Man Records. Jack is definitely not just looking behind but is really tuned into the ether. I was excited to see Dan Sartain, a part of the same Birmingham scene I was in for a number of years cut some vinyl on Third Man Records. Dan opened up for The White Stripes on several dates a few years ago and my friend Emanuel Elinas who made some guitar pedals for me down at Highland Music in Birmingham talked about playing Bass with Dan Sartain and going bowling with Jack and his Mom. How cool is that?

In fact, when I saw the band on the flip side of the Dan Sartain 45 and Matt Patton was there, I was really happy about what was happening. Matt and a few others had put out some of the best Indie music in Birmingham that I have ever heard. Matt had this band called Model Citizen and their CD, The Inner Fool, produced by Tim Boykin (The Lolas, The Shame Idols, Carnival Season) on Bent Rail Foundation is one of my all time favorites. Matt is getting recognition with Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s The Dexateens now.

I tell you what; let’s get down to ground zero. When we talk about Todd Snider and the East Nashville scene we are getting close, but, let’s get down to one album and one artist.  Okay, I am going to say the transition came when Nashville got behind one of its own in 2008. When Justin Townes Earle got signed to Bloodshot Records and released The Good Life both weekly music papers got behind with big in depth articles about how Justin got to that point. The Good Life is a classic album out of left field but it really represented what Nashville was known for, good songwriting, a little rock and roll, a little country with a nod to the past and to the future of Americana.

At that time, you could hang with Justin over at The Basement, but with extensive touring and a prolific three years, Justin is well established and still with indie cred enough where I can still turn people onto his music as something new.

Justin was recognized at The Americana Music Awards in Nashville in 2009 the year before Rolling Stone called the Americana Music Festival the coolest festival in the U.S. In fact 2010 would be the no holds barred year when Warner Brothers would finally release American Bang’s CD. Robert Plant would record Band of Joy in East Nashville with an Americana  A-List including Buddy Miller and Darrell Scott and be the surprise guest at The Americana Music Awards.

The 2010 Americana Music Festival was a real eye opener when you had The Long Players, Bobby Keyes, Dan Baird and a laundry list doing Exile on Main Street at The Cannery Ballroom, Hayes Carll at The Basement, with people coming from Australia just to see him play and a festival closer with Todd Snider and an all-star band featuring Don Was on Bass, with a grin and looking somewhat like Slash’s older brother.

Don Was got in the game this year when he produced Lucinda Williams (a Nashville alumnus) new Cd, Blessed. Did it start at The Americana Music Festival with an exchange of phone numbers backstage at The Rhyman? Only they know for sure, but Nashville is becoming a ground zero magnet for much more than Popular Country Music Radio songs and Christian Music.

There had to be a change. The music business had changed and Nashville has changed along with that. Instead of twenty major labels in town, there are now five. The rest are Indie Country, Rock, whatever.

Coming to Nashville to be a hit songwriter may be a goal for a lot of people, but, getting a staff writing gig is becoming really difficult and less lucrative. Back in 2007-2008, we talked about how a songwriter with good songs getting signed to a publisher with maybe a 25-35k draw now going for 18-24k and the need for a day job for many.  Also, one of the larger publishers had in the past as many as 135 staff writers and was then down to Thirty five.

I know for a fact things are much worse for that dream with less staff writers, less money and less records being sold. The dream is still there, but, now you need to get lucky and find a new face with a great voice and the potential to get signed and start co-writing before some money starts flowing.

In early 2008, I could go to The Commodore Grill and see an endless supply of new songwriting talent for the Country Music Industry, but, with less staff gigs and the economy in the tank, less people are rolling into Nashville with an acoustic guitar and lyrics in the guitar case. In fact, it really is a trickle compared to just three years ago. Also, many of the writers that are coming into town have Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson chops and are not really what the Country Music Industry is looking for.

On the other hand, the Indie Rock and Americana scenes are ripe for development.  Vinyl is making a comeback with this crowd and United Record Pressing is right here where it always was. Colored vinyl, short runs, whatever you need with local labels like Third Man Records and Nashville’s Dead Records, United Pressing is back to increasing production and essentially back in the game.

The song publishing and royalty distribution infrastructure is realigning in Nashville with changes in staff announced publicly last year at ASCAP and I am sure accommodations are coming with a paradigm shift to handle multiple styles now in the pipeline.

Grimey’s New and Pre-Loved Music is probably the most famous record store in the country now, maybe second to Amoeba’s out on the West Coast. It’s not enough that Indie bands make in-store appearances. Metallica made a little short announced gig for fans at The Basement below Grimey’s in 2008 before their Bonnaroo appearance and released the whole experience as Live at Grimey’s worldwide in 2010. Now all the gloves are off.

If you are a music lover, archivist, etc. in a world with disappearing Record stores, Nashville not only has Grimey’s, but  also, Phonoluxe Records, The Great Escape, The Groove and plenty of other outlets for local as well as rare Cd’s and vinyl.

Look what is going on at Thirty Tigers Indie Distribution and their great success over the last couple of years.

Belmont University is turning out Music and Music Business degrees every year and a lot of students want to stay here and not necessarily go into the Country Music Machine. They have their own ideas from the scenes they came from whether it was in California or New York.

Bands like The Black Keys and The Deadstring Brothers are migrating here.  Even though Music Row still has a big chunk of the day to day business great records are being made in East Nashville, Blackbird Studio and Buddy Miller’s living room.

With the advent of a studio in a gig bag, Indie artists can make records anywhere and with cheap housing and a plethora of like minded musicians gathering in what really is now becoming truly Music City it only makes sense to live and work here, especially when gas is going for near $5 a gallon. Why not be close to all the blessings that come with a great music talent smorgasbord.

Speaking of food, you don’t want to leave Austin because of Texas Barbecue? Okay at least try Jack’s and Rooster’s Texas Style BBQ and Steak House on 12th. I promise you won’t be disappointed. You want California style Mexican Food? Go to Oscar’s Taco Shop on Nolensville and in Franklin. Thai? Thai Star. Vietnamese? Far East Nashville. Indian? Tamarind. New York Style Italian? Are you kidding? Maffiozas or the place at the Arcade. Okay, so you can’t get Hawaiian Plate BBQ here yet, but, there is plenty to explore. We could still use an In and Out Burger.

Okay, back to music.  Country is going through a lot of changes. The ripple of the Taylor Swift explosion that Big Machine Records put into motion are still being felt, being one of the only Platinum Recording Artists in the new digital era, as well as outside pressures from Texas Charts, the Red Dirt scene and T-Bone Burnett Produced masterpieces that can’t be denied.

Country even has its own street cred in Nashville with bands like Kort who are local but signed over in England as well as Indie Singer / Songwriter Caitlin Rose and Country spun  Those Darlins. Even Charlie Louvin, who as part of The Louvin Brothers can take some credit for inspiring The Everly Brothers and therefore The Beatles harmonies, got his Indie cred with The Battle Rages On that was released on Austin’s Chicken Ranch Records. I can say I got to see two Midnight Jamboree tapings and get his autograph on an early Louvin Brothers recording before he passed into immortality.

So what about Nashville’s own Indie scene? Heypenny, Jeff The Brotherhood, Cheer Up Charlie Daniels,  Uncle Skeleton, Pujol, Heavy Cream (kind of Karen-O fronting a better looking MC5), Todd Snider, John Carter Cash, The Coolin System, The Deep Fried 5 and a laundry list playing at places like The Basement, The End, Danzig’s House, Exit/In, The Rutledge, Mercy Lounge and a house party near you.

How could Rolling Stone not call Nashville the best Music Scene in the country? It is a multi pronged Country, Alt-Country, Americana, Bluegrass, Newgrass, Folk, roots, rock, funkified attack on your senses.

It’s one of those places you could actually plan a week of your life to check out bands as well as pick up a new Nudie or Katy K suit. A place where you might find Joe Maphis’ old Mosrite double neck or the Bass player from Cinderella’s vintage Precision Bass on sale on Craigslist.

You may never win over Nashville, but, it’s a good place to write, do your business and go to the Third Sunday at Third pot luck at Doak Turner’s house in Nashville. Maybe it doesn’t have a burgeoning Death Metal scene but it does have The Billy Block Show. When the sun is out you can’t deny how beautiful Nashville is. Where else can “Bless Your Little Heart” actually mean, I don’t give a ****.

Nashville is a great place to throw your guitar case in the corner and call home.

There are several trackbacks links for your viewing pleasure.

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

The new Jimi Hendrix Anthology West Coast Seattle Boy bonus DVD Voodoo Child answers a lot of questions about Jimi’s time in Nashville, which for the most part is an unknown piece of the puzzle.  Jimi not only formed his first band The King Kasuals with Billy Cox on Bass  while in Nashville but it was here that he cut his teeth with some of the best Rhythm and Blues acts of the day.

Jimi Hendrix at Ft. Campbell, KY

The first step to Nashville for the Seattle, Washington native was joining the Military. “I was 18. I figured I would have to go into the Army sooner or later, so I walked into the first recruiting office I saw and volunteered. I wanted to get everything over with before I got into music as a career so they wouldn’t call me up in the middle of something that might be happening. “

Jimi wasn’t able to sign up as a musician because he had no formal musical training so he joined the most elite outfit he could. The 101st Airborne Division, The Screaming Eagles of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He wrote home “Well Dad, here I am exactly where I wanted to go in the 101st Airborne.”

Young Jimi with Red Danelectro

Jimi wanted to succeed for the sake of his family name as a member of the Screaming Eagles in the U.S. Army. One of the first requests home was to send his guitar, “P.S. Please send my guitar as soon as you can. I really need it now.”

The one thing that Jimi gave up when he went into the military was about to become what he always wanted; music would become the center focus of his life. He was in the military for thirteen months when he got his ankle caught in a sky hook and he broke it. He had become frustrated with the military life and the inability to play music and decided to tell them he hurt his back too. They let him out,  July 2, 1962, just prior to the troop increase in Vietnam.

Photo Date 1963, probably at Del Morocco, Jimmy (Jimi) ,notice Epiphone Coronet, Silvertone Amp, Billy Cox, 3rd down, Nice Fender Jazz Bass, Fender Amp. Jimi was notorious for letting his stuff go into hawk.

Jimi became more serious about the guitar while still in the Army and decided to head south of Kentucky a few short miles to Nashville to see if he could earn money playing the guitar.  He moved into a housing development during the civil rights movement.  In fact he was arrested once along with Billy Cox in 1962. “Every Sunday we would go down to watch the race riots. We took a picnic basket because they wouldn’t serve us in the restaurant…Sometimes if there was a good movie on Sunday there wouldn’t be any race riots.”

The Bonnevilles, 1962, Clarksville, TN at The Pink Poodle just prior to move to Nashville.

Ft. Campbell had been where Jimi had become friends with  Billy Cox, a Bass player born in West Virginia, raised in Pittsburg, PA who also settled into Nashville for the music opportunities.

Together. they formed The King Kasuals. The band played at clubs like the Del Morocco on Jefferson Street as well as gigs on Printers Alley. Jimi did get a little studio time, but, engineers found him too experimental when he got to recording as a back up musician and Jimi had a hard time making some extra money as a studio musician.

Mid-60’s Nashville Civil Rights March

Hendrix waited for his Army buddy and bassist Billy Cox to get out and together they came down the road to Nashville to form their first band – King Kasuals. King Kasuals became the house band of the now-gone Club Del Morocco (the owner of which ended up bailing the two out of jail after a Civil Rights demonstration downtown!). Hendrix played at so many of the clubs in Printers Alley and along Jefferson Street – places where the likes of Etta James and James Brown were performing. Hendrix took his guitar everywhere in Nashville – on the bus, to the store, on a walk. Nashville is where he really developed his guitar playing. He said so himself: “That’s where I learned to play really…Nashville.” – 365nashville.com

“Hendrix credits Nashville as the place that he really learned how to play guitar. That still freaks out most people who think of Nashville as just country music,” says Joe Chambers, the founder of the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Chambers recounts how in 1962 Hendrix wound up at the army base at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, and met fellow musician Billy Cox. They became fast friends and a short time after moved to Nashville, some 60 miles away, and lived together on Jefferson Street, above a beauty shop called Joyce’s House of Glamour.

“I actually saw Jimi Hendrix one night at Printer’s Alley. He was in his private’s uniform,” says Norbert Putnam, a musician, studio owner and producer with a long list of credits in Nashville.

Hendrix soaked up the style of the blues players in the bars along Jefferson Street. “You gotta be pretty good to get their attention,” Chambers recalls his friend Billy Cox saying. “Jimi went to sleep with his guitar on, woke up with it on, walked out the door with it, and went to the movie theater with it.”

Jimi with Buddy and Stacey “Shotgun” Nashville TV Taping

Some of the first video footage ever shot of Hendrix was on Nashville’s WLAC Channel 5 television show Night Train. You can see him on a 1965 clip backing up Buddy & Stacy, looking freaky and sliding his hand over the front of his guitar’s neck. Chambers says Hendrix and Cox played the clubs on Jefferson as well as the club circuit from Murfreesboro to Tullahoma. – From Rock In The Country: Nashville’s Secret History By Davis Inman 12/17/2010, American Songwriter

King Kasuals, Jimi, Billy

Jimi left Nashville to be near his Grandmother in Vancouver in December of 1962 and played with a band called Bobbie Taylor and The Vancouvers, that featured Tommy Chong of comedy team, Cheech & Chong, until heading back to the south in the spring of 1963.

The gigs continued with Billy Cox and the band. Jimi continued developing his chops and playing wherever and whenever he could.

Jimi Hendrix did some uncredited session work while in Nashville and also played for current “Nashville’s Queen of The Blues” Marion James and Roscoe Shelton before leaving Nashville. Billy Cox also played bass for Marion James who still resides in Nashville and is signed to Ellersoul Records.

Billy Cox wrote two songs for Frank Howard & The Commanders and both Billy and Jimi played on the sessions for “I’m So Glad” and “I’m Sorry For You” during those Nashville days.

Billy Cox stated in a Nashville Scene interview in 2010 that he is in the process of writing a book about his time with Jimi Hendrix in Nashville; nobody could tell the story better than Billy and he hopes to clarify between myth and legend what happened in those early times.

Jimi in Nashville

Imperials drummer Freeman Brown played with Hendrix while he was in Nashville. “There used to be a theater called the Ritz Theater down on Jefferson Street, it was there for the longest. We went to a show one day and Jimi carried his guitar in a shopping bag. He always kept his guitar with him. And every time he would just play, just play, just play; it was kind of like having a little baby to him.” “It was like a third arm, you know. And like he (Freeman) said, I saw him on a bus with it one day, you know, in a shopping bag, in a plastic bag, whatever. That’s the way he was. It was not unusual at all. Not usual at all,” confirms George Yates.

Larry Lee, 2nd guitar with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock

“Jimi and I, being left-handed guitar players, just talked. We hit it off real smooth,” Yates recalls. “Everybody thought we were brothers. We were skinny, very young, and I guess, women chased us, you know. We played together one time. It was with a group called The Bonnevilles, and I believe Jimi named the group. His manager had us on the road one night, supposedly the three best guitar players in town- me, Jimi, and Larry Lee from Memphis (The same Larry Lee that played with Jimi at Woodstock). The people just went crazy because we were all doing crazy acts, you know, guitar behind the head, biting it with the teeth, falling on my knees, and I have bad knees because of it today. But Jimi was the showman. We were admirers of each other, you know.” – Night Train To Nashville by Tina Robin

It was at this time he met a promoter named Gorgeous George, who got him on as a touring guitarist. “The idea of playing guitar with my teeth came to me in a town in Tennessee.  Down there you have to play with your teeth or else you get shot. Those people were really hard to please.“

The earliest known video of Jimi Hendrix was playing “Shotgun” with Buddy and Stacey  at a Nashville television studio in May 1965.

It was a Soul package that came into Nashville featuring Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson, BB King and Chuck Jackson that kick started his professional career. “I got a little job playing in the backup band.  I learned a lot playing behind all those names every night.”

Jimi’s star across from Country Music Hall of Fame

He went on a 35 day tour covering most all of the south, the Seattle boy was now in the thick of a tour that took him to all parts of the country.  He sent a postcard “Dear Dad, just a few words to let you know I made it to South Carolina. Tell everybody “Hello” with love, Jimmy”

Jimi with The Isley Brothers

While in New York, he entered an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater and won $25 after taking first place.  It was there in New York that The Isley Brothers asked him to stay and play.  He played with them for a while but he was ready to break out of being in the back up position and desired to direct his own career.  He left The Isley Brothers when they made it back to Nashville on a tour stop.

He then joined a band that took him to Atlanta, Georgia where he met Little Richard and was asked to join his band. “Dearest Dad, I received your letter while I was in Atlanta. I’m playing with Little Richard now. We’re going toward the West Coast. We’re in Louisiana now. But my address will be in Los Angeles. “

Jimi with Little Richard

He only played with Little Richard for five months and left after not getting paid for a period of five and a half weeks.  He was ready for a change after the Little Richard stint. “I couldn’t imagine myself for the rest of my life in a shiny Mohair suit with patent leather shoes and a patent leather hairdo to match. “

“I didn’t hear any guitar players doing anything new.  I was bored out of my mind. I wanted my own scene making my own music. I was starting to see you could create a whole new world with the electric guitar because there isn’t a sound like it. “

Curtis Knight and The Squires

He heard music in his mind that he wanted to do but he knew it was going to be hard to find people to do it with.  “I went back to New York and played with this Rhythm and Blues group called Curtis Knight and The Squires. I also played with King Curtis and Joey Dee. “

It was after this period of time in Nashville, travelling with some of the greatest artists of the day that he became what the world knows as Jimi Hendrix. Chas Chandler, bassist for The Animalswas invited, by Keith Richards girlfriend at the time, Linda Keith (she also “loaned” Jimi one of Keith Richard’s guitars to Jimi), to see him play with his band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames and that is where the usual story of Jimi Hendrix begins.

Band of Gypsies : Billy Cox, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, who had kept on Jimi for some time to get their own band going.

Although it may have been a short couple of years, his friend Billy Cox would rejoin him with Buddy Miles as Band of Gypsys and they recorded some of the funkiest three piece soul ever done. Billy would be with him at Woodstock and record and perform as a member of his band until he passed away. Billy still lives in Nashville.

Jimi went through many transitions in life, moving several times and being called by many different names, first, Johnny than James, “Buster”, Jimmy, with many knicknames along the way including “Chop Suey” and finally Jimi. Through all the changes, Jimi managed to be very positive as his guitar was like a magic carpet guiding him on his travels.

If Jimi had not joined the Army and started his journey through the south, his story might not have been what it became.  By doing what other great guitarists do, be it Country or otherwise and joining the Nashville scene and becoming a touring musician he accelerated his abilities quickly and became the Voodoo Child with a mojo hand made of gold becoming the most important guitarist of his day, a great songwriter and  the highest paid rock showman of his time.

Many of the quotes that are by Jimi Hendrix, were read by Bootsy Collins and are featured in the Documentary, Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child.

” Music is the most important thing. I’m thinking of my future. There has to be something new, and I want to be a part of it. I want to lead an orchestra with excellent musicians. I want to play music which draws pictures of the world and its space.” – Jimi Hendrx

Jimmy James and The Blue Flames

Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com