Archives for category: Birmingham

Dead Fingers 2014 Interview

Dead Fingers, photo Courtesy Pipe and Gun

Dead Fingers, photo Courtesy Pipe and Gun

Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor better known as Birmingham, Alabama’s Dead Fingers took a few minutes to reflect on their adventures that took about two years and resulted in their sophomore release Big Black Dog on Birmingham’s Communicating Vessels .

Taylor and Kate took a much needed break when they became first time parents and found themselves with new material at a crossroads in the music business that is affecting even smaller regional labels.

After much reflection and at a point where they felt like they were ready to get out on the road, they ended up working with Birmingham, Alabama’s Communicating Vessels which has had national success with The Great Book Of John as well as regional favorites like The Grenadines.

The album was recorded in Mississippi with Bruce Watson [Fat Possum/ Big Legal Mess] long before the release date and label decisions were made and finally released with Bruce’s blessing right in Taylor and Kate’s own backyard.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: I have been listening to this album and it seems to be more organized then the first release in the sense that it is not as random as the other album. Does that make sense?

Taylor Hollingsworth / Dead Fingers: Yeah, I could see that for sure, yeah. We tried to have a direction, you know, in the recording. We tried to have, like a cohesive sound.

TNB: There are more concentration on the harmonies and also more of a focus on the country sound.

TH: I decided I am just a country musician you know. I’m like psychedelic country.

TNB: It works. I liked how you put “Big Black Dog” on the front end because that was kind of like the most off-beat and different from the rest. It looks like the first push is with “Free Tonight.”

TH: Yeah.

TNB: You’ve been around for at least a decade now. As a solo artist, you were with Brash Music out of Georgia. You worked with Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band . You’ve been with Big Legal Mess / Fat Possum out of Mississippi and now you are working with Communicating Vessels out of Birmingham. I guess it makes it a little bit easier to work with distribution and all of that.

TH: Not necessarily on the distribution, but it makes it easier for like, I don’t know, I thought it was making it easier until the last couple of days. No, I’m just kidding, I mean , it’s like easier when we can go to the office and actually discuss things face to face rather than by e-mail or just a phone call. I can bug them more frequently and make sure things are like getting done, I guess.

TNB: Communicating Vessels has pretty decent distribution. I remember seeing The Great Book of John and some of their other releases here in Nashville. They also concentrate on doing some vinyl, don’t they?

TH: Yeah, they are definitely doing vinyl. They are really cool people that do the label. I have really been excited about doing it. I hope that they can survive in this day and age in the music business. Obviously, it’s like a f*****n’ s**t show out there.

TNB: It’s weird. Jack White made an album that had three speeds on it to create more interest and it ended up being number 1 on Billboard. Lazaretto sold like 40,000 copies the first week. But, it’s like a piece of art.

TH: Well, he’s on a whole ‘nother plane.

TNB: When you guys tour are you going out with any other Alabama bands or just going out by yourselves?

Dead Fingers, Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Dead Fingers, Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

TH: We just have this one tour booked as of right now and that’s just us by ourselves with local support in all the cities. I think that is usually good, you know, because you get local bands that help you with the draw.

TNB: Are you doing recording pretty much the way you used to, like, are you pretty much taking control of your work?

TH: This new album we did over at the Fat Possum studio at the same place as we did the first Dead Fingers album with Bruce Watson. We both kind of, you know, produced it like I come up with a lot of ideas of arrangement type stuff and instrumentation. Like adding certain things to make it sound a certain way, but I really don’t have anything to do with, like, what mic we are going to use or what stuff like that. Bruce is on top of that because I’ll just grab any kind of mic there is and just put’em on shit to record, but he knows which mic to use and to do it the proper way.

TNB: Well, he’s worked on a lot of stuff. My favorite Black Keys album was Chulahoma, the Junior Kimbrough stuff. That was awesome.

TH: Yeah man, Bruce has got his name on some cool records.

TNB: Ok, so you did it over there, was it originally going to be on his label, or?

TH: Yeah. The music business is eating them alive like he is losing money on a lot of records. He lost money on our first record. So, he was kind of thinking we would just release this record just digitally then I said there is a Birmingham label. I told him about Communicating Vessels. I was like, what if we got them to do the vinyl and you do the digital, but it kind of got to be like nobody is going to want to spend all this money on vinyl and not have the digital release so, we just decided to go with Communicating Vessels. We thought about it and they kind of offered us to do the vinyl and offered to help us with some of the core stuff. We also liked the idea of them just being down the street from us. I mean they are literally like a two minute drive so, we talked to Bruce and he was totally cool with the whole thing. I mean he was like I would love to say I could give you enough money to do all that but he just can’t.

TNB: It is kind of weird how Birmingham had evolved into where there were a lot of great bands that came out at a certain period of time. Like beitthemeans, Model Citizen, Universal Joint and your band The Spider Eaters. I can think of at least a dozen bands; Through The Sparks has made it through that whole thing. But, now Birmingham has its own label and other things going on so they can promote their own scene, which is kind of cool.

TH: Yes, it’s really cool, you know, I hope that they can expand beyond Birmingham. They certainly are trying real hard. They are goin’ through the motions. They are living and learning. They are hiring all kinds of publicists and radio people and I mean they are doing it.

TNB: Are they trying to get over to England?

TH: Yeah. They are actually hiring print over in England.

TNB: I was thinking, how say like The Drive By Truckers broke over there as well as Kings of Leon.

TH: Yeah, we went to Europe last year. On our last record, we had a European label as well as the Stateside label and we did a European tour which went over really well for us on our level. But, the label we were on, over there, went under. They lost their ass on every one of their records and now we don’t have a label over there. Labels are just going under right and left.

TNB: Jack White’s Third Man Records can sell a lot of his own records but he has recorded a lot of other people that don’t do much like even the Neil Young record he did is way down on the charts so it’s maybe selling like a couple of thousand.

TH: Bruce just told me they released the Iggy & The Stooges new album and didn’t even sell 10,000 copies. Iggy & the f*****g Stooges! That is insane and they spent a fortune on that record.

TNB: I know Infinity Cat put their label right behind the United Record Pressing plant here in town.

TH: Yeah, that is where we pressed our last record.

TNB: They have got things going on where they do limited runs on everything and they keep changing it up whether it is the type of vinyl or the sleeve. They change it up every tour because they have core buyers. They have guys that will buy three different versions of the same record to just get the different covers of a Jeff The Brotherhood release.

TH: Well the truth is the reason we are not on Bruce’s label is what really happened on the business end and that his distribution was losing so much money on all these small records that weren’t selling enough numbers and they were getting shipped back from stores. They had to change their way, so their new approach in order to distribute your record is to have you buy a package plan and it was four grand for just the cheapest package. That was just to get your record into the store and that added four grand to our cost which used to not be a cost at all. They made money per record off a percentage but now they don’t take a percentage they charge a flat fee because those records weren’t even selling enough for them to make a percentage. You know what I mean? Not making anything, losing money.

TNB: It’s kind of the trend right now that they are putting everything back on the artist. I was talking to Ryan Hurtgen [former Nashvillian in Rene Breton]of Perfect Beings and he said out there in California, the pluggers are charging the bands and you don’t know if they are out plugging your music or not. They are trying to suck the musicians dry…Hey Kate, are you there?

Kate Taylor / Dead Fingers: I’m here.

TNB: You kind of have your own thing, but it fits more with Folk Alliance or the Americana Music Festival here in Nashville for promoting, you know what I mean? I didn’t know if you were going to try to get into some of those things. The Americana Music Festival here in town is huge. People are flying in from all over the world.

TH: Is that where I played with The Dexateens last year?

TNB: You probably did. I know the Dexateens are pretty solid. I didn’t go last year.

TH: Yeah. I would love to do that.

TNB: Is the new album stuff you worked on a while back or is at all new?

TH: I don’t think we had it written during the last album but it is now like two years old though. I mean, most of the songs I wrote before our daughter was born. Kate, your songs are probably before she was born too?

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Kate: Yeah, we were probably working on that album just as we just finished the tour of the first album. We had just come out from there and I was pregnant. So, when we finished the tour we just went straight back into the studio. Knowing you’re pregnant you are anticipating the lull. I mean, we obviously had to take a little time off from touring and not be able to work as much. So, even when we were on tour we went back and forth to Mississippi every other weekend while I was still pregnant and then we finished it. I think Taylor ended up going one or maybe two times after she was born. I mean she was just teeny tiny like three weeks old or something. We went back a couple of times to finish everything up. But, then there was the switching of labels and all that kind of stuff and that ended up taking much longer than we had anticipated.

TNB: So you are like ready to record again, probably?

TH: Yeah, we haven’t written any songs.

Kate: Yeah, we had the baby and stuff.

TH: I was going through my notebook last night and I realized I probably have an albums worth of stuff written. Old songs from back then.

Kate: We are just getting to the point where we can record again. You know, our daughter is getting to be not quite two actually, she will be in November. Just like little things, you know, even right now. She is usually not a night owl. We don’t have to wait until forever and ever, at bedtime she goes to bed.

Taylor: That just now started.

TNB: Life kind of changes when you got kids, that’s for sure.

Kate: So, we are just getting to a point where we can get the things out in front and start working again. Like at first, we were not writing anymore and not playing anymore.

TH: I’m about ready to start playing full time, just like locally you know.

TNB: What are you doing locally nowadays? Are doing like acoustic gigs somewhere? Or kicking it with a band?

TH: I have a cover band that I am playing with and stuff and then I work. I’ll do some acoustic gigs like, I do every second Friday at Parkside Cafe in the back bar up there. It’s like the cool bar now in Birmingham. All of our friends are hanging there. Lauren, from The Grenadines, tends bar at Parkside. It’s a bunch of cool folks. I think I am going to put together kind of like my own songs but then a bunch of country songs, cover songs that I can just play at bars to make a living. Make enough to get by without working the road. That is what I hope for.

TNB: Sounds good. It is a challenge. It’s kind of weird because it’s like when you released Tragic City, you were right on the edge of when the whole music business was goin’ down. I remember Tower Records was getting behind that album and then they went bankrupt.

TH: Yeah, they had a lot at Tower Records and like I remember it was like in Best Buy and shit like that. It was really getting pushed out there, but it was all right there at the end. I didn’t have a business minded head on my shoulder whatsoever anyway.

TNB: You were pushing everything at 100%.

TH: I just didn’t have the team behind me.

TNB: I definitely promote Birmingham when I get the chance.

TH: Yeah, I know you do.

TNB: Dude, good to hear that you guys are still pressing on. I was going to tell you that one of the highlights for me in Birmingham, probably 2006. You were playing with the Spider Eaters and Matt Patton from Model Citizen…

TH: Oh yeah Matt.

TNB: Yeah, he got up on stage and you guys did Ramones’ “Commando.” That was cool. It was good talking to you. Wish you the best man.

Taylor: Alright man, always good to talk to you.

Kate: Thank you so much.

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Pipe and Gun

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Pipe and Gun

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

 

Advertisements

“The high point of the weekend was booking half a dozen or more acts that had never played Birmingham and hearing from SO many festival goers that loved them.” – Travis Morgan

 

Tedo Stone, Secret Stages 2013,-photo - Brad Hardisty

Tedo Stone, Secret Stages 2013,-photo – Brad Hardisty

Secret Stages beat the odds by finally lifting off this sultry wet last weekend in Birmingham with a new central location down on the cobblestone Morris Avenue backed by the trains going by on the upper deck above the Miller Lite Stage with food trucks lined up selling everything from gourmet Tacos to Hawaiian Ice or Snowballs depending on what coast you are from.

 The buzz had been building with bands on the bill from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ohio and points around the Southeast.

Das Haus, loud, experimental out of the box venue, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Das Haus, loud, experimental out of the box venue, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

One of the main additions over last year was an official Hip Hop venue – Matthews with a two day fest of rocking the microphone that kicked off with Mic Militia on Friday night and finished with Supastition  after midnight on Saturday or Sunday morning however you look at it.

Lazer/Wulf, Secret Stages 2013, photo _ Brad Hardisty

Lazer/Wulf, Secret Stages 2013, photo _ Brad Hardisty

 Most of the venues changed from last year with the exception of Das Haus returning with the ever permanent smell of Brats and a floor lamp that seems to always be turned on and perched a little awkward onstage which featured the loudest most punk sounds of local band The Dirty Lungs while Saturday offered more varied fare from Tedo Stone, the acoustic singer/songwriter styles of Jazzmine Garfield followed by the extreme experimental metal of Lazer/Wulf from Georgia playing in the set time of last year’s Georgia heaviness Black Tusk. It seems that Mastodon started in some fertile ground of a loud and proud scene.  This would be the perfect venue for Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream to play, okay; maybe it is a little smallish.

Silver Tongues at Pale Eddies, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Silver Tongues at Pale Eddies, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Lindsay Garrett- Volunteer Coordinator:

 “One of my favorite things this year was running into JazzMine Garfield on 2nd Ave in between her two sets while she was playing a few songs for people passing by.  She basically just stopped on a corner, sat down, and started playing.  She had fan girls taking video and snapping photos while she played her guitar and sang, totally unaffected.  And the entire time she had a smile on her face.
She’s a little gem.

 The reason this is a high point for me is because it was definitive of the Secret Stages energy.  Artists are thirsty to play for people who want to listen…  And fans feel like they have gained some sense of bonding/closeness with the musicians they love.”

 

JazzMine Garfield, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

JazzMine Garfield, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Jazzmine Garfield – Birmingham, Alabama

“They just saw me playing out and about and I got here with Secret Stages with Courtney.  I play anywhere and everywhere.  I will be at The Metro later and Iron Bar on August 15th.”

Most of the bigger Birmingham bands played Friday night sets like one of the longest running bands Through The Sparks, last year’s buzz band The Great Book of John on the Miller Lite Stage as well as The Grenadines who also signed to Birmingham label Communicating Vessels this last year releasing a 7 inch as well as a proper release for the well-produced first album that was available at shows over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, Model Citizen with one of the greatest songs ever to come out of Birmingham, “The Inner Fool” were nowhere to be seen this year.

Belle Adair, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Belle Adair, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Travis Morgan- Head Of Artist & Music Production:

“The high point of the weekend was booking half a dozen or more acts that had never played Birmingham and hearing from SO many festival goers that loved them.  The sweet synergy of music discovery.  We get to discover bands and then showcase them for folks in Birmingham to also discover and it’s a special bond.  Also, seeing everything coalesce was very special. Between the art installation from Joe Minter (featured in the New York Times in April), the graffiti, the amazing performances and the positive energy between bands and music fans, we soared like eagles.”

“I loved The Log Ladies, Adron, Healing Power, Amasa Hines and Ponychase.  The Great Book of John sounded great. I really liked Ante Meridian and Supastition was really solid too.  W. Stewart and Looksy performed great sets. Foreign Fields were terrific but I didn’t get to see them long enough.  Through the Sparks is (bias) one of my favorite bands of all time, so there you go.  Always good.”  

photo - Brad Hardisty

photo – Brad Hardisty

Rain was hard and heavy on Saturday afternoon and threatened to make things interesting like Saturday night last year when festival goers danced in the rain in front of the main stage, but as luck would have it, the rain stopped before things started up on night two. Although, the steam off the cobblestones didn’t stop until late into the evening leaving everybody as damp as the produce section at Publix.

Healing Power, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Healing Power, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Joey – Healing Power from Cincinnati, Ohio:

“We were invited and couldn’t turn it down. It’s an honor to be here. It’s a lot of fun.”

Wussy, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Wussy, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Matthews and M-Lounge were connected by a couple of hallways and a set of stairs that put one in the midst of a rap throw down before climbing a long staircase ending in the middle of a set by Wussy while The Parthenon (VIP Lounge) was just across the street and featured three sets each night.

Tedo Stone at Das Haus, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tedo Stone at Das Haus, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Tedo Stone from Atlanta, Georgia:

“We had talked to Travis back in the spring about playing and it got pro-longed and he ended up making it happen in the fall we are just stoked to be here with all our friends. I have never played Birmingham. This is our first time so we were stoked. It was an awesome crowd.”

There were a couple of secret shows which fit one of the main themes of musical discovery.  One of those sets was the final late night set at Pale Eddie’s which featured Adam Guthrie as his latest incarnation, ADAM ADAM. 

Adam Guthrie on Bajo Sexto, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Adam Guthrie on Bajo Sexto, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

As Adam was setting up, voices were asking who he was, if anybody had any idea where he was from.  It’s nice to know a well-established Birmingham guitarist who has played with everybody from Rick Carter; Heath Green to The Backrow Baptists could still find a new ear filled with intrigue and amazement. Truth be told, Adam is amazing just by his sheer ability to riff on anything from the aforementioned guitar, to his masterful Ukulele stroking, Bajo Sexto turned punk bass to playing a one stringed electric beer can.

Adam Guthrie – ADAM ADAM, Birmingham, Alabama:

Adam Guthrie, Secret Show at Pale Eddie's, Secret Stages 2013, photo- Brad Hardisty

Adam Guthrie, Secret Show at Pale Eddie’s, Secret Stages 2013, photo- Brad Hardisty

I am so proud to know Brad Hardisty. Travis and Tym, I’m not making sense. It was Travis, it was kind of a last minute thing so I called the people I knew, which were myself and Tym and I’m enjoying the camaraderie of the musicians to be honest.”

Isaac Karns of Healing Power, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Isaac Karns of Healing Power, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Secret Stages of 2013 found crowds of all ages and color mingling like it was a pub crawl in heaven with plenty of smiles and solid grooves especially from the last two sets at the Miller Lite Stage by the soulful alternative pop psyche of Healing Power fronted by son of Julian Assange look-a-like Isaac Karns and the last set by Amasa Hines with a full horn section.

Amasa Hines, Secret Stages 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Amasa Hines, Secret Stages 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

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

The Dirty Streets – Secret Stages 2012 – Rogue Tavern

Secret Stages 2012 on May 11th & 12th, took over where the first Birmingham Indie Festival left off last year, with plenty of homegrown SXSW style Buzz, this time around with a fully fledged website instead of a hard to find blog.

Black Tusk – Secret Stages 2012 – Das Haus

From Nashville’s Natural Child to Memphis’ River City Tanlines to Chattanooga’s own take on the MGMT formula, Machines Are People Too, SS 2012 had everything from vintage postcard sounds of Frank Fairfield to the Motorhead meats Black Sabbath at a Southern Bar B Que sounds of Black Tusk, most groups were part of the Southeast circuit with all points in between, with several Artists travelling from far reaches of the kingdom.

Break it down

Even a coffee house was throwing down Rappers, DJ’s and Breakdancers next door to Das Haus as an add plus to the list of venues.

Hail The Titans – Das Haus, Photo- Thomas Diasio

Speaking of Das Haus, with the metal machine noise Lou Reed in a Sonic Youth Blender rock of Hail The Titans, Death Surf Punk of Kill Baby Killand the aforementioned Black Tusk taking care of business with an alpine view backdrop and the dense smell of Brats, Kraut and German Beer lingering in all four corners, this was the edge of the Abyss, where as some of the safer acts played at Rogue Tavern.

Machines Are People Too – Rogue / Photo – Thomas Diasio

Rogue, the biggest club of all featured Machines Are People Too getting everybody on their feet dancing then a few minutes later, The Dirty Streets, were throwing down Social Distortion meets Government Mule.

Baby Baby @ Easy Street

There was something for everybody and all ages. Baby Baby, with double the drumming pleasure, played at all ages Easy Street cranking out loud post punk. This wasn’t a bar, just a big empty hall, loud music and a table for buying Cd’s and other swag.

Third Man Rolling Records Store @ Secret Stages 2012

The second day had to contend with constant soft rain that left the vendors and the Third Man Rolling Record Store out in the cold, whereas last year, the main outdoor stage was the place to congregate, this year, everybody was scurrying for indoor digs with a few dancing in the rain at the foot of the main stage listening to blues and jazz.

Lydia Loveless @ Metro / photo- Thomas Diasio

Metro kind of became the Americana beacon with Bloodshot Records’ Lydia Loveless  and Taylor Hollingsworth’s new duo with newlywed wife, Kate Taylor, playing songs off their southern roots Fat Possum Records, Deadfingersrelease.

Deadfingers @ Metro

The greatest benefit was this was truly a pub crawl in the Loft District, which has seen a lot of changes over the last 5-10 years. It covered four square blocks where no taxis were needed to get around.  

Machine Are People Too @ Rogue / photo – Thomas Diasio

Chuck Leishman, who originally had the idea for the pub crawl, who called together the roundtable that developed Secret Stages stated, “We wanted to have a festival that all these bands that play the circuit could have a platform, a place to get their music heard in one weekend. It would be great if every regional area had a festival like this.”

Ben Lamb w/ Lydia Loveless @ Metro / photo – Thomas Diasio

This truly was what SXSW felt like maybe twenty years ago. There were some local corporate and media support and even a few bands on some Indie labels, but, this was a place where many bands were able to be heard by a diverse crowd.

Hail The Titans @ Das Haus / Photo – Thomas Diasio

Birmingham has seen some success over the last few years, with bands like The Great Book of John and Wild Sweet Orange.  

Black Tusk @ Das Haus

It would have been anybody’s guess that Birmingham would host the best Indie Festival in the Southeast with over 100 bands and comedians during two days in May.

Vintage Gibson backline @ Metro

Birmingham is just about the same distance between Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Mississippi and Northern Florida making it an easy 2-4 hour trip from just about anywhere in the region.

The number of venues has more than doubled in Birmingham in the last ten years.

A little secret Elvis imagery (Taking Care Of Black Tusk) @ Das Haus

The time was right, the place right and the vibe was right. Shine a light on Birmingham.  

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

If you are looking for the soul of what used to be SXSW, it is Secret Stages in Birmingham, Alabama which is scheduled next weekend.

Last year, Secret Stages, was an upstart, almost secret festival, that saw a reunion show of Model Citizen, featuring Matt Patton (The Dexateens, The Drive-By Truckers, Paul “Wine” Jones, Universal Joint) and other actual real live rock and roll from the southeast.

This year, they have a better website and an artist list that rivals anything Indie anywhere, you got to be there.

Check out the site at:

Artrist Line-up:  http://www.secretstages.net/?page_id=633

Main page: http://www.secretstages.net/

Here are a couple of featured Artists:

Deadfingers

Dead Fingers – Taylor and Kate

Taylor Hollingsworth ( The Spider Eaters) and Kate Taylor (sister, Mariah Taylor on Conor’s label, brother Macey Taylor, Bassist supreme with The Spider Eaters, The Mystic Valley Band) singing together is a match made in heaven, (or maybe hell, if the devil has anything to do with this, which would not be surprising). You might know Taylor from previous solo albums or bands but most likely from Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. He was the guitar player who also wrote and sang “Snake Hill” and “Air Mattress” on the album Outer South as well as the first Coner Oburst made in Mexico album. If you’ve seen Maria Taylor play then you have most likely seen Kate in her band either playing keys, drums, or bass, and most importantly, harmonizing the soft beautiful back ground melodies.

Taylor Hollingsworht with Conner Oburs – Mystic Valley Band, 2nd Stage, Coachella 2009, Kate’s brother, Macey on Bass.

Nowadays, Kate and Taylor have joined hand in hand and formed a band. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dead Fingers, might just be what you’ve been waiting for! In a time when guy-girl duo’s are becoming quite popular, this one is not just some gimmick, however perfect the timing and package may be. You would almost think Kate was married to her manager, or record label exec., who was having them act like they were romantic just to sell tickets and albums. But in fact, this Alabama duo are recently married and the two just recorded their first self titled full length with Bruce Watson (RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Iggy and the Stooges, AA Bondy), was released on Big Legal Mess/ Fat Possum Records early 2012. While showing a wide range of styles, ranging from duet styled songs like those of John Prine and Iris DeMent, X, or Lee Hazelwood and Ann Margaret, to straight up great classic rock bands like the Stones, Beatles, or even Traveling Wilburys, this band should find a nice home with fans of more current duo’s like She and Him, Jenny and Johnny, or Civil Wars.

See youy there!

Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

 

Wanda Jackson at Mercy Lounge 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strange Karma down on Lower Broad celebrating the bassist birthday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tommy Tutone and Mario at Nashville Amp Expo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Turner

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

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

Kenny Malone at a clinic at Country Music HOF

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

For now, I will just enjoy the ride.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rescue Dogs, Stillwater, BAAM Fest 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. Grubbs & Southern Phoenix, BAAM Fest 2011

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

Jon Poor Band, Steel, BAAM Fest 2011

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

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

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

The Grenadines at Metro, BAAM Fest 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fighting Meeces, Zappa time, Stillwater, BAAM Fest 2011

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

Ricky Castrillo Trio, Zydeco, BAAM Fest 2011

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

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

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

Three Feet Deep, Five Points, Southside

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

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

3 Feet Deep, artwork, Five Points News rack

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