Archives for category: Indie Music

Alex Levine on The Kinks, New York Mayor Ed Koch and Underdogs

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos are clever without being cheeky, sincere without being preachy, self-aware but never too in on their own joke. Still, their most endearing trait is a simple one: They make murderously catchy, endorphin-boosting, shout-along guitar music with vigor and zeal. – Pitchfork, Zach Kelly

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos wear New York on their sleeves as a band of brothers that have been playing together since they were Wee Brooklyn Lads, taking in the sights and sounds of Nirvana and the social angst of the 90’s as well as The Beastie Boys and mixing it with New York’s best punk pioneers, The Dictators, The Ramones with the interweaving guitar techniques of Television and put them in a modern context of socially conscious East Coast Kinks with Hip Hop lyrics.

Ryan Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Ryan Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

While at The End this past Monday night, Alex made the comment that they thought about moving to Nashville. Nashville has changed and The So So Glos would bring a different slice of pie to Music City. Alex is not only busy with the band but with Adam Reich and Shea Stadium Studio in New York.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Tell me what is going on at Shea Stadium.

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

Alex Levine / The So So Glos: Every band that comes through Shea Stadium is documented and they are recorded by our Producer, Adam Reich who records all the bands and puts them up  at Live at Shea Stadium and archives them all.

TNB: Is it similar to the video you had that you did on KEXP Seattle that I saw on YouTube?

Adam Reich, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Adam Reich, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

AL: Yeah, yeah, it’s like that but, it’s just that all the bands at Shea are up there. You can look at full sets.

TNB: My favorite cut was “Diss Town.” I don’t think you have released that as a single.

Zach Staggers, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Zach Staggers, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

AL: It’s going to be the next single. I think.

TNB: I do like the video of “Son Of An American.” I guess that kinda shows you guys growing up playing instruments and all that kind of stuff, right?

AL: Yeah, that’s the way we started. We’ve been together for a while.

TNB: Yeah, you and your brother Ryan and I guess Zach ended up being your step-brother right?

AL: That’s how it all came together. It’s kind of the story of the band in the early stages.

TNB: As far as the sound, I was going to ask you how much Punk rock is around in New York or Brooklyn anymore? Is there a scene?

AL: We started the band about six years ago and we were definitely not in fashion or in style.  We were caught up in a lot of the Art scene and a lot of music shit parties and we were kind of always outcasts. There was noise rock or really hip shit. So, we kind of got into the DIY scene in Brooklyn and we helped  expand it. It seems like every day I see a new Punk band come out so I guess we were ahead of the times? I don’t know what to say about that.

TNB: Well to me, you are kind of a bridge because, obviously you have newer influences but, when you think of the original Punk that started in New York, I can hear that in your music  like The Dictators and a little bit of Television with the interactive guitar work that you guys do.

AL: Yeah, yeah totally.

TNB: I mean do you guys feel you are flying the flag for New York in a way?

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

AL: In some way. I think the mentality of all punkers is not necessarily what genre you play but, the energy and we are bringing a lot of different styles to the table. We’ve got Hip Hop. I don’t know if you hear that but, a lot of my lyrics are influenced a lot by Hip Hop. We are at the stage in music where  it kinda goes and it is just all mixed up in the Pop. But, the energy is Punk Rock. You know, pushing it a little bit toward the future. It is such a community between Rock and Roll and Punk Rock.  When it comes to music, I think we try to focus on a lot of different styles and there has been a lot of different kinds of music that we have been into from Motown to Country and Hip Hop as well as Punk Rock and Rock and Roll.

TNB: It is really upbeat stuff.

AL: Yeah.

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Alex Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: When Punk Rock started out, it wasn’t all like bands like Fear and stuff. There were all different kinds of styles. Dictators were kind of cornball and they were having a good time.

AL: Yeah, my favorite stuff that they did was when they had those bittersweet undertones, you know.     The Kinks pulled that off a lot, like heavy social commentary and yet it was very poppy and happy in a big way but the subject is this really dark topic. I always like a bittersweet marriage between darkness and lightness, a walk on that thin line.

TNB: I think that is a good comparison with The Kinks. You guys name check a lot of things that put you where your band is from.

AL: Yeah.

Ryan Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Ryan Levine, The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB:  The Kinks talked about socio-economic things in a fun way about where they were from.

AL: Totally. I don’t think there are too many bands that talk about what they see nowadays for better or for worse, you know. They are always trying to do something simple. I think it is in our personalities to talk about it.

TNB:  I’ll tell you, starting your video off with Mayor Koch really cracked me up.

AL: Ha ha!

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: It was like how did you find that? How did you get permission? It was just hilarious.

AL: It was The Beastie Boys style that got us to think about using it.

TNB: Yeah, the video kind of reminded me of like a Beastie Boys video thing.

AL: Ed Koch, you know, kind of represented the whole of what New York is all about. In New York, you have such a perpetual underdog. We kind of see ourselves as underdogs in the whole music game because, you know, we don’t really have that much of a gimmick. We are what we are. We are not trying to sell much. We are just trying to live with the truth. A big deal to us is being underdogs.

TNB: When I looked at you guys you have this sense of dressing like uptown Beastie Boys but, also kind of like Television, where Television really didn’t have a look after Richard Hell left. They were just a band from New York and this is what we do.

AL: Yeah.

TNB: Anything coming up?

AL: Nothing really, just happy being back in Nashville and having a fun time.

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

The So So Glos, The End, Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

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Interview With Ryan Hurtgen

ReneBreton.Headshot.1[1]“I’d like to share with you all the new Rene Breton album Between City and Country.  For those of you that haven’t heard from me in a while, in the last year I moved from Nashville to Los Angeles.  These songs are all impressions of this journey.  In many ways the album is auto-biographical, however I do think it resonates with many young people migrating around between cities, through country, looking for their place, a new adventure, love, and the American Dream.  I’ve chosen to release the album now because I feel it is a summer album and will be good to listen to while traveling and doing summer things.”  – Ryan Hurtgen – Rene Breton

Ryan Hurtgen left Nashville in July 2011, less than a year after the release of Rene Breton’s Asleep In Green for what looked like would be another stepping stone in the album’s success.   

It has been almost two years and on the eve of Rene Breton’s new release, Between City And Country, The Nashville Bridge caught up with Ryan after watching the new videos, “Left Coast” and “Connection” that shows a departure from their first release that kind of showcases an almost M. Ward hangs in Laurel Canyon soaked in a post “OK, Computer” pop environment with a real prog keyboard twist and shiny happy “Eureka, I have found it!” California vocals.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Why did you head out to California?

Ryan Hurtgen: Originally, the reason was I was in a relationship and she was from L.A. I moved out here to be with her and start a new music career. I had already been in Nashville five years and I was ready for a change. So, we did it.  We arrived here. That was the original reason to just find new adventures, new types of people, cultures, thinking that kind of thing.

TNB: What did you find out in California?

cali postcardRH: All that’s proven to be very true. Some people have a very progressive mindset out on the West Coast. Really, the West Coast is a very spiritual place. Its very open- minded and it’s very, like, about not seeing the rules of things or the borders of things. It’s about a kind of free your mind with no rules attitude. The spirit of the 60’s still does really exist here. I think it’s definitely more of the underbelly of things like the way it was back in the 60’s.  The mentality still does exist here in the art and in the culture.

It’s different than Nashville because Nashville is very traditional. Nashville is very stuck in tradition. You know like in songwriting. There are rules to things and there are ways to doing things; more practical. You know both ways of approaching things are great. I think that Nashville was very good for me in that sense. It taught me a lot of rules, but, I think I reached a point where I needed a change. But, I think it is kind of ironic because this album is more “poppy” than the Nashville project, but, for me as a person, I definitely expanded my world a little bit more out of being about the necessity for my own self and like something more.

TNB: Tell me a little bit about what happened after you got out there.

RH:  I guess I’ll tell you the whole story. I just made a cup of tea. I got up and went surfing at like 5 AM and then I just dozed off on the couch.

TNB: Where do you surf?

topanga canyonRH: I go to Topanga Canyon. I surf there, but, I live in Echo Park; pretty much downtown. I’m going to go outside and find a place to get in thought mode.

Well it’s about 82 degrees. It’s one of the reasons I definitely stayed. Alright, I found a place in the shade here. So, basically I hit a wall in Nashville. Okay in the last interview I said I was going out to California and I didn’t know what I was going to find there. I was finding a new direction and I think I was talking about how in songwriting   I was really into the “surreal” thing there with Asleep In Green. That was the direction and method I was using for that album, but, I wasn’t totally set on keeping that theme with the next record and I then I said in that article that I wanted to go more towards more Pop songwriting which appeared to be very true. I ended up going in more of a pop direction.

I moved out here and just completely lost everything. I lost the band that originally was on tour. We had a record label and a booking agent and I was in a serious relationship and all of my ducks were in a row and it was lining up to be this nice perfect music life. Then the bottom fell out.

It was kind of hard because I felt responsible for everything. I was the main songwriter of course on everything and then it just unwound. I found myself out here and my girlfriend and I just went out in a bad way. It was a ball of fire, crash and burn. I left and I was living out of my car out here. I was determined not to leave. I was determined to stay out here and see what it had to offer and try to use this opportunity to draw on more of a path of solitude and I did that.

I moved into this sailboat and I lived there for two months. I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have phone service there. I couldn’t even talk on my phone from the boat. I could go onshore and get service there, but, where I was actually at I couldn’t get service. I didn’t have internet. I just had a journal. I had an acoustic guitar. I had a little Casio keyboard with some drum samples.  So, I set up a little studio in this boat.

topanga surfI found this broken surfboard on the side of this guy’s house. I was working odd jobs at the time like painting or I was working on people’s yards and just anything I could find and I found this surfboard that was broken in half and I fixed it up and had that with me.

So, every day I could go out and surf with those waves which proved to be really good, like, healthy for my mind and everything I was going through. But, it was a real time of reflection and what are you doing? I didn’t know any one out here.  I just holed up in the boat and read books and did a lot of meditating. Thinking about what direction I was supposed to go as an artist.

At the time it was kind of sweet because I was being played on the radio out here and I didn’t have a band.  I didn’t have a label. I didn’t have anything. Everything we had worked so hard to get to… it was like, we were starting to see the fruits of our labor and I wasn’t really able to act upon it. I was just a witness to it.

So, I was thinking a lot about where I wanted to go and what direction I wanted to go and I thought well, jeez man, look where I’m at? You should just be telling your story as an artist. Especially nowadays, it takes a certain kind of person to say I am going to live the life of an artist; to say I’m going to do that for my life and I might not make a living from it or I might not get anything from it, but, it’s a journey that is important to take on.

Art is not that important, but, at the same time it is the most important thing in a lot of ways.  I was thinking: well, you know, there are all kinds of people just like me that are going through this same situation actually. There are a lot of people that are leaving their homes and leaving town and losing their friends  and they are getting in relationships and they are confused about love and wondering where they need to be and all caught up in between something.

Topanga Road 1930sYou know I grew up in the country. So, like moving from the country to the city was a big change for me. I think a lot young people in this nation are having those kinds of experiences. They are moving around. They are migrating.  So, that’s when I came up with the album title Between City And Country.

topanga above sunsetI was thinking I was living in Nashville, “Country City Capital” of the world and now I’m living out here in the big city, L.A. and wow so that title struck me, that’s a good theme.  That says a lot about our modern day critique of modern technology, cell phone technology, how we connect with one another and rural life and city life and what all that means and how we are changing as a culture.

I kind of wanted to make it an autobiography about myself because I couldn’t really hold back the emotions I was going through and expressing myself as a songwriter that way because that was all that was on my mind. I couldn’t really create any kind of a fictional surrealist thing. It was all very like I got to say this. I got to get this out for myself.  In a way I’m not doing this record for anybody but myself right now.

At times, I thought, isn’t that really a narcissistic kind of thing to do as an artist to be all consuming to yourself and be all about your story? But, in actuality, I think I kind of made peace with that and I think one of the things I learned as a songwriter is that you can’t try to force something. You don’t have control over your own expression. You can say, well, I want to try to write a really happy song. But, if you are not feeling happy or sad, for that matter, than it is probably going to be hard to write something that is that way. You know what I mean.

I think we are just vessels for whatever is coming out of us is actually a pretty good experiment at looking at yourself and seeing yourself in writing a song and then going back and looking at it and see where did these words come from. What do they mean? You can sense a lot about yourself that way. So, that was one of the issues I was going through in writing these songs.

ReneBreton.020.BW[1]Then I met Collin and Jackie out here. Collin knew Jackie and they both knew about the band from before they met me. They already knew Rene Breton and I’m like, I don’t even have a band now and I’m looking.

Collin builds synthesizers. He’s a scientist. He works on a particle accelerator. He’s totally smart, like a Whiz kid and he is a classically trained pianist.  So, we hooked up together and he was bringing all these electronics out and ideas I was never exposed to. I thought, well, wow, this guy is really into the idea of Between City And Country. Not only lyrically, but, emotionally. He was talking about these topics and we connected musically too.

We took electronic instrumentation and meshed it with acoustic instrumentation and that is kind of the theme of the record as well. Musical instrument wise, it ties onto modern technology mixed with traditional acoustic guitar and drums and piano and that kind of thing.

So, then we started playing shows. We have been playing all year. We have been working on this record.  It’s kind of weird for me now because I’ve kind of moved passed it in a lot of ways. But, it still rings true, a lot of the sentiments on the album.

TNB: Have you played shows with the new material?

RH: Oh yeah, we have been playing all year.

TNB: Where do you play at in California?

RH: We play at The Bootleg Theater in Silverlake. We’ve played at The Satellite, at the Echo. We’ve played in Venice Beach. We have been up to San Francisco. We played two shows at The Hotel Utah, a really awesome place. I just want to become, just like an L.A. scene band at this point.

TNB: The new music is available now as a download.

RH: We’ve decided to release this project as a name your own price download.  Please support us with whatever you can, every bit helps.

rene breton new 01http://renebreton.bandcamp.com/

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

photo – Anthony Ladd

Nashville, TN (October 1, 2012) — In spite of all the deer that Junior Sisk as an avid huntsman may have collected over the years, last Thursday night was without a doubt the biggest night of his life.

Sisk and his band Ramblers Choice were named two-time winners at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards when their names were announced as recipients of Song of the Year for “A Far Cry From Lester And Earl” and Album of the Year for their Rebel Records release, The Heart Of A Song. A visibly emotional Sisk was so overwhelmed he could barely speak when he was brought on stage to accept the Song of the Year honor along with his band and co-writers Rick Pardue and Tim Massey. After speeches by Pardue and Massey, Sisk walked to the microphone and said “I don’t know what to say folks, I love you!” Later in the evening, a still emotional Sisk, upon accepting the award for Album of the Year, stated “I swear I don’t know what to say. I’ve had speeches made up for years but this time it’s for real!”

 

“A Far Cry From Lester And Earl” broke several chart records this year and was #1 four consecutive months on Bluegrass Unlimited’s Top 30 Songs chart (3/12-6/12) and six consecutive months on Bluegrass Music Profiles’ Top 30 Hot Singles (12/11-5/12). In addition, The Heart Of A Song enjoyed multiple months as the #1 album on BMP’s Top 10 CDs and on SiriusXM’s Most Played Albums chart.

 

It’s been an outstanding year for Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice. In addition to the IBMA accolades, the band also recently announced a partnership with NASCAR legend Ward Burton and the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation. And earlier this month, Sisk was inducted into the Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame. With the band’s extremely busy year, including a packed touring schedule, they have still managed to find time to work on their next project, The Story Of The Day That I Died, due for release on Rebel Records March 12, 2013. The title cut will be released as a single to radio programmers worldwide on Sisk’s Birthday, November 6th of this year.

– thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Was, photo – Brad Hardisty

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

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

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

The Dillards, IBMA 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meadownoise at The Groove, Aug. 25th, all photos-Brad Hardisty

Meadow noise , a solo project by Matt Glassmeyer, released a new Seven inch vinyl – CD combo in limited signed handmade numbers with an in-store at The Groove in East Nashville last Saturday, August 25th, with a solid set of new material.

With beer on tap and moderate temps, The Groove hosted what could have been called more of a house party than an in-store at their current location.  The Groove fits in with a neighborhood chalk-full of the new Nashville, an ever changing local scene of new songwriters, that while serious on storytelling, don’t have any Country twang and live in a cross culture of the classic “Leave It To Beaver” neighborhood with modern urban eateries.

Meadownoise is a one man “combo” taking a Billy Preston meets Bruce Hornsby approach to a post Five For Fighting world played out on an old studio furniture prize, a fifty year old Wurlitzer Electric Piano with some mild changes in delay textures and a backbeat of self-created looped rhythms that Matt creates by beating on a guitar with some metal works on the body and then twists the heck out of a parametric EQ to create beat machine style audio.

The biggest piece of Meadownoise is the word pictures that seem to make you think in new ways with new lines, kind of like when Jeni’s moved into the neighborhood and forced patrons to describe Ice Cream in new terminologies for the triple scoop.

The songs ran the gamut, like a verbal historical narrative of a Nashvillian middle age soldier viewing the changes as the Civil War was starting. Nashville was taken over by the Yankees very early on and it was a strange site to paraphrase, “The blues are coming.”  The blues were coming, but, in a different way that would change the south.

Even Toddlers got the beat! Meadownoise at The Groove.

I guess the real songplay came with “Get Back at My Girlfriend” with a beat reminiscent of The Beatles, “Get Back” and Billy Preston’s Electric Piano driving a very new chord structured Indie groove.  

Meadownoise publicly thanked family, friends and a laundry list of supporters that helped to make the release happen as well as inviting everybody over for an after party at his house as well as a late night gig at the Secret Identities Art Show.

It really was a neighborhood show,  a tight village of eclectic musicians and songwriters on every block with a studio nearby that produced Robert Plant’s last album. An enclave where people eat handfuls of crunchy things, buy locally sourced meat and where change and a classic 40’s style neighborhood intersect.

Meadownoise, handcrafted packaging, limited run, 7 inch- CD combo.

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

David Andersen photo-davidandersenmusic.com

While the Honky Tonks beckon tourists from all over the world, there are two ambassadors that get right at eye level and can play with skill, discuss and share the heritage of Nashville. That is David Andersen in the lobby of The Country Music Hall of Fame, whose recordings are available in the gift shop and “ Mandolin Mike” Slusser with his weathered mandolin usually somewhere near Gruhn Guitars down on Lower Broad.

Both are top quality musicians. Both tell the story of Nashville through their playing, their interaction and approachability.

“Mandolin Mike” Slusser photo- Brad Hardisty

The difference is Mike is no longer allowed to sell CD’s out of his guitar case when he plays. Never mind the fact that the bands that play in the Honky Tonks, who also play for tips, sell their CD’s at the foot of the stage in the same manner.

Slowly but surely, the true Street Musicians have almost disappeared.  

Just four years ago, prior to the recession, a musician could survive on tips while connecting with tourists, other local musicians and figure out how to make it in Nashville.

Townes Van Zandt once commented that he made more money playing for tips on Lower Broad than gigging around town.

J D Simo at Robert’s photo- Collings Guitars

In the last few years, J D Simo did some street gigging before landing a spot with the Don Kelley Band at Robert’s. J.D. has gained notoriety for some great guitar playing and is now seen in ads for Collings Guitars in guitar magazines.

Years ago, Lower Broad attracted tourists because that is where the hit songwriters and musicians hung out. Lower Broad has continued to develop as a tourist playground while the street ambassadors, The Nashville Street Musicians are dwindling and getting no support from City Hall.

The ability to make it as a street musician has been severely affected by The Contributor vendors (not to put down a unique effort), the economic downturn and the fact that more and more tourists and locals do not carry cash.

There has to be a way to support and develop a healthy community of street musicians.

It is possible to develop a hybrid vendor license similar to the system used in Memphis on Beale Street.

“Mandolin Mike” Slusser with tourists Andrew and Rachel Downs from Birmingham, AL – photo – Brad Hardisty

It could be quite simple either by utilizing the downtown ambassadors or a non-profit street musicians union that collects license fees either monthly or yearly for specific locations. The fee needs to be low, as an example maybe $75 per year since musicians earn about 1/3 of what they used to.

The musician or group would receive a license that could be worn like a badge with a strap like a trade show or be displayed in the guitar or instrument case and be assigned to a specific spot like Beale Street in Memphis. A committee could get the spots cleared with the approval of local businesses where they would not be blocking any doors or foot traffic.

There could also be a few spots for weekenders that would need to stop in and get a weekend license and claim the spot.

This would stop random musicians from showing up and creating a nuisance without understanding local ordinances.  Musicians would also need to audition to show some sort of musical viability that honors the traditions of Nashville or shows strong performance, songwriting or playing ability.

I feel this could actually help to build on a great Nashville tradition without throwing musicians into the same category as panhandlers and vagrants.

My 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian, Soldano cabinet and Custom handmade early Samamp 45 watt all tube head made in Birmingham, Alabama by Sam Timberlake.

When I first came to Nashville, I got out on the block for fun, usually playing in front of Lawrence Record Shop, because, I wanted the experience and it was a way to develop chops and make a little money. One of my personal high points was when Little Jimmy Dickens stood and watched me play my 1936 Gibson Electric Hawaiian (that I purchased at Gruhn Guitars in 2007)through a little Roland Street amp and after about ten minutes, threw a $20 bill in the case and said, smiling,”Keep it up.”

Tristan Dunn at Cash Wall, sometime street musician, sit in with local bands. photo – Brad Hardisty

Their needs to be an advocate for the street musicians, true musicians that bring music up close and can discuss what it is all about with tourists and locals. It could be a benefit to downtown Nashville in the Lower Broad Entertainment District.

While Homeless Photographers and Writers are able to develop talents and abilities through The Contributor, homeless musicians and true troubadours are made to feel unwelcome and have all but disappeared.

Somebody start the discussion! We need to make it possible for musicians to be safe and able to ply their trade, making tips, selling CD’s, photos and buttons (making available, not verbally asking to buy) in the Lower Broad District. It can be tough surviving as a musician even with talent and ability.

It would be simple to kick out random wanderers if we had a vendor’s badge system and there were assigned areas along the route. Police would not have to make it rough for everybody, only those operating outside the guidelines.

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

Eclectic Singer/Songwriter, Brent Byrd is hitting Nashville for some serious showcases and good times.

Brent Byrd – Photo courtesy Morning Sock Studios

30 second Bio?

 I was born, didn’t start living until 12…when I got my first guitar, started a horrible band, had no money, joined the army, got out of the army, started a not so bad band and began this long, long journey of becoming a full time musician. I’ve lived and played music all over the US from San Diego to Miami and have performed with many great artists some of which have long forgotten about me and some of which I have long forgotten about, I live in St. Augustine Florida but very rarely and I still have no money!  Ahhh, the life of a musician.
 
What have you been up to lately?

 Well, lately I spend most of the time cruising my RV from town to town playing music. I just finished up my 2nd solo CD “ Evolution Of The Free” and just trying to get it heard by as many    people as possible. So yeah, lately my eyes have just been glued to the pavement!
 
Why Nashville?

 I’ve never been much of a follower and there are tons of really good musicians that head to Nashville with the hopes and dreams of being a full time musician.  I’ve been building a good fan base throughout the Southeast and Midwest over the past 2 years and I’ve kind of avoided Nashville because of that reason but I think it was inevitable. I mean, it is ” Music City” so of course I finally had to throw myself right in the fire and I love it. The vibe, the scene, the musicians, the food, not so much the heat but being around all these musicians just makes me strive to be a better musician. (note- Brent, it is not usually this hot, but, the humidity is good for your guitar and makes for fluid playing and good vocal chords! Ha!- The Nashville sound!)

Found any good food or venues you like to hang at?

The National Underground has given me the opportunity to play there every Thursday through Sept. so I have been hanging out there quite a bit.  They have great burgers and the staff is very cool but I’ve been walking around Broadway going into anywhere that has music, which of course is almost everywhere. I also really like Jacks BBQ and Crema is a cool place to hang out.  I am in search of a great sushi place although I am on a pretty tight budget so PBR’s have become a staple lately.
 

Brent Byrd – Photo courtesy Morning Sock Studios

What should we know about your music?

It’s folk infused rock with a dash of reggae served with a side of southern jam…music that is! I write about real things, my life experiences, my views and mainly I want people to stop and think about life and how we live it. 
 
Favorite gear?

 Well, I recently just purchased a new Boss RC-300 loop pedal which has really enabled me to take my show to a new level. I have been using loops with my performances for the past 3 years but with this new one I can add multiple instruments and control them individually. I tour with a Martin acoustic but I have a Gibson J-200 which by far is my favorite…I just can’t leave her sitting in the RV so she stays home but I did give her a cell phone so we can still talk.
 
Any favorite local songwriters or artists?

 I’ve been really trying to network with some local artists and experience Nashville to the fullest.  I really like Tim Boucher, he is currently touring but I have performed with him at The National Underground and just enjoy his music and talent. I actually grew up with Joshua Jones from Steel Magnolias but I haven’t reconnected with him yet, but we are from the same hometown and he always wanted to play my Gibson at open mic nights…which of course I let him but watch him like a hawk.
 
What would you tell others that would be helpful about coming to Nashville? Preparation?

Watch other bands, get to your show early and support the musicians playing before and after you, don’t show up 2 minutes before your gig and leave right after your gig, thank the sound tech and staff and play your ass off…how’s that!

Upcoming gigs?

I will be performing at The National Underground every Thursday at 7pm in August and September 2012 as well as at Two Old Hippies on Wed. Sept 12th, 2012 at 6 pm.

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