Archives for category: Jeff the Brotherhood

Jack White Blunderbuss Tour – Nashville Teletalkin’ Style

Jack White has increased the size of his dominion behind the Homeless shelter near Cannery Row. The Third Man Records location has expanded to almost an entire city block just south of the new Convention Center.

Black and Yellow gumballs by the front door. photo – Brad Hardisty

The timing couldn’t be better since the tourist destination is just a short brisk walk from the modern rolling roof of the Convention Center that is set to open next year with a brand new gargantuan Omni Hotel attached.

Inside the Third Man Records Store, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Third Man Records catalog of releases is in an ever-increasing stream much like hot lava leaking out of an active volcano.

The original and current store front. photo – Brad Hardisty

Third Man has not only exposed Nashville Artists, such as Pujol and Jeff The Brotherhood to the rest of the world, but, spurred a renewed interest in Rockabilly Queen, Wanda Jackson and found some great regional acts, such as Birmingham, Alabama’s Dan Sartain and Japan’s classic garage rock all-girl band The 5678’s.

Remodel, used to be an alley way, leading to back door to enter the venue for special events. Now – modern take on Art Deco style entrance door. Note the handrails. photo – Brad Hardisty

Third Man Records has hosted many live events, just about all of which are recorded and released on vinyl.

Probably the most historic recording was Jerry Lee Lewis, which had so much demand that it turned into an outdoor festival with an all-star band featuring Memphis alumni, Steve Cropper on guitar. The Third Man Records release of the event being one of the label’s finest moments.

Looking onto the new addition. photo – Brad Hardisty

Other notable artists who have Third Man Records releases include Tom Jones, Beck, Flat Duo Jets and Insane Clown Posse.

Dumpster still in place while finishing the addition. photo – Brad Hardisty

It seems that Jack is really flexible on his taste and has been a real asset in developing Nashville into Music City.

Third Man Monkey Band by the front window. photo – Brad Hardisty

Most items that are available on the website are available at the Third Man Record Store. If you are local and have not stopped by, you have really missed something, especially, the monkey band playing unreleased cuts from Blunderbuss.

If you are truly “died-in-the-wool” modern country, you probably still have relatives that wouldn’t mind a unique Christmas gift such as a Third Man Records turntable slip mat or box of six Third Man Records designed Guitar Picks.

Looking south towards original store front. photo – Brad Hardisty

The Nashville Bridge congratulates Third Man Records on their expanded Nashville operations.

Store Hours are Mon-Sat 12-6 pm and Sun 1-4 pm. You can call Third Man Records at (615) 891-4393.

Third Man Records is located at 623 7th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee, 37203.

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

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Free Infinity Cat Cheese Sandwich!

Friday night in Nashville, as a deluge began about 9:15, the Rock Block turned into a creek with water almost to Restaurant and guitar store doors across the street when Psychic Hotline took to the stage at Exit/In to kick-off a ten year Birthday Bash for Infinity Cat Records, the ”for-real” Nashville Punk Rock label home to JEFF The Brotherhood, Heavy Cream, Diarrhea Planet and other Nashville originals.

Psychic Hotline / Exit/In -all photos – Brad Hardisty

Psychic Hotline, fronted by Jessica McFarland ( Heavy Cream), not to be confused with the Ontario, Canada band, opened with a tight deadpan Buzzcocks / L7 set  like a rapid fire Tommy gun. 

Deluxin’ at Infinity Cat 10th Celebration Show

People were drying out and soaking up the sounds of Deluxin’, another Buzzcocks/ Television / Voidoids (Dad bands) with a somewhat Zach De La Rocha approach at the microphone-style unit fronted by Nathan Vasquez (former Be Your Own Pet) who knows how to put his scream on.

Tristen at Exit/In – Photo/Brad Hardisty

Tristen (Gaspadarek)brought things into a more mellow mood with an Indie take on Americana which may be more attributed to what is coming out of East Nashville, sans-drummer Americana with a drum machine was interesting, but all things aside, Tristen has a great voice, great songs, great bass player (kind of real classic country walking style going on like Merle’s band, The Strangers) and has had some wonderful things said about her in Rolling Stone and American Songwriter. Tristen rocked the house in green sequined sixties style short shorts, doin’ a little dance-get down tonight style. This was ladies night for vocals.

All I got was this cheese sandwich, Jessica’s Psychic Hotline setlist and Diarrhea Planet’s setlist. What’s it worth to you?

Before Diarrhea Planet took over Exit/In, Robert Orrall, Jake and Jamin’s Dad (JEFF The Brotherhood) brought out a huge box of cheese sandwiches in plastic sandwich bags with Green Infinity Cat Logo stickers affixed and began throwing them out into the audience, this in turn, lead to spinning plastic bags being thrown around with the hefty sideways Frisbee-bean bag style tosses whizzing by everywhere.

Diarrhea Planet pelted by sandwiches!

When Diarrhea Planet hit the stage, the sandwiches started being aimed at the band with drummer, Casey, drumming like a sonic hedgehog with two Louisville Sluggers, taking some head and crotch shots. Casey could only laugh when it’s sandwiches. The 50 sandwich-filled plastic bags ended up back onstage when the  four guitar (yeah, four, that’s one more than Lynyrd Skynyrd in a “Spinal Tap” my band is louder than yours kind of way) assault started.

Stack-O-Sandwiches! No cats were harmed.

One of the guitarists started stacking up the sandwiches on the side, only to hurl all of them back at the audience toward the end of the set.

Diarrhea Planet originally started as a two-piece noise band out of Belmont University and is now kind of the Valiant Thorr of Indie Punk, throwing out all kinds of styles at the same time with a wall of Johnny Ramone, Randy Rhoads, John Frusciante and Malcom Young all hitting at once, with leads and interlocking rhythm going every which way.  There were no lead breaks since any two might be playing lead at the same time. This is fun party music that kind of goes down like a Peelander-Z set meets the Beastie Boys. If you play guitar and you don’t have a good time at a Diarrhea Planet show, something is definitely wrong with you. Okay, I think this is one of my favorite Nashville bands now.

Robert Orrall, Nashville City Council member, Infinity Cat Records staff, Jake Orrall

Before the final set of the night, Ronny Steine, Nashville Councilman-at-large, was joined onstage by Robert “Bob” Orrall, Jake Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood, Skyblazer, Infinity Cat Records) and members of the Infinity Cat team to accept a plaque from the Nashville Metro Council with a lot of important “whereas” clauses, Resolution No. RS2012-339, “honoring Infinity Cat Recordings on its Tenth Anniversary as one of Nashville’s best independent labels.”  A really unique turn of events; a Nashville Homegrown Indie Punk label turning ten years old that is on most every writer and magazine in the states Top 10 best Indie label list, having their very own day, July 20th, 2012, Infinity Cat Record Day, Nashville, Represent!

Skyblazer returns!

For the final big one of the evening, Jake and Jamin Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood, if you don’t know by now) put back together a mid-2000 project, Skyblazer (possibly named for the early Nineties Sony video game?), that they had with Lindsay (Cake Bake Betty) Powell. Skyblazer also released (never before released) the 2006 recording on Infinity Cat and it was available for the first time at the show on 12 inch vinyl.

Jake and Jamim Orrall looking Through the Past darkly!

Jake’s guitar tone was nice and fat with trippy wha going into that Sunn Lead Concert head.  The four piece band did plenty of long stoner jams in the veins of early Hawkwind or Black Mountain (who were quite new in 2006)… especially like Black Mountain with the almost Jefferson Plane-ish twin harmonies of Jake and Lindsay.

It was a fun set, plenty of heavy “Iommi” guitar, with some almost Hendrix channeling, Jake is really a soul surfer of a player.

If Skyblazer had become the dominant thing, Jake and Jamin would have been on Jagjaguwar and touring with Black Mountain or even Swedish band, Graveyard nowadays. Funny how life is; the Orrall family is really helping to turn Nashville into Music City one great band at a time.  

The Infinity Cat Records 10th Anniversary celebration continues Saturday Night in the shadow of the new convention center skyline at The Zombie Shop with Heavy Cream and Cy Barkley as two of the featured artists.

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

Last Friday night, after trying to figure out how to get from West End across the I-24 construction zone to East Nashville on surface streets (can you say, “Where the hell am I?”), I barely made it in the door at 11 PM, at The 5 Spot in Five Points for the CD Release Party, get near the stage, Ben Lowry (guitar) glances up and then Abby Hairston (drums) says, “Brad! Ya Made it!” and Bang Ok Bang starts into one of the loudest sets I have heard at The 5 Spot.

Bang Ok Bang/ The 5 Spot – Photos – Brad Hardisty

Bang Ok Bang, is the latest project that puts Ben on guitar instead of Bass with The One Through Tens (The 1-10’s) where Abby also rocks on the skins.

This is a lot heavier and a little more insane then The One Through Tens.

Bang Ok Bang joins the A-list Nashville two man bands, The White Stripes (RIP), The Black Keys and Jeff The Brotherhood. The only difference is Bang Ok Bang would be a great opener for somebody like Queens Of The Stone Age or Slayer.

Ben puts a twist on Chet Atkins picking style by covering the low end through an Ampeg Bass rig, with some gnarly snaking fuzzy bass lines a la Vincebus Eruptum, with stripped down Ministry- influenced- at- Motorhead speed chords and notes through a Marshall.

The only other player I have seen that simultaneously can play the low end and the chords and melody like a total fake out is Lightnin’ Malcolm, the bad ass one-half of the 2 Man Wrecking Crew with Cedric Burnside.

How does the two-man-heavy-stoner rock go over at The 5 Spot? Well, the room was packed where they were the third band up and everybody pulled away from the bar and crowded the stage, grinning and kind of thinking, “Is this guy really pulling off Dickie Peterson and Al Jourgensen at the same time?”

Hey Mr. Marshall meet Mr. Ampeg and try to keep up with Abby. Abby was a solid Bill Ward influenced box beater going from kick to heavy thrashing of the Toms between solid grooves and stoner prog breaks.

With songs like “Above The Surface”, the tender titled “Always For You”, not to be confused with an Everly Brother’s number and “Chemicals Pt. 1 & 2”, I think it is time to pull a two man band festival.

Okay, bring back The White Stripes one more time and let’s have Lightnin’ Malcolm & Cedric Burnside, Jeff The Brotherhood, The Black Keyes and Bang Ok Bang all on the same bill at The Ryman. I would pay $100 to see that show.

Ben’s vocals are what you see is what you get punk rock ethos. I don’t think he could pull off a Josh Stone or Freddie Mercury anyways. Hey, but that’s okay, it’s dang close to Blue Cheer with a healthy Ministry grinding to keep heavy freaks and East Nashville hobnobbers  showing up at the same venue kind of like a Crema Cuban Triple Espresso with a Rooster’s Texas style Brisket Sandwich with all the spicy 911 Jack’s BBQ sauce you can handle.

If I had to compare them to any regional scene band it would be Black Tusk out of Georgia witnessing a little “Hillbilly Voodoo” at a Southern Gothic movie convention in Cordova, Alabama with Ministry providing the soundtrack, Juicifer providing cocktails and Henry Rollins on vocals.

I picked up the “limited to 150” new EP CD and it sounds great. Four songs to irritate office workers as you roll down the window of your Ford Fiesta and crank it full volume. I have number 86/150 and I won’t take less then 5K for it okay, so don’t even ask. If you want yours, you better show up for their next set at The Zombie Shop on July 27th.

Bang a gong, get it on!

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

Kenny Vaughan at Mercy 2011

This would be the year that Indie makes more news in Nashville than Country; what Music City is known for. There seems to be much more going on with the ever developing spider web of Funk, Rock and strange magic underbelly from the Gulch to East Nashville.

Before, we get into this weird year, 2012 with its three Friday the 13ths exactly 13 weeks apart, the intrigue of political discord, 12/21/12, which lines up with Rush’s “Temples of Syrinx” released in 1976, prophecy being realized, “Our great computers, fill the hallowed halls, We are the priests of the temples of syrinx, All the gifts of life, Are held within our walls,” ha! Computers, what a blessing and a curse as all the creative occupations occupied by humans are eliminated by this gift we call knowledge at our fingertips. Remember, when Rush wrote “Temples of Syrinx,” a computer took up a whole room. Well, Steve Jobs, one of the great Priests of the digital age has passed onto the spiritual realm.

The Mayan calendar ends shortly after the election, maybe the world won’t come to an end, but, probably a lot of music will be written about end times and there will be an uptick of heavy dirge and Metal music. This may be the year to contemplate life listening to Dark Side of The Moon again or about sinister underlying forces in Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime.

Before we move through this “L” shaped recovery, one of the most mentally difficult times I can remember in my life, let’s rewind.

 As far as music, 2011 was a “run for cover” year as the “360 deal” pop artists keep spinning their “larger-than-life-80’s-on-ecstacy” fluff with the bands that happen to still be signed to major labels sounding not too far off the Katy Perryesque mark. I think the bands were put on warning, “Rock radio is dying so you better have “Moves Like Jagger.”

Okay, before I get to something positive, there were some disappointments. Janes Addiction, while preparing to release their newest album, The Great Escape Artist, put down their last effort, Strays  as not being that good, when in fact Strays did have a couple of great guitar hooks, while this dark piece, weak on guitar, ended up being more reminiscent of Porno for Pyros.  There was not one solid hook on the entire album.

Red Hot Chili Peppers were able to put together a solid if not remarkable effort with new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, who may be capable of taking on some Frusciante and Slovak, but not as innovative. Frusciante was a trailblazer; this is like replacing Eddie Van Halen.

So, with FYE the last major chain in Nashville closing its doors at the old Tower Records site, you got your choice, you have major league fluff, really not much different than the cotton candy days before The Beatles and The Rolling Stones crashed the party or you can go outside the box, think for yourself, show up at a Grimey’s in-store or a showcase at The End.

Hello Kelly at The Rutledge, photo courtesy- Jeni George

As far as bands go, Jeff The Brotherhood, joins the two member band fray that goes nationwide, well deserved with great shows locally and at Bonnaroo and beyond. As far as other local rock acts, Hello Kelly always put on a solid show when I saw them this year as well as The Onethroughtens that played solid sets at both the Third Man Vault show and some fashion meets art consortium at Mercy Lounge.

Kenny Vaughan at Ernest Tubb Record Shop

As far as favorite shows, Kenny Vaughan’s record release at Ernest Tubb’s downtown location was the place to be this year with Marty Stuart, the Fabulous Superlatives as well as Chris Scruggs playing to a packed room with about half being friends and relatives.

Jeff Beck at Ryman 2011

Jeff Beck at The Ryman was another phenomenal show as well as the Americana Awards that saw not only The Avett Brothers and The Civil Wars, but, also Robert Plant and Greg Allman bookending appearances with Buddy Miller providing the musical proceedings.

Okay, now for my top ten of the year. Many recordings are sounding more analog in the Indie world, if not recorded analog, the attempt to match the style with the sound that would come out of the influential era a must.

10.  Jeff The Brotherhood  – We Are The Champions

Starting out with some punk rock Buck Rogers guitar laser blasts subsiding into gnarly Maestro phase shifter on “Hey Friend” clocking in with a long intro, the writing is strong, simple and effective. Jeff gets a major label deal off this one. It will be interesting to see how that goes. Their own label, Infinity Cat, being one of the major local indie labels to develop a short roster that has been hitting every club and festival that they can, Jeff the Brotherhood came up with a solid piece of work.

9. The August – Dear Chicago Love Nashville

Jacky Dustin has one strong Country voice, this Chicago band has been down here chasing their Country music dreams for a little while, not waiting to get signed, they put this great piece of Country rockin’ song cycle out themselves.  Big labels, in their search for solos and doubles, have so far overlooked this great band. What’s wrong with a great band that writes their own songs about cranking The Rolling Stones and talking about where they came from? This is not a one trick pony going from the double-time “We Write Our Songs” to the getting more than you bargained for sultry “Love Me Like A Stranger,” this is probably the best “unsigned” country band in Nashville.

8. Graveyard – Hisingen Blues

This was a find while traveling out to Utah to do interviews, stopping it at local indie record shop, Gray Whale and picking up a recommendation. The Swedish rockers are somewhere between first album Black Sabbath and Vincebus Eruptum, Blue Cheer. The recording sounds like it was done on an old well worn 4 track reel to reel with non-Marshalls, more like full blown, old Sound City amps or something. There doesn’t seem to be anything above 8k on this album. It plays like a record found at a garage sale from an old Vietnam era stoner. They are playing this month at Exit/In on January 20th.  The early Black Sabbath slow un-blues of “No Good, Mr. Holden” and stoner boogie, “Buying Truth (Tack & Forlat)” are stand outs.

7. Mastodon – The Hunter

It’s weird to think that a Metal band that was conceived at The Nick in Birmingham and worked its way out of Atlanta, would earn its wings being lauded not only by Metallica but attendees at such indie festivals as Coachella with 2008’s, Crack The Skye, busting out everywhere. It was hard to follow up Crack the Skye which would be their Dark Side of The Moon, but Mastodon do a great job on such cuts as the “Sweet Leaf” groove of “Curl of The Burl” and the Dream Theater flavored, “Octopus Has No Friends.”  

Dedicated6. Steve Cropper – Dedicated, A Salute to The 5 Royales

Steve has the opportunity to pay tribute to guitarist, Lowman Pauling, who was one of the biggest influences on Stax soul as the great era of the Sixties would kick in full effect. The King records office, run by “Duck” Dunn’s brother in Memphis, brought in some of the strongest soul artists of the day from around the country. Booker T. and The MG’s, Otis Redding and many other artists were influenced as the music changed from rhythm and blues to soul. This has an all—star vocal cast from Delbert McClinton on “Right Around the Corner” to Steve Winwood, B.B. (Beale Street Blues Boy) King, Steve Winwood, Lucinda Williams and an A-list that contribute to this project.

5. Gary Clark Jr.  – The Bright Lights E.P.

With some gritty Black Keys meets The Burnside Exploration bluesy soul of “Bright Lights,” kicking off this four song cycle, there is a little Paul “Wine” Jones thrown in here, this Texan, all things, including a little hill country blues, is more of a promise than a full album. It was good enough to make Rolling Stone’s list for the year and earns a place on my list as well. The fact that it is on Warner Brothers makes it really twisted.

4. Tony Bennett – Duets II

With many of the classic icons now “Dust in The Wind,” it really is amazing that Tony Bennett still sings like a prizefighter. Mr. Bennett could hold up everything by himself, but, the interesting match-ups with Mariah Carey, John Mayer (yes, John Mayer), Willie Nelson, as well as Lady Gaga’s best performance to date on “The Lady is a Tramp” makes for an instant standard. The most prized track is Amy Winehouse’ last recorded performance of “Body and Soul.” The Nelson Riddle style strings make this record sit on the top shelf with the best early Sixties era Frank.

3. Kenny Vaughan – V

Kenny shows up on a lot of Nashville records, known as Marty Stuart’s guitar slinger, Kenny takes center stage with The Fabulous Superlatives providing back up, the album rocks as much as it steeps in mystified netherworld Country, blasting off with “Country Music Got a Hold on Me,” stopping mid-point with the instrumental, “Wagon Ride” before ending up in a rockin’ Country church, “Don’t Leave Home Without Jesus.”  Sonically, this has the frequencies in the right place with no high-end ADD busy bee stuff going on. Well done!

2. Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

If I could be in a band right now, this would be it, with only a strong sense of songwriting being the guide this is all over the map with heavy 70’s influenced, “Might Find It Cheap” being probably the best structured song I have heard this year, to influences from accoustified Dylan to southern fried Tom Petty, I think there is a concept going on here, but, more than anything this is worth at least a dozen listens.

1. Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures

We may never know how far Amy could have gone. She absorbed Dinah Washington, Donny Hathaway as well as The Ronnettes with equal grace. Amy not only did some great covers, but, was a songwriter on par with the best. This disc has some raw original versions showing Amy supporting herself on guitar. Amy had all three talents, great voice, great musician and great songwriter. She was a triple threat in a class of one. Amy is the best voice of the last twenty years. This collection takes us all the way from the very beginning on the demo, “The Girl From Ipanema” to mid career, Stevie Wonder influenced, Amy Winehouse penned, “Half Time” to the current torn heart on a sleeve, Leon Russell cover, “A Song For You.” This is a chronicle of a flame that burned hot and way too fast. She should be here now.

Okay, that’s it.  Watch out for Imelda May. She actually played at 3rd and Lindsley this year. Imelda would have been on the list with Mayhem except it is a 2010 release, but, watch out, there is More Mayhem coming out at a Grimey’s near you.

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis’ stripped down take on the Forties as well as some Ska and Hawaiian music on Smoking in Heaven continues where the last one left. They’re heading for the Big Day Out Festivals in Australia and while not making much of a dent in the States, the recording is a vintage gear monger’s dream. They accurately feel like recordings made in Chicago or Memphis way before Sun.  

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

Sometimes you gotta wait till the right moment, let things simmer a bit, unwind at an Indie film about Lee “Scratch” Perry at the Belcourt Theater, listen to some bands you never heard at the Grimey’s listening station before turning to the obvious. Such was the case since I have known about Jeff the Brotherhood’s Infinity Cat Records release We Are The Champions for a while.

It really is a trip when you think that The White Stripes ended up down here with Third Man Records before a final break up, and then The Black Keys announced they were making their new home in Music City and all this time, at least for the last few years, we got Jeff the Brotherhood; our own homegrown Two Man band.

Jeff the Brotherhood were the show to see during Next Big Nashville last fall at Third Man with the live set being released on Third Man vinyl within a few days. In fact, the twelve inch can still be found in the Third Man Records shop any day of the business week.

Then came Bonnaroo. Jeff the Brotherhood started their own mania when they were supported by the first 30 people making up most of their audience being other local bands. How cool is that? Other local bands stirring up so much dust that another 200 people stop to see what all the fuss is about?

Nashville could not be in a better place right now. We have our own labels, our own scene, make that multiple scenes with a ton of bands that don’t sound the same. For me, that is exciting. It has been an interesting path between the gulch and the backside of the mission to where things are right now.

Jeff the Brotherhood and PUJOL are on lists in Rolling Stone Magazine and other national publications. They are on lists that really matter. Maybe they don’t have albums blazing up the charts, but, it is a grass roots thing, you gotta search them out or maybe your friend tells you about their live show. The difference is Jeff the Brotherhood are bad, they’re nationwide.

We Are The Champions is stacked and capped mixing up tones that fit the song, like stripped down, complicated garage rock, this was not thrown together, it’s like a stack of seven inch records to do some downhill skateboarding by or shut down Seattle and Portland. Okay, maybe not shut down but turn a few heads, sell a few records and rock the house.

photo - Pooneh Ghana

In a way, the title can be a laugh, using a standard rock term, like you thought you made it up yourself while everybody around you is thinking; don’t they know Queen Live at Wembley with 100,000 Brits singing along? But, in fact, this is Nashville’s time. It may be a metaphor for what it means to be accepted among your peers, the other bands in Nashville.

Back in CBGB’s time, Television played for The Ramones, The Ramones played for Blondie and The Dictators saved Rock and Roll. It is now Nashville’s time to leave their mark. It says a lot when bands show up to support one another and buy each others’ records. It says a lot more when Infinity Cat Records ran by the band and their father, Robert Ellis Orrall, goes nationwide.

Jeff the Brotherhood have a solid set here. Listen up.

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

 

Jimi Hendrix in Nashville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are several trackbacks links for your viewing pleasure.

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

 

Elliston Place

                Heading over to Centennial Park, I set myself down near Rock Block for starting point to TACA 2010 in front of Elliston Place Soda Shop, one of the oldest landmark Restaurants still at the same location near Vanderbilt University.

                Today was a day off in preparation for the rest of “Busy-September” when the stars align and Nashville is taken over by The Americana Music Association and finally IBMA World of Bluegrass in the same moment as Next Big Nashville 2010 starting Monday.

Next Big Nashville has been touted as Nashville’s SXSW but then again there is a NXNW Indie Conference as well. The foundation has been laid for bigger plans in Nashville for the music business. Indie distributors such as Thirty Tigers and of course Jack White’s Third Man Records are adding to the landscape of Nashville.

Rock Block

Third Man Records has had involvement at SXSW in the past with a pop up music store during the festivities in Austin and has announced offsite Concerts at Third Man Studios during the Conference. There is even special Blue and Black vinyl releases to guests at the show. They have no less than three shows, Jenny & Johnny Sunday night, 9/26, 6 PM, followed by Tyvek from Detroit at 8PM Monday night and back to back shows 10/1 and 10/2 featuring The Ettes, Jeff the Brotherhood, Jacuzzi Boys, Heavy Cream among others.

Marilee Hall Ceramics

Not to be outdone Next Big Nashville has announced several showcases, one of which is The Bridges among its 4 Days/150 Bands/12 Venues Lineup.  It actually dwarfs the Americana Music Conference that featured such great Artists as Robert Plant, Wanda Jackson and The Avett Brothers.

Dancin' in the Park

It is going to be hard to get around town with the IBMA World of Bluegrass taking on the same streets. This is the largest Conference of the Bluegrass scene that has Americana crossovers like The Steeldrivers performing during the week. Jerry Douglas will be one of the hosts at a packed awards show on September 30th at The Ryman.

Roberta Elliott/The Velvet Hammer Ltd.

Yes, this weekend is a little peaceful among the Artisans, crafters, gawkers and dogs. It is a day on the green at Centennial Park in the mid 80’s with everything from John J. Quick hand carving Windsor Chairs without a lathe to Roberta Elliot-The Velvet Hammer Ltd.  Showing off ironware for the home. She had the most interesting Music Stand I had ever seen with some famous folks that already own one. I asked if she had made a Mic Stand for anybody yet and the answer was no. You can be the first one out there with a Mic stand built from scratch to your own specifications.

Chair Swing with a View

A little time to contemplate the week ahead kicking back on one of the chair swings at Centennial Park with The Parthenon in the distance and I was back down to Elliston Place for a brief stop at Rock Block Guitars to check out the used gear that may have ended up there at tour’s end or a broke musician leaving town. Nashville makes as many dreams as it breaks. I always say “you will get out of Nashville what you bring to the table”.  This week over 200 bands and artist will be playing for locals, the media and just for the sheer fact that a Musician has got to do what he is.  

Rock Block Guitars

Okay tonight will be some mindless fun reminiscing my youth with a Van Halen tribute band by the name of Fair Warning at The Basement  just a little break before next week’s madness and sleepless nights.

Coasters

John J Quick/ Tennessee

Lester Jones.com

The Parthenon in the distance

Centennial Park, Nashville, TN, TACA 2010

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN, all photos 2010- Brad Hardisty      thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com