Archives for category: Lower Broad Nashville

photo – Brad Hardisty

After much thought, I really wanted to salute a few key individuals for perpetuating Nashville as Music City. I could have written about 100 individuals both musicians and business people that make things happen and gone into Classical Music, Christian Music and Gospel Music, but, in the end, I needed to break this down to four people from different directions musically that make NashvilleMusic City” and give way more than they take from the community.

For those that live here, you may understand what I am talking about, but, for those from all over the world, maybe I will open a few eyes and ears.

For any number of reasons, I could have written about Little Jimmy Dickens, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton,  Jim Lauderdale, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Little Richard, Elizabeth Cook, Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, okay I could go on. You may agree with my list or you may not. These are whom I call four essential pillars that hold up through thick and thin and inspire others to create and grow in the Nashville community.

Marty Stuart supporting band member Kenny Vaughan at Ernest Tubb’s Music Store CD Release Party, photo – Brad Hardisty

Marty Stuart, born September 30, 1958 in Philadelphia, PA, has been one of country music‘s most eclectic artists, performing and recording diverse types of country music.

He is of French, English, Choctaw, and Colombian descent.

In 1979, when Lester Flatt died. Stuart pushed forward and worked with fiddler Vassar Clements. He also worked with guitarist Doc Watson. In 1980, he joined Johnny Cash‘s backing band. The previous year, Stuart made his first solo album, With a Little Help From My Friends, on Ridge Runner Records

In 1985, Stuart accompanied Johnny Cash to Memphis and played on the “Class of ’55” album that also featured Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. At the end of the session Perkins presented him with his guitar.

When does Marty become a Patron Saint? I believe it started when he had a heated run-in with Columbia Records when they dropped Johnny Cash from their roster. When he stuck up for the “Man in Black” it cost Marty his own album, Let There Be Country which Columbia decided not to release at that point. With Marty, principal comes before dollar signs.

Marty has performed with the best of the best, Johnny Cash, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and Travis Tritt to name a few. Marty saw his first solo success with Hillbilly Rock on MCA Records.

Marty contributed to the AIDS benefit album, Red Hot + County.

Marty’s interest in the heritage of Country Music lead to the showing of his private collection of music memorabilia at the Tennessee State Museum in 2007 as “ Sparkle & Twang : Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey” in 2008.

Marty Stuart has published two books of photographs he has taken of some of Country Music’s  most historic Artists including, “Country Music: The Masters” with some of the final photos of Johnny Cash.

Lately, Marty has been the touchstone to Neo-Country proudly wearing the badge of Nashville past bringing classic country into the future with his last two recordings, Ghost Train (The Studio B Sessions) and Nashville Vol. 1: Tear The Woodpile Down.

Marty’s vast knowledge of the history of Country Music and support of classic artists such as Porter Wagoner despite the lack of Nashville label interest has helped to perpetuate what the outside world considers to be true blue Nashville Country.

Buddy Miller stands at the crossroads of the past and the future as the Godfather of what is now known as Americana, which encompasses everything from old time gospel music to red dirt Country.

Buddy has managed to put a canons worth of Gospel, Country tinged rock, and the most original of tracks out of his own living room with his wife, Julie Miller.  Buddy is a great musician, songwriter, producer and collaborator. I believe that last skill is what makes Buddy one of the four patron saints. A great collaborator where all are welcome under his tent that bring something to this new idiom described as Americana.

Buddy is the house band leader for The Americana Music Awards every year, able to play with just about every artist including Robert Plant who when he decided to put together his Band of Joy project, Buddy Miller was his only choice for bandleader. Buddy put together a band of Nashville all-stars that included Darrell Scott as the utility man on everything from fretless banjo to pedal steel.

Last year’s Majestic Silver Strings featured guitarists Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Greg Leisz, with guest vocalists including Emmylou Harris.

To top that, Buddy is releasing on Black Friday, a new album with Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim.

Buddy’s ability to reinterpret with a working knowledge all things country, rock, old time gospel and folk has singularly help to build a new arm of music radio and business with a firm avenue for those outside the box.

Artists such as The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons in some way owe some credit to Buddy Miller in helping to define a way to market this new indie branch of the music tree.

Marion James

Marion James may be the most constant and longest lasting member of the Music City Patron Saints. Marion has been a longtime performer and resident living nearby what used to be the hot bed of Blues, Soul, Rhythm and Blues on Jefferson Street. Marion’s biggest hit was The Top 10 Billboard Hit, “That’s My Man.”

Marion James at 30th Annual Musicians Reunion and Benefit, photo- Brad Hardisty

Marion James, known as Nashville’s “Queen of The Blues” was playing on Jefferson Street back in the day with a young Jimi Hendrix who had just gotten out of the military. As a former member of Fort Campbell’s Screaming Eagles, Jimi Hendrix and his new best friend Billy Cox had their own band The King Kasuals but also played with Marion James and others.

The musicians on Jefferson Street, Johnny Jones, Christine  Kittrell, Little Richard, Ray Charles and many others were featured on one of the biggest Rhythm and Blues stations of the day, Nashville’s own WLAC.

Marion was featured prominently in The Country Music Hall of Fame’s exhibit Night Train To Nashville.  A photo of one of her live performances with Billy Cox on bass is featured on Volume Two of the Night Train To Nashville Collection.

Several years ago, Marion James started the Musician’s Reunion shows that featured the stars from back in the day on Nashville’s Northside to benefit the Marion James Musicians Aid Society, that she started to help aging musicians with medical costs as well as support the American Cancer Society and the Nashville Rescue Mission.

Marion James continues to perform today. Marion James recorded in the 80’s a blues landmark album with The Hypnotics that lead to sold out shows in Europe and also released a solo album called Essence that featured Nashville guitarist Jack Pearson as well as session bassist Bob Babbitt.

Recently, Marion released Northside Soul on Ellersoul Records which reached #10 on the Living Blues Charts.

Marion James, not only is an accomplished vocalist, but, writes many of her owns songs. Marion James is The Queen of The South when it comes to the Blues.

Marion continues to support the North Nashville community through her organization as well as efforts to get out the history of Jefferson Street to the rest of the world.

Jack White is probably the newest patron saint as one of the four cornerstones of the Nashville Music Community.  I’m not sure what the tipping point was when Jack decided to move to Nashville, but, I imagine meeting Loretta Lynn and asking if he could produce her must have been a big nod in that direction.

The White Stripes started performing “ Jolene” long before Jack moved to Nashville, but, Van Lear Rose, the album that brought a Grammy nod as well as new ears to listen to Loretta Lynn was a huge milestone.

Wanda Jackson and Jack White (Associated Press Photo)

Since working with Loretta Lynn, Jack has gone onto record with Ricky Skaggs, Produce “The Queen of Rockabilly”, Wanda Jackson, invite Porter Wagoner to open for The White Stripes at Madison Square Garden shortly before his passing and worked with many of Nashville’s Rock and Roll Community while spotlighting its heritage.

Jack represents what Rock and Roll is all about with a balance between the blues, rock and roll and country. Jack and his record company, Third Man Records solidify Music City’s Rock and Roll Community which has seen tremendous growth in the last three to four years.

Nashville, whose first real travelling stars, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, has seen a lot of changes over the years. Lower Broad almost turned into a dangerous ghost town when Opryland took over the Grand Ole Opry and most of what downtown had left musically in the late 70’s.

It took many starts and stops before seeing a permanent positive growth record with the opening of today’s Country Music Hall of Fame and numerous new projects downtown.

Nashville is about to see a new golden age for the “Athens of the South.” Nashville has probably one of the biggest collections of colleges and universities in America. Now, just about every genre of American music has a piece of the pie and venues grow by leaps and bounds.

Peter Frampton may have moved here to early, it definitely spurred him on to return to the guitar in a big way, but, sadly he decided to move before Nashville really started to realize its potential as one of the coolest cities in America.

If you are a musician, especially a guitarist or a songwriter, there is no better place to be in the world today no matter what style you play.

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

Junior Sisk getting award as wife, Susan Sisk looks on.

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice Celebrate at IBMA’s World Of Bluegrass with Two Nominations and Appearances on SirisuXM, WAMU and WSM

Chesterfield, VA (September 21, 2012) — Virginia native, Junior Sisk was honored by his home-state and colleagues during a ceremony in Chesterfield, Virginia on Friday, September 14th. Sigrid Williams of the Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame presented Sisk with a plaque during a performance by his band, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, officially honoring Sisk as the 2012 Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame Inductee. The Virginia Folk Music Association was formed in 1943 for the purpose of preserving the history of country, bluegrass and gospel music. In 1973, the “Hall of Fame” was established and since that time has inducted many well known musicians such as Roy Clark, The Statler Brothers, Jimmy Dean and bluegrass legends Jim & Jesse McReynolds.

photo credit – Anthony Ladd

 Also during the ceremony, Edwin Esten, Vice President of the Virginia Folk Music Association presented another plaque to Sisk on behalf of Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonnell, in recognition of Sisk’s dedication to preserving and fostering bluegrass music not only in Virginia, but world-wide as well. “I was deeply honored to be inducted into the Virginia Folk Music Hall of Fame and also to receive the plaque from Governor McDonnell,” stated Sisk. “I play traditional bluegrass music and never think about receiving any awards for it. But when you are recognized by your home-state for what you do, it sure does mean a lot.”

 The Hall of Fame induction is among several newsworthy items as of late for Sisk and Ramblers Choice. The band learned in August that they are nominees for this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards in two categories; Album of the Year for their latest Rebel Records release, The Heart Of A Song and Song of the Year for “A Far Cry From Lester And Earl”. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice will spend next week in Nashville, Tennessee to attend the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Conference and have several personal appearances lined up including radio interviews and performances in addition to attending the IBMA Awards at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Here’s a complete list of their appearances (all times are CST):

 Tuesday, September 25th

2:00pm SiriusXM Radio’s “Bluegrass Junction Live from IBMA” – Admission is free and open to the public. Guests should arrive at the Bridgestone Arena lobby no later than 1:30pm as seating is limited.)

3:30pm SiriusXM Studio Special – Private hour long performance to be aired at a later date on SirisXM’s Bluegrass Junction

7:00pm Martin Guitar’s Showcase at Robert’s Western World, 416B Broadway

10:00pm WAMU’s Bluegrass Country Showcase Nashville Convention Center Room 107

 Wednesday, September 26th

8:00am WSM 650AM “Coffee, Country and Cody” – http://www.wsmonline.com

6:30pm Mountain Music Entertainment/Rebel Records Showcase at Jack’s BBQ, 416 Broadway (Free Admission)

9:30pm Bluegrass on Broadway at Ernest Tubb Record Shop, 417 Broadway (Free Admission)

 Thursday, September, 27th

5:45pm IBMA Red Carpet Media Event

7:30pm IBMA Awards at the Ryman Auditorium

 Friday, September 28th

9:30pm California Bluegrass Association Showcase

11:00pm Fan Fest 

 Junior Sisk will be part of the Bluegrass talent that descends on Nashville next week at IBMA World of Bluegrass.

– 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

Infinity Cat 10th Anniversary, Night 2 at The Zombie Shop – all photos / Brad Hardisty

At Exit/In, the night before, night one of the Infinity Cat Records 10th  Anniversary celebration , it was announced that things would start at The Zombie Shop,  Saturday night at 5PM. When I got there, some of the crew was heading out to eat instead of loading in. I stopped them and asked if it was still on. They said it would definitely start by 9 because there were several bands lined up.

This was definitely a casual 5PM start.  I headed over to Panera near Vanderbilt to check my email and chill for a while. I took them at their word and didn’t get back till after 10PM.

I didn’t get home till 3PM from the Exit/In show and I was low on body and mind fuel. This was not going to be an all-nighter when I got back to The Zombie Shop.  The Zombie Shop sits in an area where any pre-2011 buildings’ days are numbered. Just ask the Musicians Hall of Fame (or once was but now is not).

The Zombie Shop, Mopeds all over the back

The Zombie Shop sits directly south of the new Music City Center, with all its curves and gargantuan size, looking somewhat like a super- sized version of the Experience Music Project (home of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia). In the renderings of the new center, the area that comprises the Zombie Shop, looks like it is either new “swanky” office and mixed use (outrageously expensive) space or a new tree-lined boulevard.

One can only hope that the owners of the Zombie Shop get what this large warehouse style workshop with enough open area outside for about 50 cars get what it’s worth and not the shaft like the Musicians Hall of Fame.

To give you an idea, this area of town sits between the homeless shelter (a converted Sears store), Third Man Records on the backside of that and what used to be older cheap use industrial buildings slinking north towards the bright lights, big city of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bridgestone Arena and Lower Broad Honky-Tonks.

This has been essentially no-man’s land where homeless, vagabonds of the western world and punk and metal bands attracting local non-tourists who dare to venture. It was an area where you could be left alone.

Now, the city fathers have decided all things must be come new. So, like the Station Inn that now sits like an old RCA Victrola squashed by all the new zippity doo dah Gulch pricy lofts and swanky shops, this area is quickly being lost to development.

The Zombie Shop has been an all ages venue/hang out for a while and this was perfect for Infinity Cat.  This lineup included the more fast, loud, punk rock side of the label, like Cy Barkley and Heavy Cream along with Breast Massage, Slammers, Denney and The Jets, No Regrets Coyote and Dirty Dreams.

It was an all ages celebration with skateboards, broke down mopeds in the back, young kids, older punk mainstays and label supporters from all over the country.  Saturday saw an even larger crowd than at the Exit/In show.  This is the future of the label. There are a lot of kids buying Infinity Cat stuff that were not old enough to make it into the Exit/In 18+ show.

Cy Barkley & The Wayoutsiders

Cy Barkley & The Wayoutsiders were finishing their set when I got there.

Taking a look at the T-Shirts, I really wanted one of the sky blue T’s with a print of a cat with JEFF The Brotherhood underneath, but none in 2X. In fact, no 2X T’s! Man I can’t help it. I know I need to lose some weight, but, can’t get a 2X? There are more of us than just me.

Thinking about the Skyblazer album, I thought, I want it on CD so I can listen to the long jams while cruising along 65 at night when I head to Birmingham or Florida. It’s only on vinyl for now. Hey, I totally understand. Maybe, I’ll just have to get the vinyl. I still think MP3’s are wannabes. The only time I get MP3’s are when friends send them to me. I like my music to not sound like a BLT without the bacon and extra lettuce.

I ran into a lot of the Infinity Cat strays from Exit/In plus another 200 friends in one of the best house party style gatherings. Enjoy it while it lasts. This type of party might end up having to move out near Little Hamilton or something within five years.  I guess progress means jobs and I can’t fault that part of the equation.

Heavy Cream load in time!

The last time I saw Heavy Cream was almost two years ago, Jessica was in the catsuit and they played at Third Man during Next Big Nashville. That was almost a manic call during those times. The future of Nashville is anybody’s guess with all the “for sale” signs going up on Music Row. Alternative and Punk may not fully take the place of what the music business is losing, but, it makes the Nashville Music Scene more balanced where everybody is welcome.

Heavy Cream kick out the jams at The Zombie Shop, 7/21/2012

This may be Heavy Cream Mach II or III, with a new bass player and drummer, Tiffany Minton, providing a solid ticking away of the timing, not missing a beat. They were locked perfectly. I noticed I’m not the only one who thinks that. I read some reviews online from other shows this morning and they give the same green light. It seemed like the early Heavy Cream version was a group fighting against itself, timing and rhythm wise, which is an easy mistake playing very fast straightforward punk.

Underneath the Infinity Cat banner!

Heavy Cream reminds me of the loud raw energy of Raw Power era Iggy Pop & The Stooges with the comedic lyrical bent of really early Donnas or even pre-Donnas’ Ragady Anne.

Hit the floor!

Jessica has got that “Iggy Pop glare” going on where you don’t know what she is going to do next. If the crowd aint doing enough, Jessica gets in the crowd and starts egging them on. She wants a reaction. I can’t see her smearing peanut butter all over herself, but, she has that “Iggy style front girl bully pulpit” thing better than anybody else in town. Watch out, she can stare you down without blinking.

Everybody was in the cavernous garage when the girls hit the stage. Heavy Cream ripped through a lot of new material from Super Treatment, like “Louise,”recorded in San Francisco with Producer, Ty Segall. The new songs have that raw, loud tightness of other bay area punkers like the Dead Kennedys– “California Uber Alles” and the original MX-80 SoundSomeday You’ll Be King “ that was on The Residents, Ralph Records back in 1979.

Jessica McFarland / Heavy Cream / The Zombie Shop 7/12/2012

Super Treatment, with its almost other worldliness relation to the cover of The CrampsBad Music for Bad People may be the defining Nashville Punk album, much in the same way as Justin Townes Earle’s, The Good Life when it set off true Nashville Americana edge. Super Treatment fits within the true family tree bridging the Nashville Punk scene with West Coast and East Coast Bad Brains grit and swagger.

Jessica

Heavy Cream closed their set with Alice Cooper’s, “Is It My Body” done more in a “what-are-you-staring-at-leave-me-alone” kind of way and finally their biggest song to date, “Watusi” which got the frontline in a friendly Nashville style  slam dance frenzy.

Heavy Cream do the Watusi!

Infinity Cat hung on the back wall, overseeing the crowd as they exited into the dark streets with the new Gotham City Music Center hanging like a dark cloud over the night.

Infinity and beyond!

 – 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

Strange Karma on Nashville set - Fade to Black

Monday Night saw Nashville State Community College’s PEG Studio rocking the campus with Aussie’s Strange Karma on a stopover between live dates in Chicago and Detroit before heading to the West Coast.

To be featured on an upcoming episode of Local TV Show Fade To Black, Strange Karma performed four numbers with hints of classic hard rock such as Led Zeppelin to Aussie style heavy Midnight Oil Rhythms of “America”, this is the first Nashville will get to see of Strange Karma live as well as an interview with show host, Steve Lockett and yours truly.

Jason McDonald - Strange Karma

Jason McDonald sat behind a DW double bass kit reminiscent of Cozy Powell, laying down solid percussion, wearing his DW sponsorship proudly with a full tattoo on his arm of the drum kit. Jason was playing in Australian Van Halen and Led Zeppelin tribute bands before hooking up with brothers Martin and Paul Strange.

Paul, was running his 58’ Classic Ebony Black Les Paul almost straight into the Marshall JCM800 half stack, employing just a couple of pedals, leaving a dense analog wall of sound, with nods to Jimmy Page as well as Paul Kossoff.

Martin & Paul Strange

Brother, Martin Strange fronted the band with a Jim Morrison presence and a little Robert Plant thrown in for good measure. These references may be a little over the top, but, in actual fact this is original Hard Rock with all the grit and none of the digital high end squelch ring of busy activity associated with so much computer processed ADD Ear Candy in today’s metal.

Bassist, Doe Prijono, of Indonesian descent who arrived in Australia in his youth, provides not only six string bass prowess, but, acts as the guy that everybody likes in the band. Everybody wants to hang with Doe, with a demeanor as smooth as a mountain lake and matching musical depth, the four members of Strange Karma spur each other on to higher climes.

Local band, Scarey Larry, had finished a TV taping of their episode of Fade To Black just prior and decided to hang for the Aussie’s set. It has to be said, every time I get the chance to hang with Aussies, the more I want to visit Australia. It may be that they are the only people on par for friendliness with Southerners. The only difference is they still have that daredevil west coast attitude as well.

Australians like to conquer the world and Strange Karma is willing to do it one American fan at a time.  Although their music is rooted in solid hard rock roots, it is their own thing with enough in the mix not to be associated with just one of the branches in the tree.

Dutch, Steve, Paul, Nashville South, Doe, Jason, Martin, Nashville North on Lower Broad

With just a short time between dates up north then on to two Texas shows, 11/24 & 11/25 before headlining a gig at The Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood on November 30th, Strange Karma wanted to make the most of their night in Nashville by celebrating Doe’s Birthday down on Lower Broad, cruising through Legend’s Corner, Roberts, where Eric Clapton found five vintage Stratocasters and built “Blackie” out of three of them when it was partly known as Sho-Bud Guitars, as well as The Stage before ending up at Full Moon Saloon where Megan Ellis just blew away the whole band doing everything from Patsy Cline to Stevie Nicks. The band was immovable till it was time to go crash before heading to Memphis to visit Graceland then head southwest to Austin, Texas.

Strange Karma plans on making a return visit to Nashville in the near future, especially with plans for a new album in the coming year, the current FnA Records release, Volume One is available now and the Fade To Black episode will be aired soon on NECAT Channel 19 in Davidson County and probably YouTube on a computer near you.

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

Town Mountain on Mainstage

On the second night of World of Bluegrass, the boundaries were being stretched from groups influenced by Bluegrass music growing up, but, showing hardly a hint of a Bluegrass foundation to neo-modern traditionalists Town Mountain, the future of Bluegrass lies in a cross section of those that would hold high the Monroe flame at this celebration of the 100th Anniversary of his birth to seeing if Pat Benatar can go well with a side of Mandolin.

The Farewell Drifters

The Farewell Drifters, with a fairly current Americana meets Pop Music took the stage, with two releases debuting in the top 10 of the Billboard Bluegrass charts, Zach Bevill and the crew were a push forward with varied influences. The fact that they have progressed this far shows that a younger generation is carrying acoustic music across the universe.

Nu-Blu backstage

Nu-Blu, featuring the beautiful voice of Carolyn Routh, premiered a great video for a strong number, “Other Woman’s Blues,” before playing live to the full house. The real strength of Nu-Blu is their songwriting, even though they finished the set with Dolly’s “Jolene” and a Pat Benatar rave-up of “Shadows of the Night,” they have some interesting stories of their own to tell.

Crystal Shipley, Joe Zauner and Jed Clark

If there was a particular theme, it seemed to be that just about any acoustic music was welcome. Even in the after hours, showcases, which featured the Gypsy Jazz / Old time Texas style swing of Casey Driscoll, Taylor Baker and Brennen Ernst playing “Blue Skies”, was really a bridge to the Americana Conference and Folk Alliance.

Backstage with Randy Kohrs

Jim Lauderdale had one of the strongest sets, playing songs from Reason and Rhyme, with Producer and Dobro shredder, Randy Kohrs and a hot band hitting all the right spots. Jim is a neo-traditionalist chameleon that works in tall bluegrass and with Grateful Dead songwriters in the same breath. Jim has such a volume of output; he wears me out just thinking about it.

Jim Lauderdale with WSM 650 staff

Town Mountain was a fitting finish, with great musicianship and a strong nod to Bluegrass.  They were drawing in the lines and at the same time fresh faced.

Rodney & Beverly Dillard

Rodney Dillard of the generational Dillards (The Darlings, Andy Griffith Show) was taking a breather this year while his band was all about mixing it up.

Casey Driscoll, Taylor Baker and Brennen Ernst Showcase

The jams go late into the night. Some of the impromptu meet ups are what makes this fun. You could catch anybody from Crystal Shipley (The Dixie Bee-Liners), Joe Zauner on banjo and Jed Clark (The Roys) on guitar, just hanging on a cluster of couches talking instruments to see what happens.

Harry Fontana at Robert's

After hours, one could hang and catch the late night showcases or go grab a bite to eat down on Lower Broad in a couple of minutes at Robert’s listening to the three piece straight up Rock and Roll of Harry Fontana on “Rockabilly Boogie.”

Martin McDaniel at The Stage

A couple more doors down and the soulful country of Southern Alabama’s Martin McDaniel, with some of the most fluid guitar lines in town was at The Stage. Martin has been building a local audience ever since he arrived a few years ago, doing it the hard way, honky tonks and opening sets.

WAMU's Bluegrass Country Showcase

Music City; where music never sleeps.  

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