Archives for category: Mercy Lounge Nashville

So Cal Tale Weaving  Nettie Rose at The Billy Block Show

Billy Block Into - Mercy Lounge 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Billy Block Into – Mercy Lounge 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose is a cross between a young June Carter growing up in Modern So Cal, instead of the Smoky Mountains with a Laurel Canyon era Graham Parsons partner Emmylou Harris singing thru the lens of a Gold rush street fightin’ San Fran Saloon Chanteuse.

Nettie Rose, Mercy Lounge 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose, Mercy Lounge 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose debuted on The Billy Block Show live from Mercy Lounge Tuesday night weaving tales from the San Francisco gold rush days to sharing her own stories of modern

Nettie Rose, Billy Block Show at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose, Billy Block Show at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Her voice is part plaintive Wildwood Flower , Wanda Jackson “Fuji Yama Mama” with a little scratch tickling the throat and sometimes pure catfight from a Boomtown Dance Hall girl that has been through too many “love ‘em and leave ‘em” romances from a transient California strike it rich past.

Nettie Rose at Billy Block Show, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Billy Block Show, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose had been in Nashville the past few days recording new songs, one of which ”Deaf Cowboy” was debuted during the six song set that gave Nashville a taste of California’s history and country music heritage as well as the first song she wrote, the sing-a-long “Ride, Ride, Ride.”

Lynn Shipley Sokolow, Fred Sokolow, Nettie Rose, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Lynn Shipley Sokolow, Fred Sokolow, Nettie Rose, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Current mentor and co-writer, Fred Sokolow was featured on some pre-Bakersfield Sound style Tele work as well as “Speedy West” Electric Hawaiian tone that played like on old California Town Hall Party 78 record.

John "Spazz" Hatton, with Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

John “Spazz” Hatton, with Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Upright bassist extraordinaire, John “Spazz” Hatton, who has played with Brian Setzer, kept the bottom end somewhere between early Bob Wills and Sun Records’ Tennessee Two percussive slaps when needed, like they were goin’ to play the Grand Ole Opry in 1952 and couldn’t use a drummer.

Lynn Shipley Sokolow, Fred Sokolow, Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad  Hardisty

Lynn Shipley Sokolow, Fred Sokolow, Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Lynn Shipley Sokolow on banjo gave the quartet a pre-war Americana feel to the evening.

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose referenced Ernest Tubb as an inspiration on one song as she seemed to pull back the concrete jungle of modern Bay Area Cali and The Sunset Strip to reveal a parallel universe where Nettie Rose seemed to be an ether conduit for hard living gold rush era women telling their story of living from Mendocino and Oakland [“Last Chance Saloon”] on down to pre-highway Southern California where somebody was on horseback trying to outrun the law going over the “Grapevine.”

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose did a cover of “Don’t Fence Me In” which fit the vintage motif although many songs reflected the current state of affairs written from a hanging out at McCabe’s Guitar Store point of view rather than partying with the ecstasy crowd.

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The poetic lyrics reflect a well-read deep thinker rather than an insipid “throw your hands up in the air” refrain and this will remind listeners that California is also the land of Lucinda Williams and Ryan Bingham as well as the growing up years of songwriters’ Darrell Scott and Jeffrey Steel.

California is also the birthright of Tele’s and Fender Amps, Bigsby tailpieces, Dobro guitars and The Byrds’ “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” as well as Rose Maddox’ pre-Rockabilly pumped up Hillbilly muse.

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The one thing Nettie Rose accomplishes better than just about any muddy roots artist out there today is that she is able to weave modern tales and vintage sounds like they can co-exist without some weird juxtapose which doesn’t box her in like, say for example San Joaquin Valley throwback Frank Fairfield who can give a definitive 110 year old style from the top down on a Thompson Square 10 inch but, has a style that is very hard to translate into a modern storyline.  

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The advance copy of People I Know shows diversity in storylines that go concurrently with real time to the California that the first Pioneers, Gold Miners and Okies experienced over the last two hundred years when it was the Wild, Wild, West. Colin Linden has production credits and is currently part of the team working with T Bone Burnett making music for the hit TV show Nashville

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose at Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose appears to have a good West Coast based team of musicians, music business friends and a three generation music family that are supportive of her quest and it appears that will be helpful in her effort to be a genuine West Coast modern Bob Dylanesque storyteller of the rough and tumble life of California’s golden years.

Nettie Rose preachin' the Cali Blues, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose preachin’ the Cali Blues, Mercy Lounge, 10/22/2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom


Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Mercy Lounge – Photo/ Brad Hardisty

Thursday night would mark three years since the first time I saw Jason Isbell (former Drive-By Truckers) and his then “new” band, The 400 Unit in 2009.  Jason was at Mercy Lounge last night at what he called his first “hometown” gig, I might be wrong, but, I think he said since he moved here.

Whether or not that is correct, Jason was playing a Nashville “insider” guitar, a session guy’s new secret weapon, a Duesenberg Gold Top with the futuristic looking German engineered vibrato arm. The retro looking euro-high tech guitars were first popularized by Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) but are making their way into Nashville via Rock Block Guitars in a big way.

Jason has always been known for tasty guitar licks, but, he has really developed some deft country licks without going pure Brent Mason. It still has that Muscle Shoals “where Soul meets Country thang” going on.

I was excited to see where he was at since hearing his new project back in 2009. Back then, it was like he was excited to kind of graft in the family tree of Muscle Shoals legends with something akin to The Band or The Heartbreakers (Tom Petty not Johnny Thunders) but now, three albums in and four years on the road, The 400 Unit (named after the former Psychiatric Ward at Florence, Alabama’s Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital) is a crackerjack five piece band, tight and lucid like the heir apparent to The Decoys, that features classic Muscle Shoals players, David Hood, Scott Boyer, Kelvin Holly and sometimes even Spooner Oldham on keys.

Jason has put a lot of weight on his shoulders by putting himself squarely in the middle of a heavy tradition with writers and players like Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts. I have to say it is working out much better than the first time I heard him.  The set was great, the tone, the crowd and the band. I’m glad that he is doing what he is doing. He has refined the dynamics and is now digging a little deeper than the Gibson Les Paul into a Fender thing.

In fact, he pulled a 1970’s era classic Muscle Shoals tune out of his hat as well as a little “Stone Free” on the bridge of the last song before the encores. There was even an ounce of continuity or deja vu for me between that 2009 set at The State Room in Salt Lake City and the one in Nashville the other night.

Justin Townes Earle, The State Room, Salt Lake City, 2009 – Photo / Brad Hardisty

Justin Townes Earle opened for Jason Isbell back on that tour as he was taking off with The Good Life   then Jason Isbell played on Justin’s Harlem River Blues and  Justin was their last night for Jason’s set just catching it from the back.  It’s hard to miss Justin, he’s a tall presence, back then, he had a little Hank Williams style going on, now, it was an overcoat and fedora flair.

Hey, but, let’s get back to Jason. The Country music business is going about creating their own brand of country while there is this parallel universe where most of the Country Artists out of Texas, as well as newcomers, the august, and independent folks like Adam Hood and Jason Isbell pack them in when they come to Nashville.

Jason is some country, some soul and some heart wrenching lyrics, in reality, it’s all about Alabama, with a nod to Hank Williams-style sad lyrics, Duane Allman style ( Jason rocked on this, sometimes with a slide on two different fingers)slide guitar and a country boy from Greenhill, Alabama telling life stories that makes this worth listening too.  He has some solid fans in Nashville.

Dead Fingers, Mercy Lounge, 2012 – Photo / Brad Hardisty

Openers, Dead Fingers, Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor from Birmingham, Alabama got the invite and as Taylor said, “Alabama, represent!” Taylor has some of his own style going on, incorporating some Mississippi Hill Country Blues and rawhide Country into some Indie folk goings on.

Kate sang probably the strongest set I have heard her do so far; a real standout and an accomplishment at six months pregnant.  Kate has a great mix of Emmylou Harris and sixties vibe queens like Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane of Spank & Our Gang somewhere in that voce bella.

Dead Fingers were just at The Basement two weeks ago. Nashville is looking forward to hearing some more tracks in the future. You could say they are Birmingham’s Civil Wars, but, that would put them too much into a box after all the true Mississippi connections Taylor has made as well as his work with Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band.

Taylor’s slide playing was a standout last night. One of the fun things about Taylor’s playing is when you know his songs, you know when he is experimenting or seeing if the band will go wherever he wanders off too. He didn’t too much of that last night, but, he still looked like he was having fun and there were plenty of Nashvillians and probably some Bowling Green patrons wandering south for the night in the audience when they went on at 9 PM. 

Great Alabama-centric night at Mercy Lounge!

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

Jim Fitzpatrick – Celtic Artist

Irish Artist, Jim Fitzpatrick, who designed the Thin Lizzy logo, was responsible for the album covers of most of the classic Thin Lizzy era.

Arturo Vega working on Ramones backdrop

When I think of artists being a part of defining a bands look, there are only a few who come to mind, Arturo Vega, who took on The Ramones logo and artwork, developing almost a militaristic approach to the bands look, which in turn had an effect on the artwork of future punk bands such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols.

Tales From The Topographical Ocean/ Artwork – Roger Dean

 Roger Dean, who designed the classic Yes logo and many of the bands album covers such as Fragile and Tales From The Topographical Ocean, creating an almost Lord of The Rings landscape feel to the bands look.

Pink Floyd – Animals, Artwork – Hipgnosis

While many bands turned to design houses like Hipgnosis in the 70’s, Thin Lizzy, had one of the greatest Celtic Artists of all time, Jim Fitzpatrick, painting album covers starting with Vagabonds of The Western World.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jailbreak cover insert – Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim’s artwork was eclectic with the band fitting whatever the title of the album was such as Nightlife, to the comic book looking bestseller, Jailbreak. The Jailbreak album cover has the American comic book style of Stan Lee or Jack Kirby of Marvel fame.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatick

Yet, Jim did this work as well as the Celtic influenced intricate design of Johnny The Fox. Johnny The Fox may be the closest to his traditional Celtic Art, yet, he went onto design future totally different designs for Black Rose and Chinatown.

Jim had a break with Bad Reputation, which may have been a response to Phil’s punk rock friends, in some kind of solidarity, with nothing more than a simple gritty black and white, silkscreen style print photo of the band, with the same flavor of The Ramones, Rocket To Russia cover as well as the band shot of The Clash on the back of their first album.

Che Guevara , Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

It is interesting that Jim Fitzpatrick’s most famous work was his simple two tone portrait of Che Guevara. The famous photo taken by Alberto Korda on March 5th, 1960 in Havana, Cuba was known as “Guerrillero Heroico” or “Heroic Guerilla Fighter.” Jim turned this into a poster in 1968 and this probably became the most copied artwork in the world, with silkscreen street artist painting this all over South America and many parts of the free world on many walls long before Banksy.

Celtic Art – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim’s portrait of Che is now a part of the fashion industry much like Bob Marley or Jerry Garcia. I would like to know how many design houses pay Jim Fitzpatick a royalty.

Phil Lynott Family Portrait – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim Fitzpatrick remained friends with Phil Lynott his entire life, painting even personal portraits of Phil’s family and members of the band.

Black Rose rough sketch – Jim Fitzpatrick

I provided a link to his website which has a lot of his Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott work.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

U2 may be the most famous Irish band, but, from my perspective, Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy always portrayed Irish life accurately both in art and music. Thin Lizzy was a link to Irish history and sonics in a modern context.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

It would be great if bands went through the thought process of what image they wanted visually and worked with the right artist to help develop that context.

By the way, last night’s Thin Lizzy tribute was a winner!  The opening act, an original Nashville hard rock, The Eastside Gamblers, played a solid set that featured a straight up rocking cover of “Living Loving Maid” as well as a new song that had some decent AC/DC style riffage.

The second band, Blockhead, seemed to be a quick throw together that featured a couple of the guys that would play in Jimmy The Weed.  They started off with three Sweet numbers, “Action,” “Little Willy” and “Fox On The Run.” I was having a blast, I never heard somebody cover Sweet for at least two decades. If you hear Sweet live, you’ll see where Motley Crue came from, especially “Kickstart My Heart.”

Jimmy The Weed, Mercy Lounge, June 2012, Hottest month on record

Jimmy The Weed, was a group of Nashville musicians that play in different combinations in original bands as well as Metal tributes and full on Kiss makeup shows. There are a lot of great guitarists in Nashville and last night was no exception where they took on two of the Black Rose songs, “Waiting for An Alibi” and “Do Anything You Want To” which Gary Moore played on and were some of the most difficult twin lead passage recorded by the band as Gary Moore had a big influence on them with some of the twin note modals as well as the matching vibrato. Scott Gorham has written about how difficult that was, yet produced some of the most technically proficient patterns that Thin Lizzy ever did.

Paul Simmons with Reverend Horton Heat

Drummer, Paul Simmons, who plays in the legendary Nashville hard rock band, Simmonz, as well as The Reverend Horton Heat, Petra and projects too numerous to mention anchored the Brian Downey chair and did justice on “Bad Reputation.”

Paul is arguably the best rock drummer in town. He always reminds me of Denny Carmassi. Denny hit hard and had impeccable tone when I saw him with Sammy Hagar and Heart. Paul is the same. His drums sound the same, quintessentially perfect whether he has one mic on the snare or a full consortium of microphones. This skill is lost on a lot of modern drummers, because they play to the microphones or to the compressors.

Old school drummers like Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, John Bonham and Bill Ward had to play their drums as if they had to be heard over stacks of amplifiers without the possibility of great microphones picking up every nuance.

Jimmy The Weed, Philip Shouse, foreground.Mercy Lounge

Guitarist, Philip Shouse, truly had the Johnny The Fox, Brian “Robbo” Robertson tone down playing through a mid-70’s non-Master Volume Marshall MKII with the four input front like the old JTM 45’s.  The tone was heavenly to these ears. There are certain Holy Grail Marshall Amps and this is one of them. I won’t get too technical, but, let’s just say they had transformers big enough to break your back! If you want a Marshall, you should go old school. Forget all the bells and whistles and scooped tones, even the JCM800 which  tries to emulate Michael Schenker before putting any pedals on it.

Get an old school Marshall, open up the back and have the tech look and see if any of the parts have been messed with. If not, you are on the right path, Grasshopper!

Jimmy The Weed did play “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed.” Not only that, they got into “Warrior,” “Emerald,” as well as crowd favorites, “The Cowboy Song” and the closer “The Boys Are Back In Town.”

I know my Thin Lizzy and satisfied my hungry soul as well as that of a hardcore Lizzy fan from Europe who was wearing his Brian Robertston T-shirt and bouncing up and down on the front row.

I wish that they would make this at least an annual event, let’s say, on St. Patrick’s Day?  The only non-plus was the round robin singers. While they had a lot of fun and kept the rest of the band going, it would have been better if they found Justin Taylor, who not only played bass, but, did the best job at singing Thin Lizzy I have heard yet.

I don’t know if he is still in town and I realize that his friends had to talk him into doing the Black Rose show telling him how much he looked, acted and sounded like Phil Lynott.  Justin plays in other projects and it was not his idea to pull together that show.  When other people tell you that they remind you of Phil that is huge.

Get Justin next year, make it a four piece and make it a true pint of Guinness.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN


Thin Lizzy, 1978, Brian Robertson, Phil Lynott, Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, drums

Nashville talents takes on Thin Lizzy once again when Jimmy The Weed rocks tomorrow night, June 30th at Mercy Lounge down on Cannery Row.

Black Rose at The 5 Spot, Photo- Steve Cross

This will be the third incarnation of a Thin Lizzy tribute in Nashville over the last few years. The first was a group put together from some local talent called Black Rose, who did a great set at The 5 Spot in 2010, with bass player, Justin Taylor, a dead-on, unimaginable representation with the look, voice and style of Phil Lynott, in the same way as some of the best Jim Morrison acts like Wild Child that used to do his thing out in L.A.

The next Thin Lizzy throw down was at Mercy Lounge on Saint Patty’s Day in 2011. This turned into a little bit of a “well-intentioned” mess. It was suppose to be two bands and only one showed and they only knew a few Thin Lizzy songs, just enough to satisfy a real Irish night of rock. The best song they did was “Johnny” off of Johnny The Fox, which I had never actually seen Thin Lizzy perform.

Jimmy The Weed, was an actual British Gangster, who has written an autobiography that was the inspiration behind the Thin Lizzy song, “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed.” The album was somewhat of a rock opera with some songs about “Johnny” weaved throughout the record.

I saw Thin Lizzy, or rather met Thin Lizzy, on the Johnny The Fox Tour. They were out on the road opening for Queen, who had a big radio hit, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” from their current album, A Night At The Opera.

I was really looking forward to the show as Thin Lizzy and Queen were two of my favorite bands at the time. The day before the show, it was announced that Queen would not be at the Selland Arena show in Fresno, California in 1977. Freddie Mercury had some health problems.

I was afraid Thin Lizzy was going to cancel, but, the promoter made a radio announcement that Thin Lizzy would go on with Sammy Hagar (a perennial Fresno favorite) opening. One could either go to the show or get their money back. The arena was about 85% full instead of a sell-out with then openers, Thin Lizzy headlining.

My friend Bob Martin had managed to get a photo with Ritchie Blackmore when his new band, Rainbow had come to town, by going down to the Fresno Hilton after school to see if the band would check in and sure enough they did.

Brad talking with Scott Gorham, Thin Lizzy, 1976, Selland Arena, Fresno, CA

Bob was sure we could do the same thing and so there we were, High School Sophomores, hanging out at The Fresno Hilton when the members of Thin Lizzy checked in. We recognized Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham right away, but no sign of Brian “Robbo” Robertson. It turned out the other guitarist for that tour was Gary Moore, who we had never heard of. If only we had known. I have a photo at the hotel where Gary Moore is standing behind Phil.

Well, Thin Lizzy invited us to show up for sound check in a half hour and we did. I got a few shots with my Kodak Instamatic Camera at sound check.

Backstage at Selland Arena, Fresno, CA, with Sammy Hagar

We also met Sammy Hagar and he invited us in for 15 minutes or so to hang with his band that at the time featured Denny Carmassi, drums, Bill “The Electric” Church, bass, who both played with Sammy Hagar in Montrose and a lead guitarist named Gary Pihl, who looked just like Tom Scholz in Boston and in fact ended up playing in Boston after Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen.

Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore years, Scott, Gary Moore, Not Brian Downey, probably in Australia, and Phil Lynott

What do I remember about talking to Thin Lizzy? Well, we went to talk to Phil who had camped out in one of the arena seats to get an idea of what the stage looked like from the audience. My friend, Bob, wasn’t sure how to be polite so he said, “Sir?” and Phil said, “Don’t call me fu**ing sir!” Then he grinned, we chuckled and just let him know how much we liked the song structures and the sound of the band.

I ended up hanging out with Scott Gorham for a short time and we talked about Ritchie Blackmore and how much Scott made playing in Thin Lizzy. I was expecting an accent, but, it turned out he was from L.A.

It was a great show, starting out with “Jailbreak” with police lights and police radio calls filling up the arena as the band walked on and started kicking out the jams. “The Boys Are Back In Town” actually became a radio hit when the Johnny The Fox album was out. It was from the previous album “Jailbreak” but for whatever reason it became a big radio hit during that tour.

It is interesting how some bands as they become ancient history age like a vintage Harley Davidson. Thin Lizzy just seems to get more respect as time rolls on.  They really were the root band of the twin metal guitar attack with twin leads whether you think of Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Megadeath, Metallica (who did “Whiskey In The Jar” on their Garage Days Revisited album), Def Leppard, Judas Priest all the way through what is now high bred twin lead death metal.

Thin Lizzy is like the Hank Williams of all that. Phil was a great storyteller (“Johnny The Fox”), hopeless romantic ( “Sweet Marie”), weaving Irish folklore (“Black Rose”) with ruthless tales of the rougher side of town (“Chinatown”) and at the same time remained true to his feelings (“Dedication”) and even personal prayers of faith (“Dear Lord”)became a part of his song cycle.

He wanted to imagine Thin Lizzy as a band remembered for their guitar players like The Yardbirds, which it did accomplish, but the songwriting depth and honest gut feel that Phil put into his music and lyrics gained even the respect of punk rock England who sided with the band and Phil when they threw their wrath at Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. They considered Thin Lizzy to be one of them also.

The Greedy Bastards: Thin Lizzy Meets The Sex Pistols, Paul Cook and Steve Jones down front and become a band

Phil became fast friends with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols and even played on Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls) solo album, So Alone on “Daddy Rollin’ Stone “ which also featured Steve Marriott (Small Faces, Humble Pie).

Featuring: Phil Lynott

You can find almost every Thin Lizzy album at Grimeys, just like a classic indie Red Hot Chili Peppers or Janes Addiction record. There is nothing like hearing twin lead guitar harmonies being played by two guitar players and not a harmonization digital stompbox.  Thin Lizzy is meant to be heard Live and so it is.

Opening for Jimmy The Weed will be Blockhead and The East Side Gamblers.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN