Archives for category: Music Row

I am not going to let dust settle on this one; The August with Jacky Dustin is a force to be reckoned with. I know some of you Industry types on Music Row check this site. Peel open The August’ new CD, Dear Chicago Love Nashville! Jacky is where country should be at with her Tammy Wynette meets Tina Turner twang soul vocals, she is original and should be the voice of Country today.

The August not only went through their eclectic mix of country meets the windy city with tracks “We Write our Songs’ to “Big Wheels” but went places that maybe only Elizabeth Cook might go on “Love Me Like A Stranger”. Strange brew indeed.

The audience was a demographic statistician’s nightmare, because their audience cannot be pegged. Everybody was there to hear a different angle of the Nashville Machine’s voice of tomorrow. I like to be right. Jacky should be light years from Douglas Corner Café.

She is not an auto-tuned twangster; she is the real deal with incredible strength, presence and drive.

Not to be outdone, Wojtek Krupka, on Bass at the gig, played an even more important role on the CD, handling background vocals like Michael Anthony on Van Halen’s best, a real key to the group sound.

The August brings a little Funk, Blues and Rock and Roll to the tight small band ala Martina McBride and The Ride.  When you throw two covers into the mix like “Never Been to Spain” and the Kris Kristofferson penned “Me and Bobby McGhee” and you own it on your own terms and not Pearl’s pedigree, there is something in the way she moves.

I didn’t note who was playing guitar, as there were three guitarists outside the band on the album and none were in the group picture on the CD. Let’s just say he was Telecasterin’ through a Dr. Z but was definitely more Mike Campbell then Brent Mason.

This is a band to watch. A new Outlaw Country. This is not Texas Charts or Nashville West, this is The Nashville Windy City Sound. I’m a believer. It is easy to be jaded in Music City with so many girls moving here all the time that are really good.

It would be easy to dismiss the fact that this was a club gig, but truth be told, if Jacky and The August were out opening for Gretchen Wilson, Jamey Johnson or The Rolling Stones a lot more people would know their Chicago meets American roots sound.

– 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

Blackberry Wednesday

A Benefit for the homeless co-sponsored by The Contributor will be at Picks Nashville at the Best Western Music Row this Friday Night, April 1st, will bring two of the biggest Memphis Rock bands to Nashville to support the cause.  714 and Blackberry Wednesday who have both worked with Hollyville in Nashville with their latest video projects jumped at the request to do a benefit for the Homeless in Nashville with support from the local homeless press, The Contributor as well as support from the local Music Industry.

714

714 with Todd Poole from Saliva and Rail, recently released a video produced by Hollyville that was shot in Nashville, “Stand Alone” that is seeing major success on YouTube in developing an audience and getting the music out there. The self-titled CD which was recorded at Leeway Studios in Memphis will also be co-headlining at The Rutledge on April 7th.

Blackberry Wednesday whose recent CD was produced by Matt Martone (Three Doors Down) has seen a lot of airplay with the song “Hey I”. With the success of radio, they shot a video on location at The Rutledge with Hollyville and were really satisfied with the quality of production available in Nashville and especially with Director Michael Giancana.

Two strong bands from Memphis with Nashville ties will look forward to rocking the house along with several other local acts that start at 6PM this Friday night near the circle at Demonbreun in the shadow of the BMI Building. It will give fans the opportunity to contribute to a local cause and enjoy a great night of music at the end of Music Row.

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

 

Carol and Jason Babbs, Last week at The Pie Wagon

The Pie Wagon located at 1302 Division Street in Nashville has one of the longest histories of any restaurant in  Nashville dating back to 1922, is once again changing ownership as Carol Babbs and her son Jason move on to new ventures.

Carol – “We live down by the Cumberland River, in the Cleese’s Ferry area. We were lucky; we didn’t get any damage in last years’ flood. We are just going to take some time and decide what to do next.”

The Babb’s, longtime residence of Nashville and part of the Music Row landscape left their mark with some of the best Catfish and Hot Chicken in town as well as other great home-style food such as Tomatoes and Onions marinated in White Vinegar and some salt just like my Grandmother used to make.

Located just across from the Best Western Music Row sits at the end of Nashville’s famous Music Row with nearby studios, BMI headquarters and several Music Publishing Companies is a great Meat and Three within walking distance where Musicians taking a lunch break from studio work mixed with some of the most well known Music Publishers and Songwriters.

Many times, it could have been a green room at a music festival or always Tin Pan South as delectable Cornbread and Homemade Mac and Cheese kept the talk flowing. The Pie Wagon was not only a close-by eatery, they also never disappointed with great food and a warm staff that remembered your name and what you liked.

Jason Babbs, who ran the day to day operations, always recommended bands to check out in my day to day work.  Jason and Carol will be sorely missed as Friday is their last day with The Pie Wagon being closed to prepare to be reopened name intact with a new owner also familiar to Music Row Foodies.

“David Biggs, who owned Macs Café where Ken’s Sushi now stands as well as Diamond in The Rough is the new owner. The Pie Wagon has been owned by five different owners that go way back to 1922 when it was known as The Majestic Café. The food has always been great. We are excited that tradition will continue.”

Carol was cooking hot Corncakes fresh off the griddle and passing them out with whipped butter at lunchtime on Wednesday when I stopped by and said a goodbye.  It was hard to decide but I went with the Fried Chicken, Homemade Mashed Potatoes with the some of the Mushroom Gravy from the Salisbury Steak and Mac and Cheese, homemade food that I love but rarely take time to make for myself. Carol and Jason Babbs will be missed. Many, many thank yous are in order as well as “Here’s to the future”.