Archives for category: Rolling Stone

Hayes Carll Americana Fest 2011 Mercy Lounge

After the Americana Music Association Carnival pulled out of Nashville, the big question is, what does Americana sound like? A friend of mine said that it would have at least one acoustic instrument in the mix, to give it that authentic roots thing. Jim Lauderdale as he hosted the Americana Awards did a spoof show tune, “That’s Americana!” It was hilarious and it was great because Americana is not a particular sound.

Americana is one of the strangest music references ever, at least when the word “grunge” came along, it meant one of the bands that came out of Seattle at a certain time. Americana is like a radio format for everything that doesn’t fit the current formats, yet, it is getting some of their artists like Mumford and Sons into the mainstream. Not to mention Will Hoge.

A mention was made by one of the show reviewers in Nashville Scene that they were glad that the “old farts in flannel shirts singing post Grateful Dead stuff” were gone and they could have the Exit/In back.

I get the feeling that a lot of people are stumbling onto Americana artists and not even knowing it, in Rolling Stone or when their friend says “listen to this” and pulls up something on their IPod by The Civil Wars or The Avett Brothers.

If you haven’t heard about these artists in the last year, then you live in a bubble. Americana is not only an award at the Grammys now, but, a launch pad, much like Indie format radio, where artists can get their “legs” as they mingle with legends like Gregg Allman and Robert Plant who are flying the banner.

One thing that Americana is not is electronic. Americana may have some roots in any American genre such as Blues, Soul, Gospel, Country, Folk and on and on, but it is definitely not about Kraftwerk or the modern Pop that is all made up on an Apple computer.

Blind Boys of Alabama Americana Fest 2011 Cannery Ballroom

Americana is as much about Red Dirt singer/songwriters like Hayes Carll as it is the roots gospel of The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Blind Boys of Alabama, Alabama Music Tribute at Cannery opening night

I guess if you are looking for a root to Americana you would probably have to go back twenty years in Nashville when about sixty California transplants started gathering to Nashville. Some of them became mainstream songwriters like Jeffrey Steele or Darrell Scott (most recently, Robert Plant & The Band of Joy). The one thing that did happen is they shook up the system.

Kenny Vaughan Americana Fest 2011 Mercy Lounge

Back in those days, Rosie Flores and Lucinda Williams would hang out all night, shutting down two or three bars only to meet up with Billy Block for breakfast.  A good chunk of these people bucked the Country music machine at the time or made some changes to it. They stayed true to themselves and this whole Americana thing has kind of caught up with them and now they are riding a jetstream of new found respect and popularity.

People like Jim Lauderdale who can go from playing straight up bluegrass to roots country to writing Robbie Robertson style music with a Grateful Dead lyricist represent the diversity of what is currently happening. It’s like the alternate universe of “the music business as usual” with a handmade vibe.

Most of what Bob Dylan does nowadays such as Modern Times could be classified Americana.  Many of the Americana Artists really jump from box to box, especially Mumford & Sons and Justin Townes Earle, who have as much Indie respect as they do Americana clout.

Kenny Vaughan packed it in then packed it back up at Mercy

The most interesting thing is that the genre has strong roots outside of the U.S. in places like Australia and Europe. Many of the artists make more money over there when they tour. This is nothing new, we as Americans many times pass on what is really cool about our culture and opt in for the corporate sell, “the spin.”

Americana is mainly artist and fan driven; it is really Indie at its core. If you like the Muscle Shoals era Dan Penn written songs alongside The Avett Brothers, more power to you. It really is the old saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

Robert Plant, Entertainer of the Year, The Ryman acceptance speach

You don’t have to buy into acoustic singer/songwriters or flannel shirts and old farts to find something there for yourself. Chances are you are listening to some Americana format music without realizing it. If you’re not sure where to start then it might as well be Buddy Miller, Robert Plant said he heard Buddy the first time when he toured with Emmylou Harris a few years ago and he seemed to embody everything American music, blues, gospel, rock, you name it. Robert said that Buddy will always be a part of whatever he does in the future. Emmylou Harris, at this year’s awards at The Ryman, said, they should call the Americana Award “The Buddy” because he has won so many of them.

By the way, a note to the Nashville Scene writer, when you refer to a group of music fans as old farts, just realize that you are probably being referred to as an old fart by somebody, it could be an 11 year old on a skateboard listening to some punk band out of California and thinking the same about you.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

Rick Carter at BAAM Fest 2011 (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

This year BAAM FEST, Birmingham Arts and Music Festival, took over where the highly successful Secret Stages Festival left off. Whereas Secret Stages was a mini-SXSW for regional Indie acts, the list of Artists this year was a high octane cross section of Hip Hop, Funk, Jazz, Rock and everything in-between.

Milyn Sattierfield-Royal & Toullouse,BAAM Fest 2011 (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

BAAM FEST was started a year ago to take the place of the now defunct City Stages.  Although City Stages featured national recording Artists with a mix of regional and local acts thrown in the mix, BAAM FEST has taken over the task of putting together a virtual Pub Crawl of the best of Birmingham.

Birmingham has a diverse scene and just about every genre and subgenre was well represented.

Rescue Dogs, Stillwater, BAAM Fest 2011

Almost every club worth its weight was involved including The Nick, Bottletree, Metro Bar, Workplay, Stillwater Pub, Speakeasy as well as some of the newer venues that have grown out of the re-generation of the business district such as Steel.

This year, there was not a VIP shuttle which made it hard to get around to some areas without hopping into a car. This worked for some clubs and not so much for others as it made it easy to stay downtown and hang out around Rogue Tavern, Steel and Metro Bar. The crowds seemed to be heavier in the business district.

Rickie Castrillo, Rojo, BAAM Fest 2011,(c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

If you had been drinking, you would be hard pressed to venture by car up to The Nick or Zydecos. This is something to think about in the future.

Phillip Hyde / Caddle BAAM Fest 2011 (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

It may just be by word of mouth, but some of the more stellar well known locals such as Rick Carter and Rollin’ In The Hay were a definite go to as well as the virtually created at The Nick, hard rockin’ white trash gothic style of Caddle.

Tim Boykin (Carnival Season, Shame Idols, The Lolas, Annexed Asylum) rolled out a full set of his heaviest incarnation yet with full on Zen Death Metal, Throng of Shoggoths at The Nick. Isn’t Tim the guy who did a cover of Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action?” Oh that’s right, if Tim can think it, he can play it. From what I hear Throng of Shoggoths makes Annexed Asylum look like Starland Vocal Band.

J. Grubbs & Southern Phoenix, BAAM Fest 2011

On the Hip Hop end, J. Grubbs and Southern Phoenix did a Rap meets Southern Funk meets blues thing at Steel on Friday night. Birmingham artists have been mixing it up with Hip Hop ever since The Agency were doing their Punk-Reggae-Rap thing at Marty’s back in 2005. Has it been that long?

Jon Poor Band, Steel, BAAM Fest 2011

The Jon Poor Band has been stirring it up with his blend of “Swamper – second – generation meets Jimmy Buffet” sound with the College scene for a number of years. He didn’t disappoint on Friday night at Rogue Tavern. Friday night  Rogue finished off with a Jazz set by The Chad Fisher Group.  Chad didn’t stop there; playing to a packed sardine set at Stillwater Pub the next night with local legend Heath Green and their project Fisher Green.

Heath Green at Stillwater/BAAM Fest (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

Fisher Green started off with the Joe Cocker version of “The Letter” before some of the standard Heath Green set numbers over the last few years then doing a couple of songs from their soon to (finally) be released album.

The Grenadines at Metro, BAAM Fest 2011

As far as Indie goes, The Grenadines were in full bloom with a late night set on Friday.  The Grenadines with the recognizable scene girl from the last few years, especially at Model Citizen shows, Lauren Shackelford in her fringe dress rocked the house. Metro Bar has some problems sound wise now. It was great that they took all the weird booths and stuff down, but now it sounds like one of those restaurants that are loud with dishes and silverware clanging around where everybody is yelling and still can’t hear a thing.

Metro Bar could really help itself by doing some ceiling treatment even if it were to hang about 20 flags from the 20 foot ceiling to dampen things a bit.

Neo Jazz Collective, Bob Marley, Jah,Civil Rights Institute,BAAM 2011

On a tip from Sound Engineer, Danny Everitt, I actually got up before noon to go catch the Neo Jazz Collective at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute performing a complete Bob Marley set. What a great group of Kids. They sounded great from horns to guitar to vocals that featured Carlito and a trio of girls doing great back up and lead vocals. It was probably one of my favorite sets of the weekend.

Chad Fisher at Stillwater/ BAAM Fest (c) 2011 Thomas B. Diasio

I stuck around and watched The “Freedom Riders” Documentary after their set. That should be required viewing for all the schools in Alabama and Tennessee.  It was interesting to watch when the Nashville students from Fisk University and friends decided to get involved when the Northerners gave up Birmingham. It was a gutsy move. In fact, they left for Birmingham during finals week. That group of Fisk University students did not receive amnesty for what they did until last year, when they finally got their diplomas four decades later.

Fighting Meeces, Zappa time, Stillwater, BAAM Fest 2011

Saturday kicked off at Stillwater Pub with Fighting Meeces performing Frank Zappa’s “Peaches in Regalia” and Rescue Dogs performing Grateful Dead style originals before throwing in Pink Floyd’s “Time.”

Ricky Castrillo Trio, Zydeco, BAAM Fest 2011

After Hurricane Katrina, Birmingham gained a New Orleans treasure, Rickie Castrillo, who left New Orleans and made Birmingham home. In that time back in 2007, Rickie was doing a residency at Marty’s and everybody from Chris Fryar (The Allman Brothers Band, Zac Brown Band) to Daniel Turner took a turn to sit in and get to know Rickie and his unique style.  Rickie was well represented at BAAM FEST both at Rojo in a solo set and also a full band set at Zydeco.

rear- Daniel Long (Percussion, Rescue Dogs, The Agency, Furthmore), Daniel Everitt (Bassist, Sound Engineer), Lauren Long (Artist), front- Bobby Bruner (Bassist, Rescue Dogs) at Metro

There were so many groups to see. My story is only one of a thousand. When I look at the calendar, I wish I had seen Kendra Sutton, Jesse Payne, The Magic Math (featuring Van Hollingsworth), Mollie (when are you coming back to Nashville?) Garrigan and Daniel Turner, Clay Conner, Jubal John, Voices in the Trees and who knows what.

Three Feet Deep, Five Points, Southside

After a late night set, I stopped by Makario’s for Hummus and Chicken. If that wasn’t enough, while making my way through Five Points, I watched with amazement as Artist, 3 Feet Deep, was creating waves, birds and Orbs out of spray paint. I am now a proud owner of a 3 Feet Deep original.

This could be the best Pub crawl all year long. Can I get an “Amen?”

3 Feet Deep, artwork, Five Points News rack

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

Amy Winehouse put it this way, “I don’t ever want to do anything mediocre. I hear the music in the charts and I don’t mean to be rude, but those people have no soul. Learning from music is like eating a meal… you have to pace yourself. You can’t take everything from it all at once. I want to be different, definitely. I’m not a one trick pony. I’m at least a five-trick pony.”

It was difficult to hear about Amy Winehouse’s passing. I was driving down to Birmingham going through the channels on Sirius when I got a read out on the screen, AMY WINEHOUSE RIP with an 800 number to get in on the conversation.

Modern technology, getting news on my car’s entertainment read out, a little stunned, while driving 75 miles per hour, dialing through my car’s Bluetooth capability, hands free and sitting on hold for twenty minutes to share my thoughts on Sirius Radio.


I knew exactly what I was going to talk about. It was the conversation I had with my sister a few months after the release of Back To Black. “She’s such a mess, what do people see in her?” was the basic question. I said, “Have you really listened to the album?” “Well, I’ve heard “Rehab”, it’s not bad”.

We took off in my car with the decent stereo back in 2007, going through track by track. She really got into it.  She really enjoyed the record.

It is a masterpiece, not only the vocal stylist of our time, much the way Billie Holiday and Patsy Cline were in their day. In fact, Amy worked with Producer, Mark Ronson, who was a perfect foil to develop soulful nirvana, using the fabulous Dap Kings out of Brooklyn, New York for the basic tracks before adding lush strings with a mix of Motown, Spector, Soul and stuff that would fit the Rat Pack.


What a gold mine, this was a Jazz voice, original in tone and texture with an obvious lineage. I couldn’t wait for the follow up. From what I can tell there was at least one aborted record and possibly another. Hopefully they will be released post-humously.  There have been a lot of so-called authentic voices put on a pedestal over the last decade, but she was “The Voice, Voce Divina”.

So what do you make of erratic, dramatic behavior and all the mess with drugs? Well, I can’t make any excuses. All I can say, is I have had this conversation more than once over the years.  Singers, Musicians, Actors, Comics, okay Entertainers in general; in fact most of the ones that I know that are really part of that world, like I was, come from difficult situations.

Divorce, broken homes, death of parents at a young age, many things can trigger a deep interest in music and the need to express one’s deep feelings through that gift. Musicians feel deeply and tend to self medicate in order to deal with that depth of emotion.

I won’t make any excuses about drug abuse, but, we need to look at things in a real way. Most of us, if not all, have family or friends dealing with addiction. It really only takes an addictive personality to cross paths with drugs to cause real havoc. It does show the importance of the choices we make, because some of the choices we make can end up being an addiction that begins to make choices for us.

I can’t judge her situation. I have too many friends with the same elephant in the middle of the road. There are many icons that dealt with the same issues under the radar before modern technomania. I feel real genius is difficult to deal with.

The interesting thing, although being self-destructive was her calling card, she really did care and put others in front of her. At a time when it should be full speed ahead, she put her Goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield in the studio and on wax, in a way, a legacy started for her own short lived career, “I know I’m talented, but I wasn’t put here to sing. I was put here to be a wife and a mum and look after my family. I love what I do, but it’s not where it begins and ends.”

When she received awards for Back To Black, Amy would not talk about what a great job she did, but instead would say that it proved that England was legitimate, that England had a real scene. Amy put it on the table not only for her but to encourage the other Artists back home.

“I only write about stuff that’s happened to me… stuff I can’t get past personally. Luckily, I’m quite self-destructive.”

“As an artist the key things you have to do is prove yourself in a live scene, prove yourself in a writing scene, and prove yourself doing covers. They’re as important as each other.”






Let the music speak for itself. She will be missed.










– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN


Garth Brooks 2nd show 10pm crowded entry

Just weeks after Nashville Scene had published its best shows of 2010 list where Paul McCartney took top honors, Garth Brooks, who had not played an arena show in town since 1998, shattered tickets sales records, 140, 000, with nine shows sold out in four hours and spread across five days at Bridgestone.

Garth came to town to do his part for flood relief along with his original band, every member from the shows that played arenas in the 90’s made it for the night as the Country Star who sold 100 million records in 10 years and set a new standard of what was possible for Country crossover did a “best of” show to a sing along crowd and raised closed to 4 million dollars for The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

(Photo: Dipti Vaidya/Tennessean Staff )

This was a full production that was also being filmed for broadcast on the Armed Forces Network and the crowd benefitted from a multi angle camera production that was broadcast on several screens in the arena.  Garth made note that  “You’ve done your part, now we are going to do our part” before going into a greatest hits night that featured guest spots by his wife Trisha Yearwood and Steve Wariner who had won a Grammy for his Chet Atkins tribute album just a year ago.

Garth had just come out of retirement a year ago playing a show in Vegas that features him on acoustic guitar and a stool, with no backup band. As Garth says, getting back to where it all started. Not only was this the first Arena show in Nashville since 1998 but it was the first show with his original band.

Songwriter Sam Cooper/Mrs. Cooper/Mother first time from New Jersey

I was invited by a record executive who happened to have a spare ticket left to caravan with a group of songwriters and family to the second show. I had not seen a crowd that nuts since the first time I saw Van Halen. The entire audience was on their feet for almost the entire show singing along to every song.

It was Garth’s 10:00 late show the first night on Thursday and if he was worn out from the first set he didn’t show it other than maybe breaking a sweat now and then.  Rolling through hit after hit, Garth not only made eye contact but interacted several times with the audience.  At one point, he grabbed a camera from a fan up front and took pictures of the audience and his band before giving it back.

Crank it up/Full Video Production at Monitor Board

If this was meant to be a return to the stage, it was enough to land front page articles not only by local press, but from Rolling Stone, Billboard and every major press across the country. There were several well written pieces out the next couple of days.

Country Music fans are now used to Arena sized Country shows put on by Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley. Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts but this was the artist that started it all with his blend of singer/songwriter style that blended country with influences from James Taylor to Billy Joel.  Garth figured out how to do “Arena Rock” size shows almost 20 years ago with high wire acts and smashing acoustic guitars.

Garth at Bridgestone Arena December 2010

Garth was in his element, walking around the entire 360 stage, egging on the audience and spotlighting band members as the night rolled toward the finishers “Friends in Low Places”, which  has become his “Honky Tonk Women” as well as the song he wished he was known by “The Dance” finished out the night.

In a year where several major stars returned to do huge shows to benefit those who suffered most in the historic floods in May this was the icing on the cake.  Now getting back to Paul McCartney, yes it was legendary that Paul played in Nashville for the first time. Paul has been playing a lot of second tier markets this go around. He also played Coachella for the first time in 2009. Those who know Nashville history know that Paul wrote “Juniors Farm” after staying at a Nashville area farm laying low one summer with Wings and the family.

Now back to Garth, as a personal triumph, this was as important as the Central Park Concert or playing at The Dallas Cowboys stadium. What started out as an offer to play a show turned out to be an avalanche of positive response with ticket buyers as far away as Canada to see Garth with the full band. Not bad for a member of “The Class of ‘89”.

Note*** First photos from my new HTC EVO 4G, we shall see…

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

American Bang at The Nick, Birmingham

It’s no wonder that the major labels are in a quandery and end up making bad calls like an investor who rode his stocks all the way to the beginning of 2009 instead of selling in mid 2007. First off, if a label like Maverick or Reprise feels the need to change a bands name they should have pushed the release date way to the front of the line.

American Bang, who cut their teeth in the Nashville scene as Bang Bang Bang back in 2006-2007, were a part of a thread of bands from American Minor (who got “Jive”d) to my band Furthermore doing our Humble Pie-est in Birmingham.  A major could have exploited a scene quickly the way they used to during the L.A. and Seattle things while it was fresh and make it roll out across the airwaves.

American Minor/photo-Josh Victor Rothstein

But no, let’s wait till all things change as they do in a three year period and quietly release product while College Radio is playing Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend.  American Bang is a great band with a great album.  A great write up in the local Metromix was a prelude to their CD Release party at Mercy Lounge last Thursday.  Rolling Stone or whatever  is nowhere to be seen.

A quick glance around town at the generics,  Borders and FYE find no copies of a great local band finally getting their day. No doubt, Grimeys will do their best. If you can’t find the CD locally what does that mean nationally? It appears that now that the product is available it’s back to the road.

Major labels need to move a little faster and get back to making rock and roll records. If I had to take a guess, American Bang will get a big welcome in England. England seems to get what we aren’t spoon fed here. The Ramones went there in 1976 and started a revolution. The Stray Cats left New York and did what Robert Gordon couldn’t do by staying here.  The Drive-By Truckers are The Rolling Stones in England. England has been building a caudre of I guess one could call Hard Rock Roots bands for several years that get featured along the original genre heroes such as Thin Lizzy and Uriah Heep in Classic Rock magazines. England has the scene.

The best examples of getting it out while its hot right now are labels like Bloodshot Records that have released a great album the last three years by Justin Townes Earle, along with some real gems in their catalog.

Real Rock and Roll is not Rocket Science. A Neve Console, An Ampex 2 inch 16 Track Reel to Reel and a pile of Neumann and Shure Microphones. Write songs on the road and get it recorded well and quickly with few over dubs, then put it out every 8-12 months. I guess I didn’t mention Pro Tools and for good reason. That is how you build a Rock Bands history. The releases keep the momentum building while a band is on the road.

Van Halen, Texas Jam, 1979

Van Halen, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and just about every band did that when Rock was fresh. Gee, a 3 year development deal with an album every 2-3 years doesn’t seem to work. No kidding. Is anybody listening at Warner Brothers or Sony? I didn’t think so. Go buy American Bang.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN