Archives for category: The Ryman Auditorium

2010, Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Lucinda Willianms, Hayes’ parents.

September used to be back to school month, now that school starts early, September is not only when the CMA’s hit Nashville, but, when the world comes for Americana, Bluegrass and where Next Big Nashville morphed into Soundland and moved to October.

While Nashville may be known for the CMA’s , Eric Church and Taylor Swift, it is also known for what Rolling Stone called the “coolest music festival in the world”, The Americana Music Festival hits the city for the ultimate pub crawl from September 12th-15th.

Dan Baird with Brad, 2010, Cannery Ballroom, Stones Tribute

Past years have seen everybody from Don Was to Robert Plant to Nashville’s Own, Justin Townes Earle put on some great showcases.  Last years’ awards show mashed up Gregg Allman, Robert Plant with The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars and Mumford and Sons (sorry, the name reminds me of Sanford and Son). In fact, it seemed like a hybrid MTV awards show where music mattered and all sugar pop was left at the end caps in Wal Mart.

This year proves to be no exception, some notable sets will be Memphis night at The Rutledge featuring sets by Jim Lauderdale and the Mississippi All-Stars, okay, yes, I’ll say it again, Jim Lauderdale and The Mississippi All-Stars also a late set featuring an all-star jam playing the music of Big Star.

For those with a traditional view of what is “Americana”, Corb Lund will be at Mercy Lounge this Wednesday followed by a tribute to the late Levon Helm. In fact the line-up seems to be all inclusive with The Wallflowers, Mindy Smith, Chris Scruggs, Rodney Crowell among others playing all over the place for several nights.

As far as Americana goes, the easiest party route is to hang between Mercy Lounge and The Cannery Ballroom with an occasional run to The Basement for some harder to find sets.

Don Was, photo – Brad Hardisty

The problem is, this year, there are some great line-ups at The Rutledge and the Station Inn that will make that shuttle route a little difficult and may necessitate borrowing somebody’s 20-speed bike to get around each night.

Peelander-Z at Exit/In, NBN 2010 – photo – Brad Hardisty

The awards show at the end of the event, always proves to be a magical evening at The Ryman. This year should be no different. I am rooting for Alabama Shakes in the Emerging Artist category as well as Jason Isbell (Alabama represent!) & The 400 Unit with Album of the Year, Here We Rest.

The Dillards, IBMA 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

Not to be outdone, IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Week runs from 24th-30th at, for convenience, The Nashville Convention Center and Renaissance Hotel. The IBMA Convention is not just about showcases, but, people are encouraged to carry around their guitars, fiddles, mandolins  and join in the jam sessions that run almost till the sun comes up every night.

You could say Ricky Skaggs is our local Bluegrass patron Saint, with yearly residencies at The Ryman and a new album, Music to My Ears coming out this month, but, there are many new young artists playing traditional bluegrass as well as pulling in some modern ideas and pre-war non-bluegrass styles.

This is the real rebellion. While the music industry is finding a million ways to make computers sing and dance and auto-tune any Disney character into stardom, both the Americana Music Festival and the IBMA World of Bluegrass celebrate real musicianship, communal collaboration and a reason for a Luthier to keep honing his skills in search of the perfect tone wood.

This recipe continues to build both communities with younger generations every year.

After all, how many times can the music business reinvent the 70’s and the 80’s?

Mike Farris hanging at Mercy Lounge, Americana 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

So, while commercial Country is now going to be shown every week in the night time soap, Nashville, basically re-spinning the movie Country Strong, “Americana,” which can claim anything from pre-war anthems to Red Dirt scene country and Bluegrass, New Grass and all its modern heirs are really the new cool. These two celebrations are really the underground cool.

As far as Soundland? What happened? Well, it’s now on October 6th and after a peak year three years ago that featured major music business players talking about the next generation of music delivery and several days of new music, it is now one day down by the river with bands that already play Lollapalooza and other big festivals.

Wanda Jackson signing autographs at Mercy Lounge after Jack White produced album showcase, Americana 2010.

There are only a few locals, when Nashville could really do a Next Big Nashville with such a burgeoning Indie Rock and other type Music Scene, we get Soundland with just a couple of token Nashvillians, PUJOL and Nikki Lane.  I guess we are going for national respect and now start-ups like Secret Stages in Birmingham are filling in the gap. Can I just say…huh?

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

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Kenny Vaughan at Mercy 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello Kelly at The Rutledge, photo courtesy- Jeni George

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

Kenny Vaughan at Ernest Tubb Record Shop

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

Jeff Beck at Ryman 2011

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

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

10.  Jeff The Brotherhood  – We Are The Champions

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

9. The August – Dear Chicago Love Nashville

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

8. Graveyard – Hisingen Blues

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

7. Mastodon – The Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

4. Tony Bennett – Duets II

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

3. Kenny Vaughan – V

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

2. Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

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

1. Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures

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

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

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

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

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     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

If you have seen all the new films at The Belcourt this month and want more Indie in your life or maybe you just can’t wait for Harmony Korine’s sequel to TRASH HUMPERS then head south 180 miles to beautiful Birmingham where The 13th Annual Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival will be happening between Aug. 26th-28th.

Birmingham you say. Yes I do.  The cool thing about this is that it’s not all happening in a multiplex. The crowning jewel of theatre’s in the south, the 2,200 seat newly restored Alabama Theatre built by Paramount Studios in 1927 to play Paramount films is one of the venues.  The theatre has retained that original flavor and it is where bands like The Black Crows want to play when in town.  It is the equivalent of The Ryman for Birmingham.

The Alabama Theatre

All nine venues are within walking distance in historic downtown. The downtown area is a scene of new restaurants, clubs and loft apartments similar to what is being done in the gulch area of Downtown Nashville.

For those who appreciate a Southern bent, Director Jon Bowermaster’s SoLa: South Louisiana Water Stories was being filmed in Southern Louisiana, documenting the environmental concerns and as they were beginning to wrap up, the gulf oil spill happened.

“The day we arrived – in 2008 – there was a sizable oil spill on the Mississippi River.  Of course we could not have predicted that as we were in post-production, the worst oil spill in U.S. history would erupt in the same waters. So we stopped finishing the film and went back down with cameras.”- Jon Bowermaster 

Jon Bowermaster

John Henry Summerour decided to cast locals when shooting SAHKANAGA. Shot on location in Northwest Georgia, it was done with homegrown talent.

 John Henry: “I was tired of seeing southern films that indulge in the clichés of big-haired white women teetering in designer heels while sipping mint juleps and dispensing dime store wisdom with sass to spare, and the other extreme of trailer parks where kids eat mud and wrestle pigs.  That’s not the South where I grew up.”

John Henry Summerour

With a decidedly Southern flavor, there are over forty films in three categories, Documentary, Narrative Features as well as Shorts.  The shorts can sometimes end up being a feature at Sundance a year or two down the road.  There are panel discussions as well as awards.

While in town, check out some local bands. The indie scene has been alive and well since the 80’s with The Nick being one of the first Alternative Music Venues, called by Rolling Stone, “The CBGB’s of the South.” Other clubs such as The Bottletree have started up in recent years with much success.

The Grenadines / Photo- Ben Webb

Two of the bands that are getting national buzz recently are The Grenadines and The Great Book of John, who just released their first full length record on Birmingham’s own Communicating Vessels label, can be found at Grimey’s.

What about food? Right in Southside is Surin West with great Thai dishes and Sushi. Birmingham also has a conglomeration of Mediterranean eateries, some open all night, near the UAB campus.  Most notably, Makario’s Kabob and Grill, which opened a couple of years ago in what used to be a tacky sixties style Chinese takeout location. A fresh coat of paint, plenty of tile, modern Middle Eastern art and you have some of the best Hummus in the world. There isn’t anything bad on the menu, but, my favorite is Hummus with Grilled Chicken tips. Load it up on fresh Pita and you’re in business.

Celebrate The Year of Alabama Music with a visit to Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival.

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

The Jeff Beck stop in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium last night brought more thunder in-doors than the storm that was encircling Nashville.

 Tyler Bryant, a promising young guitarist with a Texas lineage, who played at the 2007 Crossroads Festival at Eric Clapton’s invitation, warmed up the sold out crowd with some sonically altered Acoustic Guitar and Vocals.

When Jeff Beck took the stage, the biggest change this tour was hearing Narada Michael Walden devastating a double bass kit, a blast from the past, who did tracks with Jeff back in the Wired days during the Jan Hammer era.  There are only two drummers that play with that kind of power and style, Narada Michael Walden and Billy Cobham.

 A couple of great tracks from Wired, “Led Boots” and “Blue Wind”, gave him a chance to tear it up like he did back in the Seventies. If Tal Wilkenfeld was the added bonus last go-around, Narada Michael Walden more than made up for that.

Rhonda Smith, Bassist-Singer, most known for gigging with Prince, offered some flexibility to do his version of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” as well as Sly & The Family Stone’s “I Want To Take You Higher” during the encore set.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t read previous reviews because I had no idea he was going to tribute Hendrix with “Little Wing”. If there was a “close- to- God” moment it was during “Little Wing”. It was so sublime, if Jimi is an angel, I’m sure he was smiling.

Jeff nailed material from Emotion & Commotion like Jeff Buckley’s take on “Corpus Christi Carol” as well as one of his standards over the last few years, The Beatles’ “A Day in The Life”.

It is amazing what Jeff can get out of his fingers with a Fender Stratocaster. I have seen some players take Jeff Beck’s approach to solo lines but the tone and the in-between note stretches have never been duplicated in over four decades of guitar majesty.

Jeff stretched from the Les Paul track “How High the Moon” to the Puccini Aria “Nessun Dorma” before disappearing into the tour bus in the alley at The Ryman.  Tyler Bryant did an 11PM set at The Rutledge at an after-show with his full band.

If you enjoyed any of the recent Jeff Beck live DVD releases, hearing him live takes it to the next level.  If you get the chance, go see Jeff on this round with Narada Michael Walden demolishing the drums in the most extreme Jazz-Rock fusion style imaginable.

***Update**Received a copy of the set list, sharing via photo, note Billy Cobham’s “Stratus” leading into “Led Boots”

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

 

Trouble in Mind Two Years Strong

It has been two years since the release of “Trouble in Mind” on Lost Highway and Hayes Carll is still garnering recognition by both his peers and the Americana Music Association. He has been compared to Townes Van Zandt in the tradition of the best songwriters Texas has to offer.

I couldn’t believe his set was the first night, Wednesday at the earliest time slot of 8pm at the smallest venue of the Americana Music Festival, The Basement, which can only hold about 100 fully packed. I was tied up at work until 8PM and rushed over in 10 minutes flat to get in as soon as possible. I ran into a couple who travelled from Australia who were rushing like me over to The Basement. They had come for the Festival, but more specifically, to see Hayes Carll play. I was surprised they knew about him. They said,” you can find Hayes Carll CD’s in Australia but it’s not easy.”

Hayes had won AMA Song of the Year in 2008 with “She Left me for Jesus” one of the cleverest songs that at one point is irreverent but at the same time you can’t help laughing with lines like “She says he’s perfect, well how can I compete?” This was my first time to see him since finding “Trouble in Mind” eight months ago while rummaging through all the links Amazon had when I put in Texas songwriters.

Neon Glow Hayes at The Basement

The album “Trouble in Mind” has taken Hayes Carll about as far as any artist could.  He not only won “Emerging Artist” this year at The Americana Music Association Awards, but, Ray Wylie Hubbard was up for song of the year for a cover of another song off that album, “Drunken Poet’s Dream” which opened up “Trouble in Mind” written by Hayes and Ray.

Ray Wylie Hubbard at Mercy Lounge

 In fact, I left the show at The Basement and was at Mercy Lounge listening to Ray play it onstage 3 minutes after I arrived. If I had left any later, I would have missed it. What a Karma moment with Ray playing Hayes and his song with Ray’s son, Lucas, being featured on lead guitar. Maybe, Robert Plant would be the surprise guest the next night at the awards and overshadow what was going on, but Hayes’ had the Karma and Mojo.

The song didn’t win, but, it was up against Ryan Bingham’s “The Weary Kind” the theme song from “Crazy Heart”.  It is hard to argue with success and T Bone Burnett.  Ryan may have opened more doors for Americana and Country music, but, maybe not as big as “Urban Cowboy” did way back when.

The funny thing is “Crazy Heart” did open the door for the Texas charts. Maybe that is what T Bone Burnett wanted to do since true Country music can be found in Texas under the banner of “Americana Music” in these day and times. The banner of “Americana” is the revolution and Hayes Carll and fellow writer, Texas raised, Ryan Bingham are leading the way.

Hayes did a great set, I was squished in the secondary room with just a glance of the stage here and there. It was absolutely awful, but I could say I was there with the rest of the sardines. Hayes did a slow interpretation of “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart”. It was a great set that was with a full band that featured tour mate Bonnie Whitmore of Nashville on Bass. Hayes was one of the sardines as you can see from the sweat dripping off as he made his way out after the set.

I was standing between media reps from KPIG out of Santa Cruz, California (Santa Cruz was at the forefront of the hippie scene, surf music and Punk so only fitting to hear this, a good barometer), who said “Trouble in Mind” was the only album they have played every cut and a guy from Mother Earth News who couldn’t stop saying good things about Hayes. There were plenty of Aussies and a few Englishmen.

If I had only one set I could make it to, with the exception of Wanda Jackson, it was to see Hayes.  He has a great sense of self deprecating humor, non cliché lyrics and a unique voice that will carry him for years. He may be the big crossover between Americana, Folk and Country as time passes.

Brad, Hayes Carll, the Basement, Nashville

After the show, I was able to meet up with him briefly. I told him it would be good to see him on a package tour with Ryan Bingham. Hayes shared he had “talked to Ryan but they haven’t got together yet”. My feeling is that they were both unique in their own way but complimented each other’s style to build on each fan base.  

Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Lucinda Williams and Hayes' Parents

The next time I caught up with him was after the Americana Awards where his Mom was hanging onto his award for him. It looks like Gibson Guitar had a hand in making the awards with the Gibson logo headstock coming out of the wooden base. Each award was hand painted and featured some artifacts of the artist.
It was cool being considered an emerging artist, yes; “Trouble in Mind” has legs and now can be considered a great album that stood the test of time now two years strong. I kind of joked about him getting the “Emerging Artist” award which he got since it has been eight years since his first album release. The thing is the award was not for “New” artist and after all, it is a great recognition from such a widespread community of artists that this album got a lot of airplay and will probably get more as the anticipation for the next release is getting strong.

Emerging Artist 2010

I would have liked to ask more questions, but, it was a big night and his parents were there to share the moment. I can always call management and schedule a follow up interview later. Congratulations, Hayes, it was a whirlwind weekend, but, hopefully will create some momentum this year. Please get on Lost Highway to update some photos and stuff on your website. After all, you deserve it. There is nothing like recognition from your peers. Good luck on the follow up.

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

September 9, 2010, Nashville, TN, The Ryman Auditorium

Courtyard Hounds in the Alley

Just as Robert Plant was finishing up his surprise guest slot at The Americana Music Association Awards Show, former Dixie Chicks, as of late, Courtyard Hounds, Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson were emptying out the famed side door of The Ryman, signing autographs and taking pictures with a few of the media and locals that wandered down the beer light lit alley where John Ritter played as a boy while his father, Tex Ritter would be performing in the Mother Church, the home of The Grand Ole Opry.

Brad with Martie Maguire

I asked Martie if they were the surprise guests being talked about and she said “Nope, it was Robert Plant”. After which, I let her know that we had a general consensus that is who it would be. Yes, every time the stage door would open to the back door at the top of the stairs, there was no mistaking the voice of the Golden God.

It appears this could be a big turning point for the Americana Scene as it increases the sheer volume of styles and talent. WSM 650, “The Legend” will not only play the “Americana Files” on AM radio but will stream a 24/7 Americana Channel starting next week.  It is amazing that a radio station that was there in the beginning is leading the way into the future.

Peter Buck (REM), Brad

Other performers and presenters began streaming out after Robert Plant had finished his Buddy Miller lead set. Peter Buck stopped briefly on the misty asphalt for a couple of pictures. It seemed that Artists from Country and Nashville understood what the side door of The Ryman meant. It was where Elvis, Bill Monroe, Lefty Frizell and others used to disappear into the backdoor of Tootsies and other Lower Broad watering holes back in the day after performing before sold out crowds. It has been a place where a few fans would chance to meet the Entertainers from the Saturday night airwaves.

Lucinda Williams slowly made it down the stairs, appearing to be a little exhausted, maybe a little travel weary. Lucinda made time to talk, sign, take pics and hang out with the few of us who had gathered to greet them in the late dewy air of The Ryman.  Lucinda was Indie before there was “Americana” helping to define the genre by being fiercely independent in her songwriting and delivery.

Lucinda Williams at The Ryman, Brad

Lucinda expressed concern about what was going on in the Country, she felt she had never been this concerned before. We discussed the Pastor who was planning on having a Koran burning on 9/11. Lucinda was relieved to find out he wasn’t going through with it.

A few more people came through the alley and lined up about 4 or 5 long with a man in a fresh clean promotional shirt of some new upcoming Country Artist at the very end. He waited patiently as he approached Lucinda with a piece of paper he found to get her autograph.  He had a big smile on his face. A little luck had come his way this time as he walked the back alley.

He could have been a homeless man or a local African-American maybe from the Southside. Who knows but he is a part of the Carnival feel that attracts even those with not much to hang down on Lower Broad.

He politely asked for her autograph and shared some words with her. As he wandered west towards Tootsies, Lucinda was a little reflective and teary eyed. She said “Excuse me” as she tried to regain her composure. Lucinda lived in Nashville for nine years and I am sure some things still have not changed. I just said, “he kind of touched you didn’t he?”  She responded, “He probably wasn’t even at the show, if I had known, somehow, you know I would have gotten him in somehow… his name was Perry”. 

She was very reflective for a moment. I said “You never know.  There may be a song in that”. Her Manager said, “There can always be a song in something”.  Lucinda noted “You know it’s one of those things where what if Jesus was somebody in the crowd that nobody paid any attention to”.  We all seemed to think about it for a moment. Lucinda shared a little of her thoughts and some “Real Love“.  What a big heart.

I said, “You ought to move back to Nashville.” Lucinda just came back, “Too many cloudy days, I need sunshine”. Well, it has been cloudy this week but then again they always say “It Never Rains in Southern California ”.

Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Lucinda, Hayes' Parents

As she left, a few others streamed out. We soon found out Robert Plant decided to make a rock star escape out one of the other doors after security had cleared the quad and he jumped into a waiting Hummer. Not quite the “rub shoulders with Country fans” type of thing, but, hey, he is a famous person who values his privacy.

As I was getting ready to leave for the next big show, Lucinda’s new friend came wandering down the alley again. I smiled at him “Hey Perry how’s it goin?” He stopped and smiled and said “How do you know my name?” I said “ Lucinda told me.  You made a big impression on her”.

Perry smiled and said “it’s not every day you get to meet somebody famous”. He put his hand on my shoulder for a minute and smiled at me. It was there that I realized what Lucinda saw. The eyes don’t lie. He had a smile that penetrated your soul.  He was as common as anybody down at the Mission with a couple of missing teeth, but, he had that “One of Gods Children” vibe that only a person with a pure soul could have.  As he backed away, he stared at the Press badge with my name on it for a minute and strolled down the same path he was on before. In God’s hands.

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