Archives for posts with tag: Nikki Lane
Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

This year saw the further disintegration of album sales and disgruntled musicians receiving a pittance from Spotify or other streaming services. Okay, on the bright side there were still great albums to be heard and musicians kept up the pace like the scene with the shrimp boat in Forrest Gump. “Storm?” “What storm?”

Taylor Swift made a home base move from Nashville to New York City and went from making Country Music that was really crossover to making a complete crossover to Pop Music. Albeit, the songs are catchy and she has become the reigning sales queen by CD through placement that saw 1989 on Diet Coca Cola pop up displays in every major supermarket in the United States plus a lot of hard touring and tabloid press.

Scott Borchetta is still on my amazing label head list. If it takes every supermarket in the United States to make Taylor’s new album a million seller, he’s going to do it. Scott shows sheer tenacity and anybody who has heard him talk about the original Taylor Swift launch will realize that if he has the right thing to work with, he will not be denied.

One bright spot on the sales horizon was hearing that United Record Pressing was moving to bigger digs due to the ever increasing demand for vinyl. The craziest part about vinyl is that we all bought into the X and O bits as music for so long that when you hear real music frequencies on vinyl, it’s hard to believe how real it sounds.

Nashville continues to diversify as Country Music starts to sound more like Twisted Sister and Motley Crue starts to sound more Country. What’s interesting is just as Country was starting to hedge the crossover bet towards EDM, the big money making songs had guitar tones from REM to Malcom Young.

Just when you thought all was lost to what classic country sounded like, Ray Price delivers an instant Countrypolitan classic and Sturgill Simpson shows a path to the future for real Country. There are many performers who would like to see “Real” Country make a comeback by Artists like JP Harris and Joe Fletcher.

Jack White continued his Nashville years as the hardest working rocker in the business. Next up, Bridgestone Arena just blocks from Third Man Records. Neil Young became not only the first person to record straight to vinyl in the refurbished 1947 Voice-O-Graph booth at the initial unveiling on Record Store Day 2013, he also recorded an entire album in the time machine, releasing A Letter Home on Third Man Records.

The Black Keys kept pretty busy not just by touring arenas but producing solid efforts by Lana Del Rey [Ultraviolence] and Nikki Lane [All Or Nothin’].

Debbie Bond & The TruDats and The Cotton Blossom Band at CD Release Party, photo- Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond & The TruDats and The Cotton Blossom Band at CD Release Party, photo- Brad Hardisty

If Nashville is not collecting the creative spark of the world like an ACME magnet in a Roadrunner cartoon than I don’t know how one can explain the laundry list of musicians of every genre moving here by the droves. There are so many more professional musicians than what you read about in the local rags.

East Nashville is becoming “gentrified” with its traditions like The Tomato Festival and The Hot Chicken Festival and has a laundry list of musicians living in the vicinity. The area is becoming much more expensive so there are other neighborhoods starting to become better known for musicians such as more affordable Riverside and Berry Hill.

The list of venues and bands that travel through town continues to grow. Nashville marches on as a Mecca for all things music as Nashville’s New Years Eve became only second in attendance to New York City in only four years of promoting headlining acts. Last year the show featured Blackberry Smoke, Brent Eldridge and headliner Hank Williams Jr.. This year it will be called Jack Daniels Bash on Broadway and feature a star-packed lineup that includes Lady Antebellum, Gavin DeGraw, The Apache Relay, and Kristen Capolino. The crowds have surpassed projected numbers in years past. Last year down on Broadway had near 90,000 party goers. This year will probably top 100,000 + for the free show.

Here are my Top Ten from Nashville and a couple of Alabamans and a Texan thrown into the mix.

debbie bond cbb_soulshiningcdcov_med_hr-210 [tie] – The Cotton Blossom Band – Soulshining [Self release]

Tony Gerber put together the truest Alternative project heard all year in Nashville. The Cotton Blossom Band features members of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones [Roy Wooten aka Futureman] and BB King’s [Michael Doster] rhythm section and they manage to blend Mississippi Hill Country Blues with Space Music and other assorted world tones. Imagine Junior Kimbrough backed by Tangerine Dream and you might be close but, no banana. I know there are other projects in town that are somewhere in this realm but Tony Gerber’s realization turned every live gig [which were almost invitation only events] into meditation on another plane without the need for Meds.

“See My Jumper Hangin’ Out On The Line”

justin townes earle single mothers10 [tie] –Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers [Vagrant Records]

Justin is back in town! Well, after the New York sojourn, it was great to hear a great Nashville lineup playing some Southern inflected bluesy Muscle Shoals soul. Simple arrangements and to the point, this could have been a writer’s night at The Commodore Grill with a minimalist four piece band. The lyrics are important, timely and reflect more facets of his life, especially “Single Mothers” and his own feeling of being raised by a single mother. Justin changes it up again and always manages to upset somebody. This time, it’s “where is Justin’s finger style in the mix?” If you don’t know by now, Justin has made a stretch assignment on every album since Yuma. The predictable quality with the unpredictable line-up or mix is what keeps one looking forward to seeing what he is up to next.

“Single Mothers” “Picture In A Drawer”

debbie bond that thing called love9 –Debbie Bond & The TruDats – That Thing Called Love [Blues Root Productions]

Although completed in 2013, the official release date was in 2014 for the first Live recording to come from Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show as an official release. Much of the songs played by Alabama’s Queen of The Blues, Debbie Bond, that quintessential night were meant for a future project. After hearing the playback of the recordings done deep in the Tennessee woods in a MASH style tent, Debbie and her band decided it was a great sound and ready for release after some solid mixing. The album features an eclectic mix of tributes to the fans in Tarragona, Spain, New Orleans as well as the influence of Alabama Blues and Soul.

“Tarragona Blues” “Steady Rolling Man”

st paul8 – St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Half The City [Single Lock Records]

You could say this is Eddie Hinton 2.0 or maybe Alabama FAME soul was bubbling under the surface just waiting to get out. What is true is when you take away Country Music, Birmingham and the surrounding areas have an Indie Scene that rivals Nashville. You could file this under The Daptones and the G.E.D. Soul catalog and it fits really well but with something really special with great vocals by Paul Janeway and instrumentation that kept the band busy all year long.

“Call Me”, “Grass Is Greener”

dead fingers big black dog7 – Dead Fingers – Big Black Dog [PIPEANDGUN / Communicating Vessels]

Alabama’s Dead Fingers have developed a copacetic duality in their harmonies and their approach. Taylor Hollingsworth [Conor Oberst, The Spider Eaters] is a monster on the guitar and is able to approach the instrument in whatever way the song needs to be tickled. His wife Kate Taylor steps it up this time and her vocals are stronger than ever. You could call this a Southern She & Him but their pedigree goes even deeper into the history of Birmingham music. The Taylor family is involved in more projects than can be named while Taylor Hollingsworth’s brother has his own stuff going on. This couple represents the bread and butter of the modern day Birmingham scene from The Nick to over the mountain.

“Big Black Dog” “Shoom Doom Babba Labba”

jack white lazaretto6 – Jack White – Lazaretto [Third Man Records]

The depth to where Jack White takes his muse never ceases to amaze. The second solo release shows him in top form and now he is ready to take on Bridgestone Arena from his own backyard, which is no small feat as any Nashvillian will attest. Jack takes the James Brown motto of “the hardest working man in show business” to a third power.

“Lazaretto”, “Would You Fight For My Love”

ricky skaggs sharn white5 –Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White –Hearts Like Ours [Skaggs Family Records]

Long time happily married Ricky and Sharon decide to change it up from their day jobs with Kentucky Thunder and The Whites and make a great duet album with a classic Country almost Americana edge. Although this is their first, hopefully it will not be their last. Ricky is always up for a challenge and has worked with everybody from Bruce Hornsby, Jack White and Barry Gibb over the last few years. Sharon White is the real surprise stretching beyond traditional Bluegrass to be a real charmer in almost a Steve Earle Texan Country meets Blues type way as well as some sweet Christian couple stories of faith that would have been commonplace in Country of the 50’s and 60’s. If one had lost faith that marriage could be a faith building partnership this might bring the possibilities that can exist.

“I Run To You”, “Love Can’t Ever Get Better”

sturgill simpson metamodern4 – Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music [High Top Mountain / Thirty Tigers]

Sturgill Simpson reminds one how cool stripped down Country Music like the Bakersfield sound is. It’s like the third coming of Buck Owens. I think he has a little more Texas in his groove. Dwight Yoakum was kind of the same thing back when “Guitars & Cadillacs” hit MTV instead of Great American Country. Dwight made it with the LA Punk Rock crowd and Sturgill is hitting it big with the Alternative Festival scene. The great thing is Nashville likes Sturgill too. So, maybe this kind of Country does have a chance in this Twisted Sister era of Country Radio.   A great voice, great songs and a cracker jack band will not be denied.

“Turtles All The Way Down”, “Living The Dream”

steelisn  615 to fame3 –Steelism – 615 to Fame [Single Lock Records]

Okay, this may not be number one on the list, maybe because you can’t put an instrumental album there? This has got to be the coolest album on the list. I first heard Spencer Cullum [Jr.] and his brother after I found out that The Deadstring Brothers were playing at The Basement a half dozen years ago. Their album Sao Paulo had just come out and it was the best thing this side of Exile On Main Street. I figured not many people had heard of The Deadstring Brothers but The Basement was packed. I talked to Spencer at that show and found out the band had moved to Nashville. After seeing Spencer craft about any tone on his pedal steel into liquid gold, I thought they better never let this guy leave for Britain. We need him here. What a great band! What a great musician! Watching this band on YouTube play “Linus & Lucy” like a countrified Ventures project is pure Nirvana. I want to hear Steelism plays Zappa. I want to hear Steelism play Ventures. I want to hear them any chance I get.

“The Landlocked Surfer”, “Marfa Lights”

derobert and the half truths im tryin2 –DeRobert & The Half Truths – I’m Tryin, [G.E.D. Soul Records]

This GED Soul gem came out early in the year and may be a little lost in the shuffle as we tend to remember summer through fall as new releases. This album solidifies GED Soul as a major player in the retro Soul stack that includes Broken Bones, Daptones and even Back to Black Winehouse. DeRobert proves to have great vocal chops and solid pitch. There is something soulful but very sunny about DeRobert’s grooves. GED Soul gets together solid engineering and mixing that sounds great on the turntable. I personally like this over the much more publicized and still great St. Paul & The Broken Bones material. Just keep pouring on great arrangements and songs and DeRobert will not be denied.‏ Bonus- The Batman Building featured prominently on the cover.

“Ooo Wee”, “Get On It”, “I’m Tryin’”

???????????????????????????????????????1 –Ray Price – Beauty is…The Final Sessions [Amerimonte LLC]

Ray Price worked with studio veteran Producer Fred Foster to put forth true blood, sweat, tears, money, guts, glory…I could go on. This was a love letter mostly to his wife, but, it was the final effort of a man in his 80’s with cancer known as one of the greatest voices ever laboriously getting the best take and building a Countrypolitan opus with strings and everything great about the Country crossover hits that come out in the 60’s. Ray may have been honored by Oxford American in their Texas issue this year, but this album is pure Nashville as Ray made several trips to Tennessee to complete Beauty is… Ray was a man on a mission to make one great final album and he succeeded.

“An Affair To Remember”, “I Wish I was 18 Again”

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom
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Catching Up With Everybody

John Hatton backstage at The Mercy Lounge, The Billy Block Show, May 2014 , photo - Brad Hardisty

John Hatton backstage at The Mercy Lounge, The Billy Block Show, May 2014 , photo – Brad Hardisty

Nettie Rose was back in town working on her album and returned to The Billy Block Show at Mercy Lounge sounding better than ever. I was caught by surprise when I got a message from her current bassist,Johnny “Spazz” Hatton [Brian Setzer Orchestra] letting me know about the set that night.

Nettie was decked out like a prohibition era June Carter speakeasy chanteuse. John was sharing some of his knowledge on the upright with Billy’s son, Rocky Block who hosted later that night. Speaking of Billy Block, he looks to be recovering very well and was sitting in on the drums midway through the night with another group.

Billy was featured on the cover of Nashville Scene magazine recently behind the drum kit and everybody is happy that he is doing well.

John Oates, Record Store Day 2014, Grimey's, photo - Brad Hardisty

John Oates, Record Store Day 2014, Grimey’s, photo – Brad Hardisty

Record Store Day was another great success this year with the Groove featuring Nikki Lane who brought several copies of her new album on vinyl to be available only at The Groove until the official drop date several weeks later. The New West label vinyl sounded great and features local picker Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart) and Dave Roe (Johnny Cash) on bass. The album was recorded with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) at the helm really is a local Nashville tour-de-force.

photo courtesy of Ryan Hurtgen

photo courtesy of Ryan Hurtgen

More photos and stories from Record Store Day will be forthcoming as well as an extended interview with Ryan Hurtgen [former band Rene Breton during his Nashville days] and his new project out in California called Perfect Beings. The new recording done almost completely live sounds close to a modern take on 70’s prog like Yes, Gentle Giant and early Genesis. It has already been touted as the “Prog Rock Album of The Year” in some reviews.

Franklin, Tennessee is set for an extended Americana Music Festival dubbed the Americana Experience beginning on May 22nd and running for ten days! The Franklin Theater has featured several artists known for the genre such as Darrell Scott over the last couple of years.

There are so many events that have developed in the local area that Nashville Scene dedicated a month to month guide is this current week’s issue to help plan the summer months festivities.

On the short list, CMA Fest and Bonnaroo coming up next month followed by East Nashville’s Hot Chicken Festival on the 4th of July and the Tomato Festival not too long after that.

Uncle Dave Macon Days 2013 photo 1, photo - Brad Hardisty

Uncle Dave Macon Days 2013 photo 1, photo – Brad Hardisty

Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro is one of the best old time music festivals and competition in the country and features some great jams in the park July 11th-13th.

NAMM returns in July with KISS and Def Leppard playing the Bridgestone Arena on opening night.

I just got my second magazine cover with Performer Magazine in April that featured an interview with Atlanta’s Black Lips that was supposed to be about the new album production but ended up being about their recent tour of the Middle East that was made into an Indie film and seemed to be a mind blowing experience all these months later.

Tristan Dunn, jamming with The Tim Boykin Blues Band, Birmingham, AL, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tristan Dunn, jamming with The Tim Boykin Blues Band, Birmingham, AL, photo – Brad Hardisty

Birmingham utility musician and vocalist Tristan Dunn is staying under my roof for the month of May and jamming on blues harp and vocals with just about every band on Lower Broad as well as Printer’s Alley. Tristan is gigging with current American Idol alumnus Casey Thrasher in Tuscaloosa, Alabama tonight.

Outside commitments are keeping me busy and spread a little thin lately but I will get some things up real soon! It’s always a good day to buy a vintage tube amp or

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

 

Tristen performing at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tristen performing at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

2013 proved to be a year where Nashville didn’t make as  big an impact nationally as it should have with no major album from either Country or Nashville sub-genres making any real impact on any national or international best-of lists from Rolling Stone Magazine [other than Keith Urban noted] to Mojo or anything else in-between.

It’s not that there were not any releases with big expectations from our region, but apparently they didn’t catch on nationally or internationally for that matter. Missing in action on the best of lists were Kings Of Leon, Paramore, Jack White, The Black Keys, Taylor Swift and pretty much every record that Nashville Scene listed as the best this year including releases by Tristen and Diarrhea Planet.

Zac Brown continues to chart his own path in the Country music scene with his Southern Ground Festival, Southern Ground group of artists that is now headquartered in Nashville  and charting records that have more to tell; just recently putting out the Dave Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, the problem is, can one list a four song EP as an album? As an artist, I definitely can give Zac kudos for songwriting, performance and outright tenaciousness.

MODOC, Soulshine Pizza, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

MODOC, Soulshine Pizza, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

It’s not to say that these were not good records, but it shows the deepening divide between well crafted music and the ability to get it out there in some way where it becomes part of the collective consciousness and not just affect the local pub crawl or mini festival.

Most stateside best-of lists had Vampire Weekend at or near the top of their lists whereas in the rest of the world they might have made the Top ten in one major publication and barely scratch the Top 40 in other important music rags and blogs outside the United States.

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Rolling Stone probably had one of the most bi-polar lists that included everything from real music artists to “entertainers” such as Miley Cyrus – Bangerz in their Top 40 list whereas Miley Cyrus isn’t on any major serious list outside the United States. Henry Rollins had a polite way of putting it this way: there is a lot of stuff that Rolling Stone writes about that isn’t on his radar.  Rolling Stone has gotten so far away from its original intent that the 360 label controlled deal signed Entertainers make the front cover regularly as well as politicians and a great amount of type space is spent driving home the Editors personal political point of view. I can’t fault them completely; there is the occasional Ginger Baker or Merle Haggard interview perfection. They even have a great local Nashville writer, Adam Gold, who doesn’t really get to write that much about the real Nashville. In a town where a 1600 word piece could be written every week about records being made and shows being played by regional Artists, nine out of ten articles are reviews of the previous Nashville TV Show plot.  Why don’t they give Adam free reign and really show what this town has to offer?

Tim Easton & JD Simo at Grimey's 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Tim Easton & JD Simo at Grimey’s 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

As far as America’s perception of Nashville, I can’t fault the Nashville TV Show. There are some great aspects that I enjoy such as the cityscape backdrops and watching the “Live” performances to see who is playing in the band as well as T Bone Burnetts choices for locally written music. I always like to see folks like Colin Linden or Jim Lauderdale on the small screen!  I am still waiting to see JD Simo, Kenny Vaughan or maybe Dave Roe. Of course, if they put Joe Fick on there, he would probably steal the thunder away from the movie star. Honestly, Hayden Panetierre does really well playing a damaged girl that is trying to do her best to be good / bad at the same time. She has a heart of gold and a heart of stone that makes yin and yang seem as normal as Corned Beef Hash and Shrimp and Grits on the same plate. It just seems that when she tries to do something good she ends up screwing it up. I’m not sure if she is suppose to be bi-polar or her Mother smoked crack while she was in the womb but she sure does need the reassurance of her fans.

Mojo is probably the best music major publication in the world and they managed to have a list that was almost devoid of pop schlock and had an Artist, Bill Callahan – Dream River at number one that didn’t even make a stateside list.

In Mojo, Memphis inspired Mavis Staples – One True Vine sat at number 21 whereas it was not featured on any lists in any major American publications. What used to be true is still true, foreign music fans seem to appreciate real American Artists more than we do ourselves. Guy Clark’s My Favorite Picture Of You  as well as Jason Isbell’ Southeastern cracked some great lists without making a whisper on any stateside lists outside of Americana specific publications.

lorde pure heroineOkay, the Artist that probably really got the short end of the stick in all the lists was Lorde. Lorde’s Pure Heroine probably had more impact than any other record this year whether I like it or anybody else does. Lorde has already been ripped off by K-Tel style sound-a-like commercials for Boss and Victoria’s Secret.  They ripped her off as blatantly as if somebody had tried to write a commercial that sounded like “Honky Tonk Women” or “Brown Sugar” back in the day and just call it advertising Muzak. Lorde definitely brings more to the table than Lady Gaga’s “Fashion” going after David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” instead of previous attempts at Madonna’s eighties catalog.

Okay, as far as local goes. I think Nashville Scene got it right for the most part, but, what about Ricky Skaggs or Modoc’s new albums?  There is a much larger alternative scene in Nashville than even where Nashville Scene went with its own list.

DeRobert & the Half Truths at The High Watt 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

DeRobert & the Half Truths at The High Watt 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Although regional albums didn’t seem to impact national lists this year, there are prospects coming up in 2014. For one, Nikki Lane has those Dan Auerbach produced tracks still waiting for a drop date. GED Soul is putting out their first full length vinyl, De Robert & The Half Truths – I’m Tryin’ on January 14th. Jack White is putting out new music by The Dead Weather.  One could hope for a new Kenny Vaughan album or even a revolutionary new Country album like Miranda Lambert’s Revolution  or how about a historical Live recording like Jerry Lee Lewis Live at Third Man from a couple of years ago.

Probably my biggest anticipated Nashville area release will be the new Mike Farris album which has been a couple of years in the making and should get a release date some time in 2014.

With the prospect that album buying is an ever shrinking source of revenue and has started to become a vanity project for almost everybody but a major label 360 signed Artist / Entertainer /  Dancer / Avatar, will the “best of” album lists start to disappear and be replaced by the “best live” performances since that is where the hopes for revenue are? I can’t answer that one. I still buy CD’s and vinyl and I don’t buy shrill sounding MP3’s. That is my line in the sand. I like liner notes, credits and photos so downloads don’t do much for me.

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

It seems that music in people’s lives is as important as ever, yet twenty million views on You Tube might only translate into 80,000 units sold.  In this kind of environment, an Artist might be safer to build a following in a sub-genre such as Americana, Blues or Bluegrass and tour on that specific festival circuit rather than to try to get a grass roots following on some new angle of Indie music and try to build up from the clubs. The prospect of never getting bigger than the clubs and eternally couch surfing are enormous in the current all-music –should- be- free- to- listen- to conundrum.

I have to admit that bands are becoming creative.  The Cult talks about sending out “capsules” of music in the future such as three new songs every quarter. Jack White has printed different band names on the CD’s he has taken on tour to sell to make collectibles out of “tour bought” merchandise. Infinity Cat has put out different covers or changed up colored vinyl to keep its catalog collectible among label followers. Creative marketing is as important as creative songwriting nowadays. A limited quantity of whatever seems to be a “buy” even though it may only bring in a limited amount of money.

Will there ever be a big budget grandiose masterpiece like Rumours or Dark Side of The Moon in the future? Maybe not but, if so, it would probably come out of a big budget Kickstarter campaign for a complete vanity piece that may only sell 20,000 units due to current radio formats and the free listening or subscription services now available. If there are less units of such a great masterpiece out there than the original Ramones album, will it be found and enjoyed 20 years down the road?

I can’t give up on the fact that somehow the music business will survive in some fashion that will keep creative people out there producing something new. I love going to see a band live but, will there ever be a budget for Quincy Jones style production on real music and not the flavor of the month?

Anyways, my best of list is based on a couple of criteria. I like it and it is regional, as in, from the south or with ties to the south and not necessarily middle Tennessee. I’ll keep it to ten because there are 20 and 30 and 40 lists; why not just make it essential?

andy t nick nixonNumber 10: The Andy T Band and Nick Nixon – Drink Drank Drunk

Andy T has been a regular guitar slinger on the blues scene all around town after arriving here via California and Houston, Texas. Nick Nixon is a native son following in the tradition of the Jefferson Street scene. This mix of a stew of standards produced and mixed by Texan Anson Funderburgh was the strongest Nashville Blues record out this year with a definite Gatemouth Texas Swing Blues influence and got the two with their band on Blues Festivals nationwide in 2013. Stand-out tracks: “Midnight Hour” “Drink Drank Drunk” “Have You Seen My Monkey?”

ricky skaggs bruce hornsby coverNumber 9: Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby – Cluck Ol’ Hen Live

Ricky Skaggs has been an Ambassador of Bluegrass to the world and his collaboration with Bruce Hornsby on piano turned out to be one of the greatest live events of the past few years. This recording captured from a couple of those shows features some great jamming with Bruce Hornsby kind of going to the roots after having toured with The Grateful Dead years ago. The in-between banter gives the feel of really being there. Stand-out tracks: “How Mountain Girls Can Love” “The Way It Is” “The Dreaded Spoon.”

MODOC_AlbumArtNumber 8: MODOC

MODOC has had great song placement in the last year or so that has put their music on television.  MODOC just plain rocks and “Runnin” has been all over the local airwaves. This album still has some legs after its release in August and will get a vinyl release after the first of the year. The Indiana natives have really stuck to their guns since arriving in Nashville about three years ago and have really improved their song craft and play every date they can.  A solid album is the pay dirt. Stand – out tracks: “Runnin” “Coward” “I Want You”

patty griffin american kidNumber 7: Patty Griffin – American Kid       

You could say Patty Griffin is from Austin and you could say that Robert Plant is from England, but let’s be real, they spend a lot of time here in Nashville and therefore are just as much Nashvillian as most of us who come from everywhere from California to Australia and spend perhaps a good majority of our lives here in pursuit of musical nirvana.  This may be Patty’s current album as the reigning Queen of Americana, but Robert makes enough guest appearances to let you know he is there without calling it a duet album. The North Mississippi Allstars make an appearance as well. Stand-out tracks “Don’t Let me Die In Florida,” “Ohio” and “Highway Song.”

jason isbell southeasternNumber 6: Jason Isbell – Southeastern

215 reviews and this album is still five stars on Amazon. Southeastern should be on every Top ten list this year.  Unfortunately, this was mostly shunned by American media while in Britain and Europe, where The Drive By Truckers were treated like The Rolling Stones, this gets what it deserves. Muscle Shoals will live on forever and Jason is definitely one of the favorite sons.  There are guest spots by Kim Richey (“Stockholm”) and Amanda Shires on “Travelling Alone.” There are a couple of southern rockers but most of this set would go over well at The Bluebird Cafe. Stand-out tracks “Flying Over Water,” “New South Wales,” and “Super 8.”

tim easton not coolNumber 5: Tim Easton – Not Cool

Tim encapsulizes everything cool about Nashville in one album that includes members of Robert’s regulars from The Don Kelley Band, Joe Fick [The Dempseys} on bass and JD Simo on guitar. The recording puts you front and center listening to real new Nashville Honky Honk music. What a concept! People travel from all over the world to hear it, so why not put it out to the airwaves.  If you missed the in-store that featured JD on guitar at Grimey’s, you missed one of the best in-stores of 2013. The songwriting has some gritty stories and moves things out past toney East Nashville to Riverside.  The old plywood acoustic sits in the middle of the mix. This one sits somewhere between Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and John Mellencamp’s Sun records effort a couple of years ago.  Stand out tracks include “Little Doggie (1962)” and “Four Queens.” “Troubled Times”

north mississippi allstars world boogieNumber 4: North Mississippi Allstars – World Boogie Is Coming

What can you say when the first two tracks start out with Robert Plant on harmonica recorded at Royal in Memphis? The Dickinsons along with Lightnin’ Malcolm are taking us for a ride through Holly Springs on this essentially covers album that plays out like a Midsummer Night’s Dream where R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough are still alive and Junior’s Place is still open for all night jams and ribs. Although Blues can let out your frustrations, this one puts on a smile and gets your groove going. Stand-out tracks

“Snake Drive,” Meet Me In The City” and “Goin’ To Brownsville.”

diarrhea planet artwork 2013Number 3: Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Diarrhea Planet is probably the best live show in Nashville right now, especially if you like guitar. They one up Lynyrd Skynyrd with four guitars. I repeat, FOUR GUITARS!  Watching them is like watching a Jack Black music skit on SNL, but the guitar work is pretty good and they are always entertaining and have some strong music that is designed for live consumption. Stand out tracks:  “Separations” “Ugliest Son” “The Sound Of My Ceiling Fan”

guy clark my favorite picture of youNumber 2: Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture Of You

Guy Clark pays tribute to his wife and wears his heart on his sleeve and his favorite picture of his wife on the cover. My Favorite Picture of You is an introspective soul searching masterpiece that makes one stop after every song and process the lyrics they just listened to. If Nashville is about songwriting then this is this year’s litmus test. Stand-out tracks, “My Favorite Picture of You” “Cornmeal Waltz”“Heroes”

tristen cavesNumber 1: Tristen – Caves

Tristen proves a point that you can follow your muse no matter what style in Nashville and create something cohesive, beautiful and unique. If this doesn’t become the huge record it should then it will become a cult album that everybody will want to show their friend and turn them onto. If Mojo ever gets a hold of this one, Tristen will be over in England and Europe playing to sold out crowds for the next year and it will be tough to ever see her play in the backyard at The Groove on Record Store Day again.  Tristen comes from the world where Pop means great songs like The Beatles, The Smiths, Fleetwood Mac or Blondie. Stand out tracks: “No One’s Gonnna Know” “House of War” “Dark Matter” “Monster”

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

All photos © Brad Hardisty

nashville bridgeThe Nashville Bridge was rolled out in 2010 at the suggestion of my sister who said that I needed to share my rock and roll and country and rhythm and blues Americana post punk California life with the rest of the world. My first blog printed photo was a portion of a shot I took of The Cumberland River and the bridges crossing into downtown that I took with a 5 mg Fuji auto focus while visiting Nashville in 2006 and wondering if I would ever move here. It is a picture that means a lot to me. I visited Nashville quite often from Birmingham before deciding to move up here and make roots in January of 2008.

Although I did want to just editorialize and conjecture my thoughts on all things music since becoming a music conduit starting at the age of four when I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show and then cemented when I banged on garage doors beginning at age five to get in and listen to Count Five (“Psychotic Reaction”) and other San Jose area bands practice their next hit singles. Now,with the blog, I knew I needed pictures to tell the story.

back then, yy eyes were wide open and my neuro senses were in overdrive at age five and six watching a bunch of teenage guys hammer through guitar amps making loud music with girls hanging out until the cops would arrive and shut the whole thing down. I got to get mad at having to quiet down with the rest of the band and older kids.

Well, that’s how it started and this is where I am at right now: Nashville! There is a story behind of every picture that means anything to me.

mike farris 100102 bwWhen I started the blog, I just had a Nikon 12 mg auto-focus camera which was difficult sometimes, especially on band close-ups with lots of lights. Mike Farris was kind enough to let me shoot him down by the Cumberland River after talking about the Nashville Flood and his then current album. Mike Farris & The Cumberland Saints project to benefit flood victims at Crema  in 2010 with the Nikon.

Needless to say, I had to rely on kind contributing support of great photographers in and around Nashville and Birmingham for photos when possible for the blog and my articles in Performer Magazine.

jeff beck ryman 03 smallNext, I got an HTC Evo 4G phone that actually got some decent shots now and then. Sometimes, it was the only camera available and it would have to do.  The pics I took of Jeff Beck at The Ryman actually turned out fairly interesting.

record store day 2013 069Finally, it was time to get a reliable camera to get some decent concert shots, so, I gathered my limited budget and bought a Canon EOS Rebel T3i about six months ago. It really paid off on Record Store Day this last April when I was shooting multiple bands at several locations.  The photo of Tyler Davis of Chrome Pony at The Groove was all you could ask for. The red hair contrasting with the blue sky was superb.

nbn 2010 Peelander Z 02The Nikon camera could be difficult with a lot of action, this shot of Peelander Z at Exit/In during Next Big Nashville 2010 made the best of the cameras limitations,  tracers and all, while Peelander Red crowd-surfed, bass guitar in towl.

paul mccartney coachellaOkay, here was a tough one for the Nikon. Paul McCartney in Palm Desert, California at Coachella 2009 from 30 yards away, my only usable shot of a real Beatle so far. I wish I was the guy shooting that picture down front.

Ray Wylie HubbardThe Americana Festival 2010 was a real eye opener seeing fans traveling from as far away as Australia to see Hayes Carll play a set at The Basement.  Ray Wylie Hubbard was hot that year and the Nikon played with the light a little bit and this photo only worked with some grit in it. I figured it was an “Americana” picture. Maybe it’s just all the facial hair, but, he looks like a smiling Jerry Garcia to me.

inf cat 10 2nd heavycream 02Infinity Cat Records had a 10th Anniversary celebration last year and Heavy Cream headlined the second night at The Zombie Shop. The HTC Evo did some kind of funky light thing when a flash went off at the same time from another camera across the room. There is no photo editing. You can’t duplicate that. That’s a real motha fo ya!

ibma 2010 rodney dillard 01IBMA fans and musicians are absolutely some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Rodney Dillard was one of The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show and is still laying it down on the Martin Guitar with The Dillards as he did here at the 2010 conference taken with the Nikon.

mike farris grimeys 02Kenny Vaughan is probably one of the most iconic guitarists in Nashville today with a portfolio of work includes Marty Stuart, Lucinda Williams and other varied projects including his recent solo record. Mike Farris had one of the biggest bands ever at Grimeys for this in-store with Kenny Vaughan on guitar. I was standing right next to him holding the care above and behind my shoulder to get this one with the Nikon. He kind of reminds me of Angus Young’s other brother from a different mother the way he is holding that SG.

tristan dunn 01Tristan Dunn is a musician from Birmingham, Alabama that I have known for several years now. He can play guitar, keys like his favorite – Billy Powell and blows harp like Topper Price. I got some great shots of him in front of the Johnny Cash wall before it got damaged and then updated. He is autistic, but, he doesn’t use that as a conversation piece or to get sympathy, he just lets the music do the talking. I have ran into so many big name Country Artists when I run around with him when he visits that I am beginning to think he has a high profile Guardian Angel like Hank Williams or Buck Owens.

Frank Fairfield 02Frank Fairfield did an in-store at Grimeys in 2011 and I kind of pushed the HTC Evo as far is it could go with antique sepia tones being the theme. I think Frank is from California’s Central Valley where I grew up. His music is best heard on vinyl 78’s. I have yet to talk to him about Fresno’s famous Di Cicco’s Pizza. Okay…now I’m hungry.

uncle dave 2012 blind boy 01 expJeron “Blind Boy” Paxton made the cover of Living Blues Magazine even before any kind of real record release and just a lot of You Tube buzz. He specializes in music from the early 1900’s and is a master on old banjos, guitars, ragtime piano and just about anything he touches. He was hanging out in Murfreesboro at Uncle Dave Macon Days last year jamming with people that had no idea who he was. I guess they thought he just wandered in from some boxcar in a train yard. The photo was taken with the HTC Evo.

metro 50th marion james 01Okay, here is backstage with my newer phone, the Samsung Galaxy S III. This is Marion James, Nashville’s “Queen of The Blues” getting ready to go onstage at Nashville’s Metro 50th Celebration downtown. Marion had a top 10 Billboard hit back in the 60’s with “That’s My Man” on Excello Records. She has multiple connections to Jimi Hendrix. Jimi played guitar for her when he lived in Nashville in the early 60’s. Also, she recorded two more singles back during that time with Hendrix tie-ins. One song was written by Billy Cox, bassist for Jimi Hendrix and Marion as well as another song written by Larry Lee who was the second guitarist in Jimi Hendrix’s band, Gypsies, Suns & Rainbows that played at Woodstock. She knew and knows them all. Marion works hard to keep the Rythm & Blues scene alive in Nashville.

rev peyton show 032013 062 smallOkay, back to some newer shots with the Canon.  Reverend Peyton at his recent show at Exit/In provided the opportunity to learn more about the camera’s capabilities. The Rev’s management contacted me after seeing the post to email photos for their use.

rose pink 03 smallRight before Christmas, when I was just breaking the Canon in, I met Mississippi Rosealee aka Rosalind Wilcox who lives in Clarksdale, Mississippi i.e “The Crossroads.” Rosealee is well known in the community as both an artist with her space called Sun House right near Ground Zero and as a musician that includes playing drums for two historic Mississippi Blues musicians, L.C. Ulmer and Robert Belfour. In fact, L.C. Ulmer wrote a song for her called “Rosalee” and is on the M Is For Mississippi soundtrack. She let me set up a shot of her at Hopson’s Commissary that reminded me a little of the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album.

record store day 2013 053 smallOkay, I personally think this is the best candid of Tristen, that I just happened to take at The Groove, Record Store Day 2013 with the Canon. The most important thing is that she liked the picture too. Man, I want to shoot Nikki Lane. Wait, I did get a couple before they closed the set a couple of nights before Record Store Day.

record store day 2013 023 smallThere it is…man, I could do better, Nikki thinks about what she is wearing, the shot, everything, I would love to do a couple hours of shooting with Nikki. Well, Nikki, if you e-mail me, I’m there! Nikki, your neo-classic country meets retro cool thing is sublime.

bang ok bang jan 2012 08Okay, the earliest shots with the Canon were the Bang Ok Bang set at the High Watt in August of 2012. I was still learning how to work with the frame speed and all that. Now, just for knowledge of the game: I did shoot 35 Millimeter on a Canon back in the day. This photo was taken in auto-mode and it caught some drum moves all in the same frame from drummer Abby Hairston. I still think it’s cool, in an art crawl kind of way.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 028 smallOkay, I have been out to a couple of tapings of the Mando Blues Show. That is an adventure in itself, most notably, talking to Futureman about Return To Forever’s Romantic Warrior album and the merits of Lenny Williams’ drums on that. It is one of the famous Wooten’s favorite examples of drums. He said Lenny’s drums sound like a Timpani. Alabama drummer, Dave Crenshaw played drums for Debbie Bond that night and it looks like I set up this shot, but, I didn’t. The Canon again.

tyler bryant exitin 070 smallOkay, one more and I will let you go. There is a story behind this one too. I ran into Tyler Bryant at Cafe Coco before Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown were going to play at Exit/In. We talked about when he opened for Jeff Beck at The Ryman and he knew I was going to be down front shooting some photos. When I arrived at The Exit/In, Brad Whitford from Aerosmith was talking to his son Graham Whitford, the other guitarist in the Shakedown near the merch booth before everybody started showing up. He was wearing a baseball cap and being very incognito. He looked at me and realized I knew who he was. I could tell he was there just to support his son and didn’t want to draw any attention to himself. So, I just gave him the “Nashville” nod of recognition and didn’t approach or say anything. I kept his cover for him. You see, that is how we do it in Nashville. We let each other relax and feel at home. I got some great shots of the band and got one of the best color shots ever with the Canon of Graham on stage.

I’m happy with the pictures I am getting with the Canon T3i and so is my Editor at Performer Magazine. Even the bands and artists have given me kudos. Maybe next year, I’ll go for a full frame Nikon or Canon.

Well, The Nashville Bridge is almost three years old. I have been writing for over two years for Performer Magazine and a few other scattered published articles. Thanks for indulging me with my lifetime passion for music. Thanks for reading The Nashville Bridge on your laptop, iphone, ipad or droid. I make it as easy to view and read as possible.

“It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll!” – AC/DC

All photos © Brad Hardisty

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