When you think “punk” it is likely that images of garage bands, spiked hair, and lyrics about anarchy and disestablishment come to mind. However, when you think “reggae” you may conjure up images of the beach, slow beats, and lyrics about peace and love. After taking a closer look, the two seemingly opposite genres are in fact not all that dissimilar. While the two originated in different times and in different ways, they have since been brought together to make some groundbreaking tunes that we now usually refer to as “ska.”
November 9th, 2013. Winter was upon us as potential students scurried around campus knocking leafs around the greek row sidewalks with their weathered, leather boots as they toured a campus and a city that might one day become a home to them. Pretending the brisk Nashville temperatures were still fall conditions, I dressed in a thin long sleeve shirt and prepared for the night ahead of me. We had been looking forward to this day for months. American Authors at one of Nashville’s most unique, bursting of character and quite frankly small venues, The End. Thrilled to leave the lonesome cave I’d created of post break-up tears and cheesy rom coms, otherwise known as my room, my friends and I arrived at the venue minutes before the show facing a crowd of no more than 30 people. Lost in chatter and introductions a voice suddenly broke through the noise and stopped me in my tracks. Who was this girl with the powerhouse vocals strong enough to shatter the thoughts of everyone in the room and draw every eye in this small dive club to her luscious hair, small frame and impeccable style? The voice belonged to Mandy Lee, one third of the trio Misterwives hailing from New York City.
On this day nineteen years ago, four of Blind Melon’s five members woke up expecting to play a show that night at Tipitina’s in New Orleans. The fifth, lead vocalist and chief songwriter Shannon Hoon, never awoke. He had died of a cocaine overdose at age 28. Today, to honor Hoon’s memory, I’d like to take a look at Blind Melon, a terribly under-appreciated member of the grunge pantheon.
“You better dance with us, even if it’s bad” John and Jacob said to a friend and I before the show. Apparently the whole crowd overheard this as swing dancers were in full motion by the first note of their vibey, fun music and they didn’t show any signs of slowing down. As the night went on, John and Jacob decided to share a little secret with us. Having an album all recorded and ready, they were only missing a release date. They decided what better way to release an album than exclusively to this Nashville crowd that night. The album is not available to anyone other cities or states right now except Nashville showing John and Jacob’s love and thankfulness for the supportive Nashville crowd.
On this day in 1979, one of America’s most beloved singer-songwriters was born. Through her down-to-earth voice and introspective lyricism, Norah Jones has been a powerhouse in the music industry since her multi-platinum debut album, Come Away With Me, was released in 2002. Her nine Grammys demonstrate how Norah Jones has been able to create a name for herself. However, this name is not the one she was born with. Her birth name is reflective of a very musical genealogy, but probably not from a source that would be your first guess. Or your second.
Many of you have probably seen this popular video posted by Grady Smith reminding us how mainstream and non unique country music was in 2013. What most of you probably don’t know is why this video exists. This video was actually made in response to the negative comments on his top 10 country album list that readers penned “not mainstream enough.” I don’t think his goal was to bash mainstream country music, but to open listeners eyes to songs they won’t hear every 5 minutes when stuck in Nashville traffic at rush hour. I have always loved some of the lesser known, genuine, country crossover artists, but didn’t realize how big of a genre they were becoming until my dad pointed out a Reddit post to me last week. Someone started dissing country music and one clever Reddit user retaliated with a Spotify playlist full of the best country songs he could find that aren’t about girls, trucks and beer. This playlist, featured below, includes some of my favorite new artists in Nashville that really have the potential to change country and triple A radio.
My favorite week of the year is quickly approaching, Although every week in Nashville has it’s fair share of loaded writer’s nights and stellar concerts, one week has a special place in my heart. Songwriters Festival, Tin Pan South, takes place at local venues in Nashville, for a week, every March. The lineup never ceases to disappoint as they utilize 10 of the most intimate venues in Nashville and host two shows a night. Every night attendees get to watch the songs they all know come to life in a somewhat backwards way. There is something magical about hearing a song stripped down, as it was originally written, and learning the stories behind them. The only way to understand is to experience this yourself! This is my advice and the shows you don’t want to miss (all in my opinion of course).
It has been on my bucket list since the beginning of my first semester – watch an awesome show at the Exit/In. That may be redundant, considering the bands that come to the venue are more likely than not, extremely talented. Some of them have been lucky enough to have their names written on a large wall behind the bar or on the grand mural outside the front door. Well, I would argue that the show I went to, Kodaline with the fantastic opener LP, should be put up next on that wall of fame.