Saturday, July 08, 2006

Nashville Music Zines, Part Four (Finis)

As stated previously, Gus Palas had sold the bloated carcass that was The Metro to Radio Lightning to use as a sort of in-house music magazine. Station manager Ned Horton had some great ideas for the rag, and no little amount of vision, but he knew right from jump street that he had to do something about the magazine to make it more professional if he was going to sell it to advertisers. He spent a crapload of money on new Apple computers and all the software needed to make a magazine look nice, and then he went out and found a couple of guys to use all this new gear.

Ned hired Daryl Sanders and Jody Lentz from Athlon Sports. Unlike Gus and, really, even myself, these guys came from a higher level in the publishing biz. Athlon was a mega-bucks company, publishing annual sports guides for S.E.C. and NFL football and such, magazines with glossy color covers and lots of advertising. I knew Daryl briefly from the good old days of Take One Magazine, where he had worked with Thom King before I came along, and he was to take the editorial reigns of The Metro. Jody was an accomplished graphic artist that could make a Mac sing, and his redesign of the rag made it look cool, clean and professional.

Daryl and Jody rounded up a staff, including some very fine writers like Jason Moon Wilkins, Holly Gleason, Brett Ratner, Audese Green, Warren Denney and even my old pal Andy Anderson, as well as the Reverend, to fill up the pages of The Metro each month. Under the new editorial regime, and in keeping with the radio station's eclectic mix of musical genres, the scope of The Metro expanded to include coverage of reggae, world music, jazz, blues and the new "jam band" genre. Sometime in mid-1993, The Metro became Bone Music Magazine and Gus Palas found himself gently pushed out the door.

Initially, the Reverend contributed CD reviews to Bone, and since I was one of the few staffers that was plugged into the Nashville music scene, I got to cover local bands as well. If the '80s offered great local bands like Jason & the Scorchers, Webb Wilder & the Beatnecks, Walk The West, the White Animals and Afrikan Dreamland, the decade to follow would see an explosion of talent. Clockhammer, Max Vague, the Floating Men, Price Jones, Chagall Guevara and many more would also create cool and challenging music during the '90s.

It was Daryl Sanders who officially dubbed me "The Reverend" and began running my byline as Rev. Keith A. Gordon, claiming that since I was always preaching about music, the media, politics and such, and since I was an ordained minister, I should therefore be called "The Reverend." I began writing a column for Bone called "Dancing On The Edge" that covered music, zines, counter-culture and something called "the Internet." It was Bone publisher Ned Horton who declared that "nobody wants to ready about the Internet," and therefore the magazine (and my column) should be sparing in its coverage of the flegling technology.

With Sanders and Lentz at the helm, assisted by people like Kris Whyte (now Whittlesey, editor of All The Rage) and guided by Horton, Bone expanded with regional editions in a number of cities, including Atlanta, which were sponsored by local radio stations. A small four-page insert called T-Bone was produced for The Tennessean newspaper, featuring artist interviews and CD reviews. By 1995, Bone Music Magazine was a bona fide regional phenomena covering the best mainstream and alternative music. Ned even discovered the Internet, and the Reverend was allowed to cut loose with a cover story that year about "music on the Internet."

A year later, however, the bottom fell out for Bone. The zine was losing "affiliates" across the country, reducing the number of editions that were produced (and the income received from those other radio stations). The Internet was providing music news faster than a monthly magazine, and Ned later admitted that he had underestimated the growth in popularity of the 'net as a new media outlet. Neither Ned or the radio station had anything to counter the 'net and it hurt the magazine especially. Then, in May 1996, Horton was asked to resign his position by the station's owners due to a difference in management philosophy. Local businessman David Tune took over as station manager and soon discontinued both Bone magazine and something called Bone-TV that ran one or two shows on a local station. The new Metro/Bone magazine had managed to squeeze out almost four years before falling beneath the reaper's blade.

There haven't really been any significant local music zines that I'm aware of since Bone went belly up ten years ago. The Reverend published sporadic zines such as a resurrected R Squared and R.A.D! (Review And Discussion of Rock & Roll) on a limited basis during the late-90s before launching the Alt.Culture.Guide music webzine in 2000. There was KP's Rock & Read zine, which evolved into Shake Magazine, published by local musician Chris James. The local scene was never Shake's main focus, though, although Chris and writers like Steve Morley wrote about some interesting music. Word has reached the Reverend that there are changes going on at Shake, however, the music magazine undergoing a facelift and a change in editorial direction that includes input from some familiar names in my history of Nashville music zines. Keep informed of the changes at the zine on the upcoming new Shake Magazine web site....

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