Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nashville Music Zines, Part One

What was the first music zine in Nashville? That honor, without a doubt, goes to Hank Magazine, published by man-about-town Harvey Magee. Hank focused on "cosmic cowboy" songwriters that had flooded the town during the early-70s, as well as Southern rockers like Charlie Daniels and the Marshall Tucker Band. Hank covered other strains of music -- for example, this humble scribe placed a Johnny Rivers album review in the zine during my senior year of high school -- but Magee's zine was really an unheralded forefather of No Depression, featuring artists like Don Schlitz, Marshall Chapman and Guy Clark.

Then there's Thom King's Take One Magazine, which was really more than just a music zine. Thom, an older guy that I kind of knew from Franklin High School, launched the zine in 1976 with an eye towards serious journalism...like an early Nashville Scene, with a better balance of local news, thought-provoking articles and entertainment coverage. I came on board somewhere around issue number three or four, after running into Thom at Shakey's Pizza in Green Hills and asking for a gig writing album reviews. By the end of the year, Thom and I were pretty much running the rag on our own, with help from his brother John and writer Sam Borgerson. Hank had pretty much disappeared by '77 and Take One picked up the slack in music coverage. We were the first publication in town to talk about the Ramones and the punk revolution of '77, and if we were also publicized Nashville's "first" rock band, the Smashers, we redeemed ourselves with coverage of Cloverbottom. Almost thirty years later, Thom and I still talk about the trials and tribulations of publishing Take One.

During the waning days of Take One, I disappeared to Detroit for a couple of years (1979-80) and reveled in the ultra-cool punk rock scene exploding in the Motor City. A funny thing happened while I was gone, though -- Nashville developed a rock scene of its own. Working out of a beer joint/hot dog stand by the name of Phrank-N-Steins, Rick Champion provided a forum for original bands like Cloverbottom, the Actuals and others to play. Allen Green's short-lived Grab! music scene documented this growing scene during 1981/82, with great writers like Kent Orlando, Curtis "C Ra" McGuirt, Glenn Hunter and Champion himself. The zine had an irreverent wit, and the couple of copies that I still have of Grab! offer stories on Factual and the Wrong Band as well as reviews of records by the Ratz and the Smashers.

After Green started his own band -- the way-ahead-of-their-time Suburban Baroque -- Grab! fell by the wayside and Nashville was without a real local music zine for a while. I published copies of my own zine Anthem on a sporadic basis, and covered some local bands, but most of Anthem's meager circulation went to places like England, Germany and Poland as well as to LA and NY and Chicago through mail swaps with other zinesters.

Enter Andy Anderson and the Nashville Intelligence Report. I can't remember when, exactly, Andy began publishing NIR but his zine picked up where Grab! left off. Andy was excited about the local music scene, and the zine featured many of the same writers that had populated Grab! Somewhere along the line I got involved with the project, and Andy published the zine for several years, championing local bands but also covering national artists like Katrina & the Waves and Los Lobos. When Andy went home for a year (Knoxville, I think), Rick Champion took on the mantle as publisher and NIR carried on without missing a beat. When Andy returned, he took back over from Rick and published NIR until after Gus Palas came to town and launched the more commercially-oriented Metro music magazine. Andy stopped publishing NIR and ended up doing some writing for The Metro during the late-80s. Andy was a good writer with a real fanboy's enthusiasm for the music; he fled the local scene during the dark days of the mid-90s, relocating to New York City, where I sadly lost touch with him.

More about The Metro in part two....

Corrections (06/19/06): Evidently Thom King's memory is better than mine at this point in our respective lives. Thom launched Take One Magazine in 1977, and it was the summer of that year that we ran into each other at Shakey's Pizza. In '76 the Reverend was actually kicking around Texas, pissing off then future-president Ronald Reagan (another story entirely) and eventually working in the molybdenum mines of Colorado before landing back in Nashville at the end of the year. Also, as Thom reminds me, he's not really an "older guy" but rather just three years older than yours truly. Thanks, Thom!

Monday, May 29, 2006

1976: R. Stevie Moore Was There First

Others may disagree, but personally I feel that in the modern rock era (circa 1976-2006), R. Stevie Moore can lay claim to being the first original rocker in Nashville. Those of us old enough to have been going to clubs thirty years ago (when the drinking age was 18) remember the fare we had to choose from -- "Top 40" cover bands and "cosmic country" songwriters was all that you'd find around town. Some might argue this point, but since this is my project, I'm going to stake a claim for Moore. He was playing original rock music at a time in the city when original voices were very hard to find.

Sure, there were garage rock bands around town in the '60s and pop songwriters and sessions with Elvis (with Moore's father Bob playing bass), Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Skip Spence, among others. There was also a thriving R&B scene in place in the Music City from the late-40s well into the '70s (see Night Train To Nashville), as well as blues players and gospel, but all of that is beyond my purview. Moore wrote his own songs and recorded what was the first indie rock album in Nashville, Phonography, in his home studio in 1976. Sadly, Moore left Nashville shortly thereafter and relocated to New Jersey, where he has since written hundreds of songs and recorded dozens of albums, receiving widespread critical acclaim and influencing a generation (or two) of pop/rock artisans that followed.

It's with this milestone that "The Other Side Of Nashville" will begin, because everything that happened after Phonography was part of a natural evolution that brought us to the present day. If R. Stevie Moore was the spark that fired off the indie rock revolution in Nashville, then the Ramones threw gasoline on the fire with their 1977 shows at the Exit/Inn. But that's a story for another time....

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Wally Bangs' Best Bands

While cruising the web over this fine holiday weekend (three days off -- woohoo!) I ran across a blog by a fellow from Smithville named Wally Bangs. If you scroll half-way down the page of Wally's February 2005 archive, you'll find the all four parts of his wonderful piece "Rick Champion Opened A Hot Dog Stand." Wally and a friend remember the best Nashville bands of the '70s and '80s with some pretty astute comments. It's well worth checking out, mostly because Wally reminded me of a bunch of bands that I had forgotten or overlooked, which I've listed below and "officially" added to the project!

ASS CHAPEL, BASIC STATIC,
CHIP & THE CHILTONS,
THE CREEPIN' CRUDS, CROP CIRCLE HOAX,
ELECTRIC BOYS, LUST,
THE NERVE, NO ART,
THE RATZ, RIFF RATH, WHO HIT JOHN,
VALENTINE SALOON, YOUNG GRAY RUINS

If any readers know former/present members of these bands, please let them know about our little project here and that I'd be interested in talking to them about their band. As always, if you have any bands you feel need to be added to the project, leave a comment on this blog or email me at rev.gordon (at) gmail (dot) com. With these additions, the list of Nashville bands grows to 185. Who says that there's never been any good music in town?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Band List Additions

OK, so I dug through the big box o' 45s that have been collecting dust under a bunch of zines and found a bunch of bands to include in "The Other Side Of Nashville" project. Took another spin through the vinyl collection and CDs and found a few more, so consider these worthwhile additions to the (expanding) list:

CELEBRITY TOAST & JAM, CHINA BLACK,
CIVIC DUTY, THE FOOD,
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION,
FUN GIRLS FROM MT. PILOT, JAVA CHRIST,
PRICE JONES, EDDIE KEY, TED LINDSAY,
MEATEATERS KILLERS AND SUCKERS OF BLOOD,
GILES REAVES, JOSH ROUSE, 69 TRIBE,
THE SMASHERS, STUPID AMERICANZ, VICTOR

Sunday, May 21, 2006

First Attempt At A Band List

Okay, so I've dug through my vinyl and CD collection and tickled my brain a bit and have made an initial run at compiling a list of artists and bands that should be listed in "The Other Side Of Nashville" book. By no means is this everybody that should be included, and it's a little light on current bands, but it's a beginning. If any readers can think of anybody not included on this list that should be, email me at rev.gordon (at) gmail.com.

I've found that eBay is an excellent resource for finding Nashville rockers that had recordings distributed nationally. This afternoon I found a copy of Clockhammer's debut album (on CD) and the band's Carrot EP (also on CD) from one seller for a whopping $1.18 (plus $5.20 shipping). Yes, I bought them both, but purely in the interest of research, you know.

My collection of zines from the golden era of Nashville rock is a little light, old issues either loaned out to friends or shed in one move or another. If anybody has copies of Nashville Intelligence Report, Weasel Weekly or Metro music magazine (or other local zines) that I can borrow and copy, my email address is posted above. Now for the first attempt at a band list:

AASHID, ACTUEL,
ADONIS, AFRICAN DREAMLAND,
A.K.A. RUDIE, ANASTASIA SCREAMED,
ARC ANGEL, CRYSTAL ARMENTROUT,
ATTICUS FAULT

BANG BANG BANG, BARE JR.,
BEDLAM, BELL & SHORE,
PETE BERWICK, THE BIS-QUITS,
THE BLACK CROWES, THE BOILERS,
BONEPONY

CADENCE,
THE CARTER ADMINISTRATION,
CATAWAMPUS, CHAGALL GUEVARA,
BILLY CHINNOCK, CLOCKHAMMER,
DAVE CLOUD, CLOVERBOTTOM,
THE CLUTTERS

DE NOVO DAHL,
DEL GIOVANNI CLIQUE,
DESSAU, DISCIPLES OF LOUD,
THE DUSTERS

STEVE EARLE, WALTER EGAN,
THE ENEMY, EVERY MOTHER’S SON,
THE EVINRUDES

FACTUAL, FEABLE WEINER,
THE FEATURES, JEFF FINLIN,
THE FLOATING MEN, STEVE FORBERT,
FORGET CASSETTES, FOXYMORONS,
F.U.C.T., FUR TRADE

TONY GERBER, MARK GERMINO,
GHOSTFINGER, THE GOLDEN SOUNDS,
GOVT. CHEESE, GRINNING PLOWMAN,
GUILT

THE HARD CORPS, HAYSTAK,
JOHN HIATT, WILL HOGUE,
THE HOTS, HOW I BECAME THE BOMB

IGMO, IN PURSUIT, INTRUDER

JASON & THE NASHVILLE SCORCHERS,
JET BLACK FACTORY, JETPACK,
JOHNNY PANIC & THE BIBLE OF DREAMS

THE KATIES, WILL KIMBROUGH,
KINGS OF LEON,
TIM KREKEL & THE SLUGGERS

KATHLEEN LAGUE, LAMBCHOP,
SONNY LANDRETH,
TH’ LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS,
JEREMY LISTER, LITTLE SAINTS,
LLAMA, BILL LLOYD, LONE OFFICIAL,
LONESOME BOB, LOS STRAITJACKETS,
LOUNGE FLOUNDERS, LOVE CIRCLE LOGIC,
LUNA HALO, LUVJOI

MANIKENZ,
MARKY & THE UNEXPLAINED STAINS,
MAYONAISE FARMERS, PAT MCLAUGHLIN,
KEN MCMAHAN, ME PHI ME,
DAVID MEADE, THREK MICHAELS,
RICK MOORE, THE MOST,
THE MOVEMENT, MUDD BROTHERS,
DAVID MUNYON

THE OBSCURE, ON COMMAND,

PARADISE LOST, PEACE CRY,
MARK PFAFF, THE PINK SPIDERS,
THE PLANET ROCKERS,
PRACTICAL STYLISTS, THE PRIVATES

THE QUESTIONNAIRES

RADIO ONE, RAGING FIRE, THE RAVES,
WILL RAMBEAUX & THE DELTA HURRICANES,
REDNECKS IN PAIN, JASON RINGENBERG,
ROYAL COURT OF CHINA, RUMBLE CIRCUS,
MATTHEW RYAN

SCARLET, SELF, SHADOW 15,
THE SHAKERS, THE SHAZAM,
KIRBY SHELSTAD,
SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER,
SLACK (I), SLACK (II),
THE SMARTEST MONKEY,
TODD SNIDER, SOCIAL KINGS,
SPACECRAFT, SPARKLEDRIVE,
SPIDER VIRUS, THE STAND,
STEALIN’ HORSES, STONE DEEP,
SUBURBAN BAROQUE, SHARI SWEET

TEEN IDOLS, TERMINAL MYCOSIS,
THE THIEVES, THEE PHANTOM 5IVE,
TOMORROW’S WORLD, TRAUMA TEAM

MAX VAGUE, VEGAS COCKS

WALK THE WEST, THE WHITE ANIMALS,
WEBB WILDER, WILL & THE BUSHMEN,
TOMMY WOMACK, THE WRONG BAND

THE YOUNG CAUCASIANS

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Other Side Of Nashville

Welcome to "The Other Side Of Nashville" blog. Over the course of the next year or so, this page will document the creation and progress of The Other Side Of Nashville, a book and documentary film providing an admittedly incomplete history of Nashville's non-country music scene. Rock, rap, blues and even reggae have been a large part of the Music City for 30 years now, but you wouldn't know it from the media outside of Nashville. What we're attempting to do is to capture a small part of the rich history of Nashville's non-country music scene for posterity. If you're a musician that was in a band or performed solo and were based in Nashville from 1976 through the present day, we'd like to include you in the project. You can find out how to get involved by checking out our Nashville page.

We're also going to use this blog to share stories of the good old days of Nashville's rock scene, as remembered by me, the Rev. Keith A. Gordon. I was there when most of this local history happened, covering the scene for publications like Andy Anderson's Nashville Intelligence Report and Gus Palas' Metro music magazine, circa 1982 - 92. The Reverend is a former contributor to Bone music magazine and the Nashville Scene. We'd also be glad to post information on what's going on with local bands -- if you'd like to get involved with the blog, contact the Reverend, details on the Nashville page.