Friday, March 30, 2007

Ain't No Train Outta Nashville

Well, our move from Nashville to Batavia in lovely West New York (WNY) is finally, irrevocably, 100% complete. We had filled the first truck, a monster 26-footer, with most of our crap back in December and hauled it all, along with our pet menagerie and trusty Saturns, to our new home over what proved to be one of the longest, most painful weekends that I've ever had the pleasure to experience (and that's counting jail time). Unfortunately, we had to leave a lot of stuff behind, and it took us three months to get the money together to go back down to the "Music City" and get the rest of it....

Which we did, flying into the Nashville International Airport on Thursday, March 15th. We picked up our smaller, more efficient 17-foot truck after a short (but expensive) taxi ride to the U-Haul dealer and drove it out to the old farmhouse in Franklin. The temperature was 73-degrees on Thursday when we picked up the truck; the next day, it was hovering around 40-degrees with 20mph winds...did I mention that there was no heat in the house? Typical Tennessee weather. No matter, 'cause wife Tracey and I were hustlin' our asses off to get stuff packed, boxed or tossed before the guys we hired to load the truck showed up. Luckily we had a little help from some friends on Friday.

A bunch of people showed up during the day to lend a hand. My old high school buddy (who I hadn't seen in 30 years), Ron Graham, showed up and helped pack stuff. He was also "nice" enough to bring a copy of our FHS senior annual with him to show Tracey my senior portrait (my yearbook stolen years ago by the nefarious "Skipper" -- another story entirely). Another old high school friend, singer/songwriter and project supporter Donna Frost also showed up to lend a hand, as did Steve Morley, David Atkinson, brother Willie Jemison and my stepson Tim Gilliam. Thanks to all of these folks for coming through with flying colors on a cold, windy day! Tracey and I appreciate their help, support and friendship on what was a stressful weekend. Everybody showing up made the chore less work and more fun!

One of the coolest things that occurred on Friday was pulling some old boxes out of a closet that we hadn't been into in 15 years or so. We found a bunch of cool stuff in those four or five boxes, including a bunch of old music zines (in pristine condition) and a giant stack of vinyl 45s that I didn't know that I had. We all sat around and looked through the 45s and had a great time trying to figure out who some of the bands were. There were also a number of local artists in the stack, which will be included in the project, as well as a bunch of copies of The Metro and NIR that will provide a lot of invaluable information for The Other Side of Nashville.

During this month I swapped emails with a bunch of folks, all of who had new bands to recommend for "The List." Since they were valid suggestions, I decided to go ahead and add another 20 names, which brings our band list up to 430 (I think). Eric Vessels wrote to let me know about his band, Psycho Daisy, and sent some information while Donna let me know of yet another band -- Forefathers Of Doom -- that her brother Tony played in. I don't think that there were many Nashville bands in the mid-80s that Tony Frost didn't lend his talents to, and his connection to a score or more of local musicians kind of makes him the "Kevin Bacon" of Nashville rock (six degrees and all that...). A bunch of other recommended bands below came from MySpace referrals or emails.

Allen Sullivant wrote and recommended a bunch of bands, some of which I was familiar with, some that I wasn't. Allen provided some invaluable information on Tip & Mitten, Daily Planet, Rowdy Yates, Wild Frontier (with Giles Reaves), The Press (with Warner Hodges), UPC and No Fat Chicks, among others. Allen was deeply involved in the local music scene back in the day, acting as manager for Practical Stylists, which included his brother Scott. Allen is also responsible for saving a lot of local performance videos from the trash-heap, placing them on You Tube for all of us to enjoy. Since the earlier video entry that I did proved to be so popular, I'll do another soon. Thanks to Allen, Eric and, of course, Donna for their band recommendations. Here are the new names, all to be added to the list:

AURA, DAILY PLANET,
DEATH COMES TO MATTESON,
EUREKA GOLD, FOREFATHERS OF DOOM,
THE GLIB, GOSTBIT, THE JONES,
LIGHT OF POLARIS, MEAN TAMBOURINES,
MERCED, NO FAT CHICKS,
PSYCHO DAISY, SALIENT,
SOUND & SHAPE, TIP & MITTEN,
TURBO FRUITS, UPC,
WILD FRONTIER, ROWDY YATES

I'm going to start posting mp3 files from various local bands on this blog at least once a month, so that people unfamiliar with some of Nashville's talents can listen for themselves. For this inaugural edition, I've chosen songs from the Questionnaires, Stealin Horses and Pete Berwick.

The Questionnaires were well known around town back in the mid-to-late-80s, formed from the ashes of another popular local band, Basic Static. Led by talented songwriter Tom Littlefield, the band signed a major label deal with EMI (obviously not learning a thing from Jason & the Scorchers' ordeal) that yielded two pretty good albums. "Window To The World" comes from the debut album of the same name. Unfortunately Tom doesn't seem to be involved in music these days and since I know that he's read this blog at least once, I hope that he'll email me at rev.gordon (at) gmail.com so that I can talk to him, an invitation open to any of you that have info on any of the bands we've listed.

Stealin Horses was a great folksy rock band out of Kentucky that relocated to Nashville soon after signing a deal with Arista. Led by Kiya Heartwood and Kopana Terry, Stealin Horses saw their share of misfortune, including a constantly revolving line-up and a label that had absolutely no idea how to market the band. "Walk Away" is from the band's self-titled Arista debut, an album that I'm just as high on today as I was when it came out almost 20 years ago. After knocking around Nashville as a trio for several years, Stealin Horses ended up moving out to Oklahoma, adding a couple of members and releasing a second album. Heartwood, a truly gifted songwriter, is currently 1/2 of the critically-acclaimed folk duo Wishing Chair.

Pete Berwick is another talented songwriter, a twang-rocker that was too country for rock radio and too damn raucous for country radio. Pete hung around Nashville for years and years, working every writer's night and benefit show that would let him in the door. He signed a bad management deal that nevertheless got his song "Ain't No Train Outta Nashville" placed in the 1993 River Phoenix movie The Thing Called Love, but his manager lacked the juice to get the song on the soundtrack album. Pete recorded an entire album called Ain't No Train Outta Nashville, but his manager couldn't get him a label deal. Pete recently released the album for the first time after letting it sit on the shelf for 15 years, figuring that the songs were just too damn good to let go to waste...and he was right.

Right click on any of the song titles and choose "save as" to download the mp3 files.

While you're at it, check out the Reverend's article on the Jason & the Scorchers benefit show:

Associated Content: Jason & the Scorchers Benefit Show For Perry Bags

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tommy Womack: Rock Star

It's been a couple of weeks since Tommy Womack released his fourth studio album, his first album in almost five years. I've lived with There, I Said It! since about a week before its official release, listened to it daily, and let me tell you, this is a great record...perhaps one of the best ever made by a Nashville rocker. It's certainly a breath of fresh air considering the crap that Music Row keeps churning out, a brilliant combination of retrospective, often funny lyrics and roots-rock, Americana country, blues and hard rock like what Tommy once did with Govt. Cheese. You can read my full review of There, I Did It! on my "Trademark Of Quality" audioblog and, for a short time, listen to mp3 files of songs from the album.

While you're thinking about Tommy, make sure that you drop by the Nashville Scene and read Mike McCall's great article on one of Nashville's most overlooked and under-appreciated artists. And if you just want to take the Reverend's word for it, click through the CD cover and buy There, I Said It! from Amazon.com. You'll be glad that you did!

My reviews of other ultra-cool Tommy Womack albums:
Positively Na Na (1998)
Stubborn (2000)

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