Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Bunnies 25th Anniversary Show

Well-known and beloved '80s-era rockers the Bunnies are reuniting to perform a 25th anniversary show next month. The event will take place at The End, 2219 Elliston Square on the "Rock Block" in Nashville on Friday night, October 5th. Revolution Machine, Dangerous Doll and Shrinking Violet will also be appearing.

The Bunnies were a popular mid-card local band during the early-to-mid-80s, featuring vocalist/songwriter Donna Frost, her brother and the band's drummer Tony (a talented alumni of a number of Nashville rock bands), guitarist Chuck Allen and bassist Todd McAlpin in the band's best-known line-up. The Bunnies had a very cool and timeless pop-rock sound that plays as great today as it did back in the decade. During the band's run, they played with bands like the Practical Stylists, the Times and the Most at clubs like Cantrell's, Spanky's, K.O. Jams and the Cannery.

For the reunion show, Donna and Tony Frost recruited former guitarist Jeff Allen back to play, and enlisted Turina Davis, a former bandmate of Donna's from the Paper Dolls, to play bass. I've included a mp3 of a vintage Bunnies track below (courtesy of Allen Sullivant's Nashville '80s Rock Archive - check it out!).

After you listen to "What's Wrong" and you want to hear more from the band, check out their official "Bunnies 07" MySpace page at www.myspace.com/thebunnies07 for more music, a band bio and other goodies. Then go see the Bunnies play in October!

The Bunnies - "What's Wrong" mp3
(right click and 'save as' to download)

(Photo of the Bunnies, L to R: Jeff Allen, Donna Frost, Turina Davis & Tony Frost)

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The New York Times Gets It Wrong!

Last Sunday's New York Times featured an article by Nashville writer Ann Patchett [link] on the growing Nashville music scene. I personally found it to be a glib and not particularly inspired piece by a writer that obviously knows very little about the scene and didn't really care to find out.

After establishing her pop cultural credentials – Patchett likes old country (Patsy, J.C. and Hank) and not the "new country" of folks like Carrie Underwood or Faith Hill (overlooking the fact that Patsy was a commercial artist in her day and not an outsider by any stretch of the imagination) – she states that "the coolest music scene today is in Nashville," name-checking clubs like the Mercy (Lounge?), the Basement, the Station Inn and the Bluebird Cafe (hardly the epitome of "alternative" music). She gets pretty flowery, writing that "Nashville in its spare time is making, dare I say it, art — unexpected and darkly fascinating music whose renegade spirit has been learned from everybody and is beholden to no one."

From that point, Patchett rapidly jumps to the conclusion that East Nashville is the nexus of everything that is good about Nashville's "new" music scene, which is more like the old country than the commercial new country, a music they call "Americana." Patchett trots out old faves like Todd Snider and Gillian Welch alongside Louisiana transplants Jeff and Vida and the Old Crow Medicine Show, all so-called examples of the city's "cutting edge." The Reverend loves Snider as much as the next fool, and I have long felt that he is a bona fide genius. I don't know much about the Old Crow folks except that they formed in New York and relocated to Nashville but, like Snider and Welch, they are well accepted as established Americana artists. Yes, the music of all of these folks is infinitely more interesting than much of what Music Row is cranking out these days, but none of them is particularly ground-breaking or news-making these days.

In fact, Patchett's article seems to throw aside much of what is interesting about Nashville music to focus instead on a handful of alt-country styled artists that live and work on the east side. Where is the mention of Tommy Womack? How about Glossary, which has been banging around Murfreesboro every bit as long as Snider has been sitting on his East Nashville porch and drinking beer? Bonepony has a truly unique sound and has toured recently with Shooter Jennings. Will Kimbrough, the Floating Men, Donna Frost...there are a lot of roots-oriented local artists that could have been included in the article to flesh out the argument that Nashville has a thriving, happening non-mainstream, non-country music scene. Don't even get me started on cool rock bands like How I Became The Bomb, the Hot Pipes, the Clutters or funk kings the Dynamites.

So, the New York Times got it wrong, and like last fall's Nashville Scene article or recent articles in the national press that have focused on Paramore or the Kings of Leon, I guess that a comprehensive, all-encompassing article on Nashville's non-country...even on its Americana scene...by nature is going to fail to mention somebody that should be included. That's why I'm writing THE OTHER SIDE OF NASHVILLE, to try and provide credit to all of the great Nashville musical talents that are all-too-often overlooked. I have no doubt I'll overlook somebody, as well....

It's Been A Long, Long Time...

Damn, has it really been three months since I last posted here? Yeah, I guess so. Plenty o' stuff going on, though. The Reverend has begun writing CD reviews for Harp magazine; my review of the Strawbs' frontman Dave Cousins' new solo album is in the latest issue. I also picked up a freelance writing gig with Future Publishing's new Gloob TV site (www.gloob.tv), penning commentaries on web videos. It ain't much, but it helps pay the bills...

To answer the question that's on everybody's lips, yes, work on the book progresses, albeit slowly. I've been slogging through the Nashville rock discography...still...but hope to have it done soon so that I can jump into the book's articles and reviews. I've been talking to musician's from Nashville's past, catching up with folks with interviews for the book; some of them are still involved in music, some of them aren't, but all have interesting stories to read. I've been looking for old album reviews from archived floppies, zip disks and CD-Rs and digging through reams of photocopies of old issues of NIR and The Metro as well as reading through old copies of House O' Pain and other zines to make sure that all my facts are straight.

The delay in getting the book done has its benefits, however. I've received emails from a number of band members with info about their bands and I promise that I'll respond to everybody that has emailed...it will just take some time. Some folks have sent CDs and photos and such for inclusion in the book and I've managed to dig up a lot of information on bands and artists that I didn't have before. I'll have a number of new bands to add to the "official" list sometime soon. Since I'm still working on the project, if you have information about any Nashville rock bands circa 1976-2006, please email me and we'll get 'em in the book.

Right now, I hope to have everything done and between covers by the end of the year, but I'll make no promises. I'd rather get it done right than get it done fast, and since most of the book's info lies in the past, it ain't going nowhere, so to speak. I've got a great cover picture picked out and have begun etching out a tentative lay-out for the book, so it's all good. As the project picks up steam towards its conclusion, I'll begin posting more mp3 files, photos and reviews and such here, so be sure to come back and visit soon. I promise that it won't take me three months to post again!