In a convoluted way, the LA journey at the end of August is still manifesting itself into new experiences. I crossed paths with a new music friend at the LA auditions by the name of Alyssa Jacey. This singer/songwriter young lady from San Diego was very energetic and engaging right off the bat; she has the kind of personality that you’re immediately drawn to. Shortly after the LA trip, she went to Nashville to start work on her latest solo record. After a San Diego songwriting session and several long phone chats, I received an invite to visit Music City during her time there.
Nashville has a lot of attractive qualities to it other than the music draw. The lovely Cumberland River cuts right through the heart of the metropolis. The city’s appearance reminded me of Minneapolis to some degree by means of its downtown buildings and scenic bridges. It was quite a bit warmer than Minneapolis when I landed on 10/21. Right away, the plan was to discover as many of the secrets that Broadway had to offer as I could. Not having done any purposeful venue scouting ahead of time, every bar and every stage and every band would soon be a pleasant surprise.
One of these tasty little secrets is having discovered a new live vocal mic. In every sound room that I walked into, the vocals sounded really warm and bright. The one consistent piece of hardware on every stage was the microphone: the Sennheiser e935. I have since started using one for my performances and love its new sound.
At almost every hour of the day, there is a band playing on each stage on Broadway. I watched several groups playing country, bluegrass, and rock, including some well-done top 40 covers. The list of my Broadway stops included: Legends, The Stage, Tootsie’s, Whiskey Bent, National Underground, and Jack’s BBQ, the site of the tastiest meal I experienced that weekend. I’m a sucker for BBQ, and Jack’s did it just right.
The next day’s journey included a 90-minute drive down to Monteagle, TN for the 1st performance of the weekend. Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse (and resort) played fantastic hosts to the eclectic musicians that performed that night. Alyssa, and a well-known, well-liked artist at the Smokehouse by the name of Nathan Douglas are two fantastic songwriters I had the honor of supporting. The accommodations post-show were unbelievable; a mansion of a log cabin and all the moonshine we could hope to enjoy were our welcomed comforts that evening.
Perfectly dehydrated, Sunday began with a leisurely drive back to Nashville, this time dodging Tennessee Titans foot traffic. The football fan in me wanted to go find some nosebleeds and enjoy the afternoon at LP Field, however the music fan in me insisted on taking in more of the town. It turns out enjoying the afternoon wandering the Music Row neighborhood was the better option. I was much happier than the hometown football crowd; the Titans were embarrassed by the Texans to the tune of 41-7.
The final act of my Nashville excursion took place at Hotel Indigo’s downtown location. A fabulous gentleman by the name of Ty Brando puts on weekly songwriter’s rounds featuring the finest talent Nashville has to offer. The format of the rounds that night featured 3 – 4 songwriters on the stage, each playing one original song over the span of an hour. The earlier rounds featured some really tasty songs. I knew the talent would be fantastic, but I really was blown away by the quality of songs and musicianship I was hearing. Kathy Von B, Sarah Brown, and Richard Jordan were all stand-outs that night.
I was lucky enough to take part in the final round of the night with Alyssa and a wonderful singer/pianist by the name of Jenn Bostic. Jenn is a Minnesota native who moved to Nashville to pursue music a few years ago. All of her songs that night were great, but one song in particular, called Jealous of the Angels, struck me… hard. It was so impactful that it took me an extra moment to recollect myself to perform my next song. I strongly recommend giving it a listen.
After returning home, I am struggling to find the precise words to describe the overall Nashville experience. It is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. I shared some very engaging conversations with some incredible artists and people. Put simply, I was enamored after having shared mutual passions and aspirations with so many unique and talented folks. Alyssa Jacey, who is among the most talented and driven, is the reason I was able to experience Nashville. I am very grateful. Please take a moment to enjoy her musical talents…
Nashville is a true melting pot of musical integrity. Nearly every person I met asked when I was moving there. Though I have no conscious intentions, the thought of living in such a vibrant, enriching musical community is stirring. Consider the seed planted, Nashville…