Category Archives: TVD Nashville

Chris Stapleton:
The TVD Interview

East Kentucky native Chris Stapleton is an anomaly in today’s commercial country milieu. While his songs have been recorded by some of the genre’s biggest stars—Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Josh Turner, Darius Rucker—his own music is anything but mainstream. Absorbing the best of country’s past, his powerful voice reveals a prominent soul influence.

If Otis Redding had made a country album, it might have sounded a lot like Traveller, Stapleton’s solo debut. Garnering nearly universal acclaim, it is one of the best major label male country releases in recent memory.

He’s also becoming a regular on the talk show circuit, with appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The View and Late Night With Seth Meyers. TVD sat down with Stapleton before his appearance at Louisville’s Forecastle Festival to talk about recording the album, vinyl, and Tennessee whiskey.

The sound and writing on your album really stands out against most of the current country field. Was this your intention?

I was just trying to make the best record I could make. I had a single that died in October 2013 and then my dad passed away the same month. It’s part of life but it’s a rough thing and it flipped a switch in me. It helped me focus on what I was doing and what kind of music I wanted to make. It also made me think of the music I grew up on.

Then I heard Sturgill (Simpson)’s last record and I really liked the sound of it. That made me seek out (producer) Dave Cobb. I thought, “Here’s a guy who makes records the way I like them to sound.” It sounds like things I grew up on and I didn’t know that (type of production) still existed. It’s something that, sonically, I chased down unsuccessfully for fourteen years. I met with Dave and we liked each other tremendously so we started to make the record.

Again, I am struck by how different the album sounds than what commercial country radio is playing, but yet you’re having success…

Actually, the single we had on the radio didn’t work but, yeah, people like the record. I don’t know how to quantify that into what’s making the album work.

You’ve had several songs covered by artists who do get a substantial amount of airplay on country radio. What do you think it is in your songwriting that appeals to them? Have you asked them?

No, I’ve never asked that question, “Why do you like this?” (laughs), but I’m thankful that they do. The vast majority of my income over the last fourteen, fifteen years has come from being a songwriter. That’s allowed me to do other things creatively, like being in bands and make records a little outside of what (the mainstream) is. I’ve always walked in doors that were open and if someone wants to record one of my songs, I’m certainly thankful for it.

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TVD Recommends: Ink-N-Iron Festival, 8/6–8/9 (Now with TVD & vinyl!)

280 tattoo artists. 80+ bands. 1 DJ. Those are the stats for the inaugural Music City Ink-N-Iron Festival, August 6-9, 2015. We’re proud to announce that the lone DJ is our own TVD Nashville editor, Tim Hibbs.

DJ Tim will be spinning hardcore honky tonk, screaming blues, multi-generational punk, deep Southern soul, real deal rockabilly and more, all on original pressing 45s and LPs. So, in addition to hot rods/kustom cars, live music, burlesque, art, ’20s-’50s fashion, and the World Renowned Tattoo Convention, there will be representation for the ultimate music format.

The festival will have four stages and you can check the lineups here. Tim will be spinning before and in between sets, so make sure you come up and say “hey.” Of particular note is the artist roster for Thursday’s kickoff show, which includes The Quebe Sisters, Asleep at the Wheel, Hayes Carll, and a special two-hour show from the legendary Merle Haggard.

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TVD Live: Forecastle Festival 2015, 7/17–7/19

PHOTOS: ELENA HIBBS | This year’s edition of Forecastle Festival proved yet again that it is one of the country’s most enjoyable, user-friendly musical gatherings. Part of that is due to host city Louisville, Kentucky, an art-friendly upper South enclave huddled along the Ohio River. Its Waterfront Park, the festival’s location, is an inviting 85-acre greenspace that lends itself perfectly to Forecastle’s four stage set-up.

The majority of the festival’s success can be attributed to the excellent staff who, in partnership with AC Entertainment (the folks who bring you Bonnaroo), are focused on producing a unique cultural experience. This land-locked Love Boat keeps good vibes and good music flowing throughout its annual three-day cruise.

Heavy rains and flooding in the area over the last few weeks had caused the Ohio River to reach near-record heights, requiring some of the stages to be moved a little further inland from the river bank. The heat also played a bigger than usual role this year, with temps getting into the upper 90s. Forecastle handled the climate conditions in stride, providing free water refilling stations and multiple points offering free sunscreen.

If you needed a break from solar assault, there were plenty of shaded areas in which to cool down, including the circus tent-sized Bourbon Lodge. Speaking of which, I accidentally discovered that Four Roses Single Barrel and Gatorade Lemon-Lime makes a surprisingly refreshing cocktail. But I digress.

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TVD Recommends:
Ink-N-Iron Festival
at Bicentennial Mall Park, 8/6–8/9

Something festive this way comes: the inaugural Music City Ink-N-Iron Festival, August 6-9, 2015. The festival will be a celebration of hot rods/kustom cars, live music, burlesque, art, ’20s-’50s fashion, and the World Renowned Tattoo Convention. 280 top shelf tattoo artists from 30 States and 25 Countries, representing all the tattoo styles, will be putting needle to skin on the floor of Municipal Auditorium. The Motorama car and bike show will be a major part of the event, with classic rides on display for viewing (and, let’s face it, for creating gloriously envious feelings among the bystanders).

Okay, so that’s that’s the ink and iron part but what about the music? Well, that’s where it get’s really good. Thee gathering will feature a cooly eclectic music lineup on five stages in Bicentennial Mall Park, in the shadow of the Capitol building. Highlights include a 2-hour headline show from Merle Haggard, Shooter Jennings with his dad’s band, Waymore’s Outlaws, Memphis rockabilly legend Sonny Burgess, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, Coheed and Cambria, Wanda Jackson, Jim Lauderdale and many more.

Closing the festival on Sunday night will be soul stalwarts Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings in what will no doubt evolve into a massive dance party. Kudos to the festival organizers for including a wide scope of American roots music.

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Billy Joe Shaver:
The TVD Interview

Billy Joe Shaver is a diamond. A rough one, to be sure; no “Marquise cut” here. But a diamond, nevertheless. Playing music since the age of eight, the plainspoken Texan became a songwriter exemplar, receiving accolades (and cover versions) from peers like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and legions more. He has also lived a life with more twists and turns than a Mexican telenovela.

While some may pad their resume with exaggerated tales of bravado, Mr. Shaver has no need to do so. The unvarnished truth of his life story comes through in his songs which are direct, emotional, and honest, brutally so at times. Touring in support of his excellent new album, Long in the Tooth, we spoke with Shaver about his career, his Texas heritage, and what lies ahead.

So, you are currently a resident of Waco, Texas?

Yes, I’m the “Wacko from Waco.”

I was born just south of there in Killeen…

(Immediately) Well, I wouldn’t brag about it too much (laughter). Nah, I’m just kidding. It’s a nice spot. A lot of crazy things happen down here.

Well, speaking of crazy, how did Todd Snider convince you to come to Nashville and make a record?

(More laughter) He has the ability to light a fire under me. What he does is pick on me until he gets me mad and then I’ll do it.

He must have made you really mad because this is a great record.

Yeah, it’s a great record, it really is. I like it. I had been planning on making another one but I was waiting for Ray Kennedy to come loose. Finally, he did and I went over to Ray’s studio with Todd and did some demo-type things. It worked out pretty good but not as good as the final version with Ray and Gary Nicholson.

All Todd was interested in was getting me back into recording again. I was doing alright just playing (live). We had built up a big fan base because I play a lot, I always have. It didn’t show up until this record came out and then people started writing me up everywhere I went. As opposed to a young songwriter, it’s easy for them to talk to me because I’ve been around so long and there’s so much to talk about. The new guys, all they’ve got to talk about is their new record and that’s about it. A lot them are so young they don’t have much to say yet.

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Eternal appeal: Sarah Gayle Meech channels Nashville’s traditions

According to CNN, over 30,000 people moved to Nashville last year, which averages out to 82 per day. Of those 82, it seems I meet at least half who have moved here to be a part of the city’s thriving music scene. That’s fantastic for us, because the steady influx of new talent means we always have fresh music to hear. It can be hell on the recent resident, however, when they realize just how deep the Music City talent pool runs. On any given stage, musicians who would be the top player in their former city/state/country are just average Joes trying to make it against very stiff odds. The day job is necessity for all but the most fortunate.

Sarah Gayle Meech moved to Nashville from Los Angeles in 2010 and gravitated toward the intensely competitive Lower Broadway scene. There, artists play in dozens of honky-tonks down the eight-block stretch to the river, surviving on tip jar offerings. You HAVE to be good or you won’t be playing there for long. Sarah has thrived due to a combination of formidable talent, steely determination and classic songwriting skills. Her new album, Tennessee Love Songs, features fifteen self-penned compositions recorded with the cream of the new Nashville session players. We spoke to Sarah about the new album, moving to Nashville and the eternal appeal of traditional country music.

For this album, you wrote all the songs. How long was the writing period for the album?

The majority of the songs came within a year’s time. Last summer, I was hell-bent on writing the songs for this album. There were two songs written in previous years that I included but everything else was fresh off-the-cuff.

When you play Lower Broadway in Nashville, are you able to play original songs?

Yes! I played the entire new album at Robert’s last night. In fact, I played both of my records at Robert’s last night! (laughter)

It can be hard playing original songs for the downtown crowd.

You kind of feel it out. I always play my originals, regardless, but I’ll pepper in the cover songs because you’re on stage for 3 1/2 hours. I don’t have 3 1/2 hours worth of original material and I don’t know who does– Bruce Springsteen? The Rolling Stones? (laughter) I put in songs by my favorite artists like Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Patsy Cline. We’re down there working for money (Ed. note: TIPS!) and if someone says, “Here’s twenty bucks, play Willie Nelson,” we’re going to play it!

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Brian Wilson,
The TVD Interview

“There are only two geniuses in rock: Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson,” I immediately countered, and so began my initial meeting and conversation with Rob Roth, owner of New Jersey’s legendary music store Vintage Vinyl. We continued the debate throughout dinner, no doubt frightening the rest of the table with our animated opinions. By the end of meal, we had begun a solid friendship. And we still disagree on Rob’s assertion.

Debate aside, there can be no argument that Brian Wilson is a musical genius. The depth he brought to the Beach Boys recordings through his vocal and instrumental arrangements is still the benchmark so many strive to reach. Wilson’s personal struggles have been well documented but he has never stopped creating arresting and vital music.

On April 7th, Capitol Records releases Wilson’s eleventh solo studio album, No Pier Pressure. Originally intended as a Beach Boys release, those plans were scrapped when the band fell apart after their 50th anniversary tour. Instead, Wilson assembled an all-star lineup of guest vocalists including Kacey Musgraves, fun.’s Nate Ruess, and She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, along with Beach Boy alumni Al Jardine, David Marks, and Blondie Chaplin. Likewise, he recruited A-list session players like Don Was, drummers Jim Keltner and Kenny Aronoff, Dean Parks, and Jeffrey Foskett. The good new for vinyl fans is that it will be released as a two-LP set pressed on 180-gram vinyl in addition to CD and digital formats. We spoke with Wilson via phone on the eve of its release.

Congratulations on No Pier Pressure! To me, it sounds like an extension of the Pet Sounds era. Was that what you were going for?

Yes it was. I wrote the songs together with Joe Thomas, who I’ve been working with for a while.

I understand your daughter came up with the album title.

Yes, she did. I’m not sure what it means, exactly, but she did choose it.

You have an impressive group of musicians on the album. How did you recruit them?

We called each guy up, like Nate Russ, Zooey Deschanel, and all of them.

The singers and players are stellar, to be sure. Being in Nashville, I have to ask about Kasey Musgraves. Did you enjoy working with her?

She was great, it was really fun working with her. She’s a great singer and she learns really fast.

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Lloyd Cole,
The TVD Interview

From his stunning debut with The Commotions on 1984’s Rattlesnakes, Lloyd Cole has continued to make intelligent pop music for the last three decades. With lyrics referencing literary and pop culture figures as well as chronicling the ebb and flow of personal relationships, Cole touches the mind as well as the heart.

After a period as an acoustic troubadour, Cole has reunited with some early solo career colleagues to make Standards, a return to the jangly guitar milieu of Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe-era sounds. We spoke with Cole prior to his March 29th appearance at Nashville’s City Winery.

Your new album finds you returning to the electric guitar sound of your earlier albums. Was the title a conscious reference to that?

I don’t remember why I called it Standards, really. I just liked the sound of it and I knew that some people would think it was me being snotty or arrogant, calling it Standards, and I always like to rub those people the wrong way (laughter). I guess there’s still a bit of the snotty kid who titled an album Mainstream twenty-eight years ago still there inside me.

I was happy to see you reunited with Matthew Sweet. I’ve been a fan of his since the Buzz of Delight days in the ‘80s Athens, GA scene.

On (Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’) first tour of America, we had a great time in Athens. We wound up having about three days off there, just one of those scheduling things where there were no gigs and we were booked for three days in some nasty hotel. We met some local kids who had a big house and we moved out of the hotel and went to stay with them. I think we drank a lot, probably.

What was it like picking up the electric guitar and getting back together with Matthew and Fred Maher, with whom you had recorded twenty years earlier? Did it feel familiar, strange…

It was, strangely, exactly the same. It wasn’t even familiar, it was the SAME. After a couple of hours on the first day, we looked at each other and said, “Well, this works (laughter).” The combination of the three of us just works and it’s really hard to explain. Fred takes a week to remember the title of a song and Matthew knows how the song goes before I finish telling him. They learn in very different ways but they play together really well. They’ve played on Matthew’s records and on my records, they just play bass and drums together really well in a way that really suits with how I play rhythm guitar and write songs. When we were recording, I played the guitar and sang the songs live. Matthew and I were in the control room, Fred was in the drum room and it just felt weirdly identical.

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TVD Recommends: Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats Trivia Night 3/29

Please join City Winery and TVD’s Tim Hibbs in welcoming Nashville’s newest exhibit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with our themed trivia night, this Sunday, March 29th, in the upstairs lounge. We’ll dig into the story of Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City, which opens March 27th.

Test your music history knowledge with questions developed by museum staff and groove to music of the 1960s and ’70s provided by Tim. An all-vinyl playlist featuring the music of the exhibit will include Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the Byrds, Leonard Cohen, Tracy Nelson, and dozens more hit folk, rock, and country records featuring the session musicians known as the Nashville Cats.

Doors open at 6:00 PM and the competition begins at 7:00 PM. Teams will compete for prizes provided by City Winery and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, including museum admission and City Winery concert tickets.

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Billy J. Kramer,
The TVD Interview

Billy J. Kramer seemingly came from nowhere (well, Bootle, Lancashire, England, to be precise) to climb the upper reaches of the UK and U.S. pop charts beginning in 1963. Hand-picked to join the NEMS Enterprises artist roster by The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, Kramer was given Lennon/McCartney songs to record and was produced by George Martin. When his original backing musicians quit, professional Manchester combo The Dakotas were hired by Epstein to be Kramer’s band. He rode the wave of Beatlemania worldwide and had several top ten hits in multiple countries.

After the beat music boom crested in 1965, Kramer and The Dakotas parted ways. He launched a new career in cabaret and British television, maintaining a solo career there for the next two decades before relocating to the U.S. He has recently released a new CD, I Won The Fight, and is excited to be a part of the British Invasion 50th Anniversary Tour.

How did you get involved with the tour?

I was approached by the promoters, you know? I’ve been living here for a long time, doing gigs and different things, and when they came up with the idea for this tour, I said, “Yeah.” I’ve been very uplifted by the whole thing. I thought it would be good but it’s been better than I could ever imagine.

After the British Invasion tour ends, I’m going to the UK to do the Solid Silver Sixties 30th Anniversary Tour. It will be with Mike Pender of The Searchers, Chris Farlow, P.P. Arnold, and The Merseybeats. It will be thirty concerts in all and it will the first time I have toured there in eighteen years. I very excited about it.

You toured the U.S. prior to The Beatles’ arrival. Do you still see some of your original fans as you tour?

Yes, definitely. I have a connection with Beatlefest, which I have done on numerous occasions, and the fans always come out.

As you were growing up, what artists caught your attention early on?

Buddy Holly singing “That’ll Be the Day” hit me really hard the first time I heard it on Radio Luxembourg, which I used to listen to on Sunday nights. Also, the bass player in my first band had a brother who would bring records back from America. I remember he had the 78s of Elvis singing “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Both of those records blew me away! I started to collect records myself around that time.

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