Recollections and wretched breakfasts
My comedic and talented friend Steve took time out of his morning to pick me up from the bus stop. You might remember him from the "little piano, BIG MOUTH tour". Alexa and I stayed with him a year and a half ago, he is in several bands, and he would be playing with his solo project Regdar and The Fighters later in the evening at a show he'd set up for me. I'd be staying with him again for the day and performing that show. We drove back to his apartment, a drive during which we caught up and again I was shocked to feel as if very little time had passed and I was grateful for the inspiring feeling of being among a person who I could feel was such a close friend and yet had known for so brief a time. It is a testament both to Steve's kindness and easy-going nature as well as to the general nature of people and social interactions that we do not realize that are there, we can connect very strongly and meaningfully with people if there is a mutual allowance! I met Steve's awesome roommate Greg, an emphatic hair-metal enthusiast and front man/ mastermind of the Nashville based rock band Lipstick. Greg is an excitable encyclopedia of rock knowledge and will rattle off the musicians, producers and six degrees of separation of any song the moment it comes on. He also looks like an epic thunder god. If you enjoy rock and roll music and a bad ass time, Lipstick is the group to do it for you, catch a show if you're in town!
We decided it was too early to succumb to the ravenous calling I heard from the notoriously addictive Bolton's chicken, and so we went to have my first Waffle House experience! The food was cheap and greasy but it did the job, I got a burger and coffee. Greg and Steve ordered an invention of theirs they call affectionately and respectfully dubbed "The Bear Trap" (because it would put a bear to sleep, it is so much food). They get the All Star Special (Two eggs, waffles, bacon and toast) and then order ANOTHER giant waffle and make a sandwich out of putting all of those ingredients in between the two waffles. It is gluttony in the extreme and it was like an episode of Epic Meal Time watching the guys go at it eating things thing while nearly the whole restaurant marveled at it. Despite Greg being a pretty little guy he not only ate the ENTIRE Bear trap, but also a half pound burger as well. It defies physics, I told you he was a god of some sort! Unfortunately, Greg couldn't come to Steve and my show because he had one of his own to play with Lipstick, but we endeavored to hang out as much as we could! Steve and I came back and went to wander about the town posting up flyers for the show he had in a few weeks!
Seeing Nashville's Creative Side
The Groove that sold local CD's, independent records and used CD's, I found a radio promo copy of Sadistik's amazing CD "Flowers For My Father" For 3 dollars and bought it to just give to someone because it is actually that amazing. *Side Note: Sadistik has a breathtaking new album out called "Ultraviolet" that you should look out for and listen to ASAP!** We also went to a cool refurbished instrument store called Fanny's House Of Music and played around on their upright bass and a few fun little gutiars and beautiful instruments. It's a good thing I wasn't driving and didn't have money, I might have picked up so many cool little toys!
We also passed by a fun little craft fair and music stage that featured about 7 or 8 local vendors under canvas tents. There were vendors selling homemade journals and diaries, axes made of recycled material, furniture and all sorts of things! I don't know if it was because Alexa and I only went down the main commercial strip of Nashville or because we were traveling in February but the creative and local and intriguing side of Nashville I was seeing was new to me and entirely welcome! Steve and I looked around for flyers that he'd posted up and it seemed there weren't many left, which made me consider how in twenty years or so the music scene and the way it is appreciated and/or promoted is entirely different. We peered around into some more fun quirky little places and got Mountain Dews from a dollar store and headed home. We all prepared back at the apartment for our impending shows. I was inspired and surprised by Greg's dedication to the Lipstick shows, how he considers whether there should be air conditioning in the practice room, the color and shape of the outfits they wear and practicing motivating fun mantra-monologues. Steve and I made a makeshift tasty meal out of some vegetables he had lying around and the soup that Mike Beshures had given me for the road the week before in Rochester. We ate as a little power trio and wished one another a good show, and Steven and I were on our way to the show at Noa Noa.
Noa Noa, One of the tour's best shows!
Noa Noa is a house venue dedicated to experimental and alternative artists promoted by Tony Youngblood. The space exists in this modest Nasvhille home presumably due to the monopoly that the homogeneous unimaginative generic pop country scene of Nashville has on the performance venues of the city. Alexa, Steve and I experienced this last time and all of us felt out of place for making odd and original music. Luckily, the immensely humble music and art enthusiast Tony has been providing a space. What I didn't realize until the day of the show was that our show was to be the last one before an indefinite hiatus, due to personal creative reasons for Tony and his housemates. This incredible article here in NASHVILLE CREAM informed me of the history and importance of the venue, Tony as a promoter, and the significance of the performance I was about to put on, and admittedly, it made me a little nervous.
Once loading into the basement where the performers were going to start we met Ray who does Genesis covers under the moniker Mr. Collin's Bollocks. He is also a photographer and took some sweet photos. His performance was a humble but good one as he expressed his enjoyment of Genesis and Pink Floyd as well.
Cher Von was next, she was the other touring artist of the night besides myself. She did a really experimental, odd and beautiful series of vocal and guitar loops. I didn't actually get to take photos of her, as my ipod was behind her during the performance and anyway, it would not have given you much of an idea of what she does, although maybe capturing a photo of her obvious enveloped nature during performance was convey some sense of the passion going on here. She held a mic and zoned out, seemingly possessed by her performance, as all true and real artists are, while she fiddled with knobs and made all sorts of ambient tribal and chanting sounds and environments through series of clicks, howls, multi-layered vocal harmonies, moans and screeches both haunting and enchanting. Her act is one that can only truly be understood or experienced through actually being there for it, and she and I exchanged information as hearty fans of one another's work and made a promise to perform together again in some sense. Hers was an intimidating and incredible different act to follow.
I did my best to follow Cher Von's act by doing a series of songs with no audience participation or anything, just inspired by the intimate yet attentive and impassioned audience to do as well a job as I could to share my writing and perform it in an inspiring way. I was enraptured by my work and yet had a sort of clarity and lucidity throughout it all, I felt incredible on point and didn't miss a beat. I don't entirely remember the whole set but I do remember doing Needle Kiss, Pennsylvanian Patriarch and Revealed [Practical] because Steve requested them. I also was sure to perform "Building After Buildings" I had a great time and people responded very generously and encouragingly to my performance!
Speaking of Steve, Regdar and The Fighters was next! Steve makes parody pop punk experimental songs talking about all sort of sci-fi nerdy stuff (I had the pleasure of nerding out about H.P. Lovecraft earlier that day) and novels like "Dune" "Isaac Asimov's "Foundation series" and H.P. Lovecraft. Regdar is the name of his computer, which he wrote a program into to randomize drum patterns (so there are different electronic drums and samples every time he plays a song) which he controls from a modified Dance Dance Revolution pad. He wore a homemade Megaman helmet beanie and wild pants and danced and sang funny songs about time traveling teenage girlfriends and such. The whole thing is insanely geeky and smart and incredibly fun and entertaining. It was Steve and my first time seeing one another do our thing and we were both mutually impressed. He has a song "Call Of Cthulhu" where he talks about the absurdity of a Lovecraft story from his album "Spoiler Alert" that I was singing all day so he let me jump in to perform a freestyle verse on the song which was a blast! I've inserted a video below of this performance, so check it out!
Post Show Merriment at Cafe Coco
All in all we had a really fun time, Tony was really supportive and made sure that we were all financially helped out by the show. After we said goodbye to Tony and his lady Erica, most of the show attendees, Cher Von and some friends as well as Steve and I agreed to go meet Greg at Cafe Coco! It was funny to be in a venue like that again after so much time had gone by. There is always a funny feeling after a show that feels very important, about how while time seemed to stop long enough for you to both love it blindly and to pick it apart and analyze its beauty in the ultimate clarity, the rest of the world churned on ignorant of your revelations and rapture! We met Greg who was sweating the remains of his stage make up on (I told you, the guy is a dedicated god!!) and we went inside. Steve and I split a cheesecake and Greg, Steve, and some new friends Amber and Danielle and I shared conversation and laughed a lot and enjoyed one another's stories and company. I ended up falling asleep around 3am with a head full of memories a face full of smile wrinkles, and a heart full of anticipation to return to Indianapolis the next day!
I titled this entry "The Nashville I Never Knew" because I was shown new underground and creative facets to this town that I walked away generally disheartened from last year. After the "little piano BIG MOUTH" tour, when people asked me last year what city I probably would be least likely to return to based on my experience of feeling out of place (aside from Stephen and a few choice people's hospitality...oh and Bolton's chicken of course) I replied Nashville. Ironically the Nashville Noa Noa show was the first one I ended up booking for this show through Stephen, because he said it would be different, it'd be inspiring and unique and it was Nashvilles underground underbellies for the under dogs and it would be any thing but underwhelming. To my great joy, he was absolutely right! Thank you Tony, Noa Noa, Steven, Greg, Chervon, Ray, Nashville and so many others for showing me a new side to an old place and providing me an enlightening and enjoyable time! While first impressions are important, second chances are key!
If you don't feel at home somewhere
be sure you've tried all the rooms before you move!