Road Blog: Friday June 12, 2015 - Nashville, TN
Nashville June 12, 2015
We hit Nashville traffic around 10:45 yesterday morning, under-caffeinated, under-rested and a little red-eyed from the late night in Dayton on Thursday. Playing festivals is a little bit of a nightmare sometimes – parking is tough, there’s often a back-line of gear, meaning we have to use the house gear and can’t use our own, they’re usually behind schedule and trying to herd bands on and off the stage like cattle, and there’s usually a ton of people to carry gear through and set up around. The CMA Festival in Nashville is all that x10. On the flipside, of course, is that you get to play your songs to rooms packed with people. You have the opportunity to build your audience and move some merch in front of a guaranteed crowd.
Then there’s the whole “CMA” thing. JP & The Tucos are not CMA Festival material. Most of the bands playing are cover bands, and many of the several bands we saw played the same covers – the kind of stuff you might here on CMT – new county mostly, with the occasional Johnny Cash or Waylon song thrown in and maybe even a twangy twist on an MTV pop staple like Bon Jovi or something. Frankly, it’s damn brutal and very opposite of what this band is about. But we take the challenge and do our own thing – playing our songs the way we play `em, knowing well that some people are going to really appreciate the originality and craft of what we’re giving them, and others are going to leave, hoping to hear “Friends in Low Places” for the 16th time in 3 days. Not to mention that we’re not a country band. We twang it up a little here and there for sure, but there’s more Johnny Thunders in our sound than Johnny Cash. These 2 paragraphs pretty much sum up our 2 shows yesterday. Some people absolutely loved it – they found some original, energetic Detroit rock and roll refreshing.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is pretty much thee honkytonk on Nashville’s Music Row. Been there forever, right behind the Ryman Auditorium. We played on the third floor which made carrying gear fun, but the room was full, the soundguy was really nice and we won some people over. The band before us was some kids – probably 14/15 years old who closed with a cover of Mötley Crüe’s Home Sweet Home. People loved it. After our set we took our gear back to the parking ramp 3 blocks away and stowed it in our truck until our 8pm set.
After some festival business we jumped in a cab and headed to Hattie B’s Fried Chicken. I’ve been meaning to go there for years and it didn’t disappoint. Patty got mild, Gabe got medium and I got hot (with sides of cole slaw, baked beans and collard greens). SO GOOD! We still had a couple hours to kill before we had to load into Rippy’s for the later show so we went across the street to a great beer bar and had a couple pints. Back to the parking garage where I changed a string and gathered our gear for the next set.
Rippy’s is right across the street from Tootsie’s. Decent room but more of a restaurant/BBQ setting. We were excited to have a merch girl along for this one – the lovely Sara Fort – who is a friend of a friend of Patty’s and now is a good friend of ours! We got her set up with beer in hand and proceeded to play our second 90+ minute set of the day. After the set we had a couple whiskeys (except Patty, whose turn it was to drive) and headed 45 minutes north to our hotel (as Nashville hotels were ridiculously expensive around the festival).
In the end it was a hell of a lot of work for little pay, but we definitely won some people over, made some new friends and got our new record into the hands of some new fans. Today we’re enjoying some downtime in Franklin KY and getting ready to head over to Waynesburg where we’re playing the Vibrolas Fun Rach Party. Can’t wait to see our friends from Lexington – The Vibrolas are great, and Those Crosstown Rivals (our brothers who we toured with last fall and haven’t seen since) will be playing too. Also stoked to see our friends from Maine – When Particles Collide – who we played some shows with in March. After the festival yesterday it is going to be great to sit back and get caught up with everybody and play some music with like-minded bands.