Notes from Nashville’s Music Scene

Nashville is only a five hour drive away from Little Rock, but has much bigger chops when it comes to music. Commonly called Music City, it’s known for honky-tonks and has a  history entwined with music that goes all the way back to the first days of the Grand Ole Opry.

Recording and publishing music in Nashvegas is a common occurrence – and the list of bands and stars that call the place home is not short. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine not too long ago gave the city a pretty big title – “Best Music Scene.”

I start off with all of these things, to set the tone. My goal here is not to compare Little Rock to Nashville, but rather, to comment on what it is that Nashville does right. It’s not completely fair to compare Nashville to Little Rock for a number of reasons – size and demographic being a couple of them – but I believe there are things we could learn from the nearby music mecca.

On a recent Sunday night in Nashvegas I found myself craving some live music. Upon some searching, I ended up in the The Basement East. If the venue sounds familiar, you’re likely thinking of its older sister, The Basement, which keeps shop underneath Grimey’s – a famous Nashville record store. (I should mention, this is not my first time listening to live music in Nashville, but my first time at this particular venue.)

The Basement East, closer to where I was staying, was having a multi-group show – ‘The Sunday Post.’ The sponsor happened to be local – Yazoo Brewing Company – which meant that Yazoo craft drafts were $2.50, plus, there wasn’t a cover.

The show included some local and regional acts: The X-tet (Nashville), One Cent Stamp (Nashville), Weisshund (Atlanta), Sky Temple Blues (Nashville), and Year of October (Nashville).

The music was pretty good, although didn’t consist of anything I couldn’t get from a Little Rock show. There was mostly a lot of rock and roll flying around, some subtle hints of folk, and smooth jazz in there somewhere, as well.

What struck me as noteworthy was the amount of people in the audience. Hell, the venue was downright bustling at times. Of course, it waned toward the end of the night, but it was still a pretty large crowd, especially for a Sunday.

I’ve been at Little Rock shows that have consisted of me and the band. That’s it. This isn’t the case every time, but it happens. I’ve heard from a lot of local musicians that their number one need is community support, which makes sense to me. What’s the point in playing a show to an empty room?

I was three beers in before I realized that the beer might actually be a drawl. Yazoo Brewing (as I discovered on my trip) has some decent brews.

Local beer? We’ve got that in Rock City, too. Perhaps forming more creative partnerships could boost our own ‘scene.’

Think about it. There is already some great work going on at South on Main, in which food and drink, music, and programming are paired together excellently, thanks in a large part to the Oxford American.

But … there’s room for more. What would it look like for a local brewery to partner up with a local venue for a local show?

Just brew for thought.

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