Why else would we readily detach ourselves from the salubrious comforts of everything we’ve known and make the pilgrimage to this land where the cries of desperation sung out by so many before us echo like sex in noen debauchery? To be part of something. A thousand chemical minds dreaming a dream we’re all afraid to be the first one to wake up from. The fat is in the fire and we’re sizzlin’, baby. This is Nashville.
London Punks, Greenwich Village poets, Haight Ashbury hippies, our very own Nashville outlaws. What do they all have in common? If you were there you know, if you weren’t you lie about knowing. Inclusivity. In this age of non-denominational crossover everyone is everything look-how-great-my-life-is-got-the-selfie-to-prove-it-please-like-me skulduggery there’s nothing to latch onto. Nothing to make our own.
The mighty music row may have fallen. But to quote Salman Rushdie, “In order to be reborn, one must die first”. Then they came in droves, eager to see what the fuss was all about. Cowboys and hipsters, young professionals and businessmen, first timers and second chancers. The children of 90’s hit makers became punkers and MC’s. New and old money danced in step and somewhere along the way the spark of nascent relevance began to crawl out of the primordial boredom. Dreamers. (shhh, don’t wake us.) Then it began to take shape.
From somewhere in an underground jazz room a trombone bellowed heavy sway. Minor chords dripped morosely from the stage of a blues jam. Contagious pop music fizzed and bubbled out of vintage leather biker jackets. We’ve seen this before. We know what happens when jazz, blues, and pop meet a precipice generation. Rock N Roll.
The time has come for Nashville to usher in the new era of Rock. Wait, the old era? Hang on, have ya’ll seen this shit? The arguable hayday of musical renaissance has returned. The 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s are alive in Nashville’s pure unadulterated take and give no quarter new rock scene! No copycats are they either. These guys and gals have managed to seamlessly merge pioneer prowess with unapologetic modern profundity. The result, a half throwback half millennial version of what our grandparents warned us about, the devil’s music.
But it’s not all emaciated youth in women’s bell bottoms and long hair. Nor is it shredding and bashing or naked on drugs and, “hey, watch this” out of hotel balcony windows. It’s talent. Real and undeniable. Take for instance the Daylight Sinners lead by Liam Kelley.
Liam meanders around the stage like a too cool to be here stray cat whispering his soulful stories like he’s stumbling through a rock n roll pink elephant phantasm. Meanwhile formidably riffing out mind blowing guitar licks with all the effortless caprice of a panther on an unsuspecting doe. Across the stage Scotty’s fingers do the talking all over the smooth velvet acid bass. Lights play off flowing silk patterned shirts. Hair ensconced faces peer with eyes transfixed into the nothingness of the crowd. And from behind them you hear Dustin making the rhythm his bitch with precision hi-hat and snare more reminiscent of a seasoned vet than an entitled millennial. Boom! goes the kick drum. A mix of high energy and flamboyant electric funk. These cats are the real thing.
But It doesn’t stop with the Sinners. All over town from punk to synth to blues to folk, rock music has returned. The spark, the emotion, the will and the ability. A second coming. A new Nashvillian narrative replete with all the trappings of a true cultural movement. What shape will the future scene take? Thinking of the reggae, punk, and hip-hop spawned by the last rock revolution leaves me eager.
Something is happening here. In Nashville. In this venue. Right now. This is what it must have felt like back then for those who know. But for every infectious note that melts away the mundanity of the corporeal day to day. This feeling transports the listener to a different place in time while simultaneously reassuring them they are right here, right now. That they are part of something. They are part of Nashville. Fuck it, they are part of Rock N Roll.