“Your car kind of smells like my Grandma.”
That is a quote from Pittsburgh native (now Nashville local) Zach Schmidt to a well-known local celebrity after valet parking his car and I love him for it.
Zach Schmidt…Ol’ Schmidty. He’s one of the nicest in Nashville and another favorite from The 5 Spot. And just like with everyone else, my discovery took place in 2015.
I think I took in about twenty-something shows of his in a little under a year and each night offered something different. One week it would be Zach solo, the next week it would be with Adam “Ditch” Kurtz on the peddle steel, the next week he was full-band, the week after that, his beautiful girlfriend, Jackie Berkley joined him on vocals. But if there was one consistent thing about his music, you can almost always catch him playing his Sunday night set at Santa’s Pub when he’s not on tour.
When I see Zach out and about in Nashville, whether it’s at his show or someone else’s, he’ll pull up a chair to my table and we’d catch up for as long as time will allow. No matter how bad I’m feeling at the time, I can always count on Zach to have a funny joke or story to tell and my night is instantly better just by running into him. Always.
His album, “The Day We Lost The War” (featuring Aaron Lee Tasjan on guitar throughout) was one of my favorites of 2016 and just recently celebrated its first year. The whole album is outstanding, but “Just One More” and “Buried In Burgundy” are two standout tracks for me. I’ve been fortunate to hear some of his new material that will go on his next album and I can’t wait for the world to hear it.
Here’s a photo I took at Zach’s album release party at Imogene + Willie last year. It’s a cell phone photo, but it’s a photo that brings back so many great memories. I love these two! (Aaron Lee Tasjan and Zach Schmidt)
Last year he toured non-stop and even opened a few dates for another favorite of mine, The Devil Makes Three. Good for him, but bad for me because it took him away from Nashville for a bit. I’m so proud of this guy and everything he’s accomplished since knowing him. Nothing but good things coming his way. Go check out his tunes and support the good guys!
Two years ago today, Sturgill Simpson scheduled a two-night run at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA. He was sick from allergies on the first night and was unable to perform to the best of his ability. Instead of canceling the show altogether, he invited anyone on stage who knew the words to his songs. While many fell short, there was something about Kristi Dixon I knew would stand out above the others. It was the only video I took that night and it still makes me smile just as much now as it did two years ago.
I had no idea who Kristi was, but she tracked me down a few months later to thank me for taking the video and now we’re good friends. Many people were pissed off at Sturgill, some even throwing their ticket stubs on stage even though he offered a refund AND rescheduled an additional free show to anyone who held onto their ticket stubs. For me – it will always be a special night that I’ll relive every year thanks to facebook memories. I ain’t mad at ya, Sturgill.
I could not believe my luck when I stumbled upon Aaron Lee Tasjan at The 5 Spot around 2015. Dressed in a flannel shirt, trucker hat and oversized black-framed glasses, he was equipped with an acoustic guitar and spitting out staggering lyrics with the delivery of Mitch Hedberg. Who IS this guy and where has he been hiding? Turns out, New York – where he’s played in bands like Semi Precious Weapons and New York Dolls, not to mention Everest and The Madison Square Gardeners.
At this point in my life, I had just spent three years following The Avett Brothers and Sturgill Simpson from state to state; not realizing how much talent was right in my backyard. I was out of money, out of vacation days at work, missed out on valuable family time, but at this very moment, it felt like winning the lottery. This was a free show and just four minutes from my house. It was clear I needed to focus more on supporting local acts around town.
You can call him folk, call him rock, call him Americana or Country..but for me personally, there’s no way to place his creativity in a category. He can do anything. Whether he’s performing solo or full band, he’s out there giving it his all. And let me say something about his band. They’re probably the best thing to happen to Rock & Roll since I can remember. With Brian Wright (who’s an incredible singer/songwriter in his own right) on guitar, Seth Earnest on drums, and the amazing Tommy Scifres on bass. They take the sound to a whole ‘nother level of face melting amazingness.
Everyone loves ALT. If you check any liner note coming out of Nashville, his name will more than likely be in the credits. I’m compelled to mention he’s one of the kindest, most supportive friends you can find. If you have him in your corner, consider yourself lucky. How often do you meet an artist; someone you look up to and they turn out to be amazing humans, too? East Nashville is full of gems. I’ve only had one or two bad encounters when speaking with an artist, but we won’t discuss that. My life is enriched for knowing Aaron and I’m so proud to call him my friend. It’s very bittersweet to watch him succeed.
Take a look at some of my favorite performances by him:
(Feautured photo courtesy of Chad Cochran)
My friends warned me about Jon Latham. “We know how emotional you are. His music will kill you.”
Turns out, they were right. ‘Conversation At the Wedding’ wrecked me. Not just the song, but the self-depreciating storytelling behind the song. If you’re my friend, then you know I’m a masochist of some sort and I usually have to find out the hard way how things will affect me.
After seeing him live, I HAD to meet him. I would see him everywhere around town, but never without a group of 7-10 people hanging around him. That wasn’t intimidating at all. I finally worked up the nerve to say hello. He was just as sweet as I imagined and after a conversation about the movie, “A Walk To Remember,”Ryan Adams, Mandy Moore, music in general, you name it.. I knew we were destined to be friends.
I went from a fan to basically adding him as an emergency contact. I have great memories of hours on the phone, after-show hangs, taking him to his first Sturgill Simpson concert in Birmingham, road-tripping to Asheville for one of his gigs, (shout out to Jessica Rae for driving) and beating him at air hockey. But I think the best part of our friendship is getting to know his family and how I’ve grown to love them as if they were my own.
Have I mentioned his talent? He’s one of the best songwriters around and was signed to my favorite record label, Cafe Rooster. You can catch him solo or backed by an amazing, sweetheart of a band featuring Sean Quinn of Sean quinn and The Tremblers, sometimes Andrew Leahey of Andrew Leahey & The Homestead, Raun Shultz, and Corey Nichols.
I’m documenting some of our memories because I know they’re about to blow up and I probably wont see him much anymore. If you haven’t listened to his music yet, what exactly are you waiting for?! Don’t sleep on it.
(Featured photo by Stacie Huckeba)
First off, let me say how grateful I am for The 5 Spot in East Nashville. The venue allows the community to discover their new favorite artist in an intimate setting before the rest of the world catches on. Margo Price was one of them for me.
I’ve been lucky to witness Margo and her incredible band rise to fame for the past few years now. I knew from the first time seeing them live, they were going to be legendary. Not only are they talented, they’re some of the sweetest and hardworking folks in town and no one could be happier for their success than I am.
Today they released their sophomore album, ‘All American Made’ and it’s already getting great reviews from Paste Magazine, Rolling Stone, USA Today and countless others. Its sonically and lyrically perfect! They’re out here making important music with no signs of slowing down. Thank you Jack White for encouraging Margo to keep writing no matter what. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the future looks like for these guys.
I actually have Darrin Bradbury to thank for planting the idea in my head to create a website. I don’t know if he’ll remember this, but I do. One night about a year or so ago, we were at The Basement East in Nashville, just hanging out and shooting the shit after his set. I had just been fired from my job of 14 years; feeling distraught with nowhere to turn. I had no clue where to go from there. Darrin knows how passionate I am about music so he asked if starting a website or music blog would be an option. I must admit, the idea had crossed my mind a time or two, but never something I actively pursued.
After seeing Darrin and other great East Nashville artists night after night after night, I knew I had to find some kind of platform to get their names out there. Thanks to a few special people who believed in me and tirelessly helped out, I was able to make it happen. I’m looking at you, Elaine Sigman, Rune Letrud and Poncho Stevens.
Darrin has been a favorite of mine since the very day I walked into The 5 Spot with maybe 12 people in attendance. He had long hair, a trucker hat, cut-off jean shorts and was wearing flip flops. He eventually kicked them off and performed the rest of the show in his bare feet; something several artists do there. His songwriting and storytelling is what stood out the most to me. I’m now lucky to call this brilliant man my friend. He’s a label mate on the co-artist record label, Cafe Rooster Records and has went on tour with Margo Price and will be hitting the road with Elizabeth Cook at the end of October starting on the 23rd.
I try not to do the comparison thing, but if you love John Prine’s style of songwriting, Darrin will be just as pleasing to your ears. Here’s a few videos I’ve taken of him in the past. Dive in. He’s so good, guys.
A year ago today, I met Brent Cobb for the first time when I attended his performance at Grimey’s Record Store! I discovered him (solo) a month prior at a songwriters round during Americana Fest and I knew immediately he would be an artist on my radar! I quickly fell in love with his music and songwriting. After seeing him perform with a full-band and how gracious and kind he was to me after the show, it pretty much sealed the deal even more. His album Shine On Rainy Day topped my favorite list in 2016.
Fast forward a year and 13 shows later and I’m honored to call Brent a dear friend. My favorite part about him is the humility he displays, whether its on stage or afterwards when meeting fans. It doesn’t hurt that he comes from a loving, supportive family (who I happen to adore)! I think they’re a big reason he has his head on straight and will continue to do great things in the future.
Keep watching for Brent Cobb. Just this past Saturday, I watched him open for Chris Stapleton at a sold-out, 20,000-person capacity venue at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. It won’t be long until he’ll be the headliner there.
Here’s a link where you can keep up with his tour dates. Buy some merch and music while you’re at it. http://brentcobbmusic.com/