Love Local Nashville
Saturday night brought us a fantastic show via Saintseneca—whose gigantic sound and enthusiastic fan base really kicked things off—and Hop Along, who were celebrating the release of their latest album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog. Needless to say, riffs were riffed, harmonies were harmonized, and jams were jammed all the way to heck and back. See our photos below and catch them on tour if you can!
WHAT: Songs Not Silence along with Broads & Brews Comedy
WHERE: Cobra (formerly FooBar), 2511 Gallatin Pike
WHEN: 8:30 PM
HOW MUCH: $5
WHY: Because you're not getting in to Lady Gaga
At this point, it's the worst-kept secret in Nashville: yes, Lady Gaga is playing a set at The 5 Spot on Wednesday night to promote her new album. And yes, when I heard this I experienced the same emotions as you—a frantic rundown of ways I could get in, strings I could pull, favors I could call on. The rush of seeing a Super Bowl-level performer on a stage that I've played shows on would be incredible.
But I'm not going. And if you don't already have a ticket, I don't think you should go, either.
You see, when these once-in-a-lifetime moments happen, it's usually at the expense of another event. When Louis C.K. shows up at Zanie's, the local comic is going to get bumped so he can work on his material. When Metallica played The Basement, whatever was supposed to happen there that night got canceled. This isn't a criticism of that practice. It's just the reality of it. And in this case the event that was supposed to take place at The 5 Spot on Wednesday is a vital part of Nashville's charitable community and something that is worth your support.
I'm talking about Songs Not Silence, which has been going strong for around six months now. It's a charity event hosted by Joanna Barbera that focuses on raising money for women's causes in Nashville. It's a great night of music and not only is it $5 (where can you see a $5 show anymore?) but that money will be going to people who need it—in this case, The Oasis Center.
In addition, this month features the talents of Broads & Brews Comedy. Great music AND great comedy! Come out and show your support. Invest in your local community. Events like this are what make Nashville special, and they depend on people like you to be there.
Look, you're not getting in to The 5 Spot tomorrow. (Unless you're my friend Salina, who gets into literally everything. And you're not, so you won't.) Even if you do get in, you'll be sandwiched in between hundreds of people while Lady Gaga plays a few songs and then leaves. She won't be there to mingle. I'm not saying you'll be disappointed, but you will be.
Do yourself a favor and come to Songs Not Silence. You'll have a good time, and you'll be making a difference.
Jess Nolan is releasing her EP today. It’s called Strike a Match. Jess is a New Jersey native who studied music in Miami before setting her sights on Nashville. Today marks the culmination of a year’s worth of writing, rehearsing, and recording and Jess is ready to celebrate tonight at Soulshine Pizza Factory where she’s performing as the Lightning 100 Artist of the Week. (7pm, free)
We met up at Cafe Coco where we talked about everything from growing up in New Jersey to making it in Nashville. Jess has the ability to see a clear path for herself and isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done to get there. “I’m strictly independent. It’s overwhelming, making all these decisions,” she said.
You can hear the result for yourselves right here. Cue up the EP and listen while you read about how and why it was made.
LLN: How long have you been here?
JN: A year.
LLN: New Jersey by way of Miami, right?
JN: Yeah. I grew up in New Jersey, went to school at University of Miami.
LLN: How did you like Miami?
JN: I loved it. The music school was an amazing place to learn and develop. But when I graduated, it was time to go somewhere where I can actually do what I want to do.
I was deciding between here and New York. I started looking at places in New York and realized very quickly that it wasn't going to work. Nashville is affordable, the scene here is growing, and honestly I think it's the best decision I could have made.
LLN: It's a good place.
JN: I love it so far. I wasn't sure, because I'm a northeastern girl, and I've just never been around southern culture, ever. I was a little worried about it at first. But this is a good mix of people.
LLN: A place like this, you get to choose. You can keep the parts you like and ignore the rest.
LLN: So growing up in Jersey—what part of Jersey, by the way?
JN: Central, near Rutgers. A small town called Highland Park. It's right next to New Brunswick.
LLN: What were you listening to?
JN: I listened to a lot of pop music. I was listening to Alicia Keys. Her album The Diary of Alicia Keys was a turning point for me. I was taking classical piano lessons at the time and I hated it. My mom switched piano teachers for me, and my new teacher was like, "Let's do what you want to do," and so I started writing when I was 13.
I actually never performed my original music until I went to college. I had never played with a band. I didn't have any experience with performing until I was 18.
LLN: You were focused on learning and writing.
JN: I was locked away in my room, writing. I had no idea if it was something I could do full time. For me it was a hobby and a dream. And then I got into music school, and everything started becoming real. And here we are now.
LLN: As you went through college, how did that shape your experience?
JN: I was in the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music program at Miami. It's all contemporary, original music. So for four years I was writing songs in a classroom setting, learning how to chart, playing with bands, and figuring out how to bring a song to life. Miami was an amazing place for me. I don't know where I would be without that school.
LLN: It's musically diverse, right?
JN: Totally. I was around jazz kids, classical kids...there was a lot of different music going on. Playing with jazz musicians is so elevating, musically. Some of them, the skill level they have on their instruments is intimidating. It motivated me to try and keep up. It was a good environment.
LLN: This EP is your first recorded project. How did that come about?
JN: I had been writing and playing with a backing band in Miami, and I was doing little gigs here and there. I met these two producers in Brooklyn and we did a single together.
LLN: The one that's on Soundcloud?
JN: Yeah. That was my song that they produced. I was going to do more with them, I almost signed an EP deal, but then I reconsidered because while electronic music is great, it's not what I do in my live shows. I like writing horn parts, I like doing live arrangements. So I regrouped, spent this year figuring out what my sound is and what songs I wanted on the record, and then—I don't know if you know the band Dynamo? They're a funk-soul group in town. Their musical director heard me and encouraged me to make an EP. So together we co-produced this record and it's awesome. I think it fully represents what I do in a live show. It feels closer to who I am as a writer and artist. It's a good start.
LLN: Where did you record?
JN: Sound Emporium—Alabama Shakes did their record there. At first I thought I should wait for a while. I wasn’t in a hurry to record. But people kept coming up to me at shows and asking where they could get my music. So I took a chance, and used my savings to make the EP.
LLN: Now—especially here—you can do it any way you want to do it. You can go to a huge place, or a little place, or somebody's house, or whatever. There's a ton of choices.
JN: I’m strictly independent. It’s overwhelming, making all these decisions. I don't have a manager right now. But BMI has helped me a lot, and Lightning 100 is featuring me as Artist of the Week, so their showcase will also be my release party. There's a lot of people supporting me. I just don't have a deal signed.
LLN: That's good. It puts you in a place where you don't have to settle.
JN: I'm hoping that more opportunities will come from this. I have a lot of songs that are ready to go.
LLN: How would you describe your music?
JN: When people ask me what my sound is, I tend to use the term "soul-pop"...a lot of my melodies are pentatonic. I like catchy melodies. But I also really love lyrics, and I feel like I'm a poet first. I listened to Joni Mitchell and Carole King growing up. I think of writing as storytelling.
But then in music school, I was listening to a lot of jazz. And I love Alicia Keys and Corinne Bailey Rae and a lot of R&B singers. I think what I do is a mix of all those elements.
LLN: It's not something you typically hear in Nashville.
JN: I was worried when I first moved here that my sound was going to be too different, but I think it's played to my advantage. I just try to be myself as much as possible. My songs are real and personal and come from personal experiences. I don't try to be anything I'm not.
LLN: Your video [for the song “Your Gravity”] was shot at The End, right?
JN: When I moved here, that was the first venue that I had a show at.
LLN: It's a really good first venue.
JN: It is! I played there probably 4 times in the first 3 months I was here. That's how I met people. So The End was my start.
LLN: It's got a history to it.
JN: I remember when I was playing there, looking across the street at Exit/In and thinking, "One day!" Then back in March I got to play there, and it was awesome. I love how accessible the venues are here. The people who book the venues, they just want good music. It doesn't matter to them if you have a label deal or whatever.
It was really hard to get gigs in Miami. At least for original music. I was gigging there a lot, but it was all cover gigs. Restaurants, hotels. I was having a hard time getting my original music off the ground there and that's one of the reasons I came here.
LLN: It's definitely easy to play original music here. It's a little hard to get paid for it.
JN: That's the main difference. In Miami, I had steady gigs, I was making money. Here, I have steady gigs but I also have to have three part-time jobs.
LLN: What are you planning to do after your EP comes out? Will you tour?
JN: I was planning a tour for late September, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. I’m going on tour with Dynamo in early December, opening for them. I think we're going down to Florida. I'm hoping to tour next year as well, to really start getting my music out there, because I've never toured. So that's the next step.
A great show tonight courtesy of Sugar/Spice Booking & Promotion, whose stated goal is "to increase representation of women and non-binary artists," something Nashville desperately needs.
Roman Polanski's Baby: "Female-fronted, the band blasts out sarcastic songs dripping with The Cramps-like sexual innuendo, layered over fiendish, distorted guitar tones and booming drums."
Femignome: "Melodic lo-fi from the Enchanted Forest." (in or near Atlanta, GA)
Butthole: "The Taylor Swifts of Fudge Rock."
Soccer Mommy: "Chill but kinda sad bedroom-pop jams."
Tonight at Meal Ticket! They don't make shows like this for $5 anymore. This is a lineup every venue here should be jealous of.
On the heels of an exciting reunion announcement, and the resurrection of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the cats at RiffTrax are back in town to revisit one of the most beloved and oft-quoted films of the MST3K era: Time Chasers! They'll also be riffing an all-new short—this writer's favorite riff genre.
RiffTrax has made Nashville a second home of sorts, playing sold out shows here for years. Since their usual haunt, the Belcourt, is currently undergoing renovations, tonight's show is at TPAC and there are still tickets available—very unusual for a RiffTrax show. Now's your chance to see them. Don't miss out!
Join us for a very special 8 off 8th on June 20, 2016 featuring sets from Christina Rae, Lust & the Black Cat, The Bumbs, Ida Grey, Milk People, The Prescriptions, The Minks and Black Venus
HIGH WATT/MERCY LOUNGE
See the Facebook event page at
Kustom Thrills Tattoo is gearing up for the opening of the "Sex Sells" Art Show in the Octane Gallery, opening May 1 and are now accepting submissions for art that represents sexual suggestion in commercialism. Art must be ready to hang. $20 submission fee. Contact Kustom Thrills Tattoo for more info. (615)226-3009
The show will run through the month of May
1330 Dickerson Pike
8PM - $5
Out of the mists of dank Nashville bars and up through the stratosphere, Little Paws punches their way through punk-assed stories seared with Blake Conley's guitar work and delivered with gusto by singer/drummer Raygun.
Catch them tonight at Charlie Bob's in East Nashville, along with locals Tennessee Scum and Missouri-based C-Rex.
We were fortunate enough to get to interview the band (Blake and Raygun, along with bassist Sarah) and now you're fortunate enough to be reading it.
What are you setting out to do? What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
Raygun: I think we're setting out to inspire more DIY music, especially in Nashville. It's so saturated with "professional" rock and roll shows, that I think people sometimes forget that they can make music about whatever they want and it doesn't always have to be nice or perfect.
Blake: Play good music, get some bruises, be loud. I hope people see us as a fun band that’s at times funny, insightful, and moving. This is decidedly a more straightforward band than what I usually play in, and one where I’m not having to sing most of the time or come up with a good share of the lyrical concepts, so I’m enjoying the pleasure/freedom of being able to focus on playing guitar and shaking my ass. We're hoping to tour and play some cool shows with bands I like and respect. You know, band stuff.
Sarah: Little Paws is all about being free and exploring ideas and physicality that might not fit the status quo. We aim to push boundaries and create dialogue that is not usually allowed or permitted by the misogynist, homogenized perspective that people unfortunately often feel imprisoned by. Hopefully this will pave a path for other artists to be brave and put their strangest feet forward. Outsider artists in the Nashville scene currently don't get as much credit as they deserve. Maybe we can change this.
What is Little Paws doing that no one else is? Or what sets you apart as a musical experience?
Raygun: We're just a really strange and straightforward act. There's one song we have called "I Can't Believe I Shaved My Vagina For This" in which all the lyrics are ad-libbed spoken word about a time I had a really bad sexual experience. Not too many people are being that blunt and honest about their sexual lives and I think that they should; it would help erase the stigma of sex being dirty or taboo.
Blake: I hope, based on how practices are going, that we will be a fun band to watch and listen to. The exciting, chaotic energy we generate is rather infectious. We practiced at Raygun’s place and all her roomies came rushing in to dance/rock out and that felt incredible. I’m all for serious bands, and we have moments/elements of seriousness, but we coat them with something that’s pure fun and high energy. Plus the talent in this band is amazing to be around. Raygun sings like a terrifying angel and lays the heavy beats. Sarah’s bass playing is staggering blend of technicality and tastefulness. She’s always playing what the song needs, whether that means straightforward 4 to the floor runs or smooth jazzy flourishes. I’m just there to make squall and be in awe. I’m a lucky guy to just be involved in this band.
Sarah: I feel like Little Paws have musical chemistry together. We have a combined weirdness which is an excellent ingredient for an outsider artist collaboration. We're also great buddies so our energies combined create something special for our audience. We try to let go of preconceptions of what is allowed on stage and just let it all hang out.
You describe yourselves as "Riot Grrrl Stoner Punk." Can you talk about your influences and how they shape the sound of the group?
Raygun: We listen to a lot of riot grrrl bands, punk music and such, and we smoke a lot of weed, so the conglomerate genre name seemed to adequately represent us better than just pegging ourselves as "riot grrrl" or "girl punk." Lately we've been getting into a group called "Childbirth" which has definitely influenced us to write more songs about being a modern woman, tearing down the pedestal we're supposed to sit on, and taking the veil off of the horror that is the dating world.
Blake: I’m approaching this from a straightforward minimalist rock approach a la Queens of the Stone Age, Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Beat Happening, the Minutemen, Neu!, Low, and Wire. I subscribe to the idea that punk is a spirit, not a sound. Don’t overthink what you're doing. If a song ends up with only 2 parts, so be it. Wire once mentioned that their approach to their Pink Flag album was ‘as soon as the words run out, the song ends’, and the idea of less is more, that the minimum equals the maximum is something I consider when writing for this band. The idea of negative space in music fascinates me and I try to present that. The negative space that comes up when a guitarist in a power trio takes a solo and it’s just a pure rhythm section pumping away underneath, that’s a beautiful thing to me. I try to combine this with more discordant moments and bits of noise/feedback/pedal-fuckery as I always like a bit of ugliness mixed in beauty. The passion of a few ‘bum’ notes played from the heart of a guitarist grab me more than anything technical or flashy and I try to play in that fashion as well.
Sarah: We all met through the Nashville Riot Grrrls collective. The Riot Grrrl manifesto is still incredibly relevant today and rather than a characterization of the sound of Little Paws, it more strongly correlates with the notion that we can make a difference and destroy misogyny. I am not a fan of Riot Grrrl being used as a descriptive for a musical genre. Any artist who seeks to autonomously identify with Riot Grrrl should be encouraged to participate in destroying negative stereotypes that inhibit all genders and identities without being limited to a genre. Having said that, punk rock and rock and roll have always been vehicles for change so Little Paws are jumpin' on the band wagon with their unique voice in this space.
How do you write? What do you focus on? How do you know when a song is good?
Raygun: Either one of us will come to the group with a riff or melody, or we just jam until we play something that makes us laugh. So far those are our two ways of writing new material. We try to focus on music that will be fun to listen to. If it makes us laugh or if we have fun playing it, it's good in our book.
Blake: Basically we get together, someone starts playing something and we all hop on it. I’ll often write a little something beforehand and am always amazed and pleased with how it locks in almost immediately and goes in unexpected directions. Sarah’s pretty perfect at coming up with a great bassline on the fly and Raygun will start a simple beat and then as we jam on it, she’ll modify as need be to make it more interesting. We focus on just how it feels. If everyone locks in on the groove/riff/whatever then the energy in the room is just palatable. We all kind of start smiling at each other or to ourselves. We start moving around while playing. You def know the song is on when Raygun starts improvising lyrics over what we are doing. She’s very adept at pulling clever, funny, cutting, or uniquely vulnerable lyrics out of the ether mid jam. We’ve only been a band a little over 2 months and already have a 6 song set and good starts to a few others. We wrote two last practice based on something one of us or someone around us said offhand. And that spontaneity is just magical to experience.
Sarah: If we aren't laughing when we make a song then it's probably not going to work out for us. Ha! We are all about creating unspoken dialogues that encourage other invisible identities and creatives to speak up. We like to have a positive, fun energy that makes us jump around on stage so if a song is too boring and drab it just ain't gonna fly.
Do you think that musicians have social and political obligations beyond what's contained in their music? Should they be criticized for remaining silent on crucial issues? Why or why not?
Raygun: It's certainly anyone's right to have their own opinions be private, but that's just not who we are. There are definitely artists who take advantage of being silent or taking a side as a means of profit, but that's really just pandering shoved into a business model. In my opinion, pandering should be critiqued, but I don't think it's fair to criticize someone for wanting to sit out of a debate for personal reasons.
Blake: Ooooh…throwing the serious question there at the end. I think this type of thing depends on the person/artist. If they have something to say or a desire to say something, they certainly can utilize that platform. I don’t think we can or should expect our artists to be these grand fonts of social knowledge. Just because you can write a beautiful song doesn’t automatically make you an expert on women’s rights, politics, etc. Artists who use their positions to push social justice are great and certainly make me proud to be a fan. Even if they just use their position to raise awareness of issues that they may not have more than a base working knowledge of, that’s great, but I don’t think those that feel apolitical, or neutral on topics should be forced to comment if they don’t feel they have anything to say. I think the platform is simply there to use it as the person/artist feels comfortable using it. While we’re a band that comes from a feminist mindset, we often embed these topics in pointed, sly humour as a way to sneak them into the listener’s heads. We aren’t onstage constantly pontificating about these issues, though we will talk about them if we feel they need to be said.
Sarah: It's incredibly personal whether or not an artist wants to engage in social and political issues. To be an artist in the first place is a physical and emotional outlet directly linked to the identity of the individual. It takes incredible strength and bravery to perform let alone have the courage to take a stance. Also, any artist needs to be super aware of their audience for their work to have any impact. So with this in mind, if an artist has the strength and appropriate platform to speak up about social and political issues, they are incredibly brave and should be endorsed, supported, and valued for their selfless contribution. If an artist does not, their creative expression should not be devalued for this absence but valued for what the art is trying to say. The audience ultimately decides what they want to value. All artists at all levels should have the opportunity to perform and receive constructive dialogue about their art.
THE WHAT: Internationally renowned dirty-mathpop overachievers Charly Bliss, plus local favorites Daddy Issues and Ebony Eyes
THE WHERE: The Stone Fox, 712 51st Ave., Nashville, TN
THE WHEN: Tonight at 9pm - $8 - Tickets