Archive for January, 2010

Brief Thoughts on the Death of J.D. Salinger

January 29, 2010

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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Nashville is being stalked by a deadly killer. In fact, it’s the #1 killer of women in Music City. Now you can fight back. Join us on Saturday, January 30 at 7 p.m. for the “Heart & Soul Benefit” for the American Heart Association. For more information, please visit Nashvilleheartandsoul.com.  (NOTE: As of the time of this posting, this event still is on, despite the huge winter storm now hitting Nashville. I will post a postponement or cancellation notice on this blog if that situation changes.)

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Brief Thoughts on J.D. Salinger’s Passing

By Dave Carew

Like many who intensely value American literature, I was saddened to hear of the death this week of J.D. Salinger. One of the first reviews of my novel Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville has compared the “voice” of my work to that of Salinger, so I’ve felt an additional kinship to him since that review appeared.

Also, in 2007, I had mentioned, while being interviewed about my novel by The Vanderbilt Hustler, that I admired Salinger’s walking away while he still was on top.  While other formerly-great literary or musical artists put out a relentless body of work long after their talent has dried up (think Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and a heavenly host of others), Salinger refused to do that. He wrote one tremendous, artistic-landscape-changing novel (Catcher in the Rye), and a few other works, then “did a DiMaggio”…i.e., hung up his spikes while he still was on top.

As I wrote yesterday in an e-mail to a friend, “The axiom of the artist should be this: If you have nothing left to say, don’t say it.”

I’ll also respect Salinger for doing exactly that.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

The Coolest-Ever Elliott Smith Show in Nashville

January 26, 2010

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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Nashville is being stalked by a deadly killer. In fact, it’s the #1 killer of women in Music City. Now you can fight back. Join us on Saturday, January 30 at 7 p.m. for the “Heart & Soul Benefit” for the American Heart Association. For more information, please visit Nashvilleheartandsoul.com.

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The Coolest-Ever Elliott Smith Show in Nashville

By Dave Carew

You’ve heard of artists and athletes who are so cool and powerful they’re described as “lights out.” And you’ve heard of “unplugged” concerts. Well, the all-time coolest Elliott Smith show in Nashville, which took place the night of May 9, 2000, was LITERALLY “lights out” and LITERALLY “unplugged.”

Here’s what happened: Elliott was touring with an L.A.-based stoner band called Whiskey Biscuit. At 8 or 9 p.m. that night, Whiskey Biscuit opened the show, performing their entire set perfectly normally, although their lead singer looked like he was going to nod off at any moment.

Then, just moments before Elliott Smith was to hit the stage, a mini-disaster struck. The entire venue (the now-defunct 328 Performance Hall) went absolutely PITCH BLACK…as in, absolutely no lights whatsoever. Then, as hundreds of us stood in utter darkness, we suddenly saw a candle being lighted on stage….then another…then another. In the next moment, the short, thin, fragile-looking silhouette—then body—of Elliott Smith could be seen, and he was suddenly talking to us.

“Everyone,” he said, “please move as close to the stage as you can, and I’ll sing as loud as I can for you.”  We were about to see an Elliott Smith concert as Elliott might have presented it in your living room—with only his guitar, and without any amplification whatsoever. And the crowd didn’t mind in the least. As a matter of fact, it was as if the crowd enjoyed it MORE, because most of us were standing so close to Elliott, and because he was performing with such a gentle, generous spirit.

He went on to present everything from older classics like “Waltz #2” to new (then) songs such as “Everything Means Nothing to Me” . . . which resulted in the concert’s most touching moment, as dozens of girls spontaneously broke out singing the tune’s beautiful, ascending chorus.

The lights never came back on…and Elliott Smith never played Nashville again. (He died just three years later, at the age of 34.) It was, for me and many others I’m sure, far and away the most memorable and poignant concert we’ve ever witnessed.

May you rest in peace, Elliott.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

Interview with Kimberly June

January 22, 2010

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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Nashville is being stalked by a deadly killer. In fact, it’s the #1 killer of women in Music City. Now you can fight back. Join us on Saturday, January 30 for the “Heart & Soul Benefit” for the American Heart Association. For more information, please visit Nashvilleheartandsoul.com.

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Interview with Aspiring Singer/Songwriter Kimberly June

By Dave Carew

Kimberly June is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter from Southern Maine who writes a diverse collection of styles, including country, rock, pop, blues, and even a little Jazz. She grew up in New England and also enjoyed six of her teen years living in the Dominican Republic. She spent her early life listening to a variety of music, from country and rock as a child in Maine, to Hip-Hop and R&B in her teen years. “I always felt a little out of the loop when it came to American pop and rock music while I was living in the Dominican,” she says. “I hadn’t heard the Beatles or any of my favorite music until I was already in college.” She began playing guitar and writing songs simultaneously at the age of 17 while attending a summer program at Berklee College of Music in Boston. From then on, countless hours were spent in her bedroom writing, listening to music, and learning more about the craft of songwriting. Her favorite thing about writing music is making her parents proud. She is now a senior at Belmont University for Songwriting and Music Business and plans to stay in Nashville for a long time after she graduates.

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: How would you describe your music? Which two or three artists have been your primary influences?

KIMBERLY JUNE: I guess I would say it is all pretty poppy, but I like to write different styles. I went through a blues phase and a jazz phase and now I am writing a lot of pop/country and pop/rock. It’s hard to choose just three influences, but I would definitely say the Beatles were one of them. I also really love Bread and even David Gates’ solo stuff after Bread ended. My mom bought their Anthology album at a yard sale once, and after I heard them once I stole the CD from her and never gave it back. David Gates is one of my favorite songwriters. Last but not least, Patty Griffin is an amazing songwriter who more people need to know about. She has a huge influence on me and I just recently found out that she is from Maine… same as me!!

UN: What is your personal “dream” for your music?

KJ: I really just want to write music for other artists to sing and perform. I love to perform but I don’t think I am the best singer or anything, and I am a little awkward on stage, so I try to look at it realistically. I love to write songs about situations that I know a lot of people can relate to and I hope to make people feel like “Wow, I’m not the only one who feels that way!”  I hope my music makes it to radio someday. That would be my dream.

UN: Why did you decide to come to Nashville?

KJ: I always wanted to be a singer and a superstar. I also am very practical, so when I was applying for colleges I decided not to go for music. After two weeks at Suffolk University in Boston I called my mom crying and told her I had to do music because it was the only thing that felt right. I went to Suffolk for one year, then applied to Berklee College of Music, auditioned, and got in. For some reason I thought Berklee was the only answer to my sorrows but then I realized that the winter in Boston was what was driving me nuts. Basically, I needed something warmer and something with a songwriting program, so Belmont [University] brought me here. It was a good move.

UN: How has your musical career advanced since your arrival in Nashville?

KJ: I have only been here about a year and a half now but I have meet a lot of amazing people that have helped me improve and look at music in different ways. Belmont University is helping as well; I will be starting my first internship this month at a publishing company on Music Row. I have also been playing writers rounds and meeting other people who do the same thing I do. I am being patient and persistent at the same time.

UN: What are your musical plans for the next few months? Do you plan to play out at all? Are you working on songwriting demos?

KJ: Writing, writing, writing!! I write every day, whether it’s an entire song, a poem or just a jumble of ideas. I also keep a journal so I can look back someday and remember what today was like, and maybe share it with my children. I am playing a few writers rounds at Hotel Indigo or Curb Café. I am fortunate enough to be dating a producer/songwriter, David Thomson, who helps me out with my demos. He is an ex-pop star who is now signed with Sony/ATV Canada. He is a huge help and influence for me. I try to make demos sometimes but I am not a technical person at all. I don’t know what plugs into what and I usually have to call someone to figure out that the mute button is on or my interface isn’t plugged in! I stick with what I know best and I am sure I will learn how to make demos in time.

For more about Kimberly June and her music, visit Myspace.com/Kimberlyjunemusic

and her blog at kimberlyjune.blogspot.com

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

“The Petty Chronicles” coming to Bongo After Hours Theatre

January 18, 2010

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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“The Petty Chronicles” to open at Bongo After Hours Theatre on Friday, February 12

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The all-new theatre presentation of Rachel Gladstone’s The Petty Chronicles—based on the Nashville author’s nationally popular comedic blog of the same name (see Firstwivesworld.com)—opens on Friday, February 12 at Bongo After Hours Theatre on Belmont Boulevard, and will run through that weekend (February 12-13) and the following weekend (February 19-20).

By turns hilarious, satirical, insightful, and empowering, Ms. Gladstone’s The Petty Chronicles enjoys, in its blog form, the devoted following of tens of thousands of readers coast to coast, who relate directly to the blog’s pointed barbs, eye-opening insights, and empowering life lessons garnered from divorce and its aftermath. Directed by Valerie S. Hart, the Bongo After Hours Theatre performance will be the first-ever presentation of The Petty Chronicles in play form.

Don’t miss my interview with author/blogger/playwright Rachel Gladstone in an upcoming post on “Underground Nashville.”

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

Interview with “Shake!” (music) magazine editor/publisher Chris James– Part II

January 7, 2010

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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As we head into the New Year, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. To make sure homeless human beings receive the food, love, and friendship they need, please donate to the Nashville Rescue Mission by calling (615) 255-2475 or by visiting Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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Interview with “Shake!” (music) Magazine Publisher and
Lost Sideshow frontman Chris James – – Part II

by Dave Carew

One of most under-appreciated music magazines in the U.S. is the Nashville-area-based Shake!, edited and published by session and performing singer/keyboardist Chris James. (Some of you may know Chris as “the Jim Morrison guy” in the outstanding Doors tribute, The Lost Sideshow.) Recently, Underground Nashville caught up with Chris for this interview. (Part II follows. Please see below for Part I.)

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: What else would you like readers to know about Shake?

CHRIS JAMES: I’d like them to know we barely get by most of the time. It’s not easy to raise enough money to get the thing printed when I’m not really that interested in being a high-powered salesman. My interest is my deep love of music. I love to write about it, to tell others things I believe are interesting. I wish it wasn’t so hard to get ads sold. Maybe somebody would like to help?

UN: Within the past year, you formed a new band called The Gram Band. What is the artistic purpose of the band? Do you have any dates scheduled for the coming months?

CJ: The idea behind The Gram Band is to have a vehicle for performing Gram Parsons’ material live. I’ve been a huge fan of GP all the way back to when he was still alive. I’ve played in many tributes and recorded some of his songs. I wanted the chance to sing his songs at the last tribute back in September in Nashville. I’ve always before been in somebody’s supporting cast—back-up singer and keyboards. With this band I’m the lead singer. I love it. We don’t have any dates for performing scheduled right now. That’ll change. But we have started putting together plans for recording. That’s exciting.

UN: What other new or ongoing musical projects are you working on?

CJ: I’m always in The Lost Sideshow, which is Nashville’s tribute to The Doors. We’re real good and people love it whenever we play, which is only once or twice a year. We’re scheduled to do that Friday, February 12 at Kimbro’s in Franklin. I’m also in a cool Native American group with John Lone Eagle (full blooded Apache pow-wow drummer) called Red Hand/White Hand. We’ve recorded two CDs. I think we’ll do a lot more there. I love the group. I’m also a member of Walter Egan’s Walternative Band. Fantastic group. I do a fair amount of studio sessions as a singer and keyboardist. And I get to play every few months or so with Bill Lloyd’s Long Players. Man, they’re a hoot. Great band! I’m just trying to stay busy and creative as best I can. Thanks for your interest.

To visit “Shake” magazine online and/or contact Chris James , please visit  Shakenashville.com.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.

Interview with “Shake!” magazine publisher Chris James–Part I

January 5, 2010

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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As we head into the New Year, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. To make sure homeless human beings receive the food, love, and friendship they need, please donate to the Nashville Rescue Mission by calling (615) 255-2475 or by visiting Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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Interview with “Shake!” (Rock) Magazine Publisher and
Lost Sideshow Frontman Chris James

by Dave Carew

One of most under-appreciated rock magazines in the U.S. is the Nashville-area-based Shake!, edited and published by session and performing singer/keyboardist Chris James. (Some of you may know Chris as “the Jim Morrison guy” in the outstanding Doors tribute, The Lost Sideshow.) Recently, Underground Nashville caught up with Chris for this interview.

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: In what ways is Shake! distinct from other music magazines?

CHRIS JAMES: First off, it’s small. I put it together with layout man Warren Ells. It’s a two-man operation. Also, Shake! has a slant towards classic rock that most magazines don’t have. We have an editorial [perspective] that most of the big-selling, popular music of today is artistically weak. It’s just product for video and sales. Real bands with real musicians interacting is what we’re interested in with Shake! There aren’t enough of them on the charts these days.

UN: Which of your stories so far have had the greatest impact on your readership? What impact did they have?

CJ: The stories we did about Jimi Hendrix: The Nashville Years had the greatest impact by far. Shake! featured the first true in-depth coverage of what Hendrix was up to from 1963-65. That story really rocked. Our coverage of Eva Cassidy and Danny Whitten had good impact, too. I like the idea of turning people onto something or someone in music whom they didn’t really know about before. Gram Parsons was a real good story too.

UN: I notice letters to the editor in Shake! from places far removed from Nashville. How widely circulated is your magazine?

CJ: The magazine is just circulated for free all around Nashville. We’ve got a small mailing list of subscriptions too. The reason we get letters from far and wide is because Nashville has visitors from all over the world. So we receive correspondence from people far away, who picked up a copy when they were in Music City. I love whenever that happens.

Coming in the next “Underground Nashville” post:

The conclusion of our two-art interview with Chris James. Chris discusses the hard realities of publishing a rock magazine “when you’re not interested in being a high-powered salesman” . . . and reveals why he recently started Nashville’s best (in our never-humble opinion) Gram Parsons tribute band.