Hanging with Rosie Flores before the gig

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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Middle Tennessee has been devastated by flooding from which it will take months—in some cases years—to recover. Please join the recovery effort by contacting Hands on Nashville at Hon.org or by calling (in Nashville) 211. Otherwise, please call 800-318-9355. You can also support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts by going to Salarmy-Nashville.com of calling 800-725-2769.  Thank you.

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Hanging with Rosie Flores before the gig

By Dave Carew

So I meet Rosie Flores and three mutual friends and it’s two hours before her unannounced gig at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn down on Lower Broadway and suddenly Rosie no longer is a cult figure I’ve merely heard about for twenty years, but a real person . .  and she has broken her left arm and is telling us, at dinner at the Japanese restaurant in Cummins Station, that she did it be falling out of bed after she thought she heard a mouse on her bed… and two other people at dinner are my friend Rachel Gladstone of The Petty Chronicles (novel and play) fame and the famous photographer and magazine publisher, Raeanne Rubenstein, who—among many other things—took the photo of Gram Parsons that, nearly forty years later, became the cover of the best Gram Parsons biography, Twenty Thousand Roads . . . and then we’re all laughing—slyly and quietly, so as to not be heard or seem offensive—at how cheerily abysmal our Japanese waiter is . . . and I crack sotto voce that he must believe in the installment plan, because our meals arrive at completely random intervals and in completely random parts, such that we all end up eating everything at completely different times.

Then, later, at 9 p.m., we are at Rosie’s gig on Lower Broadway and the night is warm and humid and evocative and the streets are teeming with random faces and the band is playing the best rockabilly you’ve ever heard—with Gail Davies’ son Chris Scruggs on lead guitar in his Buddy Holly-esque glasses and rolled-up-cuff ‘50s greaser jeans—and he’s just knocking every riff out of the park and Rosie is fantastic and the completely-unannounced gig  soon is packed and then two hours go by in this phantasmal rockabilly dream.

Later, I am alone on the hot, larval, midnight-swimming streets of Nashville and everything is so lit and shadowed and full-of-life that I am thinking, “This is bright lights, big city. That is exactly what people the world over IMAGINE Nashville is. The city has become its own dream.”

Coming soon in “Underground Nashville”: an interview with Rosie Flores.

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.

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