Under-publicized event provides enjoyable, enriching night of Gram Parsons’ music

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 was devastated in May from 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.org of calling 800-725-2769.  Thank you.

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Under-publicized event provides enjoyable, enriching night of Gram Parsons’ music

by Dave Carew

Earlier this month, the Gram Parsons Tribute Concert—promoted heavily on this blog and, seemingly, hardly anywhere else—was held at The 5 Spot in Nashville. Despite a crowd that never topped 50-or-so, due to the lack of publicity, the night was a huge musical success, with Walter Egan and Chris James’ “Grampyres” being particularly stand-out.  The interesting—perhaps sad—truth is that Walter and Chris perform Gram Parsons tunes at a much higher level than Gram or The Flying Burrito Brothers ever did.  (Don’t get me wrong; I love the Burritos. They just typically left a lot to be desired as a live band, thanks, in no small art, to Gram’s illegal smile.)

One curiosity about this show was why The 5 Spot…or the people handling publicity for the show…and/or The Tennessean would choose to bill this concert as “Gram National” in the newspaper listings.  “Gram National” means… um…approximately nothing to anyone but those behind the event. And listing the event that way in the newspaper guaranteed that even hard-core Gram Parsons fans in Nashville (of whom there are hundreds if not thousands) would have absolutely no idea a Gram Parsons Tribute Concert was being held at the 5 Spot that night.  Which was a pity.  Last year, when the simple words “Gram Parsons Tribute Concert” was used in the newspaper, the resulting crowd was (at least) three times larger.

The inability of most musicians to intelligently publicize themselves never ceases to amaze me.

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 book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

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