Archive for April, 2011

Interview with William Williams of “The City Paper”

April 21, 2011

By Dave Carew

I first met William (whom I call “Willie”) Williams in the late 1990s, when he served as editor of the now-defunct InReview (which I wrote a regular column for, and whose other alumni include Matt Pulle, former staff writer for The Nashville Scene and Joan Brasher, current editor of the Vanderbilt View).  In the fall of 2000, Willie… I mean William…joined the staff of the then-new The City Paper, and he remains the only original member of the staff still with the publication, now serving as its web editor. Underground Nashville recently caught up with journalist and all-around-good-guy Williams Williams for this exclusive interview:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: What do you see as the distinct mission of The City Paper in 2011?  How has the mission changed since the newspaper was launched in late 2000?

WILLIAMS WILLIAMS: Our current mission is to take a Monday print edition that fuses elements of an alt-weekly and a conventional news magazine and meld it with our web site, which leans toward being very utilitarian and nuts-and-bolts. I like the combination, as it allows our staffers great creative flexibility and our readers a nice array of writing and reporting styles. As to the changes since we launched on Nov. 1, 2000, at that point we were a five-days-per-week (M-F) paper doing more community-related news. Our web site was a basic PDF and not interactive. Readers could view but not, for example, make comments. And with that static site, the TCP team had no option to report breaking news.

UN:  What core duties do you handle as web editor?  How does your specific role fit into the overall current mission of the paper?

WW:  My main duties are copyediting, headline writing, photo sizing, and overall website management. I handle some basic writing/reporting duties for the website and will do some more “big picture” writing for the Monday print edition. My role is that of “utility player.” I can do various tasks well enough, while not particularly shining in any one specific role. I am not a visionary for the paper and would never claim to be. Our editor, Stephen George, perfectly fills the role of visionary.

UN:  If you were to take a 30-second elevator ride with everyone in Nashville (which, granted, would be quite dangerous and uncomfortable), what would you tell them as to why they should read The City Paper?

WW: First, as a long-suffering claustrophobic, I try to avoid elevators. But were I to undertake such a 30-second ride, I would simply tell my fellow 630,000 Nashvillians that TCP is truly Nashville’s paper. When we hire somebody, that somebody lives in Nashville. When one of our staffers leaves, he or she likely will stay in Nashville. If you look at the more established and high-profile media in town, you will not find such a “local employee theme.” Our team and our news coverage are almost militantly local. We don’t cover much news outside Davidson County and we all live in Davidson County. (Unlike various members of other media, our folks can’t afford to live in, say, Williamson County.)

UN:  Is there anything else I should have asked?  Any other thing you feel important to say about the paper and/or your role in it?

WW: As the only original City Paper member still with the team, I feel humbled. I started with TCP in October 2000 and never would have imagined I would still be here. In fact, I doubted the paper would still be here. We are not a perfect paper. We have flaws and warts. We can’t cover everything we would like to, as there are personnel and resource limitations. But we do a very solid job overall, and our readers give us both encouragement and constructive criticism. On this theme, I’d like to say at this point that I’ve always appreciated the support Dave Carew has given TCP. You’re a good man making a positive contribution to this community. Thanks for the opportunity to do this Q&A. And please don’t make me ride that elevator.

To view The City Paper’s web edition, visit

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.



Could your personal story become a song?

April 18, 2011

Songwriter invites Fans to ‘Share Your Story’ on Her Forthcoming Album

Have you ever thought to yourself: “My life is like a song sometimes!”?

If so, then up-and-coming Nashville-based performing songwriter Shantell Ogden wants to hear about it. From now until Sunday, May 8, she is inviting fans to share their personal stories with her. One of those songs will then be used as the direct inspiration for a song on her next album, Stories Behind Songs, to be released later this year.

“Everyone has a personal story that could be told in a song,” Shantell says. “My friends and fans are an incredibly important part of my journey, [so now I want to] engage them in the creative process.”

And fans are digging it. Shantell already has received stories from fans as far away as Utah, New Mexico, Georgia, and Oregon, and she’s hoping more Nashvillians will step up, too.

“I’ve really been touched by the personal stories friends and strangers have shared with me,” Shantell says. “As a songwriter, I appreciate the honesty and vulnerability that goes into sharing a personal experience with someone else.”

Stories can be submitted to until May 8. Only one story will be selected. On May 13, Shantell will announce which one it is on her web site and via Twitter.



Don’t miss Shantell Ogden at 12th & Porter in Nashville at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 23. She will be in the round with Bill DiLuigi, Scott Jarman, and Donna DeSopo, opening for Acklen Park.

For more information about Shantell Ogden and her “Share Your Story” song-inspiration invitation, please visit

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.


Interview with George Allen Hicks, Singer/Songwriter from Pfafftown, North Carolina

April 7, 2011

By Vince Gaetano

Nashville. For anyone with aspirations of country music stardom, it must really seem like a city of dreams.

Underground Nashville recently interviewed one such person, George Allen Hicks, a singer-songwriter from North Carolina who comes to Nashville whenever he can. George is trying to interest people in his heartfelt brand of country music.  Here is how our interview went:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: What is your specific musical goal?

GEORGE ALLEN HICKS: My goal is to pitch my songs to Nashville artists and maybe become a staff writer for a great publishing company in Nashville.

U.N.: What have you done in Nashville in the past to try to bring your music to the attention of publishers or artists?

G.A.H.: I have played all around Nashville, places such as The Nashville Palace, John A’s, and The Gibson Showcase. I have been to several songwriting festivals. A lot of people have told me I should not hand my songs straight to artists, but, personally, I just can’t believe that. I try to give my work to as many country artists as I can.

I do a lot of meet and greets at The Wild Horse Saloon. I guess I just need to keep up the faith and maybe I will hit it when the time is right.

U.N.: Do you plan to travel to Nashville any time in 2011?

G.A.H.: I would come to Nashville at the drop of a hat. I was thinking of coming this summer.

U.N.: At that time, how do you plan to get your music heard by publishers or artists?

G.A.H.: I heard it through the grapevine that the Hooters in Hermitage is where some of the bigwigs hang out on a certain day…

U.N.: How can publishers or artists otherwise hear your music?

G.A.H.: You can Google “George Allen Hicks” and find out a lot about me. I sell some songs on, I have a MySpace page at, and I have one CD on

All you have to do is Google me, and it will take you to anything I have available. There’s about ten pages of me, with all the radio stations and sites I have music on.

*     *     *
That was our small chat with George, but it was a pleasant and informative one. I think it safe to say that Nashville welcomes George Allen Hicks with open arms. Him and his dreams.

Vince Gaetano is an aspiring screenwriter and director who has written film and album reviews for ‘Shake! Magazine’ and ‘Underground Nashville.’ He graduated with honors from SUNY Oneonta with a major in video production.

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.