CT's Nashville Diary
all photos by Commander Trish

and away we go...

We were all saddled up by about 4pm Tuesday afternoon after Tyler got out of work. Perfect for a bit of the early rush hour, but it worked out OK. Everything was going fine save for the fact that John, Jay and myself all had colds. We drove to Roanoke to spend the night. Somewhere along the way the starter motor on my car went out, so we were forced to look like wayward college kids jump-starting our jalopy from gas station to gas station. At least it still ran fine. We pulled into Nashville a day later and settled into the Ramada. I dropped my car off at the mechanic and prayed I could afford the prognosis.

We went to a mellow place for dinner. They were nice to us and even put our disk on over the PA. Our waiter apologized after being away from the table for a while as his 12-year-old dog had died during his shift. That sucked and he was pretty tore up. We consoled him by drinking a bunch of beer until we had to leave. We stepped outside into the rain to hear Satellite Life playing over their speakers they had in front. We were all psyched, and then, as soon as the last one of us stepped out of the joint and the door closed, the tune came to a violent halt.

We had decided to go to the venue, the French Quarter Café. Let me preface this part of the story to say, “Never try to scam a New Yorker.” Walking in the place looked great. Nice wood panel stage with great backline. The place was empty besides the staff and two girls who were hanging out. We told them who we were and then they explained to us that we were playing “downstairs.” They couldn’t let us down there initially because they were finishing up doing blow or something, but eventually a crusty, ancient, tie-dye-wearing, spindly geezer took the Commander, Jason and myself to see the space.

We were led out the front door and around the back to a metal staircase descending into the parking lot next to the club. The lot was completely fenced in and had a bunch of equipment in it like trucks and giant coils of cable (I just wanted to type that). Down under the stairwell was a single door, which led into the cheesiest (yes, moldy too) ‘80s-style, strip-club private-party room we had seen in a while. Inside, the booker/owner or whatever he was, Dennis, began to tell us how the festival had not communicated with him and so he had gone and booked his upstairs venue, so we had to play in this room. Dennis was a giant-gutted man with the belly poking out from the T-shirt. He had a grizzled salt-n-pepper beard and a twinkle in his eye that said, “I’m on something!” We were then assured the best sound in Nashville. I calmly asked where the soundboard was while scanning over the assorted chaos all over the room. Dennis told me it was something like a “Mastermix” and I was told it had “dual-bias.” I think it said Fisher Price on it. There was no way the room could be cleaned up in time, let alone support a live band playing in it. It was a harrowing moment. We had driven over 900 miles to play in someone’s empty basement den.

Upstairs we told the rest of the band and mulled over the situation while watching two freakish bar-sluts flash their crotches to each other while dancing in front of the empty stage. We all decided to get the hell out of there. We would have to deal with the situation with the festival in the morning. There was nothing we could do now. As we tried to leave, Commander told Dennis that she would complain for him when she spoke with the organizers, which of course called his bluff immediately. He then spouted out a line like, “Honey, I play a ’62 strat through a blackface amplifier, OK?” to attempt to explain why he did not receive our or the festival’s emails in regards to the show. In fact, in general he was all “honey” and “darling” to Trish, patronizing and condescending fuck that he was, trying to smooth everything over. We were pissed. Then one of the drugged out dancing girls suggested that we just play a set right then (12:30am and empty). We left immediately.

Next morning we talked to our eventual savior Jenni Leeds, who was overrun at the registration desk. I got a little nuts talking to her, but we pointed to the one TBA slot at another club and pretty much begged to switch venues. We also told her about Dennis’ setup. She was immediately freaked, as Dennis was supposed to use the upstairs of his club, and was not supposed to book anything else during 2NMC. Also, he had apparently jacked his productions costs up because he was providing such an ”excellent” setup. She calld him in front of us and left a scalding message.

Hard work pays off, and after a whole bunch of legwork, we landed a prime gig at 3rd and Lindsley, an excellent place to play. We then relaxed a bit, put out some cards and checked out some of the panels.

Due to all the confusion with our venue, we were a little behind in checking out all the events at the conference. One of the events was the “2NMC Idol” panel session, which means that bands could throw their names in a box and would be choosen randomly to play in front of the room and a panel of 5 industry folks of ranging jobs in the business. After all the gig chaos John had gone to sleep and James had gone to get food. Tyler, Trish, Jason and I realized that we should be entered into the panel thing, which meant we all had to be present with guitars and stuff ready to go if called. Many bands were trying to do it, but we figured why not put a slip in the box and see if we get called. Jay went and got John, James came back, and 5 minutes after being fully asleep, John was onstage playing This Load to the panel with us. Word had gotten out to the guy who was "randomly" pulling the slips from the box that we were the band who had gotten screwed on our venue and he totally hooked us up. The timing was amazing, as he called us just as John walked into the room with his gear. He and I both had fevers and it was weird sweating and playing to the panel and other bands. There were a lot of people in the conference room, mostly made up of the other bands trying to showcase, but also a few industry folks. Despite some strange sounds at the start of the song, we got real good reviews from the panel and it settled us down substantially for the evenings’ gig. Later, I picked up my freshly repaired vehicle and all was well.

The gig was fun and no pressure. We played after Maine’s Michael Landgarten and his band, who were good guys and played a real good set. We lined up a little differently on stage, which was cool too and may become our new way. My vocals sounded like Kim Carnes, as I still had a bad cold. After us came three country acts, the first two of which were excellent. We left before the final act, the X-Rated Cowboys, and made our way back to the hotel where we destroyed John, Jay and Tyler’s room and roasted a goat in mine. The drapes still smelled of Cumin when we left.

We found out the next morning that bands were as unhappy as we suspected playing in Dennis’ basement. We also learned that Dennis had charged $5 at the door for the upstairs and never told anyone to go downstairs, pocketing the money. We heard that he had screwed the Conference the year before and that they were only using him this year because they had run out of venues. Thank god we went to the venue the night before.

After 14 hours of straight driving, some of which was through that bastard sniper's territory, we are back home in good ol’ NYC, and we couldn’t be happier. Nashville must have once been a great music town—now there seems to be more music than town.


sunset over jersey

they're playing our...nevermind

changing strings Ramada style

what's that sound?

don't mess with us

sing for your supper

the long windy road home

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©2002 furniture music
all photos ©2002 Trish Naudon