Nashville Skyline

23 10 2008

Managed to escape Cle for a few days in mid-Sept. to take in the Americana Music Festival and Conference, an event we’ve heard about yearly from Cousin Dave Newman of WRUW’s Thursday nite show When the Roses Bloom Again. Dave has regularly made the yearly trek and always grabbed a Beachland t-shirt to sport while wandering the Nashville fest. And he generally comes back with stories about someone flagging him down because of his Beachland T. So this year I decided to join him and our friend Vicky Horowitz — who is trying her hand at booking and management of Americana artists from her Akron home — since Americana music is one of my personal favs to present at the Beachland.

Unlike SXSW, which has grown to gigantic proportions, this little AMA festival is easy to navigate and still developing. Almost anyone who is involved in marketing an Americana-leaning recording attends the daytime sessions that for three days focused on everything from internet issues to the vinyl revival, and distribution options to how to get on Conan O’Brien. Cleveland connections were everywhere. Just like SXSW, Cleveland music veteran Clay Pasternack moderated the distribution panel. Rock Hall Curatorial Director Howard Kramer and Education Director Jason Hanley presented a panel on their 2008 American Music Masters honoree Les Paul with the help of Webb Wilder and Bill Lloyd (who both did such a good job I think they are coming to Cleveland for the panels in November at Case).

Native Clevelander and longtime record-industry promo/A&R honcho Sean Coakley hosted “The Music Meeting” where the participants rate 11 songs and Coakley then reports on the results. Coakley, who for 15 years has specialized in promoting Triple A and Americana music through his own firm Songlines, picked a track from Jessica Lea Mayfield’s new release, produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, to include. This caused some controversy in the room because Jessica’s record is more indie than twangy. I was able to explain that the former Chittlin’ just did her CD release party at the Beachland that week so I know her personally and she comes from a hardcore bluegrass family that includes her brother David (who just joined bluegrass band Cadillac Sky). That little tidbit of info seemed to change some minds in the room and Jessica’s song ended up as #4 overall in the ratings.

Cousin Dave and I got to say hi to former Clevelander Jason White (remember the Janglers?), who split for Nashville years ago. He was part of a program called “Freedom Sings” about music and the First Amendment.

We also got to catch up Patrick Sweany, another Northeast Ohio musician who just relocated to Nashville. Patrick had the midnight showcase slot on Wednesday at the Basement, the cool little club that is literally the basement below Grimey’s record store. Sweany is a talent the Beachland has believed in for years, helping him land a national booking agent, Mongrel Music, last year which has led to opening slots for Los Straitjackets, Sonny Landreth and Dave Alvin across the country. Also on hand to help out was Rick Pierik, the owner of Patrick’s record label Nine Mile Records, an expanding venture that also recently moved from Ohio, only to the East Coast.

Other Cleveland/Nashville connections included catching Al Collins playing bass in the new version of Jason and the Scorchers as they tore the house down at the Mercy Lounge on Thursday night. Jason Ringenberg has befriended Al and his wife  Stacey Collins, who many of you may recall made quite an impression in Cleveland before they moved south a few years ago. Al is now a permanent Scorcher and Jason is inviting Stacey to sit in. She did a great cameo at the Mercy show. Al says Jason even brings the couple fresh eggs from his farm.

We ran into Jessica Lea and David Mayfield that night plus another relocated Northeast Ohio musician Ryan Humbert, who seems happy with his decision to try Nashville (But when is Ryan not happy?). He’s got a brand new record coming out and handed me an advance copy. Humbert was hanging with Cleveland friends and Beachland regulars Jay Minkin and Dale Elwell, who had also made the trip. (Jay did his own blog about their adventures: http://www.mimivanderhaven.com/jayminkinsnashville)

One afternoon, I ran into Keith Hanna, the former Clevelander now touring the world as part of Shurman, on the sidewalk in front of Tootsie’s on Lower Broadway. Shurman, a Beachland fav, played a big showcase for the fest so the word continues to spread about this high energy outfit and the talent of lead singer Aaron Beavers, who is also a Beachland adopted son.

My fav hookup was running into Ed Bailey, a dear friend and former sponsorship/development guy at the Rock Hall who now does that job for Austin City Limits. Bailey was accompanying ACL director Terry Lickona, who won a Lifetime Achievement Award for his 34 years of service at Austin City Limits during  the gala Thursday night AMA Awards ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium. Ed and I managed to share some BBQ and he, of course, convinced me to try the shots at the afternoon promotion party put on by Sin City.

And best of all I got to hang with longtime friend and Cleveland record industry legend Steve Popovich, who also has relocated to Nashville (although he still has a place in Cleveland) to be close to his son Steve Jr. and the grandkids. Steve Jr. works for Sirius satellite radio. Pops, as Steve Sr. is called by Clay Pasternack, ended up meeting us most often in the convention center hotel bar. One early evening got totally sidetracked when AMA director Jed Hilly revealed a past employment at Sony Records, where Steve had spent many years as a VP under Clive Davis when the company was Columbia, so the record industry stories started and went on for hours as Steve lamented and lampooned the golden era of record promotion.

I won’t tell you details about the fab music from Raul Malo to the new Chuck Mead (BR5-49) project, from Buddy Miller to Glen Campbell plus Joan Baez, John Haitt, Kim Richey, Jim Cuddy and so many more that I couldn’t fit in. Let’s just say, we’re putting a Beachland package together next year and we’re all going! My two favorite new discoveries were Girls, Guns and Glory out of Boston and Mike Farris, a one-man soul/gospel explosion who won the Emerging Artist of the Year award. So watch for us to bring some of this great new Americana to the Beachland. –Cindy Barber

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5 responses

23 10 2008
Tracy Graves

Cindy! Thanks so much for mentioning Girls Guns and Glory in your write-up of the AMA’s! Rob (Loyot) and I were relating to the band how we had dinner with you (with Vicki and probably the most memorable member of our dinner party whose name is escaping me…I blame the margheritas) and that we should definitely look into the Beachland the next time we come to Cleveland. We hope to see you there soon!
Warm regards, Tracy

25 10 2008
Nancy

Great blog and thanks for the update of people who I got to see and hear because of the Beachland. I think you guys run one of the best clubs anywhere of any time!
more blogs please!!
Nancy

6 11 2008
stereo dictator

Great to see Jason and the Scorchers getting some run in their hometown. True pioneers who kicked ass every step of the way.

7 01 2009
Annski

Hope you will please consider booking the Jim Cuddy Band, Blue Rodeo, Ron Sexsmith, The Sadies and Luke Doucet this year. Canadians love to come down and see them in a nice little club such as yours.

11 03 2009
john lynn kirk

cindy, good to know that you still travel in style. david as a tour guide. only he left out two very, very important cleveland/kent tourist destinations. todd sharp (the case of e.t. hooley-bob weir, bonnie raitt, rod stewart, hall and oates, delbert mcclinton, etc., etc.) and phil keaggy (glass harp).

and as for great our guides, as i will be in new orleans photographing jazz fest, i feel it is my duty to fatten you up at the cafe du mont with a double order of beignets and cafe olay.

and please, tell me how wonderful ian mclagan was. i’m so sorry that i couldn’t fly in from nova scotia to see him. he just added keyboards to 2 songs for the new cd by the novaks (who who REALLY need to book into the beachland.) and hopefully he gave you some dark, dirty insight into the non-faces reunion. has rod forgotten how to shake his arse? also, since i’m giving you free advise (worth every penny) on who to book, glenn hughes….. remember him from trapeze, deep purple, SXSW?

till new orleans. did i mention that it’s 55 and sunny in nova scotia?

cheers, john

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