Thursday, February 26, 2015

Numbah 4,080: Gee Slab, Alocodaman, Ro Marquez

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 4:41 PM

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Gee Slab, Man Before Rapper

The tumble to the bottom often spurs the most inspiring climb back to the top. Such is the case with Gee Slab, whose third LP, Man Before Rapper, dropped late last month. Gee Slab has been a familiar face in the local hip-hop scene for years now. Still, he says this album feels like his first album. After a year of adversity and triumph — homelessness and the birth of a baby daughter — it’s not hard to see why he feels like a new man.

Man Before is blue-collar rap. And though that description is sometimes applied too liberally to certain hip-hop, here it sticks. Slab is both humble and unapologetically aggressive in his approach. He’s proud of his roots; the album is laced with interludes from family members sharing anecdotes on Gee the nephew or Gee the son. And it’s also heavily steeped in the rich tradition of Southern rap, with an assortment of some of the region's most underrated beat-makers, namely Bandplay, Zuki Modunkwu and Mike Ewing. They handle production duties, which sound at times visceral and solemn, and at times playful and aggressive, but always full of bounce, like good trunk music should be. As personal and vulnerable as Gee leaves himself on these tracks, you can almost envision yourself sitting alongside the rapper in his Cadillac as he spits his personal story at you.

Among the album's standouts are the previously released single “Embarrassin’ Us," which features Petty. There’s also “NGS,” with Corduroy Clemens, and party-starter “Young Nigga,” which features Alocodaman.

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Remembering Songwriter and Session Great Bobby Emmons

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 1:12 PM

Bobby Emmons
  • Via bobbyemmons.com
  • Bobby Emmons
Bobby Emmons, who died in Nashville Feb. 23 at age 72, was one of the most prolific of the Memphis-trained session musicians who came to Nashville in the '70s. A keyboardist whose light touch enhanced the work of country singers, soul shouters and singer-songwriters, Emmons was also an accomplished songwriter himself. In the great Memphis-to-Nashville tradition, Emmons had a career that included a stint with Elvis Presley bassist Bill Black’s band as well as Music City success as co-writer of Waylon Jennings’ 1977 “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love),” a canonical country song. Emmons always played what the song called for: Trained as an R&B-oriented musician, he knew how to work with a rhythm section, and his songwriting knack grew out of his experiences as a groove-conscious player.

Emmons was born in Corinth, Miss. on Feb. 19, 1943, and got his start playing with Black before making his mark as a Memphis session musician. Working with guitarist, songwriter and producer Chips Moman at Moman’s American Studios, Emmons was part of that studio’s famed rhythm section — a group that included guitarist Reggie Young, bassists Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech, pianist Bobby Wood and drummer Gene Chrisman. The American Studios rhythm section — sometimes called “The Memphis Boys” — lent their restrained, elegant style to records by such luminaries as Dusty Springfield, Bobby Womack, Merrilee Rush, B. J. Thomas and Presley himself.

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Mike Floss w/Jung Youth & Villz Tonight at The Stone Fox

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 9:10 AM

Mike Floss
  • Mike Floss
Perhaps you’ve heard that Music City’s hip-hop scene is nothing to sneeze at — that it’s actually been a force to be reckoned with for some time now, whether or not you’ve been paying any attention. If you’d like to play catch-up by laying eyes on a trifecta of very solid and very diverse local talent that embodies just how strong Nashville’s stable of young hip-hop artists is, tonight’s Red Bull Sound Select show at The Stone Fox is the place to do it.

Topping the bill is Mike Floss, formerly known as Openmic, whose For the Rebels 2 took the Best Hip-Hop Album prize in the Scene’s Best of Nashville 2014 issue, thanks both to the record’s sundry production and Floss’ dynamic, confident flow. Florida native Villz is an R&B artist whose recent release Till the End of Summer lands somewhere near The Weeknd and Trey Songz in terms of slick pop production and sultry crooning. Youngster Jung Youth’s material will definitely appeal more to the backpacker/underground hip-hop set, thanks to songs like “Peter,” which features sparse production and brainy-by-design rhymes.

Show starts at 8 p.m. Costs $3 with an RSVP.

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Remembering Dave Cloud, Gretchen Peters, Drew Holcomb, Look What I Did, Lilly Hiatt, Andrew Combs, Marshall Crenshaw and More: In This Week's Scene

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 7:10 AM

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  • Photo: John Rogers
The Book of David: Remembering the late musician, artist and cult hero Dave Cloud, whose Gospel of Power lives on

Middle Ages
: Gretchen Peters and Drew Holcomb, two songwriters at different points in their careers, reflect on their craft (Gretchen Peters plays Friday, Feb. 27, at The Franklin Theatre; Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors play Saturday, Feb. 28, at The Ryman)

One Step Beyond: Look What I Did takes songwriting to the outer limits on latest rock opera (Playing Saturday, Feb. 28, at Exit/In)

Marshall Law
: Famed pop-rock tunesmith Marshall Crenshaw reflects on his Nashville days (Playing Wednesday, March 4, at City Winery)

Reviews: Two of Nashville's best singer-songwriters reach new heights on new releases

Between Life and Death
: Violinist Carolyn Huebl and pianist Mark Wait perform the emotionally charged music of American composer Michael Hersch (Playing Thursday, Feb. 26, at Turner Recital Hall)

In The Spin: Road to Bonnaroo 2015 Round 1

Plus Critics' Picks on The Gibson Brothers, Harry Connick Jr., Punch Brothers, Radio Free Nashville Benefit, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack to the Future, Daddy Issues, Willie Nelson and more.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Watch Natalie Prass Play 'Why Don't You Believe in Me' and 'Bird of Prey' on Last Call

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 2:57 PM


I honestly didn't know that Last Call — or Carson Daly for that matter — was still a thing, but I'm happy it is, since it brings us these clips of Natalie Prass and her band performing at L.A.'s El Rey Theater. Above, see them play "Why Don't You Believe In Me." This rendition lacks the horns and piano from the album (and the psychedelic chroma-key makeup from the music video), but the soulful Memphian guitar licks step up to fill the space nicely. Prass' vocal performance, making the transformation from vulnerable to powerful, seals the deal. Nerd note: unless my eyes are fooling me, the left-handed bass player is playing a right-handed bass upside down, but still strung for a right-handed player. Venture after the jump to watch Prass and Band play "Bird of Prey" on Last Call, as well.

As mentioned previously, Prass is opening on a national tour with Ryan Adams, who's invited her up to sing a song or two and even covered Prass' "Your Fool" on occasion. Adams' two-nighter at the Ryman April 27-28 is sold out, but Prass headlines The High Watt April 29, and tickets are $10.

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Hear Diamond Rugs' 'Thunk,' Catch Them May 7 at Mercy Lounge [Fresh Track]

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 11:36 AM

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Here's the thing about the term "supergroup": Most active musicians — particularly Nashvillian ones — are in more than one band. So just because a bunch of people in a band are in a bunch of other bands, well, that doesn't necessarily make the group in question a "super" one. That said, if any contemporary rock 'n' rollers have earned the label, it's probably the partially local Diamond Rugs, an outfit featuring current and former members of Deer Tick, Black Lips, Los Lobos, Dead Confederate and Six Finger Satellite. You see, on top of featuring six dudes known for their work with five good bands, D. Rugs (get it?) are also quite good. The Rugs' 2012 eponymous debut landed at No. 6 in the Scene's Top Local Albums Critics' Poll — and we even put co-frontman John McCauley on the cover for that issue.

Diamond Rugs are back with their sophomore record, Cosmetics (out yesterday via Sycamore Records/Thirty Tigers/RED), which was recorded with Adam Landry and Justin Collins at Nashville's own Playground Sound Studio. You can get a little taste of Cosmetics below — the track "Thunk" is a characteristically gritty, Replacements-esque bar-rock number, complete with some pretty snappy sax courtesy of Los Lobos' Steve Berlin. Stream on. It's a catchy one.

The Rugs will also soon launch a spring tour in support of Cosmetics, and among the many dates on the schedule is a May 7 stop at Mercy Lounge here in Nashville. Tickets to that one are available right here for $15 a pop. See a "Bollywood-inspired" tour video after the jump, and get your hands on Cosmetics here.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Where Are the Women? This Summer’s Music Festivals Continue to Act as Though Female Musicians Don't Exist

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Those Darlins at Bonnaroo 2014
Festival season is coming up, meaning it’s almost time to slather on the sunscreen and brave wretched humidity and high temperatures in order to catch some of the year’s hottest bands and DJs in a giant field. Whether or not you like attending festivals, getting a spot on one of these bills can be a great opportunity for an artist, as they gain access to a whole new audience they may not otherwise be able to reach on their own, not to mention in nice payday in some cames. Sadly, as fests like Coachella, Warped Tour and Bonnaroo have musically diversified over the years, one thing hasn't changed: bookers seem to think that appearing on their coveted bills is a man's job.

I took a closer look at how well women are represented in some of the spring and summer music festivals across the US, the roster with the highest percentage is Washington’s Sasquatch Festival — 33.3 percent of the bands performing over the Memorial Day weekend fest include at least one female. It gets worse from there. Of the more than 45 bands announced to play Pitchfork Music Fest in Chicago, only 28.2 percent include a woman. Middle Tennessee’s own Bonnaroo comes in at 24.4 percent.

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Hear Meth Dad Get 'So Real' on Emotional New Single

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 2:29 PM

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Local DJ, producer, promoter and all-around scenester Tyler Walker (aka Meth Dad) has a new single. It's called "So Real" and it's a triumphant-yet-slow-tempo, yearning emotional ride, boasting a hodgepodge of bongo drums, moody piano chords and a rather emolicious vocal chorus histrionically belting out platitudes like "And I will make it. Yes I will." and "And in the end, it's what we've done. Not who believed." It's heart-on-sleeve dance music. tailor made to get you through a dull Tuesday afternoon at the office or a messy breakup on the dance floor.

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Sol Cat Takes Road to Bonnaroo Round 1

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 12:55 PM


Maybe it didn’t feel much like Bonnaroo on Monday night, as The Spin dodged mounds of ice piled along the edge of Cannery Row by Mr. Plow, but the first round of Road to Bonnaroo 2015 couldn’t have come soon enough. After five days of being icebound, our tenuous grip on sanity was slipping. Hallucinating our cats singing a round of “Pass the Dutchie” at their dinner bowl was no longer a big deal. Thankfully, the dancing frog people who welcomed us into Mercy Lounge were very real, and we were very much about to watch 10 bands compete for hearts, minds and a chance to play for a wake-n-bake crowd down at Great Stage Park. This time, up-and-coming groove merchants Sol Cat danced away with the championship belt, with DeRobert and the Half-Truths and Tesla Rossa coming up right behind. But the rest of the bill weren’t exactly pushovers.

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Chris Crofton, Advice King: Driving in Nashville

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 11:59 AM

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Comedian, musician, host of The Chris Crofton Show and former Nashvillian Chris Crofton asked the Scene for an advice column, so we gave him one. Crowning himself the “Advice King,” Crofton will share his hard-won wisdom with whosoever seeks it.

Follow Crofton on Facebook and Twitter, and to submit a question for the Advice King, email editor[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.

Dear Advice King,

I moved to Nashville a couple of years ago counting on relatively mild weather and a good ride to work. Instead I've found a city totally unprepared for inclement weather — heavy rain, occasional ice and snow — and a highway system that even in optimum weather scares the most experienced driver. Most cities advise people to use mass transit, which, except for a few buses, doesn't exist in Nashville. Ironically, a major plan to provide such transportation was recently defeated by the city council. Could this be a conspiracy to discourage a population increase in the "It" city? I need an explanation.

-Melinda Z.

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