The date was Aug. 25, 2007. Nashville Cream — that's the Scene's music blog — was celebrating its first anniversary with a soiree at Mercy Lounge. Aside from DJ sets courtesy of Cream contributors and various members of the local rock scene, the only musical entertainment of the night was fraternal punk-rock duo JEFF the Brotherhood, whose moniker was simply "JEFF" at the time. Silver posters featuring blown-up comments from the blog — rife with running jokes, seething dissent and inside-baseball-type commentary on local bands — decorated the room.
"It was small and fun, JEFF ruled, and we danced and shit to DJs and drank way too much Yazoo," says former Scene music editor and Cream co-founder Tracy Moore. "We didn't make any money. And crowd-wise, it all basically consisted of the people in the scene who didn't hate us. That wasn't a lot of people."
Five years later, JEFF the Brotherhood is signed to Warner Bros. and touring behind their Dan Auerbach-produced LP Hypnotic Nights, stopping off for an appearance on Letterman and debuting their "Sixpack" music video via Pitchfork. Other Cream anniversary parties through the years have featured performances from local artists including golden-voiced post-rock queen Cortney Tidwell, indie-pop chanteuse Tristen, '90s nostalgists My So-Called Band and more. Last year's Cream anniversary party, our fifth, took place at Jack White's Third Man Records and featured headliners and longtime power-pop heroes The Features.
The Cream was born out of a conspicuous absence of day-to-day media coverage of the Nashville rock scene. Moore and the other original Cream Teamers are readily deferent in regard to NashvilleZine, a snarky, anonymous rock blog that paved the way for our kind with its launch back in 2004. But with NashvilleZine shutting down in 2006 — and with bands like The Pink Spiders, Kings of Leon, Be Your Own Pet, De Novo Dahl and the aforementioned Features attracting national attention — we had on our hands a percolating community of diverse, talented and rapidly ascending rock 'n' rollers, but no true forum for sharing and analyzing their material (not to mention proffering hot gossip and infantile, barely related toilet humor).
Six years later, the scene runneth over not only with relocated rock stars and local music blogs, but also attention from major national (and international) media outlets. In 2011, Rolling Stone named Nashville's the "best music scene" in the country. This year, publications including GQ, The Observer and The Atlantic have echoed the sentiment and added evidence to support that superlative in the forms of photo spreads, in-depth features and statistical analysis. As they shine their lights in our direction, it becomes apparent that trend-spotters the world over are growing hip to what Nashville Cream has attempted to spotlight for six years: There's something truly special about the music that's home-brewed here in Nashville, and while, yes, it is in part supported by the enormous mainstream-country infrastructure that serves as a skeleton from which indie, punk, hip-hop and alternative music may grow, it doesn't really have all that much to do with your John Riches and your Keith Urbans.
This Saturday — five years to the day since our first anniversary party, and in the very same room — Nashville Cream will celebrate our sixth birthday with performances from some of Music City's current rock 'n' roll torchbearers. Headlining the Mercy stage will be scuzzy, bluesy, Neil- and Stones-inflected Cream faves Natural Child, celebrating the release of their "Mother Nature's Daughter" 7-inch and preparing to unleash their second LP of the year. Also at Mercy Lounge will be Thinking Man's punk-popster PUJOL — headed up by Daniel Pujol, who contributes EGGS, a weekly series of poems (accompanied by illustrations from Alexa Zöe Sullivant), to the Cream — and trad-country songstress with a rock 'n' roll bent Nikki Lane. Spinning records throughout the night will be dusty-fingered DJ troupe Sparkle City DJs, led by Jonas Stein of Turbo Fruits. Over in Mercy's new auxiliary venue, The High Watt, electro-pop outfit Wild Cub will celebrate the release of their debut LP Youth (see our review in the Aug. 9 issue of the Scene) with support from earwormy dance-rock troupe Future Unlimited. The weekly Y2K Dance Party will ensue afterward. One ticket will get you into both venues.
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