Who won Friday night's battle of the vintage bands? "Beatles, Beatles, Beatles," griped one Stones-loving observer. Despite the injustice, the event felt like a big love-fest—a festive crowd filled The Basement as The Privates played their set: "Run for Your Life," "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," and "Everyboy's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey," complete with cowbell. In Grimey's estimation, "they killed it."
Reno Bo's band attempted to address the imbalance. The stylishly dressed group launched into a full and loud version of "Stray Cat Blues," with Zack Setchfield's slide guitar giving it a bluesy feel. The followed with an appropriately sexy "Ventilator Blues"—the song's rhythm inspired a few ladies to writhe around by the stage, one in black sequined hot pants. Bo called for more keyboard in preparation for "Loving Cup." Of drummer Dillon Napier (formerly of Mother/Father), our companion noted, "best drummer ever," and we agreed. They closed with "Let's Spend the Night Together."
"I dunno if it's more blasphemous to have your way with a Beatles song or to try and do it like them," observed Trea Gunther of Tommy Hans and Friends. (The ad hoc group was fronted by the former Tommy and the Whale frontman.) They seemed to strike the right balance. Featuring a Santa-hatted Mike Grimes on bass, the group played "Back in the USSR," then insisted they were "only playing two. Two-and-a-half-ish." They followed it up with "Come Together," and from the same album, that one "You Never Give Me Your Money" song that opens the medley. Throughout, we were impressed with the two backup singers, Heather Rigby and Tommy's wife Leisa Hans, who added a rich soulfulness to the songs. By the end, the girl dance area in front of the stage had expanded, and who's to say we didn't join them?
Next up was Will Holland (of the Lonely Hearts), in a group featuring Josh Taylor from Red White Blue on lead guitar and Will's brother Josiah Holland on keyboard. Us: "That guy reminds me of someone I've seen, but I can't think of who." Our companion: "It's Zach Galifianakis." It sure as hell was. They launched into a quirky, impassioned version of "Rocky Raccoon." Their playing imparted a folk-pop charm to "Don't Pass Me By" and "A Day in the Life."
The crowd had thinned slightly when the final band, Oblio, took the stage. Their first song, "Love in Vain," inspired in us the following pedantic objection: "This isn't a Rolling Stones song! It's a Robert Johnson song that the Stones covered!" After the preceding bands, Oblio's smoother take on the Stones sounded a little tepid to our ears (or, as our companion unkindly put it, like "the Fatboy Slim version of Moby"). Nevertheless, they rounded off the evening with a solid, and slightly tougher, rendition of "Jumpin' Jack Flash." At 1 a.m., it wasn't time to go home, but it was time to go in search of parties.
Sleigh bells rang, were you listenin'? In the lane the, uh, rain was glistenin'. Not really a beautiful sight, but we were happy on Friday night pretending that Nashville was a winter wonderland. If it weren't for the craptastic weather, The Spin's excursion to the Cleft Music Christmas party at Billups Gallery in East Nashville could have been a goddamn greeting card or a some sort of made-for-TV movie, just without Meredith Baxter or any former cast member s from Beverly Hills 90210 teaching us a heartwarming lesson about love. There were friends and family, food and booze, and a heaping helping of holiday cheer which, when multiplied by plenty of sauce, makes for a pretty sweet shindig.
The reason for the evenin', so to speak, was the release of Chelsea Crowell's stunning, self-titled debut album, and boy is it a reason to celebrate. Just to put things into perspective, after we heard "Tremolo Trees" for the first time a few weeks ago, we were so enraptured that we actually bought the album (!) because we were so impatient to hear the rest of the record. Sure, we could have waited a few hours for Cleft honcho Loney John Hutchins to wake up and give us a little gratis action, but we were smitten at first listen—and that never happens. Regardless, the platter would have been a bargain at twice the price, as it's chock full of taut songwriting and gorgeous arrangements that make us wonder what would have happened if Lee Hazelwood and Loaded-era Velvet Underground had a pickin' party in Sylvan Park.
This was the second show ever for Chelsea and her band of Nashville indie A-listers—including Mr. Hutchins, William Tyler, James Careen and Ben Martin—and you could tell they were a little shaky, but it was very, very endearing. The first few songs were plagued by phantom squalls of feedback from the sound system, but the ear-splitting screeches were worth it just to see Chelsea's dad, country legend Rodney Crowell, staring quizzically at the soundboard. Totes adorable, for sure. Once the technical difficulties were subdued, Crowell and band delivered a top-notch set of soulful, psyche-tinged country that was beguiling and beautiful. "Where the Hell is Robert E. Lee?" and its sardonic Civil War narrator were a highlight, as were the rollicking "Never Be a Beggar" and the duet with her dad on "I Want My Seven Years Back." We've seen a lot of second shows in our day, but few—if any—have shown this much promise.
Crowell's crew wrapped up their set, and Willy T. jumped on the wheels of steel while Tim Chad & Sherry set up and we tossed back the Maker's Mark the way Tiger Woods sexts bikini models. The dusty grooves from Tyler's crates cranked up the holiday cheer from 11 to 12 as people started dancing, gearing up for the boogie-down, dadaist R&B of TC & S. And like El Tigre, we maybe should have thought about using a little self-control, because about four songs in, our designated driver got worried we were going to regurgitate our holiday cheer all over the dance floor. We weren't actually going to ralph, but we were looking for a photocopier to make facsimilies of our ass cheeks, so we deferred to more sober and less em-bare-ass-ing minds. But it was definitely a very merry Cleft-mas party.
The Spin woke on Saturday with only one thing on our agenda: some serious X-ma-kwana-hanna-rama-christma-kah-danz-mas partying, as Chuck Mead might say. The first stop was the home of Dave and Alexis Paulson to pre-game before we hit up the Holly House Winter Formal at Mercy Lounge. We were expecting a house full of hipsters when we arrived at the local music scribe/recording artist/'90s cover song guru's house, but we were uncharacteristically early and ended up chillin' with their parents. We had no idea that hipsters even had parents—we totally thought they were grown hydroponically in a secret bunker in Williamsburg. (Who knew?) As the time grew closer to rock o' clock, more scenesters trickled in—Out the Other's Janet Timmons, Exit/In's Ryan Bruce, John Baldwin and Joe Baine Colvert from Lake Fever, Rollum and Katie Haas—essentially a whole bunch of folks who wear ugly sweaters even if it's not Christmas time. The wine flowed, as did the hard pear cider, the eggnog and...yeah, we might have spiked the hot chocolate, which in retrospect might not have been the best idea.
Once we were good and fired up, we made our way across town to celebrate with the Holly House crew. On our way there, we were caught in an honest-to-goodness snow flurry, which essentially turned our car into a third-rate Andrews Sisters cover band singing the praises of snow, snooow, SNOOOOW! Sure, there was barely enough of the white stuff to count as precipitation, but it was enough to make our night. When we arrived at the Mercy Lounge with our cans of Beef-a-Roni for the Second Harvest Food Bank, we were pleasantly surprised to find a gargantuan wall of nonperishable food items already amassed. We second the sentiments of Mercy's own Big Bobby when he said he was "proud of his people." Maybe the skinny jean set isn't so bad after all.
By the time we made our Santa-like appearance around midnight, the evening's music had already degenerated in to drunken debauchery, complete with Caitlin Rose and the Caress siblings performing the Chipmunks' "The Christmas Song" complete with costumes and squeaky voices. By that point "the band" was an amorphous collection of Non-Commissioned Officers, And the Relatives, Tristens and Roses busting out Christmas classics like "Feliz Navidad" and "Frosty the Snowman." Oh, and there was a rapping Santa Claus in there, too, 'cause y'know that's what Santa does when he's been indulging in the drink specials all night.
We were a little disappointed that Shoot the Mountain's John Brock was fully clothed—we were really hoping to see the reindeer thong this year—but his bandmate Joe Blankenship performing the lady parts on The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" was rousing enough to let it slide. The Generation Domination photo booth was hopping with drunken revelers trying to capture the good cheer on film, as it was probably the only way a lot of them would be able to remember what happened. As the night wrapped up and the band banged out an awesome version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," we saw a young couple, clearly in love, kissing passionately as someone barfed all over the floor only inches away—and all we could think about was how we love celebrating the holidays with the Nashville rock scene. God bless 'em, every one—even Ralphy McPukepants.
The Spin is hanging mistlefinger all over the place. Because it's more obscure. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
http://www.reverbnation.com/guesthousestud… git some black rain y'all...very nice piece Mr. Anderson
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