By the time you read this, local indie hip-hop/R&B label Tillman Music Group (TMG) is expected to have signed a sub-label deal with industry giant Columbia Records. Under the deal, which will give Columbia first rights to distribute any records TMG releases, the Nashville artists signed to TMG would become part of the same international conglomerate that houses Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand, and numerous others.
At this point, TMG’s roster consists of only two Nashville acts: the vocalist/rapper/songwriter Iayaalis, and R&B wunderkind Michael “Bo” Bohannon, who has performed around town under such names as Velvet Jones and The Boy Is Black. But the signings are remarkably astute. Iayaalis, a major talent on the tip of Nashville’s burgeoning African-American creative “underground,” reportedly was being courted by Arista Records, and Bohannon was signed at different times by MCA and by Island.
Intriguingly, both Iayaalis and Bohannon have been featured performers at The Spot, the successful urban/hip-hop/poetry showcase that started in July. If either artist takes off, TMG is rumored to have more Spot acts ready to sign, and the prospect of an urban-music boom in Music City is pleasant indeed. But nobody wants a repeat of the way Columbia’s Work subsidiary bobbled the 1995 debut CD by Murfreesboro rapper Count Bass Dan extraordinary record that had heavy advance buzz but limp promotional follow-through.
Still, Brian Tillman, TMG’s cofounder and president, is smacking his chops. “There’s a tremendous amount of talent here nobody knows about,” says Tillman, who moved to Nashville last year from Philadelphia. “There’s lots of money to be made here in R&B and hip-hop.” Is there really? Stay tuned.Jim Ridley
Notwithstanding the lengthy set changes and false starts, last Wednesday’s taping of Roger Miller Remembered, a tribute to the late Country Music Hall of Famer staged at the Grand Ole Opry House, had more than its share of high points. Among them were Ray Price and the Mavericks doing “Invitation to the Blues,” John Goodman’s waggish rendition of “You Dad Gum Guv’ment,” and K.T. Oslin’s drop-dead interpretation of “River in the Rain.” The night’s most moving moment was a toss-up: It was either Ray Price and cohost Willie Nelson singing “Old Friends,” or Trisha Yearwood and the Fisk University Jubilee Singers performing “The Crossing,” the only hymn Miller ever wrote.
High jinks of course abounded, as befits a tribute to one of the most darkly comedic characters in country-music history. Nothing topped cohost Don Meredith navigating a disoriented Willie Nelson through his cues on the TV monitor. “I’ll help you,” quipped Dandy Don. “Show business is my life.” Roger Miller Remembered airs on TNN in March; proceeds from last week’s taping benefit the Vanderbilt Voice Center.Bill Friskics-Warren
Elliptical dispatches: “Everybody’s Doin’ It,” the new video by Nashville-affiliated pop group Neilson Hubbard, will appear Monday on MTV’s Indie Outing, a prime-time indie-rock video show hosted by Janeane Garofalo (sigh). Check local listings for airtime. Hubbard appears Friday at Murfreesboro’s Mainstreet for a post-Thanksgiving show with Fluid Ounces....
Alt-country hopefuls Buck 50 have called it quits. Producer Richard McLaurin of Farmer Not So John is currently polishing the band’s last record, which may come out posthumously next year under the title In the Final Daze of Bad Country. In the meantime, lead singer Sand Sheff is now singing around town with an outfit called Sand Sheff and a Band, and guitar player Sean Ray has founded a country-metal band called Pumpskully, which is said to be a hoot....
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
^ It's nice to see an official acknowledgement by management. Kristen Mcarther Miles (the girl…
How ironic that "Vandy radio" gets resurrected as a fictional station?! I was just glad…
Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.