Dean Shortland - The Corner Man 

Dean Shortland is virtually omnipresent in the Nashville rock scene, and upon first meeting it's tough to discern if he's for real. His unbridled, gleeful optimism regarding local music is so earnest, he's practically a mirage in the jaded desert that is Music City's rock landscape, its sandy dunes riddled with the bloated carcasses of failed and failing guitar-toting wannabes.

But even for those who know him, few understand exactly what it is that Shortland does. Most know the effusive Aussie from his association with Movement Nashville, the ambiguous collective of Nashville artists he runs with fellow man-about-town Ethan Opelt and whose roster includes American Bang, AutoVaughn and Kyle Andrews. Past that, people just seem to know him as that amicable Australian dude who raves relentlessly about the latest "killer" band he's stumbled upon. In a profile of Nashville's music scene in the July 2008 issue of NYLON magazine, Shortland was referred to simply as a "local independent music advocate."

"They asked me if I was a booker, and I said no," Shortland recalls. "And they asked me if I'm a promoter, and I said no. Because I'm not trying to make it a job. I have my day job. I just wanna see people who are talented as hell work hard, play great music and help to build a kick-ass music community."

Shortland explains that when he and his fellow Movement Nashville cohorts pick up a new band, their intention isn't to do the work for them. They'd rather point the artist(s) in the right direction and see them work for themselves. "I don't want to be a babysitter," muses Shortland. "This is a small town, and these guys have to take it by the nuts. They have to own it themselves and they can own the scene here." But for all his direction-pointing, nut-taking, schmoozing and elbow-rubbing, Shortland is quite simply a genuine and likable man. A man who openly admits that his biggest fault is "caring more about the people in a band than I do about their music."

Whether or not the bands Shortland proudly touts are your speed, his work ethic and indefatigable commitment are refreshing in a music scene whose primary fault is apathy. If every city had a hundred Dean Shortlands, then every hardworking band would have a fan and a drinking buddy.

Photographed at The 5 Spot by Eric England

The People Issue 2009

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