Monday, September 24, 2007

Band of Outsiders? News Travels Slow.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2007 at 12:14 PM

click to enlarge boa.jpg


OK, so there's this piece in the Sunday Times' Fall Travel mag on Nashville's "underground" music scene, and like so many we're-not-just-country retreads, it finds "new" torchbearers to symbolize the cutting-edge, off-the-grid sounds emanating from Nashville's shadowy corners. Too bad the folks mentioned in this story are far from new around these parts—and that the greatest little secret in Nashville is, drum roll, David Rawlings and Gillian Welch. Uh, Welch plays Bonnaroo and sells out City Hall for cripes' sake.

The rest of the piece waxes cheerleadery over Todd Snider (noteworthy, but hardly new) and the Jeff and Vida Band, who recently moved here from Orleans. And guess what? East Nashville is cool! And everyone the author loves is someone we should all love, too, because their music is real and true, and no matter what you like, you'll love these people. You just will. Sigh. This isn't the first time the Times has gotten us wrong—remember the travel video diary from their "Frugal Traveler" series where they stood in front of the Ryman and pronounced it a dusty landmark rather than an active venue? (The piece has since been edited and corrected.)

It feels like it was written by someone who doesn't actually live here, and, once you note the byline, it makes sense. Turns out the author is local writer Ann Patchett, an odd choice to write this kind of piece, mainly because she's a pretentious West Nashvillian who's well known for wearing homely curved collars and floral fare a la Laura Ashley, and probably couldn't find Five Points with a GPS system and laminated map. Why her? She's a darling of the New York Times.

The real shame, of course, is that there actually is a fascinating, new non-country music scene in this town, from noise bands to art punk to dance pop to cock-rock, but you'd have to put your ear to the ground to find it. "Swaths of the Kentucky Derby" need not apply.

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