Other bands we enjoy: The entire Nashville pop-country scene

Mar 1 | Posted by: Fighter #1 | Tags: Other bands we enjoy

Oh wait! I got that backwards, we enjoy cool people like Alexa Dexa and AllOne. The Nashville pop-country scene is banal, terrible, and depressing.

This week, I ended up hosting some CouchSurfers who were travelling musicians. One was Alexa Dexa who plays soulful, slow songs on toy instruments. (She normally uses tracks too, but the shows I saw her play didn’t allow them, so it was just the toy instruments!) The other was Bruce of AllOne a conscious hip-hop artist. (Again, without tracks, he was forced to beatbox on his harmonica.)

They spent a few days in Nashville without any “real” shows. (i.e. Unless you have a huge following or know a venue’s booking person pretty well, you’re not likely to get to play a dedicated show in Nashville.) Thus, we decided to investigate the Nashville open mics.

Now, I’ve been to the open mic at Cafe Coco many times. It’s got a very short sign-up list and a lot of rules compared to some others I’ve played, but it’s still a good open mic. We went to that one and had a great time! There was a variety of genres, and the atmosphere was casual and open.

We also went to some of the big name open mics, the ones Nashville is known for, the ones you see in TV and movies, the ones aspiring songwriters play at to get “discovered.”

I’m not going to bad-mouth any artists - largely because the really bad ones were so forgettable that I don’t remember their names. However, that’s not going to stop me from bad-mouthing the venues we went to!

On Sunday, we visited The Commodore lounge. In order to play the open mic there, you have to show up three hours early and sit through the “in the round” part of the night. Six rounds of two to four pop-country songwriters got up and did three songs apiece. It all. sounded. the. same. And if you don’t stick around for the whole thing, you forfeit your spot on the open mic list. After this fiasco finished, we were each allowed to play one song. Eight musicians played the open mic portion of things, because you have to be pretty desperate to put up with the in the round to play one song.

The next night was the Bluebird Cafe open mic. This is the famous one. I didn’t get to play because I have a day job and was unable to show up the requisite hour early to wait in line. When I did arrive, there was a line to get in. A line to get into a cafe to sit in an uncomfortable chair and listen to 40 tedious country songs.

Now that I've burned the bridege of RatF ever playing at Commodore or Bluebird again (Oh noes!), let's back up a bit. The people a these things were great. Everyone was friendly, and they applauded enthusiastically for Alexa and Bruce completely changing the tone of the night with their unconventional music. They even politely ignored us sitting in the back making snarky comments! It’s just that the events themselves were vapid and awful. If you want to write derivative pop music, that’s fine, but there’s got to be a better place to play it!

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