We’ve been regularly calling Nashville from the Mix offices these past few months in anticipation of our third annual Mix Nashville event, to be held September 13 to 14, 2010. Many conversations involved the logistics in rescheduling a two-day event and coordinating sponsors, attendees, presenters’ schedules and the venue. The venue, of course, is Soundcheck Nashville, and on page 56 you can read our update on its rebirth following the devastating floods of early May.
But many of the calls were just about what’s going on in Music City, besides the 119-degree Heat Index of early August—it’s sure been a survival summer in middle Tennessee! And we learned a couple of things. First, it’s hard to put a label on the town, much as we like to refer to it as the country music capital, which it is, or the epicenter of Americana, which is also true. But it’s so much more, and it began long before Jack White came to town and produced Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose.
You have Kid Rock with Sheryl Crow, the emergence of teen pop under the guise of new country with Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, the Black Eyed Peas stopping in for a brief stint, and we just heard that first-call engineer/producer Chuck Ainlay (who’s worked with everyone from Vince Gill, Wynonna and George Strait, to Peter Frampton, Mark Knopfler and Melissa Etheridge) is scheduled to work with Tony Brown on Lionel Richie’s upcoming duets project. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the range of what’s taking place along the Row, in Berry Hill on out to Franklin and all spots in between.
Even with all of these seemingly disparate influences, Nashville maintains its signature sense of community, which was evident in the aftermath of the flood as people pitched in to help neighbors chop down damaged trees and clean up basements, lend out equipment or offer up a replacement guitar. And that spirit of community is most prominent within the tracking rooms, where musicians reign and are increasingly enjoying the benefits of being in a room with other players and just kicking it out.
Nashville has always been about players in a room, running down a song. At last year’s Mix Nashville, Bil VornDick provided some colorful anecdotes of cutting a bluegrass record in two days and mixing on the third. It sounds great. And Chuck Ainlay notes the concept of “live recording” has definitely picked up around town during the past year. The players, he says, seem to appreciate and even thrive on it—especially after experiences outside of Nashville where they might be hired to come in for an overdub, play three or four takes alone in a studio, and then hear it for the first time when the record is released.
v“You can’t beat the energy of a band in a room,” Ainlay explains. “The players here are the best in the world, and even with the best of them, you can feel them take off on the performance when they’re feeding off other musicians. It definitely makes my job a lot more fun.”
So you can’t peg Nashville, but you can sure count on Nashville, even with tornadoes, floods and crazy heat waves. Come join us at Soundcheck in September and stop by to say hello. We look forward to seeing you.