Lightning 100 highlights local artist each week on 100.1 FM. We spin a lot of local tunes, but now we are featuring one local artist in heavy rotation. Tune into Lightning 100 to hear a new local artists and then join Wells Adams for a live broadcast every at Soulshine Pizza for a special Happy Hour from 5 – 7:00pm followed by a performance from the featured artist of the week! Click here to find out how to submit your music to the local guys at the615. Friday Afternoon Live is sponsored by Sugarlands Distillery and Abita Beer.
Jesse Lafser has had Land in Sight for eight years now. That’s how long she’s lived in the Music City of Nashville, a town of considerable charm but nothing in the way of oceans. If she came for the water, then she, like Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca character, was misinformed.
Named after a Thomas Hart Benton painting of a woman playing guitar, Lafser is rarely misinformed and often informative. Her latest album, Land In Sight, is a gentle gleamer, a testament to what’s possible when someone with unique perspective mines the rich pool of talent in today’s Nashville and seeks atypical beauty.
“Lafser’s ability to tell a story is remarkable…. her unassuming voice is subdued, simple and clear – perfect for delivering Land In Sight’s profound truths,” wrote Erin Manning in American Songwriter magazine. Erin Manning was not misinformed. Co-produced by the artist and Mike Odmark, Lafser’s latest gets compared, pleasantly, to work from Gillian Welch, Mary Gauthier and others who trade in a rare kind of gritty elegance, and who seek an emotional specificity that connects disparate souls.
Lafser was born a quarter century ago in St. Louis. She was raised on St. Louis blues, Roger Miller and transition: She and her family moved eight times – all within the city – during her youth. Classically trained on guitar and piano and less-than-classically trained on banjo and harmonica, she wrote her first song at age 15. It is not included on Land In Sight, an album whose title is inspired by a Mark Twain story about sailors lost at sea and finally found.
Lafser knows about loss, struggle and fear, and about the cessation of these things. Music, of course, is not the cessation of these things: It’s often the cause of these things. But it can also be a balm, and if Land In Sight is clear about the fearful stuff, it also shines with hope and transformation. Jesse Lafser shines with these things, too. You may go see and hear that for yourself, should you choose.
*Land in Sight was recorded and produced by Lafser and Mike Odmark (Gray Matters Studio) and features Nashville favorites Andrew Combs, Spencer Cullum, Evan Hutchings, Mike Rinne, and Kristen Weber.
With red-hot moxie to match her crimson tresses, Anna Haas is the exemplar triple threat whose dramatic appeal scintillates on her records and especially through her live performances. Her upcoming EP, PASSION/POISON was recorded in Shreveport, Louisiana at Blade Studios with world renowned producer and drummer, Brady Blade (Dave Matthews, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Jewel, Buddy Miller) and Grammy nominated engineer Chris Bell (Erykah Badu, Destiny’s Child , U2, The Eagles). Haas moves into new territory, melding organic and electronic sounds with her signature powerhouse voice. Her sound is dynamic, with intelligent lyrics that resonate through expressive vocals and complex arrangements. Haas has reached a level of vocal and musical maturity with this sophomore release that is hard pressed to find among the up-and-coming. From orchestral to pop to blues and heart wrenching ballads, Haas’ influences span decades and genres, creating threads that tie together to make her an artist you won’t be able to forget.
When not in the studio, Haas has been taking the world by storm, touring regularly and obtaining a loyal following across the country; Her roots in both Nashville and New York are apparent in her eclectic style, “A Thousand Lifetimes” and “Eyes Open” with a Nashville influence, and tracks like “Woman of the Wild” and “Game Over” resounding of New York. Anna’s full band live show, complete with horns and fiddle, is nothing short of mesmerizing, drenched with intensity and soul. She leads her band with grace and authority, commanding the stage like Janis Joplin or Freddie Mercury, using her voice, her eyes and her body to tell her stories. Simply put, she puts on a show. No Country for New Nashville says, “Anna’s powerful onstage presence and vocal prowess is undeniable, her energy is contagious.”
Haas was winner of the Deli Magazine’s 2012 Best Emerging Artist of Nashville Year End Reader’s Poll; she sizzled with the release of her debut album, Crazy Is, which critics called “remarkable,” and “timeless and fascinating;” and is gearing up for the release of PASSION/POISON in Spring 2015, along with two accompanying music videos.
This flaming redhead has left the ground running, turning heads and melting hearts, and doesn’t seem to have any intention of slowing down.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee— Nashville isn’t just country music’s town anymore. And as its burgeoning synthpop scene continues to expand with breakout acts the likes of Cherub and Wild Cub, Music City isn’t necessarily the indie rock homestead of Jack White and The Black Keys that it once was either. Enter in MYYRA (otherwise known as Paul Davidson), whose marriage of electropop, boutique synths coupled with alt/indie authenticity aims to take advantage of the musical melting pot that New Nashville has become. With his debut EP, Erase. Rewind. Restart., set to release on June 9th via Clowder Media, Davidson pays clear homage to Music City’s growing pains while cultivating a sound that is brooding, versatile, and uniquely his own.
A transplant by way of New York, Davidson set his sights on moving to Nashville as a way to hone in on his artistry. “There’s a great sense of iron sharpening iron when you’re surrounded by the high level of talent in this city,” he muses. “You’re forced to examine your art constantly and see if you’re pushing yourself in the way that you could be. Nashville has expanded my musical palette tremendously.” Partnering with producer Joshua D. Niles(Leagues, The Apache Relay), Davidson achieved his artistic whetting in a 6-song EP that is rich in mood and steeped in cinematic flair, drawing comparisons to both The National and James Blake for the album’s layered, seductive qualities.
All of the tracks, written solely by Davidson, are a collective reflection of their creator’s resonant, melancholy timbre and lyrical poignancy, yet each song seems to individually showcase a unique set of musical skills. Tracks like the driving album opener, “All About You,” bathe in Washed Out-esque synth vibes and accusatory surrender, while the slow-burning “Torches” aches in reverb-drenched melancholy and reluctant hope. Other tunes, like the seductive standout “Control,” flex Davidson’s vocal range by channeling Lana Del Rey in a James Bond dream sequence.
“All of the songs on this EP were written during a period of time where I was experiencing a lot of personal growth… sorting through self-doubt and struggling relationships,” Davidson admits. “There were a lot of scenarios or thoughts that I found myself continuously replaying over and over in my mind, and although that may sound like a good thing for the sake of processing, it really just became an unhealthy behavior for me. I got to a place where it was necessary to completely remove certain thoughts, activities, and people from my life in order to experience the renewal that I needed, and these songs were all an instrumental part of that process. That’s why we decided to give the album the title that we did.”
Although Erase. Rewind. Restart. may be across the board in musical inspiration, the album’s universal and almost elemental theme of creation, destruction, and rebirth became a process of self-discovery for Davidson in its compilation. And with his transparency on display for the world to see, the effort seems to have paid off.
Playing up the whole Saturday Night/Sunday morning spiritual schism is as much part of Nashville music as Lower Broadway, The Ryman, and Music Row. It’s a conceit especially prevalent in roots music circles, where audiences naturally consist of churchgoers and curse-spewers alike.
Matt Haeck comes by his layers honestly; that is, his is a life and a music that feed off of each other — indeed, without the other, you get the sense that either would cease to exist.
With “Late Bloomer” (which may or not prove to be true; kid’s had the goods for years), Haeck’s put his backstory up front: the songs here were written both before and in the midst of an almost four-year struggle with addiction. There’s a song or two post-surfacing too, addressing that pink-elephant-question in the room: just who the hell are we, when we’re who we really are?
Born in Barbados to missionary parents — his dad’s “real job” was selling insurance of the more tangible, home-and-hearth variety — Haeck says his first introduction to the magic of music came while watching his mother sing alto harmony in the church choir. (His first introduction to the magic of secular music came at the ripe old age of 21, when he dove headlong into the oeuvre of Mssrs. Dylan, Cash, and Lennon.)
His introduction to the traveling life came much earlier. Haeck spent time in Kansas, Southern Illinois, St. Louis, Missouri and Michigan as a child, and has since called Austin, Texas — where he once paid the rent by “working” as a nude model — San Diego, Indianapolis, Pennsylvania, and (finally) Nashville, Tennessee home.
Fast-forward (or is that swipe right?) to today. On the strength of Haeck’s well-received stage turns in Studio Tenn’s “The Hank Legacy” and “The Cash Legacy” and the Crackerfarm-filmed video of he and Avett Brother Paul DeFiglia doing a new number of their own composition, 2014’s “Couldn’t Say Yes (Till I Learned To Say No)”, Haeck has finally begun his flowering. One highly successful Kickstarter campaign later, and “Late Bloomer” (produced by David Mayfield, and featuring the likes of DeFiglia, Critter Fuqua of Old Crow Medicine Show, and Caitlin Rose) is seeded, watered, and ready to go.
Since their inception in 2012, The Aquaducks have been bringing the party to the southeast with their unique blend of funk, rock, and reggae. Combining catchy hooks with impressive instrumental work and relentless jams, the Ducks are constantly improving their sound and making each show more memorable than the last. They can make you laugh, they might make you cry, but they will most definitely make you dance. Dishing out one of the most high-energy experiences around, The Aquaducks will find a way to get your feet moving—so please, don’t try to resist.
Elliot Root is an american alternative music group based in the heart of Music City Nashville. Challenged by the surrounding music scene, Elliot Root has received attention for their eclectic mix-up of impactful melodies and an ever changing variety of soundscapes inﬂuenced by the bands many musical heroes of all genres.
“I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went . . . with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea . . . . there was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by.”—Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, 1541
Ryan Culwell grew up in a forgotten place. His songs were forged in the great void that is the panhandle of Texas—The Great In-Between, a land so desolate that few even thought to settle there until oil was discovered beneath the emptiness. And the solitude of the plains comes pouring out of him when he opens his mouth to sing. Like an approaching dust storm, Culwell’s songs whisper and howl and embed the dirt of the flatlands deep into your skin.
Growing up in the middle of all that flatness seems to have amplified Culwell’s soul; his songs shine forth like the stars in West Texas on a clear night. Culwell spent most his life among the company of roughneck oilfield men in a small town near the epicenter of the Dust Bowl. “My dad and brother have always worked the kind of jobs that required them to wake up at three in the morning to fix whatever went wrong, even if the wind was blowing sixty miles per hour and it was five degrees. People think I exaggerate this kind of work ethic, and they damn sure think I exaggerate the weather in the panhandle.”
Like an oil rigger drilling for crude, Culwell’s songs penetrate deep into the essence of the Great Plains. In “Darkness” he sings: “Wind ain’t blown here in days, it’s strange and lonely/
the only sound is some old men in the diner talkin bout rain/ but that’s only hearsay/ don’t believe we’ll see no rain/ then again I seen stranger things/ like a whole world that’s flat.”
Despite hailing from a place that ignores the presence of the outside world, Culwell has become something of a searcher, an intellectual nomad. Amid his tales of oilfields and honky- tonks, he’s likely to quote the poet Geoffrey Hill (“Can Absence be a god, or have we made an idol of our emptiness?”) or the French mystic Simone Weil: “We must be rooted in the absence of a place. We must take the feeling of being home into exile.”
It was only when Culwell went into exile in Nashville that he truly got in touch with the “absence of place” that is his home. Ryan Culwell is no rhinestoned Texas troubadour—he counts Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, and Woody Guthrie as influences. In fact, Culwell hails from the same stretch of prairie where Guthrie spent his most formative years, and like Guthrie, he has emerged as a poet of the plains. Of the legendary songwriter from Pampa Culwell says: “Guthrie was defined by the whole experience [of the Dust Bowl in the Texas Panhandle] but expressed that identity in leaving. We hear a lot about the trail of people leaving. We know the sound of exodus, but what does it sound like to stay?”
At the age of thirty-one, after moving from Amarillo Texas to Music City, Culwell began playing what he calls “bigger” songs. But he heard the flatlands calling to him, and he found himself writing secret songs about his roots on the open plains—songs about “what it sounds like to stay,” thought he hadn’t. Soon enough, these were the only tunes anyone wanted to hear. These songs became Flatlands, Culwell’s debut album from Lightning Rod Records (Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Billy Joe Shaver, James McMurtry).
On the opening track of the record, “Amarillo,” Ryan comes out swinging: “What am I gonna do with this? Just walk around waving two white fists?/ Am I throwing punches or singing
songs?/ Have I been here for way too long?” The song is a paean to those who choose to live their whole lives in a place where “most people won’t even stay the night.” Songs like this have garnered Culwell almost prophet-like status among the disaffected youth of the Llano Estacado. But his songs are not regional. The high plains are Solitude Amplified; we have all, at one time or another, felt the kind of epic absence that Culwell spins so effortlessly into song.
Listening to these songs about the empty plains, we also encounter something unexpected: hope. In many ways, Flatlands is an optimistic record, like a lighted window seen from many miles away. On the eponymous track Culwell sings: “The earth can break a man/ But I will take my stand/ I’ll climb my mountains/ Out in the Flatlands.” And on “I Will Come For You” when he cajoles, “Let’s head on out to the front porch/ And wait for the cold to come,” an almost giddy joy can be heard behind his lonesome Texas drawl.
The tenderness on this record will surprise listeners who first encounter Culwell’s weather-beaten resolve. But this, too, comes from Culwell’s dualistic relationship with his home. Like many from West Texas, he loves this land and he hates it. He’s not unlike Tom Joad: tough, but gentle. But tough. A Culwell song brings to mind an old sharecropper who limps into the town diner on a Sunday morning. The man’s weary face commands respect, but his limp puts you at ease somehow.
While Culwell is poised to take American music halls by storm with these “secret” songs, he remains humble: a man devoted to his wife and daughters and enthralled by the art of songcraft. “I don’t want to tell the world that I’ve worked harder than other artists. I probably haven’t. But I have kept my head in the game long enough to write a couple of decent songs. It’s not really different than the farmers who stuck it out in years of drought or just pushed their necks out when the wind blew all their topsoil away.”
Twenty one-year-old Kirsten Arian has been singing her entire life. At the age of seventeen, she sang in front of an audience for the first time. From then on, she dabbled in music—everything from touring the Los Angeles nightclub scene to serenading herself, with only her guitar for company. It wasn’t a lonely occasion, because she discovered her love for creating and not just singing.
In August 2012, she spontaneously decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee. The songs she creates and writes simply happen. An idea strikes, inspiration will take hold of her, or passion will well up and a song is born. She never sets out with a goal in mind, but her unique sounds, melodies, and voice seem to come from another place. “I write songs,” she says, “from an overwhelming emotion. The music as well as the lyrics are meant to convey that emotion or passion.” There is no formula. There is only what works and truth.
Other than a grandmother who enjoyed singing, Kirsten Arian has no musical pedigree or background: she was born to a family with an unlikely gift. The gift is not only her voice, but her ability to capture the intangible in a new way, provoking others to inspiration of their own and to the beauty that comes even from out of pain.
Fans of Kirsten Arian typically remark on the continuity of her sound, but at the same time seeing how different each song is by itself. “Yeah, they sound so similar, like, I can tell it’s the same artist, but I don’t feel like I could get songs on the album mixed up you know? They’re different but still Kirsten. And truly inspiring.” “I just want to make something stunning,” Kirsten says. “Something that moves people to reevaluate, their life? I want the music to go a little deeper than normal.”
Award-‐winning producer/publisher Charlie Peacock has signed singer-‐songwriter Peyton Parker to an exclusive artist development agreement with his company Twenty Ten Music. Peyton is a bright light among Nashville’s developing talent. A native of Georgia, she moved to Nashville in 2013 to pursue her musical path. She has appeared in concert with Walker Hayes, Jana Kramer, Parmalee and David Nail. In addition to winning the Southern Ground Social Club’s Open Mic Showdown, Peyton was a recent finalist in Puckett’s Rising Star Singer Songwriter contest. Peyton is currently co-‐writing, performing, and preparing for her country music debut.
With a unique voice and an easy charm, Peyton Parker knew what she wanted to be at a young age and is quickly establishing herself as a rising folk/americana artist.
Like a character in a dreary West Coast short story by Raymond Carver, Nashville songwriter Andrew Combs moves through a hazy modern world, trying to find the meaning in life on his sophomore album, All These Dreams. “I sometimes find myself wondering what the hell I am doing with my life and what it all amounts to,” Combs says, explaining the album’s opening track, “Rainy Day Song,” which sets the narrative tone for the album.
“Although I don’t know the answer to this, I believe it lies in the path I take, not the actual destination,” says Combs. “I can’t say whether I’m looking for a god, or love, or art, or all of the above, all I know is I am wading through some murky water trying to find the answer.”
While the album may adhere to this darker internal script, its musical inspiration comes from vintage 1970s production: California-tinged AM Gold; the Laurel Canyon tones of Jackson Browne and The Eagles; and Paul Simon’s Muscle Shoals-laced R&B funk.
And with its sweeping string arrangements and sophisticated charm, the album evokes other earlier eras, like 1960s Hollywood or Roy Orbison-era Nashville Sound. Listeners may also hear the faint glimmer of male vocalists like Jim Reeves, Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb, perhaps even Frank Sinatra.
All of it amounts to a huge step forward for the Nashville-based singer-songwriter, who released his debut album, Worried Man, in 2012, which American Songwriter named one of the year’s best, while Southern Living praised Combs for being “well on his way to becoming a preeminent voice in his genre.”
For the new album, Combs worked with producers Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson — who recently co-produced Caitlin Rose’s The Stand-In and have worked with Justin Townes Earle — and recorded the album in Nashville with many of his longtime musical collaborators, including lead guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal steel guitarist Spencer Cullum Jr. (of the instrumental duo Steelism).
“I feel like this record has a much different thread that ties the songs together than my first album, Worried Man, which was more raw and bare-bones, in songwriting as well as production,” says Combs. “All These Dreams explores more complex arrangements, lyrics and musical tones.
With straight-talking narrators and glimpses of poetic realism, All These Dreams at times might recall the gritty Southern literature of writers like Larry Brown and Barry Hannah, both of whom Combs cites as influences. On “Pearl,” the songwriter celebrates the underbelly of society, while on “Suwannee County,” his narrator strikes up a mundane conversation with a Florida fisherman at a gas station, which leads to a deeper discussion about spirituality.
There’s plenty of dark humor here too. On “Strange Bird,” Combs sings about an elusive lover, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, and uses a buoyant arrangement to explore some unusual musical effects, such as a whistling solo.
Combs has been identified with a new crop of Nashville-based songwriters, who have also looked back to the ’70s for songwriting inspiration. Combs is featured in the upcoming documentary Heartworn Highways Revisited, alongside Nashville-based songwriters like John McCauley, Jonny Fritz and Robert Ellis — as well as one of his heroes, Guy Clark.
While he acknowledges his debt to fellow Texans like Clark, Mickey Newbury and Townes Van Zandt, Combs is also moving in a new direction, carving out his own singular path as an artist. The 28-year-old songwriter is also quick to point out that though there is a similar sense of camaraderie in Nashville today, “The songs and writers were much better in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.”
“I’m not saying there aren’t talented people in Nashville now, but I don’t think we pay near as much attention to the song as they did back then,” adds Combs. “Maybe it’s ’cause we’re too busy tweeting about our latest gig or wardrobe purchase.”
Ultimately, All These Dreams finds Combs in a league of his own, wholly focused on perfecting his own songwriting and storytelling, and delivering it all in a rich musical style that’s much more than the sum of its parts.
Lucie Silvas’ new self-titled EP is out now on Furthestpoint Records viaCaroline. In celebration of the release, Silvas will perform a special show with James Bay at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom on March 16. Additional tour dates to be announced shortly.
The 5-song EP was recorded in Nashville and was produced by Silvas, John Osborne (Brothers Osborne) and Ian Fitchuk (Mindy Smith, Griffin House). Of the new material, Silvas comments, “While I am so involved both emotionally and personally with each song, individually, on the entire album, I really think the EP is a solid sign and a great sampling of what is to follow on the full length release. These songs all really belong together—more than I ever thought they would. Every bit of everything I’ve got in myself went into this music; the energy, the emotion and the story. Writing and making an album with all the people I love was the only thing that made it possible. I never felt the same freedom to tell the truth about myself before—the good and bad— and that’s the only way I want to make music, from a genuine place. Every artist and musician I’ve been inspired by has influenced the sound of this record and many people that have come in and out of my life inspired the stories.”
Born in London, raised in New Zealand and now calling Nashville home, Silvas has enjoyed massive critical and commercial acclaim since she debuting at age 17—selling over 1 million albums in Europe alone and achieving success as both a musician and songwriter. She has also shared the stage with numerous acclaimed artists, including Elton John, Jamie Cullum, Lionel Richie, Kacey Musgraves, Tom Jones and Jamiroquai.
Waterfall Wash is a quirky, catchy mesh of folk, gospel, and indie rock. The five-piece lets steel guitar and autoharp coexist alongside colorful layers of synthesizer, glockenspiel, and three-part vocal harmonies.
With an air of unpredictability, Waterfall Wash’s live show experiments with alternate arrangements of their songs. The band has opened for indie folk powerhouse Lord Huron, as well as Bonnaroo standouts EL EL, Kansas Bible Company, and Ranch Ghost. Following a performance at the East Nashville Underground festival, No Country For New Nashville noted Waterfall Wash have “consistently impressed, showcased a dynamic and ever-expanding range, and have matured into one of the best up and coming live acts in town.”
The sound of Foreign Chords has attracted the attention of Nashville folk revivalists as well as fans of rock, gospel and even pop punk. In 2013 and 2014, the Wash ran the gamut of Nashville venues and festivals, including East Nashville Underground, Mercy Lounge, Tomato Fest, Capitol District Street Fair, 5 Spot, fooBAR and more.
Their debut EP, Foreign Chords, was mixed at Burning Bridge Recordings in the latter months of 2014 and released to the world on January 27, 2015. It is available on Soundstamp, Bandcamp and iTunes.
Longley has a gift for culling musical treasures as though straight from thin air. And now, the Berklee College of Music graduate and award-winning songwriter is set to share them with listeners on her self-titled album—her first after signing with Sugar Hill Records in December 2014.
While Longley’s songs and vocals invite complimentary comparisons to Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole and Nanci Griffith—all artists she’s supported live—her latest effort spotlights a style and confidence that’s all her own. You can hear it in the subtle-yet-soaring vocals on “Memphis,” the dagger directness of “Skin and Bones,” the bittersweet farewell that drives “This Is Not the End” (featured in the 2012 season finale of Lifetime’s Army Wives). They’re all cuts that dare you to hold back the goosebumps.
In fact, Longley’s singing never fails to thrill and enthrall. Her voice and tone, touched with the slightest of country inflections, pours out like clean, crystalline water. Still, she can roar like a waterfall or flow effortlessly along the bed her backing band lays down, as on “Peace of Mind.” The track showcases Longley yearning after silence and stillness to beat back demons of self-doubt.
The new songs grew amidst a period of transition and travel in her life; moving between Boston and New York before finally settling in Nashville, and spending much of her life on the road in a succession of minivans. To that end, the songs have been road tested at Longley’s live shows, their power to connect with fans beyond question.
These numbers pack the punch of pages torn from Longley’s journal. And fans have rewarded her transparency with tangible loyalty. For while many acts have no clue how an album will be received, Longley started her project knowing just how much her fans wanted her to succeed.
It’s like this: Her Kickstarter campaign, which set $35,000 as an album-funding goal, exceeded that amount by nearly 60 percent, raising $55,000. “We reached the mark so quickly and I’m just really, really lucky to be connected to my fans,” she says. “ I feel like they’ve adopted me—like I have this big supportive family.”
And to that end, Longley confides with you as though you’re sitting on the sofa with her in a talk that’s intimate and vulnerable. “Bad Habit” strides the valley road of heartbreak, its pounding toms and plaintive electric guitar providing an ideal frame for Longley’s vocal, the very portrait of love’s rock bottom: “I couldn’t stand the smell of smoke ’til he lit that cigarette/ Never felt the temptation ’til I smelled it on his breath.”
“I wrote it after dating a guy who had a lot of bad habits, and somehow he became my bad habit,” Longley recalls. “He was just one of those people—a smoker and a drinker who also had a habit of cheating. When I broke up with him and wrote the song, it was hugely therapeutic for me. It cleansed him from my system. And when I started playing it live, I realized that so many others had toxic people in their lives.”
Why write and sing songs so transparent and confessional? For Longley, it boils down to the simple truth of authenticity. “I just try to be myself,” she says. “If I feel like a song is not genuine to me, I absolutely do not present it because people see right through it. It’s all about the honesty, and I try not to overthink it—then it would lose some of the magic.”
Longley first felt the magic while growing up outside of Philadelphia. A song she wrote in ninth grade—her first ever—earned a standing ovation when she performed it for the student body: “I was unprepared for that sort of reaction and it was life-changing moment,” she says. “That’s when I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life.”
The track record she’s assembled since shows just how much Longley grew into her dream. She’s taken home top prizes at some of the most prestigious songwriting competitions in the country, including the BMI John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship Competition, the International Acoustic Music Awards and the Rocky Mountain Folk Fest Songwriting Competition.
But it all traces straight back to Longley’s first song. She says she’ll continue to open her soul in the service of her art because that’s what matters most to her. “Every time I get into these songs they resonate with me, lock with me, because they’re based on something I went through,” she says of the new collection. “I hope they connect with people and that they’ll help with whatever they’ve gone through. That’s what music does for me, and I hope I can do that for someone else.”
After all, what better way to fill an empty room than with fully realized music?
Most musicians who move to Nashville to pursue music probably credit James Taylor as an inspiration. It’s quite another thing to open your mouth and sound just like him.
Zach Torres’ voice has been compared to James Taylor, Vince Gill and other old souls. No small feat to be certain, but his voice delivers. In today’s sea of grating voices and beats, Torres’ voice is deceptively simplistic, resonating deep long after the last chord fades out.
It’s always been music. He learned piano at age 8 and picked up a few more instruments and places along the way. He lived in Nashville briefly for his first year of college, before moving back to his native Texas to play shows in Austin and later studying guitar at a prestigious music college in Boston.
“A Bit Like Home” was recorded in Boston amongst friends, written over the course of Torres’ meanderings the past five years. He’s still finding his voice, some days channeling old Texas troubadours and others a more piano-based beat. He’s figuring it out and for once, laying down shallow roots in East Nashville, which feels like home these days… until his nationwide tour starts in March.
Tune into Lightning 100 to hear “Worn Down Woman” and see him play as their artist of the week this Friday February 6th at Soulshine Pizza.
Smooth Hound Smith is a foot stompin’ American roots duo comprised of “One-Man-Band” Zack Smith (guitars/vocals/foot drums/harmonicas) and Caitlin Doyle (vocals/percussion). Established in 2012, and currently based in East Nashville, TN, they record and perform a varied and unique style of folky, garage-infused rhythm & blues. Using primal foot percussion, complex, fuzzed-out, finger-picked guitar patterns, warbled harmonicas, tasty harmonies and A LOT of tambourine, they are able to create something rugged and visceral- a modern interpretation of early blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll music that harkens back to the traditions of hazy front porch folk songs as well as raucous back-alley juke joints.
The duo has traveled over 70,000 road miles, playing over 500 shows in over 30 states in the last two years. They’ve shared the stage with artists such as Robert Earl Keen, The David Mayfield Parade, Matthew Perryman Jones, Charlie Parr, Possessed By Paul James, Shawn Mullins, and more. Their self-titled debut album received “top adds” on Americana Radio in early 2014, as well as garnered attention from media outlets such as Nashville’s independent radio, WRLT Lightning 100, and publications like American Songwriter and RELIX Magazine. Their music has also recently been featured on MTV’s The Real World. They are set to record their second full-length record in early 2015 at Welcome To 1979 Studios with producer Chris Mara at the helm (Jason Isbell, North Mississippi Allstars, Keane), and will be touring heavily throughout 2015.
Lightning 100 debuts “Make Your Colors Run” by The Daily Howl on the615.
The Daily Howl encapsulates Nashville’s rising rock scene. Steeped in the Southern swagger only native Nashvillians can radiate and pushing the boundaries of pop music, The Daily Howl interweaves their Southern charm and raucous personalities with rich, harmonically complex pop music.
The band was founded in 2009 by Matthew and Aaron Cates, Kodi Temes, and Blake Burton– musicians intimately familiar with both current and classic rock music. Within their first release The Revolver E.P. are nods to past and present: The lyric of “Make Your Colors Run” echoes 1960s surrealism, the guitar solo calling to mind “Taxman” from the classic Beatles album to which their E.P.’s title makes a nod. The album’s fifth track, “First World Problems,” artfully combines Nirvana’s lyrical irony with lush vocal harmony. “Turn off Your Radio” and “Stoney Bitch” emulate the garage rock revival of the 2000s and incorporate elements of Chess Records era blues. The sound is unashamedly commercial, yet unbelievably raw.
Live, the band pulls no punches. The Daily Howl is easily garnering a reputation as having the preeminent stage show in Nashville, possessing an incomparable energy derived from a decade of close friendship and trust which allows for six foot high scissor kicks and ceaseless spasmodic convulsions. The stage show is interactive and makes the crowd a vital part of the performance.
With their sound, their swagger, and their stage show, The Daily Howl represents Nashville’s music scene at its absolute best.
The modern Royals started from a digital glitch in the modern struggle to 5ind analog. Far into the ground they search for a 5irm grip on the emotional value of veracity. Like worms and dirt, they lay foundation to a more complex and ruling art in which they consider to be the holy grail of music at whole. Together they 5ind connection to everyday life that the average listener sometimes needs help hearing. Like a baby starling, these songbirds are harmonious with the 5iner things in life.
South African born singer/songwriter Laura Reed has been making a name for herself globally with her powerhouse vocals, thought provoking lyricism, and captivating performances. Most recently having the honor of singing our National Anthem on more than one occasion at Madison Square Garden. Her musical journey started as a teen, where she played open mics and coffee shops around North Carolina and the South Eastern United States. Her original focus was as a poet and storyteller, however over time Laura developed a strong unique voice that was all her own, an empowering message of Unity, and the experience to translate her message through music. Not to mention being a self taught multi-instrumentalist- most notably wailing and stomping on blues harmonica. Laura toured relentlessly as the front woman of the South Eastern based band, Laura Reed and Deep Pocket, as well as recording and performing with various other projects and artists such as George Clinton, Killer Mike, Karl Denson, The Big Ol’ Nasty Getdown and even Jewel.
Laura is currently based in Raleigh, North Carolina and uses Nashville, TN as a platform for her art; where she garnered a publishing deal with EMI/SONY-ATV as well as winning a NIMA AWARD for “BEST R&B SOLO ARTIST 2014″ and Local Artist spotlight with Lightning 100 Nashville Radio. Laura was encouraged to make the move to Nashville by mentor, former music executive and Grammy award winning producer, Paul Worley (Lady Antebellum/The Band Perry/The Dixie Chicks). It was Paul who introduced Laura to the producer of her upcoming project, “The Awakening”, 2X Grammy award winner Shannon Sanders (India.Arie, Robert Randolph, John Legend).
Laura opted to release the record on her very own label entitled “FIVE FOOT GIANT RECORDS”, with the help of experienced ex-Apple Creative Coordinator Patryk Larney of Hope Tree Entertainment. Read more
Forlorn Strangers is an independent Nashville, TN, based Americana quintet leaning heavily on bluegrass & drenched in four part harmony. Forlorn Strangers is an all acoustic band using guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, a stomp box, and some percussion. Our sound is based on the roots of American music, leaning heavily on bluegrass, drenched in four part harmony and added elements from blues, jazz, and some rock & roll. We bring a high-energy set designed to engage listeners and participants in an exciting yet introspective experience.
There was a moment when Steve walked out on stage in Chicago at his sold out, first ever headlining club tour that took his breath away. It had been a long road up to this point, one with empty rooms and unmet expectations, but if you asked him, he wouldn’t change a thing. A handful of odd jobs, hundreds of shows and a thousand songs later, the Pittsburgh native, is three records in with no signs of slowing down. Moakler’s highly embraced album, Wide Open, was released Spring 2014 and follows the success of his previous records, Watching Time Run (2011) and All the Faint Lights (2009). Watching Time Run debuted at No. 1 on the Singer/Songwriter chart and Top 50 on the Overall iTunes® chart.
On the road, Moakler is known to take on a unique touring approach. Last fall, Moakler embarked on the “Hometowns & Campgrounds Tour,” where he hit 40 different cities in 50 days. He revived the concept last month with the “Tailgate Tour,” touring around the country and performing private house concerts. In March, Steve embarked on his first headlining club tour, the “Wide Open Road Tour,” where he hit major cities including his hometown of Pittsburgh, Nashville and a sold-out date in Chicago. The outpouring from Wide Open and the support of his fans all across the country is one of the many reasons why Steve continues to be named one of the leading independent musicians in his genre. His music has been recorded by esteemed artists such as Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Kellie Picker, Ben Rector and Matt Wertz, and Moakler has had music featured on a variety of national commercials and networks including MTV, FOX and ABC, among others. It’s hard to believe it has been nearly a decade since his drive into Nashville, but if his career is any indication, Moakler’s on the ride of his life.
Bearheart is a Nashville based band whose song writing and instrumentation often defies the Alternative Country label that is usually assigned to them. Their musical influences range from traditional bluegrass and folk to classic country and Indie Americana rock.
Within the same set, traditional bluegrass instrumentation gives way to lap steel and heavily effected electric guitar, each of which serve the unique and emotional songwriting talents of two Alabamans, lead singer Matthew Leonhardt and multi-instrumentalist Taylor McMillen.
Mobile, AL raised McMillen is a sonic chameleon, jumping between mandolin, guitar, lap steel and occasionally has even been seen playing a length of galvanized chain. Simultaneously, he contributes back up vocals and harmonies, which are a perfect counterpoint to Leonhardt’s clear tenor voice.
In 2007, a chance encounter in a Tennessee university between Nashville native percussionist Chris Barrett and Huntsville, AL born Leonhardt began a long friendship and musical collaboration. Six years later, McMillen and Los Angeles transplant and upright bass player Craig Higgins joined, and Bearheart was formed. Between the addition of Higgins and the driving beats of Barrett, came a solidified rhythm section which filled out the band’s sound to create a well balanced experience. In early 2014, Jon Galletti, on banjo, and Brenna Fitzgerald, on fiddle, joined the ranks, which helped drive Bearheart further toward their bluegrass and folk endeavors.
Since releasing their debut self-titled EP in September 2013, they have been featured on Brite Revolution’s weekly sampler, featured on American Songwriter’s Daily Discovery page, and were selected as one of Nashville’s top 32 bands to participate in Lightning 100’s Music City Mayhem 2014.
Bearheart is becoming well known and loved around Middle Tennessee with new songs that provide an old sense of familiarity.
From a childhood on San Juan island in Washington State and in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Isaac’s songs all promote a realness that touches on both where he comes from and what stirs the soul.
“Growing up on an island was incredible. Me and my buds would hang on the docks and catch shrimp, build tunnels and forts through the vines in the forest, or help my Mom pick blackberries for her famous jam. It was a magical place. When my family moved to Wyoming, it was a whole new kind of magic… wide open, and big.”
Isaac began learning guitar while attending a small liberal arts college in Spokane where he also played for the basketball team. It wasn’t long before his academic education began to take a backseat to his musical one.
“A good friend in Wyoming had heard a couple of my songs, and he offered to record a demo for me, so I went and recorded six songs. That was my start in music. I started writing songs more proactively from that point on, and I started playing shows. It was an exciting time for me because no one I knew really thought of me as a musician, so there was a lot of ‘What!? I didn’t know you could sing!'”
Isaac took some time to travel landing in several different cities including San Diego, and then Nashville, where he’s lived the last five years.