Nashville in Concert at Fox Theatre in Atlanta

I, along with approximately twenty-five hundred people, took over The Fox Theatre on Wednesday April 27 to see the artists from the ABC smash-hit TV show, Nashville for the Nashville in Concert tour for an absolutely glorious evening to rejoice in the joys and wonders of the songs from the show.

Clare Bowen performing with her fiance, Brandon Robert Young in Nashville in Concert at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta

Clare Bowen performing with her fiance, Brandon Robert Young in Nashville in Concert at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta

Personally, as a fan from the show from the beginning, it was a great opportunity to witness (for all of us fans) the songs that have played not only a key role in the story line of the four seasons run of Nashville (fingers crossed for a fifth run in the fall), but songs that personally hit each of us as well. Like all great music does, it’s a collective experience, yet personal journey we join along together in. What was so fantastic about Nashville in Concert was getting the chance to see these musicians who are actors, who then play musicians on television perform in a live setting – in one sense it was very meta for me.

Another great thing about getting the chance to see Charles Esten (aka Deacon Claybourne), Clare Bowen (aka Scarlett O’Connor), Chris Carmack (aka Will Lexington) and Aubrey Peeples (aka Layla Grant) perform their own music was that it was so vulnerable, yet inviting at the same time. They were willing to share their personal journeys with all of us. Not to mention we got to hear a new music from the show that hasn’t aired as of yet.

Chris Carmack performing in Nashville in Concert at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta

Chris Carmack performing in Nashville in Concert at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta

In the beginning each artist came out to do one song individually, after that they kind of alternated between one another and did duets for the rest of the evening. Chris Carmack started the night off with his first song, followed by Aubrey Peeples, Clare Bowen and then Charles Esten. For me, Chris Carmack performance was pure showmanship, and can he play a mean blues guitar. The highlight was when he performed “Pieces of You” (which is one of his original songs). His parents drove in four hours to see him perform at The Fox Theatre and you could tell he was so honored to be there. That was the key theme of the night for all the artists up on stage, it was about humility, honor and just being a sense of gratefulness that they were able to connect with their fans in a true and honest way.

Aubrey Peeples performing in Nashville in Concert at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta

Aubrey Peeples was up next and the only words that came out of my mouth were “damn can she sing.” I mean I knew she could sing from the show, but live – it was like a dream, as she performed “The Book” which is a new song that is set to be played on the second to last episode of the season. She also performed “Too Far From You,” “Soul Survivor” and “Break it to Me Gently.” Clare Bowen, along with her fiance, performed together for all of her songs. It was so sweet and endearing seeing them so in love with each other.

For me, the personal favorite moment was “Hand to Hold,” which happens to be the song that reconnects Clare’s character, Scarlett, with her uncle Deacon (Charles Esten) as they performed it together at the Beverly in the show. Clare was raw and exposed as she announced to the audience that she would be returning back home (Australia) in a few weeks to donate as much bone marrow to her brother as she could, because he has always been her rock, the one person she has turned to her whole life and now he needs her. For her to be so unfiltered and honest was tear jerking. And the voice that she has is like angels singing.

Charles Esten performing in Nashville in Concert at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta

When Charles Esten stepped onto stage, he said “being on Nashville is like a fine meal, but being here with you is like dessert.” Which sent everyone into a frenzy. Charles Esten was a lot of fun up on stage, he was really feeling himself and having a blast, part himself and part his character shined through, as he played “Just Like You.” For the final song, the entire cast came back on stage with Esten and as a tribute, for the sake of a tribute only, they performed “Purple Rain” in honor of Prince, as The Fox Theatre was the last series of shows Prince performed prior to his untimely passing.

This was a truly amazing experience to have, not only as a fan of the show, but as a fan of music. If you get the chance to see Nashville in Concert, this would be a ticket worth buying.


Nashville Live in Concert Photography – Photos by Danielle Boise

Interview with Country Sweetheart Brynn Marie

Brynn Marie

Brynn Marie

 

 

Interview by Danielle Boise Photos by Chuck Holloway

 

Growing up in a musical family, it was no surprise the Brynn Marie decided that life, either out on the road or in the recording studio would be the life for this country sweetheart. Brynn Marie took a little time out of her hectic schedule to talk with Target Audience Magazine about her musical aspirations, life on the road and what it means to be an independent artist in the mecca of country, Music City.

 

What inspired you to enter the music industry?

 

My love for music and performing. I was raised in a musical family. I started playing the violin at a very young age and by the time I was 18, I was playing in a band all around my hometown. A few years later, with words of advice from my Gram, I decided to move to Nashville to pursue my dreams.

 

There is a bit of grit and no-nonsense in your music, like with “Just Like That,” the sass of “Bandaid on a Bullet Hole, while “Hung on the Line” (with Ford Thurston) has such a sexy, earthy quality to the song – it shows the diversity in your work. Can you in your own words describe the sound of your music and where you want to go with it?

 

I connect to songs and write songs that I can relate to first and foremost. I love incorporating the rock-ish grit of a guitar, but I do love the traditional country elements like a banjo, steel and fiddle in my music. That truly defines me. It takes a piece of everything that I grew to love and turns it into my own.

 

 

How is it working in Nashville while being an independent artist?

It can be tough. There are many talented people that have moved to Nashville to reach for the same goals. It’s great to be surrounded by all kinds of talented musicians, it pushes you harder, but you do need to stand out, be true to yourself and be original.

 

How is it being an independent artist and trying to get your music out to the masses? What have you found to be the platform that works best for you to connect with your fans and have your voice heard?

 

I think it’s somewhat easier to get your music out there as an independent artist. There are so many ways to do it, the only problem to that is everyone is doing the same thing. I’ve been lucky enough to tour a lot and travel. I feel like you can only go so far pushing your music online. It’s being on the road that has helped me a ton. I’ve been able to travel all over the country and meet the fans, talk with the fans and play my music for them.

 

You’ve already have logged an impressive amount of live performances; how was it being on tour with the likes of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo? What did you take away from that experience?

 

2013 really was a fun year. I traveled everywhere! I think it was almost 90 shows, which is a lot for an independent artist. Touring with Pat & Neil was a learning experience that I will never forget. It was an education that you can’t buy. I mean I got to watch Pat & Neil do their thing every night from the side of the stage after my performance and I learned so much by just watching them connect with the fans through their live show. It taught me how fans become dedicated to an artist and how important it is for an artist to embrace that.

 

What is your favorite song to sing live?

My favorite song to sing live is “I’m Sorry.” I get lost when I sing that song. It’s a moment in my show where it seems everything just goes away in my mind. I get so focused in on that song vocally and emotionally and it shows in my performance.

 

When will you head into studio to work on new material?

I’ve been writing a ton of new songs. I’ve been lucky enough to start writing with some of the great writers in Nashville. There have been a few songs I’ve been playing out live for over a year that hasn’t been recorded yet. I love testing new material on  a crowd first, before I record it. I wanna make sure the fans connect with the music and lyric.

 

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

 

Stay true to yourself and always work hard.

 

What do you foresee for 2014?

A lot of touring and traveling. I wanna do more than last year. I’d love to get new music out to the fans this year as well. It’s an open road ahead and I’m excited for it.

 

Photos of Brynn Marie from an intimate performance at Smith’s Olde Bar on January 26 by Chuck Holloway.

 

CD review: ‘Stupid, Stupid Dreams’ by Masha out on Oct 22

masha stupidstupiddreams

 

 

CD Review by Danielle Boise

 

Masha is the real deal, a tantalizing voice that is greater than her 23 years with depth and a power backing up each lyric in a smart, sexy, gritty way that will demand more than your attention. Masha holds nothing back and is ready to kick ass on her debut EP, Stupid, Stupid Dreams out on Oct. 22, which was co-produced by Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift) and Claude Kelly (writer behind Bruno Mars’ hit “Grenade” and Britney Spears’ “Circus”) at Blackbird Studio in Nashville.

 

The five-track EP showcases Masha’s irresistible, vivacious voice and free spirit in an unexpected way as she declares to the world exactly who she is as she bounces between blues to rock, with a bit of everything in between. Stupid, Stupid Dreams starts off strong with “Ugly” but really heats up with the bold, brash “Touch Myself,” as her voice soars and sends shivers when she breathlessly sings “weren’t you the one who broke my heart? Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

 

The melody of “Ladies First” starts off with what feels like it could be a love song, but really is a sad, kind of beautiful letting go of a relationship “with one last shred of dignity,” by being the first one to walk out the door. “Do You” is really a screw you. The most powerful song on Stupid, Stupid Dreams is “Amen”; it will bring you to your knees.

 

Masha is a force of nature. This is a woman for a new generation to look up to. I look forward to hearing more from her in the future. Stupid, Stupid Dreams is definitely an EP that you want to listen to, especially if you are going through a breakup and really need to let go of all your worries – Masha articulates it pretty damn perfectly.

Interview with Nate Query of Black Prairie and The Decemberists

In 2007, during some downtime, three members of Portland-based band The Decemberists (Jenny Conlee, Chris Funk and Nate Query) wanted to experiment with a new, acoustic sound. To round out their newly created band they enlisted Annalisa Tornfelt (The Woolwines and Bearfoot) and Jon Neufeld (Jackstraw and Dolorean). With these five band members in place, Black Prairie was brought to life in Portland, Oregon.

In 2010, Black Prairie released its debut album Feast of the Hunter’s Moon followed by an album commissioned by the Oregon Children Theatre to write accompanying music for their performance of Eric Coble’s The Storm in the Barn based on the book “The Storm in the Barn” by Matt Phelan. Since then Black Prairie has recorded two more albums, begun incorporating more of Annalisa’s vocals and has added John Moen (also from The Decemberists) to their lineup.

Black Prairie’s debut album, Feast of the Hunter’s Moon was released in 2010, but the band was conceived three years prior. Can you talk a little about the inspiration for the band’s formation?

It really came from Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee and I wanting to play more acoustic and instrumental music sort of inspired by some of the Nashville stuff like Edgar Meyer and Jerry Douglas. So, we thought it would be fun to try and do more of that, and the best way to start seemed like it would be to get some actual, bona fide bad-ass acoustic musicians. So, we asked John Neufeld and Annalisa Tornfelt if they were interested and wanted to do it. I didn’t know Annalisa at all, but Chris did. He didn’t know her well, and he only knew she was a good fiddler. He didn’t know what a good singer she was. I knew John Neufeld for twenty years.

We basically just started out in my living room and were like “okay, now what?” From the beginning, we kind of all just created song ideas and started working them out together. We’d meet every Tuesday at 10 a.m. for a few hours, and have coffee and pastries. I mean, acoustic rehearsal is so civilized, you can just do it in a living room. You don’t need soundproofing or a PA or anything. So, that was the original concept, and it kind of grew. We made our first demo recording in 2008 or 2009 and that was just done at my house. We just spread ourselves out through the house, set up some mics and started demoing, and that’s the stuff we sent to Sugar Hill on a whim because we knew somebody there.

They were excited, so we decided to make a record. We released that record before we had ever played a show, which is just bizarre these days. But this band really formed as a collective labor of love, like an instrumental acoustic version of a book club.

As an artist with so much music under your belt, where do you continue to find new inspiration to work on new music? Is it easier to for you to create music on your own and then bring it to the band, or do you all kind of round-table ideas together?

For me personally, it’s really both. The time I spend by myself trying to hone in on an idea and trying to refine it is really helpful. The way I almost always bring things to the band is sort of a like a sketched out idea. I play it with the band and get everyone’s input. Sometimes it changes a lot from that point, and sometimes I’ll just take it home again and refine it, given everyone’s input and how it sounded in the band context.

It sort of varies between both extremes in Black Prairie. We’ve done a lot of stuff that we wrote completely together with all of us in a room. There is also a bunch of songs written almost entirely by one person and it didn’t change much at all from what it was before the band got a hold of it until after.

So, there is room for all that stuff in this band. The band is really good at working together at writing, which can be a tricky thing. “Too many cooks in the kitchen” is a really easy thing to have happen. But, for whatever reason, we’re on a roll. The more we write together, the more fun we have doing it.

Around the time that you were recording The King is Dead with The Decemberists, you were quoted as saying that you preferred working with the upright bass as opposed to the electric. Can you explain the reasoning behind that?

That is what I said. There is a thing that has happened with The Decemberists many, many times where for the practicality of recording, where we are doing it live in a room, recording the upright bass in the same room with the drums is almost impossible. So, what we do is I record with an electric bass with the intention of overdubbing with the upright later. Well, it has happened that a lot of times when I do that, everyone says “wow, that sounds great! Let’s just leave it on electric.” I don’t get bent out of shape about it, but it’s happened a bunch of times. It happened with “Yankee Bayonet,” “Rox in the Box” and a couple of other King is Dead songs.

Part of forming Black Prairie was because I wanted to play upright more and I really enjoy playing upright all of the time, even when we’re rocking out more on tour. I mean, it’s kind of hard playing Led Zepplin on upright, but it’s fun. And of course, the only performing I’m doing right now is for Black Prairie, so I am starting to miss playing the electric bass.

With the availability and popularization of portable devices like the iPad, smart phones and even the Garage Band, do you find yourself using them to help you create your music?

I use an iPhone to record ideas all the time and I just use it as a recorder. I have had many different recorders over the years. I used to use a handheld cassette recorder, then a mini-disc recorder and then I had a little mic that plugged into an iPod. But now, the recording sounds so good just with the iPhone that I just do that. It is great for recording ideas and whatever.

For writing, I will use Apple Logic and Avid Pro Tools. I am used to working with more pro stuff in the studios, so it is actually harder for me to use Garage Band than it is to use Logic or Pro Tools. So, I use those two for demoing ideas and laying down multi-track stuff. Or sometimes in Black Prairie, I’ll record my part and send it, then Chris will compile with the other stuff.

In Black Prairie, there are a few of us that use Sibelius a lot. We started using it when we wrote The Storm in the Barn because we had to have a printable score that could be given to the other musicians performing it. I found that to be an incredibly useful tool because I am comfortable with written music and it’s a great way to tweak things. It’s gotten to the point where you can listen back and the sounds are great. One of the songs I wrote for A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart, “Evil Leaves,” I wrote it all on Sibelius. I just wrote a bass line into it to hear what it sounded like, then dumped it into Logic and recorded a guitar part. Between using all of those things and getting comfortable with them, it has made it really helpful when trying out an idea by yourself. Mostly I rely on my band-mates, my memory and to a lesser degree, writing stuff down. But, being able to do this stuff at home, on my own is quite useful.

How do you feel that social media contributes to success in the music business?

Almost the entirety of the music business and promoting and trying to sell your music, I approach reluctantly. Using Facebook, and Twitter and such isn’t really any more annoying than in the 90s, hiring an intern to call record stores to see if they’ll put your CD in a place, or begging the clubs your playing to put up posters. I mean, literally in the 90s, this band I was in had a mailing list of thousands of people, so it cost an unbelievable amount of money to send out a mailing list. We sent these little postcards out with all of our tour dates packed into it so we’d get the bulk rate. I am so glad those days are gone. So, having an email mailing list is just fantastic, and while I know it’s daunting that there are so many outlets, being able to sell your music online is really nice.

It’s better to be worried about making the quality of your music better and better than to worry about the business stuff, but it is important to have the business stuff together a little bit.

Regarding in Portland, from an outsider’s perspective, it seems as if there is a community of musicians that really enjoy collaborations. Do you think there is any truth to that observation, or is it just a cliché?

In any music scene, if you really look carefully at it there is a lot of crossover, but it is certainly true that without knowing any other music scene very well, I do think that Portland is a really community minded group. The music scene is not a competitive thing, which I know is true in some cities to a certain degree. Musicians in Portland don’t necessarily expect to be paid every time they do anything with their music, and they tend to say yes to things based on whether it sounds fun or not, or whether they’re excited about it or not. It’s usually not so much about whether it’s something that would be better for their career, or if it will make money for them. It’s usually about fun and creative reasons. Partly because it’s a relatively cheap place to live, and there is not a lot of hustle and bustle, so people tend to have time to do that stuff, which ends up fostering a lot of interesting collaborations.

Portland definitely is a little bit special, because some of the clichés about Portland are true about coming here to retire and whatnot. People take it pretty easy and are happy to do weird collaborations just for the hell of it.

The Decemberists have a huge fan-base, so I think I would be remiss if I did not ask about future plans for the band.

We’re going to get some work done this winter. So, yeah, things are happening. Things are bubbling.

Have you ever considered doing a Black Prairie/The Decemberists concert tour?

Yeah… no, I don’t think so. I think that would be way too much work. It’s nice to be able to do one thing at a time and give that your all. Doing a show with either band takes a lot out of me, so doing one with both on the same day would be a bummer.