Very proud of my good friend, songwriter Ronny Criss, who just released the single, “It Ain’t”, on Rainfeather Records. We co-wrote this song in that innocent age prior to Covid, when I had access to a lovely songwriting studio on Music Row here in Nashville. Ronny’s music inhabits the outer edges of pop country, a space where polished modern sounds shake hands with deeply personal lyrics and big guitars.
This latest release is part of a blitz of singles he has unleashed in advance of his upcoming record, “Highways”. The official release date is still TBD, but be sure to check out his website and listen the other songs from this excellent debut.
We’re thrilled to be joining this outstanding bill as part of Snow Day Music Festival, in Fairview, Tennessee (address to TBD upon purchase of festival tickets). Headliners include The Watson Twins, Erin Rae, Teddy & the Roughriders and more!
There will be dancing, overnight camping, food trucks, and good times under the stars. Tickets are limited, so get one before they vanish. A brand new stage with dancefloor has been going up this weekend. Also, there’s a creek nearby so, while I never (ever) promise good fishing, I am definitely bringing my fly rod.
We’re very fortunate to have Vida Wakeman of Crye-Leike Realty as a sponsor for this year’s Bands & Boil. In addition to being one of East Nashville’s premiere realtors, she spent years as a touring musician. Her previous career gives her a unique insight into our neighborhood’s real estate climate. She clearly loves the city (“It has everything you need, and more!”), and remains a big believer in helping people secure their future by investing in real estate.
Since almost conversation in Nashville eventually turns to the property values, I sat down with her and asked her a few questions about the current market.
What brought you to your career in real estate? I’ve always been interested in real estate, and, through some personal investing, realized how much I enjoy it and believe in helping people. It’s my calling!
As a realtor, what factors do you see driving up the cost of homes in Nashville? Demand is higher than supply. It’s happening across the country as the Millennial Generation moves into the home-ownership phase. Nashville, in particular, is a focal point for people to move to. It has so many wonderful opportunities.
What should homeowners do with their increased equity? Reinvest in real estate.
What are Nashville’s most desirable neighborhoods right now? Ha, ha. EVERPLACE.
What strategies should local homebuyers use to remain competitive with out of state buyers with larger budgets? Use a good agent who knows the market and can use their expertise and relationships to help. It’s not as cut and dry as highest price always wins.
As a realtor, what has been your biggest surprise in the real estate market during the past year? The volume of homes sold and the tremendous demand.
What advice do you have for first-time homebuyers in Nashville? NEVER GIVE UP!!!! YOU WILL FIND YOUR DREAM HOME. USE A GOOD AGENT, PLEASE. AND REMEMBER – EVERYONE WORKS FOR YOU – DONT GET PUSHED AROUND.
What advice do you have for home sellers in the current Nashville market? Even though it might seem easy to list your house and sell, don’t go with the first agent you find. Interview several, and make sure they’re a good fit and will work for you. It will make a big difference.
My favorite part of Nashville opening back up is getting to hear live music again. The first time I stepped into the American Legion Post 82 after a year-long hiatus, I saw a dancefloor full of people twirling around after months of cabin fever. It inspired me to book bands people could dance to — and performers folks could sit back and enjoy.
Preview: Afton Wolfe has a big voice. Yes, it’s gritty, but it BOOMS over his lyrics and melodies. Listen to the latest single, “Paper Piano”, from his upcoming release, “Kings for Sale” — and you hear that voice booming over big horns. The chorus is catchy as all hell — so catchy, that I found myself humming it while cleaning the house. I remember thinking, what does “paper piano” even mean? Does it matter? I was literally singing it to myself while cleaning our downstairs bathroom, which my two young sons had nearly destroyed (they are complete slobs, by the way). His record release show will be on June 11th at City Winery in Nashville.
Preview: When I say “hard country”, I’m talking about musicians who play country and mean it. Too often in Nashville you come across a country musician who releases a few honky-tonk records. Then suddenly, he rips off his western shirt and declares, “I was indie rock all along!” He ditches the country sound and does a complete musical U-turn. His new record is a totally weird, inaccessible indie abomination aimed at the Pitchfork crowd. Even worse, the recording is drenched in so much reverb you have to crank up the volume to under the lyrics, most of which are still unintelligible. Thank God Pat Reedy is never going to do this to us. Listen to the chorus of his latest single, “Homesick Blues“. I’m a sucker for great choruses.
Preview: The first time I saw Hannah Juanita, she was singing on stage at the American Legion Post 82 to a packed dancefloor. Keeping that dancefloor packed is harder than it looks! Sure, East Nashville is full of honky-tonk spazzes in western shirts who will dance to whatever — but after a few songs, most people head to the bar for a drink, or maybe the patio to cool off. I watched her mix covers with originals and keep the dancers moving. Song after song was connecting. I still haven’t forgotten. Watch the awesome video for her song, “Our Love is Done” (featuring Sierra Ferrell), and see what I mean.
Preview: When people mention Megan Palmer, it’s not her music that comes to mind, but Tom Waits. I saw her perform at the 5-Spot’s Tom Wait’s tribute in 2018, where she sang, “Come on Up to the House”. It was so uplifting — much like the title track of her latest release, “Take Good Care”. I love the vocals and the marching drum beat — and the video, with its footage of guitars being crafted by luthiers, is comforting. This is why I call her music “Uplifting Americana”. Unlike the rest of that genre. Geez. Some of it is an enormous downer. Every song is about how some guy who lives in a “small town” where the factory has closed for good and is now popping codeine just to get over the agony of his girl leaving him to pursue alcoholism full-time in the “big city”. Good grief. No wonder kids prefer techno.
Everyone is getting together again! Join Runner of the Woods for an afternoon of free crawfish, beer, and live music at the Groove Records, in Nashville on Saturday, June 5, 2021. The event begins at 2 pm. Music schedule below! A hearty thanks to our sponsor, Vida Wakeman, Realtor.
Or should I say — French music will save me? My local shows, including a debut full band show at the Bluebird here in Nashville, have been postponed. Now the weather is getting colder and there’s less and less fishing. What is a country singer with a fishing career to do?
I’ve been delving deeply into French singer-songwriters, especially Quebec’s Gilles Vigneault. A few years ago, at a music conference in Montreal, I heard the lead singer of the band, Jabbour, sing one of Vignault’s songs, “J’ai Pour Toi, Un Lac” (“I have for you a lake”). It struck me hard, right in the solar plexus. I couldn’t believe it. A song that expressed a love of lakes and the great outdoors and used it to speak about love. And not just any love, the head-over-heels joy of abandoning yourself completely. Most genres (cf Indie Rock) are too cool to express themselves in this manner. French music is not big on detached irony.
It was a pleasure to learn it. And even more fun to play it while in a kayak this summer on an obscure Tennessee lake. I would have done the third verse – my favorite – but I was starting to worry about my guitar falling in the water. You may need to turn up the volume on this one.
I also recently did a version of a deeper Vignault cut, “On Ne Sait Jamais” (“You Never Know”). I recorded it in the car with my dog, Pichenotte, for company. Does it seem odd to play and sing in the car? It shouldn’t. In times of COVID, it’s one of the few places in one’s home where you have privacy. Enjoy and stay safe. Covid lockdowns are a head game and the challenge is to keep yourself smiling and singing.
I can’t thank singer-songwriter, Ronny Criss, enough for inviting me to perform on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at the Listening Room Cafe in Nashville. Showtime is 6 p.m., the venue has been extremely diligent in observing COVID-19 best practices and local ordinances. Joining us will be songwriter, Brian Southerland.
I haven’t performed live since Mardi Gras, this past February. Since then, I’ve cancelled many shows, including my annual Bands & Boil crawfish and live music event at the Groove in Nashville. What a disappointment! The event had grown into a celebration of East Nashville’s music community, something that was sorely needed in the aftermath of the March tornado. The wreckage of that storm persists just blocks from our home. I actually missed crawfish season its entirety. I couldn’t justify boiling 20 pounds of mudbugs for myself, and communal eating and dancing seem unwise at the moment.
In the meantime, I have spent months setting aside funds to record a new album. Life without live music is drained of a key essence. I have attempted to fill the void with family time (which has been wonderful). And fishing, as ever, provides a much needed release. You can always read about those adventures here.
In the meantime, this upcoming show is an opportunity to shake off rust and reconnect with Nashville’s music community. I’m grateful for the chance to get back on the horse. See you there!
Thanks to Fats Kaplin for taking this short video of our Mardi Gras show. I don’t get to play squeezebox in the key of A very often. BONUS: Can you identify this Cajun song in spite of the fact they all sound similar?
Join Runner of the Woods as we dig deep into the Cajun catalog this Fat Tuesday, February 25th at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge from 8 pm – 9:30 pm. We’ll playing plenty of new originals too, but Mardi Gras calls for danceable Cajun music we will deliver with one of the best bands in Nashville (Billy Contreras on fiddle, Adam Meisterhans on guitar, Eric Frey on bass, Zoltan Tobak on drums). And yours truly, making this “accordion face” while focusing on idiosyncratic chord changes.
For that is the Tao of Cajun music. See you there!
Runner of the Woods is showcasing at Folk Alliance International this year in New Orleans! We’ll be playing several showcases, including Blackpot. I’ll also appear on a panel as musician/legal professional to discuss my experience with merch (e.g. making T-shirts, handling money on tour, how booking emails functions as contracts, percentages taken by venues and festivals etc.).
I also plan to prove it’s possible to eat fried gulf seafood for 5 days in a row…and live to tell the tale.