A Little Subversion

Runner of the Woods performs Gilles Vigneault’s “J’ai Pour Toi, un Lac” in Nashville, TN.

When we celebrated Mardi Gras at Honky-Tonk Tues this past February, I performed a cover of a rare French song, “J’ai Pour Toi un Lac” (“I Have for You, a Lake”) by Quebecois singer, Gilles Vigneault. I have a subversive streak in me that aims to carve out a place for French music in the roots scene. And, since Mardi Gras is a day to celebrate French music – not just Cajun – why not take a chance to see if people would still dance? As this video shows, the dance floor stayed packed, and people twirled away. It may have been one of my favorite musical moments ever.

Learning Gilles Vigneault’s songs became a special project of mine during the COVID lockdowns. His music is ubiquitous in Canada, where he is widely celebrated as Quebec’s #1 folk singer (he’s in his late 90’s). In Nashville, you would have zero idea who he was – but a great song is a great song, especially here, where songwriting is accorded so much reverence. I had been experiencing a little honky-tonk fatigue, and was enticed by his unique chord progressions and unabashedly romantic lyrics. Songs with overt declarations of love are sorely missing in Americana and Country, where political messaging increasingly spoils the mood.

Quebec has the world’s most beautiful lakes. And in this song, Vigneault is offering a woman a lake as a token of his tenderness: “I have for you, a lake / somewhere in this world / a beautiful blue lake / like an eye open / on the deepest night / a chilled crystal / that trembles at your name / as the leaves do / at autumn’s breeze / and winter song / time is mirrored there / they die and fall / my days turned around / my nights upside down.” Thanks for making it happen, Nashville!

In the meantime, me and the boys are hard at work in the studio all September long. Stay tuned.

Tonight at Bobby’s Idle Hour on Music Row!

Tonight, June 5th, I’ll be joining this fantastic bill with Mando Saenz and Cotton Clifton at Bobby’s Idle Hour. We’re each playing 4 original songs, backed by none other than Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers (Mike Daly on pedal steel, Steve Daly on guitar, Carter Brallier on bass, and Erin Nelson on drums).

It’s like sitting in a brand new BMW and cranking the engine for the first time.

The show starts at 8:30 pm at Bobby’s — that shining sanctuary to real country music on Music Row.

Talking Real Estate with Our Sponsors!

We Asked a Real Estate Agent and Loan Officer About Nashville’s Real Estate Market

In New Orleans, the conversation always turns to food. In Nashville, it’s real estate. Sure, people love to talk music. But a big factor in making Nashville work for you is finding a place to stay. Once you’re ready to move beyond renting, you begin to explore home ownership. But the learning curve with credit and mortgages can be steep. And all the chatter about surging prices can be overwhelming. If you’re a musician, how do you compete with seasoned buyers and investors who make cash offers above the asking price?

I sat with with two sponsors of this year’s “Bands & Boil” to discuss the state of Nashville’s real estate market, and how musicians can best position themselves to become home owners.

Realtor Vida Wakeman began her real estate career with Crye-Leike’s East Nashville branch office in 2019. Coming from the music and service industries, her top priority has always been delivering superior service to her clients. From the start of her real estate career, Wakeman has consistently implemented her philosophy that real estate should improve people’s lives. I spoke with her about the trends affecting today’s homebuyers in Music City.

In 2022, Nashville’s real estate market was red hot and surging. Has this trend cooled? In contrast to last year, how would you describe the current market for homebuyers? Sellers?

VW: The Nashville market continues to stay strong. Home prices are still rising and people are still buying and selling. What is different are interest rates. The increase has made it more expensive to buy (as your monthly mortgage would be higher), and motivated sellers to hold onto their homes. Don’t forget, they likely bought at good rates several years ago! That said, this really shouldn’t be the deciding factor for a buyer/seller. Rates can shift and people can refinance along those lines, but getting into this market is a great investment. Buyers are there and sellers are doing well to move their equity around. 

The median home price in the Nashville area currently exceeds $400,000, pricing out most musicians and artists. Do you think this city’s creative community will be supplanted by dual-income professionals? For musicians or service industry workers who are unable to afford East Nashville, where else should they look?

VW: I believe the creative community will do what it always does and get more creative. It will find the areas that are upcoming and affordable, even if that means living outside of East Nashville and Madison. The area we all know and love has become VERY PRICEY, so it makes sense that dual- or high-income individuals are moving there. To avoid that competition, people are moving towards are Madison, Joelton, Whites Creek, Ashland City, Donelson, and Old Hickory. Two overlooked areas worth considering are North Nashville and Dickson! 

You initially came to Nashville as a musician, long before its recent growth. As a real estate agent who has observed the city’s expansion, where do you see Nashville in 10 years? 20 years?  

VW: I see today’s Nashville as still being in its teenage years. There are still so many areas that are fertile for growth. The river is still wide open and many projects have been approved or are in the works. It will be amazing to see how they affect the city when completed. The “Atlanta comparison” to me is accurate as far as gauging growth here. I just hope that city planners remain super-vigilant as to how they allow the growth to happen. They need to make a bona fide effort to maintain some of what longtime residents love about this city! 

Even the most rural corners of Tennessee are seeing new housing developments. Where should lovers of the Great Outdoors look if they want to experience natural beauty that has yet to be touched by Tennessee’s explosive growth?

VW: The Chattanooga area. Great hiking trails! 

As with everything else, the cost of eating out in Nashville has surged. What’s your favorite local restaurant for a family outing that won’t break the bank?  

VW: El Fuego is my favorite place to chill with my family. The outdoor area is amazing and we would go regardless of what food they served haha. 

Celia Anzalone-Bowers is a loan officer with CMG Financial. When she’s not on the phone with a client or hosting “Lunch & Learns” for realtors, she’s racing in triathlons and spending time with the three loves of her life: husband, Dane, and her twin 4 year-year-old boys, Preston and Tristan. I spoke with Celia about the challenges of mortgage lending in 2023.

As a loan officer for CMG Financial, what trends have you observed in Nashville’s lending market since 2022? What challenges are loan officers and buyers experiencing? How are these trends affecting home sellers? 

CB: Mortgage rates have gone up, and that can be perceived as a negative to prospective homebuyers. However, last year it was really tough to win an offer on a home, let alone receive any closing costs covered by the seller. It feels more like a buyer’s market now. That’s the up side for buyers. They won’t have to waive all inspections or pay over list price to win an offer. Marry the house, date the rate.  

In 2022, interest rates were inching up, but this past year has seen a much more significant surge. With the current average rate nearly at 7%, should prospective homebuyers wait for rates to drop? As a loan officer, do you have any insight as to where interest rates could go in the next year and beyond? 

CB: It seems like the rates may go up a bit more this year, but what goes up must come down. I’m just not sure when. I would not wait for rates to drop, but if they do, I can refinance you with no lender fees if they do drop within the next five years. 

Musicians may not always have the best credit record. This goes hand in hand with borrowing money to finance recordings, promotion, and touring. What advice would you give to a musician in this situation who still dreams of being a homeowner?

CB: Get with me! After I study their credit profile, I can tell them exactly what they need to do to become eligible.   

What challenges do first time buyers in Nashville face when financing a house purchase? What about homeowners who are selling their current house and moving elsewhere?

CB: It can be overwhelming. All the terminology and acronyms lenders throw at you, combined with jargon you may read online. That’s where I come in! You need a lender who has the emotional bandwidth to help you navigate new territory during a very exciting but life-altering event. 

For sellers, you may not make as much money as you would have a year ago, but you should have a ton of equity and call it a win – even if you must pay some closing costs. 

Nashville has gained national prominence as a “food destination”. What special occasion restaurants do you love? 

CB: I stick with what I know. Change can be so scary! I love Kayne Prime & Sperry’s. And if you feel like going to Cool Springs, Perry’s Steakhouse is the best out of all of them! 

Performers at Bands & Boil 2023

Wade Sapp, Sweet Megg, Dustin Bothwell, Austin Stambaugh, Runner of the Woods

I’m thrilled to announce the lineup of this year’s Bands & Boil! Bio’s and set times below.

Wade Sapp: The pride of Florida, Wade Sapp slings hard country in the vein of Eddie Rabbit and Keith Whitley. When not opening for the likes of Colter Wall, Wade performs throughout Nashville and waits to unleash his debut album at the perfect time. His latest single, “Keep on Truckin”, is an obligatory addition to your road trip mix. Website: https://wadesapp.

Sweet Megg: Not many country singers can boast legit jazz vocalist chops, but Megg Farrell has that in spades. She honed her singing skills in NYC, but spends much of her time performing in Paris – France, not Tennessee – where audiences still beg for songs by Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf. Not surprisingly, this pedigree translates beautifully to a classic country repertoire from Patsy Cline to Loretta Lynn. Website: https://sweetmegg.com/.

Dustin Bothwell: Those familiar with Dustin in his incarnation as Cajun chef, Roux Daddy, might be surprised by his deeply personal songwriting. Even though his lyrics are the focus, the tunes have a driving rhythm that goes behind paint-by-numbers honky-tonk. That much is not surprising, as he’s often the first on the dancefloor when a song demands two-stepping. You’ll enjoy his voice too. It’s not of the crystalline country crooner variety, but it also isn’t a Tom Waits’-style growl. Sitting somewhere in between, it serves as a versatile vehicle for “storyteller” approach to country music. Listen Here.

Austin Stambaugh: Style matters in country music, and in his trademark fringe jacket and cowboy hat, Austin is a familiar fixture at the American Legion Post 82 and throughout Nashville’s country scene. It may feel absurd when he scrutinizes your I.D. at Robert’s, but he’s not doing that gig to prep for a career as a bouncer. It’s all part of immersing himself in country music, with an eye towards the release of his first studio album, “Midwest Supernatural” on Anticorpmusic (available everywhere June 16, 2023). The debut single from this release, “Ain’t Through Being Lonely Yet”, calls to mind The Tallest Man on Earth, but with Midwestern sincerity taking the place of indie rock artifice. Website: https://austinstambaugh.bandcamp.com/.

Runner of the Woods: The host of Bands & Boil 2023, Runner of the Woods is finally back in the studio, working on a new album that feels more like Turnpike Troubadours than Buck Owens. Like many Nashvillians, Nick Beaudoing is experiencing honky-tonk fatigue, and feels more drawn to songs that tell stories than to country shuffles that check the boxes of every throwback cliche. He’s also working on a tribute album to Quebec folk singer, Gilles Vigneault, whose songs became an obsession during COVID. Taken together with his love of Cajun two-steps, it all flows from his credo that French songs should never feel out of place in American music.


2:30 pm: Austin Stambaugh (Country)

3:30 pm: Dustin Bothwell (Country)

4:30 pm: Wade Sapp (Hard country)

5:30 pm: Runner of the Woods (Cajun / Americana)

6:30 pm:  Megg Farrell (Jazz / Americana)

Bands & Boil June 3 + Recording

Enjoy FREE crawfish, FREE Yazoo beer, and great live music on Saturday, June 3rd at Bands & Boil 2023! Live music by Runner of the Woods, Wade Sapp, Megg Ferrell, Dustin Bothwell, and more. It’s a family-friendly event, with popsicles for the kids. It really is an easy “yes”.

Why do I do this? Honestly, it’s a throwback to my years living in New Orleans, where a a community crawfish boil was a great way for neighbors and music lovers to gather. There was no charge to attend. It was simply a gesture of neighborly goodwill. I don’t see enough of this in Nashville. Full lineup and set times TBD soon.

In other news, Runner of the Woods has been recording a new album at Sidekick Studio in East Nashville. We knocked out the rhythm tracks for 10 songs in 2 days. This would never have been doable outside of Nashville, where musicianship always inhabits a the highest plane of talent.

Here’s an inside look at how musical sausage is made.

New Live Videos! Back in the Studio!

Thanks to all who packed the dance floor at our February 21 show at Post 82 in Nashville. I’m thrilled we had the foresight to document this wonderful event on film. Here’s a video from that performance (more to come soon!).

Runner of the Woods live in Nashville, Tennessee, February 21, 2023.

We also had a wonderful time at Bobby’s Idle Hour this past Friday, March 10, 2023. Our good friend and Nashville songsmith, Afton Wolfe, was there to capture our “hit-in-the-making”:

Last but not least, finally, (finally!), Runner of the Woods is back in the studio this April. The dates are in the books!

Live at Bobby’s Idle Hour on Fri, Nov 18th + “Get Behind the Mule”, Tom Waits Tribute on Sat, Dec 10th!

What a great Nashville bill! Runner of the Woods will be performing all original and new songs this Friday, November 18th at Bobby’s Idle Hour. It’s part of the “New Songs Only” song series that we have launched. So many great songwriters in town make ends meet by playing country covers. I love classic country, but the new stuff is the reason we’re here.

Music starts at 8 pm sharp. There will be FREE turkey chili too!

8 PM: Wade Sapp

8:30: Zach Schmidt & Jackie Berkley

9:20: Runner of the Woods

10:05: Griffin McMahon

Runner of the Woods has also been booked to play the 17th annual “Get Behind the Mule” Tom Waits tribute at the 5 Spot on Saturday, December 10th. You don’t want to miss it!

Bluebird Show this Sun, Oct 9th – Sold Out!

It’s my birthday as I type this. I like to think I am keeping a very young man’s schedule. I have a stack of office work for today, a rehearsal later on, dinner tonight, camping in the cold this weekend, and a last minute show at the legendary Bluebird Cafe this Sunday, October 9th at 6 pm sharp! It’s already sold out, as often happens (the picture above is from a sold out show last December).

It’s a last minute booking, but being in Nashville, I was able to assemble and outstanding band with hours. This would be impossible anywhere else.

Immediately before the show, I will be driving back from a weekend of camping in cold weather in the woods of western Tennessee with my sons. As I hit the stage, I will be quite literally emerging from the forest, a “runner coming out of the woods”, if you will.

Here’s to living the dream.

Woodshedding & Recording

Summer has found me busy writing songs in the private writer rooms of NSAI on Music Row. I relish the privacy. Honestly, I need it in order to get things done. The system of setting time aside to be write in solitude works like a charm. Otherwise, I can only pick my guitar when the family is asleep. This would lend itself to an album’s worth of very, very quiet songs about being quiet while the rest of the household is sleeping, and we mustn’t wake them etc. I’m writing a lot of upbeat stuff these days!

I’ve also been fishing to my heart’s content, especially in rural Quebec. You can read about my most recent adventure on the Fish Blog (and Instagram).

I love playing live — I fronted Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers as recently as Aug 28th — but right now I’m hyper-focused on recording. New music has been a long time coming and it’s high time I woodshed in the studio once more. I have the songs. I only lacked the will to spend the money. Whatever dollars you pour into music are inevitably absent as soon as the air conditioner stops working (or your car starts making “that noise”). I think I was waiting for that special new song to present itself, something to be excited about (I’ve written it and can’t wait for you to hear it!). For the time being I’ll be recording more than playing out.

Although, that’s not all true. I have a show on Sept 30th at Shelby Park from 4 – 6 pm. It’s a free event, sponsored by East Nashville Beerworks and Friends of Shelby Park. And there will be a show in the fall at Bobby’s Idle Hour — I’m toying with the idea of doing a “Fixin’s Boil” (i.e. a crawfish boil without the bugs…just potatoes, sausage, corn etc. the stuff people actually like). And there will be a show at the Bluebird soon. I’ll post them all here.

In the meantime, the recent death of a Nashville via Wyoming honky-tonker has me thinking of the loss we suffered not so long ago, when our bass player, Craig Aspen, left us. We miss you, Craig!

Dreaming of Home Ownership in Nashville?

“Can You Believe What That House Sold For?”

Who doesn’t love to talk about Nashville home prices? Whether it’s in hushed tones about the rise in your home value or sticker shock at properties in your own neighborhood, no one can believe the trajectory — up, up, up! Unprecedented growth has altered the look and feel of Music City. I recently sat down with two of our sponsors for Bands & Boil 2022, Vida Wakeman of Crye-Leike Reatlors and Celia Anzalone Bowers of CMG Financial, to chat about Nashville’s real estate market.

“A lot of musicians feel that home ownership is a pipe dream but there are creative ways to get them in a home…and from personal experience, it will change your life!”

Vida Wakeman began her real estate career with Crye-Leike’s East Nashville branch office in 2019. Her background as a performing musician has served her well in connecting with clients throughout Music City. I asked her about the changes in Nashville’s market, and why musicians should not give up on their dream of home ownership.

As a real estate agent with extensive experience in Nashville, how would you describe the market for homes in Music City in 2022 as opposed to 2021?

It remains an incredibly strong market with low inventory and high demand. What has shifted slightly is that although house prices have risen over the last several years in 2021 interest rates were very low so the consumers buying power was higher. As interest rates have risen it means that in many instances what they can afford has fallen. Overall it has caused a very small slow down (like from going from a sprint to a run) but by no means is it flat. Homes continue to appreciate in the Middle Tennessee area and I think we will continue to see healthy appreciation in all real estate in this area.

Since the pandemic, Nashville home prices have surged nearly 45% in two years. Some housing markets are beginning to soften after years of rapid growth. Why do you think Nashville has bucked this trend? Do you see prices coming down in the near future?

Nashville still has lots of growth left in it with lots of people and businesses continuing to move here. I don’t see prices in Nashville ever coming down. They might slow down from the incredibly fast rise but going in reverse is something I don’t feel we will ever see.

Many musicians worry that they can no longer afford Nashville. Being a musician yourself, what advice would you give to them? Why should they stay and where should they look?

The best and fastest way to build wealth is home ownership. I think any musician who wants a secure future should buy a home (or two..or three). The opportunity to gain equity on borrowed money, secure and lock in a place to live and build wealth for the future all the while being able to focus on what you love is a no-brainer. I actually just got a client under contract for a home where they pay ZERO to buy it. 100% of the loan and closing costs are financed. What that means is that it’s actually cheaper for them to move into a house they own than move to a rental…all the while gaining equity and securing their future. I think a lot of musicians feel that home ownership is a pipe dream because they aren’t 9 to 5 ers or have a lot of money but there are a lot of programs and creative ways to get them in a home. And from personal experience I can say- IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

For those who enjoy the great outdoors, Tennessee is a paradise, with so many activities right at your door. For those who are looking for a piece of land out in the country, what areas might they have overlooked?

I see a lot of affordable and beautiful land in the Hohenwald area down south. Of course center hill lake is charming. I currently have directed several people to Dickson County, I feel it is ready to really boom and I love the landscape there.

What’s your go-to family activity in the summertime in Nashville?

Play in the woods! We recently acquired some land with water on it, so spend as much time out there exploring and splashing!

“Unless you’re paying cash for a home, you will need me.”

Celia Anzalone Bowers loves to educate realtors on the ins and outs of financing a home purchase. As loan officer with CMG Financial, she’s constantly connecting with clients and prospective home buyers. But she’s a triathlete and mother of three who enjoys the best of what Nashville has to offer an active family. I asked her to explain how the right loan officer can lead to home buying success.

First and foremost (in case people are afraid to ask), what does a loan officer do? How does their role differ from that of a real estate agent? What do you love most about your role at CMG Financial?

I take the initial credit applications and determine a borrower’s purchasing power and eligibility based on set guidelines. There may be numerous loan programs in which they could qualify, and my job is to advise clients on the best route to take. Unless you’re paying cash for a home, you will need me. And as a prospective buyer, you need a real estate agent who is both familiar with the market and experienced in negotiating because they do both. 

What I love about my role at CMG is being able to offer competitive rates, unique products and a quick closing which in this market is an advantage.  

As Interest rates have begun inching up, what recommendations would you offer to potential borrowers for securing the best rate? How can the right loan officer make the mortgage process easier?

We have a 45-Day Lock & Shop where you can lock in without an address upon pre-approval. It’s a small fee for a huge savings in comparison over 30 years. You would either have the close in 60 days or 90 days as an option. So that will give them 45 days to shop because we can close it in two weeks. This product is amazing and another reason why I love CMG and the ability to offer it. 

Tennessee has lots of beautiful land, from the Great Smoky Mountains, to rolling hills, to the Mississippi Delta region. How does financing the purchase of raw land differ from the more traditional purchase of a family home?

The only difference I see so far is credit score. For me to finance land, I would need about a 720ish vs a 580ish. You can apply directly with me. And I can lock you in Monday-Friday! If you plan to build on that land, you will need to secure a construction to permanent loan to build your house — I can help finance that too! 

What do you love about living in Nashville? What’s your favorite neighborhood?

I’ve really grown as a person. I was raised in a small town and I grew up a lot by moving to a bigger city with more opportunities for me. My favorite area that I have lived in would be Germantown, hands down. I could take a quick walk to the Farmer’s Market or to a Sounds game. It was also close to my church at the time!

What’s your favorite family day trip outside of Nashville?

Chattanooga! If you haven’t yet visited, there’s fun stuff for kids, restaurants, outdoor adventures, bars and hiking- really anything you could want. You can stay downtown and walk or bike anywhere you want to go.