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. 

Bands & Boil 2022 Sat, June 4th at The Groove Records

Free crawfish, free beer, and great live music! Join Runner of the Woods, Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line (other artists TBA) on Saturday, June 4th at East Nashville’s Groove Records. This is a family friendly event (popsicles and drinks for the kids).

A special thanks to our generous sponsors, Yazoo Brewing Company, Vida Wakeman, Realtor and Celia Anzalone Bowers of CMG Financial!

Full band lineup and details coming soon!

Sold Out Full Band Debut at the Bluebird!

Bluebird Cafe, L-R: Stephen Daly, Nick Beaudoing, Nick Davidson, Brett Resnick, Eric Frey

Our full-band debut at Nashville’s legendary Bluebird Cafe was sold out! Playing an hour long set of originals in a room that’s pin-drop quiet — not a lot of songwriters get that opportunity. This show was easily the highlight of our year.

The Bluebird has a “no talking” policy. I almost feel bad for the audience, but they’re totally on board. It makes for a very special set. Shows likes that are in extremely short supply.

We were well rehearsed, owing to several shows we booked in advance, to get us in prime musical shape. One of those, at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge, the night before our Bluebird debut, was captured on video. Dee’s does every band an enormous service in recording a Facebook live stream of every band’s gig. You can watch the link here. It’s essentially our Bluebird set, minus the good behavior.

After our Bluebird show, it was off to Santa’s Pub, where I occasionally front the hard country band, Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers. That venue is well on its way to becoming “legendary” in its own right. Our guitarist’s father, Mike Daly, was playing pedal steel. Typical Nashville — you play a show with a favorite guitarist, then head to another venue where his father — also incredibly accomplished — is on the stage doing his thing. This city is a special place.

Next week I’ll be doing session work on the Cajun accordion (yes, this is thing).

Mardi Gras is also on the way — March 1st! Our show venue is TBD but we’ll be there to help you celebrate. Then it’s off to the studio to record a tribute to Quebecois songwriter, Gilles, Vigneault. I have the track listing ready to go.

It’s just a matter of handing the money over to the engineer. More soon…

Shows on the Calendar!

I waiting for my ride to drive me to the Smoky Mountains for a show tonight at the Listening Room in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The fall colors are going to be stunning (no way to prepare for that).

When I return, I’ll be fronting Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers at Santa’s Pub in Nashville — ground zero for hard core country on a Sunday night.

On December 12th at 6 pm, I’ll be doing a full band show at the legendary Bluebird Cafe in Nashville! Really looking forward to that!

On December 17th, I’ll be playing a fun show called “Superjolly”, in honor of Christmas, at the Five Spot in East Nashville. Details on that one TBD.

It feels be good to be hitting the road and playing shows again. More soon!

Song Co-Written with Ronny Criss,”It Ain’t”, Released on Rainfeather Records

Co-Write with Songwriter, Ronny Criss, “It Ain’t” (Rainfeather Records)

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.

“Highways”, The Debut Album by Country Artist Ronny Criss (Release Date TBD)

Snow Day Music Festival 2021 – Aug 21st!

w/ the Watson Twins, Erin Rae, Teddy & the Roughriders and more!

 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.

Here’s the schedule:


Ethan Luck: 11:30am-12:30pm
facebook.com/ethanluckmusic @ethanluck

Runner of the Woods: 12:50-1:30pm
runnerofthewoodsmusic.com @runnerofthewoodsband

Emily Nenni: 2:00-2:40pm
facebook.com/emilynennimusic @emily.nenni

Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers: 3:00-3:40pm *Nashville Legends featured at SANTA’s PUB

Banditos: 4:00-4:40pm
facebook.com/BANDITOSBAND @banditosband

Riley Downing, Cotton Clifton & the Kernal: 5:00-5:40
rileydowning.com @rileydown @cotton_clifton @kerncountry

Erin Rae: 6:00-6:50pm
erinraemusic.com @erinraemusic

Watson Twins: 7:10-8:10
thewatsontwins.com @thewatsontwins

Teddy and the Rough Riders: 9:00-10:00pm
facebook.com/teddyandtheroughriders @teddyandtheroughriders

Meet our Sponsor – Vida Wakeman of Crye-Leike Real Estate Services

Vida Wakeman, Crye-Leike Real Estate Services

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?

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?

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.

Bands & Boil Preview – Meet the Bands!

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.

So, meet the bands from this year’s Bands & Boil:

AFTON WOLFE (2:30 pm)

Genre: Mississippi Americana

Latest Release: Kings for Sale (June 11, 2021)

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.

Website: https://aftonwolfe.com/


Genre: Hard country

Latest Release: “Homesick Blues” single (2021)

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.

Website: https://www.patreedymusic.com/


Genre: Tennessee Honky-Tonk

Latest Release: “Hardliner” (June 11, 2021)

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.

Website: https://hannahjuanita.bandcamp.com/

Runner of the Woods (5:30 pm)

Genre: Country & Cajun

Latest Release: “Acadiana Girls” single (2019).

Preview: If the idea of kids smashing accordions appeals to you, you’ll love the video for Runner of the Woods’ single, “Acadiana Girls”. New music is in the works, but he is taking his time, spending long hours fly fishing for trout and singing French songs to himself. Speaking of which, he keeps threatening to release a tribute album to Quebecois singer, Gilles Vigneault. He even once sang a Vigneault song, “I Have for You a Lake” while sitting in a kayak. Seriously, though, Gilles Vigneault is 92 years old, so he’d better hurry.

Megan Palmer (6:30 pm)

Genre: Uplifting Americana

Latest Release: “Take Good Care” (2021)

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.

Website: https://www.meganpalmer.com/

Bands & Boil 2021 on Sat, June 5th at the Groove Records in Nashville!

Sponsored by Vida Wakeman, Realtor

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.


2:30 pm: Afton Wolfe
3:30 pm: Pat Reedy
4:30 pm: Hannah Juanita
5:30 pm: Runner of the Woods
6:30 pm: Megan Palmer

*** We will be serving individual portions of crawfish for safety purposes.

Additional details on the performers and an interview with our sponsor on the Nashville realty market coming next week!