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.
PAT REEDY & THE LONGTIME GONERS
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.
HANNAH JUANITA (4:30 pm)
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.
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.