"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

LIVE for Fighting

Chalk up another good venue in Nashville to catch live music. The Belcourt Theatre on 21st Avenue is known mostly for showing independent films but occasionally they have musical acts play, and seeing Five for Fighting there tonight in an acoustic show was our first such experience, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Good sight lines, comfortable seating and great acoustics made the experience worthwhile and definitely something we would do again. The general admission seating also allowed us to grab great third-row seats for the show as well.
Opening for FfF was the angelically-voiced, Angel Taylor, a 21-year-old, up-and-coming singer/songwriter whose work has recently been heard on some TV shows as well as a live appearance on the "Ellen" show. Her original songs were catchy and melodic but perhaps the most memorable tune in her short set was an acoustic cover of "Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon. Ashlee said it sounded better than the real thing that she saw and heard at a recent KoL show at the Sommet Center.
In case you didn't know, Five for Fighting, is the stage "presence" of singer/songwriter John Ondrasik, sometimes with a plugged-in band, sometimes alone and sometimes, like tonight, acoustic with just some guitar accompaniment. John's been on the scene for about 10 years now with some large critical success and more limited commercial success. His biggest claim to fame came strangely after the events of 9/11 when his song "Superman (It's Not Easy)" became sort of an anthem for the men and women who worked (and died) helping to save victims of the tragedy. His work is inspiring and uplifting and several of his songs like "100 Years" and "World" and "Freedom Never Cries" have been heard and loved by millions of people in ads, TV shows and movies, but who may just not know who John or Five for Fighting really is. Not a glitzy "rock star" by any means, John's a humble family man, a poet and an idealist whose outlet is music and his feelings and experiences with his children, his country and his world are reflected in each and every song.
He interacted well with the audience, telling stories and asking questions in the fairly intimate setting. He gave Nashville high praise which reiterates our feelings that we are so lucky to be able to catch live music in a town so loved and revered by artists who seem to give a little bit more at their shows here. John is promising to return to the stage next year with a full band and we sure do hope he includes Nashville on that tour.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You Can't Be in Two Places at Once...

We bought tickets to see O.A.R. again at the Vanderbilt Memorial Gym quite a while back when they first went on sale. So it's understandable that Ashlee mistakenly bought tickets to see up-and-coming singer/ songwriter, Mat Kearney, on the same night at a different venue. She was kicking herself pretty hard for not checking our always-busy calendar before purchasing the conflicting tickets. But what's done is done. We mapped out a plan that sounded like it would work pretty well: We would go to The Cannery at 8 PM and see Kearney's opening act and hopefully half a set from Mat. Then we would take a cab over to the Vandy Gym and catch O.A.R. around 10 PM as they closed the "Commodore Quake" Homecoming concert.
We arrived at The Cannery a few minutes before 8 PM after a carb-free dinner at Outback Steakhouse. We've been on the South Beach Diet for a few weeks now and it's working pretty well in terms of weight loss. Opening for Mat Kearny was the young, lovely and smokey-voiced Diane Birch and her band. She announced this was their last show opening for Mat, who has lived in Nashville for several years now since moving from Oregon where he grew up. Her original songs were catchy and well done. Her band was talented including a great trumpet player, Eric Bloom - horns are always a great addition to a rock band. During her set we got an unexpected text from our friend, Brandon, wanting to know where we were. He told us he was at the Vandy Gym watching O.A.R.?!?! Well, nuts!! It seems that O.A.R. was not the headliner as we had assumed at the Commodore Quake. Instead it was some goofy Latino rapper who calls himself Pitbull [insert eye-roll here]. That's the crap we thought we were missing while checking out some of the show at The Cannery.
Oh, well, "the best laid plans of mice and men" right? There was simply no way to catch enough of O.A.R.'s hour-long set and get back to The Cannery to see the end of Mat's set, so we excepted our fate and settled in to enjoy the full show. Ashlee really felt bad and apologized over and over for the mix-up. Luckily Mat bailed her out BIG TIME! Man, what a voice! Man, what a great backing band! Man, what a great show! This was our first time seeing Kearney live and he was simply amazing. Great stage presence and great energy as he played before a packed crowd back in his current hometown. This was one of the best sounding concerts we have seen/heard at The Cannery and also one of the liveliest as Mat enthusiasm of a packed house in his home town was very evident. He even waded into the crowd during his song "Top of the World" and then climbed atop the long bar to perform part of the song. Very cool. He included his hits (mostly heard on independent radio and as TV show background music) of "Breathe In, Breathe Out" - "Nothing Left to Lose" and his new hit, "Closer to Love" from his new album, "City of Black and White." He closed the show by inviting Diane and her band back on stage and they performed an ensemble cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" and there was that great trumpet again covering the saxaophone parts in the song. Very, very cool. In hindsight, the night really could not have went any better. If not for the lucky text by Brandon our plan would have pretty much been a bust as we would have missed most of Mat's set (he did not go on until 9:30) and all of O.A.R.'s (they were off the stage by 10 PM). Plus, Mat's headlining set in his hometown was longer and probably better than O.A.R.'s sandwich set - yes, another rapper opened for them...ugghh! We hated to miss seeing O.A.R. live again (Brandon did say they were great) since they put on such a great show that we saw in Atlanta a little over a month ago, but we know we will catch them again (hopefully as the headliners they deserve to be).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Going On Snow Patrol

We missed seeing Snow Patrol on their last visit to Nashville when they opened for Coldplay, so we were excited to find out they were coming back with their own headlining tour to our favorite Nashville music venue, the historic Ryman Auditorium. We bought tickets way back in June and it was a good thing we did because the place looked sold out by the time they took the stage. Opening for Snow Patrol was a good little band out of Chicago called The Plain White Tees. They struck commercial success a few years ago with their catchy little ditty "Hey There, Delilah." They performed a nice opening set that included some good original songs including "1,2,3,4" which is on our favorite videos that we've seen in the last few years . (let it play for a minute or so to see why it's so good)
Their songs are pretty simple and uplifting in tone. They said they were heading back to Chicago this fall to record a new album and we look forward to hearing more from this talented quintet.
We have become fans of Snow Patrol in the past few years thanks to a string of great songs that have made radio and TV airplay including "You're All I Have", "Chasing Cars" and their newest hit, "Crack the Shutters." This was our first time seeing them live and it was a truly amazing show. Led by charismatic (and darn funny) frontman/singer, Gary Lightbody , this Irish/Scottish band of five (seven members touring) is extremely talented and quite a well-oiled machine after being together for 14 years. The lyrics of their songs are simple and complex all at the same time with haunting melodies and catchy rhythms. Lightbody was very engaging to the audience and when he wasn't cracking jokes (in his Irish accent..."We have sung to you and now ya...uhh...yawwwl can sing to... uhhh....y'us"), he was expressing the sincere honor of playing at the Ryman. We are extremely fortunate to catch acts at The Ryman who appreciate the history of the stage they are standing on and in turn give a great performance so as to leave their mark there as well. In short, we have never seen a bad show there and most of our Top Ten have been there which includes this one.
They encored with an incredible three-song epic they call "The Lightning Strike." It was accompanied by an amazingly complex light and image show that draws similarities to live performances by the likes of Coldplay and Pink Floyd. The nearly two-hour show flew by and definitely left us wanting more. We cannot wait to see them again.

FOOTNOTE: We also caught another show from our favorite regional band, Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, at Nashville's Mercy Lounge (photo right) during The Americana Festival last month. The boys put on a lively show despite the late hour (they didn't go on until after midnight) and we were right down front to take it all in. "Sin in Indiana. It's a powerful thing!"