Sam Van Meter @ The 5 Spot

Last night I had the rare opportunity of having a Thursday img_1865night off so I was invited to see a friend of a friend perform a short set at The 5 Spot in East Nashville. I had never been there to see live music before, only the DJs that spin Motown hits on Monday nights (and waiting in line for 12 hours to get a glimpse of Lady Gaga), so I was excited to see
Sam Van Meter play. Most people would say that he falls under the Americana genre but his style proves to be more than that. Even though he was the opening act as a solo acoustic singer/songwriter, he could sure fill up a room with his soul.

Sam is more than just a guitar player; he also plays the harmonica. When he straps that around his neck he gives a whole new layer to his sound. If Bob Dylan and Ray Lamontagne could have a love child you would get Sam Van Meter. His song “Told You Two Times” has a minimalist blues vibe very reminiscent of The Black Keys.

When Sam sings, it is clear that he feels every single word coming out of his mouth. His lyrics show true passion and vulnerability that is sometimes lost with other performers. You can see who Sam Van Meter is as a person just by listening to his songs. I had met Sam a few times prior to this performance but this was the first time I had ever heard him sing, and based on this set I can’t wait to hear more!


Mandy Cook and the Bandies Live @ Gray’s On Main

Friday night could not have been more perfect for live music. It was the 1st of July and the weather was perfect. Summer had officially started and downtown Franklin was buzzing. Walking up to Gray’s On Main, the pharmacy turned restaurant/music venue, all I could hear were people talking about the Mandy Cook and the Bandies show there later that evening. I am glad I had a reserved seat because the place was packed. Downstairs is a cute little restaurant where you can tell it used to be a pharmacy. Upstairs, past the kitchen, is where the magic happens. There is a giant stage up high enough so everyone can see no matter where your seats are.

Usually I see Mandy perform as a solo act at Hotel Indigo in downtown Nashville, but this performance was such a treat. IMG_1293She had her full band with her (Junior Padilla on drums, Brodie Hutchins on guitar, James Westfall on keys, and Anthony Sallee on bass) and they filled in her songs so nicely. They played the majority of her album “See” (which you can get on itunes) as well as a few well selected covers. If you’d like a review of her album check out my blog post about her CD release party back in September.

There are a few songs that stood out to me the most. One of them was her acoustic version of “Space Oddity” by the incomparable David Bowie. It was raw and emotional and gave everyone goosebumps. IMG_1324The band rocked it with “Crazy” by Gnarles Barkley, and again with “What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner. My favorite performance of the night was her song “Mississippi Voodo.” I’ve heard her perform that dozens of times but never like this. The tempo was brought down and became more bluesy. She let James start the song off on keys and then added a guitar solo so Brodie could let loose. The whole band looked like they were having a blast playing that song. They all fed off each other nicely.

In between songs Mandy let her inner nerd out unapologetically and it was endearing as hell. It’s great when a musician can show who they really are on stage. One of the most moving songs of the evening is an unreleased song called “And Then There’s Us” which she dedicated to all of our veterans. She wrote this song after the Paris attacks a few months ago. It is a song that is especially pertinent in our social/political climate today. People were brought to tears, myself included.

After bringing the mood down a bit with that song she went for something completely different with another brand new unreleased song called “I’ll Do Me.” It’s a great upbeat song about parting ways with someone you once had a relationship with. Despite the subject matter it is still groovy and makes you want to dance. The last song that she sang with the full band was “Lauren.” Anthony started off with a dominant bass line and then the rest of the band filled in. Definitely a fun song.  13501900_10157140893075451_7583924313684937243_n

She ended the show by putting the guitar down and singing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt with only Brodie accompanying her on guitar. It was refreshing to see her perform without the guitar. It was vulnerable and left the audience breathless.

I have seen many Mandy Cook performances but this was by far my favorite. The set list was designed perfectly and it was paired with a great and welcoming venue. Gray’s on Main does a fantastic job at showcasing the artists that play there. The sound is great and the ambiance captures the feeling you want when seeing a great live show.


T-Ran Gilbert Album Review for #TheImprint

Last night I got invited to an exclusive listening party by the President of 22Visionz Record Label for an album called The Imprint by Christian R&B artist named T-Ran Gilbert. I didn’t really know what to expect because I am not so familiar with the Christian music industry. I was sent some music via youtube and was very impressed so I accepted the invitation. It was an intimate setting with only 20 chairs set up for hand-picked people in the music industry. Out of all the sound engineers and radio personalities I was honored to be the only blogger there. I do apologize in advance for the lack of photographs as it was an exclusive event and no pictures/videos were allowed during the party. When I first walked in T-Ran was there to greet me with a handshake and a hug. We had never met before but it was like we were friends who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. He is a genuinely nice guy and he really believes in the message that his music is sending.

The album is called #TheImprint and it comes out everywhere on Monday 6/6/16. @TRanGilbert has historically been a Christian artist but this album is more mainstream. Now being a, let’s just say, non-Christian, I very much enjoyed this album. Most Christian music is too overtly spiritual for my taste but this album is something I would listen to in my car if I needed some positivity in my life. Each song sounds different. Although all of them mention spirituality in some way (some more blatant than others), there is no doubt in my mind that this album could make it to the mainstream R&B charts.

“Nowhere”, although written about different struggles in his own life, is dedicated to the awareness of sex trafficking around the world. You most definitely won’t find a song like this on the Christian charts. T-Ran is looking to change the game with this track. Most people in this state don’t know that there is a large slavery problem still alive and well in Tennessee. To learn more about what you can do to end sex trafficking here in your own state check out

“Breathe” should definitely be a track that gets sent to every radio station. Although it is about a serious subject (and the video is yet another statement piece), it has a very catchy chorus that is easy to remember and will resonate with a lot of people whether they are spiritual or not. There is also a remixed version on the album but that is the only song we didn’t get to preview.

Most of the songs on #TheImprint can certainly be classified as R&B but “Hands Up” is more of a dope hip-hop dance track. To change the game even further the hardest rocking song on the album is called “Jesus.” This song is not R&B at all and is most unlike the others. It is a hard rock tune and there is a killer guitar solo right in the middle that will most certainly attempt to melt your face off.

“Miracle” is an acoustic track that was written when @trangilbert was just 13 years old. He shared with us that it is about his brother who got diagnosed with diabetes. He had a blood sugar level of over 900. Anything over 600 is considered fatal. But his brother was walking around fine with a deadly blood sugar level. But after a couple of days, he was seemingly cured and his levels went back down to within normal range. This song brought tears to all of our eyes as we envisioned a 13 year old boy begging God to save his brother’s life.

“Let Go” is probably my favorite song on the album. T-Ran calls it his summer single. It is dancey and catchy. This is the joint that will make T-Ran Gilbert a household name. Even though T-Ran has only been in Nashville for a short time, he will soon be known everywhere around town. His brand of Inspirational R&B will speak to everyone regardless of religion or lack thereof. Watch out Nashville! T-Ran is coming by storm!

T-Ran and me at Ocean Way Studio

T-Ran and me at Ocean Way Studio


Spiffy Squirrel Comedy Show @ The East Room Featuring Valerie Tosi

Everyone knows Nashville as “Music City” but what most people don’t know is there is an emerging comedy scene happening. Every week you can find an open mic or weekly comedy show at various venues around town with local and touring comics alike. One of these shows is the Spiffy Squirrel Comedy Show hosted by Chad Riden every Sunday night at The East Room from 6:30-8pm. IMG_0825First up to the mic was the Emcee, Chad Riden. Chad’s jaded look on life leads to his sarcastic comedy about his divorce, crazy family, and what it’s like living in Nashville. One of his many claims to fame is that he hosted and produced the #BrokenRecordShow at the East Room last year which was a non-stop 184 hour 16 minute long comedy show that more than doubled the Guinness World Book of Records for longest stand-up comedy show. He even joked about how even though that is an impressive feat, most adults don’t give a shit about it but his young nephews think that he is a God because his name is in the book. If Chad looks familiar to you, it might be because you’ve seen him on one of the various stages in dive bars around Nashville, or it’s because he ran (unsuccessfully) for Mayor of our fair city last year. If you would like to know when Chad will be performing around Nashville just follow him on twitter.

The first comic in the line up was the very funny Hannah Hogan. IMG_0848Originally hailing from Toronto, Canada, Hannah is now a resident of Nashville. You may have seen her at Bobby’s Idle Hour Tavern at one of their Monday night open mic comedy nights, or at one of the many festivals she has performed at this year including the Bird City Comedy Festival in Phoenix, AZ earlier this month. Her sweet demeanor plays off very well with her sometimes dark sense of humor. Her jokes ranged anywhere from what it’s like meeting new people to the abrupt death of her mother when she was a teenager. She has a knack for turning her tragic life events into a great comedy bit. Hannah’s next performances in Nashville will be at Acme Feed & Seed on Wednesday April 27th at 9pm and the Comedy Out the Yazoo at Zanie’s on Wednesday May 11th at 7:30pm. To see what Hannah is up to you can follow her on twitter.

Next in the line up was funny lady Katherine Jessup. IMG_0827Her set was a well thought out 10 minutes that drew from her real life experiences living in the nation’s capital. I related a lot to her jokes about what it’s like living on the east coast in a blizzard, being single, and being the “cool aunt” even though we all know that’s code for “most financially unstable.” She has also performed at the Bid City Comedy Festival earlier this month. You can see when she’s performing next by following her on twitter.

Before the headliner there was a “mystery guest” scheduled to perform and his name is Shane Torres.IMG_0834 Hailing from NYC Shane is a comedy force. You may know him from IFC’s Comedy Bang Bang, or his appearance on Conan. His set was hilarious. Like many comics, Shane battles depression and is not ashamed to talk about it. He uses comedy to help cope with it and he does a great job doing it. Despite that, one of the best moments in his set was when he came to the defense of celebrity chef Guy Fieri. His jokes about how people give Mr. Fieri so much shit about the way he dresses made the entire room laugh out loud in agreement. It was a great moment in the show. You can check out Shane and his next appearances by visiting his website or following him on twitter.

The last comic on deck was the headliner, and my personal friend, Valerie Tosi. IMG_0837Tosi, originally from a seaside town in Massachusetts, has spent the last several years living in LA persuing her dreams of becoming an actress and comedian. She hosts multiple shows each month including the all female Mermaid Comedy Hour and Volumizing Comedy Show. Her resume is extensive in many mediums including TV, web series, independent films, and several commercials. Wearing her so-called “Puss Pants” Valerie’s set was filled with bits about her stoner parents, drunken grocery shopping, online dating, what it was like being a former band geek and theater nerd, and even threw in some brand new material about her visit to Nashville. In such a short time, Valerie has accomplished so much and we hope that she will be back in Nashville soon. In the meantime, she will be performing back in LA when she’s not making people laugh at one of the many comedy festivals she was accepted to in 2016. You can follow Valerie on twitter to see where she will be performing.



Signed, Sealed, Delivered @ Soulshine

This weekend my friend asked me if I would go see a friend play in a Stevie Wonder cover band at Soulshine Pizza Factory. Now being that I love me some Stevie, of course I was down to go. It wasn’t even a question. With that being said, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, there is a reasonable expectation that a cover band is going to have a few gimmicks and is just going to play the hits to get people dancing. That was definitely NOT the case here. There were no gimmicks…just great music. And people were definitely dancing up something fierce! I don’t normally write about cover bands but this one was so good that I couldn’t not write about it. The musicians were fantastic individually but played together in the 9 piece ensemble like they’ve been touring together for years. After meeting the guitarist’s wife in the crowd we struck up a conversation and she informed me that they actually don’t gig all that much and that this wasn’t even the full band! I was kind of shocked. A band like this should be playing all over town. Each musician has their own project that they work on and it’s a treat when they can get together to play some sweet Stevie Wonder jams.

One of the most impressive players was their tenor sax player. IMG_0672I believe his name was Mickey Gutierrez (sorry if this is wrong, I was too in the moment to get all of their names). Not only did he crush it on sax, but he also slayed it on flute. When he wasn’t playing woodwinds, he was picking up the maracas, or the cowbell, or any other percussive instrument. He rarely stood still. If he wasn’t playing anything, he was dancing! Gutierrez was definitely fun to watch.

The other sax player (I didn’t catch his name, sorry!) was anything but JUST a sax player. As the frontman mentioned, he plays several instruments but on Saturday night he played keys, tenor sax, and harmonica. He was incredible on all three! This cat should be touring in major arenas with the talent he has. There is something special about a musician who is proficient on several instruments that are not similar to each other at all. If you want to hear a couple of snippets of his talent, you can watch a short snapchat (@no-h86) video I took here: 

and here: 


Now I know what you’re thinking, “those musicians are great but did the singer actually sound like Stevie?” And the answer is absolutely! He was great! Not only did he do Mr. Wonder justice but he was a great IMG_0667frontman even though he was sitting behind the keys the whole time. He commanded the stage and had great rapport with the audience. In between songs and introducing the band, he told stories of how he and some of the band members met which gave it a personal touch. As he introduced each member, he took a backseat and just let them rip on their solos. The percussion “drum off” between the latin drums and drum kit, along with the other solos, made “Superstition” last 15 minutes! He did a great job showcasing the other members.

I really hope this band gigs again soon! I really dug their sound and I think Stevie Wonder would have been proud. Not only did I enjoy the band, but I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere at Soulshine. This was my first time there and I will definitely be returning. The stage was large enough where the band didn’t seem crowded and the covered outdoor experience was perfect for the warm Spring air. I could hear the band down the street before walking in and it definitely let you know where the party was that night. The only criticism I have is the parking situation. We did have to drive around a few times to find some (free) parking on a side street, but it wasn’t that far from the venue. Either way, Soulshine is definitely a great way to spend a Saturday night! And Signed, Sealed, Delivered definitely delivered!

As always you can follow me on twitter and instagram to see when a new blog is going to be posted.

The Double A Octet featuring Tommy Keenum @ The Family Wash

When I entered The Family Wash on Friday evening it was already packed. There was an hour wait for a table and everybody was in a great mood. People were laughing and eating, and those who weren’t were tapping their feet to the music. I took up residence at the corner of the bar while I watched and listened to The Double A Octet‘s jazzy tunes. The vibe in there was pretty great. This was the first time I had been to the new location since they moved to Main St. in East Nashville. The jazz band is lead by Roy Agee (trombone) and his good friend Chris Autry (bass). Most of the charts were written by Mr. Agee and they were arranged beautifully.

When I walked in they were about to start one of the many jazz standards in their repertoire, “Come Fly With Me” by Frank Sinatra. Frequently the band features Mr. Tommy Keenum when they need vocals.IMG_0379 (1) His crooning style fit perfectly with the band. The octet (really 9 members plus Tommy) sounded like they’ve been playing together for years and have a really professional and polished sound to them. Throughout the 2 hour set there were solos by Steve Patrick on trumpet, Evan Cobb on tenor sax, Sam Levine on alto sax, and Roy Agee on trombone. In between numbers Roy would grace us with a joke or two.

Even though this is an octet, one of the charts that stood out to me most was when Tommy sang “My Funny Valentine” only accompanied by Chris Autry on bass. As a bass player myself it was really cool to hear that be the main, and only, instrument featured in a song. You can tell that this ensemble was very well thought out and put together. Each member exudes musicianship and professionalism. I would definitely see this band again.


Larissia Murphy Live @ The High Watt: “Speak Your Mind” EP Release Party

Last night I went to an awesome venue I have never been to before called The High Watt to see the mesmerizing Larissia Murphy release her amazing EP called “Speak Your Mind.” The venue was small but spacious and had decent sound (which is hard to find in this city sometimes!) and a fairly well stocked bar. The lineup was an impressive group of women who know their way around the stage.

First up was the always entertaining Mandy Cook. Larissia was one of the opening acts at Mandy’s CD release party (see my first blog post) so Mandy returned the favor and didn’t disappoint. This time instead of a band, Mandy brought up her friend Brodie Hutchins to accompany her on electric guitar. This was the first time the two have played together and it was awesome. IMG_2668She started her set with “Flip A Coin” and then ended with what I would call her signature song, “Mississippi Voodoo.” Of course Larissia joined her on stage to do another rendition of their cover of The Boss’ “Dancing In The Dark.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these ladies NEED to collaborate more often. They both enhance each other so well and they just have a natural chemistry. All of her original songs are on her new CD called See and you can buy it on itunes.

Next up was the sultry Sara Jean Kelley. One of the first songs Sara sang was an original called “Cowboy.” This was a slow, old-school country type song. It reminded me of Patsy Cline. The next song on her list was “Last One To Know.” It was the darkest one of her set and very bluesy. IMG_2684Her last song of the night was done in Christmas spirit. She channeled her inner Elvis and crooned out her version of “Blue Christmas.” It was a festive way to end her set. You can buy Sara’s new EP The Waiting Place on itunes.

The next act was Larissia’s college roommate and best friend Sarah Buxton. Sarah has been writing music and performing for a really long time and is no stranger to the stage. Her set was short but powerful. It consisted of two songs. IMG_2707The first song was called “Don’t Want You Back” (I have to guess because I’m not entirely sure). It was sassy like a Miranda Lambert song. The second song was what Sarah said was “a song about love, race, and being welcomed in a sacred space.” I believe it was called “House of Love.” Even though she is about to give birth in 2 weeks, she crushed it and put on a powerful performance.

The act to introduce the lady of the night was her friend Emily West. Emily is an accomplished musician in Nashville with a crazy good voice who was also featured on America’s Got Talent in 2014 (in fact she finished 2nd!). Her set was also short (too short in my opinion!). She started with an acapella version of her song “Why Do Lovers Leave” which is about a fucker who left her (I don’t know who would ever leave her with that voice..I hope this wasn’t really about her!). It was an incredible performance and you could seriously hear a pin drop because everyone was enthralled with her voice that they ceased all conversation.IMG_2717Her next song really spoke to me. It’s called “Everyone Is Fighting a Battle of Their Own.” I can relate to this song so well. As a person who has privately struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression I appreciated the lyrics to this song so much. Emily has a few EPs but her newest album All For You is a collection of covers and you can buy it on itunes.

Finally the main attraction entered the stage with commanding stage presence. She brought Mandy Cook back up on stage to sing back up. First song was “Mexican Flowers.” This jam is one of my favorites on the album. It is full of imagery and paints an awesome picture with the lyrics.IMG_2740Next she pulled out a Dwight Yoakam cover called “Guitars and Cadillacs” and got everyone dancing. She kept the dance train going with my favorite song off the EP (which she co-wrote with Sarah Buxton), “Cold Shoulder.” That song is about a significant other partying all day/night and coming home to no sympathy. She then sang both “Love Drives Everyone Crazy” and “No Town” back to back. Even though “Speak Your Mind” is the title track, the first single off the EP is “Late One Night.” This is my other favorite song on the album. Her voice reminds me of a mix between Sheryl Crow and Patsy Cline on this track. Very smooth.IMG_2771After Larissia played all of the songs on her EP she kept the party rolling with a couple covers. First up was “Let Me Roll It” by Wings where she brought out Sarah Buxton, Emily West, and her husband to help sing backup. It was so fun to watch all of them just rock out. Then they followed it up with the Gram Parson’s song “Ooh Las Vegas.” The last song of the night was Larissia’s original throwback style Christmas song called “Santa’s Little Darlin’.” It is seriously my new favorite Christmas song and y’all should definitely check it out.

Last night was such a great show. The lineup was fantastic. Larissia looked like Nashville’s version of Florence Welch and had the stage presence of someone who has been doing this for 20 years. Every single artist that played on the stage that night deserves all the success in the world. I can tell that this EP is the first of many great things to come for Ms. Murphy.

You can purchase the EP and the Christmas single on itunes and you can follow Larissia on facebook and twitter @LarissiaMurphy.

Here is where you can find all of the other artists mentioned on social media:

Mandy Cook: @MandyCookMusic (twitter), themandycook (snapchat), and facebook

Sara Jean Kelley: @sarajeankelley (twitter), facebook

Sarah Buxton: @sarahbuxton (twitter), facebook

Emily West: @emilywestmusic (twitter), facebook

And as always you can follow me on twitter @CS_MusicBlog. I am also on snapchat at no-h86 and instagram at sperrone86!

Erin Rae, Friends of Lola, and Josh Farrow at The Basement East

Friday night I got an invitation to see a local band from East Nashville at The Basement East. I had a friend visiting from out of town and I thought what better way to show her Nashville than to go to a local gig instead of the Honky Tonks. I had no idea who the band was or who the musicians were playing before and after them. I just took my friend’s word for it that they were good. I’m so glad that I went. Discovering new music is part of the reason why I moved to Nashville in the first place. Just being able to go to a show of a band you’ve never heard of on any given night is awesome. And then becoming a fan of them is an added bonus. I believe I even tweeted to them during the show “I didn’t know who you were before tonight but I’m sure glad I know now!” The band is called Friends of Lola.


Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles

The first performer to go on was a woman named Erin Rae. I had not seen her before or heard her music but it is clear that she has been doing this for a while. Her mellow melodies are reminiscent of Joni Mitchell with a splash of Aimee Mann. These beautifully written songs put you in a relaxing mood and was a good way to start the night. She played mostly songs off her new album Soon Enough in a 30-45 minute set. These songs are simple yet intricate at the same time. They are easy to listen to but you can tell the musicianship and songwriting prowess that was poured into each one. Erin is a native Tennessean with folk music roots. Her blend of folk music and modern Americana forges a new path for today’s folk artists. Here is a video of Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles singing “Monticello.” You can listen to and purchase their music here. You can also find Erin on facebook and twitter @ErinRae_Music.

The second act to go on was the band I was invited to see. They are called Friends of Lola. I had no idea what to expect from them. All I knew is that they are a country band that lives in East Nashville. Leading the band are siblings Houston and Cyrena Wages. IMG_2534Their parents must have done something right because this duo meshes so well together. The set was about an hour long and they rocked the house. They played songs that got people dancing and then they broke it down when singing ballads. Their songs are catchy but not shallow. The 6 piece ensemble play very well together. They are all individually talented which makes the band stronger as a whole. Cyrena’s powerhouse vocals on top of Houston’s Chris Robinson-esque style make for a good time. Not only does Houston sing as the front man of the band but he also plays harmonica. You can tell that they have a good time when they are on stage. Most of their songs are fun to listen to and they are certainly fun to watch. Some of their songs are moving. The drummer, Gabe Rabben, plays guitar as well. He jumped up from behind the drum kit to pick up the guitar and play with Cyrena and Houston on one of their slower songs. IMG_2551It was awesome. One of the lyrics from that song stuck with me (sorry I don’t remember the actual title. I was too in the moment and too busy listening to take adequate notes!) was “You can dance with the devil ’til you find what you’re looking for. You can drink wine with Jesus ’til you pass out on the floor.” I’m not a religious person but the imagery in that lyric got to me. After the ballad they cranked things up again and melted everyone’s faces with a cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles. Everyone was on their feet after that one. Such a great jam and Cyrena’s vocals crushed it. After their set Cyrena was nice enough to introduce herself to our table and invite us out for drinks after. Unfortunately I didn’t get to take her up on the offer but next time that is a definite! You can find Friends of Lola on facebook and twitter @FriendsOfLola.

The last act to go on was Josh Farrow. I was delighted to find out that he is a bit more of a bluesy singer. Starting off the night with a mellow Erin Rae, then going into a rocking country band, and then ending with the grittiness of Josh Farrow was the perfect lineup. At first Josh came out with just his guitar player, bassist, and drummer. IMG_2590After the first song the backup singers joined in. Those ladies really added a punch to Josh’s soulful songs. His voice is airy and gritty and has the right mixture of blues, folk, and Americana thrown in. During his hour long set he switched between his acoustic guitar and the keyboard. Not only that, his guitarist would jump between electric guitar and the dobro. The musicians in this band are very versatile. Each song sounded different. Josh’s two singles are even different from each other. The first one is called “Devil Don’t You Fool Me.” You can listen to it here. His second single is called “The Worrying Kind” and you can listen to it here. Josh’s new record is set to release in 2016. You can find Josh Farrow on facebook and twitter @JoshFarrow Music.

These three acts made my Friday night worthwhile. This is the first show I’ve seen at The Basement East (although I’ve seen several at The Basement on 8th as you can tell from my previous two blog posts) and I was not disappointed. The sound was great, the lights were awesome, and the drinks were strong. The Basement and The Basement East know how to put on a good show. If you want something a bit more intimate, The Basement on 8th is a great place to go. The Basement East is bigger, newer, and louder. Both venues give great experiences. You can find more information about The Basement/The Basement East on their website as well as on facebook.

As always, you can find out more about blog posts on my twitter @CS_MusicBlog. Thanks for reading!

Scott Mulvahill Live at The Basement

Last night I was invited to see a show at The Basement by my friend Mandy Cook (see my last blog entry to read about her CD release party last month) to see Scott Mulvahill play. I had no idea what to expect as I was not familiar with his music. All I knew is that he played upright bass and that was right up my alley. If you are a basshead like I am, then you have to check him out.

IMG_2435When he got on the stage it was just him and his bass….no band or accompaniment. He started the show with a haunting and moving cover of “Wake Me Up” by Avicci and Aloe Black. It was an excellent way to start the show as it is a wildly popular song, but he put his own twist on it. After that the rest of his band joined him on stage to start playing songs off of his “unreleased” album. The first song, “Top of the Stairs” was very catchy and could easily be a pop hit, but then he moved into a more bass heavy bluegrass feel with the next couple of tracks. Scott’s “day job” is playing bass with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. Last year they were on tour with Bruce Hornsby. After the tour, Scott starting singing lead on “20/20 Vision” by Gene Autry. I’m glad that Ricky gave him that chance because he sang it beautifully. If you are unfamiliar with that song you can watch the video of Scott performing it here.

IMG_2442One of the songs that stood out to me was “Sweet Symsonia.” For this one song only he put down his bass and picked up the guitar. The only way I can describe this song is melty. By that I mean I was left in a puddle under my seat by the end of it. He wrote it about the town in Kentucky where his girlfriend grew up. If he weren’t taken, after that song, I would have tried to snatch him up. If every woman in the place wasn’t swooning by the end of that song then I have no idea what turns them on. After getting my shit together and basically mopping myself up off the floor I got to enjoy “Fighting for the Wrong Side,” which he played solo. There is just something so magical about a singer and a bass. It’s so raw and makes you really listen.

IMG_2439Imagine, for a second, that John Mayer and Paul Simon had a baby. That is what I think Scott Mulvahill’s voice sounds like. So it is only natural for him to sing a Paul Simon song. He completely crushed “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.” It was awesome to watch. As a bass player myself, it is hard enough to sing and play bass at the same time, let alone master an intricate bass line like you typically find in a Paul Simon song, and crush it. I was thoroughly impressed.

The whole time he was playing I just wanted to get up and dance. Especially to “Gold Plated Lie.” It is definitely a song that should get you on your feet. The last official song of the set was called “Himalayas.” It was my favorite performance of the night. It was the only song that I took video of. You can see the video here on my facebook page.

Even though it was a Monday night and all I wanted to do after work was curl up on the couch in my jammies and watch Netflix, I’m glad that I went out to see this. The Basement is always a great place to watch local musicians and I will definitely be catching more of Scott’s shows in the future. Excuse me while I cool myself off after watching this show.

You can find Scott on his website He’s also on twitter @Mulvaskills, and you can find more videos of him on his youtube channel

And as always you can find me on twitter @CS_MusicBlog.

Mandy Cook Album Release Party

As thousands were flocking downtown to see the megastar Taylor Swift, a select few knew that the real can’t-miss concert of the year was down the street at The Basement on 8th. This is where the super talented Mandy Cook was going to be playing every song off her new album “See” from beginning to end. She has worked hard for a couple years to write and perform every song until it was just right and this night was going to be the culmination of all her hard work.

First up was the soulful Matt Lovell singing original songs. His voice is a cross between Mayer Hawthrone and Ray Lamontagne. matt lovellWith no backing vocals or band behind him, Matt entertained the small crowd with extremely well written songs. Each song was captivating and insightful. Matt has been writing music for several years and even has a track with Mandy on her new album called “Flip A Coin.” She even jumped on stage to sing a song that they wrote together called “Alligator Lily.” It sounded like it was created out of a bluesy swamp in the Florida panhandle. This song should make an appearance on his upcoming EP next year.

Batting second was Larissa Murphy. Hailing from a small town outside of Elkhorn City, KY, this enchanting woman packs a country/blues punch that will knock you out of your chair. Her voice and music remind me of Patty Loveless.

Her setlarissa murphy was about a half hour long and full of amazing original songs. Each song was different and elicited different emotions. Some were upbeat and had a boot stomping feel to them and others were emotional ballads. Larissa was a real trooper because she was a little under the weather but still crushed it like the professional she is. Her 5 piece band behind her had a lot of showmanship. They cracked jokes with each other and kept the audience entertained the entire set. Larissa and Mandy have been friends for a while and even sang a duet of a Bruce Springsteen cover “Dancing in the Dark.” You can check out the music video they made to help raise money for Larissa’s kickstarter project here. This video helped Larissa raise all the money she needed and more to help get her EP released. Look out for that coming soon!

Finally the main event kicked off with Mandy taking the stage with her full band and Matt Lovell singing backup. mandy1On drums she had the wonderfully talented Junior Padilla. On bass was Anthony Sallee who played on all of the tracks on her album, and the incredible James Westfall was on keys. Mandy already sounds talented enough when it is just her and a guitar playing at Hotel Indigo (every Monday and Wednesday night, and Sunday brunch), but with these guys behind her, her music is taken to a new level. The set was the album “See” in its entirety from beginning to end. She started with the first track “Flip A Coin” with Matt Lovell. This song is bluesy and alluring. It is a great way to start an album. It entices you to listen to the rest of the CD immediately. Next on the set list was “Spinning.” This song has a sort of Fleetwood Mac feel at the beginning and then moves into a more pop sound when it gets to the hook. “See” is the title track on the album and one of the most vulnerable songs. Mandy tells a short story about what inspired her to write that song. I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll here it when you see her live. “Drag You Around” (which she forgot to play during the set so she added it on at the end) is her Bill Withers track. One of Mandy’s influences is Bill Withers and she loves his songs so much that she wrote one of her own. “Just No Good At Being Bad” is a stripped down song about not being able to stay mad at your significant other. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. After this song she took a break from singing her material and added in the Bruce Springsteen duet with Larissa. mandy2These two women should sing together more often, in my opinion. Their voices, although different, mesh very well together. Their arrangement of “Dancing in the Dark” is soulful. I don’t mean it was in a soul style, I mean that they put soul into it. You really hear the emotion in the lyrics when they sing it.

Next up was “Mississippi Voodoo.” This is Mandy’s delta drinking song. She says that it is about a dive bar that is so bad that it’s haunted. This song is one of the coolest tracks on the album. I’d say this is the song that is most different from the others. All the songs are autonomous on their own but this one stands out the most. The lyrics are vivid and tell a story. It is a super groovy track that picks up to a New Orleans type feel at the end. “Lose Myself in You” is a song that Mandy’s buddy Gene Cook (no relation) brought to her. I was lucky enough to hear them sing it together acoustic style at the Bluebird Cafe last week. It has a beautiful melody, and they lyrics match. “Heartache” is a song suited for the radio. Even though it has a sad title, it is actually a pretty upbeat song. It is about why we all relate to love songs on the radio. “Hope” is a very emotional song. I think it might be the most vulnerable song on the album. Again, Mandy tells a personal story about how this song came to be. I won’t spoil it because she tells it way better than me, but I’m sure you’ll hear it if you catch one of her gigs. “Undone” is my favorite song on the album because I think I can relate to it the most. Mandy said it is sort of her anthem. I feel it could be a commercial success if it was released to the radio. And that brings me to the last song on the album, “Lauren.” This song is the first single off the album and you can watch the music video here. This song is super catchy and I can’t get it out of my head (not that I want to!).

Mandy didn’t end the show there though. Her mother and father were in the audience and she added a song to the set that she knows is one of her mother’s favorites. It was a cover of “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder. She said she had just learned this song earlier this week and rehearsed it with the band for the show. She crushed it. I think she should add it into her set full time. It is not a commonly known song of Mr. Wonder’s like “Superstitious” (which she also does a cover of in her weekly gigs) but still a great tune nonetheless. She was going to close the show with that but someone cheered for an encore so she played a song that she knows her husband, Mark, would like called “Me and Myself Always Disagree.” This is a newly written song and the band didn’t know it. She walked them through it once and they jumped right it like they’ve known it for years. Her band was awesome. Those guys are such pros. They learned it by ear after hearing it one time. She didn’t even tell them what key it was in. They just looked at her hands playing the chords and figured it out in seconds. THAT is real musicianship. After the show Mandy stuck around to greet her fans. I assume she knew most of them but there were some that she didn’t know. She gave out hugs and autographs.

Even though thousands of people were at the Bridgestone Arena watching a sold out Taylor Swift show, I know I was at the right place last night. The Basement is a small, divey venue that was perfect for Mandy’s release party. It was intimate and the sound was great. It really showcased Mandy’s talents up close and personal. I love me some Swifty now and then but I would rather see real musicians like Matt Lovell, Larissa Murphy, and Mandy Cook any day of the week.

A few of us after the show. I only know a few of them. Her husband, Mark (in the hat), her brother (pictured above Mark), obviously Mandy in the middle, me with the set list, and my friend Ashley.

A few of us after the show. I only know a few of them. Her husband, Mark (in the hat), her brother (pictured above Mark), obviously Mandy in the middle, me with the set list, and my friend Ashley.