Last night was a blast. From the folkwave of Courtney Jaye to the dude-rock shredfest of Tyler Bryant, it was a night to behold. Overall however, it probably won’t go down as one of the most memorable Road To Bonnaroo nights. There just weren’t as many theatrics as there have been at past RTBs, but the quality of the music certainly was not lacking. At the end of the night, though, Chancellor Warhol (who I hadn’t seen until last night) ended up taking the prize. Warhol jumped on stage in a very Kanye-esque outfit, and proceeded to own the crowd. This guy is a phenomenal performer, though his opening song was the only one that really stuck with me. I certainly can’t disagree with the outcome.

Other artists/bands who really caught my attention were Evan P. Donohue and Heartbeater. If EPD’s performance wasn’t enough to win you over, then you need to have your head examined. This kid is a class act and has just the right combination of stage charm and hooky songs to be a genuine star. Just wait.

Heartbeater have switched out guitarists and added a keyboard player, and I love where they’re headed. They’ve got some new material that demands more sonic textures and the keys are fitting the bill perfectly. Bravo, fellas.

I can’t go without mentioning Tyler Bryant. The kid’s guitar shredding style falls somewhere between Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen (in style, not skill, but maybe he’ll get there one day), and he’s what… 20? 19? Despite his age, he somehow filled the stage with more testosterone than I’ve seen there in quite some time. Except for when he tried to do those “yeooowwww” screams and his voice cracked & went into the register of a 12 year old girl. Speaking of 12 year old girls, dude looks a little bit like Justin Bieber. Sorry… had to go there. It’s true. Give JB a guitar and rough him up around the edges and basically you have Tyler Bryant. Seriously though, if this kid learns to write good songs and not turn each show into a total wankfest, he could do something I might be interested in. Otherwise he needs to be the lead guitar player in a speed metal band. Unfortunately it’s rare to find that kind of technical prowess and truly good songwriting skills in the same person.

Let’s hope the next two RTBs get a little more theatrical and/or intense.

Some amazing and unique footage of Space Shuttle Discovery’s launch last thursday from an airplane window. The people on this plane got very lucky, as this is something rarely seen by the public. It’s one of those “right place, right time” deals. Be sure to pump it up to HD resolution.

(Via Bad Astronomy)

If you’re in Nashville and are a fan of local music, be sure not to miss tonight’s Road to Bonnaroo 8 off 8th at Mercy Lounge. This is the third year of RTB, and tonight’s lineup looks great. This event really brings out the best in these bands, as most will have some sort of trick up their sleeve. We’ve seen just about every type of gimmick you can think of at these events in the past two years. If you didn’t know, the bands’ scores are made up of 50% audience vote and 50% judge vote. Tonight’s lineup:

Evan P. Donohue
Courtney Jaye
Chancellor Warhol
Kink Ador
The Kicks
Tyler Byant

For more info on the bands/artists and sample mp3s, visit the Mercy Lounge calendar.

Copyright 2010 Steve Cross- Unauthorized use or reposting prohibited!

The world lost a country music legend last night. Charlie Louvin of the famed Louvin Brothers passed away due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 83, and enjoying a bit of a recent upswing in his career. The above photo is from a show he played at the Exit/In on Nov. 25th, 2009 with Caitlin Rose and the Dex Romweber Duo. I wasn’t assigned to shoot the show for the Scene or anyone, I just felt like I should take photos. I’m glad I was able to capture one of his last few shows in Nashville. I’m not a very religious person, but I have to hope that he’s somehow re-united with his brother Ira, whom he lost in 1965, singing the close harmonies that made them famous. More at Paste and the Nashville Cream.

In other news, the first of the 3rd annual “Road To Bonnaroo” 8 off 8th series at Mercy Lounge has been announced. It will happen Feb. 28th and will feature Majestico, Chancellor Warhol, Courtney Jaye, Heartbeater, Kink Ador, Evan P. Donohue, Sleeper Agent, and Tyler Bryant. Last year the contest was expanded to four 8 off 8ths (thus 4 winning bands playing Bonnaroo), but this year it’s back to 3. Mercy Lounge also has opted to release the lineups one at a time, and for good reason- last year some of the later lineups got shuffled around quite a bit.

From the ashes of Apollo Up! come Gentleman Divers. Featuring the Apollo Up! rhythm section of Mike Shepherd and Jeremy Frey, this new project has many of the same 80’s and 90’s hardcore/punk influences as Apollo Up!. Stream their S/T debut album at their bandcamp, and check out their album release show at fooBar.too on January 29th. (Via the Cream)

DJ A-Trak’s Dirty South Dance 2 mixtape is officially available for free download today via his Bandcamp. This mix follows up his 2007 release Dirty South Dance, and continues his style of blending popular hip hop vocal lines with more electro/dance beats. Personally I’m a fan just about everything he does, but then again who isn’t? Dude is one of the most well-respected DJs in the world right now. Just go grab the mix and enjoy. (Via A-Trak’s blog)

Speaking of DJs and dancing, Justin Kase is apparently planning a revival of the post-Buddytown/pre-Happy Valley era Youth Group parties at a yet-to-be-disclosed new location. Kase is planning to move to L.A. this September, thus the emphasis on making the most of this summer. More info will posted here as soon as I know it, but I’m sure it’ll be well-publicized.

Tonight is the final Road to Bonnaroo 8 off 8th at Mercy Lounge. Come early and stay late, and cast your vote not based on who you’re friends with, but who fucking rocks your face off. I’ll be there shooting pics as usual. Lineup is: Heartbeater, My Tyger, Pico Vs. Island Trees, Delta Saints, Space Capone, Cheer Up Charlie Daniels, And The Relatives, and Deep Fried Five.

On a side note- if you’re in Nashville, please check your property for standing/stagnant water. The recent floods combined with the typical hot/humid summer weather will make the mosquito population explode this year, so if we don’t take measures to prevent them from breeding, we may be in for one very itchy, West-Nile virus-ridden summer. Mosquitoes breed in even the smallest areas of standing water- empty flower pots, buckets, old tires, etc… All you have to do is simply empty them out after it rains, or put them in a place where they won’t collect rainwater. If you (like Megan and me) use a rain barrel to water your lawn/garden/flowers, you can get tablets at any gardening store that when dissolved in said rain barrel, will prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the water. I like summer for the most part, but I absolutely dread dealing with mosquitoes every year. I’m cursed with a pretty significant reaction to their bites, and they usually leave me with a quarter-size whelp that lasts a couple of weeks. So, for your own sanity and the sake of everyone else’s, PLEASE take measures to minimize the mosquito population this summer! For more info read this article from WKRN.

First of all, I was very happy to hear that Nashville’s own Arnold Myint, head chef and owner of P.M., Cha Cha, and Suzy Wong’s House of Yum, has made it to the next season of Top Chef, which will begin airing on Bravo on June 16th. More info on that at the Tennessean. (Via Nashvillest twitter)

Now for what to do this weekend:

Friday there’s a helluva one-two punch at the Cannery/Mercy Lounge. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings will be soulin’ it up downstairs while My So-Called Band will be igniting your 90’s nostalgia upstairs. I’ll be shooting the Sharon Jones show, then DJing some 90’s jock jams after MSCB. So please do head over to Mercy and keep on dancin’ after the show.

Saturday is all about the rockabilly as Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, Pine Hill Haints, and The Clutters invade Mercy Lounge.

This Nashvillest post also has several flood benefits going on this weekend. Be sure to check one of those out.

I’ll go ahead and mention that this coming Monday is the final installment of the Road to Bonnaroo series, featuring Space Capone, My Tyger, Heartbeater, Deep Fried Five, And The Relatives, Delta Saints, Pico Vs. Island Trees, and Cheer Up Charlie Daniels. This one should be interesting.

Also worthy of mention, the Nashville’s Dead kids did a pretty cool video interview segment with Pujol and friends, complete with guitar amps in the middle of the road… and lots of luv. Check it below:

The Non-Commissioned Officers will be playing at Bonnaroo this summer as they are the winners of the first Road to Bonnaroo series. The twitter-verse was abuzz this morning with retweets galore about the news. Look for my photos on the Nashville Cream later this morning. I have to say I had a hard time choosing between the Non-Comms and The Privates, and my ballot choice shall remain a mystery.

It must be pointed out that Nashville’s own jam-band superstars Moon Taxi were on this bill. It must also be pointed out that they probably put more effort into preparing for this show than any other band on the bill. They had their own special moving lights, as well as some really cool glowstick outfits. While that kind of effort and showmanship is great, it has to be backed up by GOOD SONGS. There has never been a jam-band that could write good songs. There will never be a jam-band that can write good songs because that’s part of what makes them a jam-band. Their songs all sound the fucking same because they pointlessly noodle around on guitar solos for hours on end. Ultimately that’s why the judges vote counts 50% of the score at this event- because the judges can see through the flashy lights and understand that there’s a major core component that’s missing in Moon Taxi’s music- the SONG. I heard someone say “well, they’re the perfect band to play Bonnaroo…” NO THEY’RE NOT. THERE ARE ENOUGH FUCKING JAM-BANDS AT BONNAROO ALREADY.

It was quite clear that they did the best job of crowd-recruiting, however, and I’m fairly sure they won the crowd vote for that reason. (That’s also another reason judges count for 50% of the vote.) It was evident that they have an army of hippies ready and willing to execute their every command, and for that reason I recommend that the Scene and Mercy Lounge hire round-the-clock security, because the WRATH OF THE HIPPIES is soon to come. Specifically be on the lookout for patchouli smoke grenades and dreadlock-wax napalm.

Oh, and Born Empty probably still thinks Incubus is cool.

Tonight is the first Road to Bonnaroo 8 off 8th at Mercy Lounge. It’s the first of 4, and the competition is already hot. The lineup is as follows:
Born Empty
Kyle Andrews
Moon Taxi
The Non-Commissioned Officers
Parachute Musical
The Privates

One of these bands will be going to Bonnaroo, and you can help decide by showing up and casting your vote. I can attest to the fact that these bands go ALL OUT for this, so even if you’ve seen one of these bands recently, come on out because they’ll pull out every last trick and gimmick they can think of to give them that extra edge. I also urge you to keep an open mind, and don’t come into it already “knowing” which band you’re gonna vote for. For more info, including song samples and videos from each band, visit the Mercy Lounge calendar.

I’m always surprised at how busy the New Pornographers can stay, given that most of their members already have fairly big solo careers. But amazingly, they have another studio album called Together due out on Matador on May 4th. Head over to You Ain’t No Picasso to grab the first free track, called “Your Hands (Together).” I enjoyed the track more than anything from their last album, so I’m hoping the rest of Together is along the same lines. I don’t know if they’ll ever top Twin Cinema, however. That record will probably always stay the top of the NP catalog in my humble opinion.

We Own This Town did a fun little interview with Jessi Darlin, of Those Darlins. She talks about how insanely busy they’ve been, and shares a few road stories. Check it out.

As I’ve said before, I’m often skeptical of “blog buzz” bands that get over-hyped and often fall far short of the expectations bestowed upon them. But sometimes my tastes and interest phases perfectly with one of those bands. Last year the best example of that was The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Phenomenal band, amazing record, good live, etc… and they completely deserved all the media love. I honestly think they’ll be back on the radar soon with a new album that’s every bit as good as their debut. This year I’m joining the chorus of bloggers who are hyping Floridians Surfer Blood. I recently picked up their debut Astro Coast and loved almost every minute of it. It’s filled with some fine guitar work backed by great songwriting. It’s well-produced and I highly recommend not only getting the album, but also coming to see them this Saturday night at The End, along with Turbo Fruits, CY, and Holiday Shores. If you don’t feel like paying and/or staying up late, you can also catch them at an in-store at Grimey’s earlier in the day. But I’d get there early because this one will probably fill up fast. I’ll be at the End photographing, and possibly at the Grimey’s show too. For a much more adroit write-up, read Matt Sullivan’s Critic’s Pick for the Scene. He’s, you know, a real writer.

Some other goodness happening this weekend:

Local Honey overstock sale tonight 6-9pm. Come snatch up some new threads as Shea gets rid of some overstock to make room for new spring stuff. There will also be free spiked punch.

Also tonight- Hammertorch, Heartbeater, and the Gills at the 5 Spot.

Saturday- If Surfer Blood isn’t your thing, and beards are, then check out the official FINAL Whiskerino throwdown at Mercy Lounge. I really wish this hadn’t clashed with Surfer Blood, because this will be a sight to behold. Playing: Codaphonic, Roy Ira, and Kidstatic.

I should also mention that Monday is the 1st installment of Mercy Lounge’s Road to Bonnarroo series. This one features Born Empty, Mona, Ponderosa, Moon Taxi, The Private, The Non-Commissioned Officers, Kyle Andrews, and Parachute Musical. The competition is fierce!

A couple of newsy tidbits:

This is old news now, but worth a mention nonetheless: My So-Called Band officially launched their website… on Angelfire. Complete with animated GIFs, auto-play MIDI version of “Dreams” by the Cranberries, and hit counter.

Makeup & Vanity Set started a Facebook fan page. Become a fan if you love him. If you don’t, then you should. Oh, and he has a new record coming out in March. Look for an interview with him to be posted here soon.

Caitlin Rose got a nice blurb in Grazia Daily in the UK. Check it out at Aaron Hartley’s tumblr.

Have a great weekend!