In the 90s, it was not uncommon to hear that the Nashville rock scene was cursed: no rock band from Nashville had “made it” since the 80s. Country music was blamed, of course, and there’s probably something to that, but it seems strange that a town full of record companies wouldn’t produce at least one commercially successful rock band for more than a decade. Particularly since Nashville has always had a thriving local rock scene, a scene filled with incredible musicians who were making money as studio musicians for all those country albums during the day and then rolling up their sleeves and letting their long hair down in the evenings at rock clubs.
Then in the Aughts, something happened: Kings of Leon formed, Jack White moved to Nashville and set up shop (literally, along with a studio), Paramore went platinum, and the Black Keys and The Kills joined White, turning the Nashville rock scene into something genuinely cool.
With the exception of Paramore (who are actually from my hometown), all of these artists share certain affinities, particularly for old school country and 60s and 70s guitar rock. So you have White and The Black Keys frequently sounding as though they were imitating Cream, and you have The Kills covering “Crazy”:
White is obviously the biggest name in the current Nashville scene, and while I’m not sure that being in Nashville has had much of an impact on his music, he’s at least recording some good stuff in his studio up there:
And The Black Keys may have gotten even more Jack-White-like than they were before moving to Nashville:
Anyway, I suppose that as Austin becomes the center of the music world, and the rock world in particular, this week with SXSW, I’m feeling a bit homesick and ruminating on the Nashville scene that only developed long after I’d left town. What’s the scene like where you are, or where you’re from?
Oh, and I guess I should throw in a Paramore song, since they really “made it,” and they are from Franklin: