Inaugural Event Brings Different Style Of Music To Music City, Nashville, TN
“Trop rock” music closely resembles the sound of country music in many cases. It was only a matter of time before a “trop rock” music festival took place in the city nicknamed for its influence on music, “Music City,” Nashville Tennessee.
While the majority of trop rock festivals are held in tropical locations, beaches, tiki bars, and barges, the first annual Nash Bash Songwriters Festival took place in the city of Nashville. Prior to going forward, I should mention how the name “Nash Bash” was chosen. You’d think it’s because it’s being held in Nashville. Well, the event coordinator is the front man from The Southern Drawl Band, Mike Nash, which means the name of the event has a double meaning. This was the first-ever Nash Bash.
And you heard it – or read it – here first: there will be a Nash Bash Songwriter’s Festival 2 in 2019.
Day 1 – Nashville Palace
The event started on Thursday evening at the Nashville Palace. What better way to kick off a trop rock event that stresses the songwriter format than to have 5 O’clock Somewhere sung by Jim “Moose” Brown, one of writers of the number one hit, right at 5:00. (Although it did start at 5:02. Hey, it’s trop rock… we are relaxed and in no hurry.)
It may or may not be surprising, but the joint was standing-room-only from the very beginning. Following Moose’s song was Mike Nash, event coordinator, performing some of his songs.
Ben Hammond and John Patti did a high-energy set with music that may not be considered “trop rock” but still allows you to escape into the music. Ben’s talented beat box and looper, combined with John’s steel pan, is a one-of-a kind show. (John playing steel pan on stage is said to be the first time ever steel pan was played at Nashville Palace).
Up next was Aaron Scherz, co-writer of the number 1 song “Girl in a Country Song.” (Yes, Aaron, a man, co-wrote that song.) Aaron always does a great job entertaining the crowd. As a perfect segue Cory Young, the next performer, joined Aaron on stage for a couple of songs they’ve worked on together. Cory completed a set of some of his newer songs, along with songs he was in Nashville that week to record for his next project Tan Lines.
Cory invited Sammy Arriaga on stage to perform two songs. Sammy’s music has a Miami and Cuban vibe to it, making it perfect for trop rock. This was Sammy’s first exposure to the trop rock genre.
Donny Brewer, who has earned no less than nine Trop Rock Music Association Awards in the past two years, closed out the evening. He played a fantastic set perfect for a rowdy bar crowd. The set was full of drinking songs, sing-a-longs, and trop-rock songs. He even led what is reported to be the first conga line at the Nashville Palace.
Day 2 – Inn at Opryland
The second day of the event was one that set this trop rock festival apart from most. Day two focused on songwriters in a “listening room” environment. A listening room is one in which music is the focus. Cellular phones are silenced, and talking is kept at a minimum other than from the stage.
The singer songwriter on stage is to play only original songs the he or she wrote or co-wrote. The songwriter introduces the song by explaining the story behind the song, sometimes at length, but always interesting. It’s a way to get a different perspective on a song you may have been hearing for years, but never knew the story.
John Patti, steel pan player known for his talent accompanying almost every trop rock artist at some point, and appearing on almost every trop rock CD recorded over the past ten years, was first on stage for the songwriter portion of the weekend. Today John decided to show off his guitar and singing skills. It was rare treat and the audience really enjoyed it.
Following John was Nashville singer-songwriter Wes Loper. Wes’s trop rock influence comes from his upbringing along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Smiles were not uncommon during Wes’s show.
Bart Walker had been scheduled to follow Wes, but was called away for a medical emergency. The good news was that this “medical emergency” was not a bad thing – his wife was giving birth to their child.
Dan Demay was called in to fill the spot. Dan has songs recorded by numerous artists such as Darryl Worley, Billy Currington, Martina McBride, Tracy Lawrence and Cledus T. Judd among others. Dan is an Air Force Veteran and support of the military and Veterans is near his heart. You could hear a pin drop as Dan shared his stories and songs. Some of Dan’s songs are so emotional not only was everyone in the audience crying, Dan himself had difficulty completing the song.
This is the type of intimate show you see at songwriter showcases.
Dan ended his set with a happier song as to not set up the next artist with a tearful crowd.
Jenn Bostic was next. Jenn is literally an international superstar. Her song “Jealous of the Angels” reached number one on the United Kingdom charts. She is also not only performing at, but HOSTING this year’s British Country Music Awards! Jenn accompanied herself on keyboard while Neal Elder played guitar and John Patti played cajon. Jenn brings a powerful bluesy touch to country music.
Jenn is one of those artists that are very popular on the “trop rock” circuit, without having any songs that technically fit within the genre. It’s hard to say if that says more about trop rock fans, that they simply appreciate great music, or more about Jenn, that she is so talented you can’t help but enjoy her show regardless of your tastes. Jenn had the audience dancing in their seats for the length of her show.
A great thing about Nash Bash is the fact they give you time to explore (party) on your own in addition to the great music. Following the songwriter’s show on this day, attendees we given the time to head out on their own, or with friends, for a fine meal and bar hopping along Nashville’s Broadway Street Entertainment District.
Day 3 – Inn at Opryland
First up on the third day was JD Edge, the fiddle player for the Southern Drawl Band. Although JD has ben playing fiddle for SDB for a few years, he recently released a solo project CD, Livin’ Free. While JD has been playing fiddle since the age of three, he recently began learning guitar. During this show he showed off what he has learned on the six string during this set. JD entertained the crowd with his bass voice very fitting of a show in Nashville.
After JD was Honeyboy and Boots out of Mississippi. This duo is a combination rarely seen in country / folk music. They pair together a guitar with a cello. The room enjoyed the unlikely combination. Jesse Rice, co-writer of the number one Florida Georgia Line’s song Cruise, was up next. Jesse pounded out songs from his very popular trop rock CDs Pirate Sessions and The Pirate Sessions III. He also played some songs from his current project due out soon Pirate Session IV to include a great whimsical trop rock song Hammocks in Havana. He closed his show playing FGL’s Cruise.
Day 3 (Part II) – Downtown Nashville
After the songwriter showcase at the host hotel the buses were loaded up and the group headed to downtown Nashville to the entertainment district to be “entertained.”
If you have never been to Nashville’s entertainment district I can say it compares with Austin Texas’ Sixth Street area and New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. It’s a wild and crazy place with plenty of neon lights and bars to keep you on sensory overload.
The majority of the group participated in a pub crawl. It was a great way to visit several bars during a short period of time before we had to be at BB Kings for the headline show by The Southern Drawl Band. The downstairs area of BB Kings filled up fast and early as everyone positioned themselves for that perfect table, near the stage, yet easy access to the bar and bathrooms.
Mike Nash, front man for Southern Drawl Band, commented that he had never before had a packed house for a sound check! Once the real show started the dance floor filled quickly as Southern Drawl Band rocked the house with their brand of “southern rockin’ country with a twist of lime distilled in the backwoods of Tennessee.”
Southern Drawl has a way of taking control of a room with their hard hitting country rock. Band members Paul Wray, JD Edge, Larry Dunsmore, Josh Brown and Mike Nash do an amazing job rocking the house with their original songs and mixing in just the right cover songs for the crowd.
Day 4 – Shipwreck Cove
No trop rock event would be complete without a show on the beach or water. Nash Bash 2018 was no different. The final day was a series of songwriter rounds at Shipwreck Cover on Percy Priest Lake, a floating restaurant.
This show included a total of four shows. These shows were set up in sets of three, consisting of Wes Loper, Carly Rhine, Mark Mulligan, Jake Thomas, Jeff Caron, Chip Staley, Ashley Wolfe, Joe Downing, Mike Broward, and members of the Southern Drawl Band. It was a perfect way to wind down after four days of music and fun.
In it’s first year, Nash Bash has put together a perfect combination of music appreciation and partying. A perfect example of this is the fact that I was there with Radio Trop Rock (www.RadioTropRock.com) to broadcast much of the event live on air as was Sam Densler of Songwriters Island Radio (www.SongwritersIsland.com).
Radio Trop Rock, focuses mainly on the “party” side of trop rock music, while Songwriters Island focuses on the songwriter portion (hence the name).
Mike Nash and Melissa Donor obviously thought through the process of what it would take to make their event different enough to make it stand apart from the rest. During a time when we see some trop rock festivals hanging it up after years due to low attendance, I think Nash Bash Songwriter’s Festival has a recipe that will see them take an upward direction into the future.
I look forward to what Mike and Melissa may have in store for us in Nashville next year!!!!
For more information on Nash Bash, Southern Drawl Band, and SDB Playcations (destination music events) visit: www.SouthernDrawlBand.com.