by Bob Regan
I spent a sunny CMA Fest Saturday (6/10/17) mingling with the multitudes in Nashville on Lower Broad.
I heard and saw several new acts singing and guitar-slinging across small stages, vying for the attention of the passing masses. They all sounded and looked good, some really good. But, as someone once told me many years ago when I, too, was trying to get anyone’s attention, “We’re eat up with good around here.”
I have often wondered what happens to those thousands (tens of thousands?) of singers, players, and songwriters who come here each year to make their mark, however high, on the Tower of Song. What will happen to them after five weeks, five months, five years?
“We’re eat up with good around here.”
When I used to speak at songwriting seminars around the country, I thought it was my duty to counsel people to carefully consider and prepare before making the move to Music City: study the market, learn the ropes. Make a few trips to get the lay of the land. Today, from my vantage point of thirty-plus years in the Nashville music business, I’m revising my advice to, “Come on! Brang it!”
If you want to hunt tigers, go where the tigers are. If you want to hang a gold record on the wall (do people still do that?), go where the music biz is. You might not bag one, but you won’t have a big, roaring, “What If?” skulking around your psyche for the rest of your days.
When you get here, you’ll meet other new arrivals at open mics, at jam sessions, at crap jobs waiting tables. And they will be creative, ambitious, and talented, to one degree or another. And they will be eager to meet their kindred spirits—that would be you. A handful of your class (2017, ‘18, ’19?) will actually go on to do great or near-great things. If you’re astute and identify them early on, and you’ve got something to offer, you might form your own posse, your pod, where you can pool your talents and ride in each other’s slipstreams.
If you’re lucky and talented enough to get a few rungs up the ladder, you’ll get to pit your chops against, and collaborate with, the best in the business, if not the world. Then you’ll know (and knowing is huge) if you’ve got a crack at a Capital “C” Career . . . or just a gig.
And, if you throw up your hands and say “Enough!” after five weeks, five months, or five years, hey, stick around. We’re lucky to have you. Nashville is a city on the rise, and you, and all the others like you, are demographic rocket fuel. You’ll be our entrepreneurs, contractors, chefs, schoolteachers, farmers, therapists, designers, et cetera, et cetera. You will make an interesting and productive place for yourself in our Way-More-Than-Music City, and we will all be the better for it.
See you on Lower Broad. This time. Next year.