Saturday, April 03, 2010

Discover a Musical Treasure: 3rd & Lindsley Bar And Grill

 Long Time Coming
It's been an interesting year for me, blog-wise. I began a hockey blog last September and began engaging not only a whole new group of readers, but have met an entirely new group of friends and contacts. It has it been a lot of fun, writing about the Nashville Predators, but in an opportunity that came up this week, I've gotten a chance to do something I had been wanting to do here on AYBABTU for years.

The Tennessean's blog is celebrating Nashville in April and asked bloggers to submit their reasons why April is great. Below is the story I submitted, but as usual, I went a little too wordy and they asked me to kindly cut it down to size. You can view the abridged version here.

The subject is my favorite music venue, evAR, the one place that convinced me that Nashville was the place I truly wanted to be.

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Off the Beaten Path
There aren’t too many things I enjoy doing as much as taking in a Nashville Predators hockey game, but one of them is sampling the vast assortment of live music from venues all over this great city.

If you’re visiting Nashville for the first time, or the fiftieth — or worse yet, if you live here — and are still under the mistaken notion that Music City is only about Country Music, you’re missing out on something truly special.

The Ryman Auditorium, you know about. Oh, and you’ve probably heard of the Bluebird Café and perhaps The Exit-In.

But if you’re looking for live music that certainly doesn’t exclude Country, but by the same token, doesn’t require boots and a cowboy hat to get you in the door, I’ve got just the place.

My family and I relocated to Nashville from Southern California in 1992, and admittedly, Country Music wasn’t the dominant genre in my CD collection. As far as live music went, the honky-tonks on lower Broad were fun, but didn’t satisfy my jones for the more eclectic mix of styles I’d grown up with in Los Angeles; that is, until I discovered one of Nashville’s not-so-best kept secrets among music venues, 3rd & Lindsley Bar And Grill.

It’s an unpretentious, unassuming place, tucked away in a strip mall, about a half-mile off the beaten path of the most typical Music City visitor, but like many hidden treasures, the value is in the discovery.

The intimate, 275-seat bar and restaurant features a ground-level stage at the apex of it’s L-shaped listening room layout, providing a wonderful up-close vantage point for the vast majority of it’s occupants. This physical connection with the artist onstage instantly bonds listener with performer, making for an unforgettable musical experience.

The Progressive Approach
Owner Ron Brice opened 3rd & Lindsley back in February of 1991, to start afresh with a new and a different approach than that of his previous musical venture.

Brice formerly owned another local Country Music club called The Stagecoach Lounge on Murfreesboro Road. But in the midst of the sweeping ‘Country-as-Pop’ explosion of the late 1980s, he sensed a shift in the wind.

By 1990, Brice began to notice the passing genre fad depart from the innovative sound of artists like Garth Brooks and Lyle Lovett, growing more homogenized and much less progressive than just a few years prior. He decided to shift gears.

That wonderful confluence of musical styles that was the early 1990s offered a veritable cornucopia of sound from which Brice began to showcase; attracting acts for his new club based on the progressive, blended genres of Blues, Adult Alternative, and Americana.

Not coincidentally, he discovered an important partner in another recently-minted Nashville institution, radio station WRLT, Lightning 100.

A Match Made in Progressive Musical Heaven
One year earlier, in March of 1990, Lightning 100 had begun its current 20-year run as Music City’s longest-running radio station without a format change. It’s progressive, independent philosophy hailed from the golden age of album-oriented rock radio of the late 60s and early 70s, featuring an eclectic mix of classic rock, adult alternative, reggae, blues, and Americana that was a true reflection of the musical diversity of Nashville’s songwriting and recording industry, which is often masked and somewhat overwhelmed by the preponderance of the Country Music media machine.

It was a perfect marriage, and WRLT Senior Account Executive, Lesli (‘Dollar’) Bills, was the matchmaker. Working with Lesli, Brice began to offer ‘battle of the Bands’ contests, attracting exposure for local bands whose music was also supported by Lightning 100.

Soon, a number of strong regional and national acts began to frequent the 3rd & Lindsley stage with regularity; names like Ashley Cleveland, Jonell Mosser, and Bob & Etta Britt, were joined by the likes of John Prine and John McLaughlin as regular performers.

Brice said of his relationship with Bills and Lightning 100, “I just gave them my whole advertising budget and said, ‘there…now, make me or break me!’” Needless to say, 3rd & Lindsley ain’t broke yet.

On the synergy of common musical interests between he and his radio partner, Brice added, “Their cool, progressive approach has never gotten stale or diluted; it has stayed the same since we started out…(the relationship is) just a win-win-win.”

Nashville Sunday Night
3rd & Lindsley’s reputation for featuring Nashville’s best top-notch local, regional, and National acts indeed remains; fueled in part by yet another collaborative effort with Lightning 100.

Since 1996 the weekly radio and World Wide Web broadcast, Nashville Sunday Night has showcased a variety of top talent from all ends of the contemporary music spectrum.

It’s particularly interesting to note the numerous emerging artists who have performed on NSN and have gone on to national prominence soon thereafter. Names like Train, David Gray, Ray LaMontagne , The Fray, and KT Tunstall, all performed there and almost immediately thereafter went nuclear on the national scene.

This is just a partial listing of the many outstanding contemporary artists who have been a part of the
Nashville Sunday Night broadcast, live from 3rd & Lindsley since 1996.

Tin Pan South
Among the other special musical events 3rd & Lindsley participates in is the annual Nashville Songwriters Association International showcase, Tin Pan South, which wraps up tonight with a terrific lineup featuring, Butterfly Boucher, Katie Herzig, Trent Dabbs, and Matthew Perryman Jones.

Nashville Sunday Night takes this week off in recognition of the Easter holiday, but returns next week with yet another hugely notable performer who calls Nashville home, the immortal Leon Russell.

If you’re in town for any of these shows, or whenever you’re in Nashville, be sure to take advantage of this tremendous venue, where the food is as good as the music!

3rd & Lindsley is located at 818 3rd Avenue South; one half mile south of Broadway in Nashville. Visit their website for more details.

Tickets are typically available at the door, but for select shows, be sure to visit 3rd & Lindsley’s calendar page for advance sale tickets. Take it from a longtime fan of this venue, in light of the limited seating capacity, when they offer advance tickets for an artist you want to see, pick ‘em up; you don’t want to get shut out at the door. And you definitely don’t want to miss out on this treasure among Nashville’s musical landmarks!

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