Nashville is a city of surprises. Although its nickname is Music City, many of us assume it could just as easily be known as Country Music City. And while the country vibe is definitely everywhere, I was surprised to learn that Nashville also has lively jazz, funk and indie rock scenes, that this is the place that Jimi Hendrix learned to play, that musical worthies from Michael McDonald to Peter Frampton to Little Richard call this city home. And while my trip to the Bluebird Café last Friday night was definitely a country-themed evening, it also had its surprises. For starters, I was shocked to learn that the Bluebird—a legendary club, a place that has played host to an impossibly long list of famous singers and songwriters, from Garth Brooks to the Dixie Chicks to Melissa Etheridge—is unbelievably small and unassuming, a hole in the wall in an honest-to-goodness strip mall, with just 21 tables. The night’s entertainment would be provided by Bob DePiero, a Nashville songwriter who has written (or co-written) hits for Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, George Strait and many others. His back-up band, crammed onto the Bluebird’s tiny stage, included Keith Urban’s keyboard player, Peter Frampton’s drummer, and the lead guitarist for Doc Walker, a Canadian country band that recently won group, single, album and video of the year at the Canadian Country Music Awards, and the Juno for best country recording. After the show, I chatted for awhile with Doc Walker’s lead singer, who was there to support his band-mate and sat one table over from me, and with DePiero, who has written some of my favourite songs. Just another night in Music City.
—CF’s contributing editor, and (should I admit this?) big country music fan, Tim Johnson