The very first night I spent in Nashville was about five years ago – I was driving home cross-country from a misguided year (and three months, to be exact) living in Hollywood, trying to make sense of a seasonless existence and reconcile a healthy Los Angeles lifestyle with perennial smog-breath and too many In-and-Out Burgers. We stayed in the Best Western on Music Row, which, second to the Motel 6 in Amarillo, Texas, was the cheapest hotel of the entire trip. After depositing the cat in our room and navigating around the Gulch (which was then just one or two just-completed buildings), we made our way down to Broadway, stopping at Layla’s. We knew it was what tourists do, but it felt like the best first stop: and there, on stage, was a bluegrass band from across the river, playing Stanley Brothers songs while we drank whiskey out of plastic cups. I knew there were probably more authentic ways to see music in this city, but, in that moment, it wrecked me: beautiful songs for mere quarters in a bucket, so full of emotion, talent, and sadness, too. What was beyond these plastic Honky Tonks? I knew that fiddle player wasn’t aspiring to gig down the street from Margaritaville for the rest of his life, but I knew he wasn’t dreaming of CMT fame either. Was he simply just playing for joy?
This was all before Nashville became “Nowville,” and I left the city the next morning with a heavy sense of dread: I was going back to New York City, but, even from that little taste of what would eventually become my new hometown, I know I was missing something, another possibility. It was over 2.5 years until I would return, during the Soundland Festival, watching Justin Townes Earle play to eight people in a small room with old movie seats as chairs around the corner form Cannery Row, knowing that I would have to live here. When we packed up our belongings and hit the road again, this time we crossed into Nashville blasting “Bluebird Wine,” heading towards our temporary apartment on Fatherland Street, headed home. For good.
I started Lockeland Springsteen not long after, at the kitchen table of that apartment, looking for a way to study all of the music that was going on around me. There weren’t many music blogs, for a city devoted to such arts, so I started keeping tabs on things myself, privately at first. On a whim, I decided to make the website public – named after my neighborhood (Lockeland Springs) and someone iconic from my East Coast life (yes, that Springsteen). My real first piece was on a little party I attended at the old location of High Class Hillbilly – Nikki Lane had asked a Norwegian group named Mhoo to play acoustically in the parking lot, and Jamin Orall was dj-ing in the back. My friend Traci invited me, and we had met first at the Peter Nappi warehouse, where Lindi Ortega was strumming a few songs to the intoxicating smell of thick, rich leather. It was a sunny March day, just enough for a light jacket and boots, but not too cold, no snow, no shivering. There was a man there who made speakers out of old suitcases; I still have his business card somewhere.
I met Emily about six months later, and soon we became a team – and one of very few female-run music blogs in existence. We’ve been expanding our family recently: Emilee, Meredith, Sean and more. It does, indeed, feel like family. This whole town does, really – and last night we all toasted, together, with friends old and new. Nothing big, just good stories, great burgers and decent whiskey.
Since then, the blog has grown in ways I couldn’t have imagined. We’ve had Nashville Fives from folks like Bela Fleck and Jessie Baylin, video sessions with Robert Ellis and the So So Glos, shows with The Weeks and Felice Brothers and many more, some in my backyard. And we’re growing even more: stay tuned on April 14th for our next big announcement, which will be the most ambitious, possibly-crazy undertaking we’ve tackled yet. I think you’ll be excited.Â Most of all, we promise to continue the next two years and beyond in the same way we started: bringing you the stories and sounds of Nashville in our own, personal voices and the best, most thoughtful writing that we can put forth. I hope you’ve noticed we put the utmost care into everything that appears on the site. Or at least we try.
Thanks to all of you for reading and being a part of this. Here’s to what’s next…and to simply playing for joy.