Tag Archives: Nashville

Nashville Cat

Pedal Steel TransmissionDuring a recent visit to Nashville, I had an opportunity to visit the Emerald Studio. Architecturally blocky and office-cum-warehouse on the outside; a state-of-the-art facility with polished wood surfaces and an array of electronics on the inside, yet a sense of being a place where work is done in a creative manner, not some sort of antiseptic environment where the creativity would be predicated on the technology. And I learned about how Nashville does charting in a way that makes the traditional approaches used in other parts of the music business seem molasses slow. There I watched part of a session. And had the opportunity to talk with one of the musicians, a long-time steel guitar session player. While he has had the opportunity to play on the road with some of the genre’s notables, mainly what he does is get called in to places like the Emerald to ply his craft, or art. He’s been doing it for more than 20 years. What, I asked him, is it like today, versus how it was in days gone by: different? better? same? Consider that this is a man who must play to get pay. A man with a family and a mortgage and truck payments and insurance and. . . all of the stuff that ordinary people deal with, yet while many people have day jobs that provide them with the means to financially deal with all of that, he has chosen a route that is far different. He is not a name-brand musician. He’s the sort of person whose name is on the liner notes in a comparatively diminutive font. He’s not complaining about this, mind you. But it strikes me that he—like many of the musicians who play the very fabric of much music that we hear (or not)—have taken a path whereby their livelihood depends on how good they were their last time out, and whether they can get another gig. He’s not complaining about this, mind you. It is what he does. But it is one thing to think about making a living this way when you’re in, say, your twenties and another thing entirely when you’ve pushed past 50 and are still living out the consequences of the earlier decision.

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