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This fall saw Nashville become the center of not only independent music, but also the think tank for the future of the music business by combining two of the most important up and coming Conferences held in Nashville on an annual basis. Jason Moon Wilkins, founder of Next Big Nashville and Karen Oertley of Leadership Music threw a four-day party with pivotal cutting edge industry heavyweights speaking on the campus of Belmont University in the daylight, and a nightly party 150 bands at 12 venues in four days.
Band members that were in town to showcase in SXSW-style had some eye opening and mind numbing experiences listening to think tank style lectures given by the very people that could affect where the music business was going. This was an added dynamic that turned a slow building local music festival only in its fifth year into a full blown international event: A giant leap forward for Nashville’s connection to the indie music world, with showcases all over town that even included Jack White’s Third Man Records on Friday and Saturday night.▼ Article continues below ▼
The first night saw David Bazan from Seattle and Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights from Dallas as headliners, with local artists as openers. This was a big change from previous years with almost half of the bands coming in from out of state and as far away as Japan.
One of the strongest lineups was Friday night at Third Man Records, where bands had their choice of using one of Jack White’s trusted Silvertone amps as well as one of Meg White’s Red Sparkle Drum Kits, complete with The White Stripes candy cane swirled drum heads. Third Man even offered a vinyl pressing of the Jeff the Brotherhood set on blue and black vinyl for ticket holders.
Bands, labels and the press got to mix it up at brunches put on by ASCAP on Friday and by BMI on Saturday. It was a comfortable atmosphere with a diverse mix of industry people. ASCAP as well as other music related companies have been converting local offices to handle all genres in recent months.
Just about every type of current sound from funk archivists The Deep Fried 5 to multi-media danceable Heypenny and “Aquabats- infected” Peelander-Z were represented with strong sets. There were not a lot of out of town fans, but as awareness builds this will likely become the largest music conference in the Southwest.