Trent Dabbs had an interesting lament. He wondered, if Nashville wasn’t known as Music City, if it didn’t have such an enormous reputation as a musical mecca, would people pay more attention to the burgeoning-but-under-appreciated indie scene blossoming inside its borders?
While ironic on the surface, his theory makes some sense. In a town with such a deep pool of musical talent, an indie movement that elsewhere would be viewed as a sea-change-caliber event, might not generate so much as a ripple in Music City. It’s Nashville. Great music, specifically country music, is the norm. Dabbs wanted to challenge that.
In order to get himself and his friends some better exposure, Dabbs is taking a chunk of that under-the-radar indie scene out of Nashville and hitting the road with the apt touring title of Ten Out Of Tenn. Now on their third tour away from their hometown’s deep waters, the group of artists is really making waves.
“The whole idea was just to let people know that other things besides country are going on in Nashville,” Dabbs says of Ten Out Of Tenn’s origins three years ago. “But initially it just started out as a compilation of friends that had played on each others records or been inspired by their performance.”
The lineup has changed since the first tour in 2005. In addition to Dabbs, it now includes, Griffin House, Erin McCarley, Andy Davis, K.S. Rhoads, Katie Herzig, Tyler James, Jeremy Lister, Butterfly Boucher and Matthew Perryman Jones, a wide spread of talent that appealed to Dabbs’ tastes for a variety of reasons.
“Jimmy Lister, I used to watch play in a band with his brother in my home town. Andy Davis and I have done some writing together and toured,” Dabbs says. “They all have a pop, slash cinematic approach. A lot of them are getting TV and film exposure now. I’ve always been a lover of cinema and emotive music. You can hear that in these songs, whether it’s Butterfly Boucher playing her straight up rock and pop, or Griffin [House] bringing his folk thing to the surface.
“Since the first tour, everything has grown in a really great way. We’re using more folks. The art is getting better. There were a lot of solo artists for this last tour so I thought it would be awesome to get multi-instrumentalists that would be able to perform their own stuff and sort of be one large endorsement in a way.”
Consider the concerts a collective ringing endorsement. The “band” bundled each of their solo albums and sold them for $50. They sold out on the last tour.
When Dabbs relocated to Nashville, he immediately tried to find a manager and a lawyer to get his career rolling. They both told him it would take five years to “make it” in Nashville. Musicians flock to the town like actors do to Hollywood. And with so much talent competing to stand out in a crowded field, it pushes back the timeline a bit.
“I’m not sure what constitutes making it any more,” Dabbs says. “But honestly I’m just going to marinate in the city, appreciate the music and take it for what it is. I feel like we’re making it for whatever that’s worth.”
For this current tour, Dabbs and his pals are attempting another approach with a Christmas album. Tracks range from the traditional (“Little Drummer Boy,” “Silent Night) to the alternative (“Mommy and Daddy Fighting on Christmas”).
“We didn’t want to be cry-in-your-beer Christmas, or snowballs-in-hell, but we wanted to have a lighthearted angle to these songs with a pop-sensibility,” Dabbs says. “And live it’s just taking it to another level.”
Music fans in the D.C. area will have a chance to sample the alt-Nashville Christmas when Ten Out Of Tenn performs at IOTA Club and Cafe in Arlington on Dec. 13. Tickets are $15.
- For more information on Ten Out Of Tenn, visit www.myspace.com/tenoutoftenn.