Hey y’all!

As promised, I have taken the reins for a little bit, allowing Kevin, our fearless managing editor, to spend some much-needed time with the newest addition to his family: Coen Jerry Carr, who was born last month. Congrats to mom, dad and baby, who are all happy and healthy (albeit very tired). Meanwhile, the rest of us here at Behind the Setlist have been holding down the fort, anxiously awaiting Kevin’s return.

And let’s be honest—I may be playing the role of “guest editor,” but as far as keeping the site constantly updated with new stories from around the music universe, it’s been a team effort because, well, we have an incredible team and a group of truly outstanding writers on staff.

So, as they might say at the Grand Ole Opry, the circle remains unbroken at Behind the Setlist, and that’s thanks in no small part to you. Yes, you! All of you who keep reading and coming back for more.

Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville via Google

Now, speaking of the Grand Ole Opry, I just returned from a week-long trip to Music City, USA (aka Nashville, Tennessee). And while I’m still in recovery mode (a full week of staying out past midnight has made me feel all of my 35 years, plus a few more), I’m more inspired and fired up about music than ever.

Nashville, although it has never officially been my home, has held a piece of my heart for a long time. I’ve had family there for as long as I can remember, and as such, I’ve been making friends and putting down roots for years without ever meaning to. Nowadays, Nashville feels as much like “home” to me as anywhere else.

The thing about Nashville that a lot of people don’t realize is you feel the pulse of the entire music industry there, not just country music, as many who’ve never been there believe. Country music is plentiful in Nashville, yes, but whatever you’re into, you’ll find it. All day, every day, there is live music to experience, and if you haven’t found exactly what you’re looking for, you either need to look harder or ask more people.

During my week stay, I dabbled in a little bit of everything: the funk/soul/gospel stylings of Robert Randolph & the Family Band, a stripped-down songwriters round where each artist was armed with only an acoustic guitar, a few great country cover bands (who are essentially human jukeboxes—it’s amazing to watch these guys take a request and then scramble to figure out the song within seconds), an intimate dinner show by up-and-coming contemporary worship duo Holy Mountain, and of course, a night at the Grand Ole Opry, featuring country and bluegrass greats, both old and new.

I saw so many different kinds of performances while I was in town, and that still only barely scratches the surface of what Nashville has to offer. While it’s impossible to compare each of those musical experiences because they are so different, they do share a common thread—each of those artists is telling a unique story, a story that can only be truly felt and appreciated when set to music.

That’s what I love so much about live music. It’s a chance to not only watch and listen to someone create art in real time, but also to feel what that person is feeling. It’s a shared experience between artist and observer that no other medium offers, at least not in quite the same way.

And this is why I so wholeheartedly believe in our mission at Behind the Setlist. Music and storytelling are inexorably linked, and while the music tells its part of the story through recordings and live performances, it’s up to us to seek out the stories behind the music. The stories behind the stories. It’s our way of honoring the people who create this art form we love so much and that, frankly, we couldn’t live without.

So here we are, celebrating our fifth month online [applause]! Summer’s here, which means so are music festivals! We were on the ground at Volume Inlander Music Festival in Spokane and ID10T Music Festival + Comic Conival in the San Francisco Bay Area. There will be more to come as summer progresses, so stay tuned to our new section dedicated to festival coverage.

Also coming up this month: Senior writer Jonathan Bautts sits down with Baio to talk about his newest solo album, Man of the World; our newest contributor Tina Hand catches up with 2017 Tiny Desk Contest winners Tank and the Bangas to learn all about New Orleans style and how it influences everything the band does; Craig Manning dives into opening acts and how they’re chosen; and Colin Poulton brings us his first-person account of performing in downtown Nashville on the busiest day in the city’s history (that anyone is aware of). He’ll also be taking us behind the scenes at Summer NAMM later in the month.

Of course, that’s not nearly all. Make sure you don’t miss anything, subscribe to our newsletter (all the cool kids are doing it) and follow us via your favorite social media platform (links below). We love hearing from you, and we’re always looking for more unique and compelling stories, so holler at us any time you like.

Until next time!


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