(photo [L-R]: Trent Dabbs, Griffin House, Kate York, Tyler James, Jeremy Lutito and Gabe Ruschival of Disappointed by Candy)
The average person’s knowledge of Music City consists of televised Tim McGraw concerts and Bluebird Cafe T-shirts. But there’s a mostly overlooked community of musicians behind Nashville’s glitz. Ten out of Tenn is a group of independent, Nashville-based musicians who have a lot more to offer than rhinestones and country-pop.
It all started at the end of last year. Recording artist Trent Dabbs and his wife Kristen were on their way to Nashville from Jackson, Miss., when it occurred to them that their favorite musicians were closer than they’d realized. “We were thinking about how much music we like that happens to be our friends’,” says Dabbs, over dinner in Nashville. “There’s a community of people here with a lot of talent.” The idea quickly turned into a compilation disc, and the compilation turned into a tour. Dabbs’ amigos Griffin House and Kate York joined the project, along with seven other Nashville-based folk-rock and folk-pop acts: Disappointed by Candy, The Lonely Hearts, Paper Route, Shortwaveradio, Betsy Roo, Tyler James, and The Golden Sounds.
Ten out of Tenn began as a means for exposure, and a way to prove Nashville has a thriving underground. “If Nashville wasn’t known as the Music City,” says House, “then there would be probably more attention on Nashville as far as the creativity that’s actually going on here. If this was Cincinnati, Ohio, people would be like, ‘holy shit!’”
The artists involved with Ten out of Tenn grew up in different parts of the country—from Mississippi and Illinois to California. But the fact that all these musicians ended up in Nashville somehow solidifies the project. Its overall feel is organic and folky, but rock, pop, and even some electronic influences can be heard in the music.
A strong sense of community and friendship holds the Ten out of Tenn project together. Several of the musicians are very close—they play at each other’s shows and on each other’s records. “There really is something completely unique about it. It’s kind of more of a kinship with each other,” says Dabbs, right after showing off his costume for the high-school-themed party he’s about to attend with House, York and his wife. House, who just flew in from Los Angeles, plans to stop by York’s place on the way to the party so he can borrow some clothes.
The musicians support each other on stage, too. On the Ten out of Tenn tour, they perform separate sets but play backup on each other’s songs. Aside from her own sets, York will sing with the guys. “I’m the only girl,” she grins, “so I’m special.”
Dabbs is already brainstorming ideas for the next Ten out of Tenn. “My mother said, ‘This could be the next American Idol!’ I said ‘Oh great, that’s what the world needs… more disposable pop.”
But for now, the band of Nashville scenesters is focusing on the tour at hand. Dabbs will drive the group around the country in a van he bought from Josh Rouse. “It’s kind of like a baton if you think about it,” says York. “Josh Rouse’s van, passing it down to the next generation.” About half the ten groups and artists will be playing at any given date, but Dabbs and his touring band, Disappointed By Candy, will play every show.
Before heading to the party, Dabbs adds, “You know, Griffin got fired from this place we’re eating at now.” House laughs and admits, “for being insubordinate… which is exactly what we’re gonna do on this Ten out of Tenn tour.”
(Paste is proud a sponsor of the Ten out of Tenn tour)
For tour dates, visit www.tenoutoftenn.com.