Kashena Sampson ain’t the first unknown singer to move to Nashville with stars in her eyes, but music city’s most powerful new voice may be the first to have toured the world and partied like a rock star before doing so.
Though the Las Vegas native grew up singing three-part harmonies in a band with her sisters, Sampson found herself post-college living in Los Angeles, waiting tables, and doing the struggling actor thing.
She also was doing a lot of drugs.
The road to Las Vegas singer-songwriter Jeff Mix’s debut album, “Lost Vegas Hiway,” has been a long and winding one, but he is making up for lost time.
Mix wrote his first song in the fourth grade, drummed in a heavy metal band with his brother as a teenager, and later began writing songs influenced by the Texas country songwriters he discovered in his 20’s, but he never thought to sing his own songs until he was in his 40’s.
“I never thought I could sing,” he said.
Like Jagger and Richards, Lennon and McCartney, and peanut butter and jelly, some things combined are better than their individual parts. Fine Lines, one of Nashville’s best new rock ’n’ roll bands, is no different. Comprised of two members of Indiana’s hard rock music scene, and two former members of a prodigious Alabama bar band, Fine Lines converged in Music City to make a sound that is both aggressive and soulful, sweet and sour, sticky and smooth.
Henry J. Sawyer
Henry Robert Joseph Charles Sawyer could be Australia’s Mark Twain. No, he‘s not a famous American writer, nor did he ever pilot a riverboat down the Mississippi, but he is a songwriter and he has crossed over the mighty river. At least both men’s names were adopted by the men themselves in an effort to transcend their given identities, in turn forging a creative identity synonymous with the American South.
Henry J. Sawyer, as punters know him, is the creation of Cameron Hicks, a Melbourne-based sideman-turned-solo performer. Despite growing up in a musical family, it was only after years of playing bass that he discovered he could write songs in the American country traditions crafted by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers and Ernest Tubb. “Something clicked and I thought, ‘Shit, I should’ve done this 10 years ago,” Hicks said.
Freddy & Francine
Authenticity in the music industry is slippery when wet. Everyone praises its value, yet when an artist is truly authentic, it is often only embraced if it can be easily walked on without slipping and landing in a pile of genre-related questions. To the casual observer, Freddy & Francine seem safely cemented as a folk duo. They got the look. The soulful harmonies. The folk circuit bookings — over 150 a year, including the legendary Telluride Bluegrass Festival. They’re even getting married. Cute. Even their act’s name is cute. You could make a movie about it. Someone probably has.
But Freddy & Francine (their actual names are Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso) aren’t interested in acting, or genres, or talking or not talking about their relationship. They’ve done all that. They’ve even recently left their longtime home of Los Angeles for Nashville. And they’ve never looked more like themselves.
It has been said that rock ‘n’ roll is a religion, but with the necessary devotion, outsider lifestyle, and difficulty leaving (who wants a day job?), it’s more like a cult. Therefore there is no better place for a rock ‘n’ roll band to be based than the savagely heavy quintet Aneurysm’s hometown of Boston, also home to other well-known cults like Christian Science, The Boston Red Sox, and perhaps the largest cult of all: runners.