I’ve been going to a lot of shows recently. I’ve been to five venues in the last four days; one festival and four concerts. Am I tired? No. Am I sick of music? No. Am I nuts? Well, that has yet to be proved or disproved, so we’ll leave that question out of the mix for now. What you should know is that on most Tuesday nights, The Basement in Nashville has New Faces Nite, a free show with great bands. In case you missed it, that’s a FREE show with GREAT bands.
This week was another example of a stellar New Faces Nite at The Basement. First up was Emily Davis, an acoustic folk rock artist from El Paso, TX. With the tough job of opening the night, Emily used her strong vocals and “darkly optimistic” lyrics to warm up the crowd. Second of the night was a new local rock artist named Jeffrey James. Jeffrey and his backing band called The Professional Children took the stage and released a blend of blues and soulful rock from his latest EP called Goin’ Back Down. The album was produced by Nashville veteran Lex Lipstiz, who said, “Jeffrey James has one of those classic soul voices. With his bigger than life stage presence and commanding vocal delivery, he definitely sells you on every word… I think it’s only a matter of time before he’s a huge star.” Well, I think that’s about one of the biggest compliments you can get from a producer, so if you like rock with a little country, blues, and soul thrown in the mix, check out Jeffrey James. These artists had good music and played well, but I would like to highlight the crowd favorite of the night.
Photo by Kellie Coughlin.
Stephanie Nilles is not your typical jazz-infused punk folk artist. If you want to listen to something fresh, but are tired of all the Ingrid Michaelson, Grizzly Bear, and Feist indie band imitations, her music is sure to wake you up. New Faces Nite at The Basement was my first time hearing Stephanie Nilles, and it’s been awhile since I’ve heard an artist be so creatively bold with their music on stage. She has taken her training as a classical pianist and developed an amazing jazz and blues style filled with her own unique embellishments for each song. Rolling Stone has even said, “she’s like ‘Ella Fitzgerald on speed beating the shit out of Regina Spektor.’ Whoa! There’s a review that won’t go in one ear and out the other. Even if you have your own personal preferred style of music, I think that her music is powerful enough that you can appreciate it at the least, especially if you’re a musician. Check out the song “For a High Life Commercial” by Stephanie Nilles.
Photo by Leonard Lopp.
She’s different, but brilliant in a twisted sense that maybe she writes from thoughts that you have had, but didn’t exactly want to communicate because of what people would think about you. I think this is a huge part of Stephanie’s music. She also has the musical talent to back up anything she sings in that dirty Regina Spektor tone of hers. These also aren’t your typically structured songs either, with syllables that land when they want and fully diminished seventh chords that appear in thoughtlessly considered, appropriate places. Stephanie communicates what she wants when she wants to, and it’s thoroughly entertaining every time. Check out another one of her songs called “Cool Aid Stand.”
If you’ve been having as much fun listening to Stephanie Nilles as I have, check out more of her music at www.stephanienilles.com. The other bands that played that night (that I didn’t get to see) were Boom Forest, I Believe in Hotpants, and Haley Dreis. I’ll be on the look out to cover some of these artists at a later date. Until then, keep supporting independent music!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC