Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are Nashville Music Fans Savvier?

I had a heretical thought last night.

After work, I drove to Nashville to attend a Dylan concert at the Ryman. Over the 41 years that I’ve been attending these regular rituals of aging, I’ve learned the one constant is there is no constant. One night is awful and the next night is incredible.

Last night was magical. Amos Lee opened and then Elvis Costello surprised the crowd by contributing a 40-minute set. When Dylan and band finally made it to the stage, they were in a groove, made even more electric when Jack White of the White Stripes strolled on stage to play a blistering guitar and sing an impassioned “Meet Me In The Morning.”

It was about then that I became aware that the packed house was rewarding some impressive guitar licks, cheering slight changes in lyrics and applauding the subtlety of some reworked arrangements. Notably, no one left early, all in stark contrast to a similar concert a year or so ago in the Orpheum here.

It was at that moment that it occurred to me that Nashville audiences are simply more music-savvy. They appreciate the subtleties, they know the players, they are plugged into the performance and they feel the music.

It’s not the first time I’ve been to concerts at the Ryman, but it was the first time that this thought crossed my mind. I just hope someone can talk me out of it.


Anonymous said...

Nashville's better than this armpit in every way.
There's your explanation.

I'd love to move there, it's a progressive city moving in the right direction; the only thing moving in the right direction here are the moving vans going anywhere but here.
native Memphian here who took the blinders off years ago.

john said...

if you google "I hate memphis and want to leave" does smart city memphis show up?

Data Geek said...

I know the major blogger for smart city and can assure you he is a lifelong Memphis and has no desire to leave; he just wants a better place to live. Haven't you read any of these blogs?

I returned to Memphis about a year and a half ago and want to stay though fear I may have to leave for employment. Not many jobs here. I, like smart city, with the place were a bit more reasonable; not even rational. Just reasonable

Anonymous said...

The writer made an assumption that it was a "Nashville audience". Is it possible that many others who attended the concert had a great appreciation for Dylan and traveled hundreds of miles to enjoy the concert? I wonder if it is possible to determine whether Nashville fans are savvier based on one concert experience.

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Smart City Consulting said...

Anonymous: It's all anecdotal, but based on the license plates and conversation with every one around us, they were dominated by Nashville area residents. Of course, we proved the point that people come from hundreds of miles, but we couldn't readily find anyone like us.

We have heard for years from some Memphis musicians that Memphis audiences just don't "get it" but

Anonymous said...

At a recent performance of the Lion King at the Orpheum, people were using their cell phones, talking and shouting like they were at a ball game. One family had brought an infant that they spent the entire night passing up and down the aisle.

Your Nashville experience could also be due to the artists...Dylan, et al, draw a more sophisticated listener.

Smart City Consulting said...


I feel your pain. We were drawing our observations from Dylan concerts in both cities.

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