BONUS TRACKS: A Check-in With Venues and New Roles for Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson
Nashville's Exit/In in pre-COVID times. (Photo from exitin.com)
Every music fan is painfully aware of how their favorite local venues are suffering amid lockdowns that have dragged on for more than a year now. Each club, listening room, basement hideaway, and stage stuffed into a corner has a story, and each story adds up to a troubling tale about the future of live music in America. Pitchfork checked in with 36 venues across the country, telling their stories and finding out what their audiences can do to help. Chances are there’s a venue here you’ve been inside, but even if you’ve never darkened the door, these stories are funny (you MUST check out the story about R.E.M. from Washington, DC’s 9:30 Club), poignant, and vital to our understanding of what’s ahead for live music.
Speaking of venues, Nashville’s landmark Exit/In is in the fight of its life after its building was put under contract to be sold to a hotel developer. Exit/In owner Chris Cobb, who has operated the club for the last 17 years of its 50-year history, has set up a GoFundMe to try to raise $200,000 in hopes of putting in a better offer. (If it doesn’t work out, Cobb will instead donate the money to the National Independent Venue Association and Music Venue Alliance Nashville.) Read more about Exit/In’s fight and its history — which includes shows from Waylon Jennings, Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, R.E.M., and others early in their careers — in this article from Rolling Stone.
You’ve seen ’em on stage, but soon you’ll be able to see Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson in a whole new light. The musicians have been cast in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon, which will star Leonardo DiCaprio and be produced for Apple Original Films. The movie revisits the murders of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s. Read more about the movie, the story behind it, and the roles for Isbell and Simpson in this story from the Osage News.
Isbell and Amanda Shires are sponsoring a sensory room at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, the Tennessee Titans announced this week. The Isbell-Shires KultureCity room in the NFL team’s home stadium, a partnership with accessibility nonprofit KultureCity, provides a place for people with autism, PTSD, and other conditions that involve sensitivity to sensory stimulation to escape for some quiet as needed. Learn more and see photos of the room here.
Record Store Day is on for 2021, though like last year it will involve multiple “drops” — separate dates for releases aimed at preventing the usual RSD crowds at independent stores. Click here for the list of releases, which you can sort by date. The 2021 Record Store Day drops are June 12 and July 17.
Dolly Parton has said all along she owes her career to her uncle Bill Owens, who not only encouraged her music early on, but also drove her to gigs and went with her as she sought her first record deal. Sadly, Owens died this week, and Parton published a heartfelt eulogy on her website that shared his musical talents as well as his humanity. “It’s really hard to say or to know for sure what all you owe somebody for your success,” Parton writes. “But I can tell you for sure that I owe Uncle Billy an awful lot.”
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
John Prine – John Prine
Leslie Jordan – Company’s Comin’
Say Darling – Before & After
Dawn Landes and Justin Townes Earle – “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” (proceeds from sales of this song on Bandcamp will go to Earle’s family)
Bright Eyes – “Calais to Dover”
Michael Kiwanuka – “Love & Hate”
Della Mae – “Headlight” (the video features friends and fellow artists highlighting facts about sexual violence and expressing support for victims):