A great place for architects and dilettantes…

I spent much of the weekend in the company of my favorite publicists at the Nashville Star auditions. Actually, I didn’t spend too much time around my publicist friends as much as I did talking to contestants and judges. I am still drafting the angle for my story for the Rage so I don’t want to give too much away.

Friday was just sensory overload. Several hundred people being herded into the auditions. It was just a huge cattle call. Each contestant auditioned in front of a screener who decided whether or not to send the contestant to the main stage. Few made it. But you wouldn’t know from standing downstairs where the contestants were let in, because there was such a steady stream of singers on the main stage. Each one only got 30 seconds before the judges. Then they were sent off with a simple thank you.

I talked to a couple of the judges in the pre-audition room: a hell of a nice guy named Danny Tate and Casey Simpson, a contestant on the show last year. They explained the process and I watched a few groups come through. Since I saw only one of the people I’d interviewed outside make it down to the main stage, I decided to start interviewing people after they left the stage.

Saturday was call-backs. Out of perhaps a thousand-odd contestants, 42 were called back. This was much more sedate than Friday.

Chilled out yesterday afternoon. Got the dishes clean in time to cook dinner and get them dirty again. Then Lil’ Smell, two people I don’t have nicknames for yet and I headed down to the All the Rage Anniversary Party at the Mercy Lounge. It was an interesting event. We caught Hillbilly Casino, a really great rockabilly band, and Cadence, a…um white rapper in an argyle sweater. Cadence was much more entertaining than we might have ordinarily given him credit for. He had an actual flute player for the bits that would normally be left to the Parliment-esque ghetto flute. He dropped some hits from B.I.G. , The Regulators, Skee-Lo and uh, Vanilla Ice which was actually sort of endearing. Most importantly, he kept it brief and was done with his set before you could get annoyed.

In between bands, Chris and Michelle won door prizes. Then we broke out of there and headed to the Basement to catch Hands Down Eugene. HDE was, prepare yourselves, really good. Their utility man was absent so there were no shakers and sound effects. And their main sideman was gone too. Ryan’s vocals usually cut through a little more than Matt’s, but with him gone, you could hear the melodies a little more clearly. It was much more rock ‘n’ roll. And without the distraction of all the extra sounds, you could hear the song parts better. They still played too many slow songs that made me want to crank up some Ride the Lightning, but I enjoyed the show a great deal more than I have before.

Today, I’ve been writing and doing laundry and listening to good music for the first time in what feels like a week. Awesome.