With all the Nashville artists we’ve featured in the last year, you might think we should rename this site to Nashville Calling. Once the Country Music Capital City (well, it actually still is), the talent coming out of Nashville the last few years has been amazing. From the bluesy-rock of Larkin Poe to the old soul sound of Andreson East to the dirt emo of Ruston Kelly to the post-grunge punk of Bully, there’s really something for all music listeners.
Andrew Combs puts a ’70 AM pop (ala Jackson Browne, Harry Nilsson, Paul Simon) spin on traditional folk-country music and has even slipped into epic Southern rock jams like “Bourgeois King” on his latest, 2017’s Canyons of My Mind. I’d LOVE to hear Gov’t Mule or My Morning Jacket stretch this song out on a sprawling 15-minute journey.
Whereas I used to be turned onto new music by reading reviews in magazines, I now rely heavily on some of my favorite artists like Aaron Lee Tasjan, Lilly Hiatt and Margo Price to tweet about their favorite artists of the moment and the name Erin Rae seemed to keep popping up. Not kidding when I say that it took just seconds of hearing the acoustic strumming of Putting on Airs opener “Grand Scheme” and the introduction of Erin’s timeless vocals to become smitten and completely understand why she has a legion of fans singing her praise.
On Saturday night, Andrew and Erin bring a taste of Nashville to Rumba Cafe for an early show. Local artist Sean Marshall opens the show which is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 (doors at 6). Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door and the show will be over by 10pm as there is a second show at Rumba that night.
Both Andrew and Erin took some time to answer questions I sent via email.
I interviewed Amanda Bantug shortly before I traveled to Nashville for a conference and asked her to recommend some of the best places to eat buffalo wings (she suggested Martin’s, Knockout Wings, Dolce Vita and Miss Saigon). I interviewed Rebecca and Megan of Larkin Poe and asked them where I’d most likely run into them if they were not on tour and just hanging out in Nashville (Megan said at McKay’s). So, tell me, where in Nashville do you consider your comfort zone, some place you can go and lose yourself for a while?
Andrew: Well, when I am home, I mostly am home – literally. I have a little one, so she takes up a lot of my time and energy when I am in Nashville. The family and I do spend loads of time out at Shelby and Two Rivers Park. We all love to be outside. If I get a spare moment to myself, I also love to go fly-fishing on the Caney Fork River. That is an hour east of town.
Erin: I love Nashville’s vintage shops and flea markets. I call it “taking my medicine” when I go make a loop around Pre-to- Post Modern & 8th Ave Antiques or Goodlettsville Antique Mall. Like Langhorne Slim says, “them old things, they amaze me”.
What’s a special extravagance you allow yourself on the road and what’s your best secret for touring on a budget?
Andrew: I pretty much always allow myself to indulge in the local food fare. Best secret for touring on a budget is not touring!
Erin: I like to try to find a good cup of coffee wherever we are. Yoga mats & sleeping bags make a great little bed. Oh, and Hummus for dinner!
Not sure if your songs have been featured in TV or movies. If they have, do you hold special viewing parties for friends and family or is music placement something that your manager/publishing agent/etc handles and you’re maybe made aware of after the fact with little fanfare?
Andrew: They have, but, no, I don’t do that. I usually don’t watch them.
Erin: So far I’ve just had one placement, on a show called True South and that was super exciting to me! Such a cool show. Didn’t have a viewing party but was excited to see it!
When you were a teenager, who had the biggest influence on what you were listening to? Were you a trendsetter and discovering music on your own or were you following the lead of a family member, friend from school, etc?
Andrew: In my teenage years, I was actively seeking out music. I scoured through magazines and the internet (in its beginning stages) to find new and interesting bands. I loved Radiohead and fell into electronic music post-Amnesiac period. Stuff like Four Tet and Apex Twin, which were a direct inspiration to Thom Yorke became super important to me. I also loved Wilco, The Strokes, Lambchop, and that whole world of “indie music”.
Erin: I loved music my parents listened to, loved songwriters and Gillian Welch but I also loved listening to top 40 with my friends. Definitely wasn’t a trendsetter! I had a cool friend that went to house shows in Nashville and made me a sweet mix CD that introduced me to tons of my now favorites like Feist and Velvet Underground. I’ve really had fun this last year discovering a bunch of new and old music that I like.
Is there somebody in your life that is your sounding board for new songs that you write? Has that person ever said, “Man, you really need to work on that, it’s not there”? And, has that person ever started crying the first time you’ve played a song and said, “It’s beautiful, don’t change a thing”?
Andrew: I used to play my new tunes for a lot of people, but I ended up caring too much about what they thought. Now, I only play them for my wife in the early stages.
Erin: I rarely let songs out of the bag before I feel done with them – I send them to my producer/guitar player friend Jerry in the early stages if I need to get another set of ears on them. I trust his opinion! I also showed a song that’s half done recently to my friend Kashena Sampson and she was like, “Yeah you should write more words.” Ha ha ha. I loved that!
What’s the hardest part about touring overseas, something that nobody warned you about or something that you underestimated?
Andrew: The actual traveling can be stressful. I have had many a’ mishap with rental cars, trains, border crossings, etc… But now I feel like a seasoned veteran! It’s all worth it to play shows over there. I love it.
Erin: Sometimes the make and model of a Ford is a LOT smaller than one of the same name here. And sometimes cars require diesel that maybe would use regular gas here. Ask around before you rent!
Who would you like to hear cover some of your songs?
Andrew: Oh man. I have to think about this. Just off the top of my head – I’d love to hear Brent Cobb do “Too Stoned To Cry”, Bonnie Raitt do “In The Name of You”, Mickey Newbury’s take on “Hazel”, Marty Robbins on “Rose Colored Blues”, and Nina Simone singing “Dirty Rain”.
Erin: Andrew (Combs) covered “Wild Blue Wind” & Caroline Spence has covered “Crazy Talk” and both meant so much to me! It’s such an honor! I think what I’d love the most is having someone take a line from my songs and making it a hook for a track or something. Or a remix for a hip hop track.
You don’t have to reveal who the song is about, but have you written a song specifically about somebody who, as far as you know, doesn’t know the song is about them?
Andrew: Oh ya! Plenty! I lead a fairly boring life. I find other people far more interesting than myself.
Erin: Yea! Maybe Bad Mind? Most of my songs are kind of about other people but mostly about me.