GUY SMILEY BLUES EXCHANGE'S SENDOFF

Tennessee law forbids the practice of driving with an open can of beer between your legs. Tennessee law also forbids those who are not of age to enter adult entertainment establishments. Right or wrong, a hotbed of these said activities has been known to occur in the 5 block chunk that one might refer to as Nashville's Red Light District. Somewhere in the middle of this spread drives a man and his beer listening to the first tune of a show which he has not yet arrived at, thanks to the modern miracle of live radio broadcast. A spark of gritty Nashville undercurrent that belies its image of urban cowboy schmaltz is alive and well tonight in these parts. On this night, the order of the evening is to send the Guy Smiley Blues Exchange off on a long tour in style with a live radio broadcast featuring two handfuls of special guests reflecting the finer-tuned end of Music City.

If you're from these parts, you know that you can't really go wrong when it comes to the likes of Annie Sellick and Jeff Coffin, both quite recognizable names for one who regularly browses the music listings, particularly the jazz and such. The Guy Smiley Blues Exchange are some players themselves, and on the same level too. With a band that shifts around, you might think they lose a step, but it doesn't matter either 'cause it's always tight. So you know if they plan something special then they're gonna pull out some shit. They were tight. New drummer, guest percussionist, vocalist, and horn players. And don't forget 2 mics and a turntable, and still tight with all that. When I was pulling in, they were starting off with a funky one, but the one that came after simply floored me, "5 Smiles" by one Leroy Banana, a gumption of polytonal funk all mixed up in its shifting time signatures, floored me on the spot. Perhaps a couple tunes later, Jeff Coffin assumed the stage. The first song he participated in was an Afro-Latinized version of Wes Montgomery's tune, "Four on Six," definitely a staple of the GSBE repertoire was bumped up a notch by guest percussionist Dann Sherrill. Oldest GSBE member Matt Nolen played a rendition of "Stormy Monday" after which they followed with a horn-driven original, "Think Big Booms," which had DJ Viper dueling with the percussionist and Guy Smiley tenor player Chris West. Them chops was flyin' everywhere in the joint.

In the 2nd set, they were also joined for "Nature Boy" by local jazz performer extraordinaire Annie Sellick who will sing any ones ass under the table here in Nashville by my humble opinion. I dig the hell out of her. When she sings, she appears to be using her whole body as if it were necessary to vogue just right as to let the notes out exactly how you want to hear them. A couple of tunes down the road found the band fronted by local MC duo Audiofonix cutting loose freestyle rhymes over a horn-funk Miles Davis cover.

At this point it occurs to me that writing a review of a show could be tedious. By this I mean I could talk about a solo in one song as compared to another, or a band's live sound being superior to that of their studio sound. What's the point? The point is that the jazz and the funk is alive and well in Nashville and very well represented on this particular evening. Aside from this music, it should also be noted that bluegrass, songwriters, and folkies are also alive and very well in Nashville (particularly bluegrass). As for those no-dirt-under-the-nail sissies in cowboy hats that Nashville's industry types pass off as country artists, they import those types from Canada and Oklahoma. They're about as Nashville as the Brooklyn Bridge. The bottom line is that GSBE is on tour and may very well be in or near your town very soon. You'd be doing yourself a favor to check them out.

Leonard Toby
JamBase | Nashville
Go See Live Music

[Published on: 1/22/02]

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