One of the things I love most about living in a city packed with super-accomplished musicians is experiencing what I call the “thrill of association.”
More than a few times, I’ve made a new friend in Nashville only to find out later that they played a part in making my favorite music. That’s what happened a few years ago when I met Russ Pollard, an LA transplant who is a multi-instrumentalist and popular local DJ.
One day, not very long after we were introduced, I was stuck in my car, inexplicably without my phone. Bored, I started poking around for reading material within arm’s reach and found a Sebadoh CD case wedged under my seat (yes, I am a relic). That album, The Sebadoh, is one of my favorites of that band’s; I’ve listened to it dozens of times since it came out in the late ‘90s. To kill time, I pulled out the little paper insert and read the liner notes. And I’ll be damned: Russ played drums on it. (To be fair, Russ has played in a lot of bands and on many other albums, but this particular record just happened to be my personal entrée into the RP oeuvre.)
The next time I ran into him was in Florence, Alabama, backstage at a Billy Reid fashion show that we both walked in. I told him the bored-in-car-with-The-Sebadoh story and how much I dug his work. He was very sweet about it — perhaps a little surprised that I whipped that out while we were both waiting in line for makeup. But super-gracious in accepting the compliment. And, to his credit, he did not make me feel weird about semi-fangirling out on him.
Since then, Russ has showed up on several more Billy Reid runways (check him out on Vogue.com!) and I’m happy to say we’ve found more occasions to talk about music. After a few of these chats, when he had an idea of what I dig – glammy ‘70s rock, post-punk, Neil Young – he started making ace recommendations for bands that I should check out. (Right now, The Pretty Things and Karen Dalton are on my Russ List.)
This act of rock ‘n’ roll kindness gave me an idea: What if Team Callaway asked our music-making friends to come up with mix tapes for TCR? Better yet, what if the songs on those mixes were tied to a certain Nashville neighborhood? Kicking it off with Russ and the neighborhood home of Callaway HQ was a no-brainer.
East Nashville has been Russ’ home since 2013. That’s the year he and his wife Chandra Watson, also a musician, moved here from California with their chihuahua, Jimmy Dean, and a shit-ton of vinyl in tow. (Fun fact: Chan and her twin sister Leigh are TCR alums.) “East Nashville seemed like the right fit for us,” Russ says of the couple’s choice of neighborhoods. “We're creatives and East is full of like-minded people.”
The mix he made for TCR represents a day in his East Nashville life — “from my eyes first opening in the morning to just before they close at night” — with song choices that “hover around the late '60's with a couple of OTT gems.”
Between playing music and spinning vinyl, Russ is a busy dude. Early next month, he heads out on tour with fellow Eastsider Carl Broemel in support of Carl’s new record, Brokenhearted Jubilee. First stop: Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Then it’s back to spinning vinyl at Nashville’s coolest parties.
Until you can catch him live – either on stage on in the DJ booth – we’re happy to offer his awesome custom mix can tide you over.
Vashti Bunyan, Diamond Day. From Just Another Diamond Day (1970)
Vashti is an English singer/songwriter who released her debut in 1970. This song reminds me of the cardinal birds outside the window in my tree. Good morning...
Joy and Jubilee, Bonnie “Prince” Billy. From Master and Everyone (2003)
After a long winter, this is nice to hear when you first open the shade on a spring day.
Me And My Arrow, Harry Nilsson. From The Point! (1970)
My Chihuahua Jimmy Dean was always afraid to go on walks in Los Angeles where we lived. I remember the first time I took him out for a walk in East Nashville and he had no fear. That was a big deal for me and him and this song reminds me of that walk. Jimmy is my Arrow.
Been So Long, Vetiver. From To Find Me Gone (2007)
"Where have You Been, Russ?" - East Nashville
See Emily Play, Pink Floyd. From The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
Walking around the airstrip at Cornelia Fort Airpark/Greenway is like a psychedelic experience for me. This song seems to fit perfectly. Written by psychonaut/personal hero Syd Barrett.
Picture Book, The Kinks. From The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
Track 3., Side 1, off of their only self-produced album. Makes me think of the first time I saw Pujol play Record Store Day at Grimey's in 2013.
Andmoreagain, Love. From Forever Changes (1967)
One of the lesser-known bands from late ‘60s Laurel Canyon scene. This song, penned by singer Arther Lee, reminds me of the first hang I had with Nashville singer/songwriter Jessie Baylin. Her house is situated on a hill with a beautiful view of an emerald valley. I thought, "This is like the Laurel Canyon of Nashville.”
Grass, The Pretty Things. From Parachute (1969)
This record is good medicine. It's my sage smudge in any new space. My desert island jam.
If I Could Have Her Tonight, Neil Young. From Neil Young (Nov. 12, 1968 - his 23rd birthday)
Side 1., track 4, on his debut solo album. Makes me think of driving down Natchez Trace to Leiper's Fork in the fall.
St. Elmo's Fire, Brian Eno. From Another Green World (1975)
The sunsets here are spectacular and this song goes perfectly with them. God-like.
Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore, Scott Walker. From Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
Scott Walker passed away this March. He was a prolific singer/songwriter and avant-garde adventurist. He influenced me and many. (TCR Note: It’s not on Spotify, but you can listen here.)
Across The Universe, The Beatles. From Let It Be (1970)
Reminds me of the stars at night and how small I am. When I moved to Nashville and didn't know anyone, I somehow felt so connected at the same time. It's a small world here and the community is tight. If I had to have a song permanently stuck in my head, this would be the one. Good night.
Yve Assad is a photographer based in Nashville, but her home is mainly on the road, specifically on the back of a motorcycle. A seeker of beautiful landscapes, she shoots on the ground and in the air. She also has a passion for two wheels, and has been documenting motorcycle culture for the past decade. Her travels have taken her all over the United States and as far as India. In 2014, she completed a 5000-mile solo journey to Nova Scotia on the 1976 BMW R90/6 her husband gave her as an engagement ring. Enjoy her photography here.