Between the two publications I write for, I’ve written more about releases coming from Nashville than any other city. I live in Chicago; a city with a thriving music scene, so that says a lot! Ever since the day I heard Superdrag’s “Destination Ursa Major” at 3 am on a cold, rainy fall day in 1996, I’ve been a full-on disciple of Tennesse’s indie scene. Being 13 years old and in a time when the internet wasn’t in every single household like today, it wasn’t easy to track down releases from artists such as 30 Amp Fuse or Rude Street Peters. But I somehow did it and it not only shaped my taste in music but in the way I perceive art in general.

The easiest way I could educate myself in the music scenes across the country was to listen to those artists talk about who inspired them or they’re working with.

Of course, Superdrag quickly became my all-time favorite band, and hearing their frontman John Davis talk about music was like listening to an encyclopedia! If he said it was good, it was. It was really that simple. Fast forward to modern times, that angle still rings true. When Superdrag folded into The Lees Of Memory, I was introduced to producer extraordinaire Mike Purcell. Not only a record producing wizard, but Purcell is also quite a musician in his own right.

The By Gods, Hurts To Laugh, Sad Baxter, Hitman Louie, the list of artists Purcell has worked with is more like a list of whos-who of Nashville and it’s suburbs’ finest.  But what about his music?

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In a word, it’s good. In two words, it’s very good. Purcell teamed up with his friend Patrick Rickelton to make Kettleflower. With Purcell’s studio wizardry combined with Rickelton’s singer/songwriter prowess makes Kettleflower a wonderfully unique duo but what makes it even more interesting is the fact it’s a virtual project. According to Purcell, he’ll send the bones of a song over to Rickelton, who then adds his know-how before sending it back for Purcell’s finishing touches. While this remote way of recording is becoming more common in the music business, I can’t think of any other group that sounds as complete and focused as Kettleflower.

On “Alone In The Morning”, Kettleflower is joined by Alex Mojaverian and Deezy from Sad Baxter (on drums and backing vocals, respectively) to fill out an already stacked recording. Lyrically, “Alone In The Morning” is a tribute to the breathtaking 2016 viral photo of Ieshia Evans who stood calmly in protest against police brutality by facing an onslaught of riot gear wearing state troopers. In today’s political climate and civil unrest, that photo and the lyrics of this song is more poignant than ever.

Side B’s “The 99” is an alternate version of a track on a previous Kettleflower release. But placed behind “Alone In The Morning”, “The 99” feels like the triumphant sunrise after a series of merciless thunderstorms.

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This is the kind of music the world needs right now. Not just because the lyrics are timely or the production outclasses anything on the Billboard. But because these tracks share a message of unwavering hope. It’s a message Purcell and Rickelton share directly from their hearts to the soundboard, to our ears. Just like society is bigger than the pressing issues, Nashville is bigger than cowboy tropes and tourist attractions. Kettleflower is the real deal because the people behind it are. Looking back, this is probably why I’ve always been drawn to this particular scene without even realizing it yet. Perhaps you should give these two songs a listen as well…

Alone In The Morning/The 99 is available for streaming and download on Bandcamp.

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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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