I first heard of Nashville’s Caitlin Rose when TheSunday Times, UK listed her debut album’s “Shanghai Cigarettes” as their #2 song of 2010. This snappy tune made me a fan from first listen. I later enjoyed seeing her open for The Decemberists at the Ryman in 2011 and then headline to a packed crowd at The Basement early last year. Her new LP The Stand In dropped this week, and, like her first record, is another bona fide pop-country gem.
I eagerly awaited this record release performance which would also christen the new Grimey’s Too space with its first “in-store.” The planned event, however, was altered somewhat when just two days prior the ever-popular Andrew Bird, in town to record a segment of Bluegrass Underground at Cumberland Caverns, offered to do a warm-up in-store on the same day. So, unexpectedly, Rose found herself as Bird’s opening act. Rose would play at 6 and Bird at 7.
Taking no chances, I arrived early at around 4:30 only to find about 25 people already waiting. By the time of her set, the room was close to capacity, around 150. A later show-of-hands poll by Grimey’s co-owner, Doyle Davis, would reveal that the crowd was mostly Bird fans who arrived early and were unfamiliar with Rose. While this may sound unfortunate for Rose, I don’t believe that any of her fans were turned away. Judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd during her set, she may have won herself some news fans as well.
Caitlin Rose plays a smart brand of country with slick pop overtones. That, along with her diminutive size, reminds me somewhat of the country-side of 70’s Stiff Records artist, Rachel Sweet. Rose’s band featuring locals Andrew Combs and Reno Bo, along with two members of an instrumental duo known as Steelism, have become a solid road-tested outfit. In fact just two days ago, they came home from two sold-out London dates, and they will return to the UK later this year. Combs is also a fine alt-country artist in his own right, and, as he normally does, will open for Rose at Saturday’s show at the Mercy Lounge.
Rose’s 30-minute set featured seven songs, all from the new record, including her cover of The Felice Brothers’ “Dallas.” While her vocals were strong and solid, I couldn’t help notice that she had a rather disinterested look about her. She clearly lacked the spunk that I witnessed and loved so much during last year’s Basement show. I later learned that she was a touch under-the-weather in the UK and was still fighting illness this night. Nonetheless, her singing was spot-on brilliant.
I said this last year after seeing her live, and I will say it again: Caitlin Rose has what it takes to garner greater national acclaim. I predict it won’t be long before she attains the status here that she now has in the UK.
As an aside, can anyone out there name the two acts that performed the first in-stores at the original Grimey’s in Berry Hill and at the relocated Grimey’s on Eighth? The first to come up with the correct answers will get a special treat from Music City Mike.
- No One to Call
- I Was Cruel
- Pink Champagne
- Only a Clown
- Silver Sings
- Menagerie (on set list but did not play)
Caitlin Rose – vocals and guitar
Andrew Combs – rhythm guitar
Jeremy Fetzer – lead guitar
Reno Bo – bass
Spencer Culum, Jr. – pedal steel
Joey Andrews – drums