11 Questions to a Nashville Musician: Mike Patton (Vista Blue)

Mike Patton (Vista Blue)

I have long proclaimed that Power Pop is my favorite musical genre. It’s also no secret that Baseball is the only sport that matters to me. Well, how excited do you think I am about a band like Vista Blue whose catalog includes albums consisting entirely of Power Pop songs about the National Pastime! Go to Spotify and you will find four full LPs of this incredible stuff! There’s also these and some other great stuff to hear at their Bandcamp page.

Mike Patton is the force behind Vista Blue and in honor of the recent best day of the year, Vista Blue released a new single “Opening Day” that you can listen to here. There is also an active Kickstarter campaign to fund a 7-inch single that they will be recording at Power Pop Heaven: Ardent Studios in Memphis. You can “pitch in” and pre-order the record for $10 here.

Thanks Mike for doing these 11 Questions and good luck with the Kickstarter project. I was afraid to ask, but hopefully like me, you not only love pizza, but the New York Yankees as well!

 

Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?

I’m from New Orleans. I moved here in 2007, a couple of years after Hurricane Katrina. While our music scene was coming back together, and there was a great sense of community overall, there were still sections of town that hadn’t been touched. My oldest son was approaching school age, and we made the tough decision to leave and raise our kids elsewhere.

My brother Todd and our friend Wyatt had moved here to start their band Second Saturday in 2002. My parents moved here shortly after, and my brother Brett stayed here after we all evacuated to Nashville during the storm. I’m a teacher, and I sent resumes to schools all over the country, including Nashville. A school that I liked here was the first to come through with a solid offer, so that’s how we ended up here.

Playing music here was easy at first, since I had two brothers and some friends in town. But as people have moved out of town, I’ve been lucky to find two locals to join me in Mark Crowley and Reese Chism. They’re both great musicians, and we’re all on the same page as far as playing music to have fun first. Anything else is a bonus.

What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?

There is no way I could remember the first record I bought. My parents started buying records for me when I was pretty young, I think so I wouldn’t mess with theirs. One that I still have, which could be the first, is REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity. I got it when I was three or four, and it was my favorite for years.

The last record I bought was the Red Rockers’ Good as Gold last week. I’ve had the digital files forever, but Great Escape had it at $3, so I grabbed it. I don’t like it as much as the previous EP and LP, but it has the MTV hits on it. The singer John Thomas Griffith went on to form Cowboy Mouth with Paul Sanchez in NOLA in the ’90s, and they were a huge influence on me growing up there. (I also bought my daughter the recent Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack on vinyl last week. FYI: Disney vinyl releases don’t include download codes.)

First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?

Again, my parents were taking me to concerts really early, so I’d have to dig out all the ticket stubs to try to figure this out. I can remember there was a concert at the Superdome when I was four that featured (I think) Heart, Foghat, Speedwagon, and Ted Nugent. But it wasn’t my first. My first show without parents was probably Depeche Mode in 1989. These days I don’t get to many shows if I’m not playing. A few months ago, we went to see local bands Year of October and Resistance House Band. Both are great.

Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?

It’s funny. I was going to say Ben Folds, but then I realized he’s there already. So, I’d go with Kevin Griffin for sure. He’s really inspired me as a songwriter over the last 20+ years.

Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?

I love both coffee and pizza, but I’m way more of a pizza snob than a coffee snob. (I actually read through your blog pizza recently, and I love it.) For coffee, I’m good with almost anything. The Well is good, as is Frothy Monkey. But I probably go to Dunkin more than anything else. For pizza, I try to limit it to the best places in town. My Top Five looks something like this: 312, Angelo’s, Manny’s, Five Points, and a newer one, Sanders Ferry Pizza and Pub.

What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?

This is tough, obviously. There’s some great stuff by Dylan, Steve Earle, The Byrds, etc. But if I have to name my favorite, the one I’m going to listen to the most, I’m going with Second Saturday’s Here’s the Deal (2002) or Wyatt Funderburk’s Novel and Profane (2013). Both are perfect power pop releases.

Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?

We love the Hermitage Cafe. We’ve played at The End a lot, so Obie’s Pizza was a favorite for a while. I’m also fine just going to Waffle House.

The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.

So, my dream picks would be Kevin Griffin, Ben Folds, and John Davis. Or maybe Joe Pisapia! It’s too difficult! If this were to really happen though, and I just had to call up three friends who I’d love to play with, I’d go with Wyatt Funderburk, Corey Richard, and Patrick McVay. All three write such fun songs.

What are your favorite music venues to play in town?

I’m a big fan of smaller, DIY venues. We’ve played at a few record stores recently, like New Life and Alison’s, which were great. We’ve been having fun at the Blue Bear Barn in Antioch on some Saturday nights. We loved the Black Raven, but that closed down. Honestly, I think our best shows in Nashville have been at The End. Say whatever you want about that place, but it’s consistent.

Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?

I guess if you’re wanting a musician to move here it’s for selfish reasons, such as wanting to play with them or wanting to be able to watch them perform regularly. Either way, I’d definitely choose my friend and ex-bandmate Richard Bates, a great singer/songwriter in New Orleans. I think his songwriting style would go over really well here, and he’s such a good guitarist. He’s also quite the ukulele player, and he has an amazing voice. But taking Richard out of NOLA doesn’t seem right.

Finally, what’s in your musical future?

We recently released a baseball-themed digital single for “Opening Day.” This spring we’ll be doing a split CD with three other bands, all from different countries, and our songs will be all covers. That will be fun. And then this summer, we’re heading to Ardent Studios in Memphis, where Big Star, Gin Blossoms, REM, and others made so many great records. We’ll do enough songs there for a 7-inch, which we’ll try to get out in late 2019 or early 2020. In the meantime, you can expect some more digital releases along the way. Thanks, Mike! I’ll be reading your pizza blog!

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