11 Questions to a Nashville Musician: Rich Mahan

Rich Mahan (photo by Deone Jahnke)Photo by Deone Jahnke 

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Rich (rhymes with “Ray Ban”) Mahan has just served up his second LP “Hot Chicken Wisdom.” Chocked with full-sounding and fun-loving music, the record is a follow-up to the equally-wonderfully titled “Blame Bobby Bare.” Loaded with contributions from many great local players, Rich says “Everyone who played on the record is the type of musician you call a ‘Track lifter’, because what they add elevates your recording to new heights.” 

Sometimes we get all too serious about our music, and Rich Mahan reminds us all that it’s OK to just laugh a little with inebriating songs like “I Smoke Pot” and “Daydrinking.” Tunes like these took me back to great bands like Little Feat and Commander Cody, and you can hear Rich cover a Cody classic right here. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t tell you that Rich’s “Boots Off” that kicks off the new record is one of the slickest grooves to come out of Music City this year.

Among a slew of upcoming local performances that are listed at Rich’s website, you can see him this Friday, July 5 at the noon hour at WMOT-FM’s “Finally Friday” or listen on the radio at 89.5 if you can’t make it.

Thanks Rich for both a great new record and a fine 11 Questions for everyone to read on the Fourth of July!


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

I was born in Southern California, moved to West St. Louis County, MO when I was five, back to Southern California when I was 12, and moved here to Nashville nine years ago.  I was in the band Shurman until 2004, and after I left them, I fell into a job working radio promotion in the music industry.  I got laid off in 2010, and the same week my landlord gave me two-months’ notice that I had to move out.  So, the combination of those two events drove the move.  I’d been to Nashville about ten times before that either on tour, or there for other music reasons, and I already knew I loved the town.  It’s been one of the best moves I’ve ever made.

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

Pretty sure the first record I bought with my own money was Van Halen’s 7” of “Dance the Night Away” b/w “Outta Love Again.”  I saw the cheerleaders at school working up a routine to it, and BAM, had to have it.  Bought it at Peaches Records and Tapes.  Last records I’ve purchased (Got them at the same time.) was a new vinyl copy of Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds, and the new pressing of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.  Got them at Grimey’s in East Nashville.

First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?

It’s a doozy. First concert I saw was the Rolling Stones Tattoo You tour at the LA Coliseum.  Openers were Prince, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, and The J. Geils Band.  It was all GA festival seating, we got up really close to the stage, and it blew my mind.  Prince got booed off the stage. There were a ton of bikers around us, and they were even taking their boots off and throwing them at him.  Bill Graham, who was tour managing for the Stones, came out and chewed out the audience, and somehow got Prince to come back out and do one more song.  Then George Thorogood came out and played the riff for “Bad to the Bone,” and the place went upside down; huge coliseum wide food fight. Never seen anything like it since.  Airborne Nachos everywhere. Of course, the Stones were absolutely killer that night, they had Ian McLagan on keyboards that tour too.  I have no idea how my mom let me go to that show with a buddy. I couldn’t have been more than 14.  Last show I saw was Son Volt last Thursday at the Basement East.  They were great, best I’ve seen them to this point.

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

Without a doubt I would say Charlie McCoy.  Not only for his harmonica playing, but he was involved in those Dylan Nashville recordings playing bass and Lord knows what other instruments as well.  He’s one of the most recorded musicians here in Nashville for sure.  And how is Reggie Young not there already?

Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?

One of my favorite coffee places is Crema on First Avenue. Every time I go, it’s excellent.  I’m a sucker for Five Points Pizza in East Nashville. Same thing it’s great every time.

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

That’s a tough question, because there are so many excellent ones for sure, but Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline ranks up there pretty high. I love Johnny Paycheck’s Take This Job And Shove It. There’s not a bad song on that record, and my man PT Gazell slays harmonica alongside Charlie McCoy on that one. Everyone knows the title track, but it’s loaded with killer songs.  Check Out “Barstool Mountain,” “The Spirits of St. Louis,” and “From Cotton to Satin (From Birmingham to Manhattan).”

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

Hermitage Cafe.  If you want breakfast, they’ve got it.  Patty melt? Check.  I usually get the “Poor Girl,” which is a grilled ham and cheese.  Hits the spot every time.  You never know who you are going to run into in there too.

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

This might be the hardest question yet.  There’s a stupid amount of songwriting talent in this town.  If you are gonna force me to three, today its Sarah Gayle Meech, Allen Thompson, and Chuck Mead.

What are your favorite music venues to play in town?

The 5 Spot is absolutely one of my favorites, hands down.  It’s the people who make it great, and there are a lot of great people at the 5’er.  Also, they’ve got great sound and a nice covered patio in the back.  Acme on Broadway is maybe the only reason besides Robert’s to go downtown anymore, and they do a great job of taking care of the musicians who play there.

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

Drummer Neil Gegna.  Get here bro.

Finally, what’s in your musical future?

Booking fall tour plans now, and I’ve got a backlog of songs to record for the next album.  I really want to get to Europe to play next year too, so get busy Universe!


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