Photo by Blake Russell
Googling the term “Beatlesque” someday should turn up the name of Nashville’s John Salaway. For now, you will just have to take my word that John’s new record, “Americana Dreams” is one that is worthy of this adjective denoting an honoring resemblance both to the lavish harmonies and pleasant pop sounds of The Beatles. In addition, as the genre that the LP title suggests, John had this to say: “With every album I make, you’ll always hear a touch of the Beatles. With “Americana Dreams,” though, I wanted to show off my Americana influences, which come mostly from Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Bob Dylan, The Band, and Tom Petty.”
John has lived the life of a musical journeyman, covering a lot of ground since moving to Music City. In addition to being a front man with his weekly residency at BB King’s Blues Club, the multi-instrumentalist has also been an in-demand sideman. His music recently got its just due when the lead single from the new LP, “A Little Bit Broken” went to #1 on the indie radio top 40 charts.
Thank you, John, for enlightening us with your eleven answers to the eleven questions. John is still doing his thing at BB King’s playing Wednesdays at 4pm and Fridays at 1pm. What a great excuse to skip work for the afternoon!
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I grew up in a small beach town near Sarasota, FL and moved to Nashville in 2003. Although I love my Florida roots and enjoyed playing tiki bars on the water, I knew that I had to move in order to have a professional career in music. In 2003, I got accepted into the music business program at Middle Tennessee State University and started a new life in Tennessee with the goal of learning everything I possibly could about the music business. While at school, I created a weekly songwriter night that featured future stars Anderson East, Eric Paslay, Kenton Bryant and more. From there, I started performing with multiple artists, booking shows, and co-writing with many great songwriters. I learned how to produce in the studio and become a tighter session musician. MTSU definitely helped set me on a great course and helped me learn how to be versatile and make a living from multiple parts of the music industry. Music City is one of the best places in the world to have a career in music.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
The first albums I asked my folks to buy me when I was really young were on cassette and they were from the local record shop. Those earliest tapes would be Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Fresh Prince, then on to Guns N’ Roses, Ozzy, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin.
Nowadays, I do collect vinyl and listen to music digitally too. The most recent albums I got were from shows I attended because I always try to support the artists I like and respect. I bought Liz Longley’s CD at City Winery and Jimbo Mathus’ new vinyl at the Mockingbird Theater.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
I’m blessed because my folks took me to a lot of shows when I was young. My first concerts were Poison, Guns N’ Roses, Pink Floyd and the Lollapalooza that featured Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Chili Peppers! I was very fortunate to have folks who love music and who know the significance and importance of live music.
I still attend a tremendous amount of shows. It’s the best therapy in the world and one of my favorite things to do. I’ve seen nearly every classic act you’d ever want to see. This year I went to Bonnaroo, Bourbon & Beyond and Exit 111. Going full circle, the most recent show I saw was Guns N’ Roses last week. The week before that I saw Foo Fighters, Robert Plant, John Fogerty, The Flaming Lips and more at the Bourbon & Beyond fest.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
There are too many to list, but it would be cool to see more Rock & Roll artists because Nashville is home to so many rockers. I think Dave Cobb, Brandi Carlisle or Chris Stapleton could be next.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
Nashville has awesome coffee shops. I like Edgehill Cafe, Fido, Frothy Monkey, Barista Parlor and the Red Bicycle. I actually don’t eat too much pizza, but Nashville has some of the best restaurants in the world. I also hear that from tourists all the time.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
Mine! 🙂 just kidding but I am very proud of the songs, my performances and my production. The stuff Dave Cobb is producing is some of the best stuff to come out of Nashville these days. He produced Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlisle, Anderson East, The Highwomen, and many more and they all sound incredible.
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
Waffle House, he he, or literally any place that is open. Nashville has the best food.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
I was honored to play a sold-out show there in February. That place is so historic and special, and the vibes are amazing. I’m friends with too many amazing songwriters so this is an incredibly hard choice. I’d love to have my friend Gordon Kennedy. He’s written amazing songs for Clapton, Garth, Skaggs, Frampton and too many others to list and he’s one of the nicest guys in the biz. I’d probably invite Craig Wilson because he’s a great friend and one of my favorite writers in town and every time we write together, we come up with something that I love! I’d probably also pick my good friend and bandmate EvyIvy. She’s got one of the greatest, most powerful voices I’ve ever heard, and she writes really amazing stuff. She and I just started playing as a duo every Wednesday at BB King’s Blues Club downtown.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
We are so blessed to have so many amazing venues here. I’ve been honored to have a Friday afternoon residency at BB King’s Blues Club for many years, opening for BB’s old band members and I love playing there to tourists from all over the world. My other favorites are the Bluebird, City Winery and 3rd & Lindsley.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?
Paul McCartney 🙂
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
I’m so blessed to get to do what I love for a living! That’s my goal, to always do what I love and use my gifts and talents. I will continue writing, performing and releasing my music while also pitching some stuff to other artists and film and TV opportunities. I also book shows for a few bands and I’m the musical director at a venue called Hop Springs in Murfreesboro. After my song “A Little Bit Broken” went #1 on the indie radio top 40 charts, I started getting more requests to produce other artists and I’m really enjoying that. I just produced songs for Benjamin Stanley Owens, Craig Wilson, EvyIvy, Adam McDonough, and more. I’m so grateful to get to do what I love in Music City with all the incredibly talented people who live here. Thank you so much for the interview!