Nashville’s Josh Preston fills out the three legs of his stool spending time as a musician, producer and a visual artist. His latest project was producing the “Conversations” LP for Adam Burrows on Josh’s own label, Me and the Machine Records. As you will read, Josh learned the music biz from one if its legends at Oh Boy Records.
As a recording artist in his own right, check out his fun folky sound and creative visuals courtesy of these hip videos at his Facebook page, Josh Preston Songs from the Quarantine. I’m also quite fond of his sentimental sarcasm and tasty guitar licks in “When the Internet Goes Out” from his self-titled last LP from a few years back.
Thanks go out to Josh for his witty 11 answers which are quite welcome at a time like this. Like everyone else, there are currently no shows on Josh’s touring calendar. Hopefully that will all change soon, and we can all start going to The 5 Spot again.
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I’m originally from Roque Bluffs, ME which it located 35 miles from the eastern-most point of the US and 60 miles from the nearest stoplight in any direction. Pre-internet and basic cable left a lot of time for guitar explorations.
My wife and I were living in Brooklyn, NY in 2004, and she was working for Sirius Satellite Radio at the time. They were opening an office here and, after five years, it was time to leave Brooklyn and see what Nashville all was about. Now we’re happily stuck.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
My first record (like legit LP) was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I used to turn off the lights in my bedroom and listen to the title track on my Fisher-Price record player (with which I was recently reacquainted). I’d turn off the lights and close the curtains to scare the shit out of myself. I was a strange kid (still am) and I still get creeped out when I hear the voice of Vincent Price.
The most recent record (again, LP) I “bought” was Adam Burrows’ Conversations. I run a little record label called Me and the Machine Records and it was our first release on vinyl. I bought a bunch of copies!
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
My first live concert was seeing Barbara Mandrell and Lee Greenwood at the Bangor Auditorium in the early 80s. I remember it well because it was St. Patrick’s Day and Barbara was wearing a green sequin dress. She looked like a sparkly pickle from the nosebleeds.
The most recent show I saw was when I took my eldest niece to her first Ryman show. It was My Brightest Diamond and Death Cab for Cutie. It’s really cool to get to be with someone who’s experiencing the Ryman for the first time. It’s a magical room.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
I spent my first decade plus working for Al Bunetta. Al was John Prine and Steve Goodman’s manger/label partner/etc. until he passed away a few years ago. Al was truly one-of-a-kind and was one of the very first indie label owners in the city. I can’t even begin to explain the impact Al had on everyone that knew him and his history in the music business would seem like a myth if it wasn’t true. He always encouraged me to play guitar.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
Being broke and living in NYC in my 20s embodied a love of Two Boots Pizza in me and I was psyched when they opened a Nashville location a few years ago. As for coffee, I’m a sucker for a Bourbon Vanilla ice coffee at Barista Parlor.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
So much pressure! Ha-ha! While certainly not known as a “Nashville” act, REM’s Document was recorded at The Sound Emporium and has been a part of my musical DNA since its release. “It’s the End of The World as We Know It” might as well be the national anthem.
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
If I could get a smoothie or something healthy, I’d prefer it (as would my meat suit) but I usually pick the most garbagy of garbage fast food. There’s something about making decisions after 1am that are generally not very beneficial.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
No fluff: Adam Burrows, Kaston Guffey and Damien Boggs.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
There’s a house show series that’s been happening monthly for about five years called the Mad Valley Lodge. The house is located on and around a staging area for the Battle of Nashville. There are a lot of vibes in that spot and it inadvertently became the best listening room and best kept secret in the city.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?
I can think of a few who I’d like to see move out! Ha-ha! I wish Bill Frisell would move here if only to get the chance to see him play more often.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
Before I port all of my musical output into Magenta (Only half-kidding-check out magenta.tensorflow.org.) and let the machine create all of my future output far better than I ever could, I’ve got about a records’ worth of songs that came from my actual brain that I’m hoping to track soon. I’m really happy with this batch of songs and if they make me happy, maybe they’ll make somebody else happy too.