11 Questions to a Nashville Musician: Kevin Gordon

Kevin Gordon (Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

This blog spot sees a lot of new local artists, and while there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it sure is nice every once and a while to feature an old favorite who I’ve yet to lure in. My latest is singer-songwriter Mr. Kevin Gordon who was been a solid part of the Music City scene as long as I’ve been a Tennessean.

Kevin’s latest record is 2018’s “Tilt and Shine,” which both me and the Nashville Scene thought was one of the best releases of that year. Check out “Saint on a Chain.” Also, please check out the fresh release of the “Kevin Gordon Quartet’s Family Wash 10/30/15” which you can pick up at Bandcamp. “It’s a snapshot of a time and place I miss” says Kevin.

You can see Kevin and The Iguanas in what’s being billed as the “Louisiana Swamp Stomp Tour” at the Nashville City Winery on Tuesday January 11. This will be the first of their five co-billed dates together.

Thanks, Kevin, for visiting 11 Questions and please keep the great music coming and stay swampy!  

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

I was born in Shreveport, LA, and lived there, as well as in Ruston and Monroe, two other towns along I-20, which runs East-West across northern Louisiana. It’s still a fairly provincial piece of real estate. It is both barren and rich with plenty of good, bored people dead set on finding interesting ways to get into trouble. I left Monroe in 1987 to attend grad school in poetry at the University of Iowa which is known to literary folks as the infamous “Iowa Writers’ Workshop.”

I moved to Nashville in summer of 1992, after playing music in clubs etc. in Iowa for a few years after getting my master’s degree. I’d started writing more roots-based songs while still in Iowa City, and moving to Nashville felt like the best place for me to go to try to grow my music. I had some friends and professional connections here already, so that helped. I found out pretty quick that the Music Row thing wasn’t for me and learning that helped me begin to figure out who I was and what I was trying to do. The journey continues. I’ve met so many talented people here, who’ve changed my life and my work for the better.

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

First LP I bought was either Elvis’ Golden Records (a compilation of early RCA-period singles) or Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys. Presley was okay with my parents and family, of course, but Hendrix, not so much. Both were likely purchased at the Wal-Mart in Ruston, which looked nothing like the big box stores now. Last release I bought was one of the Tom Petty’s Wildflowers CD box set at Grimey’s.

First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?

My parents used to sneak me into concerts with them at Louisiana Tech, the college in Ruston. I remember seeing the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and The Fifth Dimension there. I saw Elvis twice and Muddy Waters. Latest “big” show I’ve seen was likely The Black Keys at Bridgestone, way back in the “before” times. Like most people, I haven’t been getting out much.

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

Hmmm. I’m kind of amazed that neither The Fairfield Four nor The McCrary Sisters are there yet. Buddy Miller? Charles “Wigg” Walker?

Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?

Coffee is usually in my kitchen. Pizza is Five Points, Madeline, Italia or Sean Brock’s pop-up at the East Nashville Farmers’ Market.

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

There are too many to choose just one. The early Tony Joe White stuff is fantastic and sounds nothing like most of what was coming out of here back then.

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

All hail our dearly departed Hermitage Cafe, R.I.P. Every time I was there it was like a Jim Jarmusch film. With good breakfast. Nowadays it’s Tacos at Maiz de la Vida, Joyland (currently open late on weekends), or Dino’s.

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

Devon Gilfillian, Shannon McNally and Todd Snider. All three are astonishing writers and performers, and unique individuals.

What are your favorite music venues to play in town?

The 5 Spot: An eastside institution. Good-sounding room; the stage feels right. Nice and dark so some mystery remains.

City Winery: Yeah, going corporate here, but these folks have consistently busted ass to make things right for both the performer(s) and the audience. Hats off, and I’ll see you there with The Iguanas on January 11.

Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge: Up in the hinterlands of Madison, directly behind the “adult things” store! A friendly room that still feels like a neighborhood joint that could be anywhere. And sometimes I do enjoy that feeling of not knowing where I am.

Eastside Bowl: I haven’t played there yet but look forward to doing so. Great venue; so much thought given to every detail.

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

Who’s left?! Isn’t everybody here already? Can we get Tom Waits? Or the ghost of Ray Charles?

Finally, what’s in your musical future?

I’m working on a new full-length release, which I hope to finish by March. After spending basically two years in my little house, I’d really really like to resume normal touring, please! Which reminds me. I’ll be starting a week-long mini tour with my New Orleans pals The Iguanas right here at City Winery on January 11.

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