Living With Delight In Hagsbrook Heights

Welcome to the music issue, friends. I will give you three guesses as to the content of this edition’s “Astute Observations.” Geometry, you say? Don’t be obtuse! Is it fly fishing? There’s no angle in it. Is it the merits of the half Windsor? No, that is simply knot the case. I’ve always been an ascot man. Well then it must be music, right, Hags? Why yes, it is! You guessed it! What can I say? Obvious is obvious because it’s obvious. Am I right?

As it says in the well-written blurb below, I am a working bass player here in East Nashville, Music City, U.S.A., but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? It was August 8, 1997 when I stepped off that Greyhound bus from Brooklyn and set my gaze upon the sparse Nashville skyline for the first time with nothing but my hopes and dreams tucked up in a beat cardboard case and an old Fender P-Bass slung over my shoulder in a rugged, James Dean-esque fashion.

Would you like to see my creative license, officer?

That fateful August day did indeed find me traveling from New York to Nashville, but I was not watching the small towns roll by from a Greyhound window like some bespectacled but dangerous extra in a Bruce Springsteen-inspired movie. I was instead a member of a rolling caravan (the soundtrack to which was the book-on-tape version of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), which included a Volkswagen van and a formerly yellow short bus painted blue and white that was to become our touring vehicle. I was beyond excited and a bit nervous to be joining my musical brothers, Joe and Marc Pisapia, in their band, Joe, Marc’s Brother. My worldly possessions were whittled down to a bed, a dresser, the aforementioned bass, and an Ampeg SVT amplifier. What more does an idealistic young dreamer out to change the world need?

We got straight to work in our band house basement rehearsal space. Playing and singing together, we became a band and then we hit the stage. Every gig was played as sharp as possible and no quarter was given. We worked restaurant jobs to pay the rent and devoted ourselves to the mission. Those years will live in my memory forever as some of the most fulfilling of my life.

As this entry for my column enters its twilight, I find myself searching for a clever and poignant summation to all this ruminating, but I can’t find one. Thankfully, the story of our community is still being written. I can tell you with certainty music is being created within a stones throw of my doorstep as I write to you from the comfort of my Inglewood cottage. Please allow me to paint a picture of my humble home in your mind’s eye, dear reader. Think aluminum-sided, short
and fatty.

Looking back over these 22 years, I must tell you moving to Nashville has been a great and serendipitous decision. Moving to a sleepy city full of music nerds who also happen to be among the best in the world at the craft of music making has been a continuing and enlightening education. The best players, singers, producers, engineers, techs, club owners, promoters, and luthiers are all here. We also have pretend cowboys who shoot captive bears in cages, but that is a horse of an entirely different color.

Lots of people have dreams of fame, fortune, and adulation in the music business. Those are not my people. My people are the tone junkies, the liner-note readers, the obsessive record collectors, the lovers, the creators, the art-for-art sakers and East Nashville has always provided a safe and welcoming haven for such weirdos.

The landscape is changing — and it definitely takes longer to get across town, but this city and my neighborhood still charm me. For me that charm has always been about community and creativity. Those are the resources that sculpt us, and they are constantly renewed. I am grateful to be a part. In closing, I will just say, “Thank you! I am glad to be here.”