Bands bring the country to the city for Nashville South 2.0

Will’s Pub saw a storm of Marlboro men and women, replete in wrangling getup last night for the Nashville South 2.0 showcase. Bow ties, cowboy boots and the ever-present cloud of smoke signaled the entryway to another level of unbridled emotion as 10 bands brought their personal lives to light in front of a small crowd desperate to see the musicians perform.

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Nick Sellitto talking with Will’s Pub patrons as they filed in and out of the bar, waiting to hear who might play next.

Hosted by Nick Sellitto, this was the second installment of the annual event.

“Last year we packed this out,” said Sellitto. “I worked hard on putting this together so it’s congruent, so it makes sense.”

The performers took to the stage in quick succession, clearly experienced enough with their own instruments to find confidence in the sound board’s interpretation of each of their tales.

If you weren’t there for the experience, here are a few snapshots from the night.

Jackson Rodgers – This man molds his reality out of an amalgam of post-modern ideas, personal life experiences and suggestions for change in the the way the world works. He said he grew up being obsessed with music, but his ultimate goal would be to merge philosophy and rock, as Bad Religion does. “Hume blew my mind the first time I read him, and I was like, ‘He’s right,’ ” Rodgers said.

Mike Neal had a good time at the show, while Aaron Holcomb can be seen in the background talking to a friend or fan, or maybe both.
Orlando resident Mike Neal had a good time at the show, while Aaron Holcomb can be seen in the background talking to a friend or fan, or maybe both.

Holcomb Bros. – Brothers Aaron and Sean Holcomb have been playing music as soon as they could wrap their tiny child fingers around a drumstick or the bow of a cello. Aaron cites Jonathan May as providing the most inspiration for his dream of pursuing a career in classical music. “I would not be who I am right now, if not for his influence on my life,” Aaron said. His brother, Sean, likes music that tells a story, especially ones which employ the use of an old-school washboard. “There’s so much depth in this soul-scrubbing instrument. It has a range you can’t find in any other,” he said. In addition to playing guitar, Sean also plays the mandolin, banjo, cello and harmonica.

Eugene King Ltd. – Sounds coming straight from the gut of a wounded warrior of political oppression, Eugene gave Will’s a show like none other. There was so much tenacity to his voice, it almost seemed as if he made up some of his lyrics right on the spot. His flavor of the blues is particularly reminiscent of those old, parched-throat crooners you’d find playing on the radio in a video game like Fallout 3. Fleshing out an embodiment of music you might hear in a speak easy in the 20s, Eugene’s tone is truly original all on its own.

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Matthew Fowler released his first album at the age of 19.

Matthew Fowler – At 19 years-old, Matthew released his first album titled, “Beginnings,” in June of this year. When he was 14 he would play in the corner of his parent’s restaurant on a slow Tuesday night for practice, he said. Picking the nail polish from my fingers, I lost myself in the story of this pure-of-heart southern boy, who’s love for a girl might just go unheeded while he sings about her, sitting alone in his parent’s kitchen.

Stephen Rock – The crowd burst into a compulsory cacophony of whistles and cheers as Stephen Rock began their set with Stephen asking the masses, “Did you guys know that Lou Reed died? Who here cares that Lou Reed died?” The two-man band put on a show akin to a heavier, more passion-driven combination of what you might hear at a Fleet Foxes or Mumford & Sons concert, with all the personality of a young, opinionated indie fellow who stole the show.

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Jordan and Heather Wynn play as a couple during their set for Nashville South 2.0.

Jordan and Heather Wynn – This couple played as if they were alone in the room, which they were, very nearly so. There were a few people grooving to the vibe as Heather pulled her heart out of her chest and brandished it, wielding a pacifistic melody to show us just how lovingly turbulent a marriage can be. “Even their shoulders are in sync,” Orlando resident Mike Neal noticed. “It’s truly amazing to watch them together.”

Terri Binion – Interchanging her banjo with her acoustic guitar, between songs she would make polite comments, asking the crowd what they wanted to hear her play next. She has a well-established fan base, all of whom were praised and appreciated for their coming to her show last night.

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Shew’ Bird played like they meant it, drawing from the spirit of their lead singer who expressed his willingness to leave the present realm in search of a better space.

Shew’ Bird – And then there was Shew’ Bird. I wrote I was physically anxious when listening to Matthew Fowler pour his life essence into the microphone, a few bands back, but I was practically cracking my knuckles to make sure I was still alive and able to feel my body when I heard the darkest, most brutally honest lyrics come barreling out of the chest of a man who occasionally turned his back to the crowd, took to a sitting position, then slowly stood up and draped himself over the mic stand when he was ready to go on. Begging an unseen force to carry his bones to the highway, I almost felt the need to die right there with him, drowning in a pit of sorrow, booze, guilt and ennui.

“Every band tonight has just been incredible, there was a three-piece, one band with four members,” said College Park local Rob Earnest, who saw every band perform, from first to last. “They were all incredible, just incredible.”

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