I’ll cut to the chase.
Next Tuesday on September 2, 2014 begins a bold (reckless, perhaps?) experiment in community and art. Jeff Taylor, musician extraordinaire, called me a few months ago and suggested that we get coffee. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Jeff over the years and consider him a good friend, and yet, he’s never just called and made a coffee date. I was intrigued.
We sat down at Sam & Zoe’s and he—well, he cut to the chase. In so many words, he told me that of all the gigs he plays around Nashville, the Behold the Lamb of God concert at the Ryman Auditorium is his favorite. To understand what a high compliment that was, you need to understand that Jeff plays with lots of people. He’s graced the stage of the Grand Ole Opry literally thousands of times, he plays with the Time Jumpers (one of the greatest bands ever to play in Nashville), fills in with Riders in the Sky, plays regularly with Buddy Greene and Ron Block, and even played a session with Paul Simon a few years ago. He’s the real deal. “So what made the Behold show so special?” he kept asking himself. He finally decided it must be the Gospel. The first half of the Christmas show is a wonderful expression of community, demonstrating for the audience that the concert is by no means a one-man show, and that there’s something eternally beautiful binding the hearts of all involved. Let me be clear: I’ve never thought of the Christmas tour as my concert, nor of the songs as my songs. The whole thing was born in community and the tour continues to thrive in community. That combination of art, community, and the Gospel is also what led to the Rabbit Room, and it’s what we hope to continue to foster here.
Long before Jeff finished talking I knew what he was going to propose. “Why don’t you guys do a local concert, an in-the-round sort of thing on a regular basis? There’s nothing like that in Nashville right now.” He was right. There’s the Bluebird Café, which is awesome. It’s mostly country writers, though. And then there’s Music City Roots, a radio show I’m honored to play for the second time next month, but that has its own rootsy flavor. There’s the Opry, and then the Time Jumpers every Monday night (which you MUST see if you’re ever in town on a Monday). There’s Tokens, a wonderfully theological variety show (which you also must see if you can). But right now, as far as I know, there’s not a residency—a weekly, ongoing concert series—for songwriters who are Christians. For example, people often tell me they’re headed to Nashville and want to know what they should do when they’re in town. Other than the Time Jumpers, I’m never sure what to tell them.
That’s what we aim to remedy. Between next week and November 11, we’re claiming Tuesday nights in Nashville. When I asked several Square Peg Alliance members about doing something like this, I kept saying, “It’s a local show, but we don’t have a name for it yet.” Jamie, who’s way smarter than I am, said, “You should just call it the Local Show.” So we are.
Here’s the deal. Next Tuesday is the kickoff, featuring Don Chaffer, Eric Peters, Sandra McCracken, and Randall Goodgame, along with at least one surprise guest. So far, the artists lined up to play over the next few months are Jeremy Casella, Buddy Greene, Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Lori Chaffer, Jeff Taylor, Ron Block, and yours truly. This is just the beginning (we hope), so there will be more. We’re playing every other Tuesday in September, so the next one will be the 16th (artists to be announced), then the 30th. After that it will be EVERY TUESDAY until November 11th. After that, we’ll decide if it makes sense to kick it off again after the first of the year.
One more super cool thing about these concerts. The Local Show will be at The Well Coffeehouse in Brentwood, Tennessee, a very legit non-profit venue whose proceeds go to building wells in Africa. That also means that 15% of ticket sales will go to a ministry each night. This Tuesday we’re giving it to Show Hope.
The Local Show: Art, community, and the Gospel all braided together into what we hope will be a blessing to everyone involved—to you, to the artists, to the orphans connected to Show Hope, to the Well, and to the good people all the way over in Africa. See you there.
THE LOCAL SHOW
Featuring Andrew Peterson, Ben Shive, Lori Chaffer, and Buddy Greene
September 30th, at 7:30 P.M.
The Well Coffeehouse
690 Old Hickory Blvd,
Brentwood, TN 37027
$12 in advance, $15 at the door (or $5 at the door for Rabbit Room members).
Buy tickets here in the Rabbit Room Store.