Between the Grand Ole Opry, Music Row and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, it’s tempting to refer to Nashville as the home of country music — of both traditional and modern leanings.
But Tennessee’s capitol city offers much more to musicians and fans than just good ol’ country music. These days, Nashville stands as the major recording and production hub of the Southeast, the headquarters for many of America’s biggest record labels, finest studios, top equipment manufacturer and coolest local band scene.
Over the past few years, the so-called “Music City” has lured a handful of notable music-makers from the Charleston scene to new adventures in Tennessee.
Summerville native Tyler Boone, a diligent vocalist, guitarist, songsmith and bandleader with a penchant for melodic pop-rock and electric blues, is one of the latest in a string of Charlestonians musicians making the migration.
“I am a bit freaked out about it, but it is exciting to move to a new city,” says Boone, who’s been gigging in and around Charleston since his high school days in the late 2000s. “I always love to work hard, and it’s always cool to meet new people, so this should be a good experience.”
The idea of showing up with a relatively clean slate and networking within the scene seems to appeal to Boone most as a serious songwriter.
“When you go out to music clubs and bars in Nashville, you can’t help but connect with people in the music industry, whether it’s songwriters and musicians or agents and managers,” Boone says. “All the main people are out there. You almost don’t need to blindly e-mail someone because you’ll probably bump into them in person.”
Boone and his backing band will celebrate Boone’s move with a farewell concert at the Music Farm on Saturday, featuring supporting performances by The Steppin’ Stones, Finnegan Bell and The Dunder Chiefs. The send-off will be one of Boone’s last full-band shows in town before he heads out to California in July and officially moves from Charleston to Nashville in August.
At 25, Boone is already an impressively experienced musician, promoter and studio guy. Like many in the local scene, he’s paid dues in cover band situations at various bar gigs, but the bulk of Boone’s creative efforts have been to craft smart original songs and find an audience for them.
After stints as a sideman with bar bands and as a solo act, Boone formed a solid band with bassist John Fletcher, guitarist Dan Rainey and drummer Arthur “IV” Young. As the Tyler Boone Band, they made their first big splash in 2012 with independently produced, five-song mini-album titled “Changing Pace,” a well-produced set of groove-heavy guitar-pop, alternative rock, and funky Southern blues.
Boone and his core bandmates tracked “Changing Pace” at Ocean Industries Studio on James Island with skillful engineers Jeff Leonard Jr. and Eric Rickert at the helm. Boone and the band released the disc via King City Records, an indie label partnership between Boone and scene colleague Matt Megrue (of the Loners Society).
After completing a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund another session, Boone returned to Ocean Industries with Leonard and Rickert in 2013 and 2014 to work on the next album, a radio-ready collection titled “Familiar Faces.”
The bandleader and his crew hooked up with studio wiz and musician Matt Zutell (drummer with local indie-pop combo Human Resources) to form Coast Records, an indie label that focused on recording studio and label services for regional acts. With Zutell handling much of the production and studio engineering work, the project lured singer/songwriter Tom Mackell, roots-rock band The Dunder Chiefs and other local acts to the roster.
Via Coast Records, Boone released “Familiar Faces” last spring before hitting the road for the first of several major tours. During his zig-zag journeys across the Southeast, he started falling in love with the ever-bustling Nashville scene.
Since last summer, Boone has focused on commuting to Nashville, performing at small venues like The Basement and 12th & Porter, checking out the nightlife and randomly engaging a few music biz bigwigs.
In recent months, Boone has met with veteran manager Doc McGhee and longtime booking and promotion agents Cass Scripps of Agency for the Performing Artists and Blake McDaniel of Creative Artists Agency, among other Nashville’s music scenesters.
Encouraged by musician friends who’d already made the move, Boone’s plans to relocate gradually took shape. Drummer Parker Gins (ex-Crowfield, Southwood), and singer/songwriter Mac Leaphart (of My Ragged Company) inspired Boone to seriously consider relocating.
“I was hangin’ out with Parker and Mac a good bit last winter, and they were like, ‘Man, you already know more people than we do here. You should move up here.’ That was really kind of it. I thought I’d try it out,” Boone said.
Known for their solid chops and musical versatility, Leaphart and Gins were respected and admired by colleagues and fans in the Charleston scene for years before they each split for Music City in 2012. Gins works as a studio and touring drummer with a variety of bands, while Leaphart has concentrated on performing at local songwriter events and promoting his latest solo album, the twangy “Low in the Saddle, Long in the Tooth.”
For Gins, the initial inspiration came from “a little bit of failure and some good friends.”
“I got an opportunity to audition for an artist in Nashville that I really admired, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the job, and I was pretty bummed that I didn’t get it,” he says. “Luckily, Sadler Vaden (formerly of Charleston rock trio Leslie), who at this point had already moved to Nashville, was really kind and honest with me and said, ‘You just got to move here. You’re not going to get work here unless you make the move.’ It was the same with my other friends that came out of the Charleston and South Carolina scene that had already made the move. All of them were super supportive, and that really inspired me to feel like I could do it.”
Looking back on his early days in the city, Leaphart says the work ethic of Nashville’s songwriters impressed him.
“(Songwriting) feels like a job in that town, which for me establishes structure and makes it seem like a more achievable goal. It’s also oddly inspiring,” he says.
“There is a certain ‘urgency’ to the attitude of musicians in Nashville, whereas they come to Nashville to ‘make it,’ ” he adds. “In Charleston, a lot of bands and artists just seem to happen, sort of fall into place. It’s a little more relaxed and spontaneous in Charleston.”
Gins says Boone’s skills are sure to serve him well in Nashville’s hungry music scene.
“He’s a young, talented, charismatic guy, and anyone who knows him knows that,” Gins says. “He has an uncanny ability to create connections with people, which in my experience is a big part of the job,”
Making the move
When Boone finally arrives in Nashville, he will be well armed with a strong repertoire of original compositions, recordings and music videos.
Two of Boone’s latest music videos have featured scenes directed by Emmy Award-winning videographer John Barnhardt for the singles “Take Aim” and “Austin.” Boone recently posted a video for his latest single “The Front Page Show” as well. The single is currently enjoying regular airplay at 105.5 The Bridge.
“I like doing the single thing nowadays where I record and release one song at a time,” Boone says. “It’s easy to try different things with each sessions and have a lot of fun with it. I never want it to be calculated. ... I’m into making up something that’s super fun and rock ‘n’ roll, whether it’s really tight and poppy or raw and bluesy.”
Boone won’t be the only member of the Coast Records roster on the move this summer. Labelmate Mackell has decided to aim for Nashville, as well. Originally from Philadelphia, Mackell has been based in the Lowcountry for several years and released an EP titled “Here Come The Days” via Coast Records in 2013 shortly after he graduated from College of Charleston.
Boone’s core band is also leaving for new digs. Recently, the lineup has included Fletcher, Rainey and Young, along with singer/guitarist Dallas Corbett, all of whom play together in the Charleston-based Americana-rock band Wrenwood.
Later this month, Wrenwood will perform its own farewell show on the Pour House’s deck stage, celebrating a departure for the cozy music scene in Asheville, N.C.
“Even though everyone will either be in Nashville, Asheville or Charleston, we’ll still keep it going together,” assures Boone. “I’ve been playing with most of my bandmates since our high school days, so we have a great sense of chemistry and communication. We can get together any time in any city and perform well.”