ABC’s New “Nashville” Drama Could Have Big Impact

May 17, 2012 - By Trigger  //  News  //  29 Comments

ABC has announced that a new TV drama called Nashville has been picked up for their Fall season. The show intimately involves Nashville’s mainstream music scene, with former Friday Night Lights actress Connie Britton portraying an aging country star trying not to be overtaken by the up-and-coming young starlet Hayden Panettiere from NBC’s Heroes. The pilot was written by Callie Khouri of Thelma & Louise fame and shot in Nashville last month.

A look at the trailer for the series seems to hint that Nashville will follow a similar story to the 2010 country music movie Country Strong starring Gwyneth Paltrow, though Nashville may even get more specific and more salacious, with the young Hayden Panettiere nailing anything not tied down, and producers mentioning Auto-tune out in the open. The themes and characters look like they could have been ripped out of a Dale Watson song or a story on Saving Country Music.

The biggest difference between Country Strong and Nashville will be that the TV version dramatizing country music’s eternal culture war will have to fill hour-long segments for a whole season. Old vs. young, twang vs. pop may be explored with greater detail than ever before, though many times television dramas as they age (hospital dramas for example) tend to veer away from the hard information that creates their setting, and focus more on love threads and side stories between characters.

It will take the airing of the show to really flesh out what Nashville‘s impact will be on the greater country music world, but just from watching the trailer it is safe to say that country music’s culture war has gone mainstream, a development that has been evolving for a while now. The idea that country’s aging talent is being unfairly pushed aside and its roots being neglected for the crossover flavor of the month is no longer a fringe, underground idea. It now goes without saying, and to Nashville‘s similarity to Country Strong, it may even be cliche.

This also speaks to the commercialization of the anti-Nashville sentiment. A few years ago, Music Row and Nashville’s major labels saw this anti-Nashville trend growing, and to commercialize it and reintegrate those fans they launched a new generation of “Outlaws” with songs complaining about pop stars and how nothing on the radio is country anymore, in songs that ironically sound way more like rock and originate from the same labels as the pop country performers do. Nashville could be the television version of anti-Nashville monetization. That leads us to who the big money is behind the Nashville series: Gaylord Entertaiment.

Gaylord is the owner of The Grand Ole Opry (which is featured prominently in the pilot) and many other core Nashville country music and non-music institutions, and reportedly is a big producer and financier of Nashville. Anyone concerned about what impact this series may have on country music and the city of Nashville should focus in on this relationship first.

The Grand Ole Opry stage is one of the biggest theaters in the country music culture war, with constant battles being fought over who deserves stage time and membership to country’s most important institution. It could be argued that without the drama Gaylord has already created through its management of The Opry, the Nashville series would not be possible. It seems only appropriate that the initial conflict between the series’ two main characters in the pilot happens at The Opry. Instead of answering or resolving the issues many country fans and performing artists have with the way The Opry is run, they appear to be using it as plot for a television show.

It is in the portrayal of the cultural divide that polarizes country music where it will be deemed if the Nashville series’ impact will be positive or not on country music, on The Grand Ole Opry, and on the city of Nashville. It appears from the pilot that a mayoral race is involved, so Nashville’s political dynamic will be part of the drama as well. As someone who grew up in Dallas, I can attest to how a single television series can create very strong, and sometimes very negative stereotypes about a city and its people that sometimes takes generations to erode and unwind afterwards.

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UPDATE 10/09/12: Scott Borchetta and his Big Machine label continue to empire build in Music City. They have signed an exclusive deal with ABC to market the music from Nashville.

Music has to feel organic, appropriate and authentic when it is paired with on-camera visuals,” said Scott Borchetta in a statement about the deal. “When I saw the pilot for ‘Nashville,’ I knew instantly we needed to be part of it. Not only does our partnership make sense given how closely the show reflects the nature of the music business, but the show’s talent has created some incredible music.”

The music on the show is being produced by industry powerhouse T Bone Burnett. Some of the original songs for the series have been written by The Civil Wars, Lucinda Williams, and Elvis Costello.

Saving Country Music will be keeping a close eye on Nashville.

29 Comments to “ABC’s New “Nashville” Drama Could Have Big Impact”

  • Interesting that they seem to be going to the Bluebird to find a “new” inspiring sound around 2 minutes in. (A comment on Youtube says it is a Civil Wars song… I don’t know their music so didn’t recognize it.) Makes me wonder how the” Americana” scene will show up in the show. Also wonder who is consulting and working on soundtrack. That will make a big difference in whether this really does anything for the music.


    • they are a duet that is very very good and one a grammy I think anyways they are folk but you could consider them country its john paul white playing a guitar and joy williams singing well both sing but they are really good check iout barton hollow by the civil wars


      • I know who they are… just meant I don’t know all their music well. I have listened to the Barton Hollow CD, and while it was solid, it didn’t make me want to listen more. Just not my cup of tea.


  • Country strong actually had some pretty good music, i was embarassed to tell my friends that i watched it but that guy garrett hedlund had a good voice doing a bunch of hayes carll songs.


  • These folks are close by, online, on our facebooks, and see everything going on. I’d say this is a symptom of what happens when change comes. Art imitating life or vice versa or whatever. It shows things are not the same they were just 5 years ago….kind of. I’m interested to see what happens. Hopefully they license a song or two from some of our favorite bands so they can make a better living.


    as well as Red Eyed Rooster, Robert’s Western World, Layla’s Bluerass Inn, Ernest Tubb Record Shop, and truck load of others you don’t see everyday on tv.


    • I think there’s a quick shot of lower Broadway at 2:44. I don’t know if you’d want ABC’s cameras finding their way to real Nashville. It could turn it fake very quickly.

      There’s folks down here in Austin that swear when The Real World cameras showed up, that was the beginning of the end.


      • It’s a catch 22 really. It would could expose more people to the good music. That would make for a broader base but would also bring in more common dumb asses. On the other hand there is a strong community here that never even hits Broadway. You can go to a real deal show in many places in and around Nashville. There a square dances, rural weekly gatherings, back yard shows, pickin’ parties, and a ton of other venues with happenings. They just aren’t on tv or tourist attractions.


        • too bad you ain’t booking any of those acts at yer show.


          • Always has to be one, doesn’t there?

            How about you make a suggestion instead of a snarky quip? Who are some of the bands we should know about but don’t? We’re about sharing and learning here at Saving Country Music.


          • “Muddy Roots is the real Nashville”; “We’re about sharing and learning here at Saving Country Music.”

            How many Nashville acts are booked? Three, four?

            You don’t live in Nashville so maybe you can be excused for single-mindedly focusing on the Austin scene. But there are a ton of clubs and good bands in Nashville. Some can really only be appreciated if someone takes the time and effort to see them live (lots of bands don’t translate well to digital).

            When you and your readers bash Nashville, you’re actually bashing the 3 big corporations who pump their pop shit into mainstream radio and tv. And they’re mostly headquartered in LA. That ain’t Nashville.

            Maybe you and Jason should spend a week or two in town investigating the clubs off-Broadway and outside the hipster scene. Ever hear of Bob Wills? He’s still the king, And every Monday the Time Jumpers prove it at the Station Inn. Check out Marty Stuart’s late night jam to see someone singlehandedly, and for Real Saving country music. Hell, attend the Grand ‘Ol Opry when it’s at the Ryman. 10% of the show is the puke-pop crap that’s ruined Nashville’s rep (it’s for the tourist draw), but 90% are actual, for real roots country and western acts. I’m no fan of Gaylord and I still shudder when I remember them taking the Opry away from the Ryman, but if everyone here is gonna bash it, they oughta speak from experience and not ignorance.

            You want roots? Go to Springwater and hear Phil Hummer. There’s a good chance Cousin Kenny Vaughn will sit in. You want psycho-roots country? Check out Jason and the Punknecks and Polly’s band, the Hillbilly Harlots. You want roots rock ‘n roll/rockabilly? Well Hillbilly Casino is great, and I’m glad they’re at MR. But check out Harry Fontana and Jane Rose and the rest of the roots rockers. You want authentic country? You can’t spit in Nashville without hitting a singer-songwriter who’s playing his or her heart out. Man, there are so many good bands and musicians, I can’t even name a small percentage. Look in the live music section of the Nashville Scene for a sampling.

            Muddy Roots should be Texas Roots. And don’t get me wrong–Texas has a well earned rep for fantastic music. And the bands in the MR line up are great. All respect to every one of them. But there are a bucket load of great acts that need and deserve a chance, that never get mentioned here because they don’t play Austin or belong in the right clique. And they’re only a few score miles away from MR.


          • Bubba,

            For space, I posted my response to this below.


          • Hey Bubba, it seems you might be new around here. Welcome! Always good to see other music fans finding their way here. I’ve read Triggerman’s response to your comments below and there’s nothing really for me to add. I get my music education from this awesome site and have discovered all kinds of new sounds from all over the globe. This certainly isn’t a Texas music based site, by any means. That wouldn’t interest me particularly, as like you, I don’t live there!


        • Why don’t you book the entire world, everyone would be happy then……ha !


    • Where and I find the artist list for the fest in TN?


  • MAN…. Hayden is my girl.. I will probably watch it mainly for her. But it would be kinda cool to hear a J B BEVERLEY tune on abc… just sayin…


  • no interest and i won’t be watching.


  • I have my doubts about anything gaylord has their grubby money grabing hand’s on.


    • Good talk…


      • This is in the wrong spot – ‘mescusie!


  • show sounds like something that gets cancelled after 6 episodes but R.J. Cutler who is credited with directing the pilot and being exec producer of the show also directed “the september issue” which was a really good documentary and produced “the war room” another good documentary. its probably gonna be crap but ill be watching the first episode with my fingers crossed.


  • Bubba,

    First off, thank you for responding with names of actual artists for me to look into, but your response also shows just how little you know about Saving Country Music, my stances on things, what I cover, and my relationship with Muddy Roots.

    Let’s first be clear that SCM has no affiliation with Muddy Roots aside from helping them spread the word about their festival, no different than I do for Farmageddon Fest, Pickathon in Portland, OR, and many other events. I do not work for Muddy Roots, and have absolutely no say so in the lineup. I did work there as a volunteer last year, but I did that as an individual, not as a representative of Saving Country Music. If I was throwing the Saving Country Music festival, the lineup would be completely different. Sometimes MR asks me for my input and I give it. Many times my advice and suggestions are not followed.

    As for bashing Nashville, if you were a frequent reader of Saving Country Music, you would know that over 2 years ago now I took a VERY firm stance on separating Nashville from Music Row. I never say “Nashville” in a negative manner to refer to Music Row’s major labels. EVER. Sure, some of my readers do, but I tend to correct them, and believe in operating an open forum for everyone to speak their mind. Here is an a article I wrote around those specific lines:

    As for somehow characterizing that SCM has its nose so buried in Austin it ignores Nashville, I have never heard a more irresponsible and outright fucking wrong statement ever made about this website. This is an outright fucking abomination to me after having spent 10 hours over the last two days writing stores very specifically about Nashville. I would easily say that the amount of articles on SCM over the past 5 years involving Austin vs. Nashville artists and issues is 10 to 1. It isn’t even fucking close. All the articles I’ve written about lower Broadway, all the stuff about the Hall of Fame and The Opry and all the Nashville bands I cover, for you to say I cover Austin and not Nashville is the mother of all fucking jokes. I am embarrassed to be in Austin and rarely bring up that point. Furthermore I started this website when living in New Mexico, and still have spent the majority of the time operating it while living in Oregon, where I will be headed to indefinitely in a couple of weeks.

    As for Marty Stuart and cousin Kenny, I have praised and written about them to the point where I have received emails from people saying their sick of hearing it. I would bombard you with links, but trust me, the coverage is as much as I can cover any artist without being accused of being a puppet. And how do you know Muddy Roots isn’t trying to book Marty Stuart for the festival right now? How do you know Marty or some of these other bands care to play the festival, or may have scheduling conflicts?

    Texas roots? Fucking please man, there’s just as many TN bands as TX bands on the roster. It is the ultimate in classic mistakes to look at a festival roster and expect it to be catered to your reality tunnel.

    You’re right, there are a lot of Nashville bands SCM needs to cover. I can’t speak for Muddy Roots. But I’ll say I get up every morning, work on average 10 hours a day, 7 days a week on this website for no fucking money. I’m doing the best I can. Could I do better? Sure. Am I perfect? No. But there thousands of bands everywhere not getting the coverage they deserve, not just Nashville. It’s called life and it’s fucking unfair. Make no mistake it drives me way more crazy than it does you that I can’t give an artist like Phil Hummer more time than I have. But I am doing the best I can, banging away at this keyboard every day till my fingers bleed, making major sacrifices in my personal life to keep this website going. I can’t please everybody and nor should I try and there’s plenty of reasons for me to be criticized for what I do. But to say Muddy Roots or I are myopically focused on Austin is complete and utter bullshit.


    • Bubba please don’t come out. You’ve already broken the first rule of Muddy Roots.
      The last thing I need is to baby sit adults with entitlement issues that don’t know a damn thing about what we’ve done for the last few years.

      We’ve booked bands for 4 years now and have had a variety. I’ve booked most the bands you’ve mentioned at local shows. Did you come out to support then?

      If you’ve got a problem with it by all means pull out the wallet and book your own fest. That is the beauty of this thing. I work all year long saving every dime from my day job so that I can put this on. This is not a mega check book financed festival. We can’t afford to book every band we like and most the time they aren’t in the area. I could go on all day but I need to get back to work. I’ve got bands from around the world to pay.

      You get the point.
      Jason Galaz


  • i’m sure hayden’s role is exactly what taylor swift is like when cameras cut off.


  • That shows how little you know about Taylor and her personality.

    By the way, here’s Hayden’s response to that suggestion:


    • This comment was directed to “carrie left mike fisher for me”, by the way. Just posted it in the wrong place last night!


  • The new series looks great. I don’t know who’s picked it up in NZ to screen it here. I really don’t necessarily think the music establishment in Nashville will be able to have a lot of influence on the content of the show. That is the prerogative of the Producer and the TV network funding it. How close those Hollywood powerhouses are to the Nashville ones is anyones guess. The series content will be driven by the need for good ratings, so I wouldn’t discount the show taking a decent stab at the Nashville institutions and music those us on this site detest. Here’s hoping!


  • The Luvin Country band out of Virginia are as bout as real as a Country Band can
    get ….yet they do not get any coverage at all…..They have an endless songlist of originals !!!!!!!!!!!!


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