Way before Lower Broadway in Nashville was overgrown with bourgeois fern bars named after bad country performers, or the street was addled with peddle taverns full drunk revelers, it was virtually abandoned after the shuttering of the Ryman Auditorium in the late 70’s, and was left to pawn shops and dirty bookstores to take over a portion of town that many consider an important corridor of country music’s Holy Land.
It then fell to a bunch of country/punk/rockabilly cats with long hair and pompadours who still cared about the old ways of making music and the history forged on Broadway to reclaim the area in the 90s. Bands like Jason and the Scorchers, BR-549, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, Hank Williams III, and Hillbilly Casino all helped in that effort. But you couldn’t be just any hillbilly band and make it through that harrowing era for Lower Broad. You had to be exceptional. You had to stand on your head, be exceptionally talented and entertaining, and play sometimes for four hours straight.
The Royal Hounds are one of the bands who still embody that original Lower Broadway revivalist attitude. Playing standing residencies at Layla’s every Sunday night, and Robert’s Western World on Tuesdays, they’re rockabilly, they’re country, they’re wild and funny, they sweat and play and sing their guts out for your ragged dollar like their lives depend on it, and they just released a new album called A Whole Lot of Nothin’.
A mix of rockabilly and country, they’re musical mutts that do their best to squeeze what they do as a Lower Broadway power trio into 13 songs, showcasing the singing and songwriting of frontman and bass player Scott Hinds, the incredible guitar acrobatics of native Brazilian Mathheus Canteri, and Nathan Place behind the drums helping to hold everything together.
A Whole Lot of Nothin’ features dispatches from the lower rung of life, whether it’s drinking from the bottom shelf in “Cheap Drunk,” being left by your lover and having nothing left to show in “I’ve Got a Whole Lot (Of Nothin’),” or, well, being dead like in “Dead Guy’s Blues.”
Most of all this album is a showcase for the 3-piece band’s musical chops, including two instrumentals, “Door #3” and “Corn Fritters” written by guitarist Mathheus Canteri, who just like any lead guitarist who dares show their face on the cool side of Lower Broadway, can move his fingers as fast as any human. They also work with some guest musicians such as pedal steel player Eddie Lange, and fiddler Aaron Till, resulting in some outright instrumental clinics, including the blazing “Pickin’ in the Graveyard.”
You could almost call A Whole Lot of Nothin’ Holiday-themed, both for Halloween and Christmas. With songs like “Rickety Pines,” it’s ripe for releasing during the witching season, and then they spring “Krismastofferson” on you, which hilariously combines Kristofferson factoids like how he used to work as a janitor in a studio, and once landed a helicopter in Johnny Cash’s lawn into a wild ditty about saving Christmas.
To get the true Royal Hounds experience, you have to see them in their element, which is on Lower Broadway, or your local dive when they roll through town. But the release of this new album is the perfect excuse to highlight this important band that among other resume points, has also collaborated and played behind some important artists like Sierra Ferrell, and the Queen of Lower Broadway, Sarah Gayle Meech.
Where once it fell to the bands on Lower Broadway to fight back the urban blight and make sure historic buildings haunted by the ghosts of country music’s past weren’t bulldozed, now these bands the bulwarks pushing back against rabid gentrification, and terrible bar concepts owned by Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line. Bands like The Royal Hounds are doing the Lord’s work, so make sure you don’t forsake the tip jar when it passes under your nose.
1 1/2 Guns Up
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