Nashville is Music City. Worldwide, mention of our state capital evokes thoughts of good ole boys in cowboy hats whining about their lost loves and exalting their misdirected nation in a fit of patriotic zeal. The truth is that we aren’t all like this. Not everyone born and raised in Nashville grazes in the mainstream country music aisle of the record store while dressed like a character from “Hee Haw.” In 2006, a new music festival emerged in Nashville as a haven for us folks on the fringe, and now it’s well on its way to becoming the SXSW or Bumbershoot of the Southeast.Next BIG Nashville began as a minor taste-test of what was brewing in the local indie rock scene, featuring a mere 33 bands on Cannery Row. The festival has since developed into a full-blown buffet of more than 150 local and national acts spread over four wild nights in more than 10 of the best venues around town. The “local honey,” if you will, is still drizzled over the bulk of the line-up with bands including How I Became the Bomb, The Protomen, and Glossary, while bigger-name regional and national acts like Yeasayer, RJD2, and Roman Candle headline the showcases. Nashville’s chronic public transportation problems will be temporarily remedied by a free shuttle for festival-goers trying to effectively venue hop from the east side’s Five Points to Elliston Place in the west end.
2008 brought the addition of a music conference, which led to this year’s transition to the Next BIG Nashville +Leadership Music Digital Summit. Two days of panel discussions with industry leaders from Pandora, Interscope Records, ASCAP, and Sony Music, among others, will take place at Belmont University’s prestigious Mike Curb School of Music Business. Topics range from how to handle touring in a recession to examining survival skills of a musician in the digital age.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the 2010 Next BIG Nashville Music Festival will kick-off Wednesday as it traditionally has at the Belcourt Theatre, and the last of the staggering hipsters will be dragged from the final after party on Cannery Row sometime in the wee hours of the morning next Sunday. A $50 wristband will grant you access to all four raging nights. The Leadership Music Digital Summit will fill the daytime programming on Wednesday and Thursday. A whopping $300 VIP pass for Nashville’s indie elite includes access to all of the conference and festival programming, luncheons at such illustrious locations as the Gibson Showroom and Yazoo Brewery, and wild nightly after parties. For those eager to reclaim Music City for the masses of southerners who don’t worship Garth Brooks’ entire back catalog, it’s time to clear your schedule for next week and make that short trek west.