Jared and Kristyn Corder know a thing or two about building a buzz around a cultural endeavor -- over a couple of years, the two took East Nashville Underground from a friends-in-a-basement musical shindig to a bustling and much-talked-about seasonal festival, with an explicit focus on and celebration of our neighborhood. (We talked about that in a recent issue.)
So it makes sense that the folks behind the Save the Roxy Theater movement -- aimed at revitalizing both that historic Meridian St. theater and the district surrounding it -- would tap Jared to coordinate talent for the upcoming Roxy Revival, a daylong Nov. 9 event meant to showcase "what the Roxy District can become." (We looked at the Roxy in our March/April issue, too.)
Over the course of the Revival, neighbors can take in a movie screening and lots of live music inside and outside the theater (all wrangled by Corder), along with food and goods vendors. And the Revival itself is something of a historic event, since for many of us, it'll offer the first chance to catch sights and sounds on the Roxy stage.
Ahead of the Roxy Revival, we chatted with Jared Corder about the event, the music and the past and future of East Nashville Underground.
The East Nashvillian: In booking bands for the Roxy Revival, you were tasked with something bigger than just slotting entertainment. This is something that's both celebrating the area's history and pointing toward its potential future - and it's the first concert in that building in many years. How did you approach it?
"I wanted to book bands that I not only loved working with, but have a love for East Nashville as well. I was looking at artists that understood the cause and wanted to be a part of history. Most of the bands I have worked with (in the past) in booking ENU, and because this was a special event that was important to me, I selected bands that I knew would feel the same way."
Do you think your experience with booking a very community-focused festival made you uniquely equipped to jump on this?
"Yes, but I think it was more than that. I also know how to get artists on a limited budget, and put together a large lineup of different genres that all seem to work well together.
"Booking a lineup is a lot like making a mixtape -- I give a lot of thought to each band in consideration, and I'm not just throwing bands in there left and right. I want the lineup to feel eclectic but equal in quality. The lineup for the Roxy show has rock, blues, Americana, country and pop.
"I also think that it's important to build a relationship with every band. I want bands to feel like I've put them on a show not just because I'm trying to fill a time slot, but because I personally care about them playing the show and where they fit with the rest of the lineup. Bands want to feel like the people booking them care about them and their music -- and I do."
East Nashville Underground had a really organic, steady growth, but through that growth, stayed really connected to East Nashville, specifically. Was that purposeful or just a function of doing it here?
"It was always purposeful, because we love this side of town.
"It all started with my friends and neighbors in my basement. That built a community of people hanging out together. But as more people started moving to the East side, we wanted to create a place where everyone could feel welcome.
"ENU was never about money or recognition. It was really about our friends all hanging out, listening to good music and drinking. That's all we set out to do, it grew naturally, but our intention was always simple."
Do you think an event like yours could thrive in a different kind of community, or do you see East Nashville as an intrinsic part of what you guys built?
"Sure. I think the 'underground' mentality could thrive in other areas, it would just depend on where.
"Truthfully, I never would want ENU to become an exclusive, 'too-cool-for-school' event. The main ingredients for a successful event like this is caring about people, making friends, cheap drinks, and booking music that is good, not just popular. I'd like to think that authenticity will always be more successful than just trying to sell tickets to a show, or trying to overcharge for beer, or just booking 'cool' bands whether their music is good or not. I think that mentality could thrive in most cities, because everyone wants to spend a little money and have a good time with friends."
You guys said this summer's festival was the last "season" of Underground as we know it. What does that mean for the future?
"Truthfully, we never set out to have ENU grow the way it did. That's great, but it was never our intention to move beyond the basement. It's a catch-22 though, because we were turning people away at the basement, which then becomes an exclusive event that only a few people can get into. But then when you move to a bigger space to accommodate more people, some people assume you're selling out.
"We are working on focusing our energy, time, and resources on events that are important to us. I would be lying if I said I had the exact answer for the next chapter of ENU, but it's still in the early stages and we are still figuring out where we want to take it. I guess you'll just have to stay tuned."
The Roxy Revival Concert, featuring Buffalo Clover Heavy Sole, Blackfoot Gypsies and The Joy of Painting
When: Saturday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m.
Where: The Roxy Theater, 827 Meridian St.
Admission: FREE, all ages
More info: Concert at the Roxy Facebook Event page