Nashville Recap Part 2 – And CMT Hot 20 Countdown!

On Sunday, the weather was little cooler but it made for a great time to explore the city. We headed over toward Opry Mills once again to make a stop for some breakfast at the local Starbucks, and then made a stop at The Grand Ole Opry. What a cool place. It was so great to see this piece of history where so many country superstars and legends have performed. We took our turns taking photos with both the huge electric and acoustic guitars, and looked into the tours. The only downside to having a photographer as part of the team is that you know somewhere there is going to be a photo of you while taking a selfie.

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We had every intention of taking one of the tours, but after discussing our options for the day, we decided that we should head downtown to listen to some more bands.

Country Singer Ben Mathis (Credit

Our decision led us to The Tin Roof. We knew that during the day it should be less crowded and the music should be pretty good, considering the Tin Roof in downtown San Diego is also a great venue. We had the pleasure a few months back in covering Dustin Lynch’s show there. We weren’t really hungry since we had just eaten breakfast, so we stuck with our staple of chips and salsa. Within minutes, we knew that we didn’t want to leave there too soon. The talent for the day was a singer named Ben Mathis.
Ben has an amazing voice and a calm demeanor that just draws you in. Although it was just him and his guitar, his voice was so captivating that we couldn’t possibly imagine why he wasn’t already signed. We flagged his sound girl down to ask his information and instantly added him on twitter. He made it a point to check with us over the microphone to see if we had gotten the information. He also gave a shout out to his sound girl which made us feel like he was truly appreciative for the people he works with on a regular basis. He involved the crowd, asked for suggestions on songs, made jokes with the audience, and even though sometimes only a few claps were heard he kept going and didn’t skip a beat. Mathis was promoting two of his new singles which were released last week, “Once you go country,” and “One Petal Daisy.” Both were amazing songs, but the entire bar stopped what they were doing as Mathis crooned “One Petal Daisy.” His vocals were filled with pure, raw emotion and the song really resonated with several in the audience. We purchased both songs as soon as they became available on iTunes. We knew that we were witnessing a star early on in his career, and we truly wish Ben the best of luck!
After leaving downtown, we headed over to the Franklin area. We wanted to grab some lunch and watch the Kansas and San Diego game. It didn’t start until 3, so we had some time to kill. The bar we went to was Dan McGuiness Irish pub. It was great to head into somewhere that wasn’t crowded and had decent food. After hanging out there awhile, we left to watch the game at Buffalo Wild Wings, with yet another round of chips and salsa. It wasn’t exactly a surprise to see we were the only Chargers fans in a sea of Chiefs fans. What did amaze us though is that no one seemed to cheer, clap, talk to the TV or really show any emotion when their team scored. Well, at least until the final quarter when the Chargers choked like they seem to do. After the game we headed back to downtown. We had an agenda tonight to scope out some new talent and finally get to the venues that were too crowded to attend the night before.

Our first stop was at The Second Fiddle where Sara Avalos and Justin Myers were on stage. They played a mix of old and new country, complete with some acoustic songs and were better than the majority of the bands we heard the night before. We were so impressed with Sara, that we decided to do a featured artist spotlight on her. As we left, we noticed a few things about the bar that may assist with getting more patrons inside, especially on a Sunday. On the Broadway side, you can’t hear the music or really see anything as you look in. Other venues nearby have open windows or an open air type atmosphere, plus their logo visible from behind the singers which draws people in. We strongly feel that if people walking by would have heard this band performing, they most definitely would come in and stay for a while.


One of our stops was at The Stage to catch Chris Weavers show. The place was packed, and there were so many people on the dance floor. The band played a mix of country, pop, classic rock and more. Weavers vocals were spot on and his ability to keep the crowd entertained, and dancing was evident. For a Sunday night, The Stage was crowded, but we were still able to find a table to stand at near the small bar up the stairs. We wanted to find out more information on Chris, so we headed to his website where it states that Chris was born to perform. He mixes a perfect blend of southern rock, soul and country blues. He was born in West Virginia to a musical family and his early influences were Tom Petty, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp and Joe Cocker. We could definitely hear this in his vocals, and felt his smooth, soulful tone. He released his first album in 2011 called STANDING IN LINE and Billboard named him a “top act to following 2013.” His Second album, AMERICAN DREAMER was a collaboration with legendary producer Josh Leo who has worked with Alabama, Bad Company and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to name a few. We learned that Chris will be travelling extensively this year, and we know that there are big things to come from this singer.

Moving on, we decided to head over to Honky Tonk Central, a corner bar boasting three levels. The ground level showcased an artist by the name of Grant Meredith. As soon as we walked in, we knew we were in for a great show. Meredith is well known by his reality TV fame on “Party Down South,” but he’s also a talented singer. His set list kept the audience entertained, singing along with him and the breaks in between the songs he tried to engage the crowd with conversation, and Fireball shots. Meredith obtained Fireball as his first sponsor. Meredith was born and raised in Johnson City, TN and grew up listening to country music. Meredith moved to Nashville to chase his dreams and plays over 200 shows per show at local venues such as Tootsies and Honky Tonk Central.

Grant Meredith Performs at Honky Tonk Central

Grant Meredith Performs at Honky Tonk Central

He has shared the stage with music greats Montgomery Gentry, Kid Rock, Tyler Farr, Colt Ford and many more. For some of his shows he shared the stage with American Idol alumni Haeley Vaughn. In 2013, Meredith was fortunate enough to land a record deal with Daredevil Production. We checked him out on iTunes after we left Nashville, but were unable to find any information or songs listed for him as of this time. We can only hope that an EP is in the works, as we would love to hear more from this artist.
From HTC, we headed over to Tootsies and attempted to navigate through the first floor. It was still a bit crowded and to be quite honest we weren’t impressed. The bar itself is a little more run down than expected, and maybe because of the name and history there it was cool but the first floor was not a place we wanted to be. The drunk girls in the place couldn’t seem to keep their grabby hands to themselves, and the guys made it a point to stare a little too long. We felt like this was the bar people came to find their one night stand at. At any rate, we headed upstairs to the newer section of the bar, the third floor. Again, not real crazy about the look of the place, which was basically plywood and the band was not country but an alternative band. They were color coordinated from their entire outfits to their red ties, and they sounded pretty great – but one drunk girl decided it was a good idea to continually tip the band to play the same song over and over. Now why the band didn’t at least throw a different song in between it, who knows. But, they literally played the same song four times. We turned and headed out the door.
It was time to call it a night. We had a big day ahead of us on Monday with CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown, and heading home. At the countdown, it was great to see the top 20, hear their feature on some of the new artists before the upcoming CMA awards on November 5th.

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Cre8tive Reviews team member Paul got to share some of his photography stories, we met a few new musicians and spent time with Katie Cook and Cody Alan. In between taping, we got to try our hand at corn hole. Paul seemed to miss the whole point of the game.

All in all, it was a great trip. We definitely saw some amazing new talent and made some great new connections. We hope to hear all about these singers as their careers continue to grow and offer our continued support. We would love to head back to Nashville again soon and do some interviews, in addition to covering CMA Fest and a few other events. We were disappointed though that while we were at the CMT Hot 20 taping, we missed our buddies Outshyne who were literally performing within a few blocks of us. Oh well, maybe next time.
A special thank you to all of our new friends, contacts, talent and family who made the trip very special.


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