Earthwise Spylist: Average Joes, of Nashville and Atlanta (on Plastic Alto)

Noah Gordon, of Sparta, Illinois outside St. Louis, Southern Illinois, if you think Miles Davis and Walt Frazier more than Muddy Waters and Ron Santo, has a label in Nashville and Atlanta called Average Joes.

I wanted to see what I could suss out, harking back to my days producing a new bands series or taste-makers series, at Cubberley Community Center. I bought as a talent-buyer about 500 bands in my day, mostly from agents, which is a big imprimatur, but I also probably noted or scouted or even made offers on another 5,000 bands. (Note below my post about dumping, literally, into a dumpster about 200 demo tapes and selling to last-man-standing brick-and-mortar, another 1,000 cd’s, most of which I paid cash money for).

I set the kitchen timer to 20 minutes.

Here is the link to the Average Joes’ homepage. It pops us nice and easy enough as you start to type the first six or seven letters into your better search-injun.

209 10th Avenue South
Suite 332
Nashville, TN 37203

I wouldn’t know from the address whether that is a P.O. Box or office space — I’ve never been to Nashville. I used to say I’d probably end up visiting Memphis before I get to Nashville, based on having spent so much time in New Orleans and or working with that talent. But I have been fixing to get to Nashville, lately.

Los Straitjackets I’m pretty sure are from Nashville. I had booked them once into Mitchell Park outdoors here. I sweded in a picture of me and one of their masks from that era (and wearing the Cubberley “bear-cub” logo, t-shirt, which was from a 1910 Gold Border Mordecai Three-Finger Brown tobacco card).

I’m also recalling here that just yesterday I was reading David Shields “Literature Saved My Life” and he recalls David Foster Wallace telling him (also from Illinois by the way) that he would pretend the country singer is singing about himself, which made the songs better (and sorta like pretending that all fortune cookie messages are about sex).

Average Joes has a lot of country rap, duly noted.

And not Zion I who I posted on earlier, in the John Havliceck sense, and Steve did sound-hound, which is more of a Gary Payton reference, and are playing Another Planet coming up here in SF area real soon. (And there’s a white-girl rapper I am starting to follow but cannot mention, but not K.Flay, but maybe has some things in common. Leaving member of a major label band, turning over a new layf.)

Also, somehow flashing to former Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh who is down in Nashville working for a public-private partnership in innovation and development but I was gonna suggest to “the wonder” that it would be hip to start a label while he is down there.

And I was thinking, for a band or label, having just, from Le Video rented for $4 “Knuckleball” the documentary by Ricki Stern (who I knew slightly at Dartmouth) to have the label reference R. A. Dickey: The R.A.P Dickies, or somesuch. (And also having tried to start a band called not Vida Blue but Pumpsie Green, plus all my baseball posters).

And speaking of hypothetical projects, and this one is literally 2,000 miles from Nashville, I had told early-adapter punk-rockers Peter Kirkeby and Niles Snyder that I was gonna rent 260 California and book a show there calling the venue Keyhole Palo Alto, referencing the former Keystone club on that sight and the fact that it is now or was a few days ago not a hole in the wall but a hole in the ground: It’s got too many beams to be a hole in the ground.

Also in terms of Nashville, and besides Bob Dylan or Frank Black or Bill Frisell and Wayne Holcomb, I mean Wayne Horvitz and Robin Holcomb, (“one of these days, I’m gonna sit right down and write a little letter”), I like Bluebird Cafe as a model for how small can you think in terms of a venue worth the bother?

Ok, I admit I had to re-set that 20 minute timer, thanks to all the self-yammer and not listening and sussing.

And duly noted that Average Joes –not sure what you call it, in the line where you type your query or is recorded in your history, where sometimes it shows me on a screen capture from talking to City Hall on public television — “re-invent, revolutionize” — they have a fairly bold little pithy mission statement or manta. That’s “re-think, re-invent, revolutionize”.

They have about 15 products on their merch -music page, mostly what I’d call new artists. Charlie Farley, Colt Ford, LoCash Cowboys. There is some kind of “featuring” Bubba Sparxx single or song or performance, I’ve heard of that.

David Lee headed south sounds like a good investment of 3 minutes of my earspace:

Ok, that’s actually Demun Jones “Muddy Muddy” which is not a Pete Seeger cover. And I’m guessing his favorite Brave is more likely Chipper Jones — they could be related — than   Rico Carty. (Nashville is home to label but the act could be from Georgia; or there could be Braves fans throughout the South, in Tenn. — what do the Demun Jones muddy crowd think of Ted Turner’s politics, just wondering?)

Ok, that’s my 20 minutes worth.

edit to add, 2 minutes later:

There’s a link to Music Row dot com that shows LoCash Cowboy signing to AJ and shows the band with leadership of the label, Shannon Houchins and Noah Gordon.

Two members of LoCash Cowboys wrote or co-wrote hit for Keith Urban, “You Gonna Fly”:

Noah Gordon, who I thought of 20 minutes ago as leadership for the label, is also or actually a singer-songwriter in his early forties and co-wrote or co-produced for Average Joes Entertainment a Colt Ford record; Ford meanwhile and perhaps thanks to Gordon has sold nearly a million cd units combined (among four releases).

According to All Music, Noah Gordon has about 115 credits, mostly as composer. On Colt Ford’s 2012 “Declaration of Independence” he has four writing credits and is producer. Colt Ford is a pro golfer turned Nashville rapper, and the reviewer compares the work or production to White Stripes and Kid Rock. Sparta is about midway between St. Louis and Carbondale (Southern Illinois campus, where the sports teams play, as compared to Springy, where the med school is, all of which not far from Jeff Tweedy / Belleville / Wilco).

Colt Ford, by the way, will appear opening for Toby Keith at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA next month, May, 2014. He is booked by Kevin Neal at Buddy Lee Attractions in Nashville. (I would have to consult my “Agency Log” somewhere in my files to see my limited interaction with the agency; I doubt I bought anything: did I mention somewhere getting a call from Dixie Chicks when they were self-booked?). Colt is managed by his label, which is a business model that I think is somewhat common in Nashville (even by people “re-inventing…revolutionizing”); I think artists are better off with management to enforce the deal with the label; i.e. an artist will want three legs of a stool, the label, the agent and the manager. Not to kibbitz.

This Colt Ford song has 4 million views:

Back in the day I would have an Earthwise Spy List which was a list of bands I merely mentioned in a newsletter, mailed to the concert series mailing list. This harks back to that: heck,the whole blog thing, 600 posts, is a harken. I would say that Average Joes Entertainment company in Nashville is like the Nashville Muzik Mafia associated with John Rich, of Big and Rich and Lonestar, who I got to like via Celebrity Apprentice and who incidentally has a son named Colt. Good luck to Average Joes and keep on truckin’.

I remember reading a murder mystery set in Nashville, not so long ago. This might be it.

And about that address, 10th Avenue, I would say it’s about a 20 minute walk from Music Circle, and about halfway from Music Circle to Country Music Hall of Fame, whereas Vanderbilt is just as far in the opposite (west?) direction. So it’s in the mix, their office, I would think. But none of this explains why I discussion of an indie label in Nashville would start with Sparta, Illinois even if I was born and Chicago and have spent some time in St. Louis or driving Southern Illinois, and even once stopped and shot a photo (not a shotgun) at the memorial for Mother Jones. A like-minded fellow, in the geographical sense, Vince Hoffard, profiled Noah Gordon not so long ago for the The Southern, also known as The Southern Illinoisan (noise paper  in the 618).

And gettin’ back Demun Jones, he sings with Rehab, a former major  label country rap group, with some association with Cee-Lo (if that accounts for the Atlanta red herring in the headline here), the band managed by Average Joes the label. Doing their fare the well tour, it says.

And lastly (lastly, lastly, I really mean it this time), for the wayfaring Southern Illinoisan, and wanna-be wanderin’ Southern Illinoisan, likely to drop a dime at Praire Books in Springfield, or not, if your entry into Nashville music is Noah Gordon, head of A&R and publishing for Average Joes (no punctuation) of Nashville, perty darn near Music Row, hear is Noah’s parents, The Gordons (bluegrass band). Click the link.

edit to add: I beat the Times on this by 35 days, but thanks to Erik Allen: also Colt Ford will be within earshot soon enough, at nearby Shoreline Amphitheatre, opening for someone larger, for $25 lawn $88 good seats; maybe I will sit out in the yard drinking Anchor Steam.


About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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