Showgrid Story #3

We might get a little corny this morning. I had already written a piece about my experience at the Charles Bradley concert last week, but my laptop is lying in a hotel room in East Alabama, and thus, I am stuck with a blank slate, a late night ahead of me and heavy thoughts on my mind.

It seems appropriate to mention a musician I’ve been listening to a lot and relay his story because it really highlights what it must be like to genuinely struggle to be a musician in this city.

That artist I mention is Tommy Womack. Womack is in his 50s and has a phenomenal album that he released in 2007 (not 1995 as I confidently opined, Alex) called There I Said It! I’ve been listening to it on repeat for the better part of a week now and can’t get it out of my head. The album is as autobiographical as it gets with songs ranging from ‘Nice Day’ (winner of the Nashville Scene’s best song in 2007) that meditates on a fishing trip with his son amidst some financial difficulties to ‘Alpha Male & The Canine Mystery Blood’ which is a beautifully rendered, long winded, raucous yarn about life and all its complexities. It gets you thinking about stuff. Gets your wheels turning.

For example, it’s very odd when you go through a spell of uninspired activity and then all at once, things seem to fall into place. You’re in this dry spell, knowing it will end, waiting patiently for the spark to return, then you read a book, see a movie, find an album you like, talk to a friend, get laid, take on a new job or all of them in combination and, BAM, you’re back at it, pistons-a-pumping.

Tommy Womack was in a very serious car accident in June of last year. He was left to sit in a wheelchair and in a truly unique gesture of compassion, a group of musicians banded together to help him cover the medical costs. Tommy has been in Nashville for a while now and formed bonds with rock bands like Jason and The Scorchers, Webb Wilder & the Beatnecks, Dan Baird, Will Kimbrough and more that all pitched in.

Before his solo career, Tommy headed Government Cheese, a rowdy rock group that claimed Bowling Green, KY as their home and Nashville as their playground. After they disbanded, he kept himself afloat by writing a biography of the band titled ‘Cheese Chronicles: The True Story of a Rock n’ Roll Band You’ve Never Heard Of’ that resulted in a sold out reunion tour around the US.

Growing up on KISS, Cheap Trick, The Clash and The Kinks, his songs take a unique angle on tradtional songwriter fare. They careen between boot rattling rock n’ roll and simple, folksy songs. Even after the car accident and what appears to be (based on his lyrics) a life lived hard and fast, Tommy continues to make music.

A new album of his is coming up in late March called Namaste (he’ll do an instore Grimey’s show for it on 5/20). He has since regained his strength, and I went to watch him Friday night at The Family Wash where he played an acoustic show alongside a bassist.

Tommy Womack is Nashville, people. He came here many years ago with a guitar and a dream, writes great songs and shoots it straight. He won’t stop writing songs because he can’t. He is compelled to write. Has a message and shit. Older now, he’s perhaps less ambitious with his songwriting, and man, its refreshing to hear music from someone who is not writing songs to acheive world domination.