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For our annual Rock ’n’ Roll Poll, we once again asked a select group of Nashville’s finest rockers, rollers, rappers, bookers and more to share their take on local music.

Allison Russell at Third Man Records, 11/11/2021

What local artist/band ruled Nashville in 2021?

Allison Russell —Tristen, Ellen Angelico, Tim Easton, Marquis Munson, Larissa Maestro, Tyler Glaser, Jerry Pentecost, Samantha Zaruba

Styrofoam Winos —Cam Sarrett, Megan Loveless, Loney John Hutchins, Mike Mannix, Kyle Hamlett, Asher Horton, Ryan “Domo” Donoho, Josh Halper

Joy Oladokun. She remains disarmingly humble and herself on her astronomic rise, and you love to see it. —Celia Gregory

Joy Oladokun —Wes Davenport, Ellen Angelico, Chris Martignago

Tristen —Dillon Watson, Asher Horton, Caroline Bowman

Adia Victoria —Kyle Hamlett, Jessica Breanne

Daisha McBride —Gee Slab, Caroline Bowman

Namir Blade —Virghost, Taylor Cole

Nordista Freeze —Tyler Walker, Taylor Cole

Tayls —Caroline Bowman, Samantha Zaruba

Snooper — punk without the corny machismo and a genuinely fun band with killer songs. —Ben Swank

Emma Lambiase (bass boss for Jake Wesley Rogers, Oginalii, Amythyst Kiah), The Criticals —Samantha Zaruba

Yautja —Cam Sarrett

Brassville —Eric Holt

Black City, Funky Tenn. —Justin Causey-Bullock

Becca Mancari, Jamie Wyatt, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Bully, Briston Maroney, Samia 
—Michael Combs

Jive Talk, Volk —Mike Grimes

The Shindellas are EXACTLY what we needed this year! —Chris Cobb

Oginalii, Red Feather —Todd Sherwood

Tim Carroll brought back his Rock ’n’ Roll Happy Hour at The 5 Spot. A singular reason to visit Music City. —Mary Sack

Cristina Spinei —Chet Weise

Every year I find this question harder to answer. Negro Justice and Gee Slab absolutely crushed it with Resplendent. Houston Kendrick created a stone-cold classic with Small Infinity. Nashville Ambient Ensemble is still in heavy rotation — and there are so many more worth mentioning. —Michael Eades

Every single band and artist who wrote, recorded or performed live in the face of the ongoing pandemic. —Rodrigo Avendano



What local artist/band is going to rule in 2022?

If there’s any justice in the world, Snooper will take it all. Their Devo-on-45 RPM jams are just TOO GOOD to stay under the radar. Fingers crossed they’re ramping up to something big. —Mike Shepherd

Snooper —Eve Maret, Asher Horton

Erin Rae —Dillon Watson, Josh Halper, Doug Hall, Tristen, Asher Horton, Tyler Glaser

Daisha McBride —Tristen, Celia Gregory, Chris Cobb

Tim Gent —Eric Holt, Chris Martignago, Chris Cobb

Kyshona —Jerry Pentecost, Jessica Breanne

Caroline Spence —Tyler Glaser, Jessica Breanne

Tayls —Samantha Zaruba, Chris Cobb

Abby Johnson —Caroline Bowman, Ryan “Domo” Donoho

Rich Ruth —Tyler Glaser, Luke Schneider

Hans Condor —Ryan Sweeney, Chet Weise

Teddy and the Rough Riders are sitting on two great new records. —Loney John Hutchins

Julia Cannon — beautiful music plus she’s hilarious; Caroline Culver — she’ll make you cry and you’ll be happy about it. 
—Samantha Zaruba

Midwxst. He’s attending Belmont, putting out an eclectic range of hyperpop sounds and starting to sell out club shows across the country. —Wes Davenport

Rumor has it the Six One Tribe collective has an absolute treasure trove of material for next year. —Michael Eades

Brassville, Bryant Taylorr, A.B. Eastwood, Petty —Eric Holt

Namir Blade —Gee Slab

Brandy Zdan —Ellen Angelico

Molly Tuttle —Jerry Pentecost

Gayle —Liz Meade

TheyNeedWeez —Virghost

Brainweight —Tyler Walker

Ri¢hie, BYRD —Todd Sherwood

Girlhouse —Jared Corder

The Kentucky Gentlemen —Ale Delgado

I said it last year and I will say it again: all the queer musicians we have in Nashville! —Michael Combs

Could be The Criticals, who sold out Beast first time through. Could be Sierra Ferrell. —Mike Grimes

Daisha McBride

Daisha McBride at Out/Back at Exit/In, 6/30/2021

What’s your favorite discovery this year?

SistaStrings, new arrivals from Milwaukee. They’re going to kick all of our asses. Also, Daisha McBride came on my radar this year, and OMG she is powerful. 
—Larissa Maestro

Total Wife —Loney John Hutchins, Caroline Bowman, Patrick Orr, Todd Sherwood

Nashville’s emerging noisy shoegaze scene courtesy of Tape Deck Mountain, Total Wife, Your Gaze, Rig B and Kentucky Derby Con Man in particular. —Michael Eades

Loney Hutchins —Jessica Breanne, Caroline Bowman

Jo Schornikow —Ariel Bui, Tim Easton

The BLVCK Wizzle Experience —Gee Slab

No Milk —Eve Maret

$avvy —Justin Causey-Bullock

Namir Blade —Eric Holt

DIY venue/art gallery Sometimes —Tyler Walker

Full Mood —Jordan Victoria

Greasy Neale at Wilburn Street Tavern on Tuesday nights —Josh Halper

Liza Anne (I admit I was sleepin’ on her before Bad Vacation, but never again!), Girlhouse, Terry Presume and Houston Kendrick — and that’s just the locals. 
—Celia Gregory

The rehearsal hall at the Nashville Musicians Union, which is free to union members. Join Local 257, musicians! 
—Ellen Angelico

T Lynn the Undergoddess —Virghost

Rockabye Baby!, Monday Night Jazz 
—Jerry Pentecost

The joy of owning three donkeys. —Jared Corder

There are at least three parents at my daughter’s school that operate DIY/indie record labels. —Mike Mannix

Ryan Scott Mattingly, who leads experimental ensemble In Place and makes many a musical situation feel more like itself; Adia Victoria’s Call and Response podcast —Kyle Hamlett

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The mom of the little girl I used to babysit made the most beautiful album ever. (That’s Allison Russell.) —Samantha Zaruba

What’s helped you the most in coping with the ongoing pandemic?

Working on music and having real conversations with people in real life. 
—Jordan Victoria

Band practice twice a week, therapy, starting medication, going outside. 
—Maddy Madeira

Antidepressants and weed. —Ben Swank

The vaccine has allowed me to feel safer being with loved ones, recording music, going out and teaching in person again. —Ariel Bui

MVAN, the moral support of our local music community and the Save Our Stages money we received. —Mike Grimes

WXNA DJs showing up each day, trying to bring a little joy through the airwaves. 
—Jessica Breanne

Building WNXP and connecting with creatives. And my staffy-border-collie-husky mix Ruby, a singer in her own right. —Celia Gregory

Recording music and lots of therapy.

Practicing and exploring new instruments; moving to Greenbrier. —Luke Schneider

Going on as many hikes as possible with my family and checking out a ton of new releases and reissues. —Ryan Sweeney

Watching every Judas Priest concert available on YouTube. —Chet Weise

I always look forward to Bandcamp Friday and posting about the deluge of discoveries. —Michael Eades

Wednesday songwriter night at Springwater. —Patrick Orr, Kyle Hamlett

Painting naked people. —Samantha Zaruba

Scouting and booking 25 diverse artists on the summer Shakespeare Festival pre-show concert series. This town has so many layers. —Mary Sack

Christina Norwood’s piano playing. —Dillon Watson

Will Powers’ 1983 self-help/disco record Dancing for Mental Health. —Ale Delgado

Going through the music archives and revisiting/organizing the past in a healthy way, while also taking on entirely new endeavors. —Brian Siskind

Namir Blade

Namir Blade at Exit/In, 12/1/2021

One thing you hope doesn’t come back once the pandemic ends?

Another pandemic. —Todd Sherwood, Mike Shepherd, Virghost, Josh Halper, Eric Holt

School shootings —Gee Slab

Romanticizing being overworked. Self-care is important! —Caroline Bowman

Working a shitty job for less than a living wage! —Tristen

Working in an office setting when we’re all just as productive at home. —Liz Meade

Hard pants —Tyler Walker

Zoom meetings —Marquis Munson, Patrick Orr

The common cold. I’m all about masks. I haven’t been sick in ages. —Ellen Angelico

Shaking hands —Rodrigo Avendano, Eric Holt

Bullshit —Michael Combs

My writer’s block. —Maddy Madeira

Festivals having to cancel due to weather. —Jared Corder

We must save our independent venues before all we have are big venues and very expensive beer. —Doug Hall

Developers buying buildings, raising the rent, then “transforming” the spaces to make their own more-Instagrammable versions. —Wes Davenport

I’m really hoping we can put an end to shows that go beyond midnight and have more than three bands on the bill. —Mike Mannix

Matinee shows. It would be nice to be able to set up and soundcheck like a professional for an evening show that will draw well and do great bar sales, instead of being forced to navigate around a softly attended early show and settle for a frantic, last-minute line check. —Luke Schneider

The same damn $5 club cover that has been in place since the 1970s. —Mary Sack

Our arts and music scenes have been so supportive and collaborative these past couple of years, creating space for vulnerability, experiments, failures and successes. I’d like to keep that going. —Ben Swank

Who deserves more coverage than they got in 2021?

Petty —Gee Slab, Eric Holt

Tristen —Celia Gregory, Tyler Glaser

Crave On —Dillon Watson, Kyle Hamlett

In Place —Eve Maret, Kyle Hamlett

Volunteer Department —Asher Horton, Jordan Victoria

Georgia English’s new record Pain and Power has an illustrated book, and it’s just such a beautiful and complete piece of art. —Ellen Angelico

The Springwater. It’s real-ass Nashville, full stop. —Loney John Hutchins

Online shop Byrd Finds. Nick has such a creative and positive approach to connecting musicians to unique and affordable gear. —Rodrigo Avendano

Every BIPOC, LGBTQ+, femme and NB person who made music in 2021 — especially in Nashville. —Larissa Maestro

DJ AfroSheen —Justin Causey-Bullock

Darrin Bradbury —Tim Easton

My Wall —Ryan Sweeney

Thomas Luminoso —Patrick Orr

Maxwell Wheeler’s thoughtfully booked shows at the Villager and elsewhere. —Kyle Hamlett

Connor Cummins. He’s an international punk hero. —Ben Swank

Taco Mouth. Best little rock ’n’ roll band in town! —Chris Cobb

Pretty much any artist that is not a 1-percenter pop star. —Luke Schneider

Bantug’s 12 Songs About Loneliness. —Wes Davenport

Joe McMahan is one of the most authentic and talented guitarists/producers in Nashville. —Brian Siskind

Po’Boys & Poets Nashville —Virghost

BadCulture —Jared Corder

Love Montage, Lawndry —Caroline Bowman

Jefferson Street Sound Museum —Ariel Bui

Ohphelia; Yanira Vissepo’s art —Cam Sarrett

A.B. Eastwood, Brigetta —Chris Martignago

Brennan Wedl —Ryan “Domo” Donoho

Houston Kendrick, Alex Rahal —Liz Meade

Bobby Peppermint —Tyler Walker

There’s a ton of albums that flew under the radar, from Les Ailes, Lawndry, Future Crib, FU Stan and BeHoward, Anchor Thieves, St. Slug, Zwil AR, Thad Kopec and more. —Michael Eades

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Joy Oladokun at 3rd and Lindsley, 6/20/2021

What’s the best music story of the year?

The independent music community, ecosystem and working-class creative people — when at their most vulnerable ever — showed how much love and support they have for each other and truly saved their entire industry. —Chris Cobb

The return of in-person shows! —Eve Maret, Caroline Bowman, Luke Schneider, Maddy Madeira

The reopening of The Basement East. —Jerry Pentecost

Fisk Jubilee Singers celebrating 150 years. —Eric Holt

Charles and Roger reuniting to resurrect Hans Condor. —Ryan Sweeney

The National Museum of African American Music opening in Nashville. —Marquis Munson

The swan song of Queens of Noise. What a triumphant arc for a band of high schoolers! —Ellen Angelico

Local venues reopening and requiring proof of vax or negative test result. Boycotts of the venues by those who didn’t agree with the policy made the clubs even safer. —Chet Weise

Jake Wesley Rogers blowing up. It’s so good to see local talent win big. —Liz Meade

Allison Russell and Yola sharing lockdown in Madison and then releasing two of the most triumphant, liberating albums of 2021. We at WNXP took note and so, now, has The Recording Academy. —Celia Gregory

Black artists getting more attention, en masse, in country/Americana rather than isolated breakthroughs. —Loney John Hutchins

Nashville’s hip-hop scene just keeps giving. —Wes Davenport

Jimmy Matt Rowland and Micah Hulscher becoming the Nashville Sounds’ organists. —Tyler Glaser

Allison Russell curating the most diverse headlining set in Newport Folk Festival’s history; Kyshona Armstrong getting 501(c)(3) status for her new nonprofit, Your Song! —Larissa Maestro

What’s your favorite local record of 2021?

Allison Russell, Outside Child —Jerry Pentecost, Larissa Maestro, Tim Easton, Ellen Angelico

Styrofoam Winos, Styrofoam Winos —Kyle Hamlett, Mike Mannix, Michael Eades, Patrick Orr, Cam Sarrett

Tristen, Aquatic Flowers —Jessica Breanne, Ariel Bui, Dillon Watson, Tyler Glaser

Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection —Jessica Breanne, Tristen

Daisha McBride, Let Me Get This Off My Chest —Tristen

Trevor Nikrant, Tall Ladders —Kyle Hamlett, Asher Horton

Bantug, 12 Songs About Loneliness —Caroline Bowman, Ale Delgado

FU Stan and BeHoward, Claude & Ray 
—Virghost, Michael Eades

D’Wynter Cold, Love You Later —Virghost

Loney Hutchins [Sr.], Buried Loot —Luke Schneider, Loney John Hutchins

Madi Diaz, History of a Feeling —Jared Corder, Megan Loveless, Celia Gregory

Total Wife, Total Wife —Jordan Victoria, Maddy Madeira

Yautja, The Lurch —Maddy Madeira, Tyler Walker

Juan Solorzano and Ross McReynolds, Instrumentals —Caroline Bowman, Michael Eades

L’Orange and Namir Blade, Imaginary Everything —Marquis Munson, Virghost

Tayls, Have You Ever? I’ve Always 
—Samantha Zaruba, Taylor Cole

Nightingail, Strange Love —Caroline Bowman

Bled to Submission, Bury Them in the Graves They Dug for You —Maddy Madeira

Spodee Boy, Rides Again —Ben Swank

Reaux Marquez, No Roads —Justin Causey-Bullock

Aaron Lee Tasjan, Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! —Doug Hall

Mike Floss, Oasis —Gee Slab

Quinn Lewis, When I Was Sad —Chris Martignago

Dreamer Boy, All the Ways We Are Together —Liz Meade

Lilly Hiatt, Lately —Jessica Breanne

Belly Full of Stars, Aura —Eve Maret

Tommy Womack, I Thought I Was Fine —Mary Sack

Katy Kirby, Cool Dry Place —Josh Halper

The Spin: Styrofoam Winos at The Chili Factory, 5/23/2021

Styrofoam Winos at The Chili Factory, 5/23/2021

What’s your favorite local song of 2021?

Volunteer Department and Heaven Honey, “Cows of Tomorrow” —Caroline Bowman, Cam Sarrett, Josh Halper

Volunteer Department, “Robert Downey Jr.” —Jordan Victoria

Safety Net, “Be With You” —Ben Swank, Megan Loveless

Tristen, “Complex” —Luke Schneider, Jared Corder

Tristen, “Wrong With You” —Tyler Glaser

Erin Rae, “Modern Woman”; Aaron Lee Tasjan, “Up All Night” —Tristen

Styrofoam Winos, “Stuck in a Museum” 
—Caroline Bowman, Michael Eades

Styrofoam Winos, “Skyline Top Removal” —Loney John Hutchins

Styrofoam Winos, “Once”; Trevor Nikrant, “Tall Ladders” —Kyle Hamlett

The Ragcoats, “I Need Your Love” —Caroline Bowman

Jasmin Kaset, “Have You Met Me Yet?” 
—Patrick Orr, Michael Eades

“All of the Women” by Allison Russell. I’ve been playing in her band for the past year and have literally cried onstage several times while performing this song with her. —Larissa Maestro

Keb’ Mo’, “The Medicine Man” —Jerry Pentecost

Bryant Taylorr, “Fan” —Eric Holt

Adia Victoria feat. Stone Jack Jones, “My Oh My” —Rodrigo Avendano

Sassyopathic, “In Heaven” —Ryan “Domo” Donoho

Reaux Marquez feat. Yours Truly Jai, “On My Side” —Justin Causey-Bullock

Frau, “Pipebomb” —Tyler Walker

Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection’s cover of “The Road,” originally performed by the ’70s U.K. folk-rock band Trees —Mike Mannix

Netherina Noble, “I Am Not Afraid” —Eve Maret

Joy Oladokun and Maren Morris, “Bigger Man” —Chris Martignago

The By Gods, “Black Wave”; Jake Wesley Rogers, “Pluto” —Taylor Cole

Teddy and the Rough Riders, “Don’t Say Sorry” —Asher Horton

Yola, “Stand for Myself” —Doug Hall

Briston Maroney, “It’s Still Cool If You Don’t” —Marquis Munson

Bantug, “High Worry” —Celia Gregory

Best performance you saw this year?

Jake Wesley Rogers at The Basement East — truly incredible. I am now writing differently and editing my own stage performance after watching that show. —Taylor Cole

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Brittany Howard at 3rd and Lindsley for Girls Write Nashville —Tristen

Portrayal of Guilt at Drkmttr —Maddy Madeira

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel at Darkhorse Theatre —Josh Halper

Fisk Jubilee Singers during the Americana Awards —Jerry Pentecost

The Serfs —Cam Sarrett

Snooper opening for The Serfs —Ben Swank

Marshall Chapman opening up for Indigo Girls at the Ryman. She was by herself, barefoot, with a caution-tape guitar strap and she made me cry twice. —Ellen Angelico

Tristen’s record release show was a bit of true magic. Being back home at The 5 Spot, seeing so many familiar faces, hearing such lovely music. —Mike Shepherd

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Infanta Silhouette at Electric Shed —Eve Maret

Brian Brown opening for Freddie Gibbs; Joe Kay’s after-party at The Back Corner —Justin Causey-Bullock

$avvy —Gee Slab

Noga Erez at The Basement East —Chris Martignago

The Rolling Stones at Nissan Stadium —Ryan “Domo” Donoho, Tyler Glaser

Nas and the Nashville Symphony, with Tim Gent opening, at Ascend —Eric Holt, Marquis Munson

As someone who could not wait to see her phavorite touring band after two years, I found to my surprise and delight that the rowdy Idles show at Cannery Ballroom rivaled Phish’s Ascend shows in energy and crowd connectedness. —Celia Gregory

PMRnB at the Capitol Minds Brunch 

Margo Price and Jeremy Ivey at Ghost Ranch, Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in New Mexico —Ariel Bui

Locally, the debut of Super Felon; nationally, Madison Cunningham at Beast was one of the greatest performances I have ever seen. —Mike Grimes

Thankful to have Nashville Concerto Orchestra concerts back. —Dillon Watson

JEFF the Brotherhood, Kent Osborne and Snooper at Exit/In. Pure joy!!! —Ale Delgado


Ellen Angelico: musician at large; whippersnapper, Fanny’s House of Music; That’s-Commissioner-Angelico-to-You, Metro Arts

Rodrigo Avendano: music enthusiast; musician

Caroline Bowman: Cold Lunch Recordings; Vinyl Tap; graphic designer; your No. 1 fan

Jessica Breanne: songwriter; musician; Belcourt staffer

Ariel Bui: activist; singer-songwriter; owner and music educator, Melodia Studio

Justin Causey-Bullock: artist manager; footwear designer; hip-hop journalist

Chris Cobb: Exit/In; Bonafide Live

Taylor Cole: musician, Tayls and Creature Comfort; talent buyer and general manager, The East Room

Michael Combs: co-owner and public relations coordinator, The Groove

Jared Corder: performer, *repeat repeat; producer, Polychrome Ranch

Wes Davenport: curator, No Country for New Nashville; founder, PØPSQUAD, culture marketing, °1824/UMG

Ale Delgado: mosh pit enthusiast; bass, Dim Salon

Ryan “Domo” Donoho: producer, performer and entertainer, Ornament

Michael Eades: curator, YK Records and We Own This Town

Tim Easton: songwriter; musician

Tyler Glaser: record store staffer; Belcourt staffer; baseball enthusiast

Celia Gregory: morning host, 91.One WNXP

Mike Grimes: co-owner, The Basement, The Basement East and Grimey’s

Doug Hall: music PR consultant, Big Feat PR

Josh Halper: guitarist; songwriter; WXNA DJ

Kyle Hamlett: songwriter; musician

Eric Holt: managing partner, The Lovenoise Group

Asher Horton: musician, Rainsticks, Sun Seeker and Hot Car

Loney John Hutchins: owner-producer, Cleft Music and Appalachia Record Company

Megan Loveless: co-founder, To-Go Records and Nashville Show To-Go Menu; marketing and events, Third Man Records

Maddy Madeira: musician, Thirdface and Sallow

Larissa Maestro: composer; band member, Allison Russell and My So-Called Band

Mike Mannix: founder of the Centripetal Force record label; host of “Psych Out!” on WXNA

Eve Maret: composer, producer, synthesist

Chris Martignago: A&R, Prescription Songs; artist manager, LikeVines MGMT; founder, HELL YES! interview series

Liz Meade: music publicist; founder, Threebrand Media; curator, PØPSQUAD

Marquis Munson: production coordinator and evening host on 91.One WNXP

Patrick Orr: singer, Crave On

Jerry Pentecost: drummer, Old Crow Medicine Show; your favorite DJ!

Mary Sack: founder and artist manager, Mary Sack Management

Cam Sarrett: sales and distribution, Third Man Records; drums, Safety Net and Snooper

Luke Schneider: multi-instrumentalist; Third Man Records artist; founder, Forestdale Incense

Mike Shepherd: bass and vocals, Tower Defense; Nashville rock lifer; certified cat dad

Todd Sherwood: co-owner, The 5 Spot; father; skateboarding enthusiast

Brian Siskind: maker of new nostalgia in electronic music, documentary film, video art, drone cinematography and photography

Gee Slab: rapper; producer; founder, Believe in New Opportunity

Ben Swank: janitor, Third Man Records; drummer, Rayon City

Ryan Sweeney: most of the things at Sweet Time; pizza man; drummer

Tristen: musician; songwriter

Jordan Victoria: musician, Heaven Honey

Virghost: creator and host, Villematic Hip-Hop Showcase; artist and songwriter, Capitol Minds Entertainment

Tyler Walker: DJ, producer and Vibe Coordinator, Sessy

Dillon Watson: musician; songwriter

Chet Weise: guitar and vocals, Kings of the Fucking Sea; Third Man Books

Samantha Zaruba: Best Visual Artist in Nashville (allegedly, according to some of you); recovering label owner

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