This year has undoubtedly been a rockin’ one for Nashville’s HeadCount team. Since opportunities to interact with music lovers are as ripe as they come here in Music City, U.S.A., counting heads can be an exercise in strategy and in stamina. “Where should we be, and who can be with us? Granola bar dinner again, eh?”
But occasionally, with perfect placement at one event, we connect blissfully easily to others. Like when we met Anna from beloved record outpost Grimey’s New and Preloved Music at a packed Yo La Tengo show this spring, and were invited to table at their Record Store Day extravaganza a few weeks later.
With established volunteers and some new friends recruited through the store, we set up shop in the backyard of Grimey’s and its legendary Basement venue to meet vinyl obsessives of all ages. After several hot and sunny hours of registering voters to the awesome soundtrack of local bands and DJs – we collected 77 registrations!
(Super-bonus: a guest DJ set by our own Mayor Megan Barry who, coincidentally, we also bumped into at that Yo La Tengo show, and at a Dead and Company show last year -- so cool!).
After a successful Record Store Day on-site, Grimey’s invited us to set up a “HC lite” table in the front of the comfy-cozy store at a variety of free in-store performances. Longtime Nashville volunteer Paula and I gobbled up the chance to meet fans at the solo record release of Carl Broemel (Nashville homeboy + sax-and-axe man of longtime HeadCount partner, My Morning Jacket), with Paula tabling his full set at Grimey’s-family venue The Basement East the very next night.
Last month, a pair of us crashed a special performance by celebrated songwriters Billy Bragg and Joe Henry during Americana Fest, which marked their record release as well. Considering Billy’s political activism across the pond, plus the great justice he and HC partner pals Wilco did the quintessentially American Woody Guthrie canon (see: Mermaid Avenue), handing him a Register to Vote clipboard was yet another HeadCount #PinchMe moment.
The inaugural Nashville Record Store Crawl stopped at Grimey’s for shopping and a short set by teenage up-and-comer Sammy Brue, and guess who greeted those dozens of crawlers stepping off of the bus? We did, thanks to superstar volunteer Kat who came up with that clever idea, and thanks again to our Grimey’s friends once for donating a slice of their space to the cause.
In Presidential election years, especially, what proves challenging is deciding events to NOT attend, and my heart breaks a tad anytime we have to pass up a super offer to register voters due to pesky, competing interests like “work” or “sleep.” But HeadCount Nashville will end this election cycle having rocked 40 events, and we could not be prouder of the 1,100+ registrations that volunteers facilitated for potential voters in this pivotal time. An enormous thank-you to the accommodating staff and visiting artists and fans at legendary Grimey’s for having us! Your dedication to civic engagement and voter awareness makes this establishment even cooler than we already considered it, and we look forward to more chances to collaborate.