“There’s a real sense of community here,” said Lucian Greene, a Clarksville-based guitarist and vocalist, speaking about the growing local music scene. “Everyone helps each other out, and we all want other bands to succeed. Mostly, we just want to have a good time and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Along with his father, Donald, Greene is part of a duo called Back Lot Pickers, which will kick off Southside Summer Nights, a new bluegrass and country music series taking place at Historic Collinsville.
Getting back to music’s roots
Situated about a half-hour from downtown Clarksville, Historic Collinsville is a meticulously restored rural pioneer settlement featuring 19th-century buildings and log houses. On Saturdays and Sundays, visitors can go on self-guided tours and let their imaginations roam back to a time when everyday necessities were hand built and food was grown in your backyard. For three summer Friday nights, ticket holders can soak up the sounds of the Back Lot Pickers (June 28), Queen City Committee (July 26) and BAM (Aug. 23).
“Clarksville is not the biggest place,” Greene said. “But it’s a nice place to visit. It’s not hectic or cutthroat, and there’s always something going on. You’re going to find good bands playing somewhere around town.”
In a state so closely associated with music, Clarksville seems to be getting back to its roots.
“I like playing old country music and rock covers with my dad because people wrote songs about what mattered to them,” Greene said. “They didn’t just find a catchy phrase that rhymed.”
Interestingly enough, Greene, who is 28, is part of a growing number of local bands playing original music. In fact, he also plays in a band called Fever, which will be opening another summer music series this year, at the Downtown Commons.
Coming together to celebrate
With the resurgence of downtown Clarksville and the opening of the Downtown Commons last spring, Clarksville has been enjoying a wave of new businesses and exciting events.
“There is so much more going on now in Clarksville, and it’s easier to find than ever before,” said Paula Atkins, event-planning manager at Downtown Commons. “People are staying local.”
Building on the success of last year’s Downtown @ Sundown series, which she organized, the event will be back for a second season this summer. “This year, the majority of performers are local artists,” she said.
On May 3, Fever will launch the series with an opening act, Whiskey Angel, a four-member band that describes its genre as “top-shelf, soul-infused Tennessee psychedelia.” In addition to up-and-comers, the lineup will also have tried-and-true acts like The Beagles, which have been playing in the area for more than 20 years and will headline the festival’s second to last show on Oct. 4. The final band, performing Oct. 18, will be Lone Waite, a band that Greene also plays in.
Among other popular local acts, Tina Brown Band (July 5) is an R&B outfit known to get people dancing, and Music for Mercy (Aug. 2) is an 11-piece band that plays music in memory of a local music educator, Mercy Yrabedra.
“Last year, we had great turnouts for all of our shows,” Atkins said. “It’s just a great atmosphere. People bring blankets and chairs, or sit on the rock features around the area — we also have a beer tent, which will feature Blackhorse Brewery.”
Visit Clarksville and CDE Lightband recently announced another new free summer series at the venue. Mic Check Monday at Downtown Commons will be held each Monday evening in June and July and feature local bands.
Paying tribute to good times
However, summer isn’t just about celebrating what’s new in Clarksville. It’s also about appreciating long-standing traditions. Beachaven Winery opened in 1987, and their Jazz on the Lawn series began the very next year.
“Back then, we were new, and we needed to do something to get people out here,” said Cooke, who started the winery with her father, Judge William O. Beach, and her husband, co-owner Ed Cooke. “We figured if we provided the band, provided the wine and told people to come out, it would be a wonderful thing — and it was.”
On the property, they grow several types of grapes, including catawba and a French hybrid called seyval blanc, and make 20 different kinds of wine. Wine will be available to buy during the festival. “It’s a free event, but we do hope people will purchase a bottle to enjoy,” she said. Most people show up with picnic basket suppers as well.
Speaking about the lineup, Cooke said, “I have one band that has played every year since we started: the CJQ, or Clarksville Jazz Quintet.” The quintet will play Aug. 17 this year.
After several years of holding Jazz on the Lawn, the winery set up a dance floor, since people tend to get down.
“Before the dance floor, we used to call it ‘dancing in the dirt’ because, by the end, that’s all that was left of the lawn,” she said. “We use the term ‘jazz’ very loosely — people just want to dance and have a good time.”
To find out more about the Summer Concert Series', visit visitclarksvilletn.com/music.
Sundown @ Downtown Photos by Bori Photography.