Vince Gill may not be a native Tennessean, but the country music figurehead has been such a tireless and loyal representative of Music City USA for so long that he was recently affectionately described by one local as “the Mayor of Nashville.”
That soubriquet was overheard by uDiscover’s Paul Sexton on a recent visit, as he walked to another institution that’s synonymous with the city, the Ryman Auditorium. There, he was invited into Gill’s dressing room to interview the artist, as he prepared to take part in a Universal Music Group Nashville showcase presentation as part of the Country Radio Seminar.
The event took place just ahead of the release of his MCA Nashville album Down To My Last Bad Habit, the 15th studio set of Gill’s illustrious career and without doubt one of the finest records he’s ever made. The album entered Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart at No. 4 to become his 15th top ten title on that survey.
Down To My Last Bad Habit is as fine a benchmark of the musical values of Nashville as you’ll hear all year, an exemplary combination of country tradition, pop-rock sensibility and pristine musicianship that have characterised the long tenure in the country music capital of this member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.
Produced by Gill and longtime collaborator, the prolific writer-producer Al Anderson, it was recorded in the city’s Blackbird Studios, with guest appearances by trumpeter Chris Botti and two other acts who are flying the Nashville flag high and proud, the CMA and Grammy-winning Little Big Town and the up-and-coming Cam.
Here we present audio excerpts from the interview, in which Gill explains the background to his decades-long love affair with Nashville and his admiration for its musical history. It’s a mutually beneficial association that helps to bridge the fast-expanding city’s present with its past, and which in 2010 motivated Gill and many friends to come to the city’s aid after the Cumberland River burst its banks and devastated the downtown area.
That year, he hosted a telethon, Working 4 You: Flood Relief With Vince Gill & Friends, who included Alison Krauss, Naomi Judd and Darius Rucker, with proceeds going to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Second Harvest Food Bank. Just last night (12), Gill and fellow stars such as Emmylou Harris, Keith Urban, Sam Hunt and Jason Isbell played at the 6th annual All For The Hall event at the Bridgestone Arena, to raise funds for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
On 3 May 2016, Gill will become the third recipient of the E.W. “Bud” Wendell Award, the hospitality industry’s top honour for contributions to the success of the tourism and convention business in Nashville, made by an individual from outside the industry.
“Whether he is playing guitar for All for the Hall, advocating for the Women’s Final Four or serving as Mayor of Smashville during the NHL All-Star Game, Vince Gill has contributed mightily to who we are as Music City,” said Ken Levitan, board chair of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and co-president of Vector Management.
“There is no better ambassador to represent the diversity of music that is thriving in Music City than a musician who can go from traditional country to bluegrass to western swing to gospel to just about any kind of musical style with the ease that Vince does. Most of all, Vince embodies the kind of warmth that makes Nashville the friendliest city in the world, and Music City would not be who we are today without his numerous contributions.”