In the Scene: Talkin’ Alt-Weekly Coverage Of Venue Protocols And Festival Picks

Here’s our latest conversation on what the Nashville Scene is covering with its music editor Stephen Trageser.

Jewly Hight: I want to talk today about two different things that you wrote about for this latest issue of the Nashville Scene. You actually checked in with some of the folks who run venues that recently put COVID testing and vaccination policies in place. How did they say things have been going?

Stephen Trageser: For the most part, it seems like it’s been going really well. They had maybe gotten some pushback when they made announcements online, but by and large, the people that are showing up at their doors are saying, “Thank you for doing this. We want everything possible to make us feel safe in a live music environment.” The most people that are coming through, the vast majority of them, are bringing proof of vaccination as opposed to a negative COVID test. So that just kind of improves that feeling even more.

JH: And what did the venue operators tell you that they are trying, or maybe considering trying, when it comes to doing rapid testing right there on site?

ST: They’re hoping to make that a more widespread thing right now. City Winery, that’s one of the venues that I talked to. They are able to offer testing on site for folks who didn’t get the memo and come up to the door without either a negative test or proof of vaccination. And they’re able to offer that at a fairly minimal cost. And other venues are hoping to implement something like that in the future, just as a way to try to keep attendance as open and available to as many people as possible,

JH: You also wrote a Bonnaroo piece not only recapping the pandemic protocols that they have put in place, but actually previewing the music. You organized your picks by the day. So I would love to get the highlights. In Thursday’s lineup, can you pinpoint a couple of artists that you are especially excited to see?

ST:  Thursday has a lot of Nashville talent. I mean, you can kind of build a whole day around that. I’m really looking forward to seeing Joy Oladokun. I’ve really enjoyed the folk pop work that she’s been doing. A lot of listeners will probably remember that she was the WNXP artist of the month back in January and has played around town a little bit. I’m looking forward to actually getting to see her in person. Also, another longtime Nashville person who has actually been spending a lot of time up in Vermont, Liz Cooper, who’s kind of a great singer songwriter and a rock band leader. She’s got a new record that will actually be dropping while she’s at Bonnaroo. Really looking forward to seeing her new kind of set up and seeing how that is going.

JT: And how about on Friday?

ST: Top of my list has got to be Mdou Moctar, a Taurag Desert Blues guitarist from Niger. He’s fresh off a fantastic album called Afrique Victime. And also the queer, Canadian country crooner extraordinaire Orville Peck is going to be there.  

JH: And what about Saturday?

ST: Another one kind of early in the day, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, is an electric blues prodigy who’s really kind of coming into his own . Also, My Morning Jacket has this long, late night set from 12:30 a.m. It’s going to be about three hours long.

JH: For those who make it that far, what stands out to you in Sunday’s lineup?

ST: So many things. But I’ve been really looking forward to seeing Makaya McCraven, who is out of Chicago. He’s a musician and composer, primarily a drummer who describes himself as a beat scientist. He’s one of a class of folks who really seems to be doing a lot to sort of push the language of jazz forward. And then also Julien Baker, who just offers this incredible reminder that expressive, emotional music isn’t necessarily self-indulgent, that there’s a lot of meaning that can be shared with a lot of other people there. Looking forward to finally get to see her.