Blackout Party front man Brian Holwerda is grateful to Rockit Entertainment, the local booking company that set up five shows for his band in Memphis and Nashville. (Holwerda's folky six-man band includes lap steel, cello, and harmonium -- think Arcade Fire with a twang.)
"Our very first show in Nashville was...at B.B. King's blues club," says Holwerda. "We get off the plane and head over there in a van. That's where we find out that they wanted us to play cover songs for four hours starting at 6 p.m., while people ate dinner.... I told them on the van over we only have an hour set.
"There were, like, 10 to 15 families eating grits and chicken wings. I felt like we were the bar mitzvah band in The Wedding Singer.... We did play one Hank Williams song, but I didn't want to start pulling Tom Petty covers out of our asses."
So, Blackout Party went against house rules and broke into their original set.
"We don't need a parental advisory sticker on our music, but a couple of songs have the word 'bitch' in it. The first one goes 'Mister, shut your bitch up.' That's when we got our first warning. The manager, who was actually carrying a barstool, walked up and said somewhat menacingly, 'This is a family operation.'
"Right after that we launched into 'Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound.' I don't think he took too kindly to that. A couple of songs later...we have a song that repeats the line, 'Ain't no way in hell I'm going to get through to that cold bitch's heart.' That was it. Midway through the song I saw the guy going over to literally pull the plug.
"[Our agent] came up and nervously told us we were done and we had to go. The manager told us we were the worst band he had ever heard and he would ruin us and we would never play in Nashville again. He said he was best friends with [Warped Tour founder] Kevin Lyman, and he would ruin our chances with him. We were, like, 'Oh, right, like this guy from this supper club in Nashville knows Kevin Lyman.'
"A couple weeks later we were speaking with [Reeve Oliver bassist] O at the Casbah, and he said he was talking with Kevin Lyman in his office when this guy did call him to badmouth Blackout Party. He said Kevin was laughing about it and that he took it with a grain of salt."
Blackout Party appears tomorrow at the Casbah.