Features Interviews

Ten Out of Tenn Celebrates 10 Years

Ten Out of Tenn

I first learned about 10 Out of Tenn seven years ago while researching for an interview with Matthew Perryman Jones, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter. Part of a collective of songwriters based in Tennessee, he told me of his decision to move from Atlanta to Nashville and how close-knit the songwriting community was in Nashville. I’d come to realize that years later after countless trips to Music City for work and fun, convincing myself more and more each time that it’s a city I need to live in.

During my recent trip there for Country Radio Seminar, I spent some time with singer-songwriter-producer Trent Dabbs, the founder of the 10 Out of Tenn tour concept and compilation albums and Amy Stroup, also a songwriter and one-half of the duo with Dabbs, Sugar & the Hi-Lows. They told me all about how 10 Out of Tenn formed and this Friday, April 24 the songwriter’s collective celebrates 10 years together with a performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. You can purchase tickets here.

“It came about really when my wife and I were driving back from a road trip in Jackson, Mississippi and I was listening to all these different local albums and realized that all these people were so good and some of my favorites,” Trent explains. “They were all local so it morphed into the idea, ‘What if we put them all on a compilation and let everyone know that it’s not just gospel and country music here?’ I like to rate things out of 10 so I came up with the quirky name.”

He explains that during the first tour the idea of having everyone play on each other’s songs wasn’t completely dialed in and the tour included two bands and four solo artists. The next tour consisted of more solo artists and everyone played on one another’s songs. Trent admits that he didn’t have high expectations the first year and never imagined that 10 years later they’d be celebrating such a big milestone.

“I think what made the beauty of the whole concept work was not having high expectations,” he says with a laugh. “We were just excited to tour with people that we love. The camaraderie of those people in the community that was present the whole tour just made it that much more special.”

Amy Stroup is the newest member of the collective and recalls first seeing a Ten Out of Tenn show while she was in college.

“I remember seeing it and thinking, ‘Oh, wow there’s a different possibility in Nashville of how you can do music. It’s not just country or gospel. There’s a really unique independent movement,'” she recalls. “I was 100% inspired by it. Trent and I were co-writing, we started co-writing a couple years before I was a part of 10 out of Tenn so I was very familiar with Trent and Kristen and the work that they were doing for artists and trying to create a different genre for Nashville to be known for, a collective idea.”

Amy says Ten Out of Tenn gave many musicians, including herself, the ability to stay in Nashville and make music as well as collaborate and work on each other’s records.

“We were lucky that it was all natural relationships. I don’t think if you just cherry picked a bunch of artists that it would work, if at all,” Trent adds. “I think the sincerity of it made it what it was.”

Amy explains that there isn’t a Ten Out of Tenn tryout, and instead the artists collaborate rather organically, many having written together in the past or sang on each other’s records. “We’re already working with these people, we already love them. Why don’t we tour together? There’s enough of us already naturally working together and cheering each other on,” she says.

Matthew Perryman Jones shared the same beliefs seven years ago when I asked him how the Nashville music scene stands out from the rest of the country.

“You think of Nashville and you think of Music City. Most people just think of country music. When I first moved here, there was this really cool, underground group of artists and songwriters that were amazing and inspiring. This town, even in the last three years, has just beefed up its artist roster.

“People are moving here from other cities, even from New York and L.A. because the music scene definitely has more of a communal sense to it, people really support each other. In a way, I guess it’s different from other cities in that there’s definitely more of a concentration of artists here and the community is definitely really big and supportive. Not to say it doesn’t exist in other cities, I’m sure it does, but I think it’s a little more prevalent here. I think it’s helped me too, in a sense, because it’s a really inspiring city to live in.”

The Ten Out of Tenn show on April 24 will feature music from Andrew Belle, Butterfly Boucher, Trent Dabbs, Andy Davis, Katie Herzig, Tyler James, Matthew Perryman Jones, Jeremy Lister, Erin McCarley, K.S. Rhoads and Amy Stroup.

Concert Reviews

Griffin House, Matthew Perryman Jones Impress at Sold-Out NYC Show

Nashville came to City Winery last night when singer-songwriters Griffin House and Matthew Perryman Jones performed to a sold-out crowd. Weaving poignant tales of heartbreak, love and loss alongside solid covers by Patty Griffin, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, the duo captivated.

Matthew Perryman Jones kicked off the night onstage alone with acoustic guitar for the haunting “Hole In My Heart.” The emotional number saw his whispered vocals rise and fall impeccably with a striking crescendo mid-track, further exhibiting his prowess.

“While I’m here in New York City I’d like to invite New York’s own Rosie Golan to the stage,” Jones said before the duo performed the beautiful fast-paced “Rain or Shine” with spot-on harmonies.

“That song was pretty much the only uptempo song I have for the whole night so drink up,” Jones quipped.

He wasn’t lying. The remainder of the set included powerful ballads like the slowed “O, Virginia,” positive love song “Until the Last Falling Star” previously featured in “Grey’s Anatomy,” and a striking performance of “Save You” by Jones and New York-based singer Katie Costello.

Jones prefaced his cover of Patty Griffin’s “Top of the World,” by explaining how he got involved with The Voice Project, a non-profit created to raise awareness for children forced to serve as soldiers in Central Africa. After he found out Costello covered his song, “Save You,” he decided to lend his voice to the cause.

Matthew Perryman Jones » Patty Griffin from The Voice Project on Vimeo.

Jones ended his set with an impressive cover of Tom Waits’ “Take It With Me.” Confessing that it took years before he appreciated Waits as a musician, he comically compared Waits’ music to drinking a really good scotch for the first time.

Friend and fellow Nashville musician Griffin House took the stage next with guitar and harmonica in hand. With delicate strumming on acoustic guitar and smooth vocals, House captivated the audience with his first song of the night, “Native.” He segued quickly into the more upbeat “River City Lights” before garnering screams from the audience for fan favorite “Waiting for the Rain to Come.”

Before the poignant “I Remember (It’s Happening Again),” House told City Winery that this past summer was the end of an era for him when his grandfather died. Reminiscing about the stories his grandpa used to tell him and how they flew to New York to make a music video for the song, House told a moving tale with wailing harmonica accompaniment and striking lyrics.

“Better Than Love,” a song that means more to him now than when first written, followed suit as the audience sang along word for word. Having just had a daughter 12 weeks ago, House said the track has taken on new meaning.

“I sing that to her sometimes. She also likes “Polk Salad Annie” by Elvis and all Johnny Cash so she’s definitely mine,” he joked.

The rest of his set included standout covers by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash as well as older fan favorites that had the entire room singing and laughing along to the stories behind each track. House told the room that the comical “Colleen” was written for his sister’s roommate that “I thought was really hot.” The best kiss of death song because it embarrassed everyone involved, he had the venue laughing along at his quirky, yet relatable lyrics.

The beautiful “The Guy Who Says Goodbye to You Is Out of His Mind” continued to mesmerize as the room fell silent before House exited the stage. Not for too long, though as he ended his set with a solid five-song encore.

For more on each artist, visit their Websites. Matthew Perryman Jones performs tonight at Rockwood Music Hall at 8:30 p.m. Catch Griffin House Wednesday at The Living Room at 10 p.m.

Related Links:
Artist of the Week: Matthew Perryman Jones
Q&A with Griffin House
Q&A with Matthew Perryman Jones
Matthew Perryman Jones’ Intimate Performance at New York’s Living Room
Interviews Q&A

Q&A with Griffin House

Well respected for his honest and heartfelt lyrics, singer-songwriter Griffin House is currently on an East Coast tour with friend and fellow musician Matthew Perryman Jones.

“We’re both going to be playing acoustic sets. That’s kind of rare for both of us because we generally either take a band out or have some kind of accompaniment with us,” House said. “We’re looking forward to stripping it down and having some conversation with the audience just playing solo.”

House moved to Nashville in 2003 to pursue music. Since then, he’s been traveling the country and moving audiences everywhere with his confessional and relatable music. I chatted with him before the start of his current tour to find out more about his songwriting process, the stories behind the songs and what’s next in store for Griffin House.

It’s been a while since your last release, has your songwriting process changed at all?
I think the songwriting process has remained the same. Life affects the subject matter. But in terms about how I go about writing, it’s the same way.

Does a song come out better when it’s based on real life or fantasy?

There’s always a little bit of both. A lot of the true stories that I’ve written have been based on real life and then they’ll take maybe a slight fictional turn for the sake of the song, to make the song work better. That’s usually how I go about it. I think a lot of times when you talk in first person people assume that it’s autobiographical but that’s not necessarily always the case.

Are you ever afraid to reveal too much in a song about your own life?
I’ve never been afraid to do that. I think in the beginning when I was writing, I used that more often. I think it was almost extremely confessional and revealing in a way and I think that’s part of what made the songs stick; their vulnerability. It’s a very tricky thing to do. Anybody can be vulnerable and say, ‘This is how I’m feeling and this is who I am.’ If you don’t do it in the right way it comes across as very trite. It’s something I’ve had to learn to work around but I also think that maybe I don’t hold back as much but I’m more conscious of what I’m doing.

Is there a song that means more to you now than when you first wrote it?
“Better Than Love” is a song that has turned out to be something that I play almost every night. At the time when I wrote it, I didn’t really want to write any songs that dealt with love or relationships and it just came out of me. It wasn’t what I was intentionally trying to go after. I was making a record in California with some of the guys in the Heartbreakers and some other really good musicians and I was trying to make more of a rock & roll record.

I wasn’t really all that excited about recording that song. Even when we w ere recording it, I just wanted to get it over with. It turned out to be one of my best songs for sure and one that I think has meant a lot to a lot of people. It just goes to show you that a lot of times the artist has no idea whether or not what he is creating is good. He or she may think that they’re creating the best thing in the world and it turns out to not be so special and other times they don’t think what they’re doing is anything and it turns out to be something really valuable.

“The Guy That Says Goodbye to You Is Out of His Mind” is one of my favorite tracks on that album. What is the story behind it?
That song was written in a way that was inspired by a girl that I just wanted to take out. We were out on a semi-date together and joked around that she’d marry me if I wrote her a song so I went home and wrote her a song. It was something that started obviously with a sense of humor but it really ended up incorporating a lot of heavier things that were going on under the surface too. It started out as a joke and then it took a multifaceted turn after a while. That song came out of nowhere. That was the same story, I didn’t know what I had until I played it for somebody else later and they said, ‘Oh man, that’s a hit song.’ I had no idea.

I was reading the stories behind some songs on your Website and “Heart of Stone” sounds like it was written subconsciously and after you wrote it you figured out more about your life. Does that happen a lot?
What happens is, a lot of times I see how maybe in my subconscious or underneath the surface I really know what’s going on but I won’t admit it to myself or maybe I’m in denial. So, when I write the answers all come down on the page but I might not see them until after, way after. Maybe a year down the line I’ll look back and go, ‘Oh I really knew what was going on I just wasn’t admitting it to myself in my conscious brain.’

How is the music scene in Nashville different from the rest of the country?
I think there is a sense of community here. First of all, it’s a smaller city so it’s become over the last six or seven years more densely populated with musicians so it’s easier for everyone to know one another. There does seem to be a sense of community. Everybody moved here to make it and a lot of people don’t mind helping each other out along the way and becoming friends and working together. While there’s always probably competition going on, maybe the Southern hospitality thing plays into a little bit where they don’t mind helping out a little bit.

It’s changed a lot since I moved here. When I moved here in 2003 I literally felt like one of the only people doing what I was doing which is an alternative style of music in Nashville, just a songwriter with a guitar. There were a lot of people in the country world and Christian world doing that but I felt there were only a handful of people doing what I was doing. Now, since I’ve been touring over the last five or six years I’ve come back to Nashville and have seen hundreds or thousands of people who have flocked here from all over the country to start doing music and I think it’s really had an influx of a lot of people since I moved here under that demographic.

How do you stand out being one of so many?
I don’t try to at all. First I moved here and tried to play as much as I could and tried to stand out as much as I could. Now I’m not on the scene at all. I’m actually not even that social. I have a routine where I go and I work on my hobbies that I do in my spare time. I’m a dad and I spend time at home with my wife and I do some yoga. When I go out on the road I’m in front of people. I don’t really mix it up in Nashville a whole lot.

What do you wish you knew before perusing music?
I don’t know. I was very green when I got here. I didn’t really know anything about the music business. It’s easy for me to look back and say, ‘If I had this bit of information then I would have done this differently.’ There’s really no telling where that would have taken me. It’s not like you can know what would have happened if you would have made a different choice. You just know it would be different. A lot of the learning I’ve had, I’m thankful I moved down here a long time ago and I’m still playing music and still enjoying it and still making progress. I can’t really ask for anything more than that. It’s been good.

What can fans expect from you in the next few months?

Well, I’ve been doing this for a while now and I’ve been thinking about maybe compiling a “Best of” record that has 10 or 12 songs that are maybe the most popular ones. Putting them on a record and re-releasing that so that other people can hear my music and have a better idea of what I’m about and what I’ve done over the last decade. That might come first before a brand new record. Maybe there will be a new song on that or something. That’s just an idea but that can very well happen.

What’s going through your mind while you’re onstage performing?

Sometimes you’re a million miles away in the middle of the song. You just get lost and forget where you are for a minute. A lot of the songs have been played so many times that you’re really on automatic. I try to think about singing the words and hitting the notes. It’s pretty simple. I try not to think about anything else other than what I’m doing at the moment and not get ahead of myself, what I’m going to say next or what happened a few minutes ago. It’s a good exercise in really being in the present moment and that’s usually when performances are the best, when you can do that well.

For more on Griffin House and his current tour dates, visit his Website.

Artist of the Week Band of the Week

Artist of the Week: Matthew Perryman Jones

I first witnessed Matthew Perryman Jones live in 2008 and was blown away by his songwriting talent and striking vocals. Performing tracks off his release, Swallow the Sea, including hit “Save You,” Jones impressed a packed room at New York’s The Living Room.

Since then, the Nashville musician has released three solo albums, co-written standout tracks for artists including Mat Kearney and Zach Williams, as well as traveled the country with Ten out of Tenn, a group of musicians from Tennessee. Not to mention, many of his songs have been featured on television dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Jones has garnered comparisons to U2 with his thoughtful lyrics and powerful singing style. With a new album in the works,  Jones will no doubt continue to leave a lasting impression on his listeners.

Songs like the beautiful “Until the Last Falling Star” off The Distance In Between strike a chord with soaring string features and Jones’ poignant vocals. With delicate strokes of the piano next to light percussion features, never overpowering the emotional tale within the song, it is the perfect musical blend.

Last year, Jones released Until the Dawn Appears, an impressive compilation of new versions of some of his most acclaimed works in addition to two new songs never before released. While the more stripped down and haunting take of previous hit “Save You” captivates with string and piano interludes, others such as “Waiting On the Light to Change” leaves its mark with hand snapped rhythms and Jones’ wavering vocals.

For more on Matthew Perryman Jones, be sure to visit his Website and catch him on tour in January with Griffin House (flier above). Download “Looking For You Again,” co-written with Williams and featured on “Grey’s Anatomy” here.

Related Links:
Q&A with Matthew Perryman Jones
Matthew Perryman Jones’ Intimate Performance at New York’s Living Room
Artist to Watch: Trent Dabbs
Q&A with Mat Kearney
Features Videos

Saturday Song Addiction

Obviously, if you’ve read this blog even once you know I love music. And, when I really like a song I tend to listen to it continuously on repeat or make it my ringtone for months (sometimes years, to the chagrin of my close friends and family!)

This weekend I present to you four songs I cannot stop listening to. (Better four then just one, right?) Love to know your thoughts and what songs you can’t get out of your head!

“Hey, Soul Sister” by Train

“Fireflies” by Owl City

VH1 TV Shows | Music Videos | Celebrity Photos | News & Gossip

“Save You” by Matthew Perryman Jones


“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys

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Concert Reviews

Matthew Perryman Jones’ Intimate Performance at New York’s Living Room

With his deep voice and welcoming stage presence, Matthew Perryman Jones entertained all in attendance during an intimate, candle-lit performance Thursday night at the Living Room. The singer-songwriter performed a 50-minute set showcasing songs from his most recent release, Swallow the Sea, as well as older fan favorites.

While some may recognize Jones from his song, “Save You,” featured on popular television shows “Private Practice” and “Kyle XY,” his set Thursday night proved that he is a versatile performer and one that is sure to be around for some time. Not quite a newcomer, Jones’ third full-length album has been receiving much praise and from the audience’s response, he has been leaving a lasting impression on concertgoers.

Thursday’s set opened with Jones alone on guitar for “Feels Like Letting Go” before the rest of his band joined in. At times, his vocals vaguely reminded me of a mellow version of Dave Grohl, maybe what the Foo Fighters would sound like if their music was made up entirely of acoustic ballads.

Singer-songwriter Kate York joined Jones onstage for a few numbers throughout the night, including “Without a Clue” – a song York and Jones co-wrote together. A bit faster than “Feels Like Letting Go,” their voices blended well together. “Sinking Wishes,” from his last album, Throwing Punches In the Dark, Jones explained as, “A song about chasing after somebody.” With lyrics like, “I’m taking a chance to find what’s real inside/I’m taking a chance this time on you/I’ve got nothing to lose” he got his point across.

“When It Falls Apart,” a catchy song co-written with musician Katie Herzig who performed later that night, showcased Jones’ deeper vocals. The keyboard accompaniment and light drumming only strengthened the performance. Watch a performance of “When It Falls Apart” below.


Possibly the most diverse song of the night was “Motherless Child,” a spiritual song from hundreds of years ago, reinterpreted by Jones. “This is a really old song that I fell in love with and it found a place within me,” he told the crowd. Definitely an edgier song than his previous within the set, “Motherless Child” is a song that has the power to change the temperature in the room. One of his favorite tracks on his latest record, Jones has described the song as having a certain “haunted feeling and anger” to it. Extremely well structured, the song showcases a perfect blend between the dark instrumental interludes and Jones’ somber lyrics. Check out a video for “Motherless Child” below to see for yourself.


“Refuge” was another song that resonated with the crowd. From his last record, Jones said the song was written about a time in his life “when I felt like I was going crazy.” Alternating from acoustic to electric guitar, you could feel the confusion in Jones U2-esque vocals and musical makeup. Closing the night with infamous song, “Save You,” Jones informed fans that while he had to leave for Nashville right after the show, he’ll be back to New York in December. From the response of the audience, I think they’ll be back to see him too.

Be sure to check back next Tuesday for my Q&A; with Matthew Perryman Jones!