The lineup of Nashville Electric boasts two classically trained musicians with worldwide concert experience, two Nashville musicians more commonly associated with popular roots rock bands, and one talented experimental musician they ran into at the Big Ears Festival. A series of phone calls asking each member if they would like to get together to create experimental improvisational music with no technical guidelines was all it took to get these five seemingly disparate yet like-minded musicians together.
Tracy Silverman was named one of 100 distinguished alumni by The Juilliard School and has been lauded by the BBC as “the greatest living exponent of the electric violin”. Formerly first violinist with the innovative Turtle Island String Quartet, Silverman premiered “The Palmian Chord Ryddle”, written for him by legendary composer Terry Riley, with the Nashville Symphony at Carnegie Hall in 2012. Silverman has worked with a who's-who of rock, new music, and jazz, including Pulitzer winner John Adams, who composed his electric violin concerto, “The Dharma at Big Sur,” specifically for Tracy.
Boasting music degrees in piano performance and composition, piano virtuoso Thollem McDonas shares Silverman’s adventurous spirit in applying his classical training and takes it to ever wider fields. Thollem is a frequent concert soloist at venues and festivals throughout America and Europe, but also collaborates with widely divergent musical groups including the Italian anarcho-punk group Tsigoti, Soar Trio, Bad News From Houston and The Hand To Man Band, as well as musicians Stefano Scodanibbio, Nels Cline, Pauline Oliveros, William Parker, Susie Ibarra, Mike Watt, John Dieterich, Carmina Escobar, and Gino Robair. Thollem is also the founding director of Estamos Ensemble, a project bringing together improvisers and composers from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border and has been commissioned to create pieces for The Limón Dance Company and the Rassegna di Nuova Musica.
Ryan Norris is best known around Nashville as a current member of the wildly popular group Lambchop, admired for its offbeat marriage of country, soul and avant-garde pop. . Phrases like “polyrhythmic complexity” and “arpeggiator-like sequencer patterns” trip easily off of Norris’ tongue. Where exactly he learned his craft he hasn’t shared. He’s too busy making new music to talk about the past. When not playing in Lambchop, or backing up Nashville based acts such as Stone Jack Jones and Cortney Tidwell, Norris pursues his own electronic projects making delicate ambient music as Coupler.
Singer/songwriter and producer Ed Pettersen might be voted least likely of the group to found an experimental electronic improv group, but in reality Pettersen duals with McDonas as being an instigator of wildly varying music. Pettersen covers considerable ground in his career - from songs cut by soul greats Bettye LaVette and Candi Staton, to recordings early in his career on the country line dance charts, to producing the entire history of the US in music, to a recent free jazz project featured in the New York Times. Recently Pettersen has amassed an astounding collection of noisemaking guitar pedals, and set his hand to recording and producing a growing catalogue of free jazz and electronic improvisational records under the Mad King Edmund imprint, of which Nashville Electric is the latest.
Dylan Simon is an experimental musician and producer. Simon was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and now resides in Nashville. Approaching music from an alchemical perspective, he has a deep background in improvisation and uses old analog equipment. His current and recent projects are The Universal Friend, Dream Worlds, Mass at Dawn and Mourner. Simon has also previously worked with James Thoth, Wymond Miles, Jandek and others.