Unearthing The Metal Underground: Cover Bands in Nashville, TN
How far down have you dug into the Nashville metal scene? NOT FAR ENOUGH. They don’t call Nashville “Music City” for nothing, after all. For this week’s Unearthing the Metal Underground, we dig a little deeper than Part 1 and Part 2 to really get into the muddy fun area of cover bands.
Five-time chart-topping Country singer Rodney Atkins has a guitarist in his crew named Phil Shouse who, alongside being a monstrous guitar player, moonlights as Shredward Dan Halen in "The Mighty Dan Halen." Shouse, alongside Taylor Swift’s bassist, Kelly Clarkson’s drummer, and a guitarist formerly with Shooter Jennings all gave a stellar performance covering Metallica and Megadeth at the first of a series of explosive Nashville cover band shows known as, “Metal At The Mercy”. The drummer for The Reverend Horton Heat also played in other acts on the bill. These people could have (and actually have) all played on the legendary stage of the Grand Ole Opry the very night before donning metal gear and melting faces at a metal cover show.
What do you do with your down time if you’re a Nashville big shot? Play metal, apparently. This week, we take a look at one Nashville cover band and one Nashville festival of sorts for metal cover bands.
The Mighty Dan Halen
This classic cover band does just about all the Van Halen hits you can count on to get a party started, and does them shockingly well, even down to their mannerisms and stage moves. “Diamond Dan” even matches David Lee Roth’s bizarre vocal theatrics, as seen in their promo footage below.
Below is footage of “Unchained.” What’s not to like? Phil Shouse, aka “Shredward Dan Halen,” takes the sport of being a cover band to a new level of artistry, truly believing that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Drummer “Alec Dan Halen” keeps Alex Van Halen’s drumming alive and grooving, as well. By following the band’s Facebook page, Nashville locals can keep up with future show dates.
Metal At The Mercy
"Metal at the Mercy" is a local 5-hour long special show that has had two massively successful installments, drawing from local talent. For a small cover charge, concert-goers were treated to several sets of cover songs by a cast of musicians that dress their part and pack some serious instrument skills to properly pay tribute to classic metal. There were covers of Dio, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, U.F.O., Motorhead, and tons of others, even including a Rush tribute band that played 2112 very convincingly. During a set of Big 4 covers, bassist Amos Heller had hit his head on the headstock of a guitar and was bleeding profusely, but played like a madman, as you can see in the video for "Holy Wars" below.
The concert series is expected to continue, which just goes to show you that when Nashville isn’t playing the Country music it’s known for, it’s playing Metal at night. The 2nd installment of the series actually included a guest appearance by Derek St. Holmes (original guitarist of Ted Nugent) for several songs. Below is a video of "Heaven And Hell," played at the 2nd Metal at the Mercy.
Metal at the Mercy includes about 4-5 cover bands, with rotating members from the other bands, including one named "Hellbent for Heather," which is fronted by a real ass-kicker of a female, named Raquel Wynn. Be on the lookout for these bands in Nashville and online – many clips from both Metal at the Mercy festivals are on YouTube, as well as The Mighty Dan Halen.
There’s still more to dig for in Nashville if you know where to look. Metal is all around you – the girl across the street, the bar owner you saw last week, your own grandmother… well, I could be exaggerating, but it’s a city packed with Metal. If you'd like to recommend some other Nashville underground acts, please feel free to discuss them in the comments below.
Check back every Monday as we delve into a different scene or genre to unearth some new underground metal bands.
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