Now/It's: Good Buddy and Charlie Whitten at The Basement

Trying something a little new and (somewhat) different this go round - a double live recap, review, etc. I figured it’d be something worth trying in order to get us all back into the swing of things post-Thanksgiving. Luckily, there was a show set post-America’s second largest day of gorging (behind the Super Bowl) that would more than accommodate such an endeavor - Good Buddy and Charlie Whitten at The OG Basement.

Granted, there’s no “rule” requiring a qualifier such as the one referenced in the (questionable) lede, but nevertheless, it is appreciated (at least by the writer). Anyway, if you’re at all privy to the relationship between Good Buddy and Charlie Whitten, then you’ll know that it is one of (to put it lightly) unique standing, relative to Nashville’s music scene. The two are superb songwriters, Good Buddy with their sophisticated absurdism and Whitten with his wry witticism masqued by affectionate folksiness.

If one were forced to make some sort of “historic” counterpart for the pair, I reckon they’d probably wind up somewhere in the neighborhood of a sardonic Burt Bacharach and a millennial Mark Twain, respectively. Or not! Who knows? Your thoughts are your own! Anyway, back to the November 26th show:

To call things “low-key” would be an understatement, as the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Industry shut-down-for-the-Holidays window is all but smattered with Christmas shows. Such a reality made the Good Buddy/Charlie Whitten pairing more than appealing.

Up first was Good Buddy, whose nonexistent digital oeuvre (aside from a 2013 bandcamp album) alone makes them a “must see” at any juncture of the year, but considering the slim pickings of non-holiday shows in November/December, this particular set felt all the more pertinent.

Let’s take a step back for a moment, however, in order to provide as much transparency as possible - it had been a solid three years or so since I had seen Good Buddy, but that show left such an impact that I pined for their next gig of which I was actually free for. So there you have it, I am what one might call a Good Buddy Stan, but nevertheless, I was more than happy to see them live once more.

There would be nary a complaint applied to their set, aside from the fact that it was a mere five songs long, which all but wets the palette in the most simultaneously tasteful and teasing capacity.

Without rambling further in my own fandom, I’ll provide some quick hits from Good Buddy’s set - Jason Staebler is disarmingly funny, especially when the Good Buddy is presented so much sonic tact. Caleb Hickman, Juan Solorzano, and Taylor (whose last name escapes me, apologies) serve as a sublime backing band, one so deft in its collective craft that inklings of indie deities can be heard, whether intentional or not. As much as I rail against musician to musician comparisons, I’ve set myself to do just that. Why might I do that, you ask? Because nihilism! In short, Good Buddy is somewhere in the petri dish of Bon Iver meets Devendra Banhart meets ironic adult contemporary meets joking about smoking turkeys and the like.

Anyway, I’ll leave the Good Buddy-centric opining at that and segue right into their spiritual/emotional/sardonic/conceptual counterpart, the lofty and light-hearted Charlie Whitten. That man is as kind as they come, and arguably the finest in post-Thanksgiving show headliners. Everything about his demeanor, music, and sensibilities serve as easy listening that soothes the soul (starting to sound like a Chicken Soup for the Soul excerpt here).

But don’t let that fool you, as Mr. Whitten’s songs might sound saccharine sweet, but upon more involved listening, they’re sharper and more biting than original thought. His recent release - Playwright - is one of the best of the year in Nashville, and he made no mystery about the fact that he would, in fact, play all four songs from the EP. He was kindly and jovial, but once he started singing, you couldn’t help but absorb the imbued sadness, despair, and ultimate self-awareness of his life’s journey, which also serves his quirky proclivities quite nicely for inter-song banter.

One of the non-musical highlights of Charlie’s set was his long winded (but ever engaging) tale of how a precariously drunk whoo-girl passing out in his front yard provided him with a great source to test out his newest impression - the severely drunk girl. A considerate homage in full form, it made for a disarming respite from songs of simple songs that carry bone crushing weight and depth. It also helps when you have Juan Solorzano (again!) and Taylor Zachry backing you, to help hold it down. 

As I look back at the rest of this recap, I realize it is, more or less, “ramble-y,” but I feel that in some perverse sense, that might be fitting for a recapping touting two of Nashville’s most “curious” (in the British sense) acts. They’re absolute showmen, but equally cynical and sardonic in the best way, and a great way to slide back into the beginning of the end of show-going in 2017.