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MuzikMafia: From the Local Nashville Scene to the National Mainstream

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In October 2001, an unlikely gathering of musicians calling itself the MuzikMafia took place at the Pub of Love in Nashville, Tennessee. "We had all been beat up pretty good by the 'industry' and we told ourselves, if nothing else, we might as well be playing muzik," explains Big Kenny of Big and Rich. For the next year and a half, the MuzikMafia performed each week and garnered an ever-growing, dedicated fan base.Five years, several national tours, six Grammy nominations, and eleven million sold albums later, the MuzikMafia now includes a family of artists including founding members Big and Rich, Jon Nicholson, and Cory Gierman along with Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy, James Otto, Shannon Lawson, Damien Horne (Mista D), Two-Foot Fred, Rachel Kice, and several more in development.This book explores how a set of shared beliefs created a bond that transformed the MuzikMafia into a popular music phenomenon. David B. Pruett examines the artists' coalition from the inside perspective he gained in five years of working with them. Looking at all aspects of the collective, MuzikMafia documents the problems encountered along the ascent, including business difficulties, tensions among members, disagreements with record labels, and miscalculations artists inevitably made before the MuzikMafia unofficially dissolved in 2008. A final section examines hope for the future: the birth of Mafia Nation in 2009.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-439-3
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-10)

    The house lights go dark. In less than a second, the once ambient noise generated by the venue’s approximately eight thousand fans crescendos into the immediate foreground of my attention. The sudden wall of sound sends a chill down my spine. Cowboy Troy slowly announces through a backstage microphone, “Ladies … and … Gentlemen …” in a style better suited to a professional wrestling match. The crowd responds with more sonic intensity. Many camera lashes appear amidst the now thunderous applause from the screaming fans. John Rich of Big & Rich is standing directly in front of me, and he gives...

    (pp. 11-28)

    I arrived at the Mercy Lounge around 9:00 p.m. Admission was free as usual. The outside noise from passing trains added to ambient sounds of conversations, cracking of billiard balls, and clinking of beer bottles. Approximately 150 people were there, only one-fourth of the club’s capacity. I passed the time by talking with fans who had arrived early for the show’s scheduled start at 10:00 p.m. and to a few who were there for the first time. Things did not get under way until about 10:30 p.m. One of the MuzikMafia’s mottos is “You never know who’s gonna show,” to...

    (pp. 29-60)

    1. Respect and accept all forms of music, people, and forms of self expression.

    2. Never speak ill will of anyone or anything.

    3. Be the best at what you do.

    4. Do not promote yourself before any other artist.

    5. No disrespect towards women.

    6. No “hard” drugs.

    7. No negativity towards other MuzikMafia musicians.

    8. Ask what you can give to the MuzikMafia, not what can you get from it.

    9. Do not ask to join the MuzikMafia.

    These are the rules. Since the MuzikMafia’s first performance on October 23, 2001, many musicians have been asked to join or at least to perform with the MuzikMafia.


  7. Chapter Three AUGUST 2002 TO MARCH 2004: Growing Popularity in Nashville and Beyond
    (pp. 61-74)

    The Tin Roof was the first restaurant/bar to open along the Demonbreun Street Roundabout. Owner Jason Sheer had modeled the establishment after its counterpart the Tin Roof Cantina, which he had opened six years prior in the trendy Buckhead section of Atlanta. The Nashville Tin Roof attracted large crowds from its opening day on February 11, 2002, featuring music of varying kinds, little of which was country. The clientele who frequented the Tin Roof and later restaurants/bars on Demonbreun Street consisted of an eclectic mix of Music Row label people, interns, songwriters, artists, students from Vanderbilt and Belmont universities, and...

  8. Chapter Four APRIL THROUGH DECEMBER 2004: The MuzikMafia Takes the National Stage
    (pp. 75-98)

    Country Music Television (CMT) declared on December 18 during its show20 Biggest Hits of 2004that the MuzikMafia was the Number One hit of the year. The rapid growth in popularity of the MuzikMafia was the result of its two breakout acts, Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson, who celebrated combined record sales of approximately five million units from May through December 2004. Big & Rich and Gretchen toured throughout the summer, respectively, with some of commercial country’s best known acts. By year’s end Big & Rich and Gretchen were co-headlining their own national tour sponsored by Chevrolet.

    By March 2004 the...

  9. Chapter Five INTERLUDE: Meet the MuzikMafia of 2004
    (pp. 99-128)

    The MuzikMafia’s membership has changed somewhat since the community officially began in October 2001. However, there was a core roster of MuzikMafia members that remained relatively stable in 2004 and 2005 and contributed much to the community’s rise to national popularity. You will find, among the following bios of those core members, similar experiences and common threads growing up that facilitated the strong bond of friendship that they eventually shared: age, eclectic musical tastes, working-class upbringing, connection to the South, religion, relocation to Nashville, and negative experiences with formal institutions such as school or the music industry.

    The members appear...

  10. Chapter Six 2005: The Second Wave
    (pp. 129-158)

    By the end of 2004 the MuzikMafia had created a significant niche for itself in commercial country music and American popular culture. However, the this success represented only a portion of the community’s potential. Much to the delight of its fans and the music industry in general, the MuzikMafia began 2005 with several bangs.

    MuzikMafia TV, a six-part television series that CMT broadcast weekly from January 15 through February 19, 2005, was both a television documentary and a reality show. The series included behind-the-scenes footage of life on the road with the MuzikMafia interspersed with information on its history. Ivan...

  11. Chapter Seven THE BEGINNING OF THE END
    (pp. 159-194)

    From 2006 through 2008 the MuzikMafia went from being a major force in the commercial music industry to a disorganized, dysfunctional collection of individuals almost unrecognizable from the close-knit community that had taken Nashville by storm just a few years earlier. This was a period characterized by the addition of new members, the departure of others, the unofficial break-up of Big & Rich, financial problems among the MuzikMafia’s various commercial enterprises, and considerable tension among the godfathers regarding the MuzikMafia’s vision and direction. The result was the MuzikMafia’s eventual downfall which left only a small glimmer of hope for the community’s...

    (pp. 195-198)
    (pp. 199-200)
    (pp. 201-202)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 203-215)