Track Premiere: Tent City from Rachel Baiman

Rachel Baiman, a Nashville-based fiddler and singer/songwriter, has a new album coming, Thanksgiving, an EP to celebrate the fall of the year.

The material crosses from folk to old time and country, but she asked if we might highlight this bluegrass track, called Tent City. It moves along like a good grass song should, but carries a message meant to disturb the comfortable sensibilities of those with a nice middle class life.

She explains…

“One of the many odd jobs I’ve had over the years is working catering, I served free (company sponsored) lunches to the new tech companies which are moving into Nashville very rapidly. Those offices are filled with endless bounty, free food everywhere, puppies, bouncy balls, walls of bagels, you name it. We would always have SO much leftover food, but due to certain food safety regulation, we had to throw it all away, which just killed me. There were a number of homeless families that lived in the parking lot next to the catering company, so I would try to pack up and sneak out a few lunches for them each time I worked. Moving between those worlds, from the catering kitchen, to the offices of Lyft and Eventbrite, to the parking lot community really gives you a bit of perspective on the country.

This first line of the song was inspired by a Nashville tent city that I drive by frequently, under the intersection of highway 24 and highway 65. As the song came to life with the rhythmic feel of the lyrics I realized I had written a bluegrass tune, so, inspired by a recent kitchen jam in my cabin, I recruited some of my favorite bluegrass jam buddies to join me for this one, Tristan Scroggins (Jeff Scroggins and Colorado), Justin Hiltner (Justin Hiltner and Jon Weisberger), Molly Tuttle (Molly Tuttle, The Goodbye Girls), and Shelby Means (Della Mae, Sally & George).”

The Thanksgiving EP is due for release November 2 on Free Dirt Records, but you can get the single now in iTunes.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.