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John Mayer Nailed It in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

John Mayer addressed the sold-out crowd at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday, August 8, 2019 after fetching a drink of water following the first solo acoustic song of his second set. He pointed out that it was particularly thrilling to be able to hear one singular voice screaming out from among the 18,500 fans gathered to watch the multi-Grammy Award winning musician do his thing exactly two years to the date since his last appearance at the venue. The words that pierced his ears to make him exude happiness and seem proud were, "Nailed it".

John Mayer Nailed It in Nashville
John Mayer nailed it in concert at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

True to that exclamation John Mayer and his proficient and polished eight-piece band hammered home one of the most satisfying concerts of the year in Music City. Billed as "An Evening with John Mayer" the event spanned two sets and nearly three hours on a very busy night in town that also included shows by Ringo Starr, Heart and Scott Stapp taking place within walking distance of the building that serves as home ice to the beloved Predators of the NHL.

Early on in the performance the captivating singer, songwriter and guitar player extraordinaire revealed that he felt things were going quite well on this occasion. Mayer relayed that he usually can't discern the vibe for each individual show until well into the second half. But, by song four it was clear to him that this was going to be a special night in Nashville. Plus, he had a card up his sleeve to ensure we would all be witness to that famed Music City magic in Smashville.

John brought out his friend Chris Stapleton to join him late in the 26-song set for the unexpected surprise. When Mayer extended the invite to appear to one of Nashville's newest favorite sons he inquired with the bearded balladeer, "You wanna do one of my songs or one of your songs?" And he (Stapleton) said. "We could do either or we could just write a song and play it."

John Mayer Nailed It in Nashville
Chris Stapleton join John Mayer on stage in Nashille.

Mayer responded to that statement by saying "challenge accepted" and he proceeded to join Stapleton in a Nashville area recording studio on Wednesday during an off day from the tour. But, it was an "on day" for making music and the pair composed a track called "I Just Remembered That I Didn't Care" that made its live debut at the Bridgestone Arena a day after its writing. The strong song had some pundits in attendance claiming a new powerful musical duo had been born. Time will tell on that one since Mayer has a lot on his plate at the moment.

Other highlights from the concert that peaked several times over were the always danceable "Something Like Olivia" and the disco-era inspired show closer "New Light" - the bright sounding song with the hilarious video that was released as a stand-alone single last summer. Notable covers included an impressive remake of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" and Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open the Door" that flowed into his own "The Age of Worry" even as his own worries appear to be in the rearview.

Mayer was once better known as a pop icon who made frequent unwanted appearances in the tabloids. He began his career with a strong foundation garnering a number of impressive radio hits. This cemented his fan base early on as he slowly revealed another side of his musicianship that included his love for guitar based blues. An invitation to appear at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival gave John the chance to prove his chops and six-string credentials in the midst of many high-level guitar gods with established track records.

Along the way - and following Mayer's laidback, folk-inspired and Grateful Dead influenced two pack of albums - Born and Raised (2012) and Paradise Valley (2013) - he caught the eyes and ears of Bob Weir who was looking to continue his journey after The Dead's high-profile farewell shows. Thus, Dead & Co. was born in 2015 featuring Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, along with Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti - and Mayer himself.

John Mayer Nailed It in Nashville
John Mayer nailed it on both acoustic and electric guitar.

As guitarist and singer in Dead & Co., Mayer has diligently put his already ample skills and Berklee College of Music education to the test. By teaming up with Bob Weir and the Rhythm Devils, John is proving to the world that he is a true musicologist who has studied and worked hard to carry on the spirit and tone of Jerry Garcia's catalogue while helping the music of the Dead to become just a little more mainstream in the process. He has even won over that band's long-time publicist, Dennis McNally.

"I finally saw Dead & Co. this summer and was deeply impressed," said McNally in a 2018 interview with Music City Nashville's Rockin' Rich Lynch. "Mayer fills the parts without trying to be Jerry and does it beautifully. He's revived Bobby's interest in the music. Oteil is a fantastic bass player, Jeff Chimenti is a wonderful pianist, and the drummers are playing together better than I've heard them in years. The music lives as never before - and I think Jerry would be very pleased by that. I sure am."

John Mayer is now eighteen years into a recording career that began with his 2001 debut Room For Squares. As an artist the excitable boy has clearly matured into a world-class musician who has gained the respect of his peers. As new musical opportunities continue to present themselves to him - and, as his life continues to unfold under the bright lights in the world's biggest cities - it's clear that John Mayer is alive and well and ready to keep on dancing the days and nights away.

John Mayer Nailed It in Nashville
John Mayer takes the stage in Nashville for the second time in two years.

Related Links: For more information on JOHN MAYER and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- John Mayer | Chris Stapleton | Bridgestone Arena


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