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12 YEARS OF CULTURE AND STYLE IN THE MODERN SOUTH

JULY15

We Cause A Scene: A Young Nashville Entrepreneur's Dream Megashow

JULY15, MUSIC, PEOPLE, AGENDA, PARTIESJess Graves
Cause A Scene artists lead the crowd in "Happy Birthday" to Founder Larry Kloess..  L-R:  Cale Mills, Matt Wertz, Larry Kloess, Jon Capeci (Dinner And A Suit), Kris Allen, Fleurie, Ben Roberts (Carolina Story)

Cause A Scene artists lead the crowd in "Happy Birthday" to Founder Larry Kloess.. L-R: Cale Mills, Matt Wertz, Larry Kloess, Jon Capeci (Dinner And A Suit), Kris Allen, Fleurie, Ben Roberts (Carolina Story)

Words: Carrie Horton | Photos: Josh Ness

On the eve of his 30th year on the planet, Cause A Scene music founder Larry Kloess throws a Nashville megashow with 9 bands and 400 of his closest friends.


Larry Kloess turns 30 and invites 400 of his closest friends to celebrate. Some people (like me) have nightmares about being the center of attention in a room of 40, let alone 400. Others feel that growing older warrants no celebration. But Larry Kloess has built a business out of getting big groups of people together to celebrate music, life and each other. But the affable extrovert and founder of Nashville’s Cause A Scene music movement loves a good party, so ringing in the big 3-0 with all his favorite people —plus nine bands, two food trucks and several birthday cakes — is the only way Larry could do it.

For three years, Larry and Cause A Scene have been taking over living rooms all over Nashville spreading the gospel that good music can break down barriers and build genuine community. The independent music agency prides itself on finding the perfect venue for indie artists, creating an intimate connection between the musicians and the fans. What started out as a music blog that Larry maintained outside of his agency day job has quickly become one of the city’s best-loved concert series, booking acts well-known from both the national and local scenes —The Lone Bellow, Ben Kweller and Foy Vance, to name a few. All told, Cause A Scene curates, promotes and hosts an average of fifty shows per year, providing an unprecedented opportunity for fans and artists to interact.

Swear and Shake take the stage at Cause A Scene Founder Larry Kloess' 30th birthday.

Swear and Shake take the stage at Cause A Scene Founder Larry Kloess' 30th birthday.

“In Nashville, we can always buy tickets to see our favorite bands, but at Larry’s shows we walk into something that feels like home … like family,” says Lindsay Bales, a friend of Larry’s who attended a secret show with The Lone Bellow last April. She still calls it her favorite night in Nashville. “That band was literally on the same level as the audience and wandered in and out of the crowd during the show. They didn’t even need mics, that’s how close they were. I knew it was something that I would experience only once in a lifetime.”

Cause A Scene shows have earned a reputation as some of the best in Nashville, yet Larry insists that he’s more than just a traditional music promoter who puts on really cool shows. Equal parts savvy businessman and music fanboy, Larry – with his booming, gregarious voice and signature red beard – certainly looks like the perfect person to promote independent music in Nashville. But he’s also one of the most earnest people I’ve ever met, with a magnetically hospitable personality. Larry makes every person he meets feel at home and, when it comes down to it, that’s been the biggest element of Cause A Scene’s success. In a city saturated with good music and dozens of opportunities to see it live every single day, Cause A Scene stands out because it’s focused on welcoming participants into the overall group experience.

Dinner And A Suit lead singer Jon Capeci played the very first Cause A Scene show in Larry's living room February 26, 2012.

Dinner And A Suit lead singer Jon Capeci played the very first Cause A Scene show in Larry's living room February 26, 2012.

"From day one, Cause A Scene has been more about the community than the music," says Larry. "The music, the concerts, everything else, has just been a catalyst for bringing people together. Three years in, it's really the community that continues to push the shows. People know they are going to get something more than just seeing great music. They are going to have a place where it's okay to let their walls down a bit and be themselves."

Larry’s desire to establish community relationships stems from some searching in his own life. Growing up, Larry bounced around the States with his family, finally settling in Nashville by the time he was in high school. Larry left to attend college in Birmingham. then spent time in Colorado and California before heading back to Nashville, always seeking the sense of place he’d missed during those frequent moves. In fact, it was tragedy – and the subsequent actions of a dedicated city – that actually pulled Larry to Nashville for good.

"Elenowen [above] played in my living room in December 2012, it was one of the first shows where I really thought 'Wow, this is turning into something big.'" - Larry Kloess

"Elenowen [above] played in my living room in December 2012, it was one of the first shows where I really thought 'Wow, this is turning into something big.'" - Larry Kloess

“After the flood of 2010, I decided to move back … I saw the power that the community had in helping restore the city and the lives of people who had lost things during that time,” Larry avows. Over 10,000 people were displaced and dozens of Nashville landmarks damaged during that disaster and the community’s overwhelming reaction inspired Larry to return to a city that truly takes care of its own … and to make it his home.

Now, Larry uses every Cause A Scene event as a way to reflect the spirit of this beloved community. He intentionally tailors each venue to fit the personality of the artist and fans, carefully arranging each aspect of the shows. 

For Larry, the biggest hurdles faced when deciding to commit himself to Cause A Scene were his own fears. Like many of us, Larry says he lived too much of his life letting fear of failure or rejection frame his decisions. Cause A Scene was the first time he relinquished that fear completely and simply asked himself: What’s the worst that could happen? 

2009  American Idol  winner  Kris Allen.

2009 American Idol winner Kris Allen.

“It was easy to believe that I would fail if I ever pursued Cause A Scene professionally,” Larry confesses. “It was easy to live a comfortable, steady life without risk or any need to truly rely on my faith. When I first asked [Nashville-based band] Seryn to play a house show, it was almost like working up the courage to ask out the pretty girl you have a crush on. In my mind it was coming to the realization that the worst that could happen was for the band to say no.”

Thankfully, Seryn didn’t say no. In fact, they said they loved playing house shows and they became the very first show that Larry hosted in his basement. That success led to the first official Cause A Scene show with two more Nashville favorites, Neulore and Dinner And A Suit, on February 26, 2012. 
  
“I'm learning now that it's okay to dream bigger and take bolder risks,” he proclaims. “Now, I'm more driven by the fear of not leading a significant life that impacts others rather than any fear of failure or success. At the end of the day, even if you fail, at least you tried, and not everyone can say that.”

" Fleurie (above) is probably the kindest, most encouraging human being I've ever met. She's played a couple CAS shows, most recently a secret show with Foreign Fields." - Larry Kloess

"Fleurie (above) is probably the kindest, most encouraging human being I've ever met. She's played a couple CAS shows, most recently a secret show with Foreign Fields." - Larry Kloess

As Cause A Scene continues to develop, Larry’s forced to reevaluate the impact of those fears again and again, addressing their strength as he gets closer to his dream of expanding the business outside Nashville. Larry hopes to develop a network of cities where independent artists thrive and encourage people from all different backgrounds to connect through the music.

With Larry’s birthday party in full swing, in between the second and third acts, one guy strolls on up  to me and introduces himself. He says that’s what he does at every Cause A Scene show— he walks up to strangers and introduces himself. Our conversation is small talk of the general variety (What do you do? How long have you been in Nashville? How do you know Larry? ) and for a certified introvert like me, it’s awkward as hell. But it also kinda perfectly reflects the familiar pattern of all community-building— often slow-starting, maybe even stunted and awkward as hell, with a few timid souls gaining enthusiasm from the eager, overzealous types.

“I think for people to really connect with each other, there has to be a willingness to be open and vulnerable … to share the good, the bad and the ugly,” says Larry, adding that how we portray ourselves online can sometimes hinder real community. “With social media, we're mostly only sharing a portion of ourselves, posting the mountain-top moments and not the valleys. For me, I try to be as real as I can … to share my fears, struggles and frustrations the same way I share my inspiration and passion and excitement.”

Matt Wertz.

Matt Wertz.

Much like Larry’s original journey, hundreds of other Nashville transplants are finding a sense of place through the Cause A Scene shows. “Nashville has this unique culture of being a big city with a small town vibe and I think Cause A Scene has really helped cultivate that,” says Christopher Weber, another friend of Larry’s who’s been to more Cause A Scene shows than he can remember. “[He] takes people who might not otherwise interact, and puts them in a room where everyone experiences these amazing artists and their music and it really feels more like a gathering of friends … you start to see familiar faces everywhere and it makes Nashville feel like a close-knit community.”

Six hours after I arrived, Larry’s big birthday bash finally starts to wind down. “Happy Birthday” has been sung (twice, I think), the huge-ass cake as been devoured and one massive selfie has been snapped from the stage. I check-in with Larry one last time before packing it in (my feet are killing and my extrovert-quota has been met for the entire week) and he’s still beaming and buzzing around like the night just began. The only thing that gives him away are his facial muscles.

Matt Wertz leading the crowd in "Happy Birthday." "For me a surreal moment, Matt has been an artist I've looked up to since I was in college and has become a dear friend since." - Larry Kloess

Matt Wertz leading the crowd in "Happy Birthday." "For me a surreal moment, Matt has been an artist I've looked up to since I was in college and has become a dear friend since." - Larry Kloess

“My cheeks are hurting,” says Larry as he waves goodbye to another set of friends. He rubs his jaw, sore from smiling, and exhales. “Really, I’m just feeling really inspired and really loved.”

His words are simple, but the look on Larry’s face tells me everything I need to know. This is a guy who loves music. Who loves Nashville. Who loves people. And with Cause A Scene, he’s making sure everyone is invited to the party.


Head to the Cause a Scene website to stay in the loop about upcoming house shows in and around Nashville, watch live performances, and grab more info from the evening from all nine acts; Vinyl Thief, Matt Wertz, Kris Allen, Matthew Perryman Jones, Fleurie, Elenowen, Carolina Story, Swear And Shake, and Dinner And A Suit.

The Drinker's Guide to Nashville

JULY15, BOOZE, TRAVEL, TRAVEL GUIDESJess Graves
The bar at Rolf & Daughters.

The bar at Rolf & Daughters.

Words: Jess Graves | Photos: Jamie Clayton

Two intrepid drinkers quench their thirst at Nashville's finest watering holes in the name of journalism.


Nobody ever really teaches you how to drink. It is, like anything, trial and error. Some people manage alright, some don't. Then, there are those inexplicable souls who can toss enough alcohol down their gullet to immobilize Shaq while somehow managing to remain not only upright, but downright likable. Jamie Clayton, my Nashville, Tenn., source, photographer and partner in crime, is one such soul. I am not. Despite being a mediocre drinker (at best), I still like to do it, because I am neither interested in rationality or mediocrity, and I take the pleasure of drinking seriously. So I needed an expert by my side, one who could cull through the colossus of the city bar scene with the expert aplomb only a well-hydrated local could provide. In plain language, I needed to tear ass through Nashville, and Jamie was the man for the job. 


8:00 PM
Rolf & Daughters
700 Taylor St. (Germantown)

Our tastebuds fresh, our bellies empty and our composure intact, we logically choose this, the nicest spot on our list, as our first stop of the night. At a glance, Rolf & Daughters is a lot like the other fancy cocktail joints popping up across the country. All your basic stuff is in place: hipster bartenders with intimidating facial hair, house-made bitters, artisanal light bulbs, a nerd-like passion for craft beverages bordering on obsessive. We sit at the bar and map out our game plan: drink as much as possible, eat intermittently to prevent maximum drunkeness. Seems simple enough. I glance at the menu -- the cocktail names, of course, are twee and clever. Jamie has a "Nothing Camparis to You", I order a "Deep Pimmside." We get a passionate dissertation on, and tasting of, their in-house Vermouths (delicious) from a barman with more ink than the Sunday Times. This is a nice joint. It’s not trying too hard, and neither is the crowd, which varies from mom and dad on date night to expensive-looking hipsters. There’s no curtain being pulled back, no manufactured sense of exclusivity. Just good drinks in an intimate, high-end atmosphere.

9:45 PM
The Stone Fox
712 51st Ave. N (The Nations)

As we amble up to The Stone Fox, a girl approaches to tell a long and winding tale about how she scrapped with her girlfriend, got herself punched and booted from the bar. She needs some scratch to get home. Jamie and I raise our eyebrows. Hard pass. Hasn’t she ever heard of Uber? We are heartless. Once inside, I immediately land on the "Babs on a Budget," because I suddenly really need to know what PBR, St. Germain and grapefruit juice taste like together. Pretty good, as it turns out. (Good enough that I procured the ingredients and have been making this drink at home ever since.) Jamie goes up to the bar to retrieve our second round and ends up in a conversation with Brendon Benson, who he recognizes from The Raconteurs, a band Benson plays in with Jack White. As it turns out, he’s there to watch the band playing that night, called Earl Burrows, whose record he is producing. Oh, Nashville. They call you “Music City” for a reason, don’t they? 

11:00 PM
Pinewood Social
33 Peabody St. (SoBro)

Green Chartreuse is the new mezcal, which was at one point the new Fernet-Branca, which itself was at some point the new something... Translation: trendy as hell. Also trendy: Pinewood Social. Being a high-minded, non-hipster semi-grown up though, I like to think I can look past the current heat factor of a particular spirit in light of whether I actually like it or not. I very much like Green Chartreuse. Here at Pinewood, we are given a very Green Chartreuse-y tiki beverage dubbed, naturally, the “Chartreuse Swizzle”. It’s radical.  Pinewood is also radical. Off to one side there are people eating a proper dinner, but in the back people are bowling. Then off to the other side some people are studying, and in the middle there’s a big-ass bar. I’m glad a bar/bowling alley where you can study did not exist when I was in college, I would have accomplished zero. 

MIDNIGHT
Santa’s Pub
2225 Bransford Ave. (Berry Hill)

Well, that’s it. I’m done. I am forever ruined on bars, because nothing could ever be as great as Santa’s Pub. This is a karaoke bar in a graffiti’d double-wide trailer that is completely bedecked in tacky Christmas decor, despite the fact that it’s mid February. I am greeted by Santa’s nephew. Santa, as it turns out, is real. “What do you drink here?” I ask. “Santa likes Coors Light,” He says. My mountains are blue and cold, but my heart is warm. There is a very drunk girl singing a surprisingly decent version of Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know,” but this is Nashville, a place where (according to TV) everyone is able to pick up a guitar and burst into song anywhere, anytime, right? Jamie’s next up on the mic. He completely botches 90’s-era trio NEXT’s “Too Close,” so maybe not everyone in Nashville is musical. The crowd loves him anyway. I’ve heard stories of everyone from Ed Sheeran to Bubba Sparxxx showing up for a round of karaoke, which leads me to believe they must be nice people, because Santa has clearly marked signage that says “NO DOUCHEBAGS.” 

1:30 AM
Dino’s Fine Food
411 Gallatin Ave. (East Nashville)

We have done it, we have accomplished peak drunk. Our final resting place? A diner called Dino’s, which proclaims it is the oldest bar in East Nashville. We both order hamburgers and fries and watch as the line cook flips patties on the griddle in front of us. My final beer of the night is a Shiner Bock on tap served in a Solo cup, a red that matches the plastic basket our late-night chow is laid out in before us. Total Recall is playing on the TV inside, and I chew while I watch Arnold Schwartzenegger dream about moving to Mars. A twee pixie girl with a buzz cut flutters up to Jamie and begins to flirt voraciously. I’m completely tuckered out. As he puts me in a car home, he spins on his heel to follow the pixie into the night. For the real soldier here, the evening march is far from over.


Aloha! Mondays: The Hyper-Curated Hawaiian Shirt Collection of Clay Reeves

STYLE, PEOPLE, JULY15Jess Graves

filed under: july > style

Words: MK Quinlan | Principal Photography: Erik Tanner

Georgia-born designer Clay Reeves’s collection of vintage Hawaiian shirts hang out at New York's Black Crescent bar, laying in wait for Aloha Mondays, his new vintage flash sale.

    

It started out as an impulse purchase - a second-hand Hawaiian shirt that became a staple of Clay Reeves’s year-round dress. A native Georgian and the designer behind Clay + Bros, Clay soon found himself on trips to Las Vegas, New York, and California, sifting through short-sleeve shirt racks at local thrift stores on the hunt for floral. “The print is always the highest on my list of priorities,” Clay says. “I go for the big florals from the 70s. Kind of Magnum P.I.-ish.”

Clay is 6’5” and a size XL, so when, a year or so into his new sartorial kick he started bringing home vintage Hawaiian shirts in size small, it was clear he’d crossed over from casual shopper to collector. “I couldn’t help it,” he says. “It was like an Easter egg hunt for me.”

Beginning in July, Clay + Bros will be selling one shirt from Clay’s 50+ collection every week in what he’s dubbing Aloha Mondays. “Everyone complains about Mondays,” Clay says. “I thought it’d be nice to get a Hawaiian shirt in your inbox.” Head to his website and sign up for Clay + Bros. emails to be among the recipients.

Top: Clay Reeves lets a little Hawaii peek out in Scotland. Above: From the Aloha! Mondays collection: a Reyn Spooner perched next to another shirt Clay found in Vegas.

The shirt sale is the latest in what has been a giant experiment since the beginning. With no formal design experience, Clay has managed to build the Clay + Bros. brand based strictly on his bright ideas and a lot of internet research. “I look at this whole thing like a grand art project,” he says. He dreamed up his popular really simple sandals while working full-time at an industrial recycling plant outside of Atlanta. His affinity for Hawaiian shirts is, in part, due to their own grassroots beginnings. “Most clothing trends happen because some designer decided it would be interesting,” Clay says. “Hawaiian shirts weren’t started by a trendsetter.” 

First known as Aloha shirts, Hawaiian shirts were introduced in Waikiki in the 1930s and quickly became the uniform of choice for native islanders looking to shake the puritanical (and hot as hell) dress made standard by the island’s missionaries. Shirts from 1930s through the 50s—considered the shirt’s golden age by collectors—were wildly colorful and originally constructed of tapa cloth, fabric made out of the bark of the local Wauke tree. Local surfers and tourists were the shirt’s first adopters. Off-duty American G.I.s followed.

bluehawaii.jpg
Top:  Elvis'  Blue Hawaii  album cover, Tom Selleck as Magnum, P.I..  Bottom:  Shirts found in Los Angeles (on the left, the first Clay ever purchased) hang at the Black Crescent bar in New York City.

Top: Elvis' Blue Hawaii album cover, Tom Selleck as Magnum, P.I.. Bottom: Shirts found in Los Angeles (on the left, the first Clay ever purchased) hang at the Black Crescent bar in New York City.

The end of World War II combined with cheaper, quicker travel to America’s new island state meant folks were flocking to Hawaii in troves in the 1950s. If you weren’t a smoker (ashtrays from the island were the era’s equivalent to today’s duty-free shot glass), an Aloha shirt was likely your souvenir of choice.

Weekend barbecues and pool parties on the West Coast were soon synonymous with men dressed Hawaiian-style. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and John Wayne were fans. “The shirts got big in Hollywood,” Clay says. “Folks started seeing them on the screen in the 60s and they took off.” Elvis’s Blue Hawaii album cover was no doubt a turning point for the trend.

Selects from the collection. Far left: another Reyn Spooner in a vintage University of Hawaii print.

Selects from the collection. Far left: another Reyn Spooner in a vintage University of Hawaii print.


Clay’s collection includes shirts from top mid-century Hawaiian shirt brands like Reyn Spooner and date from between the 1960s and the 1980s. “The collars on the shirts from the 40s and 50s are huge,” Clay says. “I stay away from that.” Coconut buttons and horizontal buttonholes are other signs that you’ve got a Hawaiian shirt from the early years, which, though not en vogue with Clay, make hard core collectors salivate. Early shirt manufacturers like Kahala, Kamekameha, Watumalls, and Poi Pounder Togs are some of the most collectible and have sold upwards of $1,000.

Shirts made of rayon are Clay’s preference because they’re more comfortable in the summer heat and have a nicer drape. “My all-time favorite is probably a rayon one from the late 60s that actually has Hawaiian shirts printed on it. Hawaiian on Hawaiian.”

peek.jpg

Clay's rules for wear: 

1. Avoid the unbuttoned-over-a-wife-beater thing (it didn’t look good on Ace Ventura or Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona).

2. Never, ever tuck your Hawaiian shirt in.

3. Don't show too much leg. Clay wears his over jeans, which he recommends as a way to sidestep going full Margaritaville cruise-ship-creeper. “I’m a big guy,” Clay says. “When I wear them with shorts I look like I don’t have any clothes on.”

4. Wear them year round. Clay pairs his eponymous sandals with the shirts in the summer, cowboy boots when there’s a nip in the air. “It’s never too cold for them. Put a jacket on top of them and let a little Hawaii peek out.”


IN MEMORIAM

This story is dedicated to the memory of Oakleaf & Acorn's John Rich, a great pal of both The Love List and Clay + Bros. and a core member of Atlanta's creative community.