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Ten Out of Tenn scores high with an unusual game plan

click to enlarge Nashville's Ten Out of Tenn is looking for more members.
  • Nashville's Ten Out of Tenn is looking for more members.

Ten Out of Tenn is a coalition of 10 indie singer-songwriters from Tennessee that acts as a kind of musical co-op. While each artist brings his or her own brand of indie/folk pop-rock to the table, there's a common bond between them: that good old Tennessee singer-songwriter sensibility.

When you get right down to it, they're artists who loved what was happening in the Nashville music scene so much that they decided to wrap it up, package it, and put it on tour. It's like a traveling festival in which each musician's role revolves from guitarist to backing vocalist to lead singer and back again.

"Our expectations are that people will come and see 10 shows in one," says Ten Out of Tenn's Trent Dabbs. "That's kind of what the aim is, and that the majority of the people who come to see this show leave with nine different albums."

Dabbs and his wife Kristen came up with the idea as a way to promote local up-and-coming musicians. The two gathered some of their favorite songs from their favorite friends and created Ten Out of Tenn, Volume 1 in 2005.

"I was really aiming to have this as a concept to let people know that, other than gospel and country music, there's a great kind of music exploding in Nashville. And that [TOT] will act as a musical slingshot."

The concept seems to be working. Many members have had their music featured in films and on television, and Erin McCarley was recently featured on Late Show with David Letterman.

This is the group's first tour out West to promote its 2008 release, Volume 2. The tour included an extended stop at Austin's SXSW festival, and the hope is to gain more exposure and interest in the project.

"We want more artists and to keep this crew and to just keep the momentum going," says Dabbs.

It's hard to imagine that 10 solo artists are capable of getting along on a tour bus, but Dabbs breaks it down in terms that are easily understood: The last thing you want to do is piss off your band.

"I think, initially, as part of the screening process, if I had to call it that, if this was like a reality show, we didn't want any Omarosas," he says. "Everything was intentional for the least drama and the most support. Egos had to be left to the side, because everyone's song is at risk. Everyone is backing each other up."

With the group and its individuals gathering more fame, are Dabbs and Co. ready for the transition from musical collective to indie rock supergroup?

"Well, I love the indie supergroup concept, but right now it's more of thinking about the brand and letting these artists cross-pollinate," Dabbs says. "I think it's better for us to come together rather than to come under one title, if that makes sense."

rhiannon@csindy.com

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