Some Things Are Just Meant To Be: In the music scene I grew up in (The Quad Cities), we have an unsaid code that has developed over the years- No matter where we live, a friend (or in this case, a friend you can vouch for) will always have a place to stay while on the road.

Spent Time With Nashville Part Three: One of life's unexpected blessings came our way on Wednesday June 22, 2011- As FYM was finishing up our coverage of Bobby Bare Jr's The Other Side of Nashville concert we attended earlier in the week- This Art Director received a message from an old scene comrade (Aaron O'Dell, who now lives in Nashville) that his buddy, Day-To-Day/Tour Manager, Austin Littrell, and musician RayLand Baxter (pictured above) were en-route to Seattle, didn't know anyone, had a sold out show to play with buzz band The Civil Wars the next night, and needed a place to stay... of course my wife Emily and I had to accept the request.

Highlight #1: Strange Coincidences
From the very beginning, hanging with these two cats from Nashville- felt like being back home around my friends in the Midwest. One of the first questions I asked RayLand was if he knew who Bobby Bare Jr was (as I just finished my article on him) and RayLand said they were actually good friends. Stranger yet, Bobby was still in town, called RayLand and invited us to come over to Ballard to hang during the Carey Kotsionis set at the Sunset Tavern. (we have evidence below, documenting what turned out to be a blurry evening in Seattle).

It was a trip hanging out that Wednesday night with two real sons of Nashville- both Rayland and Bobby have notable musicians for fathers. We talked throughout the night about various subjects, but one of the most important, is the fact that there's something extremely special brewing under the surface of Nashville's music scene over the past few years (the city is truly in the midst of an underground sonic renaissance).

Highlight #2: RayLand Makes Great Music
It's one thing to let a band crash at your place for a night and have them be cool people, but the bonus for us was that RayLand Baxter is in fact an extremely gifted singer/songwriter, on the cusp of doing some pretty big things over the next year.

The first music highlight was having Austin (tour manager) ask if they could download the new mix of RayLand's full-length (due out early 2012, possibly February) onto my computer to listen to. The special part about this was it's Jacquire King's mix of the record- you know the dude credited for making the Kings of Leon's sound HUGE, as well as working with various other successful artists like: Tom Waits, Modest Mouse, and Cold War Kids.

It's a really good record, (I'll review it when it gets closer to the release) but a beautiful moment did occur as we were listening to the album on a sunny second morning of Baxter's stay. As I was washing dishes, RayLand called me into the living room just as the first track came on, turned to me with a big smile (full of pride) and said in matter of words, That's my dad on guitar right there. And his dad, just happens to be Bucky Baxter, the famed Steel Pedal Guitarist, a man whose sound once brought Bob Dylan back from the dead on 1997's Grammy Award-Winning record Time Out Of Mind.

Other notable music related highlights during RayLand's visit included, hearing the new Strokes record (an album that both Austin and Baxter suggest giving a shot), learning he recorded a tune with the Hanson Brothers at SXSW for a Japan Relief record, attending his sold out show with The Civil Wars at The Triple Door (good seats too), and having Baxter himself give me a few pointers on guitar. We also had the chance to talk favorite Bob Dylan tunes, with Hazel (off Planet Waves) being one of his favorite songs, and Every Grain of Sand (off Shot of Love) being mine.

Highlight #3: Good Vibes
Whether it was Baxter giving his last couple bucks to a homeless kid next to the skate park at Seattle Center, or giving away a free EP and signing a personal message to a young boy (at his first concert ever, who introduced himself to RayLand after his set), or giving some good life advice to me (which was nice to hear from a peer my own age, 27)- Around every corner we took, I was impressed by my kind Nashville visitor.

RayLand and Austin ended up staying a third night at our FYM HQ due to being shutout of Canada (not allowed to cross the boarder) missing their Vancouver date. FYM took them to our favorite local dive-bar in Queen Anne, called the Streamline Tavern, followed by a night of video games, homemade lasagna (by Emily), and turning the guys on to the forgotten Judd Apatow TV series Undeclared.

RayLand Baxter and Austin Littrell left the next morning, leaving a nice letter of thanks, and a couple of RayLand's elusive (only sold at his live shows) one of a kind- ingeniously packaged EP the miscaLcuLation of song, personally signed to my wife and I. The organic handmade packaging (Baxter is working on, as shown a couple pictures above) is just as thoughtful and well-crafted as the music it carries inside of it.

Click HERE to learn more about RayLand Baxter through his Facebook artist page. Or hit him up on Twitter @RayLandisHere. A special thanks goes out to him and Austin for reminding me to take it a little easier on myself, enjoy the good things in my life (like holding the hand of a beatuiful lady for nearly 10 years), and to follow my instincts. Can't wait to hang again when you come back to Seattle. Cheers, FYM. 

Words. Photos. Thoughts. Graphics. J Thomas Codling.

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