Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Ten out of Tenn

When describing the upcoming Ten out of Tenn tour, a temporary collective of 10 independent Nashville-based songwriters, Joy Williams labels it thusly: “It’s pretty much going to be summer camp on wheels.” If you pardon the coming seasonal shift, the analogy is pretty close. presspass

When describing the upcoming Ten out of Tenn tour, a temporary collective of 10 independent Nashville-based songwriters, Joy Williams labels it thusly: “It’s pretty much going to be summer camp on wheels.” If you pardon the coming seasonal shift, the analogy is pretty close.

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Ten out of Tenn (Photo: Laura Dart)

For starters, Ten out of Tenn is a several week-long break from the artists’ routine as solo songwriters. For the duration of the tour, they’ll work together, learning each other’s music to perform live around the country. And through that process, Williams says she’s been picking up some new influences that could alter her own writing moving forward.

“The rehearsals and hang times we’ve had, what I’ve enjoyed most is how eclectic everyone’s music is and, within the span of a show, to be able to step into someone else’s aesthetic and play a new type of music,” says Williams, who marvels at the abilities of some of her tour mates. “I hear the country lilt of Ashley Monroe’s voice and I’m like, ‘Man, I can never sing that way, but man do I love it.’ It’s the same when I watch Jedd Hughes tear it up on guitar, hear Mikky Ekko hit higher notes than any woman.”

On the talent front, Williams has plenty of her own to offer. Signed to a record deal before she had even finished high school in her hometown of Santa Cruz, Calif., she’s sold 250,000 copies of her three releases since her 17th birthday. Her song “Waiting for Yesterday” was recorded by “American Idol” runner-up David Archuletta for his debut, while more recently, Williams collaborated with Ten out of Tenn co-founder Trent Dabbs to record “Charmed Life,” a tune featured prominently on the season five finale of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

With piano pop melodies (which Williams credits to her time in California) and a smokey-sweet voice, it’s easy to see how Williams fits among some of that show’s other prominent musical contributors like Brandi Carlile and Ingrid Michaelson. That aesthetic is just one of the 10 in this collective that demonstrates some of the best young talent the nation’s foremost music scene has to offer. And as her collaboration with Dabbs illustrates, the songwriters of Ten out of Tenn mesh quite well with one another.

“Every person I encounter in the creative process, we’re always rubbing off on each other and picking up from each other. It’s a very viral kind of thing here,” Williams says, further describing the impact Nashville itself has on her as an artist. “You walk down the street and I don’t care what record deal you sign, you still feel small. I mean Patsy Cline and Elvis played a hundred feet from where I’m standing. You feel like you’re walking in a city that has so many stories to tell and people that have made their mark in iconic ways. It has a great way of humbling you and also magic to inspire you and call you to be better.”

Williams and her cohorts will share some of that magic with music fans in the D.C. area when the tour swings into IOTA Club and Café in Arlington on Sept. 26. And while fans familiar with the work of some of the tour’s performers may wait with bated breath, the artists themselves may be even more excited.

“We’re going to get on a bus and be bohemian for several weeks, go around the country playing with people you love and music you love. I don’t think there’s anything that can be better than that,” Williams says.

• For more on Ten out of Tenn, visit 10outoftenn.com. Tickets for the Sept. 26 show at IOTA are $13. The show starts at 9 p.m.

 

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