Brazilbilly, Rescuing Country Music on Broadway

Borrowing words sung by Alan Jackson and George Strait, “they’ve committed murder, down on Music Row.” And while Nashville’s Music Row has favored “pop” country for years, many newer artists like Brad Paisley have a healthy respect for traditional country music.

Not on Broadway where no “honkytonk” consistently delivers traditional country anymore. The old haunts in the area of the former home of the Grand Ole Opry and the Mother Church of Country Music (the Ryman Auditorium) have mostly abandoned the style. All except Robert’s Western World that is. Each Friday and Saturday night from 10pm to 2am you’ll hear their house band, Brazilbilly (traditional country music with a Latin flair). And the place is always packed.

If you want to hear covers of Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams Sr and music inspired by them, Brazilbilly is your band. Check out some of their music below.

  • Gene “Pappy” Merritts, 80, plays fiddle, mandolin, bass and guitar. “Pappy” has had the distinction of playing with Patsy Cline, Dottie West, and Bill Monroe. And he really makes his fiddle sing.  “Pappy” also plays with John England and the Western Swingers on Mondays at Roberts.
  • David Tanner plays doghouse bass. David gave up his successful career as an attorney in Indiana to move to Nashville and pursue his music career. He also fronts his own band, Fifty Five Eleven in E.
  • Chris Casello plays lap steel and electric guitar for Brazilbilly. Chris also plays with his own group, the Starlight Drifters.
  • Jesse Lee Jones is “the Brazilian Hillbilly” and sings vocals and plays rhythm guitar and percussion for Brazilbilly. Jesse Lee was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil and absorbed the vivid musical influence of that culture. But in 1984, he left Brazil for the United States without knowing a word of English. After spending about 10 years in Atlanta and Peoria, Illinois, Jesse Lee came to Nashville in 1994 where he worked scrubbing the decks of the General Jackson. From his first gig at the Stoney’s Inn at Opryland he ended up on Broadway where Robert recognized his talent and helped him put a band together for regular gigs. From these humble beginnings to leader of the house band and part owner of Robert’s Western World, Jesse Lee has come a long way baby.

Here’s a couple of the MP3’s from their website.
Big Iron
If That’s What’s In Your Heart


Brazilbilly page at Robert’s
Brazilbilly Myspace Music
Brazilbilly Myspace

Brazilbilly and Robert’s Western World are absolutely musts for visitors to Nashville. What are your must see regular music performances?

This is a post of Favorites Friday. Each Friday, I share some of my favorite music, writing, movies… anything that’s a favorite of mine.