Goodbye to Nashville?

NASHVILLE - ABC's "Nashville" stars Chris Carmack as Will Lexington, Clare Bowen as Scarlett O'Connor, Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley, Sam Palladio as Gunnar Scott, Maisy Stella as Daphne Conrad, Eric Close as Teddy Conrad, Lennon Stella as Maddie Conrad, Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne  and Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes. (ABC/Bob D'Amico)
NASHVILLE – ABC’s “Nashville” stars Chris Carmack as Will Lexington, Clare Bowen as Scarlett O’Connor, Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley, Sam Palladio as Gunnar Scott, Maisy Stella as Daphne Conrad, Eric Close as Teddy Conrad, Lennon Stella as Maddie Conrad, Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne and Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

Last week brought with it the news that ABC have dropped it’s country music drama

Nashville from it’s schedule and, as such, there will be no series 5. The news came

as a huge shock to the shows dedicated fan base (the ‘Nashies’) and, quite disappointingly

the stars. Charles Esten, who plays troubled guitarist Deacon Claybourne, was quoted

as saying he only found out via text from the shows creator Callie Khouri moments before

it went viral on social media – a cruel way for the dedicated cast to find out.

As the disappointment of the news set in it got me to thinking what a huge mark that

Nashville and it’s superbly talented cast have left on country music.

The show first aired in the UK in 2012. I remember seeing adverts for it a few months

before I was due to head to the first Country 2 Country festival and round about the

time that I was first really discovering country music. I set a series link for the show and

remember being hooked from the opening scene depicting the Nashville skyline with

Eli Young Band’s ‘Keep On Dreaming (Even If It Breaks Your Heart’ playing. The show offered the perfect introduction to country music and, even more importantly, broke down some of the clichés that exist around the genre (particularly in the UK). During the first C2C festival in London the soundtrack was pumped around the main arena between acts perfectly tying the show to the real life music scene. Little did we know at that time how far it’d go…

Possibly the most important thing that Nashville did was create opportunities for the hard working and talented song writing community in the city. People from Ashley Monroe to Striking Matches and John & Jacob have had songs featured in the show. Recently Sonia Leigh made a cameo on the show as a barista with her music playing in the background. Songs performed by the stars of the show have helped these acts get a footing in the industry and given them a vital opportunity to reach more ears. If it wasn’t for the talent of the cast and musicians behind them doing these songs justice it could have all been for nothing.

The series had a number of guest appearances from the stars of country music which showed just how seriously it was taken and how much love it was given. The likes of Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Thomas Rhett, Steven Tyler, Christina Aguilera and more featured on the show and The Ryman and Grand Ole Opry stages were often used for filming. This was a show that had country music and Nashville at its very heart.

The fabulous talent and musicianship shown by the likes of Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen, Jonathan Jackson and more has led to the stars of the show heading out on the road with a ’Nashville in Concert’  live show. Earlier this year they announced a UK tour which sold out in minutes and vindicated the UK’s love for the show and it’s stars. The biggest problem that the UK has always had is that we have to wait so long to see the latest episodes with almost no promotion – this leads to a lot of UK based fans downloading the episodes and perhaps affecting the viewing figures. If ABC is worried about this then they only have to look at the popularity of the live shows to see the fan base that we possess. Those who were in the O2 Arena at C2C in 2015 and 2016 would know that the deafening cheers which greeted Sam ‘Gunnar’ Palladio and Charles ‘Deacon’ Esten as they appeared on the Satellite Stage were the cheers of a devoted Nashville fan base.

It can’t be forgotten that the show has also brought a huge amount of acting talent to the table. The stellar performances from the more musically inclined cast were met with fantastic performances from the likes of Connie Britton, Hayden Pannitierre and Oliver Hudson on a weekly basis. Those who haven’t felt the pain of Avery being cheated on, the desperation of Juliette’s post natal depression and the fear of Will’s coming out can’t have a heart. This is where the show was really great. It managed to be a great music show with fantastic music as well as a drama. Sure, sometimes the storylines moved so fast that it could make your head spin but this was the beauty of the show.

One storyline that deserves great credit is that of Will Lexington becoming an openly gay country singer. In the UK it’s hard to believe that being a gay musician would even cause a second thought but in country music this is still a rather pathetic and small minded barrier that needs breaking down. The show did all it could to help with this (some even speculate that it contributed to it’s demise) so credit to those involved for their bravery. Tennessee recently passing a bill which affects gay rights is certainly counter productive to this and doesn’t help make for a good home for a show which is trying to be modern and forward thinking.

As things stand Lionsgate are hoping to shop the show around and find a new home for Nashville. Whether that will work or not remains to be seen. Many of the cast seem resigned to the fact that the show is saying goodbye. Actor Ed Armatrudo, who plays manager Glenn, is helping to spearhead an online #CrashNash campaign on Twitter before the final episode airs to help show networks what kind of a fan base they have

to offer. It seems a shame to lose a show which seems to have great longevity at this point in it’s

life. The turnover of characters alone shows that the show could go on for years and even end up

with a completely different cast – such is the amount of talent at their disposal in Nashville.

If it does all end here then credit to everyone involved in the show for helping to make it as

successful and enjoyable as it has been. The work that the show and it’s cast, crew, writers,

songwriters, musicians and more have done over four seasons has been wonderful. It

shouldn’t be forgotten that Nashville has had a huge effect on the current country music

boom that we are seeing in the UK. The shows legacy will always live on whether it be from the

DVDs, fantastic soundtrack CDs, (hopeful) musical careers of it’s stars or just the kick start it gave

to country music across the world.

Let’s just hope for an encore…

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