American Standard Time - Some of the coolest music writing I know comes from here, co-moderated by Sean Jewell and Greg Vandy. All the new albums I'm really interested in seem to find their way on to this site, and then other cool snippets of music lore as well, like the feature they did on JJ Cale's 7-pick-up guitar that he spent most of his career modding out.
Ari Sheehan Guitars - I had heard for years that a cousin of mine in Ireland made guitars, and nice guitars at that. Then I visited him in person and realized he makes the best acoustic guitars on planet earth. To be completely honest, I've never heard guitars that sing like this. He makes a handful a year, in his workshop looking out over the bay in Crosshaven. If I were you, I'd write to him right now and try and get an order in, because these are simply the best.
Ardent Studios - The biggest, baddest studio in Memphis. Continually operating for over 50 years, if you need to go make a killer record with unmatched vintage equipment in a world class facility, this is the place. Look up Adam Hill and ask him to make some extra naner pudding for your session.
Bombshelter Studio- Friendly, affordable, cozy, largely-analog studio in East Nashville. Gotten to spend a good chunk of time rehearsing and recording there, and I'd recommend it. Good sounds and good people. Track down Billy Bennett for the full A+ experience.
Caroline Guitar Company - Other than total guitar nerds, the only effect pedal anyone has ever commented on at a live performance is the Caroline Kilobyte, which I bought before my first tour in Italy and promptly blew up (use a power source!!!!!! not a 9v!). But when I made an emergency Skype from Rome to solve the problem? Philippe was on the other end and took care of me. I've toured with it ever since. Fast forward four years, and I'm debating which reverb pedal to add to my solo rig -- convinced I will NOT buy the Meteore he makes because I don't want to full into a rut. A week goes by, another week, I play 25-30 reverb pedals, and which is unquestionably the winner? The Meteore. What can I say, Philippe has my number when it comes to effect sounds. Happy playing!
Cloe Guitars - Need a superb luthier in Europe or Italy? This is your man. Along with making his own guitars, his plek machine and luthier work is unrivaled. The magic he did on my 335 made it a whole new guitar, sustain, feel, everything. People ship him guitars from all over the world, but I'd suggest you make a trip in person and go out to lunch with him -- the man knows how to have a good meal!
Field Notes - These little notebooks are how I've kept my life organized since 2011 or so. If my house burned down tomorrow, other than a guitar or two, my boxes of filled Field Notes would be the first thing I grabbed (so, if they are all that survived, you know I'm trynna cash in for that insurance money!)
Inglewood Lounge - Best bar in Nashville. Up on Gallatin pike near where I live, great cocktails, cozy atmosphere, hang out in the middle of the afternoon or late night and enjoy being shut off from the rest of the world for a while. Don't forget to check out their Fender Rhodes, too, which I spend a good bit of time keeping up and running.
Kleer-Vu Lunchroom - Best meat and three in middle Tennessee, down in Murfreesboro. Fried chicken, fresh veggies, and lunch trays from the 1975-1975 school year. "Have a nice day and pass it on!"
Kochel Guitars - As I write this Sean is probably somewhere tearing down a barn in Montana for guitar wood. He built me a resonator a few years ago, modeled after a "resolectric" and phewwwww is it cool sounding. The instruments look great, yes, but they have their own sound and vibe too musically.
L Nix Mastering - From Elvis to ZZ Top to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Larry and his son Kevin have mastered about everything. Still churning out great work, and especially quick and good with digital mastering. Send him a track and he'll show you what he can do.
LordyMercy - Heather is largely responsible for getting me into the incredible letterpress world, and her carvings and designs are sought after all over the dang place. A wonderful person making wonderful art, Heather is just about as talented as you could imagine. Of course beyond the letterpress and design work, her piano and singing is excellent, and for whatever reason she tolerated touring around with me for a year or so in Caterwauls. Check out her music, check out her art!
The Meat & 3 Printing Company - Brother Carl is the king of cool designs. Another member of the Hatch Show Print alumni family, his characters and vibe are right up my alley. Plus, of course, time with the man himself is a pleasure. Once we got thrown out of a venue in Salt Lake City (where you can only order one drink at a time) because he ordered shots for the whole bar, and then slammed them all back himself before anyone could snag one of them. Legend.
MeriCanjo Company - Another West Virginian, Stephen's "canjo's" are made from ration-tin army tins. They sound pretty gnarly in a very pleasing way -- deep and growling. I played them on tour until I beat them to pieces, and remember a few shows where someone from the audience would have to hold the cable in while I played. No discredit to their construction, I just didn't treat them very cautiously.
Novo Guitars - Like the best connections in life, I met Matthew from Novo at a Kudzu Orkestra gig -- and, foolish me, it turned out he had been coming for months to our Inglewood Lounge residency! One thing lead to another, and now I couldn't be happier to be showing off the Kudzu Special guitar, that he specially designed for me. Wonderful guitars designed by Dennis Fano that are half-familiar half-otherworldly, and that are a joy to play.
Original Fuzz - Aside from the badass collaboration we did for the Reed Turchi signature strap, Lee is a great guy, and Original Fuzz not only makes cool straps, they're all handmade by good folks in Nashville, and an important part of the music community there.
Root Bar - The best bar on planet earth. Home of my first legal drink, the noble sport of Root Ball, and many other good things, I'd play / drink here every night if I could.
RT Auto - My hometown mechanic, right in Swannanoa, North Carolina. I don't know how many times he's saved my ass, but, he always has, and for a good price. I hope there's a special level of heaven reserved for honest, affordable mechanics -- may they all live long and prosper.
Saner Cigar Box Guitars - Long, long ago Brian and I tried a little experiment making cigar box guitars for sale, and good lord, the boom was serious. He's still churning them out in various shapes and configurations, and much credit to him, they are real instruments, not just toys!
Salerno's - All my dad's family is from Baltimore, and, well, this is our spot for blue crabs. Get a hammer and get your wet wipes ready, when they're in season Tuesday's are $1 smalls day (and they are pretty dang meat-stuffed, last time I checked).
The Social Department - Maker of mighty fine shirts and graphic designs. Doing great work and design of all sorts, but I'm especially a fan of some of the tee-shirt series, and tee-shirts he's come up with for me.
Stonebridge Mastering - Gebre is the man. Maybe the most innovative guy in Memphis today, his ears are unbelievable, and the work he does to revolutionize the mastering and listening process is impressive. Everything he's touched of mine has come back golden, and he's also a fascinating guy to talk to about anything audio-world related.
Todd's Car Team - You can laugh all you want, but buying a car from Todd changed my life, and educated me, in practical and profound ways. If my car breaks down, I miss a gig, or worse, I miss a whole tour. If I have a crappy warranty, and the transmission blows in northern california, I might be looking at a 3k-4k towing bill just to get back to where I can have the work done under warranty. All of these things have happened, and worse, but I'll spare you the details. Long story short: if you are buying a used car, buy it from Todd. You won't regret it, and your life will be simpler and with one less major headache (the headache of an unreliable vehicle). And hey, if you end up not buying from him, you'll have learned more about the used car market and what to look for than you ever knew before.
Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers - My second home, or first home, this is the finest low-residency creative writing program in the country and growing up within it has had more effect on me than I even know. The best writers, the best people, life long friends and sources of inspiration. Prosers will always make better softball players than poets.
ZuZu Guitars - Chris makes other-worldly electric guitars. Check out his patented pickups and design, these things sound and look like no other, and I count my lucky stars that he was willing to make one for me to test out on the road.