“I started playing music pretty early on, I got my first guitar at six or seven. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t play. There’s was always a lot of music around; my grandparents listened to a bunch of old country music, and we’d watch ‘Hee Haw’ and ‘Nashville Now’ every weekend. That and ‘The Golden Girls,’” says Nashville’s Allen Thompson with a laugh. “My dad and his buddies loved Steve Earle and R.E.M., that’s what’s always made the most sense to me. In high school, I discovered The Grateful Dead, and it was all downhill from there. I wanted to make music like that.”
In May, The Allen Thompson Band released their gritty new Southern rockicana record, Brace Yourself. “The reason it’s called Brace Yourself is because both me and my guitar player Clint had sever accidents where we broke our backs, within about a month of each other,” he explains. “The title relates to that, pun intended. Suddenly, we found ourselves with a lot of free time to make the album, so that’s what we did. A lot of people came and helped us in the studio, because we weren’t sure how long we could physically play. When our friends found out, they came and played and sang to help us,” he adds. “It was fun to see the community come together to help this record come to life.”
Now, fully recovered, Thompson and company will perform at Nashville’s Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party, an annual series of shows representative of East Nashville’s thriving roots and Americana music scene. The proceeds of the performances go to preserve one of the city’s most unique landmarks; the historic Cornelia Fort Air Park was named after Cornelia Fort, an East Nashville debutante who bucked her heritage and the gender divide of the time to become a skilled pilot and flight instructor. Cornelia joined the Woman’s Air Force to ferry airships for the American Forces, and in 1943 died in a flight mishap. Consequently, at the age of 24 she became the first female aviator to die in war service of the United States. For decades, Cornelia Fort Air Park was the busiest privately owned air park in America until it closed in the wake of the 2010 flood that devastated the city; damage from the flood has served to be too much to overcome without the community’s support. Because of monies raised from the series, organizers have been able to make infrastructure improvements to make the park a safe and lovely place for the community to use.
Admission to the family-friendly Pickin’ Party is $12.00 in advance $15.00 at the door and includes a drink ticket for one adult beverage. Musicians are encouraged to bring an instrument for an extra drink ticket and jam the night away starting at 6:00 PM. The Airpark is located at 1093 Shadow Lane Nashville, TN 37206.