Betty’s Bar and Grill is a small dive bar nestled in a quiet side street off Charlotte Ave; a watering hole for locals and a good hamburger. It’s also been a surprisingly consistent destination for experimental music performances, intimate local shows and DIY touring bands. All three came together in July 2019 with a weekend festival called Local Fest that showcased punk, electronic, ambient, rock and the avant-garde, all from local and regional bands.
Opening for a touring artist can come with the benefit of reaching a larger audience outside of Nashville regulars but often comes with the tradeoff of a smaller payout at the end of the night. Local Fest organizer Joseph Page (member of performing band Vladopus9) tells us that the undertaking functioned both as a way of highlighting local artists but, also, as a means to “help repay them for all of the donated performances which occur when they function as local support year round for touring bands performing here in Nashville.” It was a celebration of our rich local scene and a reminder that all bands have bills to pay; a win-win on both fronts.
Filmakers Jim DeMain and Price Harrison captured the weekend and cut the footage into this Local Fest documentary, featuring interviews and performances. The performance footage alone is enough to serve as a captivating slice of Nashville’s underground but the interviews give an eye-opening look behind the curation of local support; bands that have been together less than a year being propped up by others that have been around for nearly a decade. As our scene grows larger, priorities should be taken to continue to lift one another up and help promote one another across scenes. Betty’s has become a special spot for these kinds of gatherings and it’s particular pleasing that efforts were taken to document these bands and their stories. Local Fest isn’t the only endeavor doing this but their first iteration was, clearly, quite successful in both showcasing and uniting our diverse music scene. Carve out 20 minutes of your day to watch the whole thing.
Find out more from each of the bands and remember to support your local scene. The Chewers, Chop Chop Chang, Lambda Celsius, Blacklight Velvets, Vladopus9, Oli Endless, eLcERkO, Thank You Please, Neon Black, Nuclear Bubble Wrap, Spirits Republic, Female Junior, Palm Ghosts, DE3RA, Young Robot, Soy Milk Boy, Skin Tension, Sonatore and Hungry Mother.