Twilight falls on Tunes

Friday, September 15, 2006
Jordan Chassan closes out Tunes at Twilight tonight. (Amy Dickerson ~ Submitted photo)

Click here to listen to one of Jordan Chassan's songs, "Lost Along The Way"

The Common Pleas Courthouse lawn is a long way from the clubs of New York and the infamous club CBGB, where Jordan Chassan cut his teeth as a young songwriter and musician.

In between lies Nashville, where Chassan has now set up shop.

And even though Chassan comes from a world far different than Cape Girardeau, he hopes his blend of acoustic country and folk will provide a successful cap off to the 2006 Tunes at Twilight season.

"I like New York audiences, but I also like the Midwest audiences that I've played for," said Chassan, fresh off picking a batch of pecans at his Nashville home -- something he couldn't do in New York. "I find that they're, they're appreciative, and it's really nice.

"People of my mindset don't play the Midwest too often, and that's a shame because people in the Midwest are good listeners and very appreciative."

With the way Cape Girardeau audiences have responded to the past few years of Tunes at Twilight, Chassan seems almost guaranteed to have that "appreciative" crowd he's looking for.

Chassan's performance tonight will end the most successful season for the young concert series in its six-year history, said Larry Underberg, talent booker for the Old Town Cape concert series sponsored by the Coad car dealerships and Capaha Bank.

Underberg said the attendance record set last year by Kimberley Dahme was broken on the first show of this season, when the band Brother Henry brought in nearly 600 people. Through the entire season, Underberg estimates the crowds are up about 25 percent.

"Overall our crowds have been bigger all the way through," he said. "There are some ups and downs, two or three nights when rain was predicted and sometimes that drives down attendance, but even under those circumstances we were having crowds that were just great."

Underberg chalks Tunes' success up to word of mouth and increased media coverage.

"I guess I would have to say that turned out better than any of us at Old Town Cape would have hoped," Underberg said. "We were optimistic about all the artists, but the public response has been great."

Underberg said another key to success has been the quality of the artists and the variety of music they bring to the table -- from Celtic folk to American folk, country, classical guitar and acoustic rock.

Now the series gets submissions from more artists than can be booked each season. That gives Underberg the freedom to be selective and pick artists he sees as top-notch, such as Chassan.

Chassan has a long history in music, starting out in the 1970s New York underground scene. His band Stuart's Hammer shared the stage at the legendary club CBGB with such acts as the Ramones.

His latest work, 2004's "East of Bristol, West of Nashville," takes Chassan a long way from New York's musical roots, unless you count Bob Dylan. On the album's 10 songs, Chassan sounds more like a man raised in honky tonks than on New York streets.

"There was a big reaction to the overblown pompous nature of music industry," Chassan said. "What we had in common was just coming up from grassroots and doing honest music."

But Dylan was an early influence for Stuart's Hammer, Chassan said, so country and folk have always been a part of his music. But time has mellowed him somewhat, Chassan said.

"Back when I was playing at CBGBs, my career objective was to take over the world. Now I just want to make good music," he said.

He seems to have achieved his objective. Even though "East of Bristol, West of Nashville" was an independent recording, it garnered media attention from some reputable national publications. The Wall Street Journal, Guitar World Acoustic magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Philadelphia Daily News and the Washington Post all wrote about Chassan's solo work.

Chassan remains humble, saying "if people like it, they'll come to me."

He's now comfortable in Nashville and his life as an independent musician working in country music's most famous city. Nashville is a lot closer to Cape Girardeau than New York is, and Chassan hopes his brief time here will be just as comfortable.

Underberg seems to think it will.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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