The Nest at Songbirds Studios

Written by Becky Huskins
by guest reviewer: Becky Huskins

The Nest @ Songbirds StudiosSo, I got one of those standard Facebook invites for a local show.  Only this show was more local to me than usual as it was in Gastonia.  What the whaaa?  A show in Gastonia?  You mean I don’t have to drive to NoDA, Plaza Midwood, or all the way to Tuckaseegee to see an awesome band?  I am down!

The show was being held at The Nest, a new music venue that touted itself as the only listening room in Gastonia.  You bet it’s the only listening room in Gastonia.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  It is a very calm and serene space set up with nice cushioned chairs, funky bulb lights and a beautiful baby grand piano in the corner. Being accustomed to typical rock shows with my punk rock-playing husband, walking into The Nest really caught me by surprise.  Where’s the graffiti?  Where’s the smell of unswept parties from weeks past?  Where’s the BAR?

I learn that is exactly the atmosphere owners Danny Kutcher and April Perkins Smith are NOT going for with The Nest.  They want an environment conducive to truly listening to music, not just treating it as background noise.  It makes sense when you hear their band, Porcelain, who have played at many clubs around the state including The Nest, Rodi, and The Evening Muse.  A band like Porcelain wants to be heard and appreciated, not just stifled out while people check texts on their phones.

I get the feeling the same can be said for the bands my husband and I have come to listen to tonight: Dust & Ashes from Charlotte, whose tagline says “Queen City Swamp Stomp”, and The Paisley Fields, who describe themselves as “Queer Country from NYC”.  I don’t know exactly what those descriptions mean, but I’m keen to find out. And here’s exactly what I find out: these bands are awesome.  They can be described with any words the bands like, but I’m going with awesome.

First off, The Paisley Fields are a three-piece that included piano, a little light percussion, banjo on some songs, and guitar on others; all pulled together with some extraordinary harmony by James Wilson and Anna Volpe.  These folks may be young and Midwestern, but they were heavily influenced by classic country and it shows.  The songs were beautiful and the lyrics were touching and timely (with marriage equality currently being so celebrated). They sang a song called “Windows Fogged Up in Your Pick-Up Truck” which, Wilson said, he wrote about his husband.  It was a really sweet and lovely song which Wilson said they had to gauge the audience before playing (due to its content).  He relented with “we’re all friends here, right?” and happily played on to the joy of all of us. Oh!  And they also sang a transcendent cover of “Under the Bridge" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, which did my 40 year-old heart all kinds of good.

Next up was Charlotte’s own Dust & Ashes.  I just have to say, if you haven’t seen this band, I feel sorry for you.  I do.  They are that good.  My husband and I were trying to describe them on the ride home and I’m still grasping for the appropriate adjectives.  Rootsy?  Americana?  Powerful?  Haunting?  Beautiful?  All of the above, for sure.  All of their instrumentation from the percussion to the flute to the fiddle was stellar, but we paid special attention to the song that featured an old-school metal saw. You just have to see it and hear it, people. 

These ladies also had a great time interacting with their audience and indulged when they were asked to play some Blondie cover songs from an earlier show and then ripped the room open with a T.I. song.  Listening to them getting their tunings together and laughing with their friends and fans felt more like watching a practice than a show, and it was so much fun.

I don’t get out much, (that’s motherhood for you) but apparently D&A made quite the splash at Charlotte Pride this past year and have received some acclaim in local publications as reader’s picks. They are a great representation of our Charlotte music scene, and also really gracious to boot. But aside from how great these bands were, what really spoke to me was how great this room was.  First off, the sound was incredible.  It was rich and full and seemed to consume every space.  I’m no musician myself, but as a club show veteran I know what sounds good and this certainly did.  At one point, Himes of Dust & Ashes exclaimed, “man, this is a legit listening room!”

Another feature, I noticed, was how comfortable the room was.  The chairs are padded, the lighting is dim and pretty, the flooring had a painted pattern, and even the walls had art.  It’s not your typical club-like look and felt very homey to me and that also speaks to the atmosphere itself.  James Wilson of The Paisley Fields said it felt like “playing in a living room” and as a patron it felt like I was sitting in one.  I also really loved how the audience interacted with the artists almost in back and forth conversation.  It wasn’t like some drunk yelling “play one more” from the back of the club, but more like an informal jam session with the band’s friends watching. 

There’s no bar in The Nest.  It’s a different experience when everyone isn’t racing to the bar or sloshing beer on your shoes all night.   I’m not a hater of adult beverages, but they should be a bonus not a necessity. Most all shows at The Nest are all-ages (so children are welcome).  Check the calendar ahead of time to make sure the content is something you’d like your children to experience. 

Overall, it felt like a house party.  A house party in the most spacious and quality-sounding house you ever sat in to hear a band.  The only thing missing was my bunny slippers and I may take them next time.  I don’t doubt I would be welcomed regardless. I think I can sum this up for musicians by saying this is the kind of place you could take your mama.  You know how sometimes you’d like for your mom to come and see you play, but you really don’t want her to stand in a smelly club or have some drunk hitting on her?  No worries about that at The Nest. Keep The Nest in mind the next time you want to go out and see some quality music.  If you’re in Gastonia, it’s right down the road.  And if you’re not, folks, it’s STILL right down the road.  Seriously.  It’s only a few exits away and worth the short drive for such an auditory treat.


• Jan. 8th:     Angwish, the Paisley Fields • Feb. 12th:  Jay Aymar
• Jan. 9th:     Addison Johnson • Feb. 13th:  Blue Haze
• Jan. 14th:   Cousin Curtiss • Feb. 14th:  Mia Rose Lynne
• Jan. 22nd:  Chris Eagle • Feb. 25th:  The Saturday Giant
• Jan. 29th:   Bronsen Euard • Feb. 26th:  Gospel Truth Trio
• Jan. 30th:   TJ George • Feb. 27th:  the Receiver

ellen-75   Becky Huskins
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