What is Music Night, exactly? In a very real sense, it's a gift we give ourselves in the USN community. Back in the 1990's, our creative predecessors, in the era that created Evening Classes and Artclectic, also imagined a chance to showcase the abundance of musical talent that walks the halls as parents here (and has since the Everly Brothers' day — even before that). What resulted, given the volunteer spirit and good nature of so many headliner performers, is an uninterrupted string of singularly cool evenings, a Nashville musical Who's Who. Just look at the posters in the USNA Office for a sample.
But we're still Nashville, meaning that there was, is, and will be a conspicuous risk that we miss the chance to appreciate something that the rest of the country would rush to claim. We prefer that superstars play in our living rooms, which is kind of what this night is supposed to be. And not to cast aspersions, but as smart as the people in the USN community are in so many ways, our musical IQ can, remarkably, leave something to be desired. And thus, the night can miss our attention despite being, pound for pound, about my favorite slice of life at USN.
Which brings us to this year, to the show now ten days hence. In the company of A-List musicians whose artistic gifts are rivaled only by their generosity of spirit, you'd find Gabe Dixon. He pitched in with fellow alum Shooter Jennings some years ago, then he led an all-star Centennial year group of our graduates in 2015, and when I asked him while on tour to feature this time around, he could not have been kinder in saying yes. And yup, he's a Lower School dad too.
You can look up his discography, you can sample his work — maybe you heard him at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center during the holidays even- — and you can appreciate how lucky we are. Then consider the favors Gabe is calling in from a band that he's assembling for this night only: USN uncle Viktor Krauss, guitar hotshot Stanton Edward, go-to vocalist Maureen Murphy, kindred spirit Jason Eskridge, and fellow alumnus Nick Buda. They made me feel a little out of the loop and helped me realize this is talent to which my Boomer demographic needs to get hip. And I can't wait.
Gabe rightly takes his place this year in a sequence that includes John Prine, Take 6, Dierks Bentley, Maura O'Connell, Trigger Hippy, Ben Folds, Junior Brown, The Long Players, and last February the incomparable Wooten Brothers. It's gonna be one of those nights. If you're reading this column, you're already pretty dialed in. Don't miss the window to witness another dimension of what makes USN what it is. And please tell your well-intended but less informed pals by forwarding this link.
A few more things: the food is always great, as is the beverage selection. The USNA superstars always see that it's so. But come for the music, OK? You even get to check out what has to be the best faculty band at any school, anywhere, as an opening act — The K-12 Situation — I defy you to find its rival. And not to be lost in the conversation, this is a fundraiser, remember? All the proceeds go to projects at the River Campus. Please tell me you've been there, and if so, you see the vital role those 80 acres play in USN outdoor activities.
Thanks for reading this through. In truth, what I shared only scratched the surface. If wearing a sandwich sign on 21st Avenue would help to get this word out to our busy constituents, I'd probably do it. Music Night is that cool.