Music City Underground

Music City Underground

  • Article by: Jamie McCormick | Photo Credit: Melissa Madison Fuller
  • Posted: 04/20/2012

Music City Underground, by director Houston Mathews, is a documentary-style film that nonetheless maintains the pep in its step with humor and great music. The film dives into the teeming waters coursing under the surface of Nashville's music scene, and, scuba diving among the native fauna, Mathews was kind enough to take along his camera. Highlighting 12 emerging artists, each with their own well-defined sound and following, the film gives us a glimpse of the magical, musical world we all know is there. 

Jumping between genres and styles, the film captures light bouncing off many facets of the gem that is Nashville, and reflects that light to a wider audience. Cult favorite VITEK furnishes a fine polish to their theatricality with their jazzy music, classy suits, layered, composite vocals and horns used like background voices. Evan P. Donohue, the coolest nerd you'll ever see, makes for an often laugh-out-loud sequence, and his disarming charm lends a special welcomeness to his poppy and unique rock tunes. Even included is songwriter Andrew Combs, whose beautiful, scratchy voice we are all lucky to hear, since he openly admits to not liking to perform. But his wonderfully wrought songs deserve a grand audience, just as Matthews attempts to provide for all of his hand-picked performers.

With one dedicated segment per group, the film features interviews with the title group itself intertwined with clips of feedback from the other groups as well. And all the while, a soundtrack from the band runs in the background. We see what the performers have to say, and what is being said about them while we hear their work. Saving the best for last, each segment finishes with the dessert of a song recorded live, each in the same studio with really cool lighting. Matthews's attention to the musical details, such as the guitarist's hands as they fingerpick a run, makes for a special viewing experience, and his tendency to fade out of focus keeps the emphasis on the incredible audio. And the music does stand out, even in a jaded city. As Gabrahm Vitek puts it in the film, Nashville is a “fine-tuned...pool of tadpoles,” and Matthews definitely got his feet wet looking for the most promising future frogs. 

To see more of Melissa Madison Fuller's photos from the MCU, or to find out additional information about the film, visit

"Music City Underground - Official Trailer"

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