Bre Kennedy at The Basement East in Nashville, TN

After over a year without live music, former LA songwriter Bre Kennedy opens the summer with two back-to-back performances in Nashville, TN.

Over the past year, large gatherings lessened and dwindled down until they were completely gone, due to COVID-19. But as Spring comes to an end, artists and bands have begun to announce future shows and tours, and some have even started already.

We find Bre Kennedy beginning her story in Los Angeles, where she spent most of her time writing songs for other artists. After about four years there, she concluded that she wasn’t finding what she wanted there. Then in 2014 she came to Nashville for a writing trip and instantly fell in love with the city. Within her first week of moving here in February 2015, she was already making a name for herself in the music community.

Kennedy released her debut EP Jealous of Birds in 2019, and her debut album Twenty Something the following year. Now 6 years since her move, she is resurfacing a year after quarantine with a whole new record. During her shows, she announced the title of her upcoming album is Note to Self.

Bre Kennedy kicked off the Fitz and the Tantrums tour, opening for them in their first 4 shows. After which she returned to Music City to have a double-header with singer-songwriter Stephen Wilson, Jr. and rock band Goldpark.

The venue where all this took place was none other than The Basement East itself. Where several popular stages were forced to close due to the pandemic, one of the city’s most iconic venues made a triumphant return. After being almost completely destroyed by the deadly EF-3 tornado that hit the city over a year ago, The Basement East officially reopened on March 4th.

It wasn’t your typical show, where everyone’s on their feet, squished together, and screaming lyrics at the top of their lungs. No, it was a more intimate setting, and fittingly so. The room consisted of small round tables, each being occupied by several guests. It was an atmosphere that would allow you to completely listen and take in Kennedy’s heartfelt lyrics.

Rock trio Goldpark opened the night. The room was filled with cheer as they stepped on stage. As they’ve stated previously, the majority of the songs they’ve written have been influenced by the visual landscape of the desert, a place where lead singer Wes James has returned to several times during his travels. This became evident when they performed their single “Beautiful Desperation.” The song was built on the fast-paced rhythm by drummer Kyle Neblett and harmonious notes from electric guitarist Andrew Smith. 

The recently formed band played with incredible chemistry and collaboration. To be able to convey this idea of a barren desert into their music is an amazing feat. This theme was the same across some of their newer songs, and their singles “Wild Love” and “Morning Light.”

The room was extremely excited to hear from Bre Kennedy and her band, and it’s no wonder why. Her setlist mostly contained music from her debut EP and album. Familiar songs such as “Strings Attached” and her title songs “Twenty Something” and “Jealous of Birds” contain such honest and relatable lyrics. Kennedy has already become known as an artist who is most vulnerable in her songwriting, but she explained that during this past year, she, like all of us, had so much time to sit and slow down. In that time, she wrote a whole album’s worth of songs which she has said will be the most vulnerable she’s been about herself. You can hear it in her most recent singles “Progress” and “Wilburn Street.”

Towards the end of her set, she brought Goldpark back to the stage to perform an acoustic song that they wrote together but hadn’t named, and jokingly called it “Killer Queen.” Afterward, she announced that her upcoming record will be named Note to Self, and proceeded to play the album’s title track with her band and violinist Sarah Holbrook.

After Kennedy and her band left the stage, the room filled with cheers and begging for more. The band returned to play songs “Slippin’” and “Where Did Summer Go,” which Kennedy wrote when the possibility of having live music back sooner rather than later wasn’t very high.

Currently, Kennedy doesn’t have any further tour dates scheduled, but you should definitely look forward to hearing her second album Note to Self.

Photo by: Jason Lee Denton

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About Gary Johnson 14 Articles
Gary is a portrait and music photographer based in Nashville, TN. His love for music began at an early age, so much so that he got his degree in Music Business. But along the way, he fell in love with photography–capturing the intimate moments in our lives.