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From the Local Nashville Scene to the National Mainstream

David B. Pruett

Publication Year: 2010

In October 2001, an unlikely gathering of musicians calling itself the MuzikMafia took place at the Pub of Love in Nashville, Tennessee. "We had all been beat up pretty good by the 'industry' and we told ourselves, if nothing else, we might as well be playing muzik," explains Big Kenny of Big and Rich. For the next year and a half, the MuzikMafia performed each week and garnered an ever-growing, dedicated fan base.Five years, several national tours, six Grammy nominations, and eleven million sold albums later, the MuzikMafia now includes a family of artists including founding members Big and Rich, Jon Nicholson, and Cory Gierman along with Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy, James Otto, Shannon Lawson, Damien Horne (Mista D), Two-Foot Fred, Rachel Kice, and several more in development.This book explores how a set of shared beliefs created a bond that transformed the MuzikMafia into a popular music phenomenon. David B. Pruett examines the artists' coalition from the inside perspective he gained in five years of working with them. Looking at all aspects of the collective,MuzikMafia documents the problems encountered along the ascent, including business difficulties, tensions among members, disagreements with record labels, and miscalculations artists inevitably made before the MuzikMafia unofficially dissolved in 2008. A final section examines hope for the future: the birth of Mafia Nation in 2009.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

There are many people whom I would like to thank for their assistance with and guidance through this project. First and foremost, I would like to express sincere thanks to my new friends and family within the MuzikMafia’s inner circle: ...

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pp. 3-10

The house lights go dark. In less than a second, the once ambient noise generated by the venue’s approximately eight thousand fans crescendos into the immediate foreground of my attention. The sudden wall of sound sends a chill down my spine. Cowboy Troy slowly announces through a backstage microphone, ...

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Chapter One: The Nashville Scene

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pp. 11-28

I arrived at the Mercy Lounge around 9:00 p.m. Admission was free as usual. The outside noise from passing trains added to ambient sounds of conversations, cracking of billiard balls, and clinking of beer bottles. Approximately 150 people were there, only one-fourth of the club’s capacity. ...

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Chapter Two: The Birth of the MuzikMafia

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pp. 29-60

These are the rules. Since the MuzikMafia’s first performance on October 23, 2001, many musicians have been asked to join or at least to perform with the MuzikMafia. Those who could not meet these criteria have been asked to leave. The core membership of the MuzikMafia is small—fewer than twenty individuals. ...

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Chapter Three: August 2002 to March 2004: Growing Popularity in Nashville and Beyond

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pp. 61-74

The Tin Roof was the first restaurant/bar to open along the Demonbreun Street Roundabout. Owner Jason Sheer had modeled the establishment after its counterpart the Tin Roof Cantina, which he had opened six years prior in the trendy Buckhead section of Atlanta. ...

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Chapter Four: April through December 2004: The MuzikMafia Takes the National Stage

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pp. 75-98

Country Music Television (CMT) declared on December 18 during its show 20 Biggest Hits of 2004 that the MuzikMafia was the Number One hit of the year. The rapid growth in popularity of the MuzikMafia was the result of its two breakout acts, Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson, who celebrated combined record sales of approximately five million units ...

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Chapter Five: Interlude: Meet the MuzikMafia of 2004

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pp. 99-128

The MuzikMafia’s membership has changed somewhat since the community officially began in October 2001. However, there was a core roster of MuzikMafia members that remained relatively stable in 2004 and 2005 and contributed much to the community’s rise to national popularity. ...

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Chapter Six: 2005: The Second Wave

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pp. 129-158

By the end of 2004 the MuzikMafia had created a significant niche for itself in commercial country music and American popular culture. However, the this success represented only a portion of the community’s potential. Much to the delight of its fans and the music industry in general, the MuzikMafia began 2005 with several bangs. ...

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Chapter Seven: The Beginning of the End

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pp. 159-194

From 2006 through 2008 the MuzikMafia went from being a major force in the commercial music industry to a disorganized, dysfunctional collection of individuals almost unrecognizable from the close-knit community that had taken Nashville by storm just a few years earlier. ...


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pp. 195-198


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pp. 199-200


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pp. 201-202


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pp. 203-215

E-ISBN-13: 9781604734393
E-ISBN-10: 1604734396
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604734386
Print-ISBN-10: 1604734388

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2010