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Thursday, September 30 • 11:00pm - 11:30pm
Madi Diaz

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Madi Diaz does not settle for passive engagement. Their songs are too compelling and the performances too much fun to resist getting caught up in them, be that singing along, feeling your heart squeeze or more than likely both. Madi Diaz is, of course, Madi herself, the 23-year-old, Nashville-based musician. But for the purposes of making music together, Madi Diaz is also the name under which the duo of Madi and Kyle Ryan perform. The naming convention is not unlike Gillian Welch, who shares an eponymous pairing with David Rawlings. Or Bon Jovi. Madi and Kyle truly make their own kind of music, drawing inspiration from the pop bands that mattered, the singer-songwriters for whom roots rock was just a starting point and that slender sliver of indie that can still surprise. If the left of the dial still exists, that's where you'll hear them. She grew up as part of a musical family in Lancaster, PA, near the heart of Amish country. Her father, Eric Svalgard, serves as Music Director at the Wilmington, Delaware campus of the Paul Green School of Rock Music (her brother Max is also an instructor there).

As a teenager, Madi herself was one of Green's star pupils at the original Rock School in Philadelphia (she's one of the students prominently featured in Don Argott's 2005 documentary film about the program). Ryan, 26, hails from Lincoln, Nebraska, where there "wasn't much to do other than become really passionate about something." He eschewed popular regional choices like football and meth in favor of music, and played drums in a number of local bands before enrolling in the University of Nebraska. The physics major also switched instruments and when guitar playing began to usurp the study of wave phenomena, a transfer was in order.

Madi and Kyle met in Boston where each relocated to attend the Berklee College of Music. They test drove their musical partnership and budding friendship through the process of recording Madi's self-released 2007 album Skin and Bone. Following its release, the pair (often accompanied by bassist Adam Popick) gigged around Boston and New York City, attracting publishing and management deals on the strength of their songwriting and live performances. Having each found, as Madi puts it, "the right buddy to orbit around," the pair decided to decamp the cold of the northeast for Nashville, where Popick had transplanted a few months earlier.

While it might appear to be a step towards country, the music scene in Music City has long veered away from singer-songwriter norms and into something more varied and collaborative. Within weeks of the 2008 move, they were performing at The Basement and Mercy Lounge, and teaming up with new and old friends alike including Tim Lauer, Daniel Tashien, Sarah Siskind, Garrison Starr, David Mead, Ian Fitchuk and Justin Loucks. Studio sessions with Fitchuk and Loucks behind the boards yielded 2009's six-song EP Ten Gun Salute (characterized by one reviewer as "tinged with heartbreak, yet sunny in melody").

The sound of Ten Gun Salute was a progression from Madi's debut, exploring more classic pop-rock veins in terms of instrumentation and arrangements, always from an experimental angle With the EP in hand and further opportunities to perform across the country, in 2009 even more folks began to take notice. Paste magazine named them one of the "Top Ten Buzziest Acts" at SXSW, with writer Steve LaBate praising their "inviting" performance, "especially Diaz's voice, an instrument that comforts as if a favorite blanket leftover from childhood." The esteemed Songwriters Hall of Fame conferred the Abe Oleman Scholarship for Excellence in Songwriting upon Madi, while American Songwriter magazine pegged her Writer of the Week in October.

In June, she and Ryan played their biggest show to date at the Bonnaroo Festival, and in addition to their own continued touring, Madi joined fellow Nashvillians in the fall for the national 10 Out of Tenn tour. Madi Diaz and Kyle Ryan have just finished working with producer John Alagia (Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Liz Phair, Rachel Yamagata) on a new full-length album titled Plastic Moon, recorded in Matthews’ Charlottesville, VA studio.

Thursday September 30, 2010 11:00pm - 11:30pm
The Basement 1604 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN, 37203

Attendees (63)

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