By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Nate Butler walked onstage at Ignition Garage and strapped on an electric guitar. Taking stock of a gig heavy on acoustic instruments, he likened it to bringing a gun to a knife fight.
Phil Madeira was at the opposite end of the stage.
“We will cut you,” he said.
Madeira, like Butler, was kidding. There would be no violence at the downtown Goshen venue Saturday night. Rather, the audience was treated to the fruits of collaboration.
Saturday’s concert featured Nashville music scene veterans Madeira, Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer. At intervals during the show, they were joined onstage by local musicians Butler, Andrew Kreider and Zach DuBois.
Ignition Garage owner Steven Martin came up with the idea for the musical experiment with Kimbrough back in January. Emmylou Harris was performing at Goshen College, backed by Kimbrough and fellow Nashville music veteran Madeira as part of her band The Red Dirt Boys. Kimbrough and Madeira visited Ignition while they were in town.
Pre-concert, the Goshen- and Elkhart-based artists had workshopped tunes-in-progress with the Nashville crew. Then they shared the stage with the visitors to the Maple City.
Ignition Garage is, in fact, a former automotive repair facility. Kreider was mindful of this when described the collaborative effort to the audience. Kreider compared his song to a jalopy he’d managed to push into the shop.
“And Phil takes a look at me and says, ‘For a start, the steering wheel’s on the wrong side,’” he said. “...It’s a song written for a friend going through a hard time. We basically took the song apart and threw away most of it and wrote new words.”
The song was essentially a new song as of 10 a.m. Saturday. That night, the Ignition audience heard it live.
“A better day is on the way,” Kreider sang, backed by the Nashville artists along with a local rhythm section of Joel Jimenez (bass) and Jeff Sanders (drums).
After the concert, DuBois said that he’d started writing his song in Nashville. The tune was about 80 percent complete. His hope was to nail down the remaining 20 percent and take the song to the next level.
“We were just hanging out (Friday) night,” he said of himself and the Nashville musicians. “In about two hours, we cranked it out. I feel good about how it is.”
Butler workshopped and later performed his song “Lights On.”
“The process was awesome,” he said. “I learned a lot, and it was really rewarding to get feedback on stuff I’ve been working on. When three people like that say, ‘Hey, that’s a really good song,’ it feels really good.”