Pitch Music aims to develop and inspire aspiring musicians in Nashville
When Eric Fortaleza moved from Australia to Nashville in 2019 to join Lindsay Ell’s band, something was missing. Surrounded by songwriters and a songwriter himself, Fortaleza was surprised that no event pairs the songwriter with a full band to present new music, so he created one. . Its initial concept for showcasing musicians and songwriters evolved into The Pitch Meeting, a weekly event every Tuesday at Sonny’s Patio Pub and Refuge in Germantown that brings together both worlds.
“I saw a void in the community where musicians weren’t served, people weren’t meeting the right people, at least as I saw it,” Fortaleza tells me. “Coming from Australia and not really having a community here in Nashville because I’m rarely home touring the world, I [realized] it will mean more if I make a way for others to do the same.
After several months of brainstorming with her band mates, Fortaleza hosted The Pitch Meeting’s inaugural showcase on September 21, 2020. Over the following months, Fortaleza and the house group Pitch Meeting, made up of professional touring musicians and performers. session, have perfected the concept of the event. where they invite songwriters to register each evening for the chance to perform on stage with a group of six musicians. Guests included Nashville-based songwriters testing new content and tourists hoping their photo would perform their original songs at Music City when they visit.
Fortaleza is band leader and musical director while Mike Gannon, Fortaleza’s business partner and slide guitarist in the band Pitch Meeting, accompanies him alongside keyboardist David Crutcher, drummer Jon Truman and vocalists Makena Hartlin and Tabitha Meeks. When an artist name is called to join the band on stage, Fortaleza asks for the song chart, chords, and mood of the song as the band rehearses on location before playing it for the first time together. A photographer and videographer are also available, so the artist essentially leaves with a demo recording to take to the studio or to a producer to record.
“The cheapest band in Nashville,” Fortaleza joked during a recent show on Tuesday. That night, local singer-songwriter Tess McKenna first performed at the Pitch Meeting. She told Fortaleza that she had been the group’s waitress at Cerveza Jack’s several times.
“That’s what I love about Nashville,” Fortaleza said. “The person serving you coffee is probably a better songwriter than you are. The person who serves you food is probably a better guitarist than you are. Let’s abandon him for this beautiful city.
Fortaleza’s vision for Pitch Meeting has broadened under the umbrella of Pitch Music, which includes a non-profit organization that helps artist development. The non-profit organization embodies the same approach and philosophy that the weekly concerts have taken to preserve artistic integrity and high-quality musicality. In January, the creative group opened Pitch Meeting Studios, a studio space that allows Pitch Meeting artists to record as well as film video content and perform private shows.
Pitch Music has also partnered with the newly opened Brooklyn Bowl Nashville to showcase talent showcased throughout the month on The Pitch Meeting’s weekly broadcasts. The Brooklyn Bowl’s first show premieres Thursday, July 22, and officially launches the Pitch Music brand.
“The idea is to put the spotlight on songwriting and showcase artists that we believe in and want to support,” says Gannon, a musician who moved to Nashville from New York two years ago. “We want to make this organization an organization that supports artists in terms of their own music and their own artistic vision without commercial pressures.
“The idea of the nonprofit being the backbone for this is really right to stay focused on the good aspects of making music. For the artists who arrive, [we want] to give them a chance to present themselves as they want to be musically and artistically rather than what the record company tells them to do.
Pitch Music already has several brand investors and partnerships, including Fender and QSC, and aims to give artists a chance to develop and cultivate their sound without the pressures that come with navigating a commercial industry. Gannon says he and Fortaleza see Pitch Music becoming a model for a nonprofit label.
“The first steps we are taking towards this is what we are doing now, which is that every Tuesday we offer a free and complete showcase for any artist who shows up. Normally in Nashville, if a person wants to do a presentation, they have to hire the band, they have to book rehearsals and it often costs $ 500 to $ 2,000, ”Gannon explains. “Ultimately, once we have the funding, we’ll turn it into a full-service artist development organization where we’ll provide these resources.
“We’re giving a lot of our time and resources to this right now at this early stage, which is the nature of a start-up business. But ultimately, we want it to be a sufficiently funded organization where people who give of their time and energy are paid. ”
The men aim to turn Thursday’s Brooklyn Bowl Nashville showcase into a monthly event that will help move the Pitch Music movement forward. While The Pitch Meeting introduced Fortaleza and Gannon to each other as well as a community of musicians, the weekly showcase also allowed the couple to experience an entirely new Nashville they hoped to exist.
“What we’re trying to build here is a big part of what I imagined Nashville would be or could be – which I didn’t necessarily experience in the first two years I was here – but I thinks finding that group and building what we’re building, that really goes to the heart of what I think Nashville can and should be, “says Gannon.” Our goal is to have the maximum impact possible. “
Fortaleza adds, “I was just trying to create something that I thought Nashville would feel like. … I love meeting all these new people and it’s exciting. It’s surprising when you set a mission and it actually works.
To learn more about Pitch Music, visit The Pitch Meeting website. Tickets for Thursday’s Brooklyn Bowl Nashville concert are available now.