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He's head over heels for Nashville 12 February 2006
For songwriter and rocker Jon Bon Jovi, it was love at first listen in Music City


Bon Jovi rolls into Gaylord Entertainment Center on Tuesday for its second Valentine's Day concert there, an appropriate holiday for the veteran New Jersey rock band because its lead singer loves Nashville.

Jon Bon Jovi has been in and out of Music City since 1990 when he was turned onto it by lesser-profile New York rocker Billy Falcon, who moved to Nashville around 16 years ago.

Since then, Bon Jovi and Falcon have regularly hit Nashville songwriters venues and late-night spots, soaking in the musical vibe, songwriter camaraderie and a fair share of alcohol.

Bon Jovi can get drinks anywhere, but it's the other stuff that keeps him coming back.

''When I go to Nashville, every kid that pumps gas is a songwriter,'' he said in a recent phone interview.

''And if you're in Hollywood, it's perhaps that they want to be actors or whatever. But this is a town that's built around the process of record making and songwriting. You can't say that about New York or L.A. or Chicago or anywhere else.

''And so that drew me to it. I enjoyed going out and hearing the simplicity of strumming a guitar and telling people a story with your words.''

That journey started with a visit to Falcon, who bought a house in Bellevue after himself being lured to Nashville by the songwriting community.

''The World According to Billy. I would come down as just a houseguest,'' Bon Jovi said. ''He would take me out to all these great bars and see all these incredible songwriters.''

Those early trips took them to Douglas Corner, Bluebird Cafe, Exit/In and other performance venues, but they always ended up at Nashville late-night Music Row hang Third Coast Cafe, a popular live music joint that attracted musicians from inside and outside Nashville. (The now-closed spot was in the Vanderbilt area around where The Bound'ry is now.)

''I remember sitting in the Third Coast and looking at their menu of food and drinks and thinking to myself that I had broken huge ground here. I was going to take the intimate storytelling of country music and integrate it with the bombast of rock 'n' roll,'' Bon Jovi said.


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