Nellen Dryden

Written by Kayla Albee



Nashville (AKA Music City) is best known for giving birth to some of country's biggest stars, so you best believe that there's always something going on any given night of the week at venues all over the city.

I recently got the chance to see local artist Nellen Dryden preform at a small venue called The Cobra in East Nashville.

Q: Where did you get your start playing music?

A: I've been playing music for most of my life, singing in church, school choir, theater productions and college blues bands. But I started playing my own songs a few years ago while living in Brooklyn, NY.

Q: Where did you draw inspiration from for the tracks on "Little Stray Heart"?

A: The record is a compilation of some of the first songs I ever wrote, over the course of a couple years.

I had been dealing with the stress of living in NYC as well as losing people in my life. Some songs ruminate on themes of death and love.

One song, "Me and Buffalo Bill" draws upon some family history of stories I heard about my great grandmother living in South Dakota and meeting Buffalo Bill. I imagined what it would be like to be a young girl and to have a crush on a showman like that. It's one of my favorite songs on the album.

Q: What's your favorite venue to play at, either in Nashville or elsewhere?

A: I've really enjoyed playing at The East Room on Gallatin Ave. The sound is always great and I like the vibe that the owners create.

I also enjoy playing The 5 Spot because so many local musicians, writers, and artists are always rolling through and scoping out the scene, which can be fun to be a part of.

Q: What artists are you currently listening to? 

A: I've been listening to a lot of Emily King, Lillie Mae's new record, Case/Lang/Viers and a sweet playlist my sister made called "Whose Dad am I Anyway?" which has a lot of Neil Young, Nina Simone, Van Morrison and other goodies on it.

Q: Do you prefer playing with a full band, or playing more intimate solo shows?

A: I really enjoy playing full band. I just love the layers of sound that bring a song to life, and being able to realize that with a group of open and talented musicians is very satisfying.

I feel so lucky to have access to all the amazing musicians in this town and that I get to play with them is an utter delight.