It was exactly 10 years ago today that Jon Pardi made the move to Nashville. So when I had a chance to ask him what it was like when he was first getting settled in Music City on Feb. 23, 2008, Pardi told me things about his backstory I never knew.
“I moved to Nashville from Dixon, California when I was 22,” Pardi told me. “My parents had divorced, so I waited until my mom was remarried, and I knew she was safe. That’s when I really felt good about moving to Nashville to do this.”
First Home: “I roomed with some people at first, then I found a place by the airport. I got one of those deals where it was like, ’No down payment, blah blah blah.’ So I got that loan and got a townhouse. It was a little bit like Animal House for a while because I had a lot of roommates. But it worked out because I always paid my mortgage. Well, there were a couple of times when I wondered where I was going to get the payment that month, but it all worked out eventually.”
First Job: “I was a lifeguard at a private elementary school in Nashville called St. Bernard Academy, and I was an after-school counselor there, too. I went from driving a bulldozer and doing outside construction work in California to working with kids all day. The days definitely flew by. ”
First Gig: “That would have to be when I played Losers Bar. It was just acoustic shows, so I didn’t need a band. I would just be filling in for the main guys, and it was great. I’d play covers and some originals, but I think I found my little home there. I made enough, but it wasn’t much.”
First Song: “The first one I wrote after I moved to Nashville was ’Write You a Song,’ which went on to be the title of my debut album in 2014. I was just over at my producer’s (Bart Butler) house, and we wrote a shuffle with me and him and Dave Ulbrich.”
First Run-In with a Hero: “That’d have to be Dierks Bentley. I love him to death. He’s my good solid buddy now, but when we first met, it must’ve been in 2011, during his long hair days. Immediately he was so cool and so inviting. It was so great to meet somebody whose CDs I had back in the day, and someone I really looked up to. That’s a big friendship right there. ”