Brantley Gilbert Practices with Nashville Symphony Musicians

Special Performance Gets Charity Element to Support Waffle House Shooting Survivors

It was in 1989 when Metallica, Jane’s Addiction, Iggy Pop and AC/DC all lost in the Recording Academy’s inaugural Grammy category for best hard rock/metal performance vocal.

The album that won that year was Jethro Tull’s Crest of a Knave — a hard rock album that had a flute on it.

Brantley Gilbert will not be playing one of those when he and his band headline a special concert at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater on May 4 with 35 players from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Nor will he be wearing a tuxedo. Instead, he’s sticking with his favorite concert uniform: a black t-shirt with jeans.

“I’m the reigning worst-dressed champ at country music award shows,” he jokingly told reporters during a press conference before Wednesday’s (April 25) rehearsals.

The afternoon run-through was the first time Gilbert’s band tested his songs with an orchestral accompaniment. And for those who are curious, the ensemble elevated Gilbert’s original version of “My Kinda Party” during the afternoon run-through. The final set list for the night is still in development.

“Some songs — one in particular, [“Saving Amy”] — we haven’t played in six years,” Gilbert said. “[It] had some aspects of a symphony on the original production. But we’ve never done it live before. This will be the first time we’ve played that song live in six years and the first time ever we’ve played it with that particular arrangement; the first time we played anything with that particular arrangement.”

Gilbert’s show with the symphony comes with a charitable component. When media entered Gilbert’s rehearsal, they were greeted by Gilbert and Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba conversing with Brennan McMurray and James Shaw, Jr., survivors from Sunday’s (April 22) shooting at an Antioch, Tenn. Waffle House. The massacre left four dead and several others injured.

For victims, Gilbert and Dashboard Confessional have partnered to sell “I Believe in Heroism” t-shirts with proceeds supporting victims of the tragedy.

Sustaining a gunshot wound and burns from grabbing the gun’s barrel, Shaw saved several lives when he disarmed the gunman. While his bandaged hand is featured on the t-shirt, he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

“When you think of a hero,” Shaw told reporters, “you think of Batman or Super Man or Wonder Woman. And they’re fictional characters, but if I said a regular guy took a gun from somebody, I hope you can find that same fire within yourself that you can possibly emulate, and anybody can be a hero. I don’t want this to seem like it’s not real.

“If I did it, you all can do it.”

The shirts will be available at Gilbert’s Ascend concert with the Nashville Symphony and Dashboard Confessional’s May 11 concert at the Ryman Auditorium. For those who can’t make it to either show, the shirts will be available online. Shaw has also set up a GoFundMe account to further generate additional support for those affected by the shooting.

“[Shaw and McMurray] are more concerned with inspiring other people than being idolized themselves,” Gilbert added. “I think that’s huge. I’m honored to be associated with people that have sacrifice branded and programmed into them. It’s a different kind of human.

“I think at the end of the day, you just hope you got heroes.”

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.