Collaborators, Friends Celebrate Leon Bridges' Music, Nomination

Following the Grammy nominations this week there has been a big buzz in Fort Worth about a native son.

Leon Bridges is up for Best R&B Album, which was recorded in a rather unusual location in the city.

The nominations came out less than 48 hours after Bridges appeared on NBC's Saturday Night Live. At Magnolia Motor Lounge, where Bridges was a resident performer for six weeks before recording his album and signing with Columbia Records, there was an unusual reaction when he took the stage in Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center.

"The whole bar shut up. Even the band stopped playing so we could listen to him perform on SNL, which was really cool," said Spencer Peirce, a bartender at Magnolia Motor Lounge. "That's never happened in the history of this bar."

Bridges played just about everywhere he could in Fort Worth prior to hitting it big.

"There was probably five different bars that he was playing on different nights," Peirce said.
"Leon was spending every night in front of people whether the tune was finished or not," said Josh Block, of Niles City Sound and recently the touring drummer for Bridges.

For a musician to play at any place or time that he can is by no means unusual. What is unusual is where Block, his partners, other DFW-area musicians, and Bridges recorded the now Grammy nominated album, Coming Home.

"It was more like a hobo village," Block said.

Inside the old Supreme Golf Warehouse Outlet building on the city's southside, they built a room inside a room. They used packing blankets, discarded insulation and even used a canopy to create an impromptu, albeit irregular, recording space.

"Underneath us was the most beautifully kept putting green," Block said.

They had to adjust for the curves of the old putting green beneath their feet, which made the recording process tricky over the four days they recorded just about a year ago.

Chris Vivion helped mix the recordings. Block played their drums and their third partner, Austin Jenkins, also played. The three are now building an actual studio adjacent to their temporary recording space inside the warehouse.

Vivion also helped tour manage Bridges when they first hit the road after producing the record.

Block left the road a few weeks ago after having a baby. However, he did return to the road for the SNL performance.

"You know, that's the pinnacle of late night TV, I think," Block said.

Neither can believe that experience or how far Bridges and the album have gone.

"I knew it was great music, but in my mind I kind of felt like we were making a really cool record that people in Fort Worth were going to hear," Block said.

Now, it's an album the nation and world are embracing. Bridges and company leave for Australia the day after Christmas for shows there and in New Zealand.

Everyone who knows Bridges from the bar scene a year and a half ago to the road tour all say he's remained humble throughout.

"He's just a sweetheart," Block said.

And he has an entire city behind him.

"We're proud to have a person like him who is genuine and cares to represent Fort Worth, absolutely," Peirce said.

Bridges and his musicians play in Virginia on Saturday night before heading overseas.

There's no word yet on when they'll play next in the DFW area.

Bridges is a Crowley High School alum.

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