For Butch Rice, Music and Community are About Commonality

Butch Rice, was born in Milan, Tennessee but moved to Louisville when he was young.

As a kid, his mother made him play the piano and in middle school she signed him up for choir too.

“Music became my best friend. I wanted to be surrounded by it,” he said.

At that time, Butch said what influenced him musically was what he heard from his parents. He said people like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Andraé Crouch, Walter Hawkins, and Sly and the Family Stone all had a significant impact on him while growing up.


Butch’s mother played music at Phillip’s Chapel in Milan for fifty years, and that’s where he first found music.

“Everyone on my mother’s side was in the choir in the church, and I remember being young and watching everyone around the piano killing it,” he said. “I never thought much about it, but as I got older I realized over time I loved music.”

When he got older his mom began listening to a Pop radio station in Louisville. He loved it.

“One day, I was going through my aunt’s record collection, and she had The Beatles Rubber Soul and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I didn’t know what it was so I pulled it and dropped it and just thought, what is this?”
Butch said discovering different music genres was like opening new windows of music. He said what drew him in was that it was different than the gospel and R&B music that he was used to listening to.

“I saw a common thread in a lot of genres and styles then and even more so now because of the evolution of technology and music.”

He said in the 90s, music tended to be divided until bands like Rage Against the Machine and Incubus incorporated rap, with house music and rock.

“Now, it’s entirely acceptable,” he said. “You’ll see turntables next to a guy with an electric guitar and no one thinks anything about it. It’s the evolution of time that shows that commonality exists.”

As far as his own music, Butch described it as heart-felt, acoustic, and easy music.

Recently, he’s been working with The Sound Shelter in Franklin on creating something different.

“Left to my own devices, I write ballads which I’m pretty bored with,” he said. “And that’s why I’m here in Nashville, to grow, to share some stories, live a little bit and figure it out.”

Butch is working on some new songs and hopes to put out an EP sometime soon.

Outside of his music endeavors, Butch works in the healthcare industry as a customer service representative.

“I’ve done it most of my adult life,” he said. “It’s listening and not taking stuff personally. It’s figuring out what that person needs or what’s going wrong and then fixing it. I’m good at that.”


After college, Butch stumbled into the bar music life. Starting out by doing the coffee shop circuit, a friend recommended he play with a band downtown in the bars. He said the music scene then, in the mid to late 90s was huge and he always wanted to know if he could do it for himself. So he decided to give it a shot. He learned how to play the guitar and started writing songs.

“I wrote down every song that was in my head, and I created a song book. I went out and played, and I sucked. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in some places that let me stay and grow,” he said. “I worked hard to have a good reputation in Louisville.”

A self-proclaimed bar warrior veteran for 15 years, Butch said he ended up leaving that environment because he didn’t want to grow old in a bar.

“At one point, I was playing six days a week 10 p.m. to 2 p.m.,” he said.

Butch’s sister saw him struggling with things in Louisville and sent him a Bible verse, Matthew 6:26. He said after that he started doing the numbers and figuring out if a move to Nashville was possible.

“I had to believe that the Lord had a path for me, and I still believe that now.”

He took stock of how many gigs he was playing, his level of creativity and of his life itself. He said when he started listening all the voices and signs said it was time for him to go.


In his travels, Butch met an executive at ASCAP in Denver who put him in contact with someone in their Nashville office. One day, he drove down, went in, played songs, and some took critics. He said after a few meetings he realized he was tired of making the drive from Louisville to Nashville.

In a big leap of faith, he decided to make the move to Nashville a little over two years ago.

 In October of 2014, when Butch first arrived, he lived in a ten by ten room with some roommates who were less than enjoyable.

In that first month, his car was totaled when someone rear-ended him on Charlotte Pike in downtown Nashville.

“I’ve been extremely blessed, and it hasn’t been easy. It’s been a test of will and a test of all my beliefs and skills to believe that I’m good enough and I’m supposed to be here to survive this.”

Butch said his time in Nashville has been difficult at times, but it’s also been a great experience for him. He said he is excited about the music he’s making and what’s next for him.

“The growth is phenomenal, and it was one of the reasons that sold me to Nashville,” he said. “But one thing that worries me is getting priced out.”

He said to him a community is a place where there is a sense of oneness, commonality, and understanding. He said finding that initial sense of community within music was eye opening, and said that connectivity was something he longed and has been lucky to find it in Nashville.

“For right now I’m enjoying the journey. What I like is that there’s so much creativity here and energy here.”

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