We had the good fortune of connecting with Anthony & Lily Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anthony & Lily, why did you pursue a creative career?
We didn’t pursue our music as a career at first, everyone in the band had a different career path. Anthony, our guitarist, was working as a full time engineer.

Lily, our vocalist, was finishing up a psychology degree at Tennessee Tech University. Derek, our drummer, was building kayaks. We were performing locally as a cover band maybe once a week. When everyone came together and started playing music more regularly we realized we could make a full career out of it.

Originally I think we had chosen those careers because they were stable and had reliable income, but as time went on we realized we were a lot happier when we were performing music. So we decided to take a risk to become full time musicians and performers.

There’s definitely a greater sense of fulfillment and freedom in self-employment and building your own career/brand. We decide how we write our music, what songs we play, what shows we take, and so on. Not everyone is able to follow their passion and be independently successful, so we’re very grateful we get to do this as a dedicated team.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
So we’re a regionally touring band called The Smoky Nights. Our musical style is somewhere in between folk, rock, and pop music – and our instrumentation is mostly acoustic instruments. The band consists of violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and 2 lead vocalists. My wife and I (Lily & Anthony Nguyen) are the vocalists of the band. We’ve been married for 3 years and have also been professional musicians for 3 years.

Our journey as musicians started about 7 years ago when we played for a local open mic night. After playing one night, we were asked to be the house band for a local restaurant (and we barely even had a band name!) We continued to be a cover band for about 4 years – playing late nights and covering all genres of music. It wasn’t until 2019 that Lily and I discovered that we could write original music together – and that people would actually want to hear it! Since then we’ve taken our music into the studio and also started touring as an original act.

Currently we have 2 studio albums released, “Burning Bridges” (2019) and “Waking Up in Wonderland” (2021) – those albums are available everywhere online! Both of those projects are original music, and they were recorded in Nashville, TN and Muscle Shoals, AL respectively. We’re very proud of those albums but I’ll admit that it wasn’t an easy path to get to where we are professionally. As a husband-wife led band, we have a lot of challenges – the biggest of those being that we independently manage the band and business together. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to work with a bigger team, but for now our 5-piece band is doing the best we can!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Lily and I love the great outdoors! We moved to Tennessee for a reason – we love hiking around different landscapes, and checking out gorgeous waterfalls (I even proposed to Lily at her favorite waterfall in Tennessee). When our friends visit the area we take them on hikes with us, so here are some of our favorite trails & waterfalls near us:

Cummins Falls State Park (Cookeville, TN)
Fall Creek Falls State Park (Spencer, TN)
Rock Island State Park (Rock Island, TN)

Most of our friends & family that come through the area ask about our favorite spots in Nashville – it is a big tourist city after all! Even though Broadway can be a fun experience, we have a short list of some of our favorite spots. Here’s what we love:

Vui’s Kitchen – Vietnamese (Nashville, TN)
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken – American (Nashville, TN)
Bartaco – Mexican/American (Nashville, TN)

The Gulch – arts district (Nashville, TN)
Centennial Park (Nashville, TN)

Listening Room Cafe – Live Music (Nashville, TN)
The Row – Live Music (Nashville, TN)
3rd & Lindsley – Live Music (Nashville, TN)

Nashville can be a lot of fun, but our home base is about an hour away in Middle Tennessee. When we’re keeping around the Upper Cumberland, we’re always inviting our friends & family out to our shows. Some of our regular spots that we play music include:

37 Cedar Restaurant & Bar (Cookeville, TN)
Red Silo Brewing Company (Cookeville, TN)
The Bull & Thistle Pub (Gainesboro, TN)
The Burlap Room Beer Garden (Smithville, TN)

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Love this question – our music career is so dependent on the continued support and encouragement of our family, friends, fans, and venues. We definitely want to give a shoutout to a few organizations. County Q Studios in Nashville, Tennessee was the spot where we recorded our first studio album. The team at County Q was instrumental in helping our vision for our original music become a reality.

MMA Creative is a company in Cookeville, Tennessee that organizes food sport competitions all over the country. They were one of the first companies that believed in our performance as musicians, and it allowed us to have our first experience playing music on the road in Dallas, TX in 2019.

The city of Cookeville, TN has been so supportive of our music career and we’re lucky to live in an area where local & regional musicians can thrive. Whether we’re playing local festivals, supporting other local artists, or just bringing people together – we are glad to have the support of this city.

Website: https://www.thesmokynights.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesmokynights

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thesmokynights

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSmokyNights

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheSmokyNights

Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4z1WfzN59pZ2MXFdKt6IEv Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/the-smoky-nights/1467287749

Image Credits
Photographers: Matthew Antoniak, Lisa Gong, Hailey Allen, Kristen Drum, Stephanie Joy, Claudia del Rivero

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