NEW FEATURE – Get a life: what people do when they’re not at Preservation Pub/Scruffy City Hall

Rachel Williams and Destiny Smith

Rachel Williams (l) with fellow Pub server and Live and Breathing staffer Destiny Smith.

Besides being a workhorse server and occasional bartendress at the Pub and SCH, Rachel Williams also works at Live and Breathing, a soon-to-be-local outfit that produces high-quality videos of well-traveled international and local musical artists performing in intimate settings. In this first installation of a brand-new Scruff Post feature, she discusses Live and Breathing, where she also works alongside Pres Pub/SCH bartendress Destiny Smith.

What is Live and Breathing?

Live and Breathing goes and records artists in private settings in locations throughout the country. The whole idea is to give the viewer the feeling they’re in the middle of an intimate jam session with the artists. We don’t cut out anything. We want to show the human side of the music.

How many people work with Live and Breathing?

There are about eight of us, including [founder, and Avett Brothers soundman] Justin Glanville.

Why do you do what you do?

For me, I feel like we’re cataloging this music that’s part of our history, our roots. We’re recording my generation’s musical history, in a way. Bands will come and go, but the videos will always be there.

As a company, we want to capture these musical moments. But eventually, we also want to market the videos, and give something back to the artists. “Put some gas in their tanks” is what we like to say.

How do you go about making the recordings?

We work a lot at festivals. The first one we did was the Pickathon Independent Music Festival [Oregon], and we try to go back every year. We do the Bristol Rhythm and Roots every year, and we’ve done the Rhythm ‘n’ Blooms in Knoxville three times.

Now we’re trying to do our own sessions where we go to a city, record music there, and then hold a Live and Breathing event. So far, we’ve done one in Lubbock, Tex., and one in Nashville.

We’ve done hundreds of videos, too many to name them all. [View them at, or on the Live and Breathing Youtube channel.]

Do you have any favorites?

There are a few. One was when we went to do the Dave Rawlings Machine, and ended up filming Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, John Paul Jones, Willie Watson, and Paul Kowert [Punch Brothers.] I felt like I was watching musical gods, and we were the only people in the room.

My dad was in the hospital at the time. I showed him the video we did from that session, and he cried.

Watch Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, and John Paul Jones perform “Going to California” for Live and Breathing:

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