Nashville Nights: The 502s Bring Florida Sunshine & Indie Folk-Pop Magic To The Basement East

Floridian folk orchestra The 502s broke out the banjo, bass, saxophone, six-strings, percussion, keys, and kazoo headlining at The Basement East in Nashville last Tuesday.

The brotherhood of bandmates kicked off their 26-date tour across the country accompanied by pop-folk group, Oliver Hazard

The Basement East was a sea of denim and pastel flannel, and the stage was lit in bold Caribbean colors to compliment the island tropic vibe. Much like The 502’s music, the crowd was warm and energetic.

502s fan, Maelea, shared with us how she was introduced to the band. She discovered the band’s song “Magdalene” the day her now-husband proposed to her. “Magdalene” became the couple’s engagement song, which led them to becoming avid fans.

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The 502s – Photo by Brooke Burns

Both were at The Basement East last Tuesday to celebrate and indulge in the magic. 

Accompanying Maelea was lifelong friend and bridesmaid, Athena, who couldn’t wait to see The 502s after hearing the group’s song “Olivia” on Nashville’s Lighting 100 radio station. 

Before long, the lights dimmed, and out walked Oliver Hazard. The Ohio natives are kings of harmony, and proved a perfect opener for the night. The group opened with a gripping folk song, “Caesar Knows,” and electrified the crowd with the soulfulness of their notable track, “Gold Teeth Girl.” 

When The 502’s hit the stage, it was like they were walking on sunshine. Each band member smiled from ear to ear, and it was impossible not to smile back. Opening with one of the group’s most popular songs, “Hey Julia,” the band never stood still and neither did the crowd. Within the last minute of the song, saxophonist Joe Capati sent the audience into a volcanic eruption. 

The band gleefully sang and step-danced, all while keeping perfect time and in perfect harmony. The group is composed of dynamic performers Ed Isola (lead vocals, banjo), Jake Isola (acoustic guitar), Matthew Tonner (keys & electric guitar), Sean Froehlich, (drums, percussion), Nick Melashenko (bass), and the aforementioned Capati on sax and trumpet.

The 502s – Photo by Brooke Burns

The band of brothers announced they’ll be releasing a new song every week of their tour. To celebrate, the group played their newest release, “Backstage in Glasgow,” a catchy Celtic-inspired folk-rock song that had the band jamming and dropping to the floor. 

Isola’s voice is entrancing with its fullness, and he has a unique color tone and twang that was beautifully accompanied in super fan Maela’s proposal song “Magdalene”- a sublime mid-tempo ballad that is heart-swelling and sincere. 

Constantly moving in sync, the band has a seemingly kinesthetic connection that can only be achieved by clicking together for countless hours, feeding off each other’s energy. The group’s dynamic is truly special to witness, and they make the audience feel like they are a part of something bigger.

Being at The Basement East that night was like attending an end of summer bash or a southern jamboree. Beach balls bounced throughout the audience, as the band rocked kazoo solos and drum solos alike, creating a unique sensory experience. 

The group’s encore, “Story To Tell,” gave every member a verse to sing, with each bandmate bringing their own personality and energy to the mic stand. This final performance gave the audience the opportunity to connect with the band members more intimately and celebrate the night in a full out folk fantasia. 

The 502s and Oliver Hazard’s next show on their coast-to-coast tour will be at The Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, Arizona on January 31st.

The 502s – Photo by Brooke Burns

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