We are the Nation of Love

where independent musicians feel the love

email / info@thenationoflove.com

The Scoop


Golden Hour Tour Final Update

WOW!!!! The Golden Hour Tour was AMAZING!!! 11 performances in one week! (that includes two sets with Zorya) Each show was unique and special. One14 Coffee Bar in Neosho, MO was a great place to kick off the tour. A friendly atmosphere with great food and coffee. The house concert in Tulsa, OK couldn’t have been on a more beautiful day. Some of us sat outside and jammed before the show started. Jim Tilly brought a wonderful group of people together for us to meet and entertain for the evening. Onward to Fayetteville, AR we arrived at the hotel to find a free happy hour in the lobby. This was a HUGE step up from our previous hotel experience. Once we got to the venue Smoke and Barrel Tavern, happy hour continued and some fun board games kept us occupied until the show began. For St. Patricks Day, most of us wore green and our caravan headed to Texas. It was a long, long drive and we rewarded ourselves in Waco, TX with Sushi. A few hours later we checked into the hotel. 

The next morning, we hit AUSTIN, TX for our Golden Hour Tour day party at Kebablicious. We had a few friends join the bill with us and we played for patrons of the restaurant and curious spectators. (their turkish style wraps are delicious)

We played 3 more showcases while we were in Austin, TX: MidCoast Takeover, CatvsOwl, and Home Tone Records showcase. The latter was the most stressful. We thought since the showcase started at 11am, we’d be able to find good parking.....NOT!! We drove around for 30 minutes and then I decided the girls should jump out and get to the club. I’d drive around some more.... Future Kings had played by now and Ruth was about to start. Another 45 minutes later, Matt Frush from Future Kings met me a few blocks away and continued driving while I ran to the venue to play. Our set went great. I managed to slam about 5 tacos down, wave goodbye to our Home Tone Records friends and jump right back in the car, bound for Shreveport, LA. 

Hours later, we arrived at The Brass Monkey. This was an interesting show. Brett, Jeff and I ran sound. We had a very mixed crowd and my uncle Howard came. We loaded out fast and settled into our hotel. I passed out but the crew was up having way too much fun. I hear a rap video was made. After a good breakfast, Springfield, MO was on the horizon and we were welcomed with open arms. Patton Alley Pub was the best last show we could have hoped for. We ate good and played good. Yankton had the sound dialed in just right. 

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THANK YOU to every person that supported our adventure. 

THANK YOU Future Kings, Zorya, Ruth Acuff, Violet and the Undercurrents for making great music night after night.

THANK YOU Amber Thiessen for capturing the moments

THANK YOU Violet for video production and organizing with me

THANK YOU to the Universe for keeping us safe

Last but to least, THANK YOU to the people who came to our shows!!!!


P.S. STAY TUNED for info on a TOUR DOCUMENTARY screening party in the near future! You won't want to miss it!


Golden Hour Tour Update

Rolling down the road, listening to BO-Peep, Band of Lovers, Kristin Ford, and all the other CD’s we took out of SXSW.  There’s such a huge world of awesome music out there! And it is a great a soundtrack for this lush drive from Shreveport to Springfield.  The drive northeast out of Austin was gorgeous, which was great because it was also long!  Yet, just a warm up for today.

Most memorable moment so far has to be when Trey from Future Kings and a member of The Giving Tree had a banjo showdown on 5th street in Austin.  Words can’t do justice to the perfection of the moment, but it was definitely “spaghetti western-esque”.

One great thing about being on tour is that each act has played their set daily, and each performance has gotten better and better.   The bands are becoming more unified in presentation while simultaneously loosening up and breathing with the music.

-Jeff Mueller (Ruth Acuff)

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NOL, finished out the last of our shows in Austin yesterday afternoon. Everyone was coming off an emotional high from our sets at Midcoast takeover and CatVs.Owl on Thursday. Matt Epstein completed the Future Kings full 5 piece ensemble and brought his bouncy drum riser jumping energy to the Austin sets. Phylshawn and Violet pulled triple duty with the Undercurrents and Zorya for 3 sets spread out across Austin. Team Ruth Acuff dragged her cathedral sized harp back and forth across the capital on a beautiful Texas day. After a long day of unloading, setting up, packing up, loading in again, and …… you get the picture everyone retired to the hotel exhausted. 

On tour somedays are better than others. Friday started early and hectic after a late night with midday sets for everyone. Friday during music week is insane and so was trying to park and unload. Some were able to able to get past the barricades into the bustle of 6th street but most had to schlep their gear a few city blocks to get into the venue and out again. Sets started before noon for some. (which might be the musical equivalent of making out in front of your parents. Ewww.) We soldiered on,  because we’re professionals and brought it. 
We knew the rains were coming before hitting the road to Shreveport and they did. A light sprinkle starting at load out transitioned to a steady downpour which lasted most of the 6 hour drive across east Texas to Shreveport, LA. Spirits were soon improved with hot Indian food and libations. For some of us this was the first meal in a while, (breakfast included) that didn’t include a tortilla or food truck. The Future kings kicked it off with a tight but loose set and Ruth Acuff debuted a new song surprising even her bassist Jef Mueller. Violet and the Undercurrents rocked it and got the crowd clapping on 2 and four to close it out. Shenanigans continued at the hotel with a round of acrobatic bed leaping and and impromptu rap video which may or may not see the light of day. After a fantastic night of sleep and a hearty breakfast the road points to our final show at Patton Alley Pub in Springfield, MO. Rock on!
-Brett Pippin (Future Kings)



Golden Hour Tour Update

We're writing to you from the butt end of our first full day at SXSW, and we feel great*! And tired. So very very tired. But also so pleased to be here with our full crew, including Zorya and the full Future Kings lineup, all of the other awesome Home Tone musicians that Columbia has to offer, including The Many Colored Death and Kevin Hambrick of the Orange Opera. 

We spent most of Wednesday playing and eating delicious food at Kebabalicious, drinking Mexican Cokes in the bottle and just taking in the overwhelming atmosphere of SXSW. Every building has music and every corner a foodtruck… it's like heaven.

We've got a big day ahead of us tomorrow (showcases at Cherrywood Coffee and Midcoast Takeover and the ongoing saga of how to park at a major festival with a trailer). Facebook us with recommendations for Austin, TX foodtrucks or restaurants!

*To be really specific, we're all draped over the beds and couches of our hotel room watching Austin City Limits and idly debating wether it's more important to shower or sleep. Did we mention it's hot here?

-Caitlin Lukin



Golden Hour Tour Update

 Well….If i had started typing 5 minutes earlier, it would still technically be 3/18/15….It's 5 after midnight, Ruth and Linda are dying their hair purple in the hotel bathroom right now. Pictures to come later! We've spent all day in the car driving from Fayetteville, AR to Salado, TX, where we're staying for the night before our big Day Party tomorrow in Austin!!! It feels SO good to be out of the car! Oklahoma isn't especially known for it's smooth roads.

Last night we played the Smoke and Barrel Tavern. It was a really great venue and for a Monday night, we were happy with the turnout. Our sound guy, Boochie had connections to Columbia, MO's own, The Bel Airs. It's always fun seeing how small the world is and how much we're all connected! 

Tomorrow is our FIRST LABEL DAY PARTY!! Find us at Kebabalicious on 1131 E 7th st in Austin, TX.


Okay, must get some sleep now. Big day tomorrow!!! <3



Good morning! We've got another great day ahead of us! Today we drive to Fayetteville, AR to play at the Smoke and Barrel Tavern. Last night we played a house concert in Tulsa. We met some amazing people. The "venue" took place in a separate building the host had renovated from an old shed. It was covered in a posters from some of our favorite bands and a whole wall of great albums he's collected over the years. Here are a few pics from our house concert.

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 We'll be updating as often as time allows on this crazy whirlwind of a tour! Now it's time to go find some hotel continental breakfast. ;)


Hello from the road! 

We began our first Label Tour yesterday!!!! So far we've had a great time with GREAT crowds. We couldn't have asked for better venues and audiences. 

Last night we played in Neosho, MO at one14 coffee bar and made a ton of new fans! Here are a few of our favorite pics taken by Amber Thiessen. 

Pictures from tonight's house concert to come soon! Be sure to check back here often for photo and tour updates!

Much Love!


One nation, under love,

Indivisible, with rhythm and harmony for all.

Phylshawn Johnson isn’t the sort of music mogul to make artists on her label swear allegiance. But, if the acts that make up The Nation of Love were to have a common creed, it might sound something like that — a call to common ground, to spreading love for and through music, to an all-in-it-together approach to making art. The homegrown label will celebrate its musical momentum, releasing its first compilation, “The Golden Hour,” during a Saturday-night showcase at The Bridge.

The Nation of Love has slowly but surely taken shape over the past five years. Johnson, a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for her rocksteady drumming in a variety of bands and contexts, conceived the project as a means to a very simple end. Her friends in Kansas City act Mr. History had recorded an album that was unmoored and unspoken for beyond the band itself. Johnson had cut a record of her own, the vintage R&B/modern-rock hybrid “Soul Heart.”

Without realizing the elusive dream of signing to a label, Johnson knew both acts’ music could be lost to time and go more quickly than it came. Starting a label would allow her to archive this quality music, give it legs to stand on and ensure it had a more permanent place in the atmosphere. The label’s name was meant to reflect Johnson’s notion that music is “the one thing that everybody loves,” a force able to convert those with little in common into countrymen of a sort.

As Johnson studied the machinery of the major label, she saw a troubling landscape where artists were rewarded at the same rate waiters and waitresses are tipped. She envisioned a setup that flipped the usual script, providing needed infrastructure while promoting artists’ interests, not those of the label.

Just as Johnson the drummer has learned to play more or less to serve the song, Johnson the label head has adjusted her role to suit each band. The lengths to which she goes and degree to which she is hands-on depends on the artists’ level of savvy and independence, their particular strengths and weaknesses.

“The Golden Hour” is a detailed sketch of the label’s past, present and future. Featuring two songs apiece from seven artists, it reaches back to those earliest Mr. History tracks while giving voice to brand-new ones by fellow Kansas Citians The Future Kings. Johnson is part of three of the bands represented, two of which are local — sophisticated folk-rockers Violet and the Undercurrents and acoustic trio Zorya.

Over time, Johnson assumed the drum chair in Mr. History, a rotating collective that weds a groovy orientation with “explosions of punk and metal,” Johnson said. The band possesses a dynamic emotional energy and has influenced a number of other acts in Kansas City, she said.

Johnson described The Future Kings as mad sonic scientists, “experimental … all the way.” The band takes an “aggressive rhythmic approach” and lays a “really pretty vocal on top,” she said. Johnson compared the band’s recent material to that of Minneapolis’ bold electro-poppers Polica.

Local singer-songwriter Ruth Acuff uses plucked harp strings and spiritual tuning to blur the lines between indie- and folk-rock into a lovely, ethereal haze. “Obviously, the No. 1 thing when you think of Ruth Acuff is … her voice,” Johnson said. It was that voice that gripped Johnson, stopping her quite literally in her tracks, when she first heard Acuff at a local open mic night a decade ago.

The compilation also chronicles material from Johnson’s “Soul Heart,” as well solo work by Violet Vonder Haar, who fronts The Undercurrents and Zorya.

Nation of Love bands, per Johnson’s excitable ear and eclectic design, have found a unity that springs from diversity. Although each act expresses it in different ways, they share a similar heartbeat. It is that intangible quality, the ability to be moved and move others — and not necessarily the ability to write a hit single — that drew Johnson to each artist.

“There’s got to be soul in it,” she said. “Some of the music today that’s coming out — the bubblegum, manufactured stuff — just doesn’t have any soul to it, you know?”

Ultimately, whatever genre they claim, Johnson said each act ultimately makes folk music — “It’s the music of a community,” she said. When she hears artists who belong to such a tribe, it becomes “a goal and a calling” to expose others to them, as well.

The Nation of Love’s future looks bright — each artist has new projects in mind. Johnson believes both the label and the local scene are living in a watershed time, a truly golden hour. She hopes the compilation and Saturday night’s show conveys this message — “The music of our time is really in your towns,” she said.


This article was published in the Thursday, December 12, 2013 edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune with the headline "SPREAD THE LOVE: Local label celebrates five years of musical momentum."


© 2014 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Nation of Love record label plays its debut showcase

It’s going to be a full house at The Bridge on Saturday as members of The Nation of Loverecord label warm up to perform their first label showcase. The independent record label, started in 2009 under local musician Phylshawn Johnson, has seven musical groups and solo artists to its name.

“The goal of the label is to promote artists that compose and write music that comes from inspiration,” Phylshawn says. “It’s not necessarily for commercial appeal. We’re not looking for hits or pop smashes, but rather music that’s beautiful or edgy or experimental. It’s about really using the musical sounds of instruments and vocals to make art.”

But if you take a look through each group’s bio page, you’ll notice some overlap. Several of the artists have taken to forming different groups within the label through which they can experiment with and showcase their various musical styles.

“We think of it as a collaboration of different musicians and artists creating a community to get our music and art to the world,” says Violet Vonder Haar, who plays in both Violet and the Undercurrents and Zorya. “We’re all pretty close friends, and we’re all part of different groups in different ways.”

The music label will perform from its collection of material from its 2009-era origins to new releases from this year. The collaborative show will also promote its first label compilation, The Golden Hour, with 14 tracks from its musicians. The evening will also include live art by Amber Thiessen.

What else can you look forward to? Here is a rundown of the musicians taking the stage and what you can expect to hear from them.