Singer-songwriter, James Hatem has just broken the Guinness World Record for most shows played in 24 hours. Last week this Nashville born and raised artist played a total of 80 sets for 10 minutes each. That number breaks the previous record held in Norway with 65 shows.
When James was approached with the crazy idea to do this, he was onboard immediately, fueled by a desire to give back to the Nashville community. All of the proceeds go to the Music Venue Alliance Nashville and US Bartenders Guild. “We want to show our support because keeping these local music venues alive until they are able to get back into the swing of things is our goal. Even if it’s a small little part in the grand scheme of things, how can we help to support the venues that have supported us over the years?” You can donate by visiting basementtobridgestonearena.com
Many of these venues have supported James since the beginning. “Café Coco doing that gig was crazy, going to Belmont was crazy because that’s where I finished up school. Playing Exit In, The Basement, all of those have been so great not only as an artist but an audience member.” He also got to play new venues on his bucket list such as Bridgestone, Ryman, and TPAC, creating memories he will never forget. Given time restraints on venues, his first gig was at 5:45 AM on Friday morning April 9th. His last gig, 2am on Saturday morning April 10th. Since breaking the record, Hatem has gotten a ton of exposure nationwide.
2020 was a challenging year for everyone and Nashville got hit hard. First a tornado that caused devastation across numerous areas, then Covid, and on Christmas morning, a bombing downtown. Hatem confides, “It hasn’t been an easy ride the past year for us, but that’s Nashville strong. Unfortunately, some had to close their doors, but for those still holding out, coming up with creative ways to help out where they can and be stronger.”
There are plenty of ways that music lovers can help at this time. Show support to your local venues. Take a picture of your favorite venue, telling your favorite memory. Check in. Be part of your community. “Whether you are playing in a basement for a buddy or playing in a stadium, I feel it’s important to find your roots and help out a community,” James believes. I think a lot of artists have been doing just that during quarantine, and this singer-songwriter agrees. “I think that shows no matter what happens in your career, how much money you make, that the people that do that are real and have a good heart. I love that.”
Hatem has taken the downtime to hone his skills. In addition to playing and writing, he is challenging himself to get more into the production side. After places started opening back up, he began receiving offers to play CDC-approved shows. The problem was that he was unable to bring a band. So, in effort to put on a one man show, he built up an acoustic set with a pedalboard. By adding a vocal harmonizer, guitar effects, and a soundbox, he was able to play solo gigs that were a little more interesting. He believes that all that hard work paid off. “I think that training of playing solo sets with just acoustic guitar helped build my stamina and my hands up for playing 80 shows in 24 hours.”
So, what is next? “Playing 81,” jokes James, adding the focus is now on press. “The goal is to bring awareness of why we tried to do this in the first place. It wasn’t like we were just bored, and like hey let’s try to break a record. It was let’s do something crazy, and that brings awareness to focus on the great cause.” During this project they accumulated 30 hours of footage, which they are sending to the people at Guinness. For those interested in seeing more, the plan is to hopefully release a documentary later on.