JANUARY 19–25, 2023 I VOLUME 41 I NUMBER 50 I NASHVILLESCENE.COM I FREE STREET VIEW: NASHVILLE’S CONSTRUCTION WASTE PROBLEM PAGE 6 CITY LIMITS: BILL LEE TRIES TO KEEP LETHAL INJECTION ALIVE PAGE 7 FILM: THE 2022 JIM RIDLEY FILM POLL PAGE 38 WE TALK WITH CHAPEL HART, DISCUSS THE INTERSECTION OF TRANS RIGHTS AND ROOTS MUSIC, TAKE A DEEP DIVE INTO DATA AND MORE
Street View: Southern Services Landfill and Nashville’s Construction Waste Problem ...................................................... 6
The issue is complicated by a denied expansion request, the construction boom and a local history of environmental racism
BY LENA MAZEL
Bill Lee Tries to Keep Lethal Injection Alive 7
Rather than reconsidering capital punishment, the governor will make leadership changes after a damning investigation into Tennessee executions
BY ELI MOTYCKA
Lawmakers Kick Off New State Legislative Session as Protesters Warn of Injustice ......7 Abortion, infrastructure, education and Metro are expected to be hot topics in 2023
BY STEPHEN ELLIOTT AND HAMILTON MATTHEW MASTERS
COVER STORY Country Music Almanac
Straight From the Hart 9
Talking with Chapel Hart about maintaining their independence as they take the national stage
BY AMANDA HAGGARD
Artists to Watch 11
From Adeem the Artist to The Kentucky Gentlemen and beyond, our writers have nine new picks to keep an eye on A Place to Call Home 12
Talking with artists and music-biz pros about giving trans and nonbinary artists the platform and equity they need to thrive
BY RACHEL CHOLST
Passing the Mic ....................................... 14 In our survey, journalists weigh in on the present and future of country music
COMPILED BY STEPHEN TRAGESER
In the Loop 16
Understanding the relationship between data and the lack of diversity and equity in country music
BY DR. JADA WATSON
The Full Picture 18
Looking at how recent work by Justin Hiltner, Willi Carlisle and Adeem the Artist represents queer artists claiming more territory in country
BY STEACY EASTON
BY MARGARET LITTMAN
BY FISKE NYIRONGO
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SOUTHERN SERVICES LANDFILL AND NASHVILLE’S CONSTRUCTION WASTE PROBLEM
The issue is complicated by a denied expansion request, the construction boom and a local history of environmental racism
BY LENA MAZEL
Street View is a monthly column in which we’ll take a close look at developmentrelated issues affecting different neighborhoods throughout the city.
Southern Services Landfill, Waste Management’s 77-acre construction and demolition landfill, is in a tight spot. Until 2022, it received 90 percent of Nashville’s construction and demolition waste. Like many waste facilities in the United States, it borders a predominantly Black neighborhood — a neighborhood that has historically contained a disproportionate number of Nashville’s municipal sites. And now, it’s close to running out of space.
Throughout Nashville’s development boom, Southern Services’ intake increased. In the past 13 years, it took on debris from two separate natural disasters — the historic 2010 flood and the March 2020 tornado. In September 2022, after the Davidson County Solid Waste Region Board rejected WM’s proposal to expand, they closed the site to outside contractors. They’re currently appealing the Solid Waste Region Board’s decision. But unless Nashville drastically reduces its construction and demolition waste, there isn’t a clear solution in sight.
Don Gentilcore, area director at Waste Management, says limiting the amount of waste they accept was a “difficult decision,” but it was a better option than closing completely. Their proposed extension adds 17 acres to the site, which Gentilcore says would extend the facility’s capacity by 10 to 12 years. WM initially appealed the Solid Waste Region Board’s decision in chancery court, but their appeal was denied in March of last year. They’re currently fighting the decision again in appellate court. But in the meantime, they don’t have enough space for the volume of construction and demolition waste Nashville produces; by restricting
outside carriers, they’ve eliminated 60 to 70 percent of their intake.
For non-WM contractors, Southern Services’ closure meant additional costs and logistical challenges. Phillip Nappi is the CEO of Vavia, a waste disposal company. In September, Vavia had to divert their trucks to new sites. “It was pretty scary there for a few weeks,” he says. “Luckily some sites opened up, but they’re double the price. It drives costs and inflation up, which is going to slow down growth in the local economy.”
According to the Solid Waste Region Board, construction and demolition debris makes up 23 percent of Nashville’s total waste. In 2008, Nashville produced about 180,000 tons of C&D waste, and recycled about 40,000 tons of other C&D materials. Over the next few years, C&D debris increased substantially. Nashville produced 432,065 tons of C&D debris in 2021, and recycled 13,928 tons. Southern Services accepted 390,315 tons of material that year.
Southern Services borders Bordeaux, where the Rev. Marilyn E. Thornton has lived for 30 years. “The dump has been a matter of contention the whole time,” she tells the Scene via email.
“Moving to Nashville, I noticed that even as this part of town included many African American citizens who would be considered middle-class (doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors), and who had built lovely brick homes, there were also many poor whites living here,” Thornton says. “This seemed to be the area of preference for the government to ‘dump’ necessary but NIMBY institutions like prisons/jails, dog pound, water plant treatment, potter’s field, county home/ hospital for the sick, as well as an actual dump, for a long time.”
Bordeaux previously housed a landfill on County Hospital Road that accepted household waste. Advocates campaigned for its closure in 1996. In 2004, the city converted the closed dump to a wildlife area. But Bor-
deaux’s history has some residents wary of other municipal and waste management sites, which can cause additional disruptions and depress property values. When Southern Services applied for a different expansion back in 2003, then-Metro Councilmember Brenda Gilmore asked, “Is it fair to burden one community with all of these problems?”
Cecilia Olusola Tribble, a cultural educator and Thornton’s daughter, also lives in Bordeaux. She sees the Southern Services site as part of a larger history of environmental racism. “It has kept our economy depressed and limited the business that comes to Bordeaux,” she says, adding that “the added trucks mess up our roads,” making vehicle maintenance more expensive.
Nashville’s Zero Waste Master Plan aims to reduce the waste Nashville sends to landfills by 90 percent over the next 30 years. The plan has introduced regulations to C&D projects, like minimum recycling thresholds. Gentilcore says WM’s requested 10- to 12-year extension would give them time to adapt to new solutions, including increased recycling. “We can’t go from the landfills that exist to nothing immediately,” Gentilcore says. “There has to be a bridge.”
The master plan suggests that recycling
more materials will “spur development of new C&D waste processing facilities — reversing the recent trend of declining C&D waste processing capacity in the area.” But even with that goal, the puzzle of C&D waste remains complex.
“I don’t foresee them ever having a direct-haul landfill in Davidson County,” says Vavia CEO Nappi. “Southern will be the last one. So transfer stations are going to be popping up. We’re going to have to deal with those, and this is going to drive up cost.”
Even with transfer stations in place, the debris still has to end up somewhere. David Padgett, associate professor of geography at Tennessee State University, researches waste and environmental justice issues. He points out that shutting down municipal waste sites doesn’t automatically solve underlying issues.
“It’s difficult to say that the solution is to spread the problem around,” Padgett says.
“The true solution, which is kind of a utopian solution, is to ask, ‘Why do we create this much waste in the first place?’ That’s really the solution — to create less waste, to recycle, and to take waste materials out of the front end of the waste tree.”
6 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
LIMITS STREET VIEW:
PHOTOS: ERIC ENGLAND
SOUTHERN SERVICES LANDFILL SOUTHERN
BILL LEE TRIES TO KEEP LETHAL INJECTION ALIVE
BY ELI MOTYCKA
In April of last year, the governor — then the media, then the public — learned that the state had bungled drug testing in the hours leading up to the planned execution of 72-yearold Oscar Franklin Smith. Lee issued a last-minute reprieve for Smith and, days later, suspended executions through 2022, citing “technical issues” with the state’s lethal injection process. Everything stood still for seven months while Memphis attorney Ed Stanton III, a former federal prosecutor, investigated the state’s preferred method of killing, a three-drug combination meant to sedate and paralyze before stopping the heart.
States routinely fail to carry out executions by lethal injection, a method sometimes misunderstood by the general public as simple or painless for its resemblance to a medical procedure. Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio, Florida and Oklahoma have all botched lethal injections in the past decade.
Texas has continued executing prisoners, including Robert Fratta on Jan. 10, with potentially expired pentobarbital. After Alabama failed to kill Alan Eugene Miller and Kenneth Smith by lethal injection in the fall (both were pierced multiple times by executioners before their deaths were called off), Gov. Kay Ivey suspended the practice pending a review. The state will now explore execution by gas chamber. Ohio is awaiting the findings of a similar review. Oklahoma and Missouri have already held executions in 2023, joining Texas.
Tennessee’s preferred drugs — midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potas-
LAWMAKERS KICK OFF NEW STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION AS PROTESTERS WARN OF INJUSTICE
Abortion, infrastructure, education and Metro are expected to be hot topics in 2023
BY STEPHEN ELLIOTT AND HAMILTON MATTHEW MASTERS
The Tennessee General Assembly kicked off its 113th session last week as lawmakers returned to Nashville.
The session’s first meetings were largely ceremonial and organizational, as legislators were sworn in and committee assignments were handed
sium chloride — are difficult to source, hard to transport and chemically unstable. Protocols, neglected by the state over the past five years, mandate extensive testing before they are injected into a human being. Stanton’s report confirmed that the state has struggled to procure and properly test its lethal injection drugs over the last five years.
On Dec. 28, Lee released the report’s findings to the public, a rare glimpse into the secretive process around the drugs’ procurement and chain of custody. The report documents a pattern of misconduct by Tennessee Department of Correction employees who ignored, didn’t understand or failed to communicate required drug testing leading up to Smith’s execution. Stanton found that this was the norm, not the exception — TDOC rarely if ever properly tested midazolam and potassium chloride. Tennessee executed Billy Ray Irick in 2018 and Donnie Edward Johnson in 2019 with drugs that had not been properly tested.
Executions put the power to kill directly in the hands of the governor. As Lee demonstrated with clemency actions in late December, he can redetermine the fate of Tennessee’s 25,000 prisoners — 47 of whom are on death row — with the stroke of a pen. A devout Christian, Lee reaffirmed the state’s commitment to capital punishment in a brief press release between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Pharmaceutical suppliers have blacklisted the state’s preferred drugs, and lethal injection faces legal challenges for violating constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Lee seems to have seen the report’s findings in
out. House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Senate Speaker Randy McNally, both Republicans, were both reelected to their leadership positions by overwhelming margins on the first day of the session. The legislature will return later this month for Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address and the beginning of regular legislative work.
Dozens of bills have already been filed, but lawmakers can continue to submit proposed legislation in the coming weeks. So far, bills have been filed related to cutting in half the size of the Metro Council and far-right culturewar issues like criminalizing drag shows, restricting trans health care and prohibiting the manufacture of food with a vaccine in it.
Lee is expected to push an infrastructure plan that seeks to build new highway lanes by partnering with private companies that could charge tolls. Lawmakers could revisit earlier laws including an abortion ban and an education law that critics say could result in significant numbers of third-graders across the state being held back a year.
On Jan. 10, the first day of the session, more than 100 protesters gathered at the Legislative Plaza to
terms of administrative obstacles rather than reasons to reevaluate capital punishment altogether. His release offered four takeaways: change up TDOC leadership; hire a permanent TDOC commissioner; revise the state’s lethal injection process; and update staff training per new protocols.
On Jan. 9, Frank Strada — previously the deputy director of Arizona’s Department of Corrections — assumed the role of commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Correction with an explicit mandate to bring back Tennessee executions. A federal judge paused executions in Arizona after the state took nearly two hours to kill Joseph Wood with lethal injection in 2014. Under Strada, Arizona brought executions back online, killing three people in 2022 after an eight-year hiatus. Former TDOC commissioner Lisa Helton, who has led the department since 2021, will stay on as an assistant commissioner.
Donald Middlebrooks and Terry Lynn King have both been on Tennessee’s death row since the 1980s. They both have pending litigation in federal court challenging the state’s executions, which, they argue, violate their Eighth Amendment protections. Proceedings have been paused since May while Middlebrooks, King and their attorneys awaited Stanton’s findings. On Jan. 12, both sides called for an extended stay of execution while the state developed its new protocol.
Outside the courtroom, Stanton’s findings confirmed what death penalty critics routinely attack as a secretive and reckless process.
“This report only confirms that the lethal injection protocol in Tennessee is irreparably flawed,” said Stacy Rector, executive director of Tennesseeans Against the Death Penalty, in a press release. “The TDOC’s failure to follow its own protocols, its reliance on shady compounding drug suppliers, as well as state attorneys’ misstatements to the court are the predictable results of a failed policy veiled in secrecy. The state’s unwillingness to carry out executions in the light of day reinforces our belief that we shouldn’t be carrying them out at all.”
Tennesseans, often organized by and with faith leaders, have opposed the death penalty for decades. Even as those on death row present evidence of intellectual or developmental disabilities, or of innocence, or age into their 60s or 70s, Tennessee continues its distinction as an execution state, one of about a dozen U.S. states that have killed in the past decade.
Internationally, Lee joins a handful of governments that practice state killing, including China, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran. While some move in the opposite direction — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown commuted the sentences of the state’s death row inmates and ordered the state’s execution chamber to be dismantled just a month ago — Lee has responded to a chilling audit by strengthening the state’s commitment to executions.
As TDOC works out a new injection protocol, it falls on the Tennessee Supreme Court to schedule new execution dates for 2023.
“A moral agenda protects those in the margins of our society, instead of passing laws that harm them, and push them farther into the margins, in the same way a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” Riggs said. “So democracy is only as strong as its most silent voices.”
raise concerns over legislation related to abortion rights, drag shows, trans health care, privatization and education, among other issues. Attendees came from across the state, including dozens on a chartered bus from Knoxville, with speakers including faith leaders, doctors, government officials, educators and community activists.
Franklin Community Church senior pastor Kevin Riggs called for the state legislature to “adopt a moral agenda.”
“The longer the Tennessee legislature allows the Human Life Protection Act to stand as it is, the more hardships everyday Tennesseans will face as a result,” Nashville emergency physician Dr. Katrina Green said. “Recently there have been several news stories featuring Tennessee lawmakers stating they plan to change the abortion ban to allow exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother and finally get rid of the affirmative defense that would criminalize my fellow physicians and myself. While I applaud these politicians for finally seeing the error of their ways, I asked them, ‘Who will provide these abortions while it remains illegal in our state? Who’s going to provide this health care? And what about the women who are told late in their pregnancies that their fetuses that they carry have anomalies incompatible with life?’ I have not heard one peep about that.”
| JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 7
EMAIL EDITOR@NASHVILLESCENE.COM CITY LIMITS
Rather than reconsidering capital punishment, the governor will make leadership changes after a damning investigation into Tennessee executions
HAMILTON MATTHEW MASTERS
TENNESSEE’S PREFERRED DRUGS — MIDAZOLAM, VECURONIUM BROMIDE AND POTASSIUM CHLORIDE — ARE DIFFICULT TO SOURCE, HARD TO TRANSPORT AND CHEMICALLY UNSTABLE. PROTOCOLS, NEGLECTED BY THE STATE OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS, MANDATE EXTENSIVE TESTING BEFORE THEY ARE INJECTED INTO A HUMAN BEING.
BE COUNTRY. BE THE SONG. Sing Me Back Home: Folk Roots to the Present EXHIBIT NOW OPEN
STRAIGHT FROM THE HART
BY AMANDA HAGGARD
hapel Hart may be downto-earth, personable and welcoming, but that shouldn’t be confused with the trio caring about whether folks like them.
Sisters Danica Hart and Devynn Hart and their cousin Trea Swindle gained widespread fame with their 2022 run on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Their audition earned them a Golden Buzzer — one of the judges’ limited opportunities to push an
act forward to the next round regardless of anyone else’s input. They placed among the show’s top five contestants, and made a huge mark with the song they auditioned with, a riff on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” called “You Can Have Him Jolene.” They say that, much like Dolly, they’d like to look back and say they’ve carved a career path that they can later remember as their own, making friends be damned.
Before the recent renown, the Poplarville, Miss.-based family of singers had spent several years establishing a foothold in country music. In 2021, they were included in CMT’s Next Women of Country.
“We’ve been around Nashville for about five or six years now — so people see this
AGT success and think that this is an overnight success,” Danica says. “But we’ve been out here grinding and working, and there was a lot of times where we were, like, out here writing songs and just trying to just get our music out or share it with other writers.”
As the trio prepared for a performance and video shoot with Darius Rucker at a Hendersonville horse farm in midDecember, they relayed stories of their high-energy nature and finding ways to remain themselves. For example, the AGT wardrobe crew eventually had to separate the band in an effort to contain them.
“We gave them hell — pure hell,” says Trea. “They hated to see us coming out there.”
| JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 9 C
VISIT CHAPELHART.COM FOR THE LATEST NEWS ON THE TRIO
WE TALK WITH CHAPEL HART, DISCUSS THE INTERSECTION OF TRANS RIGHTS AND ROOTS MUSIC, TAKE A DEEP DIVE INTO DATA AND MORE
Talking with Chapel Hart about maintaining their independence as they take the national stage
The group recalls that the wardrobe team would dress 90-person dance troupes together and then ask each member of the trio to come individually.
“Shout out to the wardrobe department there,” Danica says. “We just knew it kind of all goes toward just being ourselves, and telling folks to take a chance on themselves. When you take a chance on you and you’re being you — even if you fail or even if you lose — you did it on your terms and that you can always walk away and be proud of. You can walk away with a win every time.”
Despite Chapel Hart’s talk of potential failure, their wins certainly seem to be accumulating: Before she died in late 2022, Loretta Lynn requested that they redo one of her classics: Chapel Hart recorded a fuck-around-and-find-out twist on “Fist City” called “Welcome to Fist City” that’s set to debut any day now. And before they finish up their first headlining tour, called Glory Days, the family trio is slated to make a return visit to the Grand Ole Opry, playing Opry at the Ryman alongside Caitlyn Smith, Marty Stuart and Chris Young on Jan. 21.
I remember reading that you heard that some fourth-graders near your hometown said you were the most famous folks they knew that came from Mississippi. Can you speak a bit to the power of that, of kids seeing people like themselves perform?
Trea: I think especially music as a career — it’s something that’s kind of unheard of in our hometown, because you’ve just never really heard anybody do it. But I know that there’s so many little boys and little girls who would like to pursue music as a career, but you know, they’ve always been told that that’s not a real job or that’s not a career. You have to get a real job. And so I think it’s just super awesome that now they have an example to look at and say that it’s definitely possible with hard work and putting in the time.
Danica: We haven’t been doing this for a crazy, crazy long time, but you know, we have been in it for a minute, and so it does blow my mind to see all the kinds of fans we have. … We’re showing up to shows, and we look out and there is a sea of senior citizens who are coming out to see us, and they’re also up past their bedtimes for meet-andgreets, and they’re thanking us.
Trea: And please believe, the senior citizens will let you know. They will say, “I don’t listen to the radio anymore.”
Danica: The seasoned folks don’t got time for the B.S., so if it ain’t good, they’re gonna tell you it ain’t good. But also on the other side of that, and the most beautiful part is: When it’s something that moves and inspires them, even after they’ve been through a lot — through wars and some of life’s hugest events — for them to come and go, “Man, this moved me, I was inspired tonight.” There’s no greater honor, I think.
Can you talk a little bit about the emotional parts of being on a show like America’s Got Talent? These things are competitive, and they’re sort of set up for high emotional response and this element of pageantry.
Trea: Let me just say the whole thing is, like you said, pageantry. It’s a talent show,
a music contest, but it is very much television, and there’s a lot of things you have to redo and then do over again. One episode is a three-day process. [During the audition] we were just at the end of our ropes, tired and worn out. We sang the song and we were literally just hoping for at least three yeses. And at that point, all of the Golden Buzzers were already gone. And so whenever it happened, and we got a Golden Buzzer, it really was a complete genuine response. It took us by surprise.
Devynn: I think that’s kind of what made our time on AGT so fun, because we went and we didn’t have some competitive strategy. Now, making friends was sometimes a little bit difficult because we are very loud. And so when we would come in on like a 10, and everybody’s like on a 3, and we’re like, “GOOD MORNING, EVERYBODY!” And they’re like, “Good morning, Chapel Hart.” We just go and we Chapel Hart it up, wherever we are.
Danica: We didn’t know what to expect with television. … When we hit the stage, the people kind of were like, “Wait? whoa, what’s about to happen?”
Doing a riff on a Dolly song is pretty ballsy, too.
Danica: Which is why we were gonna do “9 to 5.” But 30 minutes before, we were kind of going over the music and we ran through that, and then “You Can Have Him Jolene.” And there was this hush in the room, and we knew this was it — but that this was the ballsy move. “Jolene” proved to be the greatest choice I think that we could have made. But also it could have gone a totally different direction there. … It gave us the courage and the confidence to go through the actual show, and to trust our gut and just go, “Look, this is what we’re gonna do.” The production kind of fought us on some of the songs and thoughts and all the things that we wanted to do. And there [were some times when] we were just like, “You know what, do what you do, and we’re going to do this song, we’re going to wear this outfit, and we’re gonna do this.” It gave us the confidence to just be ourselves in the entire process.
What about plans to move closer to Nashville? What do you love or hate
about the city, and is there anything holding you back from being here full time?
Danica: Nashville. I would move to Nashville in a heartbeat. If I can pack a bag and grab an apartment, I’d be here every day, all day. I love it so much. It’s the moving I don’t love. I hate the airport and I hate moving. When I can see that I’m going to have time to recover after the move, then I’ll officially move to Nashville.
Trea: I’m not itching to move to Nashville. I hope that eventually one of my homes will be here, just for convenience sake. Right now we’re on the road so much, and I only hope that we continue to be on the road so much. People ask where we live, I just say, “the interstate,” because we spend more time on the road than we do at home. And right now, it’s pretty much a question of where the mail goes. And since the property taxes are a little bit lower where I live in Louisiana, that’s where the mail goes.
Devynn: I guess that leaves me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Nashville. Nashville is very fast, and I personally just kind of prefer the quietness and the Mississippi living. You know, it’s also just different. Nashville sometimes doesn’t have the same community feel as back home.
Danica: Even as a group or collective, it can sometimes feel like everything in town feels like a business move. Even in making friends, it can sometimes be like, can we just put a wall down and talk?
Devynn: And back home it’s like, they’ll just call you out: They’re like, “Girl, look at your big-ass head.”
Danica: I do think asking us about Nashville right now is a little like asking a 21-year-old what they want to do with the rest of your life. You got time, you know? You got time. And we got time.
Talk a bit about your experience with performing at the Grand Ole Opry in September.
Danica: You don’t grow up in the country and you don’t grow up on country music [without the Opry being the] pinnacle for you as a musician, you know what I mean? So wanting to sing there has always been the dream, and there is absolutely no other feeling like standing in that circle. Oh my God. Where everyone in country music has stood.
Well, not everyone — everybody don’t get the chance.
Trea: It might sound cliché, but it is literally like a family once you’re there, which we didn’t expect. We just kind of got snuggled right in there.
When you’re doing a take on a Loretta Lynn song, does it feel intimidating to find the right way to update a classic?
Trea: It definitely is intimidating. One thing Danica’s always said, she’s like, “If you’re gonna do a cover, it either has to be just as good or better.” And even though it’s not a cover, you still want to pay homage to that person and, you know, do them proud. So in a sense there, the pressure is definitely there. But we did let Loretta’s granddaughter Tayla hear the song after Loretta passed, and her face just lit up.
Danica: It just made my heart so happy. We let her hear it and she’s like, “Awww, Meemaw would’ve loved this!” There’s some relief in that, but also as a songwriter, it’s more of just an honor to be able to be part of that story, to be an extension of a story. To be able to say, “Loretta tried to warn you that she’d take you straight there and you didn’t listen.” And so now it’s “Welcome to Fist City.” It’s a beautiful thing.
Country music can be especially tough to break into for Black artists, but you all obviously love the genre and performing so much. How do you grapple with the industry, which can at times not be fair or good to y’all?
Danica: One of the most beautiful things for us is that the older generation of country music singers have embraced us so much and have been so supportive, and have been the folks to just reach out to tell us what they think of our songwriting. [Early on in Nashville], we would always get things like, “Oh man, this is good, but you should be paired with such-and-such. You should write with such-and-such.” In the back of our mind, it felt like [they were saying], “Well, it’s good, but it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough to compete here itself.” You can accompany or write with someone, but are not allowed to just do it on your own.
Devynn: I think it’s almost like a fullcircle moment in a sense, because there’s been plenty of nights that we’ve gone to in Nashville and we would come up with something that we want to say. And folks in the room might be like, “Maybe you shouldn’t say that.” Or, you know, “Maybe let’s try something a little less ‘this,’ or whatever.” But when you have people like Loretta Lynn and Tanya Tucker who are, you know, commending our writing — because the stuff that we say are pretty much things that they would say — it’s just, like, “Well, I think if these women are OK with this, I think it’s OK.” ■
10 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
“IT MIGHT SOUND CLICHÉ, BUT IT IS LITERALLY LIKE A FAMILY ONCE YOU’RE THERE, WHICH WE DIDN’T EXPECT. WE JUST KIND OF GOT SNUGGLED RIGHT IN THERE.”
Trea on performing at the Grand Ole Opry
From Adeem the Artist to The Kentucky Gentlemen and beyond, our writers have nine new picks to keep an eye on
There’s a veritable deluge of rising country talent that deserves your attention. To help you keep up, we’ve picked out nine artists who are coming into 2023 with excellent songs, outstanding voices and powerful perspectives to share.
dour — whose mystique gets a little more edge owing to his birthday of Oct. 13 — says he earned his nickname while working in Hawaii. He rose to prominence as one-half of Lonely Horse, a blues duo from San Antonio that earned acclaim for its ghostly minimalism. Striking out on his own now, Diamonds is ready to explore country music and Americana. He’ll play at Willie Nelson’s SXSW-adjacent Luck Reunion, and he’s prepping more music for 2023. If the two songs he’s released so far — the melancholy acoustic “Met Her in Bed” and the plangent electric “Gone Fish’n (Alright)” — are any indication, Diamonds will surely shine this year. RACHEL CHOLST
on early Steely Dan titled “Devil in New Jersey.” The tune gathers up various tropes about the beauty and terror of the Garden State, and you have to be impressed by this couplet: “You poisoned your macaroni salad / Just giving gossip in a scripture verse.” The arrangements on Landscapes sometimes veer into folk-rock territory, but DeSilva’s mild tenor voice and perfectly executed Steely Dan-meets-Carole King chord structures support lyrics that express postpandemic anxiety. Landscapes suggests DeSilva could inject new life into a genre that could definitely use a little more pretzel logic. EDD
THE KENTUCKY GENTLEMEN
White privilege isn’t exactly frequently discussed in country music, especially considering that it’s one of the key concepts being exploited by right-wing politicians across the nation. Yet the quite unusual, very arresting and always-worth-hearing Adeem the Artist takes white privilege (among other topics) by the horns on their new LP White Trash Revelry. The East Tennessee singer-songwriter, who proudly embraces being nonbinary and pansexual, offers a view of Southern life — and by extension, American identity — that’s a conservative Republican’s musical nightmare. But it would be wrong to view either them or their music through a strictly political lens. The album’s also a resolutely country work with heartfelt, deep appreciation for the rhythms and sensibility of all the genres that routinely come together in the music of great Southern artists. Touting an outspokenly liberal artist bold enough to mix vintage Jimmie Rodgers songs with open advocacy for Black Lives Matter as an emerging country breakout star might be wishful thinking. But if the country audience in 2023 is as open as you might hope, then Adeem the Artist will enjoy a surge in popularity to match their critical acclaim.
What I love about Nikki Morgan is that her songs feel so intensely honest. The North Carolina native is a budding master of showing and not telling. You don’t get the sense that Morgan is forcing anything on you: She’s just telling the truth, whether you’re there to listen or leave. Start with “Love Save Me,” from 2020’s 30 Something, on which she sings: “And I go to church on Sunday morning / Crying, ‘Lordy, help me please!’ / But then I swear I heard him tell me / ‘Get the fuck up off your knees.’ ” You know what you’re getting into from there. AMANDA
Country duo The Kentucky Gentlemen is made up of twin brothers Derek and Brandon Campbell (have we finally found a good bro country?) who are originally from Central Kentucky. They’ve been in Nashville for about 10 years building up their mix of ’90s country, pop and R&B, which feels a bit like listening to an amalgam of several of my favorite tunes from my childhood. “Lose My Boots” from The Kentucky Gentlemen: Vol. 1 is something I absolutely would’ve known all the words to at too early of an age. And as a plus, they wear A LOT of unbuttoned silk shirts. AMANDA HAGGARD
O.N.E. THE DUO
Musical polymath Jake Blount — a musicologist who is also a composer, singersongwriter and a stringed-instrument player whose banjo skills won the Steve Martin Prize — has been known for great work that’s involved with the past. His 2022 album The New Faith draws from the contributions of Black, Indigenous and other people of color who’ve been written out of the history of roots music, which Blount has been participating in restoring. But he also uses techniques from hip-hop and other traditions to tell a story about human nature and surviving a (very plausible) disastrous future. It’s powerful, playful, old and new at once. And the scope of his imagination is excitingly Prince-esque — that is to say, limitless. STEPHEN TRAGESER
Given Nicky Diamonds’ unearthly voice and gift for groove, it’s no wonder he stole the
Jessye DeSilva comes at country from the perspective of ’70s rock on 2022’s Landscapes, which features a well-crafted spin
It’s no surprise that O.N.E. the Duo is part of a genre with a tradition of insightful storytelling, though you might have expected that genre to be hip-hop: You’ve heard Tekitha performing with the Wu-Tang Clan, and Prana Supreme is Tekitha and RZA’s child. The mother-daughter pair made their way to Music City right before the pandemic, and have been building up a small catalog of popcountry singles like last summer’s “Stuck in the Middle.” The duo’s harmonies are stunning, but the subtlety of the ways they play off of each other — especially evident in the covers you’ll find on their Y ouTube channel — add layers of storytelling power to their work. STEPHEN TRAGESER
Bailey Zimmerman is in his early 20s, but the Illinois native sounds like he’s seen some shit — at least when it comes to love. Injecting moody, introspective hard rock into the country mainstream, he sings with a melodic vocal growl and writes with shades of the alternative ’90s. It’s an angsty edge not found in Nashville’s arena-rock acolytes, and it seems to hold millennial appeal. Last year alone, “Fall in Love” was certified platinum by the RIAA and was one of three songs he landed simultaneously on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart — a first for a new artist, and on a track with a rare-for-mainstream “better off alone” theme. Then, “Rock and a Hard Place,” a song of conflicting feelings, earned another platinum plaque, and “Where It Ends” released the romantic frustration all with a hint of not-so-subdued darkness. Zimmerman has racked up some 700 million streams in just two years, and his new “Get to Gettin’ Gone” continues the story.
The Shootouts are traditionalists, but that doesn’t make them conservative, nor does it mean they move slowly. The Akron, Ohio, quartet has been churning out old-school country and honky-tonk at a rapid clip.
Coming in February, The Stampede will be the group’s third album in five years.
Lead singer Ryan Humbert doesn’t just write music; he also shares his love for all things Americana on his 24/7 digital station The Americana Roundup. That passion is evident in the forthcoming release, which was produced by Asleep at the Wheel’s founder Ray Benson. On The Stampede, The Shootouts are joined by the aforementioned legends of Western swing, as well as Marty Stuart, Buddy Miller, Raul Malo and Jim Lauderdale. Look — these heavy hitters don’t know anything you don’t. While you wait for the new release, take a dip into the band’s delightful discography and see how The Shootouts have been winning honkytonk hearts the world over. RACHEL CHOLST ■
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 11
ARTISTS TO WATCH
ADEEM THE ARTIST
show during The Black Opry Revue at AmericanaFest. The Dallas-born trouba-
Find links to buy and stream these artists’ work at nashvillescene.com/music
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
BY RACHEL CHOLST
In August, country music reentered the culture wars. Brittany Aldean, wife of country star Jason Aldean, wrote an Instagram post that mimicked the popular alt-right account Libs of TikTok’s talking points about trans children. Cassadee Pope and Maren Morris publicly condemned the post, which led to pointed personal attacks. The media framed the exchange as a country music feud, rather than a concerning infringement upon trans people’s rights.
Trans people themselves were not centered at any point during this heated period. Yet trans artists have been part of the genre in one way or another for many decades, and found meaning in it for many more — and country and Americana music have been integral to the trans rights movement.
In spite of the unpleasantness, 2022 was also a banner year for trans and nonbinary artists. Mya Byrne signed to the legendary indie-rock label Kill Rock Stars and will release the first album on their new Nashvillebased imprint later this spring. She is the first openly trans artist to be featured in Rolling Stone Country and to be played on WSM. Adeem the Artist, who is nonbinary, garnered critical acclaim for their crowdfunded album White Trash Revelry. Right at the end of 2021, Lafemmebear’s remix of Reba’s hit “I’m a Survivor” — part of the triple-album set Revived, Remixed, Revisited that came in at No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart — marked the first time a Black trans woman producer’s work earned a spot in the top 10 places on the chart, playing a role in shaping the environment for artists over the year.
TRANS RIGHTS AND COUNTRY MUSIC
“Trans people have added a lot to the culture, and we don’t get the credit that we’re due,” explains Sawyer, one of the organizers for punk artist collective Brooklyn Transcore. “People act like we’re just starting to get included. But the truth is we’ve always been around.”
Sawyer, who fronts the hardcore all-trans band The Dilators, observes that the trans rights movement can trace ties to folk and country music. In 1991, staff at Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival — a long-standing artistic and political touchpoint for the feminist movement that frequently booked folk and Americana legends like the Indigo Girls and Tracy Chapman — asked Nancy Jean Burkholder, a trans woman, to leave the grounds. The conflict that ensued led to the creation of a parallel annual gathering near the festival called Camp Trans. Our current understanding of trans identity as a liberatory experience rather than a medical pathology was furthered to a great extent at Camp Trans.
Modern music and the modern trans rights movement owe a deep debt to each other, and the music industry needs to pay their share. Some members of the mainstream country industry agree.
“Diversity is imperative to the future of country music,” says Leslie Fram, senior vice president of music and talent at CMT. “Our format is in danger of erasing voices that are sharing completely unique perspectives, experiences and sides of the story not being told. It’s essential we work to level the playing field and ensure all voices are being heard.”
MORE SUPPORT NEEDED
For D’orjay the Singing Shaman, a singersongwriter from Edmonton, Alberta, going against the grain is a key component of country music narratives.
“Being at the intersection of Black and queer, and practicing ethical nonmonogamy — it’s a lot that just goes against convention in country and Americana,” they say. “But being an outlier in that way still leans into the outlaw vibe.”
Yet they find that constant microaggressions such as being misgendered are exhausting.
“At the end of the day, we want to be seen for the people we are,” observes Marshall Biever, a guitarist who moved to Nashville a year ago and has played in the weekly Queerfest series.
“One time, I met this guy at a showcase who was trying to do the whole bro-code thing and impress me,” Biever recalls, chuckling. “When I explained that’s not me, it’s like he couldn’t compute it. He didn’t know how to talk to me because he couldn’t interpret my gender. But I’m just a person.”
Ellen Angelico, a longtime Nashville resident and the first openly nonbinary person to be nominated for an Americana Music Association award, faced barriers when she initially moved to town.
“Early on, I was definitely getting into situations where I was playing with people who weren’t OK with me being gay or me having a more masculine gender presentation,” says Angelico.
But things have changed, and she’s found that she’s been able to selfselect projects with people who support her.
“I can tell, based on the gigs that I am getting, that I’m not in a lot of the bro-country conversations, because I have friends in those conversations and I know my name doesn’t come up, and that’s OK,” she says. “Instead I get to play with people like Cam, who absolutely knocks my socks off and loves me exactly the way I am.”
These everyday microaggressions coalesce into larger barriers. In the wake of her success with Reba, Lafemmebear has been approached by other artists in Nashville. However, she has walked away from projects because these artists are not offering as much money as she feels they would offer other artists, and they were not willing to offer publishing credits.
“I wanna see change,” she says. “I don’t give a fuck about equality. I want equity.”
Yet, Lafemmebear and Mya Byrne have seen firsthand that trans artists — and trans women in particular — are less likely to be invited to perform at festivals, including Pride festivals. And when they are, they say
they’re paid less than cis artists.
Byrne notes that trans artists have a number of needs that the music industry must consider. Even something as seemingly mundane as publishing rights can become tangled when an artist changes their name. It’s not a simple task for performing rights organizations like BMI and ASCAP. But artists must produce documentation of a legal name change, and many cannot afford the expensive, lengthy and often traumatic process to obtain it. For those who have legally changed their names, reliving the process can be triggering.
There are other logistical concerns, too, that affect physical safety. Byrne is prepping a tour in support of her album later this spring. She has found that charting the route involves significant safety planning. In 2022, the Human Rights Campaign tracked at least 35 cases of U.S. trans people who were killed in violent incidents.
“I can’t just crash in a random motel,” she says. “I’ve done that, and it’s frightening. I’m a precious flower and I care about my life. I don’t want to become a statistic playing music on the road.”
In addition to practicalities, Byrne observes that one of the most important things the industry can do to protect trans women is to see them as women.
“It’s really important for trans women specifically to be included in any program that’s talking about accelerating the careers of women. Otherwise, we’re just women with asterisks.”
Fram points to CMT’s showcases for marginalized artists as one example of ensuring mainstream country music becomes more diverse. CMT also co-hosted the Country Pride showcase at CMA Fest, among the first official showcases for LGBTQ artists at any country festival. Says Fram, “Country music gatekeepers have the same opportunity and responsibility to break the cycle from only one type of artist getting signed to labels, publishing companies and support on radio and digital service providers.”
In other words, there’s no reason other major industry organizations can’t follow suit. That would seem to require a culture shift.
“The very popular trope that country and Americana is loving and welcoming is really dangerous to lean into,” says D’orjay.
“Any time there’s a culture that aligns itself or identifies itself with kindness or good Southern manners, it just takes change so much longer,” observes Purser, a singer-songwriter who grew up in Nashville, moved away and recently returned.
Much of the forward momentum trans and nonbinary artists are feeling is generated by the community, not the industry. Queerfest in Nashville, the Durham, N.C.based Country Soul Songbook and Jeremy Leroux’s online directory Country Everywhere are key resources for helping LGBTQ artists find each other.
Purser has found their musical and trans identities have grown in tandem. They were astounded to find a queer community in Nashville, which they say has grown in large part due to Sara Gougeon’s weekly
Queerfest showcases. In a twist of fate, Gougeon chose to move to Nashville in part after seeing Angelico perform.
Holly G, the founder of the Black Opry collective, has been sharing resources with Boston-based singer-songwriter Jessye DeSilva to expand opportunities for trans and nonbinary artists. AmericanaFest, which touts its diversity relative to mainstream country music, featured only two openly nonbinary artists — River Shook of Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, and Adeem the Artist — and no trans artists for showcases in 2022. When Holly was offered the chance to book a showcase for the festival, she invited DeSilva and Angelico (who ended up being unavailable) to line up a backing band of all trans and nonbinary musicians for what became a standing-roomonly event at the Station Inn.
“Advocacy and community building is part of how I think of my own music already,” says DeSilva.
As festival season approaches, Brooklyn Transcore and Mya Byrne are collaborating on Byrne’s tour. Brooklyn Transcore is also planning folk, punk and country tours through the Southeast and Midwest this summer. Byrne is eager to use her platform with Kill Rock Stars to support other trans artists.
“I want to make sure that we are using every resource we have at hand to clothe trans people, to put them on the road when we can, to give them the money they need to be supported, because so many of us don’t have any resources at all,” she says. “That’s what mutual aid is about.”
In spite of the political headwinds for trans people, 2023 promises to be a breakout year for trans and nonbinary artists in roots music. Angelico is encouraged by the children she works with at Fanny’s House of Music and a separate youth songwriting initiative she participates in through the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
“As I move into more and more organized advocacy, I’m not working for the person I am now,” she says. “I want to make every space that I enter more hospitable to who I was 15 years ago, when I was still discovering myself.”
She won’t have to wait long to see if that work has paid off.
“Knowing that I am trans has made my art better and has made me a better person,” says Purser. “I invite anyone else who lives in Nashville to start exploring not only their own queerness, but the queer environment in this city. Because it is here, it is growing. I encourage people to come out however is safest for them, because it has absolutely changed my life and my experience in this city. It will change Nashville for you, and it will become a place that you can really, truly, deeply call home.” ■
12 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
Talking with artists and musicbiz pros about giving trans and nonbinary artists the platform and equity they need to thrive
Signs and Wonders –Biblical Miracles & Modern Meanings
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 13
The Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom a congregation of the heart, a community of the spirit ~ Dr. A.-J. Levine ~ 5015 Harding Pike ~ (615) 352-7620
Amy-Jill Levine is Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, Hartford International University for Religion and Peace and University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies Emerita and Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies Emerita, Vanderbilt University
Tuesdays at 7:00 pm ~ In - person at the temple January 24 Miracles of Food –From Symbolism to Sustainability January 31 Miracles of Healing –Health Care, Care Providers, and the Importance of Bodies February 7 Miracles of Nature –From Stilling Storms to Natural Disaster returns IN PERSON with the series
PASSING THE MIC
In our survey, journalists weigh in on the present and future of country music
COMPILED BY STEPHEN TRAGESER
There’s a wide array of folks who carefully examine country music, whether in print journalism, broadcasting or both. Many have published or are publishing books; some are also musicians. We’ve invited a handful to share their take on the present and future of country. Read a sampling of their responses on topics from artists who deserve more recognition to the biggest challenges facing the industry in the year to come.
Name your favorite country song and your favorite country album released in 2022.
Plains, “Abilene”; Adeem the Artist, White Trash Revelry —MARISSA R. MOSS
Maren Morris, “I Can’t Love You Anymore”; Lissie, Carving Canyons —KELLY McCARTNEY
Lainey Wilson, “Heart Like a Truck”; Zach Bryan, American Heartbreak —KRISTIN HALL Willi Carlisle, “Life on the Fence”; Justin Hiltner, A Place at the Table —STEACY EASTON Maren Morris, “Detour”; Morgan Wade, Reckless —RISSI PALMER
Hailey Whitters, “Everything She Ain’t”;
Ernest, Flower Shops (The Album) —CHRIS PARTON
Noah Kahan, “Stick Season”; Miko Marks, Feel Like Going Home —DR. TRESSIE McMILLAN COTTOM
Sunny Sweeney, “Easy as Hello”; Zach Bryan, American Heartbreak —JESSICA BLANKENSHIP
Paisley Fields’ “Jesus Loving American Guy” is a delightful kick in the ass. I wish Jamie McDell’s self-titled debut received more love. She’s an accomplished lyricist and explores feminism (and femininity) in really beautiful ways. —RACHEL CHOLST
“Middle of a Heart” by Adeem the Artist unpacks the toll of PTSD and American gun culture within the structure of a classic country ballad. Absolutely brilliant, empathetic songcraft from a queer artist out of East Tennessee doing the work of humanizing the right-wing, flag-waving crowd that’s working to dehumanize the LGBTQ+ community. —HUNTER KELLY
Nothing else is even close to Tami Neilson’s Kingmaker. The most original, invigorating voice in country music, in both her vocal delivery and songwriting, in a very long time. —AMOS PERRINE
Kane Brown’s “Whiskey Sour” showcases his emotive phrasing alongside 2022’s best fiddle work. Tami Neilson’s Kingmaker is a tour de force feminist statement that fearlessly diagnoses country music’s ailment while embodying a cure.
Tanya Tucker’s “Ready as I’ll Never Be” has been on repeat. Orville Peck’s Bronco is a really fun record full of songs and fuckin’ and fightin’. —AMANDA HAGGARD
Does Amanda Shires still count as country? Everyone seems to think so — though I have my doubts — so I’ll go with “Hawk
for the Dove” and Take It Like a Man —JUSTIN COBER-LAKE
“Thank God” by Kane Brown and Katelyn Brown is a beautiful duet expressing praise, joy and thanks that could only be from two people sharing their love and devotion to each other. Miko Marks’ Feel Like Going Home is a definitive personal statement that reveals her tremendous vocal ability and mastery at storytelling and is a testament to perseverance from someone who is finally enjoying the adulation she’s always deserved. —RON WYNN
In an extremely strong year for country albums, my favorite was Molly Tuttle’s popgrass Crooked Tree. Tied with the title track, my favorite song was Tuttle’s pluralist anthem “Big Backyard” — full of sing-along fun and political potential. —DAVID CANTWELL
No song hit me harder or more consistently than Molly Tuttle’s “Crooked Tree,” a loving tribute to difference that manages to avoid easy clichés of either inspiration or pathos. I hope it becomes the standard that it already feels like. Jake Blount’s The New Faith is the kind of album that remakes the world. Blount confronts the genocidal American past and our climatecatastrophic future by drawing from the linked traditions of Black spirituals/freedom songs, work songs and blues to see what musical, political and survival strategies might be gleaned from them. The songs envision the future by reckoning with and then remixing the past, which is perhaps the core mission of country music. —CHARLES L.
What song or album was the biggest disappointment of 2022?
I applaud how Tyler Childers approached the gospel set Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven? through a multiplicity of sounds and arrangements. But the only disc I’ve returned to is the third — the “Joyful Noise” versions — where Childers deconstructs the songs into unexpected components, adding samples, noise and a welcome dose of strangeness. While the first two discs seem like a missed opportunity, I have a feeling the third will be in my rotation for a while, and we all know that hitting one-third of the time will still get you in the Hall of Fame.
—CHARLES L. HUGHES
It’s more a lack of imagination from the mainstream when it comes to saying anything in the music. Male artists lazily rehash tired trends from the 2010s while their wives parrot retreaded, tired lies about the queer community from Anita Bryant’s 1970s. —HUNTER KELLY
Aside from the obvious horrible stuff,
country radio not seizing the more “traditional” songs from women like Maren Morris (“I Can’t Love You Anymore”) and Kelsea Ballerini (“You’re Drunk, Go Home”). —MARISSA R. MOSS
Zach Bryan is a good writer, and his chasing the algorithm makes total sense, but it means that a half-dozen worthwhile tracks are buried under dross.
Orville Peck’s Bronco —AMOS PERRINE
Maren Morris’ Humble Quest wasn’t bad — it just didn’t quite get there for me. She’s still awesome. —CHRIS PARTON
Carrie Underwood’s Denim & Rhinestones, where she threw all of the nuanced vocal technique from My Savior out the window and went full ’80s hair band. —KEVIN COYNE
I wanted to love Kane Brown’s “Like I Love Country Music” and just couldn’t. On both general principle and the album’s merits, Jason Aldean’s Georgia is trash. —DR. TRESSIE McMILLAN COTTOM
It’s hard for me to say anything negative about Willie Nelson, a favorite since Red Headed Stranger. I wanted so much to love A Beautiful Time, and I applaud the fact he’s still making new music at 89 — and that the audience is willing to listen. But I cannot honestly say this ranks with his classic releases. —RON WYNN
Who was your favorite country artist who flew under the radar in 2022?
Sunny War —KELLY McCARTNEY
Autumn Nicholas —MARISSA R. MOSS
Teddy and the Rough Riders —JUSTIN COBER-LAKE Valerie June deserves the same attention given to performers like Mickey Guyton.
Country gospel tends not to be thought about. Brent Cobb’s And Now, Let’s Turn to Page … is very good. Justin Hiltner’s A Place at the Table is both a brilliant gospel album and also a genius example of the queer unsettling of the form.
Mariel Buckley’s look at small-town life from a queer perspective on Everywhere I Used to Be merges the joy and alienation so many of us in the queer community feel every day trying to find a space in country. —HUNTER KELLY
David Cantwell: Rolling Stone Country
Rachel Cholst: No Depression; Rainbow Rodeo; Adobe & Teardrops; Nashville Scene
Justin Cober-Lake: Spectrum Culture; PopMatters; Dusted Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom: The New York Times; Vanity Fair; author, Thick: And Other Essays (The New Press)
Kevin Coyne: founding editor, Country Universe
Steacy Easton: author, Why Tammy Wynette Matters (forthcoming, University of Texas Press)
Amanda Haggard: Nashville Scene; Chapter16.org; co-editor, The Contributor
Kristin Hall: Associated Press
Charles L. Hughes: Slate; Oxford American; author, Why Bushwick Bill Matters (University of Texas Press)
Hunter Kelly: Rolling Stone; Apple News; producer and host, Neon Songbook Radio and Proud Radio on Apple Music Radio
Kelly McCartney: host, Record Bin Radio on Apple Music Country
Marissa R. Moss: Rolling Stone; Vulture; Nashville Scene; author, Her Country (Holt, Henry & Co.)
Rissi Palmer: singer-songwriter; host, Color Me Country Radio on Apple Music Country; contributor, Whose Country Music? (Cambridge University Press)
Chris Parton: Nashville Lifestyles; The Bluegrass Situation; Nashville Scene
Amos Perrine: No Depression
Ron Wynn: The Tennessee Tribune; Tennessee Jazz and Blues Society; The Bluegrass Situation; Nashville Scene
14 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
Blankenship: owner and founder, Kentucky Country Music; Nashville News Roundup correspondent, WFKY-FM; executive director, Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Morgan Wade and Ian Noe’s real songs about life never go out of style, and both have unique voices. —JESSICA BLANKENSHIP
Melissa Carper’s Ramblin’ Soul is perhaps her best in a string of delightful records.
—CHARLES L. HUGHES
The Reklaws had a Canadian No. 1 with “11 Beers.” It didn’t get American radio play — a shoulda-been summertime hit.
I wish everyone would spin Maddie Zahm’s You Might Not Like Her at least once.
A Canadian living in New Zealand, Tami Neilson makes few U.S. appearances — only two in 2022, one at AmericanaFest. Having released four great albums in a row with no airplay here, it’s as though she’s in the Mariana Trench. —AMOS PERRINE
Breland’s fusion of ’90s country with contemporary pop and hip-hop on Cross Country deserves to break through.
Gabe Lee has been one of my favorites since his 2020 release Honky Tonk Hell, and in 2022, the Nashville native put out The Hometown Kid, a great ode to Music City.
I felt like S.G. Goodman was under the radar and then suddenly was everywhere all the time. —AMANDA HAGGARD
Jessye DeSilva’s Landscapes is a gorgeous illustration of folk-rock’s staying power. Their lyrics are almost as lush as their vocals. They also do so much to support the LGBTQ+ country community and led The Black Opry Revue’s band at AmericanaFest. —RACHEL CHOLST
since maybe the 1990s — and though they do well on awards, they appear on the radio less, and I think are written about less. As much as I loved Palomino, it would be nice if non-country critics wrote like there were more women making country music than Miranda Lambert. —STEACY EASTON
The Black Opry Revue made a huge splash in 2022, and I’m excited to see all of the triumphs coming their way in 2023.
After Patty Loveless brought the house down at the CMAs, I want to see her longoverdue induction into the Hall of Fame and for her to get back on the radio with one of those Stapleton duets. —KEVIN COYNE
Roberta Lea, set to release her debut fulllength, has the potential to not only be a crucial voice in the ongoing Black country renaissance, but also to score hits with her catchy, textured and beautifully sung originals. Lea is one of the many artists in the Black Opry community who sound equally at home in both mainstream and Americana formats, and demonstrate the slippery and incomplete distinctions between them. —CHARLES L. HUGHES
I see Lainey Wilson and The Steel Woods continuing from the momentum of 2022. Kentucky’s singer-songwriter scene continues to grow with Nicholas Jamerson, Grayson Jenkins, Cole Chaney, Brit Taylor, Angaleena Presley and more.
I am always here for Joy Oladakun’s takeover. —DR. TRESSIE McMILLAN COTTOM
Brittney Spencer is going to blow the roof off 2023, I guarantee it. —KRISTIN HALL
Jake Blount and Jessy Wilson are striking artists whose music has country roots, but also is steeped in blues sensibility and soulful edge. Sadly, their sound may be too country for Black radio and too Black for country radio. —RON WYNN
on forever. Ask rock music. —DR. TRESSIE McMILLAN COTTOM
Not making the whole year about Loretta Lynn. —CHRIS PARTON
Not giving Naomi Judd her flowers when she was still here to receive them. —KRISTIN HALL Country’s re-embrace of Morgan Wallen — and the way that plays into larger narratives of white redemption that have been central to U.S. racial politics in music and elsewhere — was a predictable yet massive failure. The rise of the “uncancelable” rhetoric surrounding Jason Aldean and others signaled that mainstream country is yet unwilling to commit to fundamental change. Violent attacks on LGBTQ+ people are being supported by some of country music’s biggest stars, while those who speak out against bigotry, like Maren Morris, are attacked as outsiders. In contrast with the astonishing number and variety of powerful records by queer country artists this year, this retrenchment of power players around reactionary politics is both predictable and deeply disappointing. —CHARLES L. HUGHES
Every country critic has a list of queer, women, gender-nonconforming and BIPOC country artists who are making the best music of their lives right now. They don’t show up on the radio, and aren’t considered as part of the Opry discourse. That seems doctrinaire, among certain kinds of leftists, but it has reached a crisis pitch for me — especially considering the rise of anti-trans and anti-queer sentiment and legislation. Also, put Freddy Fender in the fucking Hall of Fame already. —STEACY EASTON
What is the biggest issue facing country music in 2023?
who are putting one foot in the past and one foot in the future. This is about making an actual effort to expand the field of who benefits from mainstream resources as well as avoiding the poisonous language of musical purism. CHARLES L. HUGHES
The fracturing of the genre into two halves — one of which I am worried is a little too self-serious, and one of which I feel is complicit in murderous violence against queer and trans folks. When casual racism and homophobia are rewarded, that tightens and narrows what the genre might support in the next few years — while some of the best music created in decades gets pushed to the outer edges.
What is the biggest hurdle to making important changes in the industry in 2023?
H.C. McEntire —KELLY MCCARTNEY
Denitia —RISSI PALMER
Hailey Whitters —CHRIS PARTON
Martha Spencer —AMOS PERRINE
Tami Neilson —JUSTIN COBER-LAKE
Roberta Lea, Jordyn Shellhart, Bella White, Jake Blount, Miko Marks —MARISSA R. MOSS
It’s time for Mya Byrne to take center stage with her Aaron Lee Tasjan-produced Rhinestone Tomboy. Country has become ground zero for transgender backlash, and I can’t wait for Mya to continue to defy it. —HUNTER KELLY
We have the strongest female performers
So many things in country music that appear to be a mistake are actually intentional and engineered — the way things always are and always have been. The biggest hurdle in the way of a better future is for all of us to acknowledge that fact.
—MARISSA R. MOSS
Framing the social media exchange between Brittany Aldean, Maren Morris and Cassadee Pope as interpersonal beef or a harmless catfight. This is about people’s lives. Rather than making this a moment for educating about why trans rights are important, the media focused on the personalities. Most egregiously, nobody centered trans voices — particularly those of trans country artists. —RACHEL CHOLST
The continued attempt to play dumb and uninformed about politics to avoid backlash when you’ve shared the stage with Ron DeSantis or other anti-LGBTQ zealots is wearing especially thin. It’s even more pronounced when the leaders of the antiLGBTQ movement, namely Matt Walsh, are leading the threats against programs for LGBTQ youth at Vanderbilt University, literally a few blocks from Music Row. —HUNTER KELLY
Big Country thinks it can be a big-tent genre by being homogenous. It makes money but it kills the music. It cannot go
Whether the commendable steps taken to broaden country music continue in 2023 — or begin to fade. A backlash seems to always set in whenever progress is made, and no doubt there are those in the country audience tired of hearing about diversity and inclusion. Those people fail to understand that by embracing those issues, you have a chance to hear a much wider, more intriguing menu of music. —RON WYNN
Black artists still really have to tiptoe around in country music. —AMANDA HAGGARD
Saying nothing about country’s unbearable whiteness merely encourages extremists (and the people they mobilize) to lay claim to a tradition that belongs to everyone. When mainstream country orgs only make halfhearted gestures at diversity, historically marginalized artists only become more alienated. —RACHEL CHOLST
Monopolistic control over venues and touring is not just a problem in country music, but the genre has a lot to lose if fans distrust the ticketing process or are priced out of live shows. —KRISTIN HALL
Look at critics’ lists of best albums for 2022 or the main categories at the Grammys, and you’ll see mainstream country is largely left out. Lack of musical innovation and an insistence to never challenge far-right fans’ views is rendering commercial country music irrelevant to the rest of the world. —HUNTER KELLY
The continuing need to broaden who and what is considered “country” and to recognize that the best music comes from artists
For the past two years, the focus has been inclusion and diversity, and then this year, it felt as if everyone said, “Whew, glad we solved that!” I hope the industry as a whole (not just the usual suspects who do a lot of the work) takes a real, unflinching look at itself and figures out how to be truly diverse and inclusive. Changing hiring and promotion practices as well as decisions on who really gets a seat at the table is key, because who’s making the calls is more important than who’s singing the songs. Also, making sure that diverse hires aren’t going to just uphold the status quo is extremely important. A yes man is a yes man. —RISSI PALMER
Not making changes and not having hard conversations led to Morgan Wallen’s runaway success. The bottom line is booming, so no one in power actually checks Jason Aldean’s fascist wife for fear of alienating a core artist. They’ll keep trying to pretend everything is fine to keep the money rolling in.
The notion that authenticity means narrowing scope. By acting as though it were the ’40s or the ’50s, country always risks acting like the rigid, narrow, restrictive music its detractors claim it is, instead of the varied, compelling sound that it’s always been at its best. —RON
At this point, I’m pretty sure people are scared to put their money where their mouth is. They are also afraid to admit when they are not the right people to make these changes. I hope industry leaders understand this about themselves and empower people with the skills and know-how to take leadership roles — if not the outright leadership role — in their organizations. —RACHEL
Can’t decide if it’s those music bizzers and fans who want country to stay de facto Jim Crow. Or if it’s those good folks who believe country must change but lack any real sense of, you know, urgency about it. Flip a coin. It’ll come up white people either way. —DAVID
| JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 15
Who do you hope will make waves in 2023?
What was the country music industry’s biggest mistake of 2022?
BY DR. JADA WATSON
Editor’s note: Dr. Jada Watson is a professor at the University of Ottawa. She leads the research endeavor The SongData Project, which examines what data about music and musicians can tell us about the evolution of popular music.
It’s business as usual in the country music industry. After two years of increased discussion of “diversity” in the Nashville-centered business, Billboard’s Country Airplay chart reveals an increase in songs by white artists from an annual average of 91 percent between 2018 and 2021 to 94 percent in 2022. The only song by a solo Black artist to chart on Country Airplay last year was Jimmie Allen’s “Down Home,” which peaked at No. 2 on Dec. 24 after 43 weeks on the chart and landed at 58 on the Year-End list published
in December. In fact, Allen’s song appeared only on the Year-End Airplay chart, making “Down Home” the only song by a Black artist to register on one of Billboard’s four singlesoriented Year-Ends. The same is true for Mexican American artist Frank Ray, whose “Country’d Look Good on You” peaked at No. 17 in September, finishing the year at No. 54 on the Year-End Airplay chart.
Singles by white women have likewise decreased on the chart, dropping from a decade high of 18 percent in 2020 down to 14 percent in 2022. The only song by a female artist to peak in the Top 10 of the Year-End charts was Ingrid Andress’ cut “Wishful Drinking,” which features Sam Hunt and appeared on the Airplay list.
No matter which way the data are examined on the charts from last year, the drop in representation of Black artists and white women — not to mention the continued absence of women of color — suggests this is an industry uninterested in change.
Charts might seem benign and equitable — the simple “tallying” of various forms of data — but they are dictated by the industry’s structural configuration and have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Chart data influences how labels sign, promote and support artists, feeding back into the system from which they emerged, ultimately dictating who “belongs” in an industry.
THE HISTORY of the recorded music indus-
try is well-known. As Karl Hagstrom Miller illustrates in his book Segregating Sound, the popular music industry developed in the 1920s along a musical color line that echoed Jim Crow-era laws. Even though Black and white musicians played and listened to the same music, record executives segregated their recordings, capturing the music of white artists on “hillbilly records” and of Black artists on “race records,” marketing records from these labels to white and Black communities respectively. A business model was born, and the data generated from the sales of these records initiated mechanisms that ensured the persistence of the industry’s structure. Although these specific marketing categories are no longer used today — replaced with what we now call “genre” labels of country and R&B by 1950 — this racial segregation (initiated and maintained through sales data) has remained central to the inner functioning of the industry.
As the industry developed through the 20th century, racialized genre structure became embedded in every facet of the industry responsible for production (labels, publishers) and distribution (radio, charts) of records, and for the various prizes and honors awarded to artists for their work. Data generated by and transferred between each of these industry spheres further cemented the industry’s business model.
Radio developed in parallel to — and in the same racially segregated structure of — the industry and became the primary means of distributing recorded music. This was a mutually beneficial relationship: Labels gained a means to advertise and promote their records, and radio had material to program. Repeated radio airplay helped introduce new artists and expand their fan base, leading to record sales and generating opportunities within the industry.
Data tracking airplay and sales were measured and ranked on weekly charts. Unsurprisingly, industry charts replicated the genre structure established by the recording industry. In 1958, Billboard launched three weekly singles charts — Country & Western, Rhythm & Blues and the all-genre (or “mainstream”) Hot 100 — three poles around which most popular music circulated since the early days of the industry, and continues to circulate today. Until 1990, the Country and R&B charts were tabulated through a hybrid formula that blended radio airplay and sales to determine weekly rankings.
But with the adoption of SoundScan technologies in 1990, these and other genre charts were tabulated by radio airplay alone, tightening the relationship between radio and labels and reducing opportunities for songs lacking radio support. Over the past decade Billboard has restructured its charts, maintaining an Airplay chart for each genre while creating two new charts: Digital Songs (measuring sales) and Streaming Songs. The magazine also developed a suite of genre-specific “Hot” charts that mingle airplay, sales and streaming data in an effort to reflect how audiences access music today.
THE COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY became one tentpole of this racially segregated structure, centralizing in Nashville in the 1950s through the development of a network of recording studios, record labels and pub-
16 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com Gender Representation on Billboard 's Country Airplay Chart (2018-2022) Songs by men Songs by women Songs by male-female collabs and groups 77.89% 78.81% 71.86% 73.63% 77.18% 13.3% 15.74% 18.4% 16.11% 14.42% 8.81% 9.75% 10.26% 8.4% 5.45% Songs Charting on Billboard Country Airplay, by Race and Ethnicity (2018-2022) White ar tists Black ar tists Latino ar tists Biracial ar tists Multiracial groups 91.19% 92.21% 92.42% 90.65% 94.07% 1.86% 1.79% 1.73% 6.11% 1.22% Song Distribution on Billboard Year-End Charts, by Race and Ethnicity (2022) White ar tists Black ar tists Latino ar tists Biracial ar tists Multiracial groups Airplay Rankings – by total audience impressions based on monitored radio airplay by Mediabase of 145 stations by Luminate (former ly MRC Data). Digital Sales Rankings – from sales repor ts collected and provided by Luminate (former MRC Data). Streaming Songs Rankings – from repor ts collected and provided by Luminate (former MRC Data). Hot Country Songs Rankings – by mingling radio airplay audience impressions, sales data, and streaming activity data from online music sources as tracked by Luminate (former ly MRC Data) 94% 88% 92% 91% 4% 4% 4% 4% 2% 2% 8% 5% Song Distribution on Billboard 's Year-End Charts, by Gender (2022) Airplay Rankings – by total audience impressions based on monitored radio airplay by Mediabase of 145 stations by Luminate (former ly MRC Data). Digital Sales Rankings – from sales repor ts collected and provided by Luminate (former MRC Data). Streaming Songs Rankings – from repor ts collected and provided by Luminate (former MRC Data). Hot Country Songs Rankings – by mingling radio airplay audience impressions, sales data, and streaming activity data from online music sources as tracked by Luminate (former ly MRC Data) Songs by men Songs by women Songs by male-female collabs and groups 76% 89.5% 72% 75% 14% 2% 8% 14% 10% 8.5% 20% 11%
Understanding the relationship between data and the lack of diversity and equity in country music
lishing houses. As Diane Pecknold outlines in her foundational text The Selling Sound, the Country Music Association, launched in 1958, became the chief architect in rebranding and modernizing the image of country music, while at the same time building its business model around radio and charts.
In the 1950s, radio was shifting away from the eclectic block programming of varied stylistic offerings toward a Top 40 model based around tighter playlists of a single genre — something we’re familiar with today. The CMA used ratings data to identify struggling stations, offering them support of an association broadcast member to guide them through the process of becoming a dedicated country station.
By the late 1960s, country radio had been cemented at the center of the industry’s business model, with Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart capturing consumption of recorded music. Analysis of representation on the charts since 1958 reveals combined racial and gendered hierarchy within the industry. Since 1958, 94.4 percent of the songs appearing on the long-running Billboard chart are by white artists: 66.8 percent by white men, 21.7 percent by white women and 5.9 percent by male-female collaborations. Songs by Black artists (1.1 percent) — especially women (0.1 percent) — are nearly absent from this historic chart. And while a handful of men of color have had songs peak within the top 10 positions of industry charts, Linda Martell’s “Color Him Father” remains the highest charting song by a Black woman (No. 22 in 1969) and Ojibwe artist Crystal Shawanda’s “You Can Let Go” is the highest by an Indigenous artist (No. 19 in 2008). A Black, Indigenous, Latina or Hispanic woman has not charted since 2015.
These statistics are not altogether surprising. But they reveal the depth to which segregating practices persist in the 21st century, when Black and brown artists continue to receive just 2.2 percent of the country radio format airplay (0.06 percent of which is songs by Black women).
While streaming is becoming increasingly important in the broader popular music industry, the weekly and Year-End charts reveal considerable racial and gender inequity (not to mention homogeneity, when 16 percent of the top 50 songs streamed are by one artist, Morgan Wallen). Though it was thought that streaming could level the playing field, creating a path for independent artists to bypass gatekeepers and build a fan base, label-signed artists continue to dominate. But when streaming services offer recommendations, their algorithms study past data — which are influenced by patterns within the industry. Both editorial playlists and recommender systems, then, just reflect the country industry (i.e., radio) back to users — defaulting white and male, creating a feedback loop.
Data also play a significant role in determining industry awards. Chart rankings, radio airplay, digital media, live concert ticket sales, television and film appearances, songwriting credentials and contributions to the industry are all taken either separately or together as criteria for which an artist may be deemed eligible for nomination. But how are the contributions of artists who do not have this type of support to be weighed in comparison to the white men and (to a lesser extent) women who have access to opportunities within the industry?
The context of award criteria is particularly troubling when changes narrow the pool of eligible candidates. This is the case with the CMA’s May 2020 revision of eligibility criteria for Single of the Year category. Instead of reaching the Top 50 of the industry’s charts, the new criterion requires that a song reach the Top 10 of these charts to be eligible for consideration. This puts an extra burden on women who are Black, Indigenous or other people of color, who have historically been disadvantaged by the industry. Under this new criterion, not a single Black or brown woman in the industry’s history would have been eligible for a CMA nomination in this category. The chart results for 2022 show that if these criteria remain, Jimmie Allen and Kane Brown would be eligible for nomination for CMA’s Single of the Year category in 2023, but no Black or brown woman would be — and are unlikely to be eligible for any award that requires chart activity.
Income, resources, opportunity and awards are all linked to the support that an artist receives as a result of the data generated through the industry’s charts (radio, sales, streaming) on country radio. Not only does data impact the ways in which Nashville labels support and promote the handful of nonwhite artists they’ve signed, but it also influences decision-making surrounding signing new artists to their rosters and contributes to the enduring whiteness in the broader music community (songwriters, touring and studio musicians, and more). The recent signings of The War and Treaty (UMG), Madeline Edwards and Breland (both to Warner Music Nashville) and Willie Jones (Sony Music Nashville) suggest positive signs of change. But this must also be met with changes in promotional support, programming at radio, and opportunities for exposure within the industry if they are to succeed in a business model centered on whiteness.
“There is a tendency to build on what has been happening,” says Amanda Marie Martínez, a country music scholar who is a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University. We recently spoke on the phone. “It’s a business where the objective is to make money, and the business is continuing to work well. There’s no incentive to deviate because it works.” The business model becomes a selffulfilling prophecy: encouraging investment in white men because white men have historically provided financial advantages.
DATA IS DESTINY, as data scientist and code poet Joy Buolamwini has stated The industry uses data to track consumption, to uncover patterns and trends, to make business decisions. But while the industry is forwardlooking, the data they use reflects history. Rather than seeing the absence of BIPOC artists on charts as indicative of a systemic problem, the industry uses the lack of data proving BIPOC artists’ commercial viability to justify and maintain institutional practices. The past dwells within this data, and the 2022 charts reveal no sign of change. ■
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 17
THE FULL PICTURE
Looking at how recent work by Justin Hiltner, Willi Carlisle and Adeem the Artist represents queer artists claiming more territory in country
BY STEACY EASTON
Much of the queer history of country music has involved stating needs — a queer first-love song, a queer cheating song, a queer two-step — and expecting to be punished or ignored. Ever since the Morgan Wallen fiasco in 2021 and his subsequent stratospheric success, mainstream country performers have gone from shutting up and singing to stating violent opinions pretty aggressively — be it Brantley Gilbert’s obsession with the Second Amendment, Jason Aldean’s calling out Maren Morris during his concert amid a move from the far right to something close to fascism, or Aldean’s wife’s transphobic T-shirt line.
At the same time, there was a cluster of songs and albums that carefully and with great variation document queer experiences in working-class Southern spaces. A few
prime examples include Adeem the Artist’s “Books & Records,” Willi Carlisle’s “Life on the Fence” and “Tulsa’s Last Magician,” and Justin Hiltner’s “1992,” “Everglades,” “If I Were a Thread in the Yoke of Your Shirt” and “Room at the Table.”
After years of doing lonely archival work, tracing the edges of noncommercial recordings or trying to find well-hidden hints in commercial hits, I welcome this proliferation of complex working-class stories. So many queer stories are told in whispers to other queer people — especially in places like Minneapolis or Orlando or Tulsa. Having the quiet parts said out loud is a mark of the genre’s growth. But these songs know their ancestors. In “1992,” Hiltner sings about how he was born in the same hospital and at the same time as a relative who died of AIDS. In his song “Everglades,” a sexual encounter in the ecologically invaluable swamp is part of a cycle of death and resurrection. At the same time, it is part of a larger act of queer creation that includes “If I Were a Thread,” a song whose official studio recording hasn’t been released, about how Hiltner wants to be the shirt on his lover’s torso. This yearning, haunting, all-consuming ode to another man’s body conveys a lust that I just have not heard in country.
Carlisle’s Peculiar, Missouri might be the best country album of the year. “Tulsa’s Last Magician” is a story of a ramblin’ man — a performer who moves throughout the West, turning tricks in all senses of the word, in Reno or Tampa or Los Angeles. He returns home, he settles in, and the song expands
into a space that reflects on the necessity of queer stories. Carlisle’s best-honed skill, one he shares with Hiltner and Adeem, is folding big themes into small narratives. Here, sleight-of-hand magic is a metaphor for tucking queer desire into places that violently preclude it. In “Life on the Fence,” the narrator is in a relationship with a woman and struggles over how to respond to comeons from a man he had an affair with before — a genre’s rare defense of bisexuality as a rhetorical form.
Adeem, Hiltner and Carlisle talk of working-class queer anxiety. About how we are scared of being found out, we are scared about making rent, we are scared of asking for what we want, we are scared of going to hell, and we are angry at living for the crumbs. On one level, Carlisle’s “I Won’t Be Afraid” focuses on accepting one’s imperfections, and it includes a wry verse: “I will clear the beer cans from the coffee table / I will clean the ashtray on the coffee table / I will do a third thing, I’m sure I’m able / I will say one nice thing before noon / Before 1, before 2.” But it’s also about compassion for the self as a necessary act of defiance. Listening to the song’s maximalist inspirational chorus and its tiny quotidian details, I hear that I wasn’t the only queer person who had ambivalence about the land they grew up in.
Looking specifically at their home in Appalachia, Adeem notes the connections between sexual, cultural and social identity. Cisgender heterosexual men have recorded dozens of songs about hunting
as sport in the past decade. Adeem’s song “Middle of a Heart” expands on the metaphor of going hunting for the first time to examine the pride of feeding your family and the heartbreak of failed expectations. On “Books & Records,” they sing about a practice that musicians and writers have been doing for time immemorial — pawning guitars, selling promo copies — to pay for rent or food. After financing the record with a crowdfunding campaign, Adeem signed with Thirty Tigers to release the album, so maybe rent is a little easier now. But as they sing, the pressures don’t diminish: “For the last two years the rent keeps getting higher / And our neighbors all have cars we can’t afford / I’m working two jobs now and, brother, I stay tired / But we could always stand to make a little more.”
Echoing the hope and joy that Hiltner and Carlisle share in their songs, Adeem sings about how maybe someday their characters can buy back the books and records they sold. The song is about the very real nature of economic necessity and how it erodes both the future of artistic expression and the legacy those expressions extend: “Down at Tommy’s Pawn, there’s an unheard song / Buried in my grandpa’s guitar / By a box of antique photos I got when Granny Marie passed on.” Buying back what’s been sold is saying explicitly, aloud and in public, “This is my space too.” It’s equivalent to writing and performing the queerness that Nashville finds inconvenient at best.
18 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
ADEEM THE ARTIST
fresh perspectives to live your best life in
Nashville Crystal Store and Crystal Farmacy
Though crystal healing is trending, renowned healer, author and visionary Ataana Badilli has supported Nashville with this ancient form of energy work in Nashville since 2005.
Crystals are stones with unique physical characteristics and energies — each one affects the human body’s vibrations in different ways.
“Crystals help us remember our full potential and self-healing abilities,” says Badilli, who opened Nashville Crystal Store’s Berry Hill location in 2017, East Nashville in 2018 and The Chattanooga Crystal Store in 2021.
Nashville Crystal Store carries consciously sourced, healing crystals and beautiful gemstones from around the globe, ranging from pocket size to 8 feet tall. Their goal is to connect each client with their healing crystal — and vice versa.
“Upon entry, our knowledgeable and intuitive staff is there to support you on your healing journey with crystal information and pairings, Badilli says. “Each crystal is labeled with its individual healing properties, like a crystal pharmacy. After a brief consultation, our staff pairs crystals that are unique to the individual and their energy.”
Crystal pairings are a two-way street. Badilli and his staff also work to ensure that each stone will be happy in its new home.
“The energy of our crystals is extremely important to us, ensuring that when they are rehomed they hold a beautiful, healing energy,” Badilli says. “We work directly with the miners and their families to ensure a fair and healthy process for everyone involved, including the stones.”
Badilli, who encourages families and children to experience the “wholesome healing energy” of stones, also works with international artists on one-of-a-kind gemstone jewelry, sculptures and crystal furniture.
His books, Sacred Inner Dialogue: Calling My Power Back and Mantras & Music: Prosperity Healing Mantras, are available in-store and online.
To learn more about guided crystal meditations, complimentary crystal readings, energy healing work and more, visit nashvillecrystalstore.com, follow on Instagram @NashvilleCrystalStore and sign up for text updates and a live nightly Zoom meditation of Prosperity Healing Mantras at ataanamethod.com.
living well 2023 Advertorial
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We offer high frequency crystals and gemstones from around the globe. Aiding you on your healing journey! For events and Energy Healing Ataanamethod.com • Psychic Medium • Crystal Readings • Berryhill Ph: (615) 674.1198 OPEN DAILY 12-6PM Follow us online @nashvillecrystalstore Nashvillecrystalstore.com Come & discover your healing crystals! Nashville Crystal Store STORE FRONT Berryhill 2819 Columbine Place Nashville, TN East Nashville Crystal Store 804 Meridian St Nashville, TN Chattanooga Crystal Store 1155 East Main St Chattanooga, TN
Braces by Dr. Ruth
After Dr. Ruth Ross Edmonds completed her graduate training in orthodontics at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, she moved back to Nashville to put her knowledge and experience to work.
“No one was hiring, so I decided to open my own practice,” Edmonds says. “As a result, I am the first African-American female to own and open an orthodontic office in Nashville.”
Edmonds opened Braces by Dr. Ruth 22 years ago with a staff of one. Today she has 12 highly trained team members in a brightly colored Midtown space that’s also “a bit of a mural gallery,” she says.
At Braces by Dr. Ruth, customized orthodontic treatment plan options include metal and ceramic (clear) braces, aligners and their newest product, Brava by Brius.
“These are independent tooth movers that are placed behind teeth. They are the truly invisible treatment option,” she says. “Our patients are loving having a tray-less option, as many people do not have the discipline to wear the trays. You are able to brush and floss as you would without independent tooth movers.”
A family-friendly, inclusive environment is important to Edmonds: Braces by Dr. Ruth also offers bilingual services for children and adults and several rewards programs. The token program lets patients earn tokens for punctuality and clean teeth. Tokens can be saved and applied to everything from a travel toothbrush to ear buds, wireless speakers, movie tickets or two tickets to Nashville Zoo. Patients can also create an entry for the Braces by Dr. Ruth t-shirt design contest and attend a patient appreciation party during summer break.
Braces are a science — but also an art. Outside the office, Edmonds funnels her creativity into stained and fused glass art.
In addition to being the owner, operator, orthodontist and self-described “Queen of Everything,” Edmonds is also a member of the American Dental Association, American Association of Orthodontics, Southern Association of Orthodontics, Nashville Dental Society and the Pan-Tennessee Dental Society, and has received awards from the National Dental Association and the Capital City Dental Society.
“We are not the biggest, or the busiest,” Edmonds says of her practice. “But one difference between Braces by Dr. Ruth and your local chain — or office that has several locations — is that you will always get Dr. Ruth.”
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Third Coast Salt and Day Spa
It’s no coincidence that Third Coast Salt Day Spa has been open for 6.5 years and voted Best Spa for six. Based on the healing power of salt, this 5300-square-foot space caters to those who seek solitude or social interaction.
“Want to know why you are so relaxed at the beach? It’s the salt!” says self-proclaimed “grateful owner” Shari Arnold. “Escape to Third Coast Salt and Day Spa for the most uniquely designed menu of services. Your massage can be transformed into the best treatment of your life.”
The 28-member team of professionals offer massage, reiki, salt, sweat and spa therapy, facials, chemical peels, waxing and threading, tinting, microblading, lash extensions, wellness workshops, private events and more. Now in their forever home minutes east of the airport in Mt. Juliet, Third Coast Salt will debut two of the best lasers in the industry, the Ultra and Clarity Two, with full certification and advanced training on February 1.
The Ultra resurfaces the face, helps with acne scaring, hyperpigmentation, melasma and an overall glow as well as hair rejuvenation. The Clarity Two does laser hair reduction. Look for Third Coast Salt’s “Love Lasers” and unique couples date escape Valentine’s Day promotions.
“Let 2023 be the year of self care and self love,” Arnold says. “Trust Third Coast Salt with your skin, body, mind and health.”
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Photo by Southern Social
24 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com Live at the Schermerhorn *Presented without the Nashville Symphony. coming soon WITH SUPPORT FROM BUY TICKETS : 615.687.6400 NashvilleSymphony.org/Tickets Giancarlo Guerrero, music director LATIN FIESTA! MUSIC OF RAVEL, MÁRQUEZ & YI with the Nashville Symphony Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor Anne Akiko Meyers, violin Feb. 3 & 4 MAKAYA M c CRAVEN: IN THESE TIMES Feb. 5 IN CONCERT LIVE TO FILM WITH THE NASHVILLE SYMPHONY Nicholas Hersh, conductor © DISNEY Jan. 27 & 28 GLADYS KNIGHT Feb. 14 GUERRERO CONDUCTS AN AMERICAN IN PARIS Feb. 23 to 25 KODO ONE EARTH TOUR 2023: TSUZUMI Feb. 27* CELTIC JOURNEY March 14 WAR March 15* RATATOUILLE IN CONCERT March 17 to 19 DANCING IN THE STREET: THE MUSIC OF MOTOWN Feb. 9 to 11 FINAL FANTASY 35TH ANNIVERSARY DISTANT WORLDS: MUSIC FROM FINAL FANTASY CORAL Jan. 25 BUY MORE SAVE MORE Presented without the Nashville Symphony
WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF THINGS TO DO
THURSDAY / 1.19
LAKE STREET DIVE
What long-running pop-rock-soul band Lake Street Dive does on the 2021 album Obviously and the 2022 covers EP Fun Machine: The Sequel adds up to a muso-friendly version of yacht rock, right down to singer Rachael Price’s jazzinflected phrasing and the mildly funky beats the group favors. Price, who grew up in Hendersonville, Tenn., formed the band nearly 20 years ago as a somewhat experimental project, but Obviously stands as a classic statement of small-scale — and impeccably performed — pop that draws from Carole King, Steely Dan and soul music in general. Price & Co. keep the grooves light and the lyrics attuned to subjects like climate change, which they tackle on Obviously track “Same Old News.” Much like a lot of ’70s yacht rock, “Same Old News” favors optimism over the kind of overtly political critique a rock ’n’ roll artist might attempt. Lake Street Dive gets into ’70s and ’80s pop on Fun Machine: The Sequel, and they cover Brock Walsh and Mark Goldenberg’s “Automatic,” a 1984 hit for The Pointer Sisters — themselves avatars of lightweight soul that’s aged well precisely because it sounds derivative. The group’s version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart” is as pleasant as the rest of Fun Machine Chicago-born singer Monica Martin opens for the band on their two-night run at the Ryman. Jan. 19-20 at the Ryman, 116 Rep. John Lewis Way N. EDD HURT
NASHVILLE CHILDREN’S THEATRE PRESENTS LLAMA LLAMA RED PAJAMA
If you’ve ever attempted to get a young child to go to bed (and actually stay there), you understand the potential drama
surrounding family bedtime routines. Late children’s author Anna Dewdney perfectly captured that all-too-familiar struggle with her delightful 2005 picture book Llama Llama Red Pajama. Now you
LAKE STREET DIVE
JAN. 19 The Ryman
can check out a fun musical adaptation of this beloved book series as Llama Llama Red Pajama takes the stage at Nashville Children’s Theatre. Featuring book, music and lyrics by Austin Zumbro (who also wrote children’s plays Goodnight, Goodnight and Construction Site the Musical), Llama Llama offers plenty of music, movement and more. The story is simple but engaging — touching on themes of family, patience, self-control and independence — and offers a wonderful way to introduce little ones to live theater. Director Abe Reybold has assembled a terrific cast, including Gerold Oliver, LaDarra Jackel, Curtis Reed, Mallory Mundy and James Rudolph II. I’m especially looking forward to checking out Scott Leathers’ scenic/lighting design, along with Billy Ditty’s costumes. Jan. 19-March 10 at Nashville Children’s Theatre, 25 Middleton St. AMY STUMPFL
[LEXICON OF COUNTRY] WAYLON PAYNE
Waylon Payne’s 2020 album Blue Eyes, the Harlot, the Queer, the Pusher & Me stands as a landmark of the post-country confessional mode. Payne is the son of
singer Sammi Smith and guitarist Jody Payne, and he released his debut album The Drifter in 2004. Blue Eyes uses standard forms in new ways, but Payne’s singing and songwriting connects him to country history without breaking the chain of selfrevelation that characterizes the genre at its deepest. Blue Eyes is a bracing examination of Payne’s struggles with drug addiction and his identity as a queer man. Still, Payne never overdoes the angst, and the songs end up expressing universal themes — after all, this is country music. He sounds determined to escape from his past in “Sins of the Father” and name-checks Jesus in “Santa Ana Winds,” the latter of which might be the strongest tune on Blue Eyes. I caught one of Payne’s recent shows at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge, where he’s been holding forth during his January residency. He’s a subtle singer who communicates anxiety and regret, but the performance I saw was laced with optimism. Blue Eyes proves Payne has plenty to add to the lexicon of country — I hope he keeps on keeping on. 8 p.m. at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge, 102 E. Palestine Ave. EDD HURT
| JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 25
MUSIC [AVATARS OF POP]
[A BEDTIME LLAMA DRAMA]
LLAMA LLAMA RED PAJAMA
[CAN’T SMILE WITHOUT YOU]
When “Mandy,” a swelling, melodramatic love ballad, hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in January 1975, no one saw Barry Manilow’s future ubiquity coming. But for the next half-decade, the Brooklyn-born piano man who’d previously written or sung jingles like State Farm Insurance’s famous “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm Is There,” was inescapable on the radio airwaves with songs like “I Write the Songs,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “Even Now” and “Copacabana,” to name a few. As Bette Midler’s musical director and accompanist at New York’s Continental Baths, he co-produced her 1972 breakthrough The Divine Miss M, and his records embraced the same intersection of big emotions, theatrical melodic builds and bravura climaxes. With legendary record executive Clive Davis behind him, Manilow not only soared through the late ’70s and early ’80s, he produced Dionne Warwick’s 1979 comeback Dionne, as well as his own projects that recalled Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. After selling 85 million albums globally and winning multiple Grammys, Emmys and American Music Awards, the affable 79-year-old performer is taking his beloved songs to the people one more time for a Bridgestone Arena-sized lovefest. 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena, 501 Broadway HOLLY GLEASON
I hope Mr. White is up to date on his insurance, because the house that Jack built is about to host a bombastic bash. While San Diego’s Schizophonics don’t diverge too far from the well-beaten path of firstgeneration American punk, the band has set itself apart from the rest of the late-’60s garage emulators thanks to their barbarous live sets. While few old hands of the rock ’n’ roll underground have the reputation to compete with these California fuzz punks, locals Hans Condor are equally known for threatening the safety of their fans with good-natured stage high jinks. Also on the flyer are psychedelic twang-sters Mouth Reader, now in their 10th year, who fall somewhere in between The Cramps and Can. 8 p.m. at The Blue Room at Third Man Records, 623 Seventh Ave. S. P.J. KINZER
HOUSE WEEKEND FEAT. ROBBIE CROWELL
Multi-instrumentalist Robbie Crowell has been an MVP side player in a wide variety of bands. A few years back, you’d see him on keys with Deer Tick, and in more recent times he’s played drums, bass and more with Midland, Lauren Morrow and many more. For his shows Friday and Saturday, he’s assembled a crew of ringers — including keyboard wizard Matt Rowland, drummer extraordinaire Jon Radford, pedal steelist Philip Sterk and guitarist Joe V. McMahan — to play some of his favorite tunes from New Orleans artists. Mardi Gras is still a month away, but the music of Allen Toussaint, The Meters, Lee Dorsey, Dr. John and others is good for just
about any occasion. The icing on the king cake: Shannon McNally and Patrick Sweany, two great singers who are well-versed in NOLA R&B, will trade off taking the lead vocal. Jan. 20-21 at Analog at Hutton Hotel, 1808 West End Ave. STEPHEN TRAGESER
[CUP OF AMBITION]
THE DOLLY PARTY: THE DOLLY PARTON-INSPIRED COUNTRY DIVA DANCE PARTY
The title and description of this party look like something engineered by a very SEO-savvy communications intern to market to bachelorette parties, and well, it’s working for me too. The Dolly Party (formerly listed as The Dolly Disco) promises music from a powerful mix of artists: Tina Turner, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, The Chicks, Loretta Lynn, Shania Twain, Whitney Houston, Kacey Musgraves and Donna Summer. That’s a killer lineup of artists that will make me lose my mind — people who make songs that you listen to in the car but less frequently hear in the bar. There’s not a clear through line, except: This one is for the girls and the gays. And in a world that wants me to sit nicely and have a beer and talk about coed topics, I cannot miss the chance to dance at THE Dolly Party. Let’s go, girls. 9 p.m. at Brooklyn Bowl, 925 Third Ave. N. HANNAH HERNER
SATURDAY / 1.21
[CRANKING UP THE JOKE MACHINE] DEMETRI MARTIN
I was first introduced to Demetri Martin’s offbeat brand of humor when he appeared as the so-called “senior youth correspondent” on The Daily Show — skewering everything from MySpace
to the SATs. He would go on to have his own television series (Important Things With Demetri Martin) and release several standup albums and specials, including his latest for Netflix, The Overthinker. He also has written a number of books (including This Is a Book) and released a couple of art collections, Point Your Face at This and If It’s Not Funny It’s Art, which feature his original drawings. Known for his dry wit and deadpan one-liners, Martin often works humorous drawings and music into his act, while delivering keen observations such as “Sex is the leading cause of people,” and “100 percent of the people who give 110 percent do not understand math.” This Saturday, you can catch Martin’s latest show as he brings The Joke Machine Tour to TPAC’s Polk Theater. You never know what to expect when he walks onstage, but it’s sure to be a good time. 8 p.m. at TPAC’s Polk Theater, 505 Deaderick St. AMY STUMPFL
[YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR] SHREK RAVE
I don’t know what it is about the concept of a Shrek Rave that has captivated me so entirely, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Surely a small part of it comes from the nostalgia of the movies themselves, but my interest in the film franchise never extended much further than Shrek 2, perhaps Shrek the Third on a good day. Regardless, the ethos of Shrek has become so much more than the films. It has inspired a weird, crude, dark yet utterly fascinating internet culture that runs deep. The show, which was created by an L.A. artist with the moniker Ka5sh, is a rare opportunity to experience that culture in real life, replete with hilarious costumes, swampy beats and Smash Mouth. As the poster reads, “It’s dumb just come have fun,” “Cool is dead,” and “Who cares.” That’s the kind of
The creator has also dabbled in SpongeBob-themed Bikini Bottom raves. Tickets for Saturday night’s show have been going quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute to buy them — or to plan your costume. Whatever you come up with, I’m sure Shrek would say, “That’ll do, donkey.” 9 p.m. at Brooklyn Bowl, 925 Third Ave. N. KELSEY BEYELER
MUSIC [BAD BRAINS]
GREAT MINDS EP RELEASE SHOW
After dropping two solid singles online, Nashville hardcore unit Great Minds released their Livin’ N Color EP on the first day of 2023. Their sound is a fresh contemporary take on the classic NYHC sound that bridged the faster ’80s bands to the heavier ’90s chugga riffing and grittier street grooves. GM recalls some of the baddest moments of Burn, Underdog or the more grueling tracks on the New Breed Tape Compilation. The Livin’ N Color EP has all the hardcore boxes checked: spraypainted scripts, lyrics about police violence, and even a nod to getting stabbed in the back. Music City moshers Hard Reset will be filling out the bill, which also features California’s Mugshot, Alabama’s No Cure and Oklahoma’s Cell. 7 p.m. at The End, 2219 Elliston Place P.J. KINZER
SUNDAY / 1.22
MUSIC [SHINE LIKE A DIME IN THE DIRT]
Listening to Detroit’s Bonny Doon just might put some Nashvillians in mind of another indie-rock outfit: Silver Jews.
26 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com FRIDAY / 1.20
[HOOKED ON PHONICS WORKED FOR ME]
[WHOLE LOTTA MUFFALETTA GOIN’ ON]
I want more of this year. Despite the nonchalance of the advertising, apparently a lot of people care, as Nashville’s Shrek Rave is one of many stops on a
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 27 APRIL 25 WILCO WITH THE A’S ON SALE FRIDAY AT 10 AM AUGUST 8 GLEN HANSARD & MARKÉTA IRGLOVÁ OF THE SWELL SEASON ON SALE FRIDAY AT 10 AM MAY 18 ALL TIME LOW WITH MAYDAY PARADE ON SALE FRIDAY AT 10 AM FEBRUARY 17 CORY WONG FEATURING VICTOR WOOTEN FEBRUARY 9 & 10 BLACKBERRY SMOKE WITH BRENT COBB (2/9) AND CHRIS SHIFLETT (2/10) FEBRUARY 22 GREGORY PORTER MAY 16 IAN MUNSICK ON SALE FRIDAY AT 10 AM DOWNTOWN Museum Membership Members receive free Museum admission and access to weekly programming, concert ticket presale opportunities, and much more. JOIN TODAY: CountryMusicHallofFame.org/Membership Check our calendar for a full schedule of upcoming programs and events. Saturday, January 21 SONGWRITER SESSION George Ducas NOON · FORD THEATER Sunday, January 22 MUSICIAN SPOTLIGHT Mike Noble 1:00 pm · FORD THEATER Wednesday, January 25 CONVERSATION AND PERFORMANCE Night Train to Nashville 6:30 pm · FORD THEATER Saturday, January 28 SONGWRITER SESSION Wynn Varble NOON · FORD THEATER Sunday, January 29 MUSICIAN SPOTLIGHT Brittany Haas Tributes Ed & Ella Haley 1:00 pm · FORD THEATER Saturday, February 4 NASHVILLE CATS Herb Pedersen 2:30 pm · FORD THEATER Sunday, February 5 MUSICIAN SPOTLIGHT Bob Minner 1:00 pm · FORD THEATER Saturday, February 11 SONGWRITER SESSION Jeff Cohen NOON · FORD THEATER Sunday, February 12 MUSICIAN SPOTLIGHT Mark O’Connor 1:00 pm · FORD THEATER Nashville’s ONLY vinyl record store with full bar and 24 seasonal craft beers on tap. 19 Vinyl Bingo Fundraiser Beneﬁting Doctors Without Borders 20 DJ Jez Spins the Savage Sounds 21 5pm: Lou Turner, William Tyler & Emily Hilliard 8pm: DJ DEEFROST 22 New Song Sundays w/Chelsea Lovitt 24 Friends of Mine Hannah Delynn, Maya de Vitry, Joelton Mayﬁeld & Lillie Syracuse 25 Jack Silverman LIVE vinyltapnashville.com 1/19 9pm Killbozby, Maerens & Bad Acting 1/20 6pm Mac Lloyd & Deadhorse Rider FREE 1/21 9pm The Stephens, Slump Test & The Smithstons 9pm Kayla Von Der Heide & Taylor Raynor 1/22 4pm Springwater Sit In Jam FREE 1/25 5pm Writers @ the Water Open Mic FREE Open WED - SUN 11am - til late nite
Sadly, Jews leader and Nashville resident David Berman — who would’ve celebrated his 53rd birthday earlier this month — died by suicide back in 2019, but his influence can be heard in songs like “I See You” from Bonny Doon’s self-titled 2017 debut LP, or “I Am Here (I Am Alive)” from 2018’s Longwave. Both records are full of spare but beautiful midtempo arrangements and tender, poetic lyrics from co-frontmen Bill Lennox and Bobby Colombo, largely about coming of age and trying to remain a kind person despite life’s various tribulations. Just before the pandemic hit back in 2020, Bonny Doon released a live album, which was recorded direct to acetate in Third Man Records’ Cass Corridor in Detroit. They also did a stint as the backing band for Katie Crutchfield’s fantastic project Waxahatchee. The group has kept largely quiet since then in terms of new releases, but a recent single — “San Francisco,” released by Anti- Records in September — proves that Lennox, Colombo and their bandmates still know how to write lovely, wistful indie-rock songs with jangling guitars. On Sunday, Bonny Doon will take the stage at another Third Man Records outpost, The Blue Room, where “I See You” will likely bring a tear to the eye of any transplants feeling particularly homesick. “We miss you, won’t you come on home?” Chicago quintet Bnny will appear in support. 8 p.m. at The Blue Room at Third Man Records, 623 Seventh Ave. S. D. PATRICK RODGERS
[WHEN IN ROME]
There’s no understating Roman Holiday’s presence in the American film canon. It’s the movie that introduced the world to Audrey Hepburn as a runaway princess who falls in love with a reporter played by Gregory Peck. It’s the movie that kick-started the era of American films being shot in Rome. And it’s the movie that inspired thousands of tourists (this one included) to dash across eight lanes of Italian traffic — risking life and limb — to dip a paw inside “The Mouth of Truth” statue. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won for Hepburn’s performance as Princess Ann, Best Story for Dalton Trumbo’s film treatment, and Best Costume Design (Edith Head’s,
naturally). Seeing Roman Holiday on the big screen is a fairy tale in itself, and Fathom Events will give you the chance for the film’s 70th anniversary at theaters around Nashville. Visit fathomevents.com to find a screening near you. Jan. 22 and 25 at select Regal and AMC theaters TOBY LOWENFELS
MONDAY / 1.23
FILM [GORE PRINCIPLES] MUSIC CITY MONDAYS: THE BEYOND: COMPOSER’S CUT
It took a long time for The Beyond, the second installment in Italian giallo shockmeister Lucio Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” trilogy, to get to our shores with all its guts (both figuratively and literally) intact. It was originally released in 1981, but a chopped-up version — renamed 7 Doors of Death and directed by “Louis Fuller” — made it to American theaters in 1983. The original didn’t show up here until 1998, when Grindhouse Releasing got the U.S. distribution rights after Fulci’s death in 1996 and Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures gave it a rerelease rollout. As always, Fulci comes up with thrills and chills in the goriest, grossest ways. He takes a stab (sorry, couldn’t resist) at Southern gothic horror with this proudly incoherent, haunted house yarn, where a woman (Fulci regular Catriona “Katherine” MacColl) inherits a rundown New Orleans hotel that also doubles as a gateway to hell. Another cut is now circulating in theaters: a new 4K restoration complete with an all-new soundtrack from original composer Fabio Frizzi. But don’t worry — the movie is still deplorable, disgusting and deliriously deranged. 8 p.m. at the Belcourt, 2102 Belcourt Ave. CRAIG D. LINDSEY
TUESDAY / 1.24
[THREE DECADES IN BLUE] BLUE MAN GROUP
A lot has changed since Blue Man Group first debuted in New York in 1987. But this unusual performance-art company — which has been seen by more than 35 million people worldwide — shows no signs of slowing down, maintaining productions in Berlin, Boston, Chicago
and Las Vegas. The North American tour returns to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center next week, bringing its over-thetop humor, “signature drumming” and plenty of cultural commentary. In fact, for a show that’s based almost entirely on nonverbal communication, Blue Man Group has an awful lot to say about the human condition. Audiences can expect plenty of creativity with pulsating music, custommade instruments and maybe even a few surprises. And keep in mind that the first couple of rows are considered the “Poncho Zone,” where guests are invited to cover up with plastic ponchos, as colorful “splatters” occasionally occur during performances. Jan. 24-26 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall, 505 Deaderick St. AMY STUMPFL
[NUDE WOMEN DOING THINGS]
ANNIE BRITO HODGIN: SOUTHERN LABYRINTH
Annie Brito Hodgin is a self-taught painter whose figurative works offer surreal stories that spring from the artist’s subconscious rife with myth and wrapped in symbolism. Hodgin’s paintings are populated with nude women doing things: climbing fences, running in the woods, falling down stairs, lighting their curtains on fire. It’s all super
dreamy, and you could imagine the artist’s images illustrating a New Age manual on astral travel. Hodgin’s heroines get rained on and stalked by crocodiles, flowers sprout from their mouths and skeletal horses gallop through their nightmares. The artist’s works on paper explore similar subjects, but I prefer the precision and texture of her colored-pencil sketching to her paintings. Figures, narratives and loads of content are all contemporary art trends that are starting to fade, but work like Hodgin’s is so personal and idiosyncratic that she seems to be making a space of her own outside of shifting cultural tastes. Southern Labyrinth is Hodgin’s first solo gallery display since she started showing her work in 2019, and it might prove to be one of the year’s breakout showcases. Through Jan. 28 at Red Arrow Gallery, 919 Gallatin Ave. JOE NOLAN
WEDNESDAY / 1.25
MUSIC [IN THE STREAM] HAWKTAIL
I’ve often written about the persistence of bluegrass, which is a style of music I’ve always loved more for its eerie vocal harmonies than its virtuoso playing. When
28 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
CRITICS’ PICKS BLUE MAN GROUP
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 29 GREAT MUSIC • GREAT FOOD • GOOD FRIENDS • SINCE 1991 818 3RD AVE SOUTH • SOBRO DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE SHOWS NIGHTLY • FULL RESTAURANT FREE PARKING • SMOKE FREE VENUE AND SHOW INFORMATION 3RDANDLINDSLEY.COM MON 1/23 FRI 1/20 TUE 1/24 LIVESTREAM | VIDEO | AUDIO Live Stream • Video and Recording • Rehearsal Space 6 CAMERAS AVAILABLE • Packages Starting @ $499 Our partner: volume.com FEATURED COMING SOON WED 1/25 THU 1/26 PRIVATE EVENTS FOR 20-150 GUESTS SHOWCASES • WEDDINGS BIRTHDAYS • CORPORATE EVENTS EVENTSAT3RD@GMAIL.COM SAT 1/21 SUN 1/22 THU 1/19 THIS WEEK 1/27 THE PIANO MEN - THE MUSIC OF ELTON JOHN & BILLY JOEL 1/28 BACKSTAGE NASHVILLE 1/28 VINYL RADIO 1/29 COUNTRY MUSIC FROM OTHER COUNTRIES 1/30 THE TIME JUMPERS 1/31 JOHN COWAN & ANDREA ZONN ARE THE HERCULEONS 2/1 THREE TIMES A LADY 2/2 SAM HOLT BAND 2/3 A NIGHT FOR JIM REILLEY SOLD OUT! 2/4 THE PETTY JUNKIES 2/7 DAVE BARNES & FRIENDS 2/8 DIANNE DAVIDSON 2/10 RUBIKS GROOVE 2/11 THE LONG PLAYERS 2/14 MANDY BARNETT 2/15 RACHEL LOY’S SH*T LIST 2/18 TOWN MOUNTAIN 2/25 RESURRECTION: A JOURNEY TRIBUTE 2/28 ERIC GALES WITH YATES MCKENDREE 3/4 GUILTY PLEASURES 3/9 WEDNESDAY NIGHT TITANS 3/10 FRUITION 3/12 CRAWLERS 3/23 ANDERSON COUNCIL 4/4 ROOSEVELT COLLIER 4/8 DALE WATSON + CHICKEN S#!+ BINGO PARTY 8:00 7:30 8:00 12:00 7:30 12:30 TAYTAY PARTY SHANE PROFITT 8:00 2/9 3/5 7:30 8:00 2/16 GIRL GOD 3/7 5/31 3/15 BRANDON ROGERS TWILIGHT TRAIN–NASHVILLE’S HOTTEST NEIL DIAMOND TRIBUTE BAND WMOT ROOTS RADIO FINALLY FRIDAYS FEAT. AJ LEE & BLUE SUMMIT, MIKE MIZ & GRACE PETTIS BARRACUDA–AMERICA’S HEART TRIBUTE + 8 TRACK BAND 12 AGAINST NATURE “A STEELY DAN EXPERIENCE” BACKSTAGE NASHVILLE FEAT. TRENT TOMLINSON, JUSTIN WILSON, RAY STEPHENSON & MAE ESTES THE TIME JUMPERS JOHN COWAN AND ANDREA ZONN ARE THE HERCULEONS WITH JODY NARDONE, TOM BRITT, ANY PEAKE & JOHN MOCK WITH SPECIAL GUESTS BILL LLOYD & RADNEY FOSTER ROONEY’S IRREGULARS FEAT. JIM ROONEY, PAT ALFER, SHAWN CAMP, PAT MCLAUGHLIN, BILL KENNER, PETE WASNER, DAN DUGMORE, DAVE POMEROY, RICHARD BAILEY, KIRK “JELLYROLL’ JOHNSON, LARRY ATAMANUIK, PAT MCINERNEY & STUART DUNCAN 7:00 JD CLAYTON WITH HARPER O’NEILL TOM SANDOVAL & THE MOST EXTRAS FREESHOW THEBLUEROOMBAR.COM @THEBLUEROOMNASHVILLE 623 7TH AVE S NASHVILLE, TENN. Rent out The Blue Room for your upcoming event! BLUEROOMBAR@THIRDMANRECORDS.COM January in... More info for each event online & on our instagram! See you soon! CAITLIN ROSE with THE KERNEL NICK HAKIM with JUNE McDOOM reading, signing & kids activities 1960s RARE & ELECTRIFYING RECORDS with BNNY & HAZEL CITY BONNY DOON with HANS CONDOR & MOUTH READER SCHIZOPHONICS MUSIC TRIVIA 1/19 THURSDAY 1/20 FRIDAY 1/22 SUNDAY 1/21 SATURDAY 1/26 THURSDAY 1/27 FRIDAY 1/29 SUNDAY 1/28 SATURDAY hosted by WNXP NASHVILLE with MAGGIE MILES SAM PALLADIO VALERIE JUNE “ SOMEBODY TO LOVE ” BOOK LAUNCH
I began writing about music as a generalist who often shies away from the kind of total immersion in genre that you need to cover bluegrass for an audience of specialists, I got up to speed on newgrass and its variants. Most newgrass leaves me just as cold as the Grateful Dead does, but I like the classical-grass fusion of groups like Hawktail, which features the bass playing of Punch Brother Paul Kowert. Give these guys credit — the music on their 2022 album Place of Growth folds in enough melodic and rhythmic ideas to grab your attention. Like the similar efforts of Minnesota band Sprig of That, which uses tabla in a post-grass environment, Place of Growth is tricky and weird. I guess you could call Hawktail’s fusion a version of what used to be dubbed Third Stream Music — hey, maybe it’s time for a revival of the work of Third Stream composer Pete Rugolo, who had the good sense to cover the theme from the Ben Casey television show in 1962. Guitarist and singer Seán Barna opens. 8 p.m. at The Basement East, 917 Woodland St. EDD HURT
TAKE A BOW]
SHEILA E. AND THE E TRAIN
At the age of 65, Sheila E. has one of the most impressive résumés any musician has ever amassed. The percussion savant and electro-funk songwriter has spent her glamorous life working with artists like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock and Prince. Both pop star and jazz virtuoso, the Oakland superstar boasts elite proficiency on drums, bass, guitar, microphone and just about any random object one can beat on to keep a rhythm. Returning to City Winery with her backing band, Sheila E. promises an expansive night of music from a career that earned her a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, two Billboard Dance Club Songs chart-topping hits and the Season 3 championship belt from CMT’s reality competition Gone Country 8 p.m. at City Winery, 609 Lafayette St. P.J. KINZER
[UNDER THE CAT’S WATCHFUL EYE] LILLY HIATT W/COLEY AND THE YOUNG GO-HARDS, JADE JACKSON & ZIONA RILEY
The folks at DIY label and booking outfit To-Go Records have organized a gig featuring some outstanding musicians
who’ve probably spent a night or three singing other people’s songs at East Nashville institution Fran’s East Side — at the original home of the renowned karaoke spot on Greenwood, which the beloved dive bar was forced to leave in 2021, its new home on Dickerson, or both. While the earlier iteration featured live music of the non-karaoke variety on occasion, the current space has a little more room to accommodate a band. Lilly Hiatt and Coley Hinson, ace singer-songwriters and leaders of great rock ensembles who happen to be married to each other, will be bringing theirs on Wednesday. (Though they both write great tunes, Hiatt recently released a great cover of “Under the Milky Way,” and one of the standouts in Hinson’s set is his take on “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” à la The Monkees — maybe they’ll play those in the karaoke spirit.) Jade Jackson, whose most recent full-length was 2021’s Breaking Point, a rollicking collaboration with fellow country-and-roots songsmith Aubrie Sellers, will join in. Rounding out the bill is singersongwriter Ziona Riley, whose storytelling ability you owe it to yourself to witness. A couple tips for the uninitiated: Fran’s is one of the few remaining places in town that allows smoking inside (for now) and only accepts cash. 8 p.m. at Fran’s East Side, 2504B Dickerson Pike STEPHEN TRAGESER
[IT’S YOU AGAIN]
On Jan. 25, Sister Sadie returns to the scene of the crime, so to speak. The bluegrass quintet was born in 2012 at the Station Inn at a gig that was supposed to be a one-off Christmas show. Two studio albums and a wealth of International Bluegrass Music Association Awards later, the band is entering its second decade with founding members Deanie Richardson (fiddle) and Gena Britt (banjo, harmony vocals) and recent additions Hasee Ciaccio (bass), Jaelee Roberts (guitar, lead vocals) and Mary Meyer (mandolin, harmony vocals). Sister Sadie embodies its old-time music with powerful harmonies and electrifying playing, and the quintet has a special chemistry that is best experienced live. 9 p.m. at the Station Inn, 402 12th Ave. S. RACHEL CHOLST
30 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
SISTER SADIE JAN 20 Shlump JAN 25 3-Rex with Jeremy Asbrock JAN 26 Mitch the Hero FREE show JAN 27 Dusty Bo & the Contraband JAN 28 Ivy Lab FEB 2 Of the Trees FEB 5 Supersuckers FEB 17 New Wave Order FEB 22 Eric Bellinger FEB 25 Top 8 MAR 5 Emotional Oranges MAR 7 Chuck Prophet & the Mission Express MAR 19 Clan Of Xymox MAR 21 Real Friends & Knuckle Puck MAR 22 Mod Sun MAR 24 Marauda: Rage Room Tour JAN 19 Austin John Trio JAN 25 Imperial Blues Hour JAN 26 Sam Hawksley Low Volume Lounge 8PM Free please mind the tip hat! 1508A Gallatin Pike S Madison TN 37115 @eastsidebowl | @eastsidebowlvenue PRESENTED BY 2022 New Wave Order 2/17 Real Friends & Knuckle Puck 3/21 Ivy Lab: Inﬁnite Falling Ground Tour 1/28 Shlump 1/20 Dusty Bo and the Contraband 1/27 3-Rex Residency FREE FOR PATRONS 1/25 Learn more at CountryMusicHallofFame.org/Membership. 224 REP. JOHN LEWIS WAY S NASHVILLE, TN CMATHEATER.COM @CMATHEATER BOOKED BY @NATIONALSHOWS2 • NATIONALSHOWS2.COM The CMA Theater is a property of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. JUNE 3 RON POPE 2023 TOUR WITH SPECIAL GUEST LYDIA LUCE UPCOMING SHOWS AT THE CMA THEATER TICKETS ON SALE NOW Museum members receive exclusive pre-sale opportunities for all CMA Theater shows. FEBRUARY 10 DAVE MASON ENDANGERED SPECIES TOUR 2023 APRIL 12 HOT TUNA ACOUSTIC DUO MAY 1 GIRL NAMED TOM
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THEY DID IT THEIR WAY
Bill and Shannon Miller are transforming Nashville’s entertainment offerings with their own vision
BY MARGARET LITTMAN
When Bill and Shannon Miller opened their first project in Nashville, the Johnny Cash Museum, it came thanks to Bill’s lifelong connection to and admiration of the Man in Black. In the decade since, the Millers and
their Icon Entertainment have transformed Nashville’s entertainment offerings, adding the Patsy Cline Museum and Nudie’s Honky Tonk, renovating the storied Skull’s Rainbow Room, and launching the magic-themed House of Cards.
In April, Icon Entertainment will open its newest venture, Sinatra Bar and Lounge, inside the Southern Turf Building, which the company owns. The 1880s-built building, with its ornamental stonework, will continue
to be home to Skull’s on its lower level, facing Printers Alley, plus the new Fourth Avenue North Sinatra Bar and Lounge and six upper-level Southern Turf Lofts. The fourth floor will house a private membership club; members will have preferred access to all of the Icon Entertainment venues.
“These artists appear once in many lifetimes,” Bill says of his forthcoming establishment’s namesake. At first blush, Sinatra Bar and Lounge might seem like
32 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
FOOD & DRINK
SINATRA BAR AND LOUNGE COMING IN APRIL TO 222 FOURTH AVE. N.
PHOTO: MICHAEL SCOTT EVANS
a departure for Icon Entertainment — the Italian American sang with swing bands and in Las Vegas residencies. But Sinatra played the Grand Ole Opry in 1973 (with none other than Count Basie), and at one point in Nashville’s history, there was an effort to give Sinatra a key to the city. Even so, he certainly didn’t have the Music City DNA of Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Nudie Cohn or David “Skull” Schulman.
Getting to this point wasn’t as easy as watching for Sinatra-themed goods on auction sites. It started when Bill and Shannon were brainstorming their next project. “Wouldn’t it be great to have a Sinatrathemed venue?” they mused. It seemed like a long shot. They didn’t have any personal connections to the Chairman of the Board, although Bill, a California native, remembered when his father met Ol’ Blue Eyes in Palm Springs. Bill sees similarities between Sinatra and Cash, and the ways in which they interacted with their fans.
“The more I dug into Sinatra, and especially when I talked to people that really knew him, I realized that both Johnny and Sinatra had this incredible respect and love for their fans and they both had the ‘without them, there’s no me’ attitude,” he says. “What I loved and admired about Johnny was that connection he had to his roots, and to the fans and the people that helped him get to where he is. It just became more and more apparent that Sinatra could be something that I could really develop a passion for. That’s happened in a big way.”
In addition to being a singer, Sinatra was a painter, and Bill bought one of his paintings at auction after the deal went through. One of Bill’s particular passions is searching for historic artifacts. Memorabilia he has collected was the basis of the Johnny Cash Museum and Patsy Cline Museum, Nudie’s and House of Cards. So there’s no surprise that he’s seizing the Rat Pack vibes with similar items — yes, he already found ticket stubs and a program from that aforementioned Opry show.
Bill is tenacious and had a track record of working respectfully with the families of other celebrities, so he started reaching out. It took him much longer than he expected to find a contact and even longer to hear back. And when he and Shannon finally were able to meet with Tina Sinatra, the singer’s youngest daughter, the team said, “We don’t like to do museums, and we don’t do restaurants.”
Seeing as how those projects are exactly what Icon Entertainment does, Bill wasn’t optimistic. “It was like a knife through the heart,” he remembers. But the lines of communication stayed open, and about seven months later Tina came to Nashville to tour Icon Entertainment’s properties.
“It didn’t go well,” Bill says. Not due to the venues themselves, but the weather was gloomy and rainy and Broadway was particularly loud and rowdy. “Nashville was not on its best behavior,” Bill says. When Tina left, Bill and Shannon were resigned — they’ve also been in business long enough to know that not every deal goes through. So they were surprised when they got a call the next week saying the project was a go. That was in part because the Sinatra team admired the Millers’ tenacity and their attention to detail. It’s not unusual to encounter a Cash
or Cline family member at one of their other museums, and that’s a level of support that’s hard to fake. “We take legacy licenses seriously,” Bill says.
The Millers had been holding on to the Southern Turf building — which Bill considers “one of Nashville’s grand dames” — for just the right project. “We don’t open businesses just to open them,” Bill says.
The couple started a renovation process that included more than $1 million in custom-milled mahogany and brass work. The idea is for a restaurant space that won’t seat more than 150 people at a time — intimate, but not tiny. “Eating dinner should not feel like a spectator sport,” Bill says. The private club will be furnished with period antiques and multiple fireplaces beneath its 14-foot ceilings.
There will be a dress code — no flip-flops or shorts, but not the jackets-required level of House of Cards. The team is shooting for “a cozy, warm feeling like the places Frank used to visit,” says Bill. “We want you to feel like Frank is sitting in a corner booth.” The menu will include Italian food and steaks, plus cocktails such as martinis with three olives, Tom Collinses and Manhattans. The sound system will play Rat Pack-style music daily, with live music on the weekends.
Even as Sinatra Bar and Lounge is not yet open, the Icon Entertainment group is not sitting idle. The Millers’ three sons work in the company in different capacities. Two of them live in East Nashville and made a pitch to open something more low-key, a neighborhood bar. That first project outside of downtown is planned for the former Southern Grist location in East Nashville at the intersection of Porter Road and Greenwood Avenue.
None of the family members have formal hospitality training. Bill says their collective ability to learn on the job and to be open to what others need has fueled their success and created an environment where people want to work. Icon Entertainment has a reputation for longevity of staff tenure. The hundreds of people who work for the company tend to socialize together even when not at work. Two of their sons call Bill by his first name while at work, and Bill says some employees have told him they didn’t know that the sons were offspring of the owners — something Bill feels helps contribute to good morale at the family-run business. Staff also appreciates that Bill walks into the kitchen and calls people by their names. Bill says, frankly it surprises him when people tell him that doesn’t happen elsewhere.
“It just stems from lessons that I observed firsthand from Johnny [Cash] and tried to capture,” he says. “Here was one of the biggest artists in the world, and if anybody approached him they were treated like the most important person in the world. I observed him giving somebody 30 seconds and watching them walk away just in amazement and so happy knowing that they would go back to their phones and say, ‘I met Johnny Cash.’ And I’m in no way comparing myself to Johnny Cash, but what I saw in him was that, by showing kindness and respect to other people, it doesn’t cost you any money. But man, it can have an impact on their life.”
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 33
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Vodka Yonic features a rotating cast of women and nonbinary writers from around the world sharing stories that are alternately humorous, sobering, intellectual, erotic, religious or painfully personal. You never know what you’ll find in this column, but we hope this potent mix of stories encourages conversation.
When I was a child, my world expanded in a way my mind could not comprehend yet. My mother had been crossing borders into countries neighboring Zambia since I was a baby. She was searching for a better life for herself and her family, outside of our country’s worst economic downturn. My mother’s belief that the grass is always greener on the other side came from witnessing friends and family who had moved away from Zambia to neighboring and faroff countries for a better future.
After frequent job searches abroad, she got her first job offer from the government of Botswana when I was 10 years old. This job changed our lives within a few weeks. It changed how I viewed women (and myself) and how I interact with the world. My mother’s story always reminds me that even adults need to see examples of what can be done.
The year 2022 taught me just how much we need to see greatness that looks like us, talks like us and comes from the same place as us to recognize our own power. Representation matters more than we realize in adulthood. This is why I have been intentional about where I get my entertainment. I decided a while ago that spaces that welcome Black childhood and womanhood, in all their forms, are spaces I will support for the rest of my life. This is why I decided to attend two events this Zambian summer.
The Feminist Festival at East Park Mall was held at the largest mall in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. It was a first for Zambia. The organizers, the Sistah Sistah Foundation, decided against a Women’s March. The past few years have been exhausting, and they wanted feminists in the country to have a day when they could let down their hair and have fun in a space where they were safe and among people with similar values. “Feminist” is still a derogatory word in Zambian society. Despite pressure to call the festival the Women’s Festival, Sistah Sistah stuck to who they are. This was right on the nose for me. I am a feminist because I know equity is critical to the survival of my country and the planet.
On Sept. 9, I arrived at the gate with two of my feminist friends, Teldah and Tabo, and found a large poster in black and red advising all attendants to leave their misogyny at the gate. My heart swelled at this. Sistah Sistah organizers have the courage of war-
riors. That sign told you exactly what was required of you and worked like garlic on the doorstep for vampires, or in this case misogynists. That alone made me feel I was in the right place with the right people having fun.
In an extremely conservative country like Zambia, of course, some people thought the sign was an invitation for them to harass the organizers. Though my friends and I didn’t witness any confrontations, the co-founder of Sistah Sistah Foundation, Mwangala Gladys Monde, told me later that some men and women came into the venue to confront them about how un-Christian and un-Zambian the festival was. The fact that we didn’t even notice them shows that Sistah Sistah was prepared to keep the festival safe for us. I met feminists and allies I know from social media and through past events. It will be held every September.
The second event I attended was the album launch of critically acclaimed Zambiaborn rapper Sampa the Great. As Above, So Below is the second studio album of the Australia-based rapper. Sampa is proudly Zambian. Her lyrics remind me of just how rich the culture I was born into is. The launch took place in a packed music club, two floors overflowing with people. She sang all my favorites: “Lo Rain,” “Let Me Be Great” and “Never Forget,” the last a song that shook Zambian music fans when it was featured in one of the trailers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Sampa the Great and her band of performers wore all white and started each set on time, something rarely seen during Zambian events. Between songs, Sampa turned into Sampa the Preacher. She spoke about how you can be anything under the sun, and how being Black and a woman is not a weakness. These words reaffirmed something in me. Sampa knows a lot about being great.
She has performed at Coachella in the U.S. and Glastonbury in the U.K., and she’s been the recipient of many Australasian Performing Right Association awards. If Sampa, a woman whose life experiences closely resemble mine, can say that the universe is the limit, I believe it.
I am Zambian, a woman and Black. These three things might seem like a disadvantage to some, but they are my superpower. I am proud that I get to see my reflection in other brave and talented Zambians.
34 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
YOU CANNOT BE WHAT YOU CANNOT SEE I am Zambian, a woman and Black. That is my superpower.
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BY AMY STUMPFL
In 2005, a Chinese food delivery person was trapped in an elevator in the Bronx for an incredible 81 hours — a harrowing ordeal complicated by the fact that he happened to be an undocumented immigrant. Not surprisingly, the incident made headlines, sparking plenty of outrage and debate about the plight of undocumented workers in this country. It also inspired a most unusual opera — Stuck Elevator, which takes the stage at Nashville’s Noah Liff Opera Center this weekend.
“Stuck Elevator is such an interesting piece, not only because of the story it tells, but also in terms of the music and design,” says John Hoomes, CEO and artistic director for Nashville Opera. “It’s really quite different from anything we’ve ever done. There are so many musical influences, including everything from rap and pop to classical and a sort of modern dissonance. But it’s also incredibly beautiful, with these big emotional moments that are quite tender and moving.”
Hoomes says the piece has evolved quite a lot since its world premiere at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater in 2013. For the past few months, composer Byron Au Yong and librettist Aaron Jafferis have been hard at work, rewriting and streamlining it even more.
“I really like what this piece is about,” Hoomes says. “It’s a bit of an emotional
roller coaster, but so powerful. And there are surprising bits of humor too. But I especially like the way it puts a human face on everything. As we get to know [the main character] Guang, we come to understand his hopes and dreams and fears, the isolation and uncertainty he faces. We learn about the sacrifices he’s made to come to this country, the family he was forced to leave behind, and the horrible debt he faces after paying human smugglers $60,000 to bring him to the United States in a container ship. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Guang is not just trapped in this elevator, he’s also trapped by life.”
Of course, the longer Guang is stuck in the elevator, the more his mind jumps around, sifting through thoughts and memories in a very nonlinear way. Add in the inevitable fatigue, hunger and dehydration, and those memories soon take on a more surreal quality, exploding into full hallucinations.
“We have these colorful, fragmented scenes where he encounters all these other characters, such as his wife, his nephew, the man who smuggled him into the country,” Hoomes explains. “But at the end of each fantasy scene, he’s right back where he started in the elevator — stuck in every possible way. What’s so interesting, though, is that we’re right there with him. And while his situation doesn’t really change — even after he’s rescued — my hope is that by the end, the audience will have changed the way they look at Guang, because we’ve humanized him.”
For Julius Ahn, the award-winning tenor
who originally created the role of Guang, it’s that element of humanity that makes Stuck Elevator so relatable.
“Stuck Elevator is often billed as a Chinese or Asian story,” says Ahn, who most recently visited Nashville in 2012, performing in Nashville Opera’s production of Madame Butterfly. “But it’s not about any one group. It’s looking at what a lot of immigrants go through on a daily basis, so it’s actually a very American story in that way. And while the show can go to extremes creatively, it’s rooted in that truth and humanity. I think that’s what allows so many people to connect with it. And that’s really my goal. I want audiences to live through this situation with him. Don’t sit back. Don’t try to hold the story at arm’s length. Take it in, and allow yourself to be swept away by the story and the music.”
Ahn says he’s delighted to be back in Music City, calling Hoomes “an amazing director.”
“I love working with John,” Ahn says. “He’s so knowledgeable, but there’s also an incredible openness there. There are no walls with John. And as a person of color, I find that to be so wonderful. He’s always looking for ways to keep the con versation going.”
With that in mind, Nashville Opera is part nering with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition to host talkback sessions after each performance, looking at what it’s really like to be undocumented in America — and in Nashville.
“These discussions can be so helpful in terms of destigmatizing immigrant issues and stories,” Ahn says. “That’s one of the beautiful things about art — it can break down walls and expand our horizons.”
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 35
THEATER ELEVATOR MUSIC Stuck Elevator puts a human face on immigration issues
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BY LAUREN NIKRANT-TURNER
In her book Making Our Future: Visionary Folklore and Everyday Culture in Appalachia, Emily Hilliard presents what she calls “visionary folklore.” Her work is grounded in the present and looks to the future rather than simply focusing on preservation of the past. She sidesteps nostalgia in favor of a cooperative approach that catalogs longrunning traditions while seeking to identify and participate in new cultural practices as they emerge.
For Hilliard, folklore is anything everyday folks do or create, ranging from heirloom recipes and song and dance traditions to more contemporary examples, like a meme shared among friends, or a community of independent pro wrestlers. While the book primarily explores folklife in West Virginia (where Hilliard worked as state folklorist), she uses the particularities of the Mountain State to make connections throughout Appalachia and beyond.
to read this work and not feel called to participate in a kind of fieldwork of our own.
In another chapter, “So I May Write of All These Things: The Individual and the Collective in the Songwriting of Shirley Campbell, Ella Hanshaw, Cora Hairston, and Elaine Purkey,” Hilliard celebrates four working-class singer-songwriters in Appalachia who create music as a domestic, solitary and communal practice. She documents and contextualizes the women’s work and lives, weaving a common theme of these individual voices that also function as a collective. Hilliard describes the public-private nature of writing in particular as “historically one of the few admissible creative outlets for women in the mountains.”
The overwhelming connection between these women is their use of song as a private offering — either to journal, process or pray — as well as a way to bond deeply within their communities. Written for contexts ranging from labor movements and picket lines to homes, churches and coffee shops, the women’s music is participatory and often intended for a shared space where others can join in the spirit of jamming, praising or petitioning for a better future. Hilliard includes several examples of poems and songs from these women — as well as the traditional folk tunes some of their lyrics can be sung to, which may inspire readers to add their own voices to the collective.
In what may be the most surprising chapter of the book, “Friends of Coleslaw: On the West Virginia Hot Dog,” Hilliard narrates a road trip through the state to some of its longestablished hot dog stands and explores the cultural significance of the region’s wiener cuisine. We learn about the “slaw line,” a cabbage-slinging border running along the northern part of the state where one can find freshly prepared coleslaw on a typical dog order, in addition to the usual trio of chili, mustard and onions. While exploring the varieties of toppings and the history of the hot dog stand as a business venture, Hilliard notes other social and economic through lines in her research, from the gendered food service position of “curb girl” to the way a factory-produced hot dog and bun become a hybrid food form when dressed with a slew of homemade sauces.
As we meet cooks, owners and hot dog aficionados on Hilliard’s rambling journey, she illustrates the opportunity to participate in folklore in everyday ways that one might otherwise overlook. A quick, cheap lunch at a drive-thru becomes a symbol for so much more. As a Tennessee resident, I felt prompted to visit one of our many locally owned historic meat-and-threes, a traditional Southern style of restaurant dining that’s slowly disappearing. Hilliard’s work is gently inviting in this way — it’s impossible
At the end of a chapter on the foodways of the Swiss community of Helvetia, W.Va., Hilliard makes an observation that poignantly encapsulates the collection as a whole:
Traditions are elastic. They mutate and evolve as they encounter and enter into dialogue with influences inside and out, global and local: the grandmother who adds whiskey to the printed recipe; the friends who decide to try powdered sugar instead of granulated this year; the home cook who swaps her lard for vegetable oil and an heirloom tool for a smaller, more practical version to feed a crowd; the Midwestern folklorist who learns to make rosettes from the home cook, finds her own iron online, and introduces the treat to her friends; the granddaughter who learns about a Turkish tradition from said folklorist and adapts it for her West Virginia Swiss community.
In Making Our Future, Hilliard doesn’t keep a cool distance from the subjects of her fieldwork, but participates in a mutual cultural exchange, inviting us to do the same in our own everyday foodways, arts spaces, local businesses and homes.
For more local book coverage, please visit Chapter16.org, an online publication of Humanities Tennessee.
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 37
EMAIL ARTS@NASHVILLESCENE.COM TRADITIONS ARE ELASTIC
Our Future offers visionary
folklore of Appalachia
BOOKS MAKING OUR FUTURE: VISIONARY FOLKLORE AND EVERYDAY CULTURE IN APPALACHIA BY
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS 312 PAGES, $24.95 HILLIARD WILL APPEAR AT VINYL TAP AT 5 P.M. JAN. 21 jan 19 jan 20 jan 21 jan 24 jan 25 jan 26 jan 27 jan 28 jan 29 jan 31 Feb 1 feb 2 feb 3 feb 4 FEB 9 feb 11 feb 15 feb 16 feb 18 JAN 19 JAN 19 JAN 20 JAN 20 jan 21 JAN 21 JAN 22 jan 23 JAN 25 JAN 25 JAN 26 JAN 26 JAN 27 JAN 27 JAN 28 JAN 27 JAN 28 JAN 29 JAN 30 feb 1 feb 2 feb 19 feb 20 feb 22 feb 23 feb 24 feb 25 mar 1 mar 2 mar 4 mar 5 mar 7 mar 8 mar 9 mar 12 mar 13 mar 14 mar 15 mar 17 mar 18 mar 19 Jackson Dean w/ Mackenzie Carpenter Led Zeppelin 2 2000's Butt Rock Tribute The 502s w/ Oliver Hazard Hawktail w/ Sean Barna Gone Gone Beyond w/ Laura Elliot and Happie The Traveling Wilburys Tribute Kendall Street Company & Airshow w/ Kyle Tuttle Nu Metal Tribute: Korn, Shake My Tomb, Deftones, Killswitch Engage Amigo The Devil w/ Stephanie Lambring and Willi Carlisle The Foxies w/ Maggie Miles, Manic., and Caroline Romano THE Emo Night Tour LUTHI w/ Travollta Suki Waterhouse w/ Blondshell Kimbra w/ Tei Shi Julia Wolf w/ Bronze Avery Gloom Girl MFG, Amanda Stone, & Blood Root Stop Light Observations Claire Rosinkranz w/ DWLLRS & Mehro BIZZY w/ Taylor Bickett (7pm) Jerry Garcia Tribute ft. St. Owsley (9pm) Bee Taylor, The Jack Silverman Quartet (7pm) Virginia Man, Hello Darling (9pm) Kayla Ray (7pm) Girl Tones, Cab Ellis (9pm) Elijah Johnston, Legit Smitty, Macho Planet (7pm) Reid Haughton w/ Brian Fuller (7pm) Kelly Soule Eberle, Ally Westover (7pm) Dawson Hollow, Nite Tides, Addison Agen (9pm) Jobi Riccio, Nora Jane Struthers (7pm) Jonny & The Jumpmen, Fox Grin, Boy Orbison (9pm) El Dorodo w/ Jonathon Childers (7pm) Pony Bradshaw (9pm) Zachary Scott Kline w/ JD Huggins & HIghway Natives (9pm) El Dorodo w/ Jonathon Childers (7pm) Zachary Scott Kline w/ JD Huggins & HIghway Natives (9pm) Riverghost, The Garden Of Eden, Voltagehawk (7pm) Pindrop Songwriter Series (7pm) Lindsay James, Kaylin Roberson (7pm) The Namby Pamby, Dori Valentine (7pm) Amy Ray Band w/ Kevn Kinney Otoboke Beaver w/ Leggy Andy Shauf w/ Katy Kirby Chappell Roan Jessie Murph 49 Winchester w/ Colby Acuff Junior Boys w/ Hagop Tchaparian The Stews w/ Easy Honey BAD BUNNY X RAUW ALEJANDRO Dance Party Thy Art Is Murder w/ Kublai Khan, Undeath, I AM, and Justice For The Damned Magnolia Park w/ Arrows In Action & Poptropicaslutz! & First and Forever PFR w/ Leigh Nash Dylan LeBlanc & David Ramirez Sarah Shook & The Disarmers w/ Sunny War an evening with yo la tengo an evening with yo la tengo Nonpoint w/ Blacktop Mojo and Sumo Cyco King Tuff w/ Tchotchke rubblebucket w/ lunar vacation We Three 917 Woodland Street Nashville, TN 37206 | thebasementnashville.com basementeast thebasementeast thebasementeast 1604 8th Ave S Nashville, TN 37203 | thebasementnashville.com 1/27 Traveling Wilburys Tribute 1/26 1/20 Upcoming shows Upcoming shows thebasementnash thebasementnash thebasementnash Virginia Man, Hello Darling 1/20 1/21 1/28 1/25 1/24 Kayla Ray sold out! sold out! sold out! Gone Gone Beyond Laura Elliot & Happie Led Zeppelin 2 kendall st company and airshow w/ Kyle Tuttle Hawktail w/ Sean Barna The 502s w/ Oliver Hazard sold out!
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IT’S TIME FOR BOLD STATEMENTS.
Netflix used Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’s one-week theatrical release as a marketing ploy to drive viewership of the film on their service, but I think Netflix will start showing more of their original films in more theaters despite what they’ve publicly said about having no interest in the theatrical business. —SEAN ATKINS
The constant frame-rate switching in Avatar 2 was a travesty and ruined the viewing experience, and the fact that so many people are just OK with it is mindblowing. —WILLIAM MAHAFFEY
Maverick was TRASH. —MATT McGUIRE
I’m sick of directors using Black people to exorcise their own racist demons in their movies. I’m looking at you, James Gray, and you, Sam Mendes. At least Mendes’ cinematographer allowed us to see the Black person he was doing dirty, unlike Gray’s. While I’m showing my butt: The Whale is a vile piece of trash and I hope Brendan Fraser loses that Oscar. —ODIE HENDERSON
Marvel will die sooner than we think. —WITNEY SEIBOLD
I think the theaters deserve to die. Not all of them, but AMC and Regal for sure, though. So many times I have gone to the theater this year and had the picture on the curtains, sound bleeding from the room next door, chairs that were broken, and I don’t know why none of them have working restroom sinks. The quality is typically better from my own home than in a chain theater. I think if the cinematic climate switched to the theaters as more of a niche thing, only screening in independent theaters and film festivals might be the best way to go in the future. —KEN ARNOLD
I know this is not a new phenomenon, but in the age of the irony-poisoned internet, especially after lockdown, rep screenings in New York have gotten so
much weirder. Audiences, and they tend to be younger and “hip,” feel the need to play this imaginary competition in who can condescend to the movie the loudest.
In screenings of Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, The Ice Storm, Cruising, Eyes Wide Shut, Klute, Leave Her to Heaven and others I can’t recall, audiences have laughed uproariously throughout. Look, I know an audience is going to audience, but so much of it feels fake, performed, smug, obnoxious and attention-seeking. I just want to watch a movie. I just want to engage with a movie on its own terms instead of either signaling that I’m better than it or that I recognize some meme. Leave me alone. —KYLE TURNER
I don’t know how bold this is, but if we don’t support the theater-going experience by going in person rather than waiting for a film to hit streaming services, it’s going to slowly die. We have to get out and be social again. —DOM FISHER
Way too much pop culture is centered around fucked-up wealthy individuals right now. Clearly we’re in the midst of a post-Trump “eat the rich” cash-grab. It’s a disappointingly slight coping mechanism that essentially has us repeating the mantra that extreme wealth begets extreme shittiness without offering any guillotines (literal or metaphorical) to get us out of this rut. Instead we’re forced into this awful company and made to spend hours on end hate-watching them interact with one another and waiting for them to get their inevitable comeuppance. It’s not productive and just continues to put a spotlight on the people ruining our world and give our schadenfreude an unhealthy workout. I’m looking at you, Triangle of Sadness, Succession, White Lotus, Violent Night, The Menu, Tár, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Glass Onion, et al. Entertainment conglomerates seem to be having their cake and eating it too quite a bit these days. Kind of like how Andor’s tale of violent revolution against an evil, soulless empire makes us forget for a moment about Disney’s iron-fisted IP dominance. —ZACK HALL
Ti West is a genius. Damien Leone is an evil genius. —CELINA FAUR Anyone complaining about how Halloween Ends ruined the franchise seems to have forgotten or never seen Halloween H20 or especially Halloween: Resurrection (And I swear I’m not hating on them — they’re fun and little time capsules in their own right.) What stands out about the Halloween franchise is its ability to consistently repulse its loyal audience while also building a new following. This won’t be the final iteration of Michael Myers; he will endure and so will our own personal romanticized notions of the franchise. (Also, what the heck was he doing in that pipe? I’d like a movie about the pipe years.) Also, best double feature of 2022 (nope, not X and Pearl): Deadstream and Dashcam, followed by a listen to Annie Hardy’s rendition of “Jesus Loves Me” and/or Giant Drag’s Hearts and Unicorns —LISA ELLEN WILLIAMS
I’m afraid to try to defend Blonde, given director Andrew Dominik’s problematic public statements and the insistence that the myth of Marilyn Monroe should be
38 NASHVILLE SCENE | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | nashvillescene.com
FILM THE 2022 JIM RIDLEY FILM POLL Dedicated to the Scene ’s late longtime editor and critic, our poll asks cinephiles, critics and industry insiders about 2022 in film COMPILED BY JASON SHAWHAN THE TOP 20 OF 2022 1. Everything Everywhere All at Once 2. RRR 3. Aftersun 4. Tár 5. The Banshees of Inisherin 6. Decision to Leave 7. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed 8. The Fabelmans 9. Crimes of the Future 10. EO 11. Nope 12. Benediction 13. Barbarian 14. X / Pearl 15. Women Talking 16. Bones and All 17. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair 18. Top Gun: Maverick 19. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On 20. Jackass Forever
1. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
held untouched on a pedestal unexplored in a way that, say, Gus Van Sant did with Kurt Cobain in Last Days. But it can’t be denied that this film creates the rare Lynchian effect of a simulated nightmare, with Ana de Armas giving all of herself to a piece that imagines how trauma can leave one lost in a labyrinth for life. It’s got stunning full-frame camera work by Lemonade’s Chayse Irvin and a Badalamentian score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis — I’ll take a bold work like this over the annual handful of mundane biopics any year. —SAM SMITH
I like that RRR is enjoying unprecedented Western success for an Indian film, but despite my hopes, it doesn’t seem like too many people who watched it are using it as a starting point to explore more Indian cinema. Hopefully time will prove me wrong.
WHAT’S THE MUSICAL MOMENT OF THE YEAR?
The end credits of White Noise, where everyone dances to “New Body Rhumba” by LCD Soundsystem. —MICHAEL JAY
1. When Lee looks at Maren in Bones and All and says, “I sang to my girl in that truck.” 2. The “Be My Baby” needle-drop in Barbarian. Honorable mention to the ’68 Comeback Special portion of Elvis —THASHANA McQUISTON
appearances in Cha-Cha Real Smooth “Biden” in The Inside Outtakes. The bit in Elvis when it turns into “Toxic” for a bit. When “212” gets busted out in Bodies Bodies Bodies as a golden oldie. “Maniac” in Orphan: First Kill. Des’ree’s “Life” as a signifier for banal decadence in Triangle of Sadness. All the menacing MOR hits in Trenque Lauquen. “Daydream Believer” in Women Talking —JASON SHAWHAN
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CINEMATIC MOLLUSK OF 2022?
Hats off to Bros for giving proper respect to Joan Armatrading’s “Love and Affection.” I dig the way the new trend is Bowie a cappellas in the club, with both Aftersun and Bardo making excellent use of the idea, and also the way Moonage Daydream kicks off with the Pet Shop Boys remix of “Hallo Spaceboy.” There are five or six absolutely killer moments in Aline After Yang’s opening credits, and RRR’s end credits pageant to “Etthara Jenda.” The way The Girl and the Spider is tied to “Voyage Voyage” both as a song and in its score. “Love Song,” both the Lesley Duncan and Elton John incarnations, in Men. Whenever Katey Sagal gets to sing in Torn Hearts. Jazmine Sullivan’s “Put It Down” in its two
“Under Pressure” in Aftersun. My jaw dropped during that scene. —ALLISON INMAN
The opening credits of After Yang and the closing credits of White Noise. —JASON ADAMS
Two Words: “Naatu Naatu”! (However, I have some affection for Antonio Banderas singing, “Who is your favorite fearless hero?” in Puss in Boots: Fun Cash Grab.) —ODIE HENDERSON
RRR’s “Naatu Naatu” scene. I love the idea of defeating white supremacy, colonialism and hegemonic masculinity with a combative dance-off. —T. MINTON
Everyone is going to say “Naatu Naatu” in RRR for obvious reasons, so I’ll also shout out the impeccable Corey Hart needledrop in Nope —CORY WOODROOF
One of my favorite songs in the world is the effervescent child of David Bowie
Despite what it says on the internet, we maintain that Marcel and Nana Connie are not mollusks. They are shells, they are not organisms that live in shells. Fight it out amongst yourselves.
nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 39
Shuma-Gorath), Doctor Strange
Madness: 21 percent E) Other:
: 15 percent
Marshmallow Octopus Sentries, Strange
Tiny Bioluminescent Squids, Avatar: The Way of
D) “Gargantos” (let’s be real, it’s
Marcel the Shell, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: 36 percent
The snails, Deep Water: 3 percent
Nana Connie, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: 3 percent
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and Queen, “Under Pressure.” Aftersun was a difficult movie for me to watch. Like the main character, I spent much of my childhood trying to understand a mentally ill parent. There were moments in the film when I felt like my skin was being scraped off and had to close my eyes. (The film is also No. 5 on my top 10 list, which says something about me.)
I am still processing this tender and devastating film. I played the song a lot in the early days of the pandemic because there is something desperate in it that makes me feel close to the people I love. In this film, writer-director Charlotte Wells uses it to show us that love and pain can be the same thing. I didn’t think a song that I already knew so well could leave me awestruck. —ERICA CICCARONE
RRR, Bheem performing “Komuram Bheemedo” while being tortured. Take that, The Passion of The Christ! —STEVE ERICKSON
Aside from “Naatu Naatu” from RRR, the remix of “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart in Nope. Hearing one of the best songs from the ’80s chopped, screwed and slowed down into something ominous and demonic produced an innate awe from me during one of the best scenes of the year.
WHO WOULD WIN IN A FIGHT: LYDIA TÁR OR PEARL?
Lydia Tár, easily. She would be too quick for Pearl to handle. —SEAN ATKINS
Pearl. —BROOKE BERNARD
All Lydia Tár has is a baton and too much praise. Chop her pretentious ass up, Pearl! —ODIE HENDERSON
Pearl, easily. Lydia would use cunning and subterfuge. Pearl would just slam an ax into Lydia’s face. —TONY YOUNGBLOOD
Oh Pearl, no question. She’s completely unhinged and isn’t opposed to using anything sharp around her as a deadly weapon. She would without hesitation do whatever she could to be in Lydia’s spotlight. —DOM FISHER
Pearl —MICHAEL JAY
Some may say Pearl has a “homegrown homicidal” advantage, yet I think Lydia Tár would pummel her with the worst insults of her life, and be able to get the job done physically. —JAMES SPENCE
Pearl might not be able to hack it in showbiz, but she’s pretty handy with farm tools. Lydia doesn’t stand a chance. —ZACK HALL The basement mom in Barbarian would devour both of them at the same time.
Pearl. Don’t ever bet against the will of a backcountry girl. —ROB KOTECKI Pearl, easily. Pearl is practically a playable character on Mortal Kombat. —CORY WOODROOF
Lydia Tár has the verbal barbs, but Pearl proved that she isn’t afraid to chop someone to bits. As soon as Pearl puts her hands on an ax, it’s over. —KEVIN ALLEN
Pearl; do you think she will let the infrastructure of hermetic institutions stand in her way? —KYLE TURNER
I know it would be Tár, because anyone who plants a seed of terror in the mind of a child by saying “I will get you” is a psychopath playing the long game. —T.
The thought of this alone is cracking me up, but let’s be honest: It would probably be Pearl. But Lydia would put up a fight, no doubt. —THASHANA McQUISTON
If it’s a fistfight, it’s easily Lydia Tár. She has a regular exercise routine that includes boxing. Pearl can cut a body with one swing of an ax, but we never saw her throwing hands. I think it’s not even close. Lydia Tár will probably throw a few good licks in and Pearl will be kissing the floor. —KEN ARNOLD
I picture Tár and Pearl meeting up after the Monster Hunter concert to go on a killing spree. —STEVE ERICKSON
Pearl would have an ax in the middle of Lydia’s head in less than 10 seconds.
Why, the viewers, of course! —SCOUT TAFOYA
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nashvillescene.com | JANUARY 19 – JANUARY 25, 2023 | NASHVILLE SCENE 41 ACROSS 1 Pulling up pots in Chesapeake Bay, say 7 Nobel Institute city 11 Like some suspects in lineups, informally 15 Start of a classic question in Shakespeare 16 “What a relief!” 17 Singer/activist ___ Simone 18 Two pounds, peeled and chopped 20 Riga resident 21 ___ souci (carefree) 22 Mythical figure often pictured holding a book 23 Oils, watercolors and acrylics, for artists 24 Hubbub 25 Five cups, after lengthy simmering 28 Lose 30 Don’t lose 31 Teeny-tiny 32 Mountain nymph 33 Daily nourishment 35 “Toy Story” boy 36 One cup, after cooling 40 ___ Houdini, co-star in her husband Harry’s act 43 Stead 44 Missionary work? 48 Spanish article 49 Poet who wrote the line “But we loved with a love that was more than love” 50 Keeper of some official documents 52 Four cups, cleaned and sliced 56 Home shopping channel 57 Steerable electronic toy, for short 58 ___ Reader (digital digest) 59 Plains language 60 Words repeated in “___ what ___” 61 Soup made with this puzzle’s ingredients 64 Bad impression? 65 Part of the “back forty” 66 Onion-shaped 67 Tense 68 Villain’s look 69 Baking needs DOWN 1 Way back when 2 Nook, e.g. 3 Bummer 4 Little rascals 5 ___-Latin (Renaissance language) 6 “April Fools!” 7 ___ nerve 8 Agitated 9 Surname derived from the Chinese word for “plum” 10 Pained shrieks 11 Harbor opening 12 Subside 13 Tempted 14 Tool for a cryptographer 19 Came down 23 Yahoo rival 25 Relinquish 26 Pitcher 27 Time of day in commercials 29 Cries of disgust 33 Some food coloring 34 Post-op stop 35 In 37 Soothing application 38 Locked horns (with) 39 Fivers 40 One means of commuting 41 Put into law 42 Pouring gravy on, say 45 Cookout entree, in brief 46 Court shutout 47 Tops 49 Each 50 Declare not to be so 51 Barely makes it 53 Delicious 54 Ill-gotten gains 55 Anesthetic since the 1840s 59 Cherry ___ 61 Kilmer of “Batman Forever” 62 Put away 63 Seek damages Online subscriptions: Today’s puzzle and more than 9,000 past puzzles, nytimes.com/ crosswords ($39.95 a year). Read about and comment on each puzzle: nytimes.com/wordplay.
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