Celebrating the Best of Nashville
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Contents 7 10
Contributors Stars and Bars Country Artists Serve Up More Than Music in Nashville
By Deborah Evans Price
Honoring the Song
Up and Coming
By Dan Keen
By Lorie Hollabaugh
Nashville Childrenâ€™s Theatre By Courtney Keen
Hamilton By Janet Morris Grimes
Oz Arts By Courtney Keen
Literary Arts Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President, CMT By Lily Clayton Hansen
Murder in Music City By Janet Morris Grimes
Visual Arts David Arms By Melonee Hurt
Nashville Arts & Entertainment Honors
Nashvilleâ€™s Most Interesting People, Places & Things
By Deborah Evans Price
Most interesting People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Ken Burns By Beverly Keel
Carly Pearce by Courtney Keen
Demetria Kalodimos by Lorie Hollabaugh
by Deborah Evans Price www.theARTZ.com
Most Interesting Places . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Fort Negley Park Former Sounds Stadium property has historic roots that
are on the verge of being preserved by Melonee Hurt
The Peanut Shop by Courtney Keen
Noelle Noelle hotel offers visitors more than a hotel room, but an experience
by Melonee Hurt
Country Music Hall of Fame by Beverly Keel
House of Cards Upscale entertainment goes underground.
by Tracy Marsh
Most Interesting Things . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
Florida Georgia Line Complex by Lorie Hollabaugh
Leipers Fork Distillery Leiper’s Fork Distillery brings back the art of distillation to a county that once thrived on it by Melonee Hurt
by Janet Morris Grimes
Third Coast Comedy Third Coast Comedy Becomes a Home for Nashville’s Comedy and Improv Crowd by Melonee Hurt
Nashville Sports & Entertainment Nashville Predators David Poile
by Steve Cook
Amy Adams Strunk The Titans’ controlling owner has football in her blood byTracy Marsh
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Nashville Guru Calendar of Events 87
Contributors Beverly Keel
Courtney specializes in nonprofit communications, with a soft spot for underdogs and ordinaries. She has reported on international humanitarian efforts in places like Myanmar, Vanuatu and most notably, Nepal, after the major earthquakes of 2015. Her work stateside includes organizations in New York City, North Carolina and Nashville—her hometown. Explore her writing at courtneykeen.com.
Change the Convers a t i o n co - fo u n d e r Beverly Keel is a professor and chair of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry and an award-winning music journalist whose work has appeared in People, Parade, The Tennessean, and many other publications. She also serves as publicist for Jamey Johnson, comanager of Sierra Black and has been a consultant for various projects and artists, having worked recently with Don Henley, Barry Gibb, IRS Records, Sony, Capitol, Warner Bros. Nashville and others.
She returned to MTSU in 2013 after a leave of absence to Tracy Marsh is a born-and-
serve as senior vice president of artist and media relations
bred Nashville writer and
for Universal Music Group Nashville, where she was
editor. When she’s not chasing
responsible for the media campaigns of projects for the
stories for publications like
UMG roster of artists, including Lionel Richie, Vince Gill,
Nashville Arts & Entertainment,
Sugarland, Shania Twain, George Strait, Jamey Johnson,
Military Officer, Out Here and
Josh Turner, Scotty McCreery, Kip Moore and many more.
Southwest: The Magazine,
She was included in 2016’s annual Music City Impact
she’s chasing her 3-year-old
Report by Variety magazine, which profiles the top artists
son, who is surprisingly fast.
and executives in Nashville entertainment today.
She also creates custom content for marketing and real
A Nashville native and resident, she earned her bachelor’s
estate agencies, writes fitness articles for a national gym
degree from MTSU and her master’s degree from the
chain, and co-wrote a best-selling comic book about
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Godzilla (which was every bit as much fun as it sounds).
Janet Morris Grimes
Even though she doesn’t own a guitar or a pair of high-
A native Nashvillian, Janet is
waisted jeans, Tracy lives in East Nashville.
the author of the book, The Parent’s Guide to Unclutter-
ing Your Home. She currently Steve Cook is a Kentucky-
writes from her new home in
based freelance writer &
Kentucky and has been pub-
podcaster that focuses his
lished in Crossroad Magazine,
Lenox & Parker, Today’s Chris-
entertainment. His opinions
tian Women, and Power for
on all four major sports &
Today. A reviewer of both books and music, Janet is forev-
professional wrestling have
er captivated by a great story, in whatever form that takes.
appeared on various outlets
An aspiring novelist, she enjoys the journey while chasing
for more than a decade.
down the next happy ending. For contact information,
More of Steve’s Nashville Predators writing can be found
check out her website at www.janetmorrisgrimes.com.
Contributors Bret D. Haines
the past two decades. Lorie has also worked in the PR and tour marketing world for years, and is currently working on her first Bret D. Haines is a graphic
book project featuring celebrities and sports figures.
designer, art director, and graphic design i n s t r u c t o r. H e runs BaaHaus
( w w w.
Lilly Clayton Hansen
baahaus.com), a small adver-
tising and design business, and is
capacity for empathy is how she
senior graphic designer for
Habitat for Humanity of Greater
subjects so deeply. Conversation is
what drives the author, speaker,
Bret is pleased to be included as the art director and
and professional interviewer who
designer for Nashville Arts & Entertainment for a seventh year.
released her second book, Word of Mouth: More Conversations.
(Hansen’s second coffee table book comes three years after Melonee Hurt is a freelance writ-
her debut, regional best-seller Word of Mouth: More
er and owner of Flack Rabbit
Conversations, which featured interviews with Nashville’s top
Communications. In addition to
creatives and small business owners.) One of the basics in life is
being a frequent contributor to
communication, and in a digital age, Lily believes we need to
Nashville Arts and Entertain-
re-prioritize face-to-face conversation. Oftentimes referred to
ment, Melonee’s writing has ap-
as the “people whisperer,” (one who lowers other’s walls and
peared in StyleBlueprint.com,
coaxes wisdom out of them) she finds nuggets of insight like
The Tennessean, New York Mag-
no one else. Hansen, currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, is
azine, Women’s Wear Daily,
now being commissioned to write and produce books for
American Profile, Runner’s World and Men’s Health Magazine.
corporations and large organizations.
Throughout her journalism career, Melonee has traveled extensively and written about fashion, business, real estate, music, fitness and travel. She is an avid cyclist and CrossFitter
Deborah Evans Price
and when not at home in Nashville, she can be found sitting
After more than three decades as
on a beach somewhere along 30A in Florida.
a journalist in Nashville, Deborah Evans Price continues to be inspired by the people in Music
City and the stories they have to Nashville
n a t i ve
share. Winner of the Country
Hollabaugh’s first “backstage
Music Association’s 2013 Media
pass” was as a 5-year-old
Achievement Award, Evans Price
scampering around behind the
contributes to Redbook, Billboard,
scenes at the Grand Ole Opry
Sounds Like Nashville, First for Women among other outlets
whenever family friend, cowboy
and counts Dolly Parton, Don Henley, Carrie Underwood, Tim
singer and actor Tex Ritter,
Tebow, Jason Crabb, Luke Bryan and Dennis Quaid among her
performed on the show, and the
favorite interviews. Author of Country Faith, Country Faith
lure of rhinestones and rhythms
Christmas and The CMA Awards Vault, she also serves as
proved too much to resist. She’s
executive producer for the Country Faith music series released
been hooked on the Nashville music scene ever since, and
on Word Entertainment/Curb Records. The seventh collection,
has written about it extensively for publications like CMA
Country Faith Christmas, Vol. 2, releases in time for the 2018
Close Up, Billboard, Country Weekly, and DISH magazine for
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Dan Keen Energetic, personable and eclectic, Belmont University’s Dan Keen has enjoyed
Nashville’s music industry and is an alumnus of Leadership Music. As a VicePresident with the American Society of Authors Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) Keen facilitated dominate market share in his areas of responsibility and received ASCAP’s Award of Excellence. Some of his ASCAP signings include Paramore, country superstar Chris Young, ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley and bluegrass icons Sierra Hull and Nickel Creek. After Dan’s stellar service on the Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), he was commissioned a Kentucky
A ministry of
Colonel. His songwriting earned an ASCAP Award, a #1 Christian song and songs on Grammy nominated albums. Keen served as Secretary on the Gospel Music Association’s Board of Directors and is well known for weaving his faith journey into his Belmont University class discussions. As a high school student in
PREKINDERGARTEN THROUGH GRADE 8
Colorado, he was inducted into the Denver Post Hall Of Fame for his part in thwarting an attempted rape and apprehending the assailant.
Ed Rode Nashville-based artist Ed Rode has over 35 years of experience behind the camera. While he has “lensed” practically all of the most famous faces in Nashville, Ed considers himself a go-anywhere, shoot-anything photographer. Armed with a keen eye, a good-natured personality, sharp photojournalistic instincts and sensibility toward his subjects, Rode has perfected the art of peeling back layers and capturing fleeting, simple moments that reveal so much. From behind his lens, he’s caught everyone from Jason Aldean and Alice Cooper to Neil Diamond and Taylor Swift. He’s been known to climb mountains, balance on top of packed-out bars, and brave being blown up, just to document a magic moment.
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
SARA BILL SARA BILL
COUNTRY ARTISTS SERVE UP MORE THAN MUSIC IN NASHVILLE by Deborah Evans Price
ashville has long been known as Music City, but in recent years even more visitors are flocking to Nashville for a good time and a unique musical experience. Today country music’s top acts are doing more than providing the soundtrack. They’re also opening new bars that reflect their personalities, passions and philosophies. Alan Jackson, Luke Bryan, John Rich, Jason Aldean, Ray Stevens, Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line all have their names affiliated with clubs that offer country music fans more ways to make memories in Nashville. “After every special moment in our careers, we’ve found ourselves time and again rounding up our team under one roof to celebrate,” Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard says. “So we figured, why not open our own restaurant to house all our memories?” That led to the opening of FGL House in June 2017. “FGL House is a place our friends, family and fans can come together to enjoy a
good meal and keep the good vibes flowing,” says Brian Kelley, the other half of the awardwinning, multiplatinum-selling duo. Some of the nightspots are breathing new life into historic Nashville buildings. “I have always wanted to own a real honky-tonk on Broadway, so I bought a little skinny bar,” Alan Jackson says. “It’s a little shotgun building with four floors, and it’s the oldest building in downtown Nashville.” Jackson opened AJ’s Good Time Bar in 2017 and has been drawing devoted fans from around the world and locals alike. Built in 1862, the historic building already had a prestigious history in the music community. In 1941, it was the first used record store in Nashville, and then jukeboxes were sold there until 1949. It was also the home of Bullet Records, launched in 1946 by WSM radio announcer Jim Bulleit, singer-songwriter-promoter Wally Fowler and businessman C.V. Hitchcock. “I didn’t want the bar to be some new thing,
so I hardly fixed it up,” Jackson says. “I wanted an original Nashville honky-tonk, so we just swept it out and hung a bunch of my pictures on the wall with all kinds of memorabilia. And, I don’t let them play anything in there but real country music.” Like Jackson, Big & Rich’s John Rich opened Redneck Riviera Bar & BBQ as an extension of his personality and good-time philosophy. He says the challenge was coming up with something to make his place stand out. “As artists the reason why we’re successful is because we’re different from others out there. You’ve got your own personality, your own music, your own message and your own style,” Rich says. “I think you see that in Dierks’ bar and in Blake’s bar, FGL House and Alan Jackson’s bar. You can see it. You can walk into those places and go, ‘Yup, this is not like the other places,’ which is exactly what Redneck Riviera is going to be. It’s not going to be like any other spot in Nashville.”
ALL-AMERICAN DÉCOR RULES MUSIC CITY One of the things differentiating Redneck Riviera is a bar within the bar. “Inside the main bar we have a bar called the Heroes Bar,” says Rich, a big supporter of the military who gives a portion of proceeds from his Redneck Riviera Whiskey to Folds of Honor, which provides scholarships to students whose parents are in the military. “The Heroes Bar is set aside for our active duty, veterans and first responders—with memorabilia from all of the armed services and fire and police from all over the United States,” Rich says. “In Tennessee, you can’t give somebody a drink like you can in other states, but we can give them a free drink with the one they just bought. It’s our way of saying, ‘Thank you for what you do for our country.’” Redneck Riviera’s décor is unique in other ways. It includes an Airstream trailer as the backdrop of the secondfloor main stage. Then there’s the eightfoot alligator wearing a Hank Williams Jr. hat and a Redneck Riviera T-shirt. The party will also hit the road with a Redneck Riviera Honky Tonk Express bus that’ll travel around town. “It’s a full-court press on the fun meter,” Rich says.
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Hubbard and Kelley also take great pride in crafting FGL House to reflect their tastes. “We feel blessed to have been one of the first to open a restaurant in Nashville,” Hubbard says. “It’s much more than just our names stamped on a building; we really spent time from the décor to the menu on opening a place we are proud to call ours. BK [Brian Kelley] and I are always dreaming, but to see this one come to life and be in a city that means so much to us, is a day I’ll never forget.” Kelley agrees. “From teaching our restaurant chef how to whip up our favorite road salad, to testing out the amps and lights on the rooftop ourselves—this is our house,” he says. Hubbard and Kelley appreciate the way fans have supported their venture. That support also fuels the duo’s other endeavors. “The success of FGL House has only got us even more inspired,” Kelley says. “It’s important to us to keep the community growing.” For Rich, opening his bar is an extension of the six-year-old Redneck Riviera brand. “We started with Redneck Riviera Boots, and then I moved into food with Redneck Riviera Jerky. So I said, We need a bar downtown,’” says Rich, who also launched his Redneck Riviera Whiskey earlier this year.
MEMORIES & MOM’S RECIPES Like many of the artists opening new venues, Rich has a long history with downtown Nashville. “It’s where we cut our teeth making country music,” he says. “To be able to have your own spot down there is a pretty awesome thing and something I’m really excited about.” Among the other acts to have a presence on Broadway are Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. A native of Leesburg, GA, Bryan expanded his fan base by appearing as a judge on American Idol, but his latest venture will be closer to home as he opens a new Nashville night spot. And he’s not alone in seeing the potential to reach fans with a new venue located at 301 Broadway. Named for Shelton’s song “Ol’ Red,” Ryman Properties owns the five-story white brick building at the corner of Broadway and 3rd Avenue. Shelton has been quoted as saying, “Lower Broadway is the centerpiece of Nashville. There’s so much great music and fun going on down there all the time, and it’s exciting to now be a part of it. It’s a dream come true.” Located at the corner of Broadway and 4th Avenue, Bentley opened Whiskey Row in January 2018. Constructed in the late 1800s, the building was previously the home of Gruhn Guitars. Aldean partnered with TC Restaurant Group to open Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar, a four-story complex on Broadway between 3rd and 4th Avenues. Aldean worked with world-renowned chef Tomasz Wosiak to create the menu, which includes a re-creation of his mother’s beloved homemade peach cobbler. “It’s pretty cool to finally have my own spot downtown where people can go and have a good time,” Aldean says. “We’ve been working on this for a while.”
Hot chicken salad (top), wedge salad (left), ahi tuna salad.
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BEYOND THE CITY LINE A new artist-owned venue that isn’t occupying space in the crowded Broadway area is country veteran Ray Stevens’ CabaRay, which is located west of town at 5724 River Road. Ray Stevens CabaRay Showroom opened in spring 2018, with Stevens performing every weekend. “I’ve been traveling around now for 60 years or so, and every place I play I make notes of what I like and what I don’t like about the place I was playing,” Stevens says. “About 15 or 20 years ago I said, ‘One of these days I’m going to build a place,’ so I decided to do it. It took two years, but we finally got it finished.” The self-described “frustrated architect” was very particular in designing the seating. Rather than packing crowds into a tiny space, he says he designed it like the old Las Vegas showrooms where people would come in, sit at tables, order a meal and a drink, and, if they wanted, see the show. CabaRay isn’t Stevens’ first go at owning and operating an entertainment venue. He built a theater in Branson, Mo., in 1990 and worked there the better part of the decade. “Nashville is a whole different ball game, and the reason I wanted to build the CabaRay now is because I can see the crowds coming to Nashville like they used to come to Branson,” he says. “Nashville, the ‘it’ city, is attracting tourists like never before, and the time is right to have a venue here that can be very successful because of the influx of tourists.” The Grammy-winning entertainer says there are several reasons he built CabaRay away from downtown. “It’s the up-and-coming part of town,” he says. It doesn’t hurt that it’s just 10 minutes from downtown and has plenty of free parking.
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
IT’S STILL ABOUT THE MUSIC Food and drinks are essential to a successful restaurant or bar, but in Music City, music is, of course, the most important ingredient. “The first time I met Rascal Flatts was in 1999, before they were a band. It was at Fiddle & Steel,” recalls Rich of the now-closed legendary Printers Alley venue. “When all the musicians came off the road, everybody would go there,” he adds. “So we’re reinstituting the jam night.” Each Monday night he’ll play host to the Redneck Riviera Jam Night. “Basically it’s the Fiddle & Steel revisited,” Rich says. “My band is going to be down there as kind of the core band, but then all the pickers, players, singers, songwriters, and people who want to come down and hang out with each other and get up and jam and play, we’re reinstituting that. It is going to be incredible because people get discovered like that.”
NASHVILLE STARGAZING /OR/ STARGAZING, NASHVILLE-STYLE Rich sees these new venues as a way to offer fans something to make their Nashville experience memorable. “Blake’s place is right across the street from mine and I’m like, ‘Hey man, we’re the Redneck Riviera Club right across the street. That’s where you go to see the crazy stuff happening,’ and it’s good,” Rich says. “It gives a little different flavor than what currently exists in Nashville, and between all of us we’ve really got the thing covered.” For most tourists heading to one of the many bars owned by stars, there is the hope that they will see Rich, Florida Georgia Line or one of their favorite artists at the club they own or are affiliated with, and that’s very likely to happen. “Any chance we get,” says Hubbard when asked how often he’s at FGL House. “We’ve performed live during the CMT Awards last year with The Chainsmokers on the roof, and I’ll just run in for a quick bite with my wife and baby Liv. From hosting meetings to playing songwriter rounds, you never know when BK or I may be sitting right next to you.” “I’ve also bought the house a round of shots,” Kelley chimes in. Now for a country music fan, does it get any better than that?
The Song by Dan Keen
ou know the classic Johnny Cash song lyrics, “I hear that Pedal Tavern comin’, it’s comin’ ‘round the bend . . . ” right? And there’s Roy Orbison’s “Pretty woman don’t make me cry. Pretty woman bring some Hot Chicken by. . . ” And Elvis’s “Since my baby left me, I’ve found a new place to dwell, down at the new high-rise hotel.” Yep, same ol’ songs, same ol’ Nashville. Ha! No matter what changes are brought about by Nashville’s dynamic growth, one thing has not changed a bit: Hit songs have always played an integral part in Music City life—and they always will impact culture here and worldwide. With that in mind, each year Nashville Arts & Entertainment digs into some of the great songs that make Nashville Music City. For example, Nashville is now a top bachelorette party destination. Any playlist might include staples like Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), Dancing Queen or Girls Just Want
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
to Have Fun. But what songs are a must for a bachelorette party in Nashville? An informal survey of DJs and party planners puts these spins on it. First, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear any bride-to-be and her BFFs belting out “Any man of mine better walk the line....” When Eileen Edwards, whom we know now as Shania Twain, was falling in love with her producer, Robert “Mutt” Lange. So Robert (Mutt) and Eileen (Shania) autobiographically co-wrote the song for her career-launching album, The Woman in Me. BOOM! Hello superstar! Shania Twain remains the top-selling female country artist of all time. But it wasn’t automatic. Her first album didn’t really connect, and the first single from her second album failed to crack the Top 10. Any Man of Mine is the song that launched her into superstardom and onto bachelorette party playlists in Music City.
Hey, just ’cause a gal is gettin’ hitched doesn’t mean the fun is over, right? The girl’s got at least one more night to let ’er rip in Music City. What song better fits the occasion than Luke Bryan’s Country Girl (Shake It for Me), one of the top 10 all-time selling songs by a male country artist? The song’s co-writers, Dallas Davidson and Luke Bryan, had been listening to dance music. Bryan mentioned that whenever he finishes his set in a honky-tonk and hip-hop or rap comes on, the dance floor fills up. He wanted a song that would do that or kids would put on to rock out at a pool party. Bryan started playing a cool, swampy groove and suggested to Davidson that country music needed another song about a country girl going a little wild, and the rest is what we call hick-hop, dance-hall, bachelorette party history!
very hook that caused Alan Jackson, who had been wanting to do a song with Jimmy Buffett, to record the song and invite THE Jimmy Buffett onto the record with him! It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere became another No. 1 in a long line of hits for Alan Jackson but was the first No. 1 for Buffett on the country charts. He also earned Grammy, CMA and ACM Awards. While Nashville’s honky-tonks, historic music venues, and friendly people provide for great parties and celebrations, why is it that so many superstars are attracted to Music City? I mean, hey, if you’re a rock star, the party comes to you, right? Why would artists like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, and many other legends come here? Just maybe they’re headed to a pedal tavern party. . . but further
Still under Nashville’s spell, Dylan returned for his next record, John Wesley Harding, which yielded songs such as I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight and All Along the Watchtower. His next album, Nashville Skyline, revealed the extent of the city’s influence on his writing with arguably his most romantic, commercial songs, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You and Lay Lady Lay. Unlike previous records, Dylan crooned Lay Lady Lay in a lower, baritone range, tapping into an old Nashville tradition that goes back
Why would artists like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, and many other legends come here? Just maybe they’re headed to a pedal tavern party... but further investigation usually reveals that they’ve come to play, as in “make music.” What about the impending grooms? They’re probably celebrating with a little Music City magic too. Whether they’re in Nashville with their bachelorettes or not, as always, It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere! Songwriter Don Rollins, a former school band teacher, was reminiscing with co-writer Jim “Moose” Brown about one of his teacher colleagues who, at 3:30, would always invite Don to, uh, celebrate the end of the school day by saying, “Hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?” Don and Moose were cautious about turning such a well-worn phrase into a song, assuming it had been done several times. But after looking into it, they were pleasantly surprised to find a wide-open opportunity to help us all . . . um, celebrate life whenever we deem it appropriate! Rollins and Brown threw a line in the bridge, “What would Jimmy Buffett dooooo,” never dreaming that the line would be the
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
investigation usually reveals that they’ve come to play, as in “make music.” The unique organic vibe of Music City draws them here to create and record something fresh with some of the best musicians and songwriters on the planet! Of all the classic albums recorded in Music City, the enigmatic Bob Dylan’s album Blonde on Blonde opened the hipster doors to Nashville. After 10 recording sessions in New York failed to produce but one song for the album, producer Bob Johnston, who lived here, knew that a reboot was necessary. Johnston was so confident that Nashville’s pickers would inspire Dylan that he ignored threats from Dylan’s manager and moved everything to Music City in the winter of 1966. Working with Nashville cats yielded several masterpieces, such as Just Like a Woman, I Want You and Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (known by the hook, “I would not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned”).
to Charlie Rich, Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves. It was an entirely new approach for Dylan. The clarity of the vocal is also attributed to his cessation of smoking cigarettes at that time. Legend has it that Johnny Cash hosted a songwriters’ pickin’ party at his home where Dylan sang Lay Lady Lay, Shel Silverstein played A Boy Named Sue, Kris Kristofferson did Me and Bobby McGee, Graham Nash played Marrakesh Express and Joni Mitchell offered up Both Sides Now. So. . . um . . . maybe THAT’S why rock stars come here?
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Just like Nashville brought out the crooning commercial songwriter in Dylan, Neil Young followed in the early ’70s. The records he wrote and recorded here—Harvest and Comes a Time—are integral to his commercial highwater mark in the decade. Heart of Gold from Harvest remains his only No. 1 single. The Nashville influence began early in his rural Canadian upbringing in that Roy Orbison’s Only the Lonely is the first record Young remembers owning. Upon traveling here to appear on The Johnny Cash Show in 1971, he discovered that none other than James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt were also in town for the same purpose. The story is told that the three of them sat on a couch at Quad Studios and recorded the background vocals for Heart of Gold at that time. You meet the most interesting people when you come to Nashville.
signed to her first publishing deal. Fast-forward to the present, and she’s co-written 20 No. 1 songs! In addition to Underwood and Little Big Town, artists such as Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Bon Jovi, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Enrique Iglesias, Martina McBride, Florida Georgia Line, Gwyneth Paltrow and Shakira have recorded Hillary’s songs. Regarding the co-writing sessions with Lady Gaga, Lindsey reports that every word out of Gaga’s mouth was like a hit song title. Together they co-wrote A-Yo and Grigio Girls for the record, and it was their collab on Million Reasons that yielded the huge hit we’ve all heard. Nashville is a holiday destination too. Whether it’s for one of the largest fireworks show in the U.S. on July 4th featuring the Grammy Award–winning Nashville Symphony or Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight on New
Nashville is a holiday destination too. Whether it’s for one of the largest fireworks show in the U.S. on July 4th featuring the Grammy Award–winning Nashville Symphony or Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight on New Year’s Eve. Then there’s Lady Gaga, a quintessential New Yawker who came to Nashville in 2016 to “play” at The 5 Spot, a Nashville dive bar. Onstage singing background vocals was Hillary Lindsey, Gaga’s co-writer on three songs from her album Joanne, and one of Music City’s most acclaimed songwriters. Lindsey is a GREAT reason for a superstar to come to Music City. If she can take a break from singing background vocals with Lady Gaga and Carrie Underwood to write with you, you might end up with hits, oh, like, Lady Gaga’s Million Reasons, Carrie Underwood’s Jesus, Take the Wheel or Girl Crush by Little Big Town. The latter two songs won Grammy Awards for Lindsey. Like so many aspiring songwriters and artists, Hillary jump-started her career by going to college at Belmont University in Nashville. Hillary’s roommate took a copy of her songs to her internship at a record label. Several publishers heard the songs, and she was quickly
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Year’s Eve featuring performances by the likes of Keith Urban, Maren Morris, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, music is the draw. At Christmastime, we’ll welcome you with a tender Tennessee Christmas, one of Music City’s most beloved songs, written by Amy Grant and Gary Chapman. At one point in their careers, Amy and Gary spent a lot of time in Colorado recording at Caribou Ranch and enjoying the Rockies. Doing business in Los Angeles also demanded their presence from time to time. But the diverse wintertime wonders of both locales, mentioned in the song, could never take the place of spending Christmas in Tennessee surrounded by the ones you love. Amy and her husband, Vince Gill, take up a residency every year with the Nashville Symphony at the Ryman Auditorium for a series of heartwarming Christmas shows. The intimacy of the Ryman, originally a church, tends to create community. It’s a powerful thing, especially
at the holidays. Add that to Vince’s sentiment that he and Amy more or less met performing Christmas music on each other’s shows. So yeah, there’s a real tenderness to a Tennessee Christmas that we all get to share throughout their Ryman gathering, especially in that song. Whatever you’re celebrating, we have something that will take it over the top: the songs. Music City Magic! Whether it’s country, rock, pop, R&B or gospel, it’s the songs that make Nashville Music City!
AND ING Midland
Midland members, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, and Jess Carson.
By Lorie Hollabaugh
HARPER SMITH — BIG MACHINE RECORDS
istening to Midland sing is a bit like dropping a quarter into an old jukebox in a dusty watering hole in some backwoods town off the beaten path. When the song plays, it instantly takes you back to a different time and evokes a memory or two. The band is at once retro and refreshingly modern, and has managed to bring back some of the rhinestone-dripping flash and flair that country music was known for in its earlier days, along with some of the best harmony-driven sounds the genre has experienced in decades. Band members Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson and Cameron Duddy first met in Los Angeles 15 years ago but reconnected at Duddy’s wedding in 2014 and discovered their shared love of musical influences like Gary Stewart, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. It was during that wedding day jam session that they realized they were onto something special, and Midland was born. The trio retreated to an El
Paso studio and began laying down tracks that would become the bedrock of their 2017 debut album, On the Rocks. Midland cut its road teeth the old-fashioned Texas way, by playing gigs at Lone Star staples like Poodie’s Roadhouse and the Broken Spoke, and eventually landed a deal with Big Machine Records.
Their newfound, old school, smooth-as-satin country rock vibe was no doubt inspired in part by Wystrach’s upbringing hanging around his family’s honky-tonk in Arizona. “Growing up in my family’s live honky-tonk in the ’80s, the bands were playing this music every Friday and Saturday night,” he told Austin Monthly. “There’s
UP AND COMING UP AND COMING
UP AND COMING
Devin Dawson By Lorie Hollabaugh
a sense of nostalgia from watching your parents
its Vogue- and GQ-acknowledged style naturally,
two-step to Merle Haggard. There was a little
having shopped vintage stores for years out of
bit more earnestness and soulfulness in the way
financial necessity long before it became their
’70s and ’80s songwriters presented their work
A successful UK tour earlier this year and
Propelled by the success of Midland’s debut
Little Big Town’s 26-city tour this summer
single, Drinkin’ Problem, the trio caught fire with
have cemented Midland’s spot in the country
their Eagles-esque harmonies, catchy melodies
stratosphere. And when asked to try and sum
and unique sense of style. They were soon
up why country’s popularity is expanding even
receiving Grammy nominations and platinum
across the pond, Wystrach mused to GQ UK: “I
think there’s an earnestness and soulfulness to
The trio’s silver belt buckles, snakeskin boots
country music that maybe isn’t being serviced in
and vintage Levi’s have also caught people’s
other genres of music. Essentially it’s the blues,
attention and have nearly become as much a
you know. Again, the rock and roll ... the Stones
part of the band’s identity as their songs. They
were covering that. Even the Beatles. There just
count Robert Redford and Keith Richards as
hasn’t been that [kind of band] in a long time....
major style influences. But Midland comes by
Also cowboys are pretty cool. Let’s face it.”
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rtists have been known to take a lot of different paths to launch a country music career, but arriving in country by way of a death metal band might just be a first. For Devin Dawson, though, it was a perfectly natural progression. The 28-year-old has been playing guitar since he was 12, and after spending five years as part of the heavy metal band Shadow of the Colossus grinding out tour dates, he realized his heart and soul had more to say. “We were literally playing heavy metal, screaming, super-fast, technical death metal,” Dawson told People magazine. “We would do what I call slum touring—$150 a night, 13hour drives, sleeping in a van with a bunch of dudes kind of thing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world—it helped me find my perspective. But I grew up listening to country, and that’s how I learned how to write songs. I had always done that on the side, just to please my own heart and mind, and eventually that took over more of my heart than the band.” The California native enrolled at Belmont University and immersed himself in songwriting and finding his sound. When Dawson recorded a mashup of some Taylor Swift songs with a fellow student in 2014, it became an instant viral hit when Swift herself liked and shared the
UP AND COMING UP AND COMING UP AND
50 million times on Spotify. The song’s blackand-white video and Dawson’s tattoos suggest a brooding, intense dude. But Dawson admits he’s actually a bit of a softie and romantic who hides behind his guitar to tell you how he feels. “I’m probably like 51 percent good guy, 49 percent bad guy,” he told Taste of Country. “I try to put off a little more of a front of being a bad guy than I am—especially when it comes to love.” The success of his debut single has cemented Dawson as a country up-and-comer, giving him plenty to smile about and adding color to his world. But don’t expect the rest of his songs to have the same upbeat vibe. “All on Me was definitely somewhat of a flagship song that helped me define my sound and my sonic identity,” he told Billboard. “With that being said, there’s not another song that sounds like it on the record, so it’s not like I tried to go that way. I just kept my head down, kept writing, kept discovering who I was, kept living— because you gotta experience life to write.” With appearances on Ellen and the Grand Ole Opry stage, an ACM New Artist nomination, and a slot touring with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, it’s safe to say he’s probably got the next album covered.
BBR MUSIC GROUP
COMING clip. The 35-million-view moment was a career launcher for Dawson, who received offers from publishers and labels and ultimately signed with Warner Music Nashville. Dawson’s debut album, Dark Horse, was released in January and catapulted up the charts, even cracking the Billboard Hot 100. His first single, All on Me, has been streamed nearly
By Lorie Hollabaugh
immie Allen has definitely experienced the highs and lows that can come with following the fickle, often fleeting dream of being a music superstar—from living out of his car and being homeless one day to appearing in a Diet Coke commercial with Taylor Swift the next. The Delaware native moved to Nashville with $21 in his pocket and a love for the sounds of artists like Alan Jackson, Montgomery Gentry and Jason Aldean. But Allen hit a series of bad breaks that left him with nowhere to stay and a bit down on his luck. He took it all in stride, though, working multiple jobs to get back on his feet and persevering when he didn’t seem to fit anywhere in the country climate when he first landed in Music City. “When I came to Nashville back in 2007, I was ‘too country’ for pop and I was ‘too pop’ for country,” Allen told Rolling Stone. “I was kind of just sitting. I didn’t know what to do really. Luckily, a lot of artists helped push the genre in a different direction to where it’s still country and there’s still a story there. We’re still country
boys doing the music, but our influences are different than a lot of the artists that we grew up listening to in country. I feel like now it’s more acceptable to make country music with more of a progressive, pop-rock production to it.” BBR Music Group signed Allen last year, and after plenty of struggles he was finally able to share his soulful sound with the world. He released his self-titled EP in October 2017, and the collection’s cutting-edge blend of country mixed with doses of pop, rock, and R&B instantly caught fire among listeners. A track from the collection, Blue Jean Baby, took off virally out of the gate and became an instant Spotify hit, racking up over 900,000 streams to date. As an artist/writer, Allen can already boast penning a song that was featured in a Super Bowl commercial and touring with Toby Keith on his Interstates & Tailgates Tour, and his latest single, Best Shot, seems to be on an upward spiral as well. He keeps it all in heathy perspective, though, having earned much of his success over the past decade the hard way. “I don’t regret it,” he explained about his trials. “Each thing you do adds a layer, whether it’s a layer of toughness, perseverance, motivation or just a layer of wisdom. At the end of the day you come back to what you know, and what’s embedded in you. I’m ready to be the version of me that eight-year-old Jimmie knew I could be.”
UP AND COMING UP AND COMING
UP AND COMING
sk Ashley McBryde to describe her music and you’ll hear some pretty entertaining answers. In one interview she describes it as “Bonnie Raitt and Loretta Lynn getting into a fight at Waffle House,” while when Tidal asked what animal her music would be, she chose stray dog, “because it can make its home almost anywhere but if you give it a place to land, you won’t be sorry you did.” Welcome to the colorful, no-holds-barred world of country’s latest badass, Ashley McBryde. The Mammoth Spring, AR, native moved to Nashville in 2006 and began writing and honing her sound while trying to land a record deal. Playing any dive bar, biker joint and restaurant she could offered plenty of
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
By Lorie Hollabaugh
inspiration for McBryde, who was able to test out her material on a regular basis and find what clicked. “I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” McBryde told The Fader. “It was an education, it was dues being paid and it was me doing something I loved. It was a really good way to hone my craft as a songwriter because there’s nobody in a suit across a desk telling me if the song I wrote this week was good or not. If I
could get people in a noisy bar to listen to it, then I was going in the right direction.” When SiriusXM began playing her song A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega, it became an instant hit and made the Nashville labels finally take notice. McBryde wrote the song the day one of her heroes, singer Guy Clark, died, and it became her debut single on Atlantic Records/ Warner Music Nashville. Working with producer Jay Joyce, McBryde fleshed out the rest of her debut album, Girl Going Nowhere, in two and a half days. The collection of autobiographically tinged tunes included the title track, penned as a response to a former math teacher who belittled her musical aspirations. It’s an example of the grit, heart and soul that McBryde infuses into her songs. It’s a sound that has clearly struck a chord with listeners. It didn’t hurt that people like Eric Church were pulling McBryde onstage to sing and loving what she was doing. So when she stepped into the hallowed circle at the Grand Ole Opry last year to perform, it was no doubt a vindicating bucket list moment for a girl whose teacher had told her she was dreaming too big all those years ago. And if McBryde is any indication of where females in the format are going, country is in for one fun ride the next few years. “I was lucky to grow up in the ’90s, when we had just as many strong female artists as male artists,” she told Billboard. “That’s a world I would like to live in again. There’s this whole new class of chicks on their way that are just powerhouses. We’re pulling up extra seats at the table, and if you don’t want to sit by me—move down.”
Nashville Children’s Theatre By Courtney Keen
ow many audio engineers heard their first sound effects as kids at Nashville Children’s Theatre? How many future architects were inspired by its rotating platform? How many fashion designers sat awed by characters in intricate costumes? As the nation’s oldest children’s theatre and a beacon of the Nashville community since 1931, there’s no telling what kind of impact it has had, and will continue to have, on the city. “Going to the theatre is about exploring creative possibility,” Executive Artistic Director Ernie Nolan says. “Whether or not you want to be center stage singing, experiencing the theatre opens you up to an amazing amount of creative thinking.” During a recent behind-the-scenes visit, Ernie and team were busy building sets for a play he’d adapted from a New York Times bestselling book, Dragons Love Tacos. It featured circus arts, dancers from the Nashville Ballet, and, of course, dragons. But, as the Parent Tips section of their website stated, “The dragons are not mean or scary.”
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
As a giant taco towered over Er nie, the fantastical imagery was in reality fairly commonplace at Nashville Executive Artistic Children’s Theatre. Director, Ernie Nolan It also illustrated how simply putting on a play like this is not simple at all. Involving young people can help develop their minds as they figure out how to bring ideas to life. “How are we going to have dragons? How are we going to tell this story? And wait a minute, there are dancing penguins? Problemsolving is inherent in theatre. If you saw the math that the costume shop does daily, if you saw the science that goes behind welding our sets—it uses everything,” Ernie says. Nashville Children’s Theatre believes the culturally curious child is the future. And as generations come through its doors, the theatre succeeds in growing and evolving with the city. The 2018–2019 “Season of Discovery” in no exception, offering several firsts in the organization’s history. To start, it has launched new offerings for Nashville’s youngest and oldest residents. The NCT Snuggery features performances specially created for children aged 5 and under in a converted rehearsal room. At the same time a
partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute now offers classes for senior citizens and retirees. “The building is starting to become this multigenerational place where we are producing work for young people, but we are also here for their siblings; we’re also here for their parents and grandparents. We’re really an institution for the city,” Ernie says. Next, the theatre has developed a new works incubator, called the Hatchery. Part of NCT’s mission is to reflect the community. If the team can’t find a piece to do the trick, they bring one to life. “When there are other stories we want to tell—whether it’s representing people of color, or this season we did a play about a character with Asperger’s—some of those plays just don’t exist. So it’s up to us to find those stories we want to tell and then find a playwright to tell them,” Ernie explains. The first work from the Hatchery is a production called Ghost, about a young AfricanAmerican boy who joins a track team in the inner city. It’s set to run January 19–February 3, 2019. In 2019, NCT will also produce its first bilingual play, Tomás and the Library Lady, running April 25–May 19. In a city that grows increasingly diverse each day, the theatre is seeking to foster empathy by helping children understand each other. “The importance of all of us trying to listen to one another and imagine walking in someone else’s shoes is incredibly valuable right now,” Ernie says. He draws inspiration from when George C. Wolfe took over the Public Theater in New York City. The story goes that he wanted his audiences to look like a subway station, so when people looked at a subway stop and the public theatre, it was made up of a similar group of people. “I’m trying to search for Nashville’s equivalent. So, our audiences will look like Centennial Park, or our audiences will look like Opry Mills. I’m trying to find what that is because I do feel like it is NCT,” Ernie says. “We are the city’s theatre or hangout even for young people, and the people who help them on their journey through life.”
“Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott”
“A Year with Frog and Toad”
“Mr. Popper’s Penguins”
“And in this Corner, Cassius Clay”
“The Snowy Day”
“The Snowy Day” “Goodnight Moon”
“The Hundred Dresses” “Mockingbird”
WHEN HISTORY MEETS MUSIC CITY By Janet Morris Grimes
here is no record of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first treasury secretary, ever visiting Nashville. But that’s all about to change. The wildly popular musical Hamilton recently announced Nashville as one of its tour stops with the upcoming 2019–2020 season. To be historically fair, Nashville wasn’t incorporated as a city until 1806, two years after Alexander Hamilton was killed in a shooting duel by then Vice President Aaron Burr. Not to give away the ending or anything. It’s not often an 800-page biography of a man known only as the face on the 10-dollar bill inspires an award-winning musical that captures hearts, performance stages and airwaves across the nation. But Hamilton has done just that. Credit the creative genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda for this. The playwright, composer and actor of Puerto Rican descent discovered a kindred spirit in Alexander Hamilton as he read a biography written by author Ron Chernow
Miranda blows the stuffy white wigs off stiff historical figures and dares to add color and race to our nation’s history. while on vacation in 2008. At the time, Miranda was debuting his first Broadway musical, In the
The Cast of Hamilton
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Heights, for which he wrote the lyrics and music. But his heart and imagination had been pricked by the story of Alexander Hamilton. In May 2009, Miranda performed a rap entitled Hamilton for President Barack Obama at the first White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word. Miranda continued to add to his presentation over the next few years. The end result is brilliant. Miranda blows the stuffy white wigs off stiff historical figures and dares to add color and race to our nation’s history. The music style ranges from rap to hip-hop to blues, making it catchy, current and confrontational. The show, which is set against the backdrop of the American Revolutionary War, has essentially launched a revolution of its own. And it shows no signs of slowing down. Hamilton opened in New York off-Broadway in January 2015 and made its official Broadway debut in August that same year. It was an immediate hit and became the hottest ticket in town. The awards came quickly too. They included a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2016 Hamilton also took home Tony Awards in 11 categories, including Best Musical, Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, and Best Book of a Musical. And Miranda was also nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his portrayal of Alexander Hamilton. From there, the show’s reputation spread across the nation. The Hamilton cast soundtrack spent 10 weeks atop Billboard’s Top Rap Albums Chart, and many of those songs have millions of hits on YouTube. Not a bad rap for a nearly forgotten founding father. Hamilton arrives at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center during the 2019–2020 season, with specific cast and performance dates to be announced in the coming months. Tickets will be made available to TPAC season ticket holders first. For additional and updated information, visit https://www.tpac.org/
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Oz Arts By Courtney Keen
Z Arts Nashville began with a lullaby in a hospital room in California. After Cano Ozgener sold his premier cigar company, CAO, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and was hospitalized for a critical procedure. Lying in his bed, he pushed the call button, and an Irish nurse appeared. She sang to him in Gaelic. Cano didn’t understand the words, but his heart knew the melody. Tears welled up in his eyes, followed by tears from the nurse. This powerful connection through a simple song solidified his belief that art can heal and inspire. “He had this epiphany that when things seem hopeless and dark, you might find a light there, and that light will be art,” his son, Tim, says. Soon after, the Ozgener family redesigned one of their Nashville cigar warehouses into
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
a contemporary arts center to present both performing and visual arts. They had been watching the emergence of converted industrial arts spaces in places like New York, London and Los Angeles and wanted to bring that model to their hometown. “We thought, if they can do this in these markets, then why can’t we do this in Nashville?” says Tim, who leads the organization as president and chief executive officer. OZ Arts Nashville opened its doors in 2013. In just five years, it has succeeded in bringing in world-class contemporary arts that otherwise could be seen only in major cities. Recognizable names have included Tim Robbins, Philip Glass and National Medal of Arts winner Renée Fleming. One of Tim’s favorite performances thus far came from Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian cardiothoracic surgeon turned political satirist who typically had 30 million TV viewers before he was forced to leave his country for the U.S. Art that is both brave and culturally relevant
Renee fleming, opera superstar
Tim Ozgener, president and CEO
is an important aspect of OZ’s offerings. “It shines a light and brings awareness to topics that we need to continue to have in our discussions here as a community,” Tim explains. However, he places quality first. If the quality is there, Tim believes that a patron can always discover something valuable, even if they’re also discovering that, say, an interactive scratch DJ concert isn’t quite their “cup of tea.” OZ also focuses on providing a platform for promising local artists to showcase their work. Quarterly events called Thursday Night Things feature dance troupes, percussionists, spoken word groups and more. One event that stood
out this year featured Herb Williams’ graffiti paintings and Technicolor crayon sculptures combined with a surprise performance by one of Music City’s favorite rock bands, Moon Taxi. It’s this kind of unique, powerhouse collaboration that sets OZ Arts apart. The versatility of the event space also gives the audience an up-close-and-personal experience. “We want it to be impactful and powerful in people’s lives. So the room tends to be intimate so that people can feel like the art becomes a part of them,” Tim says. Educational outreach is the third main element of OZ’s mission. Tim took this cue from his mother, a Ph.D. in early childhood development, who spent 30 years teaching at Tennessee State University. “Through her, we’re big believers that children should have creativity in their lives,” he says. “Because whether you become a journalist, accountant, lawyer or artist, having that faculty to think outside the box and think creatively and innovatively is an important value in America.” The center connects all of its artists to local students through school programming, family events and community partnerships. For example, OZ School Days teams up with Centennial Park on federal holidays to help kids discover art while their parents are at work. Tim, a father of two, believes nurturing the youth of the city is as important as ever, as Nashville continues to boom. “When you’re growing and evolving and the city is changing too, you have to be open-minded and thoughtful about what you do,” he says. The nonprofit is still just getting started. With another 25 acres of undeveloped adjacent property, new residents moving to the city every day, and an expanding base of support, the future of OZ Arts looks bright. “I envision us continuing to have programs that are innovative and continuing to cultivate audiences,” Tim adds. “I think we have a real opportunity to become a destination for not only Nashvillians who want that cultural offering that they may otherwise have to travel to London, New York, L.A. or Miami to find, but also people that are visiting Nashville from around the world.”
Private concert with Lady Antibellum
Educational outreach at OZ
Outdoor venue at OZ
Word of Mouth Conversations Word of Mouth Conversations is a multimedia book series created by author, self-proclaimed “people whisperer” and publisher Lily Clayton Hansen. Upon relocating to Nashville from her native Chicago in 2012, Hansen, a freelance writer, decided to use her interviewing skills to understand what was happening in her new city. What better way was there for Hansen to get to know her neighbors and put her finger on what makes Nashville—the new “it” city—tick, than by telling the stories of those around her? What resulted was her first book, Word of Mouth: Nashville Conversations, a series of Q&A interviews and black-and-white portraits, which has since become a regional best-seller and inspired multiple partnerships, including Hansen’s three-wall art installation at the Nashville airport featuring artwork inspired by her interviews. The following interview with CMT’s Senior Vice President Leslie Fram is an excerpt from Hansen’s second book, Word of Mouth: More Conversations. It exemplifies the type of subject Hansen gravitates toward: authentic, honest and hardworking. “Having grown up in blue-collar Chicago, I have a real affection for those, like Ms. Fram, who are willing to clock in the hours to realize their passion,” she explains. “We live in a world where people want what they want immediately, which is why I find it refreshing to meet others, like myself, who started at ground zero and became a success.” What makes Hansen’s book series so unique, aside from the stunning visuals, is the author’s unparalleled knack for relaxing her subjects. They tell her stories they would reveal to no other journalist. The 31-year-old writer, who calls herself an old soul at heart, sees straight through her subjects and translates their essence onto paper.
Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President, CMT By Lily Clayton Hansen
ulture shaper and professional cheerleader Leslie Fram’s devotion to music has never waned. The CMT Senior Vice President lives by the 49/51 rule; she always tries to give more than she receives. Today, she pays her good fortune forward by lending her artistic tribe the emotional support they need in order to be successful. Since her high school days—aside from a short stint at a clock factory—Fram has always paid her bills by means of the music industry. Radio is Fram’s first love, and she entered the industry in her hometown of Fairhope, Alabama. Working as both a morning show host and a program director, she was diligent in learning every side of the business. After working in Alabama, Georgia, and New York, Fram rejuvenated her career with her current position at CMT. There, she oversees all music integration by booking talent, curating on-brand content, and marketing the network to its 93-million viewers. Today, the tastemaker, lauded for her hit intuition and championship of female artists, wants to use her prestige to empower others.
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Can you breakdown what you do on a daily basis at CMT?
Everything I do revolves around music and artist relations, and on any given day, I alternate from booking artists to meeting with managers and label reps. There are always nine or ten projects going on at once. How do you remain balanced with so much going on at once?
I try to schedule my life as much as possible and prioritize self-care. I’ve also learned how to say no, which is hard because I want to do everything! It’s a constant balancing act and discovery of my limits. Where does your intense work ethic come from?
My parents’ grit demonstrated what I had to do in order to be successful. I am so fortunate that they always encouraged me to pursue what I loved. My dad was a carpenter and my mom, who could have pursued a career as an opera singer, chose to be a housewife. They raised four kids and put us all through college by running a small grocery store in Fairhope, Alabama. When did you decide that pursuing radio as a career was in the cards?
In high school, simply to get my foot in the door, I started running all of the religious programming at my local station. That Sunday-morning gig developed into hosting my own show and eventually working for a Top-40 radio station. There, I was on the air from midnight to 6 a.m. While my schedule was brutal, that job sparked my interest in programming, which led to 20 years as a morning co-host and program director in rock/alternative radio. Most days started at 4 a.m. and ended after 7 p.m.! Tell me what it was like to justify your talents in a male-dominated industry.
At the time, there weren’t a lot of females in programming positions, and I definitely had to prove myself. Fortunately, I had a lot of great mentors. On-air female personalities used to be typecast as funny and flirty. I fell outside of this box as the pragmatic voice-of-reason, which led me on a journey of trying to find my voice and expertise. Owning your niche is where you gain credibility. As a program director and someone directing a predominantly male staff, I tried to effectively communicate, treat my team fairly, and show respect.
I LOVE TO HELP THOSE WHO HAVE THAT INTANGIBLE “IT” FACTOR, PASSION, AND DRIVE TO FULFILL THEIR DREAMS. LITERARY ARTS
What did you learn while being on-air for two decades?
Doing a morning show taught me an insane amount of discipline. You get up at three or four in the morning, prep, host the show, and then meet with your team to discuss how it all played out. I was also out three or four nights a week, seeing shows, keeping up with trends, and forging relationships. I had to rely on selfcare a lot to keep up those hours. How did your job in New York City first come across your plate?
When I lost my job in Atlanta after 17 years, I decided to focus on my staff and help them find new opportunities. One day, I called the General Manager of a new station in New York to talk up my staff, which turned into him offering me a position. I said yes without even thinking about it. It was a way of proving to myself that I could do something, which, at the time, seemed larger than life. How did you craft your on-air character?
Any great morning show involves different personalities. There has to be the rock, then the quirky and funny guy, and finally the voice of reason, which was where I fit in. Sticking to your role and keeping the focus on your
subjects is critical. Our goal was to bring in interesting people, from astronauts and actors to everyday heroes, and tell the best version of their stories. Have you always been such a lover of people?
Yes! When I moved to Nashville, I was new to country music and had to meet a whole new set of professionals in order to understand the job. I spent a year immersing myself into the culture and taking the time to hear other people’s stories. I feel blessed to call Nashville’s highly generous community my home. How did your job at CMT come about?
When my radio station in NYC was sold, I stood at a crossroads in my career. My mentor, and current boss, CMT President Brian Phillips, suggested that I look outside of radio. He then invited me to Nashville to meet his team and, over the course of a weekend, offered me a job. I immediately said yes, even though I didn’t know a lot about contemporary country music. However, I trusted my inner voice and that I could translate years of experience to a new audience. The CMT culture is intellectually inspiring, family-oriented, and somewhere you learn something new every day.
What is your biggest driving force?
Supporting the creative community and creating programs to celebrate female artists. I love to help those who have that intangible “it” factor as well as the passion and drive to fulfill their dreams. You’ve accomplished so much. What is your secret sauce?
First and foremost, what comes to mind is a Lori McKenna song: “Humble & Kind.” If you remain down to earth and compassionate, you’ll always be all right. The entertainment industry is tough, which is why I want to instill self-confidence and teach my artists to cherish the highs, learn from the lows, and stay true to themselves. What is your mantra on a daily basis?
To help others—even if it’s just giving someone a bit of encouragement—and to stay in a positive mindset. What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
My 25-year marriage! My husband, Lanny West, is my best friend and biggest champion. He is also the first man who never made me feel like I had to temper my personality or success. Maybe he’s my secret sauce. (Laughs)
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By Janet Morris Grimes
t was February 1964, barely a year into Nashville’s daunting quest to merge its city and county government into one entity. Not long after Metro Michael Bishop Nashville named its first official chief of police, Hubert Kemp, he found himself on the scene of a grisly murder investigation on a snowy Saturday night in the Crieve Hall subdivision. This crime itself would become legendary. The Sunday Tennessean screamed the headlines of the murder of 18-year-old Paula Herring, featuring the senior photo of the Overton High graduate. During a surprise weekend visit, the stunning blonde from Utah volunteered to babysit her six-year-old brother and ended up facedown on the living room floor in a pool of blood. She had been beaten, strangled and shot multiple times, all while her brother slept in his back bedroom. It’s the sort of story that keeps you awake at night. And oddly enough, it’s the kind of story that transforms an inquisitive computer salesman into a brilliant and well-respected author. Meet Michael Bishop. Three decades after the Herring murder, led by a mix of curiosity and happenstance, Bishop found himself in the Metro Archives building staring into the last photos taken of Paula. The images and torrid details from that 1964 file sunk their teeth into him. Metro considered this a closed case. An arrest was made within a week of the murder, and the five-day trial had been completed by September. The end result proved John Randolph Clarke guilty of murder, sentenced to 30 years in the state prison, although he went on to serve less than 10. But after perusing detailed trial transcripts,
Bishop suspected the evidence would never stand up to today’s standards. So, he boldly decided to make a few phone calls and soon tracked down the only surviving member of the Herring family, Paula’s brother, Alan. The little boy who somehow slept through what must have been a vicious fight was now a grown man clinging to a haunting question no one had ever asked. “Why didn’t he kill me too?” This burning mystery spurred Bishop through the next 20 years, investigating as a hobby during free time. He’s been referred to as an amateur detective or investigative journalist, but the affable gentleman with no official title simply possessed a keen ability to ask the right question and a tenacity to not let go. “Many times, I felt like a complete failure, but then the next puzzle piece fell into my lap, as if it were a predetermined event,” Bishop says. “Other times, I felt almost like a therapist. People trusted me enough to share secrets they’d been carrying for decades.” By 2012, Bishop confirmed
For details on the Paula Herring Memorial Scholarship, visit ht t p s: / / w w w. c f mt . o r g / ... / p a u l a herring -memorialscholarship-fund/ Paula Herring
Murder in Music City
the shocking details and decided to turn the entire investigative journey into a book. A Murder in Music City: Corruption, Scandal, and the Framing of an Innocent Man was released in September 2017. It reads like a true crime novel, or an episode of 48 Hours, with the eerie voice of the narrator hinting the truth is even more tragic than the original crime itself. “For some, the book has provided healing,” Bishop explains. “Paula’s teammates, classmates and friends have established a memorial scholarship in her name, which will be managed by The Community Foundation and awarded to a deserving senior from John Overton High School. It’s a wonderful way to honor Paula.” The same could be said regarding Bishop himself. What a wonderful way to honor a promising young woman, whose story deserved to be shared. Even 50 years later.
David Arms By Melonee Hurt
alking into the David Arms Gallery situated at the entrance to the quaint little artisan town of Leiper’s Fork, you are immediately welcomed by the smell of a campfire and all of the wonderful images that aroma conjures up. Once inside, you are wrapped with echoes of your favorite old leather chair. You half expect David himself
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to offer to pour you a glass of bourbon and have you curl up with a good book, light a candle and stay awhile.
His paintings of birds and trees and the outdoors line the walls and literally surround you with nature. You almost have to remind yourself that you are in an art gallery, because his little cozy barnwood retreat is unlike any other art gallery in the world. That’s by design. Arms grew up in Kingston, Tennessee, where he developed an early love of the outdoors and all of its wonderful creatures. He noticed things like the texture of tree bark and the bustle of hummingbirds and clusters of daffodils. It wasn’t until much later in life Arms realized he could replicate all of his woodland friends with
David Arms’ Studio
David wearing one of his handcrafted, 100% Kona cotton ties.
a brush and a canvas. “I started painting as recreation, really, because the event work was so stressful,” Arms says. “It gave me an outlet. I literally painted something to go on a blank wall in our house. It was colorful and floral and everything I’m not now. But it started the evolution of what happened over the next 20 years.” He said what happened next was art pursuing him, not him pursuing art. What he describes now as “playing” with painting began to attract attention. People wanted to buy his work. He was featured in a few art shows, and it became clear as he began to juggle what was becoming a second full-time job that he’d have to pick one career.
Custom note cards
That was 1996, and Arms says he hasn’t stopped growing and evolving as an artist yet. He has, however, created a niche with his artwork that makes his work as recognizable by those who know him as any world-renowned painter. “I started finding my style and my voice,” he remembers. “Then there came a point where I realized I wanted to speak through my work. I started using symbolism of hope and faith. Then it became my voice. I am an introvert and a very behind-the-scenes kind of person, so it became clear to me this was how I would speak to a big audience without having to stand in front of them.” Some of Arms’ most recognizable works feature wild birds. The bobwhite quail, in fact, has become his trademark and now adorns candles, greeting cards and most anything that
Custom made bookmark.
also has the name David Arms on it. Birds, he says, are his favorite thing to paint. He also loves what they symbolize. “They are busy little creatures trying to take care of their homes and their young, but there’s something envious about them. That goldfinch is content being a goldfinch, and as humans we don’t have that contentment. They do what they do and they don’t have to be anything else.” One of his most asked-about pieces marries a hummingbird (perched, not flying) with the phrase “Be still and know.” Derived from Psalm 46:10, the dichotomy of the world’s most frenetic bird—almost never seen sitting still—paired with words we all need to hear in this fast-paced world, has
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made this work among his most popular. “It’s the image of perpetual motion,” he says. “I remember the first time I saw a hummingbird alight on a limb, and it was startling. That’s when I really related to the fact it can be jarring to us when we stop. We almost don’t know what to do with ourselves.” In October 2011, Arms opened his gallery at the edge of Leiper’s Fork. It was something he’d been dreaming of doing for a long time. He’d looked at a number of properties but didn’t want a conventional gallery. He wanted anything but a large, stark and museum-like
space. Fellow art curator and gallery owner Lisa Fox telephoned Arms one day with an ideal spot in mind. “She called and told me I had to come out here to see this barn,” he says. “I walked in and my knees got weak. I was like, ‘this is it.’ It’s mind-boggling to me. I love being here. It’s art and products made from my art, but it’s also full of things I love. Books, custom ties, pipes. It’s this quirky combination of things that are meaningful to me. I love walking in here just as much as I did the first day we opened.” And his quirky little barn full of his favorite
things has caught worldwide attention. It isn’t uncommon in a week’s time to meet visitors from Japan, Australia and England in the gallery. While his business has grown and branched out beyond just his paintings and into a full-fledged brand, Arms has also been calculating about how he has allowed that growth to occur. He’s been offered wholesale deals, franchise opportunities and licensing
deals. All of which he turned down. “I try not to let the money become too tempting. I couldn’t open in other cities and keep it at this level. I try to be real protective and let it grow organically. If I had taken some huge steps, I would have missed some of the great little steps I’ve taken.” His next step will be the release of a book of photography he took while on a trip to Africa.
It will be available by October, and Arms says a portion of the book’s proceeds will go back to South Sudan to support the area he has come to love. But despite all the growth and interest in his evolving brand, on most mornings you can still find Arms enjoying some quiet time alone in his studio with just the company of his latest hummingbird or bluebird waiting to take flight.
“Be Still and Know,” Journal. David Arms Coffee Table Book.
David Arms - IGBOK By Melonee Hurt
Artist David Arms is known for his realistic depictions of nature and birds on canvas, but he is less well-known for another one of his original works. It’s a stark black background with five letters in white typewriter font that has resonated around the world. More than likely, you’ve seen the igbok (it’s gonna be o.k.) sticker on someone’s car or magnet on a refrigerator because the simple little phrase Arms and a friend created has spread like wildfire. “Those familiar with my artwork know that hope has become my life message, and one of my missions is to encourage others in their hope,” Arms says. “In 2008, my friend Lloyd Shadrach and I coined the phrase igbok as a simple word of encouragement to remind ourselves and others that it’s gonna be o.k.” Since then, the word has traveled around the world, encouraging others with concerns that are both global and personal. It has become a household word whose origins reach back to some friends gathered at a coffee shop just outside of Nashville. And since then, the little black bumper sticker has evolved into bracelets, T-shirts, coffee tumblers and— because of its Nashville roots—even a song. For more information on igbok, or to purchase items, visit the website at www.igbok.com.
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Nashville Arts & Entertainment
AUBREY PRESTON by Deborah Evans Price
ashville’s tremendous growth is easy to see, but in the midst of increasing development there’s concern that Music City might lose the character that has always been the essence of its charm. Aubrey Preston is among those who have worked hard to help preserve some of Middle Tennessee’s treasures, such as RCA’s historic Studio A, the Franklin Theatre and the quiet community of Leiper’s Fork. “I grew up in East Tennessee and was fortunate to grow up in the Smoky Mountains around the Ocoee River and just really loved the outdoors. I’ve always loved Tennessee and I love stories,” Preston tells NAE. “The older places tell stories. Landscapes tell stories and keep stories alive. Certain iconic buildings, spaces where people created things, tell stories, and those are really important.
Preston moved to Denver in his twenties and found success in real estate. After five years, he returned to Tennessee intent on raising his children in his home state. “I knew from growing up in Tennessee there was nothing like Tennessee, and they would miss a lot if they didn’t get an opportunity to grow up in Tennessee like I did,” he says. “I’ve always been drawn toward music. It’s been a hobby and a passion of mine from the time I was in the fourth grade, picking up a guitar and trying to figure out what makes it tick. So when I decided to make a move back to Tennessee, instead of moving to East Tennessee, I moved to Nashville.” His family initially settled in Franklin, but then Preston fell in love with the Leiper’s Fork community. “I guess in my thirties I was thinking a little more like an adult, what I could do in the community,” Preston shares. “We were seeing at that point where [Interstate] 840 was coming around and would maybe interrupt the quality of life out here. I just got this idea
[There’s an] oral tradition that’s been going on for centuries long before computers came along. I just think it’s really important to who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going.”
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that I could contribute by buying land and preserving it.” His efforts were instrumental is helping Leiper’s Fork maintain the community charm and small-town way of life that residents value. Preston joined in the efforts to launch The Land Trust for Tennessee, a nonprofit dedicated to land preservation. He was also instrumental in efforts to save the historic Franklin Theatre as well as leading the charge to save RCA’s historic Studio A from the wrecking ball in 2014. “Hopefully we’ve got the place back into a position where it can continue to make history, where the creators there have an environment that allows them to continue to make history. With Dave Cobb there every week, he’s doing significant things that we are so excited about,” he says of the Grammy-winning producer who works with Chris Stapleton, The Oak Ridge Boys, Anderson East and others. “Everybody in that building is involved in the music business and creating. I don’t know if there’s any building in the world where you have independent music creators all in one space like that. It’s pretty cool.” Preston is also among those promoting the Americana Music Triangle, the area between Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans that birthed nine distinct genres of music. “That’s a really, really big project,” he says. “It involves a lot of different communities, so there are a lot of things going on.” When it comes to preserving and promoting Tennessee’s treasures, Preston says the most gratifying part is the shared experience. “I love people and I love to have a good time. All of these things that we’re involved in, they are things that you can share,” he says. “We can have shared experiences that we didn’t have before in our community, and those have made us all stronger.” Preston feels preservation efforts have a lot in common with songwriting. “Great songwriters blow my mind because in three minutes they can engineer a beginning, middle and end that just charms people,” he notes. “On any of these community problems, I’d encourage people to not underestimate the power of a good idea and a good concept, one that’s well-thought-out and written like a great Nashville song. If it’s really well-done, money will find those projects.”
JIM AND JANET AYERS by Deborah Evans Price
or Jim and Janet Ayers, it all comes down to people. The foundation of the couple’s success has always been their desire to serve people and bolster communities. Dedication to customer service and an appreciation for the value of building relationships have helped grow one of the country’s most successful banking institutions and launch a philanthropic foundation that is profoundly changing the lives of Tennessee students and established a collection of Tennessee art that is a vibrant celebration of their native state. “We’re a Tennessee-based foundation, and we consider ourselves a community bank even though we’re a lot larger than that,” Ayers Foundation president Janet Ayers says, referring
to their organization and to FirstBank. “Our relationships are very community-based, and we’re very appreciative of our community and hometowns. Instead of just buying art and decorating our corporate office, we wanted to really invest in our community and artists in our communities. That’s really what started us buying Tennessee art. We made a point of buying art from Mountain City to Memphis and make sure we have art from areas that we serve.” Originally from Parsons, TN, Jim developed a solid work ethic early in life, delivering 120 newspapers every morning in a rough part of Memphis for $2.40 a day. He developed his business skills and ran a network of nursing homes and then expanded into banking in 1984. “The bank was started in 1906 in a little tiny community in West Tennessee called Scotts Hill, TN. I bought the bank with a partner in 1984,” Jim tells NAE. “At that time, it had seven employees and $14 million in total assets. A few
years later my partner decided he wanted to sell his half of the bank to me and continue to run it, which he did for about 15 years. We’re now the 29th largest home mortgage originator in the U.S. We went public a year ago September. We’re on the New York Stock Exchange, and last year, of all the public banks in the nation, we were voted the No. 1 bank for shareholder return for 2017. I’m very humbled by that, but most of the credit goes to the folks who have absorbed this culture that we’ve got. They understand that they wouldn’t have jobs if it wasn’t for the customer.” A native of Jonesboro, TN, Janet has an extensive background in health care and previously served as head of the Tennessee Health Care Association. She met Jim while she was working as administrator at an East Tennessee nursing home he was looking to purchase. “I’m glad I went over to that nursing home,” he says. “It changed my life.” Married since 2006, the couple shares a commitment to family and philanthropy. Since launching in 1999, The Ayers Foundation has been involved in a variety of good works, including awarding nearly 5,000 scholarships to graduating seniors. “We are in five different high schools,” Janet shares. “We have a counselor on our payroll embedded in the school system. The school system provides the office space, but they are our employees. We pay the salaries. We train our counselors, but they are in the school working with every single student.” Janet and Jim give the counselors credit for helping students move on to college and succeed. “Jim is an incredible businessman. He has a gift. Some people have a gift of volunteerism. Some people have a gift of management. Some people have a gift of teaching,” Janet says. “Some people have a gift of counseling. We’re all called to share those God-given gifts with each other. We make sure our gift is bound with other people’s gifts so it changes the dynamics of the community. Just writing a check for a scholarship program doesn’t move the needle without having the great work of our counselors. It’s a combination of all of that. We know we’re a part of something bigger than us. We’re one piece of it, but we’re not the only piece of it.”
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NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS
Left to right; Dayton Duncan, Julie Dunfey, Ken Burns, Kevin Crane.
Ken Burns by Beverly Keel
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Guy Clark being interviewed by Julie Dunfey.
including Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson, must have been a pleasure. “Country music has been fun in a way that Vietnam was never fun,” Burns told Men’s Journal. “It also has emotions that are as powerful, because they are so elemental. Harlan Howard, the songwriter, said country music
was three chords and the truth. And there’s lots of execrable country music, just as there’s lots of execrable everything, but when you distill the essence of the story, you get socked in the gut by the power of the simple stuff that happens.” It takes a village to produce a documentary of this magnitude. Burns is directing and
COURTESY OF FLORENTINE FLIMS/KATY HAAS
en Burns is the definitive American documentarian, so cheers went up in Nashville when word spread that he has chosen country music to be the focus of his next sweeping, multiepisode project that will air in 2019 on PBS stations across the nation. Nashville couldn’t ask for a better storyteller to present the history of this too often maligned American art form. Nashville couldn’t be in better hands to answer questions like “What is country music?” and “Where did it come from?” Country Music will follow Burns’ 10-part, 18-hour documentary on the Vietnam War that aired in fall 2017. He is America’s most famous history teacher and powerfully captures and explains the best and worst of our nation. After being immersed in the study of the Vietnam War for several years, surely researching country music and interviewing many of its legends,
Ken Burns interviewing Billy Sherrill.
producing Country Music. The series will be written and produced by Dayton Duncan and produced by Julie Dunfey, the Emmy winners behind some of the most popular and celebrated documentaries of the last three decades, such as Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and The Dust Bowl.
COURTESY OF FLORENTINE FLIMS/CRAIG MELLISH
COURTESY OF FLORENTINE FLIMS/JARED AMES
Left to right; Dayton Duncan, Julie Dunfey, Ketch Secor, Ken Burns.
Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan, and Julie Dunfey answering questions at the Nashville Public Television screening for “Country Music.”
Burns has assembled a team who is dedicated to finding the most important people to interview and to capture the most important stories on video. They are fact-checking every word and making sure this is the best possible representation that will define country music for generations to come. Of course, Burns is no stranger to the South.
Many people first became aware of his brilliance with his epic nine-part 1990 documentary, The Civil War, which was initially viewed by 40 million people. The documentary turned writer Shelby Foote into a beloved celebrity. As we eagerly await the premiere date, one looming question remains: Who will become the Shelby Foote of Country Music?
Carly Pearce by Courtney Keen
arly Pearce dreamed of becoming a country music singer since the age of five. After convincing her parents to let her leave high school in Kentucky and perform at Dollywood, she spent nine years in Nashville cleaning Airbnb properties and nannying to make ends meet. Even when she lost her first record deal, Carly kept her dream in sight. “All of the years that I spent going to different writers rounds around Nashville, whether it be at The Bluebird or The Listening Room Cafe or going to see shows at 3rd & Lindsley or the Grand Ole Opry—I think I drew a lot of inspiration from that,” she says. This year, Carly’s dream came true. Her debut album, Every Little Thing (Big Machine Records) earned praise from media and fans alike. With the Gold-certified title track, she became the highest charting solo female debut since July 2015 and one of only three to accomplish the feat in 12 years.
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“I know every artist says this—but this really is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” she says. “The fact that it’s finally taking off and paying off in really big ways my first year out is something that I will never take for granted, and I will continue to just be so grateful and so honored.” When Carly found out about her Academy of Country Music Awards nomination for New Female Vocalist of the Year, she was on an airplane. She shared her joyous reaction with passengers and posted it to Facebook. It’s this sparkling personality combined with textured vocals and emotive songwriting prowess that led People magazine to call her “the new voice of country.” Carly welcomes the compliments, but still finds ways to stay grounded in Nashville. Listening to new music is one big thing that helps her keep the creative juices flowing. And another is simply having a life. “Staying in tune with Carly, and not just ‘Carly Pearce,’ and trying to have some
time to experience life as just a normal twentysomething,” she explains, “I think that’s where I draw the most inspiration of my life for my songs.” It may prove a challenge to squeeze in normalcy this year as she tours with the biggest names in country music, including Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts and Thomas Rhett. Sharing the stage with these superstars is the thing Carly says she’s most looking forward to, as well as playing the stadium at CMA Fest. Sometimes it is the little things, like cleaning an Airbnb day after day, that lead to bigger things you could never imagine. Nashville has embraced Carly Pearce, and she’s making it count. She says anyone who finds themselves here should get out and experience the live music scene firsthand. “I think it’s so special to Nashville,” she says. “And I don’t think you have to be a country music fan to find something really inspiring to do.”
Great performances come
The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt hosts more than 200 performances a year, from opera and musical theatre to orchestras, chamber ensembles, solo performances, and more. Most shows are free, and free parking is available in West Garage. See our full list of fall/winter performances at blair.vanderbilt. edu, including soprano Deborah Voigt (Sept. 5), Leonard Bernstein’s Candide (Nov. 9 and 11), and Dave Matthews Band trumpeter Rashawn Ross with the Blair Big Band (Nov. 29). Vanderbilt University is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action. Vanderbilt® and the Vanderbilt logos are registered trademarks of The Vanderbilt University. © 2018 Vanderbilt University. All rights reserved.
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Dan Miller, Demetria and Bill Hall in the WSMV studio.
Demetria Kalodimos by Lorie Hollabaugh
hen Demetria Kalodimos was unceremoniously given notice that her contract was not being renewed by Nashville’s WSMV-TV (Channel 4) last year and she subsequently left the station after 34 years, it would have certainly been tempting for the award-winning anchor to simply retire and enjoy the fruits of so much labor. But there were too many stories left to tell. For Kalodimos, who was a beloved fixture on the nightly news in Music City, the closed door afforded her time to devote to her other lifelong passion—filmmaking. Having produced independent documentaries during her time working in local news, Kalodimos cracked open her voluminous “future files” and went to work fleshing out some new projects. “I’m pulling some projects out that were on the side burners and working on them again, and that’s been exciting,” says Kalodimos about the unexpected career turn. “I’ve always had a passion for longer-form. That’s actually what
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Demetria the filmmaker working in her studio.
attracted me to the station in Nashville, because at the time everyone had an opportunity, if they had a great idea fleshed out, to work on a fivepart series that would become a documentary. That was a badge of honor in the newsroom, something to strive for, and I did it about seven times for the station before I started doing my own when gear became affordable.” The history buff even crafted her own workspace for her filmmaking, The Filming Station. Seeing amazing potential in a building most anyone else would’ve overlooked and demolished, she preserved a 1935 Gulf gas
station and turned it into one of the coolest multipurpose venues in town. The place felt like coming home in a way to Kalodimos. “My father was a lifelong mechanic, and with four kids to feed he was constantly taking second jobs working on neighbors’ cars, so I saw more of my dad’s feet hanging out from underneath a car growing up than I did his face probably,” she remembers. “It’s such a shame he did not live long enough to see me get this place—he died the year before we bought it. But the whole time I was finding stuff and resurrecting it, I thought, ‘Oh, my dad would’ve loved this!’”
Before (below) and after (above) of Demetria’s workspace for filmmaking. Demetria preserved this 1935 Gulf gas station and transformed it into her dream filming studio.
Decked out with vintage auto chrome like Plymouth hood ornaments, a gas pump, a Mad Men–era desk, a Philco TV, old cameras, service station memorabilia, and other finds Kalodimos has scrounged on junking adventures, The Filming Station is a perfect spot for screening and editing films. “It’s been so useful in my work because it’s a little bit off the grid, and I can shoot things in my own facility,” she says. “Anyone in their right mind would’ve wrecked it, though, trust me. There was a lot of design and mechanical challenge preserving this place.” The Filming Station is the perfect home for all the treasures that Kalodimos has unearthed. “My hobby filmmaking was taking up my entire house, moving up the stairs by the minute, and my dream was to have my own space to do this where other things are not competing for my attention,” she says. “I bet most people in town have seen me at Goodwill, a flea market, or an estate sale because I like to treasure hunt. My husband says my four-letter word is ‘prop’
because everything’s a prop. But ask any of my filmmaker friends, they love it!” Currently working on several projects, Kalodimos is still exercising that keen sense of curiosity and passion for delving deep that made her a top-rate newswoman throughout her career. And she isn’t slipping off her reporting shoes just yet.
“I hope to get back on the air soon, because I’m not ready to hang it up,” she says. “What I’d like to do is innovate . . . do something fresh and different and relevant, and hopefully there’s someone in Nashville willing to fund something like that because I’m certainly willing to produce it. I will be back when the right thing presents itself.”
Left to right: TJ Osborne and John Osborne.
Brothers Osborne by Deborah Evans Price
itting in the audience soaking in the performances and pageantry of the 2016 Country Music Association Awards, no one was more surprised than siblings TJ and John when Brothers Osborne was named Vocal Duo of the Year. Though the win was an upset as many music industry insiders figured Florida Georgia Line would continue their reign in the category, the choice was a popular one, and the love in the room was palatable. “That was a massive turning point for us,” TJ shares with NAE. “We were emotional just to have the dream come true, but I think it was really wild for us to look out at the audience and go backstage and see the all-encompassing love and appreciation. Everyone was so happy for us. People that I look up to, our peers, were giving us a standing ovation after we won. I’ll never forget it. It was one of the most overwhelming feelings I’ve ever had in my life.” Though some may have mistakenly assumed Brothers Osborne to be an overnight success,
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
in reality the siblings had been working toward that moment for years. “We’ve just stuck to who we really are, and it’s been a really slow journey,” admits TJ. “At times it’s frustrating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” The Maryland natives grew up performing in their family’s band, and John moved to Nashville in 2000. TJ followed a year later. John first gained attention as a member of the band KingBilly, while TJ was writing songs for a music publishing company. “When the band ended, TJ and I began playing some shows together and people kept saying, ‘We love this duo thing you guys are doing,’” John says. “We didn’t intend it to be a duo, but people kept saying that and eventually we said, ‘Well, I guess we’ve got to call it a duo now because that’s what everyone says it is.’ Once we made that conscious decision, we signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell not long after. A year later we played a show at the original Basement and labels came out. We got offered a deal that night. It all happened really naturally. It wasn’t forced.” Pawn Shop, the duo’s 2016 debut album on EMI Records Nashville, spawned the hits Stay a Little Longer and It Ain’t My Fault. In 2017, they earned both New Vocal Duo and Vocal Duo of
the Year from the Academy of Country Music (ACM) as well as picking up their second CMA Vocal Duo honor and Music Video of the Year for It Ain’t My Fault. In April 2018, they received their second ACM Award in the duo category and netted Video of the Year for It Ain’t My Fault the same week that their sophomore album, Port Saint Joe, was released. “I think we’ve improved over the several years since we recorded Pawn Shop,” TJ says. “We’ve played hundreds and hundreds of shows since then. Whether we’ve gotten better or not, we’ve certainly evolved, and I think you can hear that.” The project was recorded at producer Jay Joyce’s Florida beach house. “It made us not take anything too seriously,” TJ says. “You can hear that we’re not overthinking it. We’re having a good time.” John agrees. “The worst thing you could do as an artist or a creator of any type is to get lost in your own head, to get caught up in your own self. It can only work against you,” he adds. “Being able to go down to Port Saint Joe and just be in a very relaxing environment away from town allowed us to not overthink anything. We just do what we do, which is get in a room and make music and whatever happens, happens.” The brothers have been touring extensively this year, including their first headlining trek in the U.K. But when they aren’t on the road, they are happy to call Nashville home. “Everyone in this town supports each other and lets each other express themselves in any way without any type of judgment,” says John. “TJ and I weren’t born and raised here, but we’ve been here through the growing of this town. We feel we grew together, so we feel like Nashville is a big part of who we are, and we wear that pride proudly.”
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Fort Negley Park
Renderings (top and bottom) that show how developers hope to transform the old park (pictured left).
FORMER SOUNDS STADIUM PROPERTY HAS HISTORIC ROOTS THAT ARE ON THE VERGE OF BEING PRESERVED by Melonee Hurt
n a town where folks joke about the number of cranes dotting the Nashville skyline on any given day and buildings seem to spring up overnight, one of the town’s newest projects isn’t about building, but about demolishing and preserving. In lieu of glass and concrete, planners are talking grass and trees instead. The former home of the Nashville Sounds, Greer Stadium, had been abandoned since the minor league baseball team moved to its new home in 2015. It was clear that something needed to be done with the former stadium, which had become little more than an eyesore. It was close to becoming a mixed-use development when archaeologists uncovered historical records all but proving the grounds housed remains of slaves who built neighboring Fort Negley. Preserving the site, which sits on prime Nashville real estate on the south side of downtown, was going to be an uphill battle since developers were circling and pitching proposals to the city right and left. But a somewhat unlikely hero for the site and its preservation is helping to define the best way to save this land and the history of those who were the first to settle there. Country musician Kix Brooks has been involved in the preservation of Fort Negley since the 1980s.
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
“We always realized this was historic land,” he says. “I’m not sure how the Sounds stadium got built in the first place, because it is documented that 600 to 800 of the slaves who worked on building Fort Negley are buried there. Where else would they be buried at this point in Nashville’s history? It all makes sense. I hate those gravesites were ever disturbed. We weren’t thinking that way when the stadium was built, but we are thinking that way now.” Funds were approved to demolish the old stadium, and a number of concerned citizens, including Brooks, have worked with architects to devise a plan to transform the site into a city park and ensure it will never be developed. “It’s about having a great green space for people to enjoy with their families, but it’s also about honoring not just Nashville’s involvement in the Civil War, but the African-Americans who
died building the fort. Through the years that’s something that’s been overlooked and neglected and not given the attention it’s deserved,” Brooks says. The process will be lengthy—and expensive. And the funds will have to be raised philanthropically. But Brooks isn’t concerned because Nashville has historically had some very generous benefactors step up for such projects. “This is to me such a rare legacy point for our generation,” he says. “If we embrace this the right way, it is going to be here forever. Far beyond my lifetime. My heart tells me that generations from now, people are going to look back and say, ‘We are so glad we have this park here.’ We can’t stop the development around us. Nashville is booming and it’s exciting, but I think this piece of grass and this piece of peace is going to be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Nuts and candies are measured using old fashioned over/under scales.
Kathy’s sister, Olivia, and niece, Katie, help run the store.
The Peanut Shop by Courtney Keen
athy Bloodworth lives her childhood dream. “Instead of wanting to be a nurse as a kid or a fireman, like little boys and girls dream about, I always played store,” she said. “I walked around with a little box with Monopoly money in it. I thought that was the coolest thing to be a shopkeeper.” Take one look around The Peanut Shop, her store of 28 years, and you’ll see the TLC she puts into it. Nearly every square inch is covered with posters, toys, lunch boxes, and other whimsical knickknacks and historic treasures. The Peanut Shop has been a staple in The Arcade, Nashville’s first covered shopping center, since 1927. It’s one of only four original Planters Peanut stores still operating. Back then, Barnum & Bailey ordered peanuts when the circus came to town, and the original owner stayed up all night roasting them. “The elephants would come pulling the wagons through The Arcade just for them to hoist the peanuts up and put them on there,” Kathy explains. “I still have the pulley system.” While Kathy has kept much of the store’s old charm, she has also made strategic additions. Most notable was air conditioning, which
allowed for the most significant addition— chocolate. “People talk about Belgium or Swiss chocolates, and how they’re elite. Well, so is ours,” she says. “In the global market, our chocolate is second to none.”
A NOSTALGIC AROMA One morning, before the busyness of lunch hour, Kathy walks into the store to see fresh buckeyes cooling. An aroma of warm peanut butter and chocolate fills the air. “Oh my goodness, Toby, good job,” she says. “They’re gonna eat ’em up.” “I already sold one,” he replies. Candy confections and roasting nuts give the store a uniquely delicious smell. Customers have even suggested it be made into a candle. Kathy’s nose may’ve become somewhat immune to the sweet and salty perfume, but not her taste buds. “I’m dying to get one of these buckeyes,” she says. “I like it all.” A slew of celebrities have frequented the cozy shop during its nine decades of operation. It also holds sentimental value for locals, who grew up making special trips with parents and grandparents to buy praline pecans or butter toffee cashews. Kathy remembers one woman who came to visit for the first time after her parents passed away. They had met outside the store when her mom dropped the peanuts she’d purchased, and her dad helped pick them up. “She wanted to come down because she had heard that story her whole life, and I thought
that was kind of poignant,” Kathy says. The Peanut Shop is a family affair for Kathy too, with younger sister Olivia acting as her business partner. “She has little girls who love running the store,” Kathy says. “So they may take it to the next level that I never reached.”
QUALITY AND KINDNESS Over the years, Kathy has passed up opportunities to expand in favor of keeping the personal feel and manageable hours. Staying small has allowed her to invest in one place and focus on customers, fellow shopkeepers and any passerby. She knows the regulars by name and turns strangers into friends. Watching her greet people and laugh, it’s easy to believe she is playing store exactly as she was born to do. When Kathy first bought The Peanut Shop, original owner John Saunders shared his advice for the business’ success. “He said, ‘I’ll tell you two things you need to do: Sell good product, and be nice to people,’” she recounts. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s it?’ and he said, ‘That’s it.’ And I’m like, ‘All right, I can do that.’”
Bidders raise their paddles at Pairings Nashville’s Ultimate Wine and Food Weekend.
The Nashville Wine Auction A self-sustaining, non-profit, charitable organization which exists solely to raise funds to support the fight against cancer
he Nashville Wine Auction engages local and world wine communities to produce wine-related events which raise money to help fund the fight against cancer. Since it was established in 1980, the Nashville Wine Auction has raised more than $24.5 million for organizations whose purpose is directly related to treatment, patient care and eradication of cancer in Middle Tennessee. The Nashville Wine Auction is a selfsustaining, non-profit, charitable organization which exists solely to raise funds to support the fight against cancer. Increased appreciation of wine through Nashville Wine Auction has resulted in creating this influential charitable organization of importance to its constituents and beneficiaries. The organization’s primary focus is its series of wine-related events and activities. All activities operate within a framework of social and educational events, thus stimulating an
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
environment of “natural giving” by those who love and appreciate wine. Toward that end, Nashville Wine Auction cultivates participation by the domestic and international wine communities to work in conjunction with businesses, restaurants, entertainment, and communications firms, as well as individuals united in the common goal of winning the battle against cancer. The organization’s president and CEO is Holly Hearn Whaley, and she takes a party very seriously. If there were a gene for communicating a message with a wellcrafted celebration, Holly would have it. Her more than 35 years of planning parties, meetings, conferences, classes, retreats, service projects, weddings, galas, camps and even church services show in all she does for the Nashville Wine Auction. Holly has personally experienced the loss of family members due to cancer. Those losses, combined with her in-depth knowledge of wine and special events, has helped create the passionate and skilled nonprofit leader of the Nashville Wine Auction that she is today. Holly is supported by a dedicated staff as well as a highly engaged board of directors. There are several ways to partake in the Nashville Wine Auction’s evenings of glamour, generosity, good cheer and great wine.
The Four Signature Events are: “Pairings” -- NASHVILLE’S ULTIMATE WINE & FOOD WEEKEND FEBRUARY 21 - 23, 2019 “l’Eté du Vin” -- THE COUNTRY’S LONGESTRUNNING CHARITY WINE AUCTION JUNE 27 & JULY 25-27, 2019 “Champagne & Chardonnay” -A SPARKLING EVENING JUST FOR LADIES OCTOBER 3, 2019 “The Men’s Event” -- HONORING THE LIFE AND SPIRIT OF BILLY RAY HEARN OCTOBER 3, 2019 In addition to the Nashville Wine Auction’s four main events, there are many dinners, parties, and wine events sold at the event auctions. For information about these opportunities, go to www. NashvillleWineAuction.com and be sure to sign up for emails to stay in the know. The Nashville Wine Auction charitable beneficiaries include: American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Middle Tennessee, PearlPoint Cancer Support, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Saint Thomas Cancer Network and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
A winning Pairings bidder.
Bidders enjoying Pairings The Ultimate Wine & Food Weekend.
Vintner Pouring Wine at Wined UP!
Auctioneer Fritz Hatton (Zachys) caught in the confetti of a winning bid.
Nashville Wine Auction Private Vintner Dinner.
Country Music Hall of Fame by Beverly Keel
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
View from the Rotunda.
The Wall of Gold Records.
View from the catwalk.
on display,” Young says. “We have some great Guy Clark things. We have a skull ashtray that Emmylou Harris gave Guy that he had down in his workshop. We have the paintings that his wife Susanna did.” Of course, the museum contains the hallowed Hall of Fame rotunda, which is home to the bronze plaques honoring artists who have been given country music’s highest honor. But today’s music is also celebrated. “About 40 percent of our visitors are 34 years old or younger,” Young says. “We are dealing with a young group and families. People love our Taylor Swift Education Center.” When the museum moved from Music Row
to its downtown location in 2001, it was a bit of a gamble because very few things were located south of Broadway. “I knew when we had the opportunity to move downtown that we had an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to rebrand. We had the opportunity to engage the local community and artists,” Young says. The museum now serves as the hub of downtown visitor traffic. It underwent another expansion five years ago when it was connected to the new Omni Hotel, creating convenient access to several outstanding restaurants, a new theater and more room for its gift shop. Fortunately, the risk paid off exponentially. “The city exploded around us,” Young says.
DONN JONES PHOTOGRAPHY
hen visiting friends ask what they should do while in Nashville, I always recommend the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum because it remains the crown jewel of downtown Music City. Whether they are music aficionados or country music newbies who don’t know the difference between Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, they will find something that appeals to them. While you can always see precious mainstays, such as instruments belonging to genre founders Maybelle Carter, Hank Williams and Bill Monroe, the museum constantly rotates displays of its 4 million artifacts. It’s a strategy that has attracted more than 1 million visitors annually for the last three years. “Things are constantly changing,” CEO Kyle Young says. “We are opening 12 to 15 new exhibitions every year. The backbone of the whole place is this tremendous collection we have, including items that are rare and unduplicated. But we are changing it a lot and looking at subjects that are very diverse in nature. “We are telling the story of the music,” Young explains. “We approach it really democratically. It is not only what you might be hearing on the radio, but it is more inclusive than that. As we are approaching exhibitions, we are looking at balance.” For instance, this year the museum will feature exhibits focusing on Little Big Town, The Judds, Ralph Stanley and Emmylou Harris. This year also marks the beginning of a threeyear run of Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s, a special exhibit focusing on revolutionary musical outlaws such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Jessi Colter, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. “My favorite stuff is the newest stuff we put
House of Cards UPSCALE ENTERTAINMENT GOES UNDERGROUND. by Tracy Marsh Location: 119 Third Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37201—under the Johnny Cash Museum
ashville is under Bill Miller’s spell. In April, he and wife Shannon—owners of Nudie’s Honky Tonk, Skull’s Rainbow Room, and the Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline museums—unveiled House of Cards, a magic-themed dining and entertainment experience in the heart of downtown. The elegance of legendary magicians like Harry Houdini and Harry Blackstone Sr. informed the design of the space. Guests enter the sprawling underground venue via a stone tunnel. The interior drips with lavish ambience, from dimly glowing chandeliers and antique European décor to a handcrafted wooden bar and gold leaf ceilings in the restrooms. The result is a 1930s speakeasy feel that’s unparalleled in Nashville. “It’s an immersive experience,” Miller says. “Once you walk downstairs, you’re in a different world.” To safeguard that carefully cultivated atmosphere, there is a dress code, reservations are required and photos are not allowed. The dining room doubles as a museum, featuring a multimillion-dollar trove of art and magic memorabilia curated by Miller himself. Among those treasures are a collection of playing cards from around the world (the oldest of which dates to 1490) and a handcuff device used by Houdini to stump competing escape artists who dared accept his challenge. But the bewitching artifacts aren’t the only reason to roam the space. Illusionists stationed throughout House of Cards perform spellbinding feats of sleight of hand every night. And because dinner includes admission to one of several nightly magic shows in the venue’s own theater, no two visits are ever the same. The space also features private cigar lockers,
a humidor and an East Coast–inspired patio posh enough to magically transport guests from the bustle and twang of the honky-tonk district. Behind a moving bookcase lies a private dining room named for Blackstone, a one-time Ryman Auditorium headliner. (The Playbill from that performance, plus Blackstone’s tuxedo and Nashville Magic Club membership card, are also on display.) It’s here that adventurous spirits can attempt to channel the famed magician via a lighthearted “séance” complete with billowing curtains and glowing crystal ball. Executive Chef Ryan Locke’s menu celebrates classic American fare with signature dishes including braised pork belly, Angus steaks and a Kobe beef burger. Craft cocktails created by renowned Nashville bartender John Peet (Old
Glory, Bakersfield) are as sophisticated as they are irresistibly named: Floating Rings, Silk Scarf and Quick Escape, to name a few. For Miller, House of Cards represents the culmination of three life-defining passions: magic, collecting, and providing one-of-a-kind entertainment options for Nashville residents and visitors alike. The California native traces his love of magic to the Magic Castle, a private club in Hollywood that is a mecca for enthusiasts of the magical arts, and the inspiration for his latest endeavor. “I went [to the Magic Castle] for the first time when I was eight years old and was captivated,” Miller says. “It’s a long ride to Hollywood from here, so we wanted to bring something similar to Nashville.”
Florida Georgia Line Complex by Lorie Hollabaugh
NASHVILLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
lorida Georgia Line is probably best known for smash hits like Cruise and their recent monster crossover hit with Bebe Rexha, Meant to Be. But lately the duo is extending their partnership into several entertainment ventures in Music City that are demonstrating just how much vision and creativity the two possess. Following the opening of their downtown Nashville restaurant complex FGL House, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley purchased two properties in Hillsboro Village near Music Row and began transforming them into a beautiful campus that now houses the Vibe House studio, their publishing company Tree Vibez Music, a shared meeting space called Meet + Greet, and a brick-and-mortar store showcasing Brittney and Brian Kelley’s clothing line, Tribe Kelley. While it was under construction, the duo even set up a giant teepee on the front lawn, a nod to the Tribe Kelley brand and the philosophy behind it. The spaces are open, clean-lined, and modern, yet warm and inviting, and all of the buildings feature outdoor patios and areas for quiet reflection during breaks. And the Meet + Greet space and the Tribe Kelley store are both accessible to the public. Memberships to join Meet + Greet are available for purchase and offer a variety of communal office work and meeting spaces for any type of event or need, designed with New York’s Soho House in mind. The front of the building houses a coffee shop open to the public that serves up delicious Crema coffee and beverages to passersby who stop in and are eager to take advantage of the property’s beautiful, spacious front porch that is shaded by gorgeous tall trees and adorned with twinkling lights. Meet + Greet patrons are able to occasionally catch a glimpse of Kelley and
JUSTIN MRUSEK JUSTIN MRUSEK
Previous page photos, top: Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line. Middle: A teepee stands in frong of Meet + Greet. The teepee is a nod to the brand of clothing sold at the Tribe Kelly store in Meet + Greet (bottom photo). This page, more photos of Brittney and Brian Kelley’s clothing line, Tribe Kelley. Brittney and Brian Kelly discuss thier line of clothing.
Hubbard and other artists gathering in one of the second-floor studio spaces. The duo’s brand-new studio is already becoming a popular hang and work space for fellow writers and producers like Corey Crowder, who was laying down some tracks the day we visited the shining new facility. RaeLynn, Lady A’s Charles Kelley and many other artists have also taken advantage of the space, which offers writers rooms and several outdoor patios adjacent to the studios filled with fresh air and inspiration from the natural surroundings. The crown jewel of the complex might just be the Tribe Kelley outpost. It’s where patrons can find beautiful pieces from the Kelleys’ clothing line and amazing accessories all displayed amid a backdrop of glistening crystals
and geodes and breathtaking chandeliers and lighting fixtures made of crystals. The stylish dressing room area will inspire even the most reluctant buyer to try something on, and the antiques personally selected by the Kelleys during their travels only heighten the store’s aesthetic quality. The shop was clearly designed to produce good vibes and positive energy, and a Native American smudge stick sits at the front counter of the store, ready for lighting to cleanse and restore peace, balance and harmony to the space. The entire complex exudes those same vibes, in fact, and Kelley and Hubbard have added something special to the Nashville landscape that the city and creative community can cherish, be proud of and enjoy for years to come.
PHOTOS BY ED RODE
Log cabin built in 1820 houses gift shop, tasting room and offices.
Leipers Fork Distillery LEIPER’S FORK DISTILLERY BRINGS BACK THE ART OF DISTILLATION TO A COUNTY THAT ONCE THRIVED ON IT by Melonee Hurt
ee Kennedy, owner and distiller at Leiper’s Fork Distillery, got his start in the business at age 16 when he built a rogue whiskey still in his mother’s basement. But Kennedy wasn’t only in it for the lure of breaking the law and being a rebel teen. He had a genuine fascination with the process and the art of making whiskey. It’s a fascination that never left. It only intensified as he dove deeper into the history, the science and the heritage behind the art of distilling grains into whiskeys and bourbons. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more schooled on the history of whiskey production in Tennessee than Kennedy and his right-hand man and longtime friend, Catlin Christian. Kennedy’s also got an honorary degree in milling grain, mashing grain, fermentation, distillation and barreling. Or to hear him say it, “hillbilly science.” “I just love it. I’ve always loved the science and the history of whiskey production,” Kennedy says. “It’s been a part of the fabric of the culture of Tennessee. Before Prohibition, distilling was the largest manufacturing industry in Tennessee. You had Scotland,
Lee Kennedy, owner and distiller.
Ireland, Tennessee and Kentucky as the four main whiskey production regions.” Kennedy, who had been sitting on about 30 acres of land in bucolic Leiper’s Fork, saw an opportunity in that ongoing fascination with distilling spirits. He spent three years convincing Williamson County to change its law prohibiting whiskey production. In April 2016 he started legally distilling, and six months later Kennedy opened to the public. The distillation process takes time, and artisans like Kennedy and his team are willing to take as long as the process warrants. “It’s whiskey when it comes off the still, but it changes as it interacts with the barrel. The whiskey gets 100 percent of its color from the white oak barrels we store it in,” he explains. “Once it’s in the barrel, it won’t see the light of day for five years.” The grains used in Kennedy’s whiskey are local, with corn and wheat grown within a five-mile radius of the distillery and the barley and rye grown just a bit farther up the road. The water, a key ingredient to making good whiskey, is limestone-filtered. Leiper’s Fork Distillery currently has roughly 400 barrels of whiskey in storage that will become their signature Leiper’s Fork brand
A look inside the distillery.
whiskeys as they age out beginning next year. In the meantime, the distillery bottles nineyear-old bourbon, Hunter’s Select Barrel, which is hand-picked by Kennedy himself in limited batches from a nearby Tennessee barrel house. The distillery also produces and sells two white whiskeys under the Old Natchez Trace brand. “I bought this property from Col. Hunter’s fifth great-granddaughter,” Kennedy says. “He’s buried 700 yards from the property. He set up a little distillery outside of the Leiper’s Fork village in the 1800s. In honor of him, we brought his brand back to tell his story.” Kennedy said the distillery produces about 500 barrels or 25,000 gallons of spirits per year. Once the bourbon and whiskey have aged, the distillery will distribute about 125,000 bottles a year. In the meantime, the main goal is to get as many visitors to Leiper’s Fork and the distillery. Even though the first barrel truly produced onsite won’t be bottled until 2019, the distillery saw in excess of 10,000 visitors in its first year, and it’s on track to see a 50 percent increase in 2018. That includes people from 60 countries and all 50 states. “We guide visitors through the history and the process of making whiskey,” he says. “We tell them a great story, and their patronage helps us fill whiskey barrels.” Distillery tours happen year-round Tuesday through Saturday, and between April and November there’s live music on the front porch with a cocktail bar. Other events such as songwriters’ nights and seasonal celebrations happen as well. Check www.leipersforkdistillery. com for details.
Left: Jay Allen and his mom. Jay’s mom is a resident of Abe’s Garden. Center, a resident of Abe’s Garden interacts with a caretaker. Right: Resident’s of Abe’s Garden.
Abe’s Garden by Janet Morris Grimes
Center for Quality Aging, they utilize ongoing research as a catalyst for every care choice, and they exist to share that valuable
information with a nation in search of answers. The statistics regarding Alzheimer’s are staggering. There are currently more than 5
ashville lost country legend Glen Campbell in August 2017 after a public battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Shortly thereafter, Kim Campbell, Glen’s wife of 34 years, revealed Campbell had become one of the first residents of newly established Abe’s Garden. It was within these walls that Campbell spent his final days. Kim Campbell and celebrities such as Amy Grant, Kelly Clarkson, Alison Krauss and newcomer Jay Allen (see sidebar) continue to lend their talents and voices in support of the mission of Abe’s Garden. And for good reason; each of their lives has been affected personally by the disease, making them front-line soldiers in the ongoing fight against Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Abe’s Garden officially opened in September 2015 after a decade of intense research and planning. It is truly one of Nashville’s hidden treasures. Built on the campus of the Park Manor Senior Living Complex off Woodmont Boulevard, it is named after Abram Schmerling, a beloved local physician known for serving all echelons of the community, regardless of their ability to pay. After Dr. Schmerling succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 2006, his children magnified all they learned throughout his 10-year illness and used it to launch a stateof-the-art facility, specifically designed to meet the needs of those with dementia. But Abe’s Garden, as a not-for-profit organization, is much more than a 42-bed facility, with its outreach expanding across the nation. By partnering with Vanderbilt’s
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JAY ALLEN “There’s a voicemail that I keep. I listen to it just to hear you speak. ‘Hey Son’ turns to silence just like that. No ‘I love you’ or ‘Good-bye’ Like you saw the phone in your hand and you didn’t know why It’s crazy how you come and go so fast. . . . Deep down, somewhere, I swear I still see you Between the blank stares. . . .”
ising star Jay Allen belts out the lyrics to his latest hit, Blank Stares, with a crack in his voice and tears in his eyes. It’s so much more than a debut song. This is his life. His fight. And it’s a battle he’s losing quickly. “My mom is 53 years old and suffers from a rare form
of early-onset Alzheimer’s. There are seven stages, and she has recently entered the final stage,” he explains. “Being the oldest and the only son, I’ve always been the ‘fixer’ in the family, but this is something I can’t fix.” Blank Stares, the gift of a song offered in surrender to his mother’s disease, may serve as the catapult to Allen’s career. Within a few weeks of its release, Allen received a call from Troy Tomlinson, president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Tomlinson, who now serves on the board of directors for Abe’s Garden, had lost his father to Alzheimer’s and was so moved by the song he called Allen directly. Allen soon signed a recording contract with Sony/ATV and has donated all proceeds from Blank Stares to support Abe’s Garden. He is steadily working on his debut album, yet untitled, which is set for release in late 2018. For additional info on Jay Allen, visit http:// jayallenofficial.com/.
million confirmed cases in the U.S., and someone is diagnosed every 67 seconds. At this time there is no cure or proven treatment to slow the progression of this disease. Abe’s Garden serves as a beacon of light in a bleak sea of reality by spotlighting what can be done to improve the quality of life for both patients and caregivers. The difference begins at the main entrance. Every feature, from the placement of doorways to the choice of lighting, is by design. As residents take ownership of the garden, prepare snacks, or create flower arrangements for family dining tables, even those details are based on proven research. The facility itself feels like home, from the furniture to the books on the shelves. From screened-in porches to pets and plants. Picture windows overlook the herb and vegetable garden and the outdoor fire pit, which was built by a local Boy Scout troop. Exercise rooms are easily accessible, while art and music rooms inspire creativity. The open kitchen and in-house chefs allow the aroma of fresh bacon or cookies baking in the oven to waft across the living areas. With activities such as big band nights and talent shows featuring the residents themselves, families and friends are always welcome. But the outreach of Abe’s Garden goes well beyond the walls and paved pathways that lead to its vegetable garden. With in-home assessments and day and community care programs, they provide support from the point of diagnosis to create a plan of action specific to each individual in their own environment. As a site of research and teaching, each day is an experiment. And each day, a success. For this reason, the most valuable resource they offer may be hope. For a list of volunteer opportunities or ways to support this mission, please visit https://www.abesgarden.org. Kim Campbell also launched her own organization to support caregivers, called CareLiving. For more information, please visit http://www.careliving.org/. For an ongoing series of free caregiving videos, please subscribe to the Abe’s Garden YouTube channel.
Third Coast Comedy THIRD COAST COMEDY BECOMES A HOME FOR NASHVILLE’S COMEDY AND IMPROV CROWD by Melonee Hurt
ashville’s songwriters have a mother church, and it’s called the Bluebird Café. National music acts have the Ryman Auditorium. Now, Nashville’s comedians have a home at Third Coast Comedy. Started by Luke Watson and Scott Field, both budding comedians who were directing improv groups around town, Third Coast Comedy is a comedy club, an improv stage, a school for those honing their craft, and the home to what is possibly Nashville’s only drag show, aptly named “SheHaw.” The club arose out of Scott and Luke’s frustrations with having to search for venues every month to host their improv groups. “We didn’t have a home, so we were having to contract with a new venue every month,” Watson says. “It was tiring and frustrating, constantly being on the search for a home. I decided I was either going to find us a home or quit. Scott said he was interested, so we started looking.” A year later the two took second mortgages on their homes, launched a Kickstarter campaign and cashed in their personal savings accounts to make Third Coast a reality. The space in Marathon Village became available, and the two embarked on a full-scale,
Scott Field and Luke Watson, Third Coast founders.
grassroots, fixer-upper project to turn the former warehouse space into a comedy club. Since September 2016 that gamble has paid off. Watson and Field have watched as improv shows have sold out and comedy classes filled their calendar as a mix of regulars and tourists have appreciated and enjoyed their hard work. “Each season is three months, and we will do 150 shows in a season ranging from improv, sketch comedy, stand-up, variety shows and a drag show,” Watson says. “We love taking risks and giving time to people who have an experimental show.” The intimate venue, which seats 99 people, also has a full bar and a food menu and, despite no real marketing budget, has relied on wordof-mouth to fill seats. Thanks to social media and review websites such as TripAdvisor, where you will find comments such as “We were very impressed” and “Favorite place in Nashville,” word is spreading like wildfire. Long term, Watson says he and Fields would love to have enough space so they don’t have to turn anyone away at the door. They are also developing a comedy training center that has 90 students at eight levels. What is the appeal of a comedy show without any big-name comedians? Watson says it’s really a show for everyone. “It’s a show where the audience is part of the experience, and that experience is being created right in front of them,” he says. “It’s real life and is relatable to everyone.” For more information on the performance schedule or classes, visit www.thirdcoastcomedy. com.
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Encore Dining House of Cards
House of Cards is Nashville’s newest and most unique dining experience. Located underground, the venue offers an evening unlike any other in the history of the South. To further enhance the experience, House of Cards has a dress code and no-photography policy to ensure the privacy of guests. Reservations are required for the dining room, walk ins are welcome at the bar. Complimentary tickets to magic performances in the showroom are included with purchase of a dinner entrée. Ph: (615)730-8326 | 119 3rd Ave S, Lower Level | www.HOCNashville.com
Luke’s 32 Bridge
Take in an awe-inspiring view from the multi-level rooftop that features Nashville’s only rooftop Sushi Bar and enjoy a menu inspired by some of Luke’s favorite Southern and American cuisine at the signature restaurant. 301 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201 | www.Lukes32Bridge.com
The Brazilian Steakhouse Rodizio Grill is the authentic Brazilian Churascarria (Steakhouse) experience. Rodizio brings the warmth, alegria, style and flavor of Brazil to Nashville. Guests graze on unlimited starters, a gourmet salad and side area and then feast on a continuous rotation of fresh rotisserie grilled meats. Private and Banquet rooms available. Valet Parking. Reservations Accepted. Ph: (615)730-8358. | 166 Second Ave. N. | www.rodiziogrill.com/nashville
Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant
Where fun is cooked up fondue style. Join us for Cheese and Chocolate fondue or the full 4-course experience. Casually elegant – Always Fun. Open 7 Days for dinner. Sundays after the Matinee. Valet Parking. Reservations Recommended. Ph: (615)742-4970. | 166 Second Ave. N. | www.meltingpot.com/nashville
Texas de Brazil
Texas de Brazil is a Brazilian steakhouse, or churrascaria, that features endless servings of flamegrilled beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and Brazilian sausage as well as an extravagant salad area with a wide array of seasonal chef-crafted items. Group dining packages and private space available. Valet parking. Ph:(615)320-0013 | 210 25th Ave. N. Suite 110 | www.texasdebrazil.com
At Sambuca, we think friends, family, food and fun are what life should be about. Our philosophy is shared with all who walk into our restaurants. Sambuca features savory new American food and modern cocktails that will tempt any palate and nourish the soul. Our nightly live music will engage our guests in the energetic vibe of the restaurant, reminding them to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. We throw a party ---a really great party---for our guests every night! Ph: (615)248-2888 | 601 12th Ave. S. | www.Nashville.SambucaRestaurant.com
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Predators shaking hands at the end of another playoff run.
Nashville Predators David Poile by Steve Cook
he Nashville Predators have seen their fair share of ups and downs during their 20 years of existence. Early struggles with financial instability eventually gave way to prosperity. Perennial finishes at the bottom of the National Hockey League’s Central Division have disappeared in favor of annual playoff appearances. As a result, a nontraditional hockey market has become one of the best cities to catch a game in. There has also been one constant during the past 20 years
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of Nashville hockey. The same man who signed David Legwand as the first Nashville Predator still serves as general manager and president of hockey operations. David Poile has spent the last two decades guiding the Predators organization toward the top of the NHL. He spent the 15 years before joining the Nashville franchise in Washington, D.C., as general manager of the Capitals. In the process his creativity and willingness to take calculated risks have helped him become the
longest-serving and winningest general manager in NHL history. Poile was born to be in hockey. His father, Norman “Bud” Poile, spent parts of seven seasons as a player in the NHL and went into team management once his playing career was over. Bud served as general manager for two NHL expansion teams: the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks. It was an easy choice for son David to follow his father into the game. After playing at Northeastern University, David went directly into the management side of the NHL, getting a job as an administrative assistant with the newly founded Atlanta Flames. Poile impressed everyone he worked with during his years in Atlanta, and later Calgary, with his work ethic and knowledge.
MARC SANCHEZ / ICON SPORTSWIRE
David Poile acceptiong the NHL General Manager of the Year Award.
In 1982, Poile went to Washington to take the general manager job with the Capitals. The franchise had struggled through its first eight years with few wins and poor attendance. Talk of the team leaving Washington ceased soon after Poile’s arrival. He wasted no time making moves and building the Capitals into a winner, as evidenced by the fact that Washington qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs 14 consecutive years under Poile’s management.
While the team never reached the ultimate goal of lifting the Cup, Poile succeeded in making the Capitals a viable franchise and perennial contender during his years in Washington. Poile then packed his bags for Nashville. It was his chance to get the first crack at running a new franchise as his father had earlier done in Philadelphia and Vancouver. Nashville was quite the challenge early on for Poile. Predators teams routinely had the lowest payroll in the
NHL due to ownership not wanting to spend too much thanks to financial difficulties, and high-priced free agents weren’t an option, nor was acquiring stars via trade. Instead, Poile had to draft well and be patient. The Predators finally made the playoffs in year six, and the team has since qualified during 11 of the last 14 seasons. Once the franchise got stable ownership and the playing field was leveled, Poile felt freer to take more risks. Many NHL general managers are afraid to make changes because the wrong move is a good way to get fired. Poile has made a number of trades, giving up top talent in the effort to make his team better. Wayne Gretzky said that you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Poile has taken that mentality to management. If you’re going to support his team, you might not want to get too attached to a certain player. If Poile believes he can improve his team by dispatching a key player, nobody’s safe. Shea Weber was the Predators’ captain for six years and their most popular player. Most GMs are reluctant to trade their captain, unless they want to go play for a contender or have become a cancer in the locker room. Weber fell into neither of those categories. But when Poile was offered a younger defenseman that he felt would improve the team’s chances of winning a Stanley Cup in the long run, he made his move and traded Weber to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for P.K. Subban. So far things have worked out well. While Poile is willing to take chances and certainly demands results from his employees, he also values stability. He may have had three head coaches during his time in Washington, but he has hired only two during his time in Nashville. One of the Predators’ keys to longterm success has been consistency in the head coach and general manager positions. It’s a good bet David Poile will be general manager of the Nashville Predators for as long as he feels like doing the job. As long as that’s the case, Nashville Predators fans can count on seeing a lot of excitement inside Bridgestone Arena.
Amy Adams Strunk THE TITANS’ CONTROLLING OWNER HAS FOOTBALL IN HER BLOOD byTracy Marsh
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s a child growing up in Texas, Amy Adams Strunk spent hours at her family’s kitchen table listening to her dad talk shop. He conducted a lot of business there. It’s tough to say whether Strunk’s interest in his dealings stemmed from a simple childlike curiosity or a desire to one day step into her father’s shoes. But it’s a good thing she was listening. Strunk is now controlling owner of the National Football League franchise her late father, K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr., founded in 1960. A charter member of the American Football League (which itself was co-founded by Bud Adams), the Houston Oilers joined the NFL as part of the AFL-NFL merger in the late sixties, relocated to Tennessee in 1997, and were officially christened the Tennessee Titans two years later. When Bud Adams died in October 2013, his children inherited the franchise. Following a two-year stint during which her sister, Susie Adams Smith, served as controlling owner, Strunk took over that post in March 2015. The transition made her one of only seven female owners in the NFL. At the time, the Titans were in a slump. They hadn’t made the playoffs since 2008, and had posted only one winning season in the years that followed. But Strunk, who says she’s always up for a challenge, was undaunted. She immediately set about making changes for the struggling team. In January 2016, she named Jon Robinson as general manager, Steve Underwood as president and CEO, and Mike Mularkey as head coach. She also led a $15 million remodel inside Nissan Stadium, plus hefty improvements at Saint Thomas Sports Park, the team’s practice facility. Those off-the-field adjustments helped
Amy Adams Strunk and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing Nashville will be home to the 2019 NFL Draft.
turn the tide for the Titans on the gridiron. In Mularkey’s first season as head coach, the team delivered a six-win improvement, matching the greatest single-season turnaround in franchise history. They logged back-to-back winning seasons, battling their way to the playoffs in 2017 when they finished second in the AFC South, behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. Through it all, Strunk has maintained a low public profile. But while she may seem a bit of an enigma to Titans fans, she’s certainly no stranger to business. She owns and serves as president of both Little River Oil & Gas Company and Kenada Farms, a fox hunting group. And for more than three decades, she’s played a leading role in her family’s various farming and ranching endeavors in Texas, where she resides with her husband, Bill. (The couple also owns a home in Nashville.) Just as those businesses are part of her family legacy, so is the Titans franchise. And Strunk does not take lightly the responsibility of carrying it forward. To continue moving the chains for the team, she made another round of high-profile decisions at the conclusion of the 2017 season. The first was hiring former Houston Texans Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel as the Titans’ new head coach, after a split with Mularkey over the direction of the team. The second was outfitting the players with new
uniforms, their first makeover since 1999. Strunk personally worked with Nike to create that new look, one that heavily plays up the sword design in the team’s logo. It was a long process, but one she says she wanted to get just right. The new uniforms were unveiled in April, during an epic block party in downtown Nashville complete with fireworks and a concert by the band Florida Georgia Line. Free and open to the public, the event drew a crowd more than 15,000 strong and represented another commitment Strunk takes seriously— making things fun for the fans. The enthusiasm and turnout at the uniform unveiling helped to bolster the bid by Strunk and the Titans organization to bring the 2019 NFL draft to Music City. The league declared Nashville the next host city in late April, and the hotly anticipated event will be particularly special since 2019 marks the NFL’s 100th anniversary. Football history is being written in Nashville. Though no one knows how the most recent changes Strunk made—new head coach and new uniforms—will affect the Titans when they take the field this fall, one thing is for certain (and has been since those childhood study sessions over breakfast): Football is in Strunk’s blood. And she’ll keep tackling challenges headon, for the Titans and their fans.
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Anderson East, MTSU alum, recording artist, and composer Joshua Black Wilkins
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Enjoy an awe-inspiring view from the multi-level rooftop that features Nashville’s only rooftop Sushi Bar with Chef Nick Phrommala. Chef Tomasz Wosiak helms the LUKE’S 32 BRIDGE FOOD + DRINK signature restaurant where he has created a menu inspired by some of Luke's favorites with special twists on Southern and American cuisine including steaks, burgers, salads and BBQ. View Luke's 32 Bridge Signature Restaurant and Sushi Bar Menus at lukes32bridge.com
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Visit us in our new expanded location. Shop for home furnishings, hardware, paint, appliances and more! Donate your gently used home or office items and help fund affordable homeownership. Drop off during regular business hours or free pickup for big items by calling 615-942-1290.
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The creative community at Belmont’s College of Visual & Performing Arts offers an opportunity for creative and personal growth that leads to meaningful artistic and career outcomes. To learn more about our internationally-recognized, nationally-accredited programs and performances, visit BELMONT.EDU/CREATIVECOMMUNITY. A R T • M U S I C • T H E AT R E • D A N C E FA S H I O N • I N T E R I O R D E S I G N