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MUSICCITYMUDBUG.com # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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Wherever you like to ride, Cumberland Transit has a great selection of bikes, from weekend cruisers to everyday commuters to high-end road bikes. If you’re considering getting some new wheels, we’d love to help find the perfect fit for you.

CUMBERLAND TRANSIT HAS THE GEAR, THE CLOTHING, AND THE EXPERT ADVICE YOU NEED TO GET THE MOST OF YOUR OUTDOOR ADVENTURES!

2807 WEST END AVE & 1900 EASTLAND AVE SUITE 101

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Memor

ial Da

Canne

Satur

y Week

r y R o we n d

day, M

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Featuring:

MIKKY EKKO | SOL CAT | ELEL | DANIEL ELLSWORTH & THE GREAT LAKES | DEROBERT & THE HALF-TRUTHS | THE GET TOGETHERS | KANSAS BIBLE COMPANY | KYLE ANDREWS | GED SOUL REVIEW | AJ & THE JIGGAWATTS

MUSICCITYMUDBUG.com

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TABLE OF CONTENTS MAY 2014

60

48 28

THE GOODS

80 20 38

19 Beer from Here 20 Cocktail of the Month 23 Master Platers 100 Hey Good Lookin’ 103 You Oughta Know 106 Overheard @ NATIVE 108 Observatory 112 Animal of the Month

FEATURES 28 Brothers in the Night 38 Take Me Out to the (Really) Old Ball Game 48 The Last Gold Rush 60 Bikes Over Cars 70 A Sustainable Pint 80 Imperfectly Perfect 92 King of Coffee

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RESPECT YOUR ROOTS.

We are an independent record label born and bred in Nashville, TN. We produce no-bullshit homegrown music for everyone.

WE’RE NASHVILLE, DAMMIT.

OUR ARTISTS: BOBBY BARE • PAUL BURCH • BUZZ CASON • CHEETAH CHROME • CHUCK MEAD • THE GHOST WOLVES • JD WILKES & THE DIRTDAUBERS • PLUS JASON ISBELL, POKEY LAFARGE, AND FRANK BLACK ON A SMOKIN’ EDDY ARNOLD TRIBUTE

THE GHOST WOLVES MAN, WOMAN, BEAST LP/CD/DD

OUT MAY 27 # N AT IVE N ASH VI LLE

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VISIT PLOWBOYRECORDS.COM VISI

FOR NEW RELEASES


DEAR NATIVES,

W

e all know that the queen bee is at the center of her colony. And while it may seem like this job is all play, no work, we found out she has way less sex than we thought (only for about 4 or 5 days in her entire life). The rest of the time, she’s busy laying up to 2,000 eggs per day. That’s 60,000 children with no alimony from any of the deadbeat dads. Luckily, her kids are little more reliable: one colony of honey bees can spread pollen to up to 300 million flowers each day. That ends up being about 80% of the world’s pollination. It takes a village, so to say. Our features this month may seem like they’re in all-play, no-work positions, but like the queen bee, they’re deceptively prolific. Like Irma Paz-Bernstein, owner of Las Paletas, who’s spreading one of Mexico’s most common sweet treats to Nashville. And Bob Bernstein (a.k.a. “Bongo Bob”), who’s spreading sustainable, organic, local and fair trade “stuff” to neighborhoods around town. Or RUSH Bicycle Messengers’ Dave Thienel, who’s spreading Nashville’s biking community, a culture normally reserved for “roadsters,” to any Nashville commuter looking for an alternative to heavy car traffic. Or Michael Kwas and Steve Scoville of Little Harpeth Brewing, who are spreading sustainably-crafted beers to local bars. Finally, there’s Jay Williams of Williams Honey Farm. When he heard about Colony Collapse Disorder, he changed his life to help save the bees (and us, for that matter). We’d tell you what he’s spreading, but we think you get the picture. Entrepreneur Derek Sivers once said, “If you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow and show others how to follow.” Nashville is growing rapidly not just because of the incredible leaders in this issue, but because of the community that is supporting them and spreading the love. Whether you’re starting something new or supporting something great, we thank you for making Nashville a little sweeter. Cheers,

president, founder:

ANGELIQUE PITTMAN JON PITTMAN associate publisher:  KATRINA HARTWIG publisher, founder: 

founder, brand director:

DAVE PITTMAN

founder, senior

account executive:

CAYLA MACKEY

creative director:

MACKENZIE MOORE

managing editor: 

CHARLIE HICKERSON DARCIE CLEMON

art director: 

COURTNEY SPENCER

editor:

community relations manager:

JOE CLEMONS

account manager:

AYLA SITZES

web editor:

TAYLOR RABOIN

film supervisor:

CASEY FULLER

          writers: photographers:

editorial interns:

p.r. interns:

DANIELLE ATKINS WILL HOLLAND MELISSA MADISON FULLER SARAH B. GILLIAM RYAN GREEN EMILY B. HALL ABIGAIL BOBO ELI MCFADDEN JON KARR ISAAC LADD

LINDSEY BUTTON LAUREN ROGERS

founding team:

MATTHEW LEFF CHARLIE HICKERSON JONAH ELLER-ISAACS BECCA HILL MATT COLANGELO LAUREN ROGERS HENRY PILE MELANIE SHELLEY PHILIP OBENSCHAIN

COLE BEARDEN EMILY FROST KELSEY HUTCHINSON

MACKENZIE MOORE JOSHUA SIRCHIO TAYLOR RABOIN

want to work at native? contact:

WORK@NATIVE.IS SALES@NATIVE.IS for all other inquiries: HELLO@NATIVE.IS to advertise, contact:

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VIES MO AT T H E

SCHERMERHORN See these classic movies on a big screen while the Nashville Symphony performs the score LIVE!

JUNE 13

WITH THE NASHVILLE SYMPHONY

JUNE 20

WITH THE NASHVILLE SYMPHONY

JUNE 27 BUY TICKETS AT:

NashvilleSymphony.org 615.687.6400 # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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M E N ' S STO R E • CUSTO M C LOT H I N G B A R • B A R B E R S H O P

PRESENTS

TASTEMAKERS POP UP SHOP & BRUNCH EVENTS

PREVIEW AND SHOP OUR BRANDS BEFORE OUR OPENING AS WE PARTNER WITH:

M AY 1 7 T H & 1 8 T H H POP NASHVILLE W I T H ACT UA L FO O D S 11AM - 4PM

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M AY 2 5 T H H POP NASHVILLE W I T H ACT UA L FO O D S 11AM - 4PM

ALDEN BOOT COMPANY • BARBOUR STEVE MCQUEEN • DEUS EX MACHINA • GITMAN VINTAGE • FAHERTY BRAND • FARIBAULT WOOLEN MILLS • THE HILLSIDE • HAMILTON 1883 • IMPERIAL BARBER PRODUCTS • IRON & RESIN • JACK SPADE • LBM 1911 • LEVI'S XX VINTAGE CLOTHING • LIFE AFTER DENIM • NAKED & FAMOUS DENIM • NEW BALANCE MADE IN USA • NEW ENGLAND SHIRT CO. P.F. FLYERS • RALEIGH DENIM WORKSHOP • RICHER POORER • TODD SNYDER + CHAMPION • SOUTHWICK CLOTHES • SAVE KHAKI UNITED • THE WEST IS DEAD • WILL LEATHER GOODS • WOOLRICH • WOLVERINE 1K MILE

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FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EVENTS & OUR OPENING GO TO / / / / / / / / / / / / / / ////// # N AT IVE N ASH VI LLE WWW.HAYMAKERSANDCO.COM


ANITRA BRUMAGEN WRESTLED WITH THE WILDERNESS AND CAME OUT A DIFFERENT CREATIVE PERSON She came here in 2004 to act in The Wrestling Season at Nashville Children’s Theater. She expected to complete the five-week show and then move on. However, Nashville has a way of attracting creative people, changing their plans, and finding new outlets for them to explore. In Anitra’s case, change came when she met her now husband (also an actor) her first week here. The five weeks turned into five separate shows her first year, nine years at Fido, and 10 years in Nashville (Anitra and Matt celebrated their 10-year dating anniversary in April). The couple spent their honeymoon walking the Appalachian Trail. The two returned too late for general auditions for all Nashville theater companies, meaning they weren’t likely to get acting jobs in 2008. “A six-month wilderness experience can change your lens on life,” she says. “Both of us found our priorities shifting inward. Performance requires a good amount of outward energy. We began to find personal goals more attractive than external ones.” Thus, Anitra began urban gardening and Matt turned to woodworking. Anitra is the Front Manager at Fido and helped create an urban garden in our East Nashville empty lot. If she’s not at the café eating a Big Chop Salad topped with a veggie burger patty, she’s likely tending a garden or at home sipping wine.

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BLACKSTONE BREWING COMPANY

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The Piscopo

“This is a marriage between a pisco sour and a negroni. Named after Joe Piscopo.” —Ben Clemons

THE GOODS 1.5 oz BarSol Pisco Primero Quebranta .75 oz Cherry Heering Liquor .5 oz Campari .25 oz lime juice 1 egg white F Shake all ingredients and double strain into a freshly iced coupe glass. Express zested orange peel over glass and discard. Garnish with a skewered brandied cherry. —Ben Clemons and Brice Hoffman, No. 308

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burgers

Come check out ouu nee bbb li!

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craft beer

BB B t f a r D 0 3 GULCH:

420 11th Avenue South (615) 915-1943

shakes

BB B t f a r D 0 2 LENOX:

6900 Lenox Village Dr. Ste 22 (615) 499-4428


SMOKED HONEY-GLAZED CHICKEN WITH CHERRY TOMATO RELISH

BROUGHT TO YOU BY ABE TSAVALAKOGLOU, HOUSE CHEF AT BOONE AND SONS F NATIVE: What is Nashville’s best kept culinary secret? F ABE: Nashville’s best kept culinary secret is a toughie. If I were to have one last Nashville meal, it would definitely be The Peg Leg Porker. They are the undisputed masters of pork ribs by a landslide!

THE GOODS: FOR THE CHICKEN: 1/2 chicken 1 T oil 2 T salt 1/2 t pepper 1/2 t granulated garlic 1/2 t granulated onion 1 T paprika 1/2 t ground cumin 1/2 t cayenne pepper 2 T Tennessee honey

DIRECTIONS: F Mix all dry ingredients, lightly oil chicken, and season liberally. F Smoke, grill, or roast until cooked 165°F. F Drizzle honey and broil 60–90 seconds. FOR THE CASTELVETRANO RELISH: 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered 1 shallot, micro diced 1 T chopped parsley 8–10 castelvetrano olives, quartered* 6–8 Spanish olives, quartered* 1/2 t lemon zest 1 T extra virgin olive oil Pinch salt and pepper Squeeze of half a lemon

DIRECTIONS: F Mix all ingredients, season, and dress. F Remove from fridge 30 minutes prior to serving. * Sub any olives you would like

PHOTO BY DANIELLE ATKINS

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BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PARTNERSHIP FOR BIKE FUN 24 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / //////

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CALENDAR OF EVENTS SNAPSHOT WEEK ONE:

Saturday, May 3rd Bike Month Kick-Off: Sevier Park Criterium Race and Festival

WEEK TWO:

Wednesday, May 7th Ride for Reading: free event T-shirt to every volunteer. We will ride the four miles to the Napier Elementary School where we will be greeted by hundreds of excited, screaming children, Nashville’s Mayor Karl Dean, parents, and community members Friday, May 7th ReCYCLE for Kids: Hands On Nashville will give away refurbished children’s bikes to kids served by our local nonprofit community

WEEK THREE:

Wednesday, May 14th–16th The Tennessee Bike Summit: The Tennessee Bike Summit brings together advocates, engineers, planners, and business owners to learn best practices for advancing cycling in our state Saturday, May 17th Tour de Nash: Join Walk/Bike Nashville for the tenth annual Tour de Nash, which highlights Nashville’s expanding network of bikeways and greenways. Nine-, 30-, and 60-mile rides are suitable for cyclists of all skill levels

WEEK FOUR:

Saturday, May 24th Music City Mudbug Festival: Free beer if you bike valet!

WEEK FIVE:

Saturday, May 31st Music City Bike Swap: Big bike swap!

FOR A FULL LIST OF TIMES & EVENTS, VISIT NASHVILLEBIKEMONTH.COM

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THURSDAY NIGHT THINGS A CURATED SERIES OF UNEXPECTED COLLABORATIONS BY NASHVILLE-BASED ARTISTS

ZI EGFE L D GIRLS An immersive photo exhibition of glamorous Nashvillians + a modern variety show featuring the stars of the portraits.

Experience the lost aesthetic of the 1920's. created by Hunter Armistead

MAY 15, 2014 | doors at 5:30pm | tickets: $5 O Z N A S H VIL L E . C O M 6172 Cockr ill Bend Ci rcl e, Nashvi l l e, TN 37209 26 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / //////

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HOW THE WEEKS WENT FROM BRIBING THEIR WAY INTO DIVE BARS TO PLAYING FOR 20,000 PEOPLE IN LONDON 28 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / //////

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BY CHARLIE HICKERSON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY WILL HOLLAND

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It’s just before sundown, and I’m pulled over on a country road. To my left, there’s an elderly man push-mowing in an off-white, sweat-stained tank top. Behind him, a tattered Confederate flag hangs from a dilapidated farm house. He nods before staring me down through the open window of my Volvo, and suddenly I notice it’s just me, this proud son of the Confederacy, and the rolling hills of Pegram, Tennessee, out here. I double-check my GPS and look back across the street—this guy’s not straight out of Deliverance, but he’s not straight out of Andy Griffith, either. Let’s just say I’m glad the sun isn’t down quite yet. “Yeah man, you see that hill? It’s the big one up there,” Damien Bone (known to his bandmates as “D-Bone”), The Weeks’ bass player, says in an

even-keeled Southern drawl. Through spotty cell reception (Toto, we’re not in “America’s most reliable network” anymore), I learn that I’ve driven too far. I turn around, and on the way up said hill, there’s a dying tulip poplar with a “No Trespassing” sign tacked to it. At the top, an overturned mini tractor lies half-buried in mulch like metallic driftwood on a redneck beach. Welcome to Chateau de Weeks. If there were a Better Home and Gardens for the twentyfour-year-old Nashville dude, the inside of this place would be on the cover. Empty Budweiser bottles. Xbox controllers. Overflowing ashtrays. Les Pauls precariously balanced on mismatched loveseats and ottomans. A mysterious layer of grime thickly coating most of the flat surfaces. I don’t see a rug, but if there were one, it’d

be like the Big Lebowski got his own shitty HGTV show and The Weeks were his first guests. “This,” says keyboardist and latest addition to The Weeks, Alex “Admiral” Collier, grinning while cradling a timid calico, “is Mr. Sippy Moonshine.” He looks down, pointing with his free hand. “That’s Dino.” Dino doesn’t share Admiral’s enthusiasm, and as soon I look down at the cat he retreats to the kitchen counter, where frontman Cyle Barnes intently rolls a joint. Cyle’s twin brother, drummer Cain, is scanning the fridge for beer, while guitarist Samuel Williams makes his way up to the living room from the basement. Now together in the kitchen, the guys look like a cross between the Allman Brothers, the Ramones, and Rufio and the Lost Boys. As greetings are exchanged and beers are dis-

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THE WEEKS: theweeksmusic.com Follow on Facebook or Twitter @theweeks native.is/the-weeks

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tributed, I realize that this kind of scene is the heart of Jackson, Mississippi, natives The Weeks. Even after opening for Kings of Leon in London, signing with Serpents and Snakes Records, and playing the likes of Bonnaroo and Hangout Festival, the Barneses and company remain unapologetically unrefined. They smoke like chimneys, they drink whatever’s around, and they’re as Southern as chicken-fried steak chased by an after-dinner pinch of Skoal Wintergreen. As Cyle casually boasts on “Brother in the Night”: “I’m a Southern man forever / Like the wind inside the pines.” And as far as I can tell, they’ve always been—and always will be—that way. Naturally, then, the band’s genesis revolves around a dive bar in Jackson called W C DON’s (an acronym for “We Couldn’t Decide On a Name”). From the time they were thirteen years old on, Cyle, Cain, Samuel, and Damien would slide the bouncer twenty dollars to get into the exclusively twenty-one-and-up venue and see shows. “No big, national touring bands came to Jackson, so we had our own surrogate versions of them at DON’s. We had our T-Rex, our Beach Boys, our At the Drive-In; we had our own version of everything, really,” Samuel explains. The bands at DON’s eventually went to college, got married, and got jobs, leaving the would-be Weeks with nothing to do on the weekends. “We weren’t the kids that went to football games—and we certainly weren’t about to play football,” Samuel laughs. So they became DON’s house band, playing more than two hundred shows during their yearand-a-half tenure there. Stories about this period abound: a biker once drove his motorcycle through the front door and ordered a drink; a guy bought the whole bar shots before proceeding to smash all of DON’s bar lights with his shoe; a baby was conceived on a pool table mid-show. “Super-cute baby, man—adorable child,” Samuel nonchalantly adds as Cyle and Cain nod in agreement. “DON’s never got popped, though. Nobody ever left and drove crazy or anything,” Cain says, passing a cigarette to his brother. (Over the course of the afternoon, the Brothers Barnes smoke close to half a pack of American Spirits, handing them off so naturally you’d think they were joined at the lungs.) Samuel then points out that no one got a DUI after leaving DON’s because the vast majority of the bar’s patrons weren’t old enough to drive. “If you were a parent, you’d just come and pick up your hammered kid,” Samuel says, pausing. “All of my nostalgia for home is about that shitty bar.” Ah, those sweet childhood memories—isn’t there a Rockwell piece called Picking Up Junior from a Bar in Mississippi? After playing DON’s for the rest of their teens, The Weeks had a quick flirtation with college before deciding to relocate and pursue music full time. Atlanta and Austin were too hot and Chicago was too cold, so they picked Nashville “on a whim.” When they finally got here, they realized that their new house in Inglewood (which Cyle and Cain had never even seen before moving) didn’t have electricity or air conditioning—and it was the middle of July. To escape the heat

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upstairs, all four of them slept in the basement, which had eight-foot ceilings. “And eight feet’s fucking generous, man—they were probably more like five!” Cyle laughs. Sleeping arrangements aside, within two days of arriving in town, the band signed with Bedlam Music Management, found an attorney, hung out with Dawes, and met John Prine’s wife (who gave them free tickets to Bonnaroo)—all without electricity in their house. Reflecting on what sounds like a subplot of Nashville, Cyle says, “I’m not gonna say Nashville’s perfect, but Nashville is pretty fucking sweet.” And it only got sweeter: after Serpents and Snakes A&R man Seth Riddle heard the band, he made plans for them to meet label founders Caleb and Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon. “We went and ate with Caleb and Nathan separately, but it wasn’t like some big, intimidating, fucking dinner and shit like that,” Cyle says, waving his hands, making a trail of smoke with his American Spirit. “We went to Monell’s with Caleb and ate Southern food and had a good-ass time. We didn’t even talk about business—we just got to know each other.” “The quickest way to fuck something up is to work with someone just for the oppor-

“I’M NOT

GONNA SAY NASHVILLE’S

PERFECT, BUT NASHVILLE IS

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tunities they could give you,” Samuel adds. “We’ve always had a mentality of ‘I don’t care who you’ve worked with, that’s not gonna change how you work with us.’ We always work family-style. If you can’t hang out with with us and have a beer, we have no interest in you.” I guess they could have beer with Caleb and Nathan—they signed with Serpents and Snakes a few days after the throwdown at Monell’s. Surrealistically enough, this family-style feeling continued as they got ready for a tour with The Meat Puppets in 2012. And how did The Weeks prepare for a tour with the guys most famous for songs like “Lake of Fire” and “We Don’t Exist”? By rehearsing in a church and eating rabbit stew on Easter, of course. You heard it here first, folks. The Weeks: up-and-coming Southern rockers, artists on Kings of Leon’s highly coveted label, and cold-blooded Peter Cottontail killers. Less than a year later, they joined Kings of Leon as the supporting act on their European tour, and the good old boys from Jackson who’d illegally played DON’s as fifteen-year-olds were now performing for 20,000 fans at London’s 02 Arena. When asked if the night at 02 and the other eight arena shows on the tour felt like a sign that they’d finally “made it,” Samuel contemplatively says, “I’m not gonna feel like I made it until . . .” Cyle finishes his sentence: “I’m not gonna feel like I’ve made it ‘til I’m old as shit!” Even though he’s far from “old as shit,” Cyle’s lyrics on The Weeks’ latest album, 2013’s Dear Bo Jackson (named after the only athlete to ever achieve all-star status in both the MLB and NFL, and all-around “badass” according to Damien), undeniably imply some kind of triumph, and there’s a general air of “we don’t take any shit” in lines like “I've got a knife inside my boot / Yes my brother’s got one too / You can bring 'em on, let’s have a ball, got nothing to lose.” (Note: Cain and Cyle really do have knives in their boots, though Cain has forgotten his on this particular afternoon.) They’re odes to heritage and resilience over lush, reverbed-soaked horns, pedal steels, and organs; it’s like Phil Spector spent a summer hunting alligators from an airboat, came back, and produced a record. Samuel later tells me they “threw the kitchen sink” at Bo Jackson, and it definitely shows.


The new album may feature twice as many overdubs as 2008’s Comeback Cadillac, but The Weeks maintain they haven’t lost an ounce of their original Southern edge. As Samuel explains, “The South is all about pace. I consider myself a Southerner because of the way I live my life—it’s slow and patient, and I roll with the punches.” Cyle joins in, saying, “You may meet a person that’s lived in London their whole life, but in their heart, they’re Southern. There’s no other region like that. . . . It’s a mindset.” Next to the frayed edge of Cyle’s tank top, which says “Est. 1817, Mississippi: The Magnolia State,” I see a tattoo of Mississippi’s outline on his arm. I decide not to ask him if he’s got a Southern mindset. When asked about their future, the band tells me they’re working on an EP (set for release this summer) that will return to Comeback’s brand of raw, trailer-park punk. The album will also feature new versions of two Comeback tracks, “Buttons” and “Hold It, Kid (Your Heart Just Skipped a Beat).” After describing one of the songs as a nod to Thin Lizzy, Samuel even exclaims, “I wanna put some balls back into this thing!” But as far as Cyle’s concerned, any future with The Weeks is a good future: “The moment that I stop turning around and dancing to these motherfuckers is the moment I stop having fun!” Cigarettes are extinguished, empty beers are thrown into the trash, and I grab my keys, ready to head back out into the Pegram wilderness. On my way out, I see a piece of framed crochet art hanging above Damien’s door that reads, “Southerner: gracious, easy going, slow-talking, friendly folk devoted to front porches, oak trees, cool breezes, magnolias, peaches, and fried chicken.” Wherever The Weeks are headed—whether it’s somewhere with the Motown horns of Dear Bo Jackson or the wailing vocals of Comeback— I have a feeling it’s somewhere with front porches, oak trees, cool breezes, and plenty of magnolias.

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mon. - fri. 6am-7pm sat. & sun. 7am-7pm 3431 murphy road dosecoffeeandtea.com # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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DANCIN’ IS BACK!

J U N E 1 2 - Houndmouth | Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers | Los Colognes | The Kernal & His New Strangers J U N E 1 9 - Xavier Rudd | The Main Squeeze | Ash Grunwald | Ray Scott J U N E 2 6 - Will Hoge | Drake White & The Big Fire | Clare Dunn | Brian Collins J U LY 3 - Apache Relay | Steelism | Promised Land Sound | EL EL J U LY 1 0 - Dumpstaphunk | Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds | Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience | Kansas Bible Company

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J U LY 17 - Hayes Carll | Rayland Baxter | James Wallace & The Naked Light | Oak Creek J U LY 24 - Lettuce | Space Capone | Sol Cat / /J / / /U / / / /LY / / / / / ////// AT IVE N ASH VI LLE Guests 3 1 #-N Special


C R E AT I V E C O W O R K I N G

N OW O P E N Deavor is a community of inspired individuals working, learning, and pursuing passions together. A creative co-working space located in the heart of Nashville, TN.

deav or.c om

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AT THE (REALLY) OLD BALL GAME Meet the boys of summer—the summer of 1864. With the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball, every year is 1864. It's a very good year for a game.

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White blossoms are fluttering silently to the ground. They land gently on the lush green lawn, on the clover and wild chives, blanketing the earth. Spectators, men and women in their Sunday finery, laze in the shade as children squeal and dogs tug against their restraints. It is not the blossoming trees that they have arrived to spectate upon, though it is a happy coincidence. Instead, they watch quietly as a generally hirsute, well-dressed cadre of sportsmen line up to introduce themselves: Magic Hands. The Hammer. Bandit. The Counselor. Boxcar. Iron Belly. Cornbread. They cheer, “Huzzah!” The crowd joins them in their calls. At the end of the long flowing expanse of lawn behind their lines, a train clacks by. An American flag bearing thirty-odd stars waves in the steady breeze. It is 1864. Or at least it feels awfully similar. Four bases are set in a diamond, ninety feet between each. One team heads to their bench, the other leaves nine men in the field. An unusual ball is thrown back and forth before a dapper gentleman, mustachioed and in a white top hat, signals for the game to begin. This is baseball—but as one player tells it, “This ain't your daddy's baseball. This is actually your great-great-great-great-grandaddy's baseball.” It’s the opening weekend of the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball. Here, it's “base ball,” two words, and that semantic separator is only the beginning of all that makes the game stand out as its own unique sport. We've gathered at the Bicentennial Mall, where a historical marker points out that in 1862, Union soldiers brought the sport to Nashville and played here on the mall. This is just one of fifty-six games between the eight teams that will play in the league's 2014 season. League play began just a year ago, with eleven games between two teams, the Nashville Maroons and the Franklin Farriers. Now there are more than one hundred dedicated players, with games played as far afield as Knoxville and Chattanooga. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean throws out the ceremonial first pitch and manages to come remarkably close to the strike zone. If there were a strike zone. The differences between this base ball and the modern game are immediately apparent. The pitcher throws underhand, presenting a hittable ball to the batter (the striker). There are no “balls” or “strikes.” When the striker hits the ball (a.k.a. the apple, the pill, the onion) into play, his “adversaries” in the field wear no gloves with which to catch it. Leather gloves, of course, were yet to be invented in 1864. All is not lost for the basetenders

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A GOOD PITCH ELICITS CRIES

and the scouts in the garden (sorry, the sker's Station, and Knoxville's Ramsey Well, obviously. He outfielders), for the 1864 rules of base House. Fans even arrive in period dress also likes to bat and ball allow for outs to be made “on the from time to time, and as Michael tells run the bases. Who bound.” The fielders can grab the ball it, “I've had a few ladies that have told doesn't? I’m curiafter a single bounce and still retire me they really enjoy it because a lot of ous whether Jordan the batter. While many fielders still reenacting is military-based, so they prefers the vinmanage to make their catches on the like the opportunity to come out to tage game over the fly, spectacular plays abound (excuse something that's not a military-based modern-day version. the pun) when the extra bounce is an reenactment. They've got the dress al- “Um . . . I like modern baseball,” he ready, and they like to be a part of it.” option. There's a whirling anachronistic tells me as he turns Trapper Haskins, the bespectacled Association cofounder, vice president, feeling today on the mall. Across a over the tiny leather and captain of the Franklin Farriers, stone path, medieval reenactors are glove in his hands. tells me, “We’ve had some plays that, I dueling with swords and shields. Trap- “Because I love catching.” So mother and child sit on the sideswear, if they were videotaped, they’d per mentions that when the league be ESPN highlights . . . The ‘on the first started up, there were some mi- lines, comfortable with their shared bound’ rule makes for some incredibly nor skirmishes and turf wars with the preference for a gloved game, while exciting plays. A ball can be hit in the knights. As I say to him how sorry I am their brethren bruise their palms and gap and it looks like there would be no to have missed that spectacle, a tour jam their fingers. Still, there's more to chance of catching it. Even if you had group wheels through the park on Seg- this game than the archaic rules and a glove, you couldn’t get to it. But be- ways. The buzz of their small motors missing equipment. There's a gentlecause it can hit the ground, that gives fills the air. They commingle with the manly attitude that pervades every pings of swords hitting plated armor moment. A good pitch elicits cries you extra time to run to that ball.” I meet Trapper and fellow cofound- and the thwack of vintage bats hitting of “Well hurled!” equally from both er/League Commissioner Michael a heavy, old-time base ball. Suddenly benches. Players encourage each other “Roadblock” Thurmon, a week before I’m having a very hard time remember- to “Show some ginger!” (play harder!). Roseann explains that the sportsmanthe season opener. We’re still at the ing which century it is. Roseann Montano is a spectator ship is a big part of why she enjoys the Bicentennial Mall, though the setting is less formal. A few fans line the edg- on this league preview day, and she's game and why she brings Jordan along es of the field, and every team in the watching three family members play with her. “The players are enthusiastic league is here for practice and pictures. for the Oak Hill Travellers (name tak- with each other and very supportive no The old-time uniforms are heavy wool. en from Travellers Rest). Though she matter what. It's different than more Some feature a buttoned shield across loves the sport and the Association is competitive baseball, where people the chest. Others include vests, black co-ed (a distinct difference from the aren't as enthusiastic or as friendly bowler hats, and bow ties. Naturally, original 1864 game, to be sure), she with each other when another player some players wear suspenders. Their declined an invitation to join the Trav- does something that's an error or not outfits vary depending on the team’s ellers, since she's a surgeon and the necessarily conducive to winning. It home region, as Michael explains: gloveless playing would put her valu- seems like this is much more in the “During that time period, organizing a able hands at risk. She's sitting in a spirit of what I like sports to be.” Back to opening day. A “bug bruisgame would’ve been neighbors talk- camping chair next to her son Jordan. ing to neighbors, saying, ‘Hey do you I ask her if she ever considered root- er” (a hard grounder) skips toward a have black pants, do you got some ing in period attire. “I thought of it basetender in the infield. He knocks black shoes? Alright, wear your white briefly,” she says, “until we came to a it down and fires quickly to first sack shirt.’ Us being Maroons, we would’ve game in the middle of July and then . (first base). But the striker is “stirring been the city folks, so we would've . . I’m happy wearing my own clothing his stumps” (the batter is running quickly). It's a bang-bang play, as we had a little bit more coordination . . . from 2014.” The average age of Association play- would say in the modern parlance. It's You see some differences between our uniforms and teams like the Farriers. ers is forty, though they skew as young awfully close, and the mustachioed as twenty and as old as sixty-four. man in the white top hat walks up the Theirs is a little bit more rustic.” Nearly all the teams are based on real Roseann's son Jordan, at four years old, line from the dish (home plate) toward local teams that existed in the Nash- is still a few years away from eligibil- first. He is the arbiter. There is only ville area, and they hold their games in ity. I ask him what he likes about the him, a single umpire, and there is defiplaces where base ball was historically vintage game, and after some hesita- nitely not the option of instant replay. played: Bicentennial Mall, Carnton tion, he shares that he likes “to sit on The arbiter, “Nuff Said” Pigg (truly), Plantation, the Sam Davis Home, Man- the bench when Daddy's on the bench.” has to figure out whether to call the

OF “WELL HURLED!” EQUALLY FROM BOTH BENCHES.

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TENNESSEE ASSOCIATION OF VINTAGE BASE BALL: Tennesseevintagebaseball.com Follow on Facebook @tennesseeassociationofvintagebaseball or Twitter @taovbb native.is/vintage-baseball

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runner safe or out. I’m curious to see how he's going to manage it. The runner is standing on first, hands on his hips. The basetender comes in close when the arbiter approaches. They chat amicably for a moment. There's no rush. There's no tension or anger. It becomes clear that neither player is exactly sure of the call. So the arbiter takes a few steps into foul ground and walks toward the fans spread out on blankets under the shade of the blossoming trees. He asks the fans their opinion. The general consensus is that the runner is out. Fair and due process complete, he discusses the ruling with the interested parties. They agree, shake hands, and the striker, called out, returns to his bench. This is exactly what makes the vintage game so appealing. We are having a picnic on a glorious spring day while we watch a remarkable scene of enthusiastic, ethical sports taking place. And best of all, it's free for all of us. The players don't get paid—in fact, the 1864 rules prohibited payment of any kind. These folks are participating because they love the game, and it's not hard to see why. League Commissioner “Roadblock” explains: “Families come out with their kids, see fathers teaching the game to their kids. Kids love it 'cause it's different. It's not just regular old Little League baseball. We don't have gloves. They're amazed by that. That's the fun part for me. Being able to provide an event here in Nashville that's completely free to families . . . That's the cool part, 'cause there's not a lot of that to do here in Nashville. And I really hope that we can lead the charge and change the way the city thinks about the community and providing entertainment.” Fans of the modern game like to call extra innings “free baseball.” Every weekend until the championship in mid-September, the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball will give Nashville—and Franklin, and Smyrna, and Goodlettsville, and Knoxville, and Oak Hill, and Roane County—all the free base ball we could ever desire.

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Local beekeeper Jay Williams believes responsible apiculture could be the gold rush of the twenty-first century, and he’s doing all he can to supply Middle Tennessee with the good stuff By Becca Hill | Photos by Sarah B. Gilliam

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Not much more than a decade ago, Jay Williams was “gainfully employed”

by President Obama’s definition: using his film studies major from Northwestern University in Hollywood. A Yankee by birth, he had never been to Nashville, and the only bees he had seen close up were animatronic props. Jay had done a fair amount of work behind and in front of the camera before he decided on his own definition of “gainful employment.” “Shooting women in bikinis on the beach when you’re twenty is awesome,” he chuckles. “But when you’re thirty, you start to look for more substance.” He became a professional firefighter and reaped the spiritual benefits—he found he was meant to help people who need it. It wasn’t long before he met his wife, Adrienne, and moved with her to Nashville for more comfortable child-rearing. Once here, Jay quickly got a job with the Brentwood Fire Department. But in 2006 his legacy was incited when Adrienne told him about an article she had read in The Tennessean. The article publicized Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which, at the time, was starting to become a serious threat to honeybees and, by extension, agriculture in North America and Europe. Colony collapse happens when a colony’s worker bees up and disappear without warning. It’s prevalent in North American honeybees which, with the help of European honeybees, pollinate most North American agricultural crops. In other words, we are facing a future as a food desert if CCD isn’t stopped. Adrienne didn’t have to tell him twice: it was time for another gear shift. Burning buildings were no longer the only thing Jay felt called to save. Though he knew very little about apiculture, he knew he needed to start an apiary. So he did some reading and imported a hardy queen bee for his first colony: “From California—just like us!” Now that he’s a little more experienced in the art of responsible beekeeping, he hopes he won’t have to import any more queens. “Part of the reason CCD is such a rampant problem,” Jay rants, “is because all the beekeepers in the country get their queens from the same five hundred queen breeders.” Same queens, same problems. So Jay hopes

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to breed generations of wild, more feral bees. The analogy that immediately occurred to me was agriculture: monoculture versus heirloom varieties of vegetables. But it isn’t that simple. The cause of CCD is not likely to be isolated to any one cause, but it is linked to infections from varroa mites. Common American beekeeping practices turn to pesticides to avoid such invasions, but truthfully, such supplements serve only to weaken the bees’ natural responses to these pests. Instead of using chemical pesticides, growth hormones, or antibiotics, Jay dusts cinnamon to keep out ants and pools oily booby traps for other insects at the base of his hives. Mostly, though, he shrugs, “We just let nature sort out the weak from the strong.” And Jay’s bees are strong, though they’re smaller than most people expect them to be. His first queen is now his oldest at six years old. By breeding from hardy, self-sufficient queens, Jay cultivates bees that will stand up for themselves against pests and invaders such as mites. When a healthy hive has an unwanted visitor, the workers sting the creature to death. That’s the easy part. What’s more difficult is keeping the corpse from contaminating the air in their hive while it rots. For this, we turn to propolis. A hard, sticky by-product of the honey-making process, propolis mummifies and, thus, sterilizes the dead intruder. As far as the human element is concerned, propolis defense is a no-brainer. It seems Jay’s methods are full of these “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” techniques. Another is his honey harvest date, which he stubbornly keeps at the end of June. This is considered late for most North American beekeepers, who like to have their hands on the sweet stuff as soon as the flow starts in May. Many apiaries also separate the honey that’s flavored by different kinds of pollen, which requires multiple collection dates. Jay, however, waits until the end of the flow. “Bees eat honey, too!” he insists. In fact, they need honey, especially during their most active season, so depriving them of their store before the season is complete is admittedly unfair. This is why, even though Jay has honey flavored by the pollen of connoisseurs’ dreams (like basswood and black locust flowers), he


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WILLIAMS HONEY FARM: williamshoneyfarm.com Follow on Facebook @Williamshoneyfarm or on Twitter @Littleguyhoney native.is/williams-honey

honey

gets the honey all at once and creates a delicious melange with it. This is the honey you’ll find at the Turnip Truck or on the menu at Green Door Gourmet later this summer. Somehow, Jay manages to keep a job at the fire department in his roster. Both jobs have him fighting natural disasters and propagating chances for a healthy future. In his beekeeping, though, smoke has a calming effect. So that I could get a closer peek at a few of his little bee kingdoms, Jay used a small

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bellows to jet fragrant smoke into a hive box. He explained that it was smoke from dried purple deadnettle, which had just recently begun to bloom. “This smoke thing goes way back to the bees’ ancestors, who lived in the woods,” Jay says, indicating his bellows. When bees smell the smoke of an approaching forest fire, they instinctively eat as much of their honey as they can before they have to relocate. “So the smoke makes them hungry, really,” Jay explains, “And then they get lethargic,

so they’re not likely to sting you.” “The beehive is a super organism,” Jay says, meaning that each bee in the hive exists for the good of the colony and the queen. It might sound like a monarchy, but Jay says, “It’s really more like a coop. I mean, no one is just sitting around watching TV—everyone has a job. Humans could really learn a lot from bees.” I visited Jay’s breeding yard in early March, when a freezing mist lay low on the ground. Trees were heavy and sparkling with ice, and snowmelt made it


difficult for us to stand in one spot for very long. “This is about the worst time of year to see a bee yard,” Jay sighed. In about three weeks, he promised, the yard would be completely berserk with bees gathering pollen for their queen. In May, when “the flow” starts, his colonies will reach a collective population of more than 2.5 million bees. When rounding the wooded corner to the yard, the lay eye might see arbitrary stacks of boxes. Even in the winter, though, these pine boxes hold more

than 30,000 bees, with a queen in each stack. What are they doing in there, exactly? Well, it depends on the time of year. I put my ear right up against one of the hives and heard the vacuous sound of a thousand bees humming, “We’re still alive!” “These bees all know me,” Jay brags. It seems dubious, since the troops he is talking about are winter bees—they will die when they enter honey season just as the honeybees die at the end of “the flow.” But he points out that the queens

can live for several years, and he begins to describe all of his current ladies. “I know them by their personalities, not necessarily by their age. For example, this one in the middle is my oldest queen. She’s a powerhouse! And see that box on the far right?” He indicates a shorter hive that’s neatly packaged in tarp paper. “That queen is really temperamental. I’ve had to wrap her up to keep her warm.” Keeping bees warm until honey season is a chore, but Jay tells me that the

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“BEEKEEPING IS AMERICA’S LAST GREAT GOLD RUSH.”

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cold isn’t what kills them. “It’s the lack of ventilation that’ll do it. Bees are very hygienic creatures, for the most part—they need airflow to keep disease from spreading.” In the winter, things get a little crowded. More bees are kept in fewer boxes so they can huddle together for warmth. So not a minute passes before we see one brave worker zoom, as if on cue, from her unwrapped box. I was unaware a bee would be caught alive outside her warm hive during winter, but that wasn’t a suicide mission we were witnessing. “Oh yeah,” Jay explains, “She’s going to the bathroom. Probably

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couldn’t take it anymore and just had to leave her filthy, crowded house to relieve herself.” I got to see the same yard again in April, when the sun was high and the only cold was coming from a friendly zephyr. The once icy bluffs hugging my drive out were now slaked with mud, and there was fairly heavy traffic between Jay’s hives and the communal feeding trough of sugar water. “This,” he told me, “might be the best time of year to see a bee yard. You get hints of what the rest of the season is going to look like.” Jay predicts that, due to noncommittal March weather, honey production will most likely be average this year, but that doesn’t mean anything too bad for the bees. “Most beekeepers are forced to decide, season by season, whether they will focus on making honey or making bees. We have always been about making bees, so it can’t bother us when honey production doesn’t keep the money rolling in.” Farms and other bee yards host Jay’s bees all over Middle Tennes-

see, from Columbia to Gallatin. Local farmers invite the healthy and health-promoting critters to live on their land and bolster the pollination of their crops. But while many of the more mature bees will make it onto his pollination trailer and move to farms in the area, most of them stay at Jay’s breeding yard in Franklin. He brings in a fair amount of bees as well, from rescues of distressed or misplaced colonies. To encourage congregation of the drones, he starts all of his bees in the Franklin yard. The dale, or “holler,” that this yard sits in acts as a sort of bowl, keeping the bees from wandering too much farther in search of pollen. “That’s what you call using topography to your advantage,” Jay smiles. Since he started on this trek toward the betterment of Tennessee bees, Jay has traveled to Italy, New Zealand, Spain, and Canada to speak with those regions’ apiculturists and attend beekeeping conferences. But the place where Jay has been most astounded by the trend toward responsible beekeeping? Nashville. Though the pollination season is relatively short and the apiculturists aren’t clogging supermarket aisles with local honey, interest sincerely abounds. And there aren’t many other places where you can find basswood flowers as sweet as they are here. “We serve a niche market,” Jay says, satisfiedly. “More for people who want to taste a delicious drizzle of honey on their toast than for people who use large amounts of honey for baking.” He goes on to describe a dream venture for his honey, pulling out a small plastic flask full of last


year’s melange. “I want people to bring these little flasks with them wherever they go for emergency energy, throat soothing, or tea sweetening!” His enthusiasm really is contagious. “Beekeeping is America’s last great gold rush,” Jay effuses, somewhat cryptically. He’s obviously not just alluding to the color of his bees’ honey. But Williams Honey Farm lives to provide for the true needs of Tennessee bees, not of the Williams family wallet. The idea of fighting for a more prosperous posterity, however, is something that Jay’s gold rush shares with the early American pioneers’ search for moneymaking treasure. He won’t be satisfied unless he helps to create a strong genetic strain of bees that his children can enjoy in their adulthood. Whipping out honey flasks at Titans games might be a decade or so out, but responsible beekeeping is spreading through love of honey. When it inevitably spreads thicker and farther, American land and food will benefit in richness and bounty. The trick, at this point, is discerning between the antibiotic-ridden fools’ gold of most big-name apiaries and the good stuff. But, Jay propounds, this trick requires no expertise. “I just think more people need to get out there and try it,” he says, “Experience is really the only way to learn.” He has given lectures at workshops in town and hopes to do more in the way of community education on the subject of apiculture. He plans to be in Nashville for the rest of his breathing, beekeeping days, and in staying he remains a huge asset to a burgeoning culture of young progressives with a mind toward agricultural preservation. Unlike intrepid gold diggers in nineteenth-century California or modern-day Hollywood, Jay has no need to keep an “edge” on this frontier. He wants it to spread, and he knows that we all need it to as well.

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BIKES OVER CARS DAVE THIENEL IS PROMOTING A HIGH-BIKE, LOWCAR DIET FOR NASHVILLIANS.

BY MATT COLANGELO | PHOTOS BY RYAN GREEN

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Dave Thienel owns Rush Bicycle Messengers, a local

courier service offering a faster, cheaper, and more sustainable alternative to car delivery. That’s what he claims, at least. I’m skeptical. Are bikes more sustainable than cars? Yes. Are they cheaper to maintain? Sure, since you don’t have to pay for gas. But faster? There’s no way a guy on a bike is faster than a guy in a car. Not in a spread-out “car” city like Nashville. Dave, are you out of your gourd? To test his patently fabricated claim, I challenge him to a race. First person to the river wins. Me in my 40-mpg white Fiat, Dave on his baby-blue cyclocross bike. Good luck, Dave. We step out of his brand-new office on the corner of 9th and Church and ready ourselves. I partake in some dynamic stretching next to my car, and Dave jumps on his saddle. On the count of three. One. Two. Three. Dave pushes off and accelerates up 9th Avenue Street. I execute a textbook three-point turn and follow him in hot pursuit, my 101-horsepower lawnmower engine roaring like an over-confident lion cub. As I turn the first corner, I come to the sad realization that he is already pulling away. I squint my eyes and up-shift into fourth gear. I’ll catch him on the straightaway. That’s when I hit my first red light—and nearly hit the car

in front of me. By the time I meet Dave at the riverfront, fifteen minutes have passed. I’ve sat at six different lights and watched two other bicycle couriers pass me. “How long have you been waiting?” I ask him. “A little over five minutes,” he responds. He’s standing next to his bike, strapped into an oversized green backpack that should have slowed him down but didn’t. Dave is a slender six feet tall, but he has the deceptive strength of someone who’s been cycling for more than eight years. “You should get a bike,” he tells me. Should I get a bike? Though Dave proved that biking is a fast way of getting around downtown Nashville, it isn’t the easiest or most obvious way of getting around the larger metropolitan area. The truth is: Nashville is a fairly spread-out, suburban city with a very low population density—1,204 inhabitants per square mile, compared to New York’s 56,012 or San Francisco’s 17,246. Only 8,000 people live downtown, which amounts to roughly one percent of the population. The rest of us live in Nashville’s gentle sprawl: in areas like Sylvan Park or Five Points that are a mile or more outside downtown. Getting from one place to another usually means traveling several miles. And with traffic, that can sometimes take a while, which points to an important variable in this

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Based on the ratio of drivers to highways, it’s not hard to imagine bumper-to-bumper Los Angeles traffic in Nashville soon. To avert this traffic disaster, the city of Nashville has been looking into alternative transit options. Unfortunately, by “looking into” alternative transit options, what I really mean is failing to approve any alternative transit options. If you’re not a bus person and need to get somewhere before the year 2020, that leaves bikes—either your own

* nashvillempo.org/growth

equation. Nashville is a driving city that’s becoming increasingly difficult to drive in. One of the main reasons for this is Nashville’s economic development. As the city continues to grow and prosper, its traffic continues to worsen. Most people now recognize that we’re approaching a tipping point. Our highways and roads can barely handle the current metro population of 1.5 million, never mind the additional million that will be living here by 2035.


personal bike or one of the city’s are newbies, people who are biking shared “B-cycles.” For most people, in Nashville for the first time. These bikes are the only real alternative to are the people whom Dave is hoping to convert. cars. Believe it or not, Dave was once Which is one reason why more people are starting to bike. Dave a bike newbie too—and not when sees this trend on a daily basis: he was five. He started riding bikes “Every spring I say, ‘Man, there are “occasionally” in 2006, two years twice as many people on bikes this after he graduated high school, left year as there were last year.’” Some his hometown of White Bluff, and of these new cyclists are recent moved thirty-five minutes east to transplants to the city, people from Nashville as a seventeen-year-old. LA or New York who are already At the time, he wasn’t a very good used to cycling in a city. But many or confident cyclist at all: “I rode on

RUSH: musiccityrush.com or call 615-707-9695 native.is/rush # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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“ I CALL the sidewalk for a month when I first started riding. I call sidewalks a cyclist’s training wheels.” He sympathizes with new cyclists. He understands how intimidating riding in a city can be—he experienced it firsthand. Before he became a bike messenger, Dave rode around town on a used thirty-dollar Miyata doing odd jobs. “I worked at a retail store and was living off twenty dollars a week for food. Then I worked at Pier 1 doing stock.” He eventually transitioned from the retail industry to the slightly more lucrative hospitality industry. “I worked at the Opryland Hotel for a while doing banquet serving, which is actually pretty hard work.” He worked at another hotel after that before becoming a personal assistant/ handyman for some people around town. “People would ask, ‘Can you plank my garden?’ Sure, I can do that.” He was familiar with this kind of manual labor from his childhood in White Bluff, where he used to bail hay for five dollars an hour at the age of twelve, and where he learned how to rebuild a carburetor at the age of sixteen (a skill that he hasn’t employed in a few years). After working in the retail, hospitality, and personal assistant industries, Dave’s love of bicycles led him to the courier business. He started as a bike courier for Green Fleet Messengers, but eventually he was moved into car deliveries. (Green Fleet has a mixed fleet of bikes, cars, and trucks.) Needless to say, he quickly got tired of driving a car all day. “By the end of the day, I felt so stressed and angry for no reason. Doing that job, I realized how much less I was riding my bike.” That’s when he decided to start a bike-only courier service. He started Rush Bicycle Messengers as a full-time, one-man show in the beginning of 2012. His other job, ironically enough, was parking cars. “I did that for close to two years, and we’re over two years old now. I cut my hours more and more the busier things got.” Parking cars for half the day and riding bikes for the other half confirmed his

SIDE-

preference for the latter. He suffered through the former to make rent while he built his business from scratch. “I was going door to door to law firms. It was just me at first.” Business started to pick up about six months in, when Dave added monthly magazine and coffee deliveries to his standard court filings and mail runs. (Full disclosure: Rush delivers all of our magazines on a trailer every month.) To accommodate these larger, more time-consuming deliveries, Dave began hiring part-time cyclists to help him out. They then started to pick up consistent daily deliveries as well, which meant Dave had to pass off even more work to his employees. Now that his business is in full swing, Dave acts as more of a dispatcher, sitting at the front desk of his new office and assigning routes to his employees via iPhone. From my vantage point, bike deliveries seem to be catching on. The same factors that make biking a more appealing alternative for commuters are starting to interest businesses as well. If you’re sending a package locally, say from West End and 31st Avenue to downtown, bikes are probably faster. Depending on the load, they’re almost always cheaper too. And as car traffic continues to worsen, the biking calculus will continue to improve. No one wants to be stuck in rush-hour traffic, listening to the sound of their own turn signal. At the same time, no one wants their delivery guy to be stuck in rush-hour traffic with their dinner. Dave isn’t just promoting bike delivery, he’s promoting a new lifestyle and community in which bikes are the main form of transportation. It’s not just about making money for him. He wants to get more people riding because he has a vision for how that could change Nashville. “Biking isn’t for everybody, I know, but I know a

WALKS A CYCLIST’S

TRAINING WHEELS.”

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lot of people can get something from it. I feel like the city can change a lot for the better.” For Dave, more biking will encourage the local economy, where people patronize businesses that are closer to home. More biking will also make people happier because of the inherent physical activity (“When you commute on a bike, you get endorphins from riding”). Lastly, he thinks that more biking will encourage a more tightly-knit community, where people have something in common besides living in the same city. To make this vision a reality, he wants to turn drivers into riders. To do this, to get longtime drivers riding bikes, Dave will have to overcome the perception that biking is an insider’s sport. The perception that there are “roadies” (people who race bikes or work in bike shops) and everybody else. "That's what this city needs. To realize that you don't need to be wearing lycra and padded shorts to ride your bike.” According to Dave, there’s currently a gap in Nashville between your average cyclist and these so-called roadies. He’s trying to bridge this gap, both with Rush Bicycle Messengers and a bike-events group he runs called Music City Cycling. To use a food analogy, Dave wants to get Nashville on a Northern European high-bike, low-car diet. Not just because he personally likes bikes or Northern Europe, but because it will be healthier for Nashville in the long run. Though he doesn’t claim to be changing the world, Dave definitely has a social mission: to cultivate a community of happy bike-riders and form an economy of local, bike-riding consumers. He’s doing his own public planning on a small (but growing) scale; by converting drivers into riders, he’s creating the need for more bike infrastructure and bike­-friendly policies in a city that’s adding cars everyday.

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A SUSTAINABLE PINT Michael Kwas and Steve Scoville have remained deeply dedicated to sustainability while building Little Harpeth Brewery. Oh, and now they make some damn fine beer.

BY JONAH ELLER-ISAACS | PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN GREEN # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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It is the golden hour. I am driving west toward the setting sun. Warm spring light pours

down over the city like a pint of overflowing pale ale. Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” blasts from my car’s overexerted radio (sorry Bob; it’s not a ’60 Chevy). Just before I cross the Cumberland River, I turn away from the Jefferson Street Bridge and enter an industrial part of town. The road is spattered with potholes and the painted divider lines are faded to dust. I approach a massive building and drive circles around it. There are no numbers, no street signs. It’s not the right place. I wheel around and pull into the parking lot of an unassuming blue warehouse nearby. The air is misty, wet with recent rain. It’s 5:30 on a Friday. Happy hour. I’m ready for a beer. And as luck would have it, I’ve just arrived at Little Harpeth Brewing. Little Harpeth is a new presence in the Nashville brewery scene: they officially sold their first keg mere weeks before my visit. But it’s not just the Europeaninfluenced beers that have brought me here today. The brewery is dedicated to reusing any and all materials they can, whether in the beer-making cycle or the process of demolition and building out their production facility. The beer isn’t green, but their vision of sustainability certainly is. Willy Wonka—that’s the first thing that crosses my mind as I come into the cavernous space. I’m in the Chocolate Factory. But for beer. There are pipes running up and down and every which way, entering and exiting massive metal tanks. Pipes are strung from metal catwalks. Pipes hang from hooks connected to the high ceiling. A chart of the system is affixed near the front door, each element color-coded, a rainbow of inflow and outflow. Plastic buckets are stacked on shelves, each marked with a mysterious name: Special B (Dry Only), Marris Otter, Crystal 77. I nearly step in a wide pile of spent grain spread across the concrete floor. Fresh spray paint blackens the edges of stencils bearing the brewery logo,

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a stick figure soaring on a rope swing above a river. He looks like he’s having an awesome time. Instead of Oompa Loompas, a half dozen men are moving from tank to tank, checking levels and discussing pressure, timing, and temperature. Kegs emblazoned with the rope swinger sit on pallets, ready to be filled. The crew is focused on their work, and there’s an air of expectation. They’re like children at the science fair, giddy as they prepare to pour the vinegar into their papier-mâché volcano. The acrid smoke from a distant cigarette only adds to the effect. Little Harpeth Brewing is ready to explode. When the guys take a break, I’m introduced to Michael Kwas, cofounder of the brewery. Michael wears a backward Vols cap and smiles widely underneath his bushy black beard. A tattoo juts out from his left T-shirt sleeve; when I ask him later, he explains that it’s the hieroglyph for “brewer.” He offers me my first taste of their beer, a half pint (I want to start slowly) of Upstream. It’s a gorgeous amber, a San Francisco lager with a clean, resiny woodiness that takes me back to my early twenties in California, a bucket of Anchor Steam on the beach and Sublime playing on a battery-operated boom box. As I sip and reminisce, I meet Steve Scoville, Michael’s other half and Little Harpeth’s head brewer. Steve requests my help on a run to the hardware store. He’s getting lug screws for drywall and he needs a mule. I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into. Burly, I think, would be the most apt descriptor for Steve. He is sixty years old. His beard is white. He wears a red flannel plaid shirt and blue denim overalls. I follow him to his truck, and soon we’re stuck in traffic on I-24. Before we get to talking about beer, we trade fishing stories and discuss our shared hatred of poison ivy and water moccasins. But there’s something special about Little Harpeth, and I want to hear more. I ask Steve to tell me about the vision for the brewery that he shares with Mi-


LITTLE HARPETH: littleharpethbrewing.com Follow on Facebook @Little Harpeth Brewing or Twitter @LHBrew native.is/Little-Harpeth-Brewing

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chael. “Our business is very much a yin and yang business,” he explains. “The artwork and imagery and feel of the business wants to be of Middle Tennessee and respond to its agrarian, outdoors nature, but at the same time, our brewery is located in an industrial sector downtown.” Though Steve is a nationally ranked beer judge and a masterful brewer, he’s just about the most humble human being I’ve ever met. As we crawl through rush-hour traffic toward Lowe’s, he takes particular care to point out Michael’s strengths and the ways in which they complement each other: “We are the quintessential yin and yang partnership. Very different people. Very different skill sets, with just enough of an overlap for us to be able to communicate well with one another. He’s young, good-looking, has more outstanding people skills than anybody I’ve ever seen. He is a hummingbird and people are his flowers.” We arrive at Lowe’s, and as we traipse through its enormity, the canvas bag that Steve made sure to grab grows steadily heavier on my shoulder, weighed down with long, bulky screws. By the time we check out, the bag’s strap is digging deep into my clavicle. My role has shifted from storyteller to Sherpa, but I don’t mind when Steve lays some beer-making philosophy on me. “It’s not about beer. It’s about people,” he states matter-of-factly. Though Steve is passionate about brewing beer—and he is awfully good at it—he seems to care more about the impact that the brewery will have outside of the joy of a fresh pint of well-crafted lager. He tells me, “You can go out of business doing the right thing, but you can’t go wrong.” It sounds like his motto, and it takes until our return to the brewery for me to understand just how deeply Steve’s vision of sustainable construction and operation have affected Little Harpeth. Because of Steve’s modesty, I don’t hear about his central role in the remarkable ways Little Harpeth has come about until I sit down with Michael back in his office. When they began to transform the raw warehouse space, it was Steve’s creative thinking and dedicated environmentalism that helped them to build out with as little impact as possible. Michael explains: “If I would have done it, I probably just would have destroyed everything and thrown it out and called a contractor. Well, with Steve, we demoed everything and we sorted all of our materials and kept everything. The only things

“THE ONLY THINGS THAT WENT INTO THE DUMPSTER AFTER WE DEMOED THOSE OFFICES WERE THE BENT NAILS AND THE DRYWALL.”

that went into the dumpster after we demoed those offices were the bent nails and the drywall. We saved all of the screws. We still have a five-gallon-bucket full of drywall screws. We saved all the wiring, the light fixtures, the light switches, the exit signs, the door handles, the doorframes. We didn't have to buy anything, nothing went into the dumpster . . . That was really gratifying, seeing the money that we saved and seeing how little the waste was. Waste Management kept calling us up going, ‘Hey, ready for that dumpster to be picked up?’ Nope. We went through the entire construction with a half dumpster.” I probably filled half a dumpster when I cleaned out my old apartment before I moved. Reduction of the waste cycle and creative reuse are paramount to every decision made at Little Harpeth. The spent grain spread across the floor that I almost stepped in? It was sitting out to dry, waiting for a local farmer to pick it up and use it to feed her hogs. As an exchange, one of the hogs will be delivered to the brewery after slaughter. I do my best to hint that I wouldn’t mind an invite to the pig roast. The crew is working on loading a pallet of freshly filled kegs into a gigantic walk-in cooler. It’s the size of a small house—new coolers this size can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The parts for this one were salvaged from the back of an abandoned eighteen-wheeler near Clarksville. Steve’s knack for scavenging and repurposing has not only saved the brewery valuable expenses during their tenuous early days, but as they continue to develop the immense space, they can now melt and sell the valuable copper wires stripped from the warehouse’s previous iteration. Little Harpeth’s green construction initiatives are actually padding their bank account. When it comes to the beer production process, Steve has integrated European brewing techniques that help reduce energy consumption. Making beer is energy intensive. Bringing car-sized kettles to a rolling boil demands significant heat, so Little Harpeth uses a low-energy boil instead. Michael explains the process: Michael and Steve’s sustainable efforts have

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allowed them to build their brewery with minimal impact, adding little to landfills by reusing or recycling nearly everything. Their brewing operations function at a similarly high capacity, maximizing potential output while keeping resource usage to a minimum. But what about the beer itself? Well, that’s the best part. Little Harpeth’s beers are delicious. They are sessionable, tasty and smooth, eminently drinkable and approachable. Their most unique beer is the Stax, a black lager that is unlike any other beer I’ve ever tasted. It is rich, toasted and full of flavor while simultaneously refreshing, crisp and not at all like the heavy stout I would expect. Bob Seger might call it “a black-haired beauty with big dark eyes.” I immediately down my half pint and ask Michael for a refill. Steve is standing nearby as I gush over this remarkable beer. “We want one question from our customers,” he says with a gleam in his eye. “May I have another?” Well? May I have another?

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Imperfectly Perfect WHETHER PRODUCING FOR TELEMUNDO OR APPEARING ON FOOD NETWORK, IRMA PAZ-BERNSTEIN TRANSFORMS HER FEARLESS NATURE AND MEXICAN HERITAGE INTO SOMETHING SWEET EVERY DAY

BY LAUREN ROGERS PHOTOS BY EMILY B. HALL

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AFTER A DREADFULLY LONG WINTER, TO- van. Driving from Nashville to Mexico, they ended DAY SPRING FINALLY SHOWED HER FACE. up in Guadalajara to meet up with Norma’s sisInching behind a caravan of children and new ter-in-law. In Mexico, Irma says, there are paletemoms through the now blooming Sevier Park, I rias all over the place. “You go after lunch, after enter Las Paletas and am immediately trans- mass, when you’re walking with your boyfriend, ported to my summer life—bright colors, kids in when you’re walking alone, after school.” Part of shorts, and, of course, paletas (tasty frozen pops their daily diet from childhood, Norma and Irma on sticks). After asking one of the employees for thought nothing of the many paletas they ate Irma Paz-Bernstein, I see a small, radiant Hispan- around town, but Norma’s American sister-inic woman approaching me after emerging from law noticed the uniqueness of the paletas. Irma behind large wooden doors. We excitedly talk spreads her hands and says, “For us this was comabout the weather the way all Nashvillians do this mon. Sometimes it takes somebody else to see the time of year before sitting outside on the porch to uniqueness.” soak in the sunshine and talk about her shop. After her experience as a producer, Irma Irma is like a Mexican Jane Austen heroine. thought the process of opening a paleteria would Not only is she beautiful, with long dark hair and be easy: find a teacher, learn how to make the bright eyes, but she’s also engaging and funny, us- paletas, and open a shop. “It was like finding the ing phrases like “ping” and “da da da” to tell her woman who was impregnated by the extraterstories. restrial, you make calls. I thought it would be so A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Irma’s child- simple.” So Irma started making calls. But, to hood included time in California, making her her surprise, nobody in Mexico would agree to bilingual and bicultural at a young age. After fin- teach her. “I learned that it’s a subculture. There ishing up college in Guadalajara studying commu- are no recipes, schools, books. It’s passed down nication science, Irma continued her education from generation to generation.” Discovering this at UCLA and later worked as a TV producer in new aspect of paletas enabled Irma to better unCalifornia for nine years. Working for Telemun- derstand just what she was dealing with. “Why do, Univision, and Galavision, Irma arranged talk would they teach anybody else? New paleta makshows and live shows, managing the camera and ers could be direct competition to their children. the floor. “I would say 5-4-3-2-1 and then run to They don’t want to teach anybody.” the camera,” Irma laughs. “From tremendous But Irma isn’t just anybody. writers and stars to prostitutes and child-molestDuring a visit with a friend in California, Irma’s ers, you have to interview them at the same level— interest in paletas—which had become an obsesit makes you more compassionate and question a sion at that point—inevitably came up. This time, lot of things.” however, she got a response—a quick one. The Irma’s time as an independent producer took next day, her friend’s father connected her with her around the world and into otherworldly situa- a man in a small town in Mexico. To her surprise, tions. “It could be a show about extrater- the man agreed to teach her how to make paletas, restrials so you need people that believe. and she went to his home the next week. Irma And then you sit with these people who pauses. say, ‘I was impregnated by an ‘extrater“He was meant to be my teacher.” restrial,’ and you can’t judge them beThis man had no father growing up and was cause you want to hear.” She pauses and close friends with the son of a paleta maker, who notes, “The world is quite a place.” had also taught him how to make paletas from Thirteen years ago, Irma got a differ- a young age. “The beauty is the ethics of these ent kind of call. Her sister Norma had people,” Irma says. “When he was going to get moved to Nashville the year before, and married, he left the town so he wouldn’t compete after managing multiple retail stores, with his friend.” I’m speechless as we listen to the she wanted to open a business—with sounds of kids at the park. Irma nods and says, Irma. Although Irma was in Belgium at “Some people need to learn that. He had been givthe time, Irma couldn’t resist her “yes en this gift and was open to give it to me.” woman” mantra. For a month, Irma shadowed her teacher and While on the search for the substance took copious notes. I assume this included writof their business, Norma, Irma, and ing down very precise recipes, which Irma iniNorma’s three-month-old baby took a tially expected as well. At one point she asked Thelma and Louise road trip in a big green

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“I’VE TRAINED MYSELF TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT, I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG I’LL BE HERE.”

her teacher, “How many hot peppers do I put in this?” To which he replied, “Don’t be afraid. People will taste the fear. Just throw it in there.” Irma notes, “He didn’t teach me recipes, he taught me how to think of making one without fear so I could make any flavor.” One day, she asked him how much he would charge her. “He said ‘No, no, no, no,’ and I was like, ‘Si, si, si, si!’” He stopped her and said, “I read one time that for a man to be a real man you have to do three things: plant a tree, and I’ve already done that. Number two is to have children. Number three is to write a book. And through you I feel that I’m writing my book, so you complete me. You make me a man.” Again, my jaw drops and Irma nods. “I still get chills,” she says. “It was not about business, it was all about personal. It was not family, but it was about family. Like it had been for him.” We’re quiet and look at the kids running around us with sticky hands. Irma reflects, “Look what has happened here because of him.” Once Irma had learned the technique, she and Norma began looking for a location. As a first-time business, there wasn’t a whole lot of money to throw around. They initially wanted to start in Hillsboro Village, but they couldn’t find a space that was both available and affordable. There was also the issue of men and women in suits turning their noses up when they heard her only product was a gourmet popsicle. But calling a paleta a popsicle doesn’t do it justice. Made with all-natural ingredients, paletas are created with whatever is in season. Irma points out, “People who haven’t traveled to Mexico, they see tacos, tamales, a few times at restaurants. Mexico is a crazy array of food and everything. The whole premise is healthy and homemade. We don’t pile cheese on things.” At Las Paletas, they use a large black chalkboard that lists rotating flavors. As Irma says, “Life is

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complicated enough outside of this store.” When one of her regular younger customers, Evan, wanted a peanut butter flavored treat, although in Mexico they don’t eat peanut butter, Irma repeated her teacher’s instructions and said, “I don’t have a recipe, but who cares?” He was her six-year-old food critic (now a teenager) and like many of Irma’s customers, he gave her the opportunity to be creative. From a bouquet of Valentine’s Day roses inspiring Irma to make rose petal paletas to a customer offering basil from her garden, Irma’s 100-plus different flavors are the result of an organic process. Twelve years ago, Irma and Norma found their first space through Larry Cypress, who gave them a spot in his building at the corner of 12th and Kirkwood, a place they called home for eight years before 12South was very developed. “You heard about things and people being exchanged on corners, but I felt like in ten years it’ll be a different place. And it happened before that.” Not too long after, Irma was told there was money allocated for the streetscape that nobody had tapped into yet. So Irma, the owner of Mafiaoza’s, and some other locals started having meetings and used that money to get benches, mill the streets, and add a traffic light at 12th and Kirkwood. As Irma says, “When you’re involved, things can happen sooner than you can imagine.” Here, Irma gets teary-eyed. “I’ve lived in many places throughout my life. And I’ve traveled many places, but Nashville’s really my home. People have been really lovely in Nashville.” Irma’s love for the city is what fosters her evergrowing business. “Creative moments— every day in life is a chance to do something grand with business, with how you function in a community.”

The sisters started getting the word out about Las Paletas through organizing small taste tests at the shop, telling customers their story. From there, a strong network of gourmet-popsicle eaters formed. These relationships blossomed out of Irma’s lifelong dedication to carpe diem. “I’ve trained myself to live in the moment,” Irma adds. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here.” She touches my arm. “Right here I’m with you. I’m not thinking about my children or my husband or my friend from Peru who makes really good ceviche!” She laughs and stresses that she’s not perfect, but I highly doubt she’s not. Despite her now strong bond with Nashville, Irma’s original plan was to open Las Paletas and then hand over the reins to someone else. As a producer, Irma was ready to move on to the next project. “I thought, ‘I’ll set it up and train the people, then go on.’ But it became the production. It exploded from the get-go.” Irma and Norma did zero advertising. Paletas were experiences, and they focused on the local community instead. “I’ve never made a call to media like a paper or magazine, and I always picture one of our customers saying


something to somebody out of their good heart.” Which brings us to Bob. The Bob to be exact. Also twelve years ago, a “very dorky” guy named Bob, who owned a few coffee shops nearby, walked into Las Paletas. At the time, Irma was happy, single, and thirty-three. But there was something about this Bob that made her hide in the back of the store and say, “Here comes the coffee guy!” Bob kept offering to sell her paletas at one of his shops, Fido, but she was hesitant to branch out beyond her shop at that point. Not too soon after he made this offer, Bob told Irma he was going to be in an outdoor festival and asked if he could sell her paletas there. She agreed. But a few days later, the festival was canceled (Irma suspects foul play), and Bob ended up selling the paletas at Fido. The rest is history, I suppose. All of a sudden Irma couldn’t leave Nashville, and three years later, she and Bob were married on Shelby Street Bridge. “We’re so not perfect, oh my gosh, and I love it,” Irma gushes. She takes off her silver wedding ring and hands it to me. “This is uncut diamond,” she points to the small white rocks in the front of the band. “It’s imperfect, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. That’s how we all are—we’re imperfect people. To me it’s the best thing. My Bob, he’s not perfect, but he’s so perfect for me!” Engraved on the inside of the ring is “imperfectly perfect.” No, we’re not in a Nora Ephron movie; this is just Irma’s life. Since her expansion through Bob’s coffee shops and into her larger location (right across Kirkwood from the first shop space), Irma’s presence has made her somewhat of a household name around these parts. After appearing on Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network, Irma passed out paletas at Bobby’s Nashville book signing and was shocked when people asked her to sign their books. Overwhelmed, in the first

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book Irma scribbled, “I love you.” Irma still thinks about that book. “I really felt like I loved this person! I don’t know who she is! I ruined her book!” Irma doesn’t crave celebrity, but she would only welcome fame if that lady could sell the book on eBay and make some money. Irma assures me that if that lady came back she would write, “I love you again!” If you’ve ever been in Baja Burrito, Hot and Cold, Bongo Java, or Fido, chances are you’ve seen the Las Paletas sign near a freezer, advertising delicious flavors like honeydew, avocado, and chili chocolate. I ask about franchising and although they’ve received offers, Irma and Norma aren’t willing to surrender their low-stress and organic business model. “If it’s something fun, then we do it.” By expanding with Hot and Cold and Fido, Irma and Norma fulfilled their original dream to have a presence in Hillsboro Village. For Las Paletas, everything returns to community. “From kids teething, using their first popsicle to soothe the teething, to people getting paletas to take to hospices because when you’re dying you can’t digest a lot, to people delivering babies at the hospital because that’s all you can eat. All these stories are about the people,” Irma says. A woman told her that her son Oliver, who was three years old at the time (now twelve), saw a man open the door for them at Las Paletas and said, “All peoples are good to peoples at Las Paletas.” Irma touches my arm again, like we’ve been friends for years. “If we ever close Las Paletas for whatever reason, we were successful because Oliver believes that there’s a place where all peoples can be good to peoples.” Before I leave Irma, we manage to hug three times, and I walk away into the neighborhood she helped develop. After twelve successful years in 12South, it seems as though all “peoples” who meet Irma and her paletas fall in love a little bit. And with winter behind us and warm weather ahead, there’s no better place in Nashville to find something (or someone) so sweet and natural.

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KING OF

COFFEE HOW BOB BERNSTEIN TURNED COFFEE INTO COMMUNITY BY HENRY PILE | PHOTOS BY ABIGAIL BOBO

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IT’S THURSDAY MORNING. THE AIR OUTSIDE IS BRIGHT AND CRISP WITH A MELLOWING SPRINGTIME BITE. I’m lucky to find a parking spot behind Fido in Hillsboro Village. I’m sure many of you have come this way on a Saturday or Sunday and suffered the minor hell of circling the maze-like lot and quirky alleys for a dodgy parking spot. Even this weekday morning, the lot fills up quickly and the faces of other drivers scream “DAMN YOU! I WANT MY COFFEE NOW!” Walking into the circus that is Fido, I spot Bob Bernstein, the coffee business wunderkind who claims to be a dinosaur in the new Nashville. He’s standing near the cash register wearing jeans, a blue shirt, and glasses. This is to say, he looks like a regular guy. His vibe is not the glad-handing-business-ownerrockstar cavorting with the coolest up-and-comers in town. Instead, he talks to kids about superheroes and disappears into the crowd like Clark Kent.

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I slip past the line of people waiting to order Pete’s Breakfast Torta (my wife’s favorite), a Hangover bagel, or the Village Scramble. The line at Fido is as much a fixture as the coffee and food. The cash registers reside in the middle of the restaurant, but the line starts at the front door, glides past the registers, whips around the corner to the restrooms, and twists back and around to the middle. Undeterred, people queue up and wait. And wait. And wait. Bob and I walk to the back room and find a table in a relatively quiet part of the restaurant. The metallic ringing of forks and knives mixes with the slurping of foam-topped coffee and the muddled voices of patrons. Conversations erupt in laughter and debate. Mothers soothe crying babies. College students scribble notes and flip textbook pages. Guys in ties frantically type on laptops in a standoff of syncopated silence. This is the modern gathering place. This is the extension of the home.


This is, for most of us, a standard expectation of Nashville. But when Bob Bernstein arrived in town in 1988, this did not exist. Bob was born in Chicago. The “Windy City,” nicknamed for the blowhard politicians, swept over him and at an early age, he became a politics junkie. Looking back on his addiction, he recalls, “A campaign office for a congressman opened up across the street from my house. Somehow, I was attracted to it. At ten years old, I’d go there and empty garbage cans. Two years later, I’d be canvassing the neighborhood, and every two years I’d go back. I got the bug.” The bug was so bad that he dropped out of college to support Alan Cranston’s Democratic bid for president in 1984. Remember him? You shouldn’t. “It failed miserably,” Bob says, laughing. “At least we didn’t go through the embarrassment of losing forty-nine states. We just lost one and got out.” The eventual Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale, won the powerhouse state of Minnesota. He lost the other forty-nine states

to Ronald Reagan. This marked the beginning of the end for Bob’s foray in politics. He became disillusioned by the lack of sincerity. He recalls candidates preaching, “Let’s do good in the world,” but missing the mark when it came to taking care of their staff and supporters. He left the bouncing four-hundred-dollar paychecks and enrolled at San Francisco State to finish his final year of college. Career inspiration came from a chance meeting with a reporter at a bar. “I don’t recall who the guy was, but I realized I could take my love of writing and apply it to what I knew about politics.” Bob admits that school wasn’t really his bag. “I found my traditional schooling to be a series of memorizing and restating the facts,” he says, almost disappointedly. “No one encouraged thinking. That is my view looking back today. At the time, school was just boring.” Before journalism captured his imagination, his mantra revolved around “what is the least amount

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BOB BERNSTEIN:

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WHERE DID PEOPLE GET COFFEE IN 1991? GOD FORBID, THEY MADE IT AT HOME!

of work I have to do a year I realized I didn’t want to do all of George H. W. Bush is throwing up at a state dinner in Japan. Pope John Paul II that,” he says. to get by?” So, he quit. “When I quit, my boss issues an apology and lifts the edict of He moved back to Chicago to at- said, ‘What are you going to do?’ I said, the Inquisition against Galileo Galilei. tend the journalism ‘I think I’m going to open a coffee house.’ Bob Bernstein attends his first coffee graduate program at But I wasn’t positive,” he laughs. Why is conference. These are all equally imporNorthwestern. For a this funny? Because, in 1991, Nashville tant. At the convention, Bob kept wanderguy who didn’t care had exactly zero coffee shops. In stark contrast, today the city and ing back to the political action discusmuch about school, this was a big step, surrounding neighborhoods are brim- sions on the coffee business. He was and Northwestern is ming with coffee shops. How many? moved by the industrialization of cofan incredible school. I stopped counting after seventy-five, fee farming and bastardization of plant But for Bob, it was and that was just the first batch that ap- growth. “When we first started buying the face value of peared on Google Maps. As a matter of coffee, ‘organic’ was the only buzzword education that reso- fact, when I drive to work, I drive past in the industry, but even then it was nated. “First practi- or near seven coffee shops. I drive six hard to find,” he explains. “Organic” becal school I went to,” miles from East Nashville to Downtown. came the political dream he’d sought as he tells me. “I hate to That’s more than one coffee shop per a ten-year-old boy. This was a belief he say that Northwestern’s top-rated jour- mile. Where did people get coffee in could get behind, promote, and organize nalism school was a trade school, but 1991? God forbid, they made it at home! without a caucus or polling committee. He studied the quality of the beans that’s kind of what it was.” The profes- Where was the “community” in coffee at sors critiqued his work, helped him get the kitchen table? How would one have and purposeful roasting, but he loved better, and made him repeat the writing gotten a swirly foam heart from a per- the politics. Today, his passion for over and over again. It was the hands-on colated cup? What filled the void when change is still greater than caffeine the buzz of the coffee grinder went si- and revs up as he tears through the bueducation he needed. A year after graduating, Bob got moti- lent? Where would I have stood in line reaucracy of coffee. In a breath, he says, vated to look for a job writing. He draft- with the lead singer of The Lone Bellow “Next came ‘shade-grown’ coffee to save ed up a resume and battered the West and pretended not to know he’s the lead the migrating birds. The large shade Coast with information about the tal- singer of The Lone Bellow (true story)? trees covered coffee beans and kept ented Bob Bernstein. But days became Where else could we have gone, plugged the sun off, improved growth, and proweeks and all he got was crickets. Noth- in headphones, and ignored each other tected biodiversity. Some coffee farmers began genetically altering the coffee in public? ing. Silence. With $18,000, a few adventurous in- plants to grow without shade trees. Bird Turns out, he also applied at a publication called the Nashville Business vestors, and balls of steel, Bob changed watchers noticed a change in migrating Journal. This small print from Music the daytime dynamic of the way Nash- bird patterns, which led to exposure of City nearly slipped his mind, but luckily ville engages in casual caffeinated meet- the genetically altered beans and the they called him back. With hopes of the ings, creative co-ops, and centers of birth of a new politically charged focus West Coast dashed, he packed up and community. Bongo Java crossed from on sustainable plants.” He goes on, but traveled south. This should have been a an idea to a real business, and Nashville you get the point—he loves this. As he was earning an advanced degree dream come true, but as with most jobs would never be the same. Before you start kissing his feet (and in coffeeology (I made that up), he still in Bob’s life, he wouldn’t last long. After three years of throwing back please don’t do that), Bob’s motiva- had to get his shop opened. Back in 1992, cheap drinks in bars, schmoozing with tion wasn’t just community develop- Belmont Boulevard wasn’t much of a lawmakers, and hurriedly cranking out ment. Truth is, he didn’t want to keep destination point. Bongo Java was built political pieces at three different pub- taking orders from bosses and cranking in an old house behind the university lications, Bob had had enough. “I was out “good enough” work. A fire burned across from what is now the Curb Event bored and I got lazy. I was not stimu- inside him, and he made a promise to Center. There was no strip of cool reslated,” he says, without much regret. “It himself: I’m quitting journalism before I taurants, no beautiful coeds sauntering was like school and I did enough to get turn thirty. With a few weeks until his down the sidewalk. Just Bob and Interby. I thought I was going to love jour- birthday, he left journalism and started national Market. To make it more difficult, Bob wasn’t nalism, become the next Mike Royko a plan to open Bongo Java on Belmont a businessman, nor did he have any de[Chicago political columnist], get paid Boulevard. The year is now 1992. Nirvana is on sire to open a restaurant. As a matter of zillions of dollars, turn them all into books and make more money, but after the cover of Rolling Stone. President fact, his college years of tending bar and

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waiting tables soured his taste for their real issues are,” he explains. Together, they imthe work, and he swore he’d never ported forty thousand pounds of Mexican coffee. They do it again. Admittedly, Bob was a hand-selected producers and ensured high-quality novice with food and drink, but he product was purchased at a fair price. Quickly, the cofelt the timing of the concept was operative became 100 percent organic and supported right. When he finally opened the several small farmers. Their reputation for honest reladoors in 1993, pent-up demand tionships and good beans expanded their reach. Today, burst like a dam. Bob knew the city twenty-seven roasters import four million pounds of was clamoring for something new. coffee beans per year. This goes back to the notion of doing good work. He says, “When I opened Bongo Java, I knew it wasn’t the world’s “Our slogan came out of that,” Bob reminds me. “Bongo greatest coffee shop, but at that Java supports communities by expanding the definition of quality to include how stuff is produced, purchased, time, anything you did was great.” The truth is, it was great. The and served.” Yes, he said “stuff.” That word is in their crowds weren’t looking for fancy motto and it permeates the business. “Our other niche coffee; they were looking for a com- in the coffee industry is that we take the ‘stuff’ attitude. fortable place to engage, work, and We’re not pretentious. We’re gonna have fun with it. We enjoy life. Bob labored long hours, know what we’re doing, but we’re not going to beat you casting aside the shell of his former over the head with it,” he says with a grin. The “stuff” Bongo does with coffee now extends “good enough to get by” self. He set to their food. Head Chef John Stephenson writes his his sights on doing great work. Not long after Bongo Java checks to local farmers whenever possible. This matters opened, Bob wanted to launch a to Bob because he thrives on that local story. Nashville’s roasting business. Through some growth stretches from coffee shops, to retail shops, to friends, he found a hair salon for small farms, and Bob supports it. He beams with pride sale in a quiet part of town called as he tells me, “I believe we buy more locally sourced Hillsboro Village. Many of the di- food than any other restaurant in Nashville.” Today, you’ll find Bob’s retail coffee beans at Whole lapidated buildings on the street sat vacant. Only a few businesses Foods, his Grins restaurant serving students at Vanderoperated in the tiny ghost town, bilt University, and his coffee shops continuing to grow. but Bob had a vision of his roaster My favorite expansion is Hot and Cold, which he opened filling the air with the aroma of right next door to Fido. Classic Bob. He recognizes that folks waiting in that long snaking line want a cup of joe, warm coffee beans. His plans to lay out the new space were perfectly de- so they pop in next door to order before waiting for food. And his story gets better. You may also know that his signed when, in the middle of the night, the owners of the pet shop next door disappeared. Nothing malicious, wife, Irma Paz-Bernstein, and her sister, Norma Paz, they just closed up shop and boogied out. Ever the op- own Las Paletas (they beat Bobby Flay on Throwdown). portunist, Bob grabbed up the pet shop, abandoned You may know that Bongo Java and Fido have been votthe name “Bongo 2go,” and built Fido. In short order, ed Nashville’s “Best Coffee House” a combined fifteen his first full-blown restaurant and coffee roasting busi- times. You may know that, despite the rapid expansion ness opened. As in Belmont, the Hillsboro Village doors of coffee shops in every local zip code, Bongo remains opened and the people came. So did more businesses. relevant, busy, and valuable. You may look at all this and think it was obvious, even easy. So did more success. “I opened up with fear of failure,” Bob says. “I still Next up was East Nashville. In 1998, a tornado ripped up the ancient trees and ravaged the historic homes. have fear of failure.” Unlike Alan Cranston, Walter The area was left vacant, lawless, and ripe for develop- Mondale, or any of those politicians of thin ideologies, ment. Bongo East opened across from what would be- Bob Bernstein made reality and integrity his platform. come Slow Bar (now Three Crow). Again, Bob beat the He set out to work hard and find himself, but he ended crowds and established himself as a flag bearer of the up changing Nashville in an important way. His coffee shops have become magnets for creatives, students, and next great bastion of Nashville. As he opened new coffee houses, Bob accomplished professionals. He has positively affected the quality of bigger feats in the politics of coffee. In 1999, he started life for small farmers in local and global settings. He has a small importing cooperative with six other founding essentially become the politician he longed to discover members. “The idea was to buy directly from small and if buying a cup of coffee is a vote of confidence, I’m farmers, develop relationships, and understand what voting for Bernstein.

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IT’S NOT OFTEN A BAND IS BUILT AROUND AN ALBUM. But, then, nothing about Nashville’s The Get Togethers is ordinary. Conceived in Austin, written in Seattle, recorded in Nashville, and inspired by events that took place in Houston, the group’s fall 2013 debut, Home As In Houston, is a concept album about 2007, the self-proclaimed “absolute worst year” of vocalist Bethany Frazier’s life. That might sound dramatic, but in context, it’s actually an understatement. An affair with a teacher and its heartbreaking aftermath left then seventeenyear-old Bethany headed toward a downward spiral. She eventually fled to Austin, where she decided to write Home as a way to move past the events. Channeling enough tragedy to fill a Behind the Music special, the genesis of

The Get Togethers came in the form of a car crash—a head-on collision, to be exact. The wreck left Bethany in the hospital, where she would then, by chance, meet her future husband and bandmate, Daniel Frazier. The two found a new start in Daniel’s native Nashville and eventually turned what was conceived as a solo project into a full band with the assistance of Daniel’s brother, Andrew Frazier, and friend Kayce Grossman. The foursome spent time in Seattle writing and demoing Home As In Houston, returning to Nashville’s Forty-One Fifteen studio to record with producer Taylor Bray. The result is a twelve-song story, which reads like a memoir—each track named after and based on a different month of Bethany’s life in 2007. Though on paper The Get Togethers

YOU OUGHTA KNOW: THE GET TOGETHERS are still a new band, the span of their subject matter, the emotional importance of their music, and the polished confidence of their indie pop sound might fool you into thinking they’ve been at it a lot longer. Stylistically, they channel the pop sensibilities of Rilo Kiley, the somber earnestness of The National, and the sweeping arrangements of Death Cab For Cutie. Already a fixture in Nashville’s music scene, the group is touring and quickly picking up steam thanks, in no small part, to their infectiously catchy single, “June (Oh My God).” A band not by choice, but by chance, the real question is this: now that Bethany has found some closure in the form of Home As In Houston, what stories will The Get Togethers have up their sleeves to share with us next?

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Profile for Native

NATIVE | May 2014 | Nashville, TN  

Featuring Nashville's Williams Honey Farm, The Weeks, Vintage Baseball, RUSH Bicycle Messengers, Little Harpeth Brewing, Las Paletas, and Bo...

NATIVE | May 2014 | Nashville, TN  

Featuring Nashville's Williams Honey Farm, The Weeks, Vintage Baseball, RUSH Bicycle Messengers, Little Harpeth Brewing, Las Paletas, and Bo...

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