ISSUE No.3 SEPTEMBER 2012
Blackfoot Gypsies | Seed Space | Tricycle Sweets Co. | The Workshop No.308 | Sideshow Sign Co. | Humphreys Street Coffee Co. | Casey Pierce Searching for Sugar Man | Joe Naturalâ€™s | Springwater | and more...
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N AT I V E
AUGUST | 2012
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CONTENTS SEPTEMBER 2012
Blackfoot Gypsies are causing a ruckus and making people dance. If you’ve ever seen them play, that shouldn’t be surprising.
Dan Furbish, The Oasis Center, and Halcyon Bike Shop teamed up to give kids work experience, skills, and transportation.
We spend a day at Roaring Creek Farm with the man behind Nashville’s Joe Natural’s farm-to-table restaurants.
Rock N F:)king Roll
Planting A Seed
A few years ago, artist Adrienne Outlaw glimpsed Nashville’s yearning for more contemporary art, so she started a small art gallery—inside her studio.
Training & Wheels
Luke Stockdale of Sideshow Sign Co. makes “old” signs by hand, from scratch. A sideshow no more, they’re quickly becoming the main event.
Hard To Fake
One of Earth’s best dive bars, Springwater is like falling in love with someone who ruined your life.
Film Nerd in Music City: Who is Rodriguez?
Good Coffee For A Change
May Cheung wanted to bake beautiful and delicious things— and ride her tricycle—so she started a company that would let her do both.
Inspired by the movie Short Circuit, the delicious Johnny Five can turn you into a human again.
Brian Hicks started a roasting company, but unlike most other roasting companies, his is run by teenagers who learn job skills and earn a chance at scholarship money.
Cocktail of the Month by No. 308
Mr. Natural Himself
Searching for Sugar Man tells the story of the enigmatic Detroit musician Sixto Rodriguez, whose brilliant songwriting has never earned him a penny—in America.
Cowboy With Brains
Casey Pierce is a brilliant visual artist by day and philosophizing limo driver by night.
Native animal of the month
Signs Along The Way
Marc Scibilia has a new record out, and while it wasn’t easy, he’s finally seeing the bright days he knew were coming.
mÄmbu is an eclectic and inviting place to enjoy enjoying an intimate dinner date or drinks with friends, but it’s also great spot to start a night on the town. Our fully-stocked Hideaway Bar features the finest spirits, wines and beers. Our wine list brings you variety and quality at affordable prices. We also have amazing house specialty drinks like the Ginger Bomb (made from our own house-made ginger elixir), the Lemon Balm Martini (our version of a lemon drop martini), and the Presbyterian (made from local Belle Meade bourbon). We also serve local organic gin and vanilla bean vodka from Corsair Artisan Distillery. Our drinks are especially good when enjoyed on our funky covered patio. In the mood for something light? We also offer very affordable small plates, that are $5 or $6 during Happy Hour, which is from 4-6 Monday-Friday. It’s time for you to experience mÄmbu. We can’t wait to see you!
i there! If you’re reading Native for the first time, take a moment to stop and high-five someone nearby. When you do, exclaim, “I’m reading Native!” If there aren’t any other people around, put down the magazine for a second and simply high-five yourself or a nearby housepet. If you’ve read Native before, THAT IS AWESOME. We were pretty sure people were reading it (The issues disappear from the racks like hotcakes. Actually, that’s a bad analogy; we have very little experience with hotcakes. We’re not even entirely sure what a hotcake is. Trust us, though, the magazines disappear fast, OK?). We’re just glad it’s you reading this, and not someone else. So, welcome back. You should probably high-five the people around you, too. Hot diggity dog, do we have a good issue for you! (Sorry, we’re just really excited.) We think it’s great, but you’ll have to be the judge. (Be nice.) This is our third issue, if you haven’t gathered that already, from the fact that two issues came before it, and from the fact that it says “Issue No. 3” on the cover and spine. It has been said that “great things come in threes,” and while there will be many great issues to come after this one, we like to think that that saying is true, at least until our next issue comes out. It has also been said, in a song written by Bob Dorough for Schoolhouse Rock, that “three is a magic number.” While science has yet to confirm this theory, one thing is certain: you’ll find all kinds of magical (in the metaphorical sense) stories in this issue about the people, places, and things (known to some as nouns) that make Nashville one of the best cities on planet Earth. We hope you enjoy the stories we’ve found for you, and we hope Native is something you can be proud of. It’s because of people like you (and the people whose stories are printed in these pages) that this is a great place to be. So, thank you for reading. With each word that you take in, you’re proving the cynics wrong. Abracadabra! See you again in October.
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advertising sales: COLIN PIGOTT, JOE CLEMONS, ALLEN JONES, MATT LEPPER writers: ANDRI ALEXANDROU CHUCK BEARD SARAH BROWN PAUL FRANKLIN CLAIRE GIBSON MEGAN PACELLA COLIN PIGOTT HENRY PILE ALYSSA RABUN photographers: WILL HOLLAND ALLISTER ANN MARTIN CHERRY DANIEL MEIGS JON MORRELL CAMERON POWELL to advertise, contact: SALES@NATV.IS for all other enquiries: HELLO@NATV.IS
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Special thanks to all of our advertisers for believing in us and supporting our third issue. Without you, we couldn’t what we do.
SIGNS ALONG THE WAY By CHUCK BEARD Photos by ALLISTER ANN
“Marc, you’re failing,” the Buffalo, New York high school teacher said, sitting in her classroom, looking frustrated.
“What do you think you’re going to do with your life?”
“I want to make music,” a young Marc Scibilia answered confidently. He wasn’t joking, he wasn’t laughing. The surefire answer took the teacher by surprise. She replied, “What are you going to do, move to Nashville and write songs?” She was being sarcastic. She was being rude. "That sounds like a pretty good idea, actually," Marc smiled. Coming from a musical family, Marc knew that a life in music was possible. Some of his first memories were of going to see his father and grandfather play around the Buffalo area. Finger-style guitar players and musicians from all over the world would stay at the Scibilia’s Buffalo residence when passing through town. Though Marc’s grandfather was a full-time barber, his passion was truly the bass guitar. “My grandfather grew up and played with guys like Tommy Tedesco of the Wrecking Crew, but his mother died when he was nine, so he had to work full time to support his brothers and sisters,” Marc says. “Both my dad and my grandfather had chances to move for music, go out on a limb. They both had things that came up, and I always saw a slight bit of unsatisfied hunger in both of them that scared me.” Seventeen-year-old Marc took his teacher’s sarcastic comment as a sign and good advice. He knew his next move needed to be for music. He’d recently won a singing contest for a local radio station, so the only question was where to go. The decision came down to New York,
LA, or Nashville. Marc knew two people in Nashville. That was two more than he knew in the other cities combined. It was also the cheapest move. So that was it, Marc was Music City-bound. That was his initial move to Nashville almost a decade ago. During the first go-round, Marc spent his time writing music, making friends, and learning to navigate the world of record labels. He was a raw, young talent within a city filled with both. He learned how to record and purchased his own equipment, but life wasn’t easy. “The first three or four years of living in Nashville, it felt like every door was hard to open. I was looking everywhere for someone to help, and the whole thing was really depressing,” Marc says. “I made a record independently and I spent everything I had. So when I was 21, I moved back in with my parents in Buffalo.” After a few months back in New York, fate came calling—well, more like a handful of Music City friends. The group of close-knit musicians had decided to lease an apartment in the Belmont area. It had an open space that they wanted to turn into a recording studio, but they needed more equipment. Marc had the necessary gear and decided to move in. Compiling all of the recording gear they could muster, The Brown Owl Studio was born. As the clients and fans began to grow, so did Marc’s want and will to get his own material out into the world. But, as fate would have it, the Belmont house sold, and the Brown Owl Studio had to re-
"BOTH MY DAD AND MY GRANDFATHER HAD CHANCES TO MOVE FOR MUSIC, GO OUT ON A LIMB. THEY BOTH HAD THINGS THAT CAME UP, AND I ALWAYS SAW A SLIGHT BIT OF UNSATISFIED HUNGER IN BOTH OF THEM THAT SCARED ME." /// 9
locate to Berry Hill in 2009. “I was horribly in debt, and was renting an empty drum closet in the studio,” Marc says. “In the morning, I’d wake up to people tuning instruments and the snare drum. I had to leave every morning, because they were recording all day.” But Marc’s debt-ridden drum-closet days were coming to an end. When asked what happened between moving back to Nashville and releasing his new self-titled EP with Hickory Records, Marc said, “Well, it’s kind of a funny story. On my way home from playing a show in Florida, a friend called me from Nashville. He was getting ready for a big Country Music Hall of Fame induction, and he had an open seat for me at the black-tie event.” “You went, I presume?” I had to ask. “Not only did I go, but I sat five feet from the person who
"HIS WIFE THOUGHT I LOOKED LIKE ORLANDO BLOOM. WHICH WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR HIM TO TAKE A MEETING WITH ME THE NEXT MORNING." was being inducted that night. The sad thing was I didn’t know what ‘black-tie event’ meant. So there I was, sitting next to all of these big-time musicians and music business people in tuxedos, and I was wearing a white button-down shirt and khakis.” Marc laughs. Soon after the black-tie incident, questions about the confident, quiet, inappropriately-dressed kid got answered. "I ended up meeting a really influential person in the music business. His wife thought I looked like Orlando Bloom.” He pauses to laugh and then adds, “Which was good enough for him to take a meeting with me the next morning. It all started there.” The next morning, Marc played two songs for his new friend, and 30 minutes later, was playing the same two songs in front of the President of Sony ATV. Before long, he was signed with Hickory Records, a division of Sony. They allowed him the flexibility and time to continue honing his music at The Brown Owl, where he had grown comfortable recording. Marc spent the next year and a half experimenting and creating his own type of music. He hoped that it would inspire others in the same way others had inspired him. When asked to recall specific musicians who had influenced his love of songwriting,
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"I'M REALLY PROUD OF ALL THE COMPROMISES I HAVEN'T HAD TO MAKE WITH MY MUSIC" two projects immediately came to mind: the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill and Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Marc continued, "When I listened to those two albums for the first time, I instantly felt like they had a real understanding of what they were doing with every word and where they were going with their music. They were obviously having a lot of fun doing it, too." Albeit an eclectic mix to choose from, I understood as Marc explained his own music-making process. Before meeting him, I had listened to some of his older songs, and I had sensed a playful direction within his soulful voice and words. That balanced juxtaposition of entertainment and meaning can still be found in his new music. Not only is it sincere and honest, but the videos and production be-
hind the EP, filled with cameos of family and friends, are a reflection of the person he is in real life. No big production; no manipulations of the truth. Marc clarified, "I'm really proud of all the compromises I haven’t had to make with my music. This is exactly what I want to be doing: surrounding myself with the best people I can find and searching for the sound together. No pre-set formulas, paths, or destinations. It's a good time." It isn’t difficult to make the connection between the candid, optimist and the talented songwriter who fills his songs with sincerity and remarkable storytelling. Before parting ways, Marc handed me a copy of his new self-titled EP that happens to have been mixed by Michael Brauer (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney), mastered by Bob Ludwig (AC/DC, Rush, Jimi Hendrix), and co-produced by
Nashville’s Jason Lehning (Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, Nickel Creek). Marc’s work is clearly worth their time. It is filled with one heartfelt song after another. As soon as I got home from talking with him, I “liked” his fan page on Facebook and instantly smiled. Upon his Marc’s suggestion, I watched a video of his popular song “How Bad We Need Each Other.” Only in this version, Marc wasn’t playing at all, he wasn’t even in the video. Instead, the song was performed by a music teacher and two high school students in Olympia, Washington at their graduation ceremony. It was a touching performance. Like Marc in his high school days, the kids didn’t seem phased as they faced the rest of their lives, looking for signs along the way. I can only imagine this video made his family and a certain high school teacher in Buffalo very happy.
ROCK N F:)KING ROLL By Paul Franklin | Photos by Will Holland
Matthew Paige lives in a bus. Seriously, he lives in a blue school bus that is modified to be his home, writing room, practice space, tour bus, and whatever else he may want it to be. Above all, it is Matthewâ€™s personal trans-continental caravan of ass-kicking and take-charge blaring music. Matthew and his bus are only one half of the amazing and straightforward American rock and roll band Blackfoot Gypsies. Matthew and drummer Zack Murphy create songs that every listener can recognize for what they are. But at the same time the duo creates such works that are uniquely their own.
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Matthew and Zack’s personal band story is one for the records, one for inspiration in serendipitous circumstances, and one of mutual minds aligning in perfect timing underneath the sun. When he was a new transplant to Nashville, Matthew stumbled upon Zack by pure luck. Sharing the same roof of a local coffee shop at the same time, the two recognized each other as similar musicians without a word spoken. But the quick passing was as temporary as a silent sip of espresso. Not knowing too many people in his new city, Matthew perused the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist and saw a posting that read something along the lines of ‘You: shaggy hair and looking like a rock and roller. Me: Long hair down to the
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shoulders and ready to play bombastic drums.’ As luck would have it, Blackfoot Gypsies started on the internet. From that point on Zack and Matthew went on to create some of the most thunderous, to the point, and melodious American music that Nashville has ever seen. To be upfront; Blackfoot Gypsies is a duo of a distorted guitar and on point drumming. The two players understand that a comparison to other rock and roll two-teams is an easy one, yet Blackfoot Gypsies have something all to their own. The two of a kind capture guitar playing from the tenured and historical bluesmen of lore, funnel it through just the right amount of distortion, add Charlie Watts-style drum-
ming, put a touch of country vocals on top, and create an astounding set of works that will make your ears perk up while your legs start dancing. Matthew Paige is a traveler at heart. In the late summer of 2009, he planned on touring with his Beaverton, Oregon band Love Trucker, but his fellow “Truckers” decided to separate shortly before the tour. That left Matthew all alone with an abrupt decision to make; stay in North Oregon or head out on the tour solo. Matthew decided upon the latter and made his meandering way to Nashville on the ’78 GMC school bus that had been readied for the tour. Matthew and I met at the Mercy Lounge. We planned on meeting at the venue, but to our surprise the bar
wasn’t serving in the middle of the day. Being the Boy Scout that he is, Matthew pulled two cold Yuenglings out of his satchel, and we found an out-ofthe-way space to sit and talk while we drank. During Matthew’s 2009 cross-country tour, Nashville was just another stop on the map. Yet when he arrived in Music City he was astounded not only by the history of our town, but the immense amount of musical talent that is commonplace here. After spending only two days here during September of 2009, Matthew decided that this was where he needed to live, write and play music. Three months later, he parked the bus and began looking to start a band. Matthew’s one-man music tour around the country was the basic foundation for what would later become Blackfoot Gypsies. He was originally just the guitar player for Love Trucker, but circumstance forced Matthew to teach himself how to sing. He quit smoking so his singing capabilities would improve. While on the road, he experimented with other styles, beyond Love Trucker’s strict blues and country music. The trip served as a transitional period for him personally, and for his songwriting as well. What Matthew produced is, in his words, “combining the three things I love the most—real country music, blues music and the rock and roll of young 1950’s angst from Sun Records bands. And I didn’t start playing that until I moved here actually.” Matthew and I spent a decent amount of time and words talking about the type of music he and Zack make, and specifically how to categorize or label it. Matthew suggested using the term “Trans-Western”, an idea he picked up from the side of a truck he saw while traveling. In his eyes, “rock-and-roll” is accompanied by too many preconceived notions—nü-
metal, braided goatees, etc. It appears that even the genre title “Americana” is rather selective as well. “Well it’s American music, so I figured Americana would be fitting,” says Matthew. But some Americana snobs begged to differ. Zack says, in a more succinct voice, that Blackfoot Gypsies play “Rock and F***ing Roll.” The important measurement is not the label of genre, but the music itself. They don’t appear to lose sleep over how they categorize themselves because their music speaks clearly
"COMBINING THE THREE THINGS I LOVE THE MOST— REAL COUNTRY MUSIC, BLUES MUSIC AND THE ROCK AND ROLL OF YOUNG 1950'S ANGST FROM SUN RECORDS." enough. Matthew’s goal for the band is to create a “visceral feeling” in the audience while hearing their music. It’s loud and abrasive and fun. They have a few amplifiers, a red-white-and-blue drum kit, and American flags behind them. Matt’s high-range singing has a natural tremolo when he plays live. It adds or fosters a sense of excitement from belting out the lyrics so vigorously. The duo’s enthusiasm naturally converts over to the audience. “Seeing people dance and move to music is great and I want to be the cause of
that.” Matthew believes that a band can get lost in the search to distinguish itself by adding multiple hyphens to their self-prescribed style, and it takes away from the music. “Math-rock, indie-folk, and Radiohead are cool and all, but it doesn’t make you want to get up and dance with a girl,” he adds. This city has been a central figure to the formation of Blackfoot Gypsies and more than just the location where Zack and Matthew met. Both band members believe that being a Nashville band has helped them improve immensely. Zack and Matthew feel that it engenders an attitude of continuous self-improvement in regards to their music. “Being around so many musicians made me want to be better,” says Matthew. Zack says the competition is not aggressive, but there are always so many shows going on concurrently, that they have to be better to draw an audience. Personally, I don’t think Blackfoot Gypsies is lacking stage charisma. Matthew and Zack were meant to be on stage. It’s funny to think about how Matthew started out playing sad, acoustic-style blues and country songs. Now, he plays with the motions of iconic rockstars, but it doesn’t appear to be labored or practiced in a mirror. Typically, within the first few songs of a live set, his eyeglasses fall off of his face as he flails around violently and with tailored swiftness. The band is not solely an explosion of rock and roll. They create droning unrehearsed breakdowns in some of their songs. They’re then able to reenter their original song structure without missing a beat. Matthew told me that “there is no substitute for sweat” when it comes to playing live. The two of them obviously work well together. Matthew’s energy and presence is equaled by Zack, whose aggressive drumming forms an unwavering foundation for Matthew’s vocals and guitar—but you can even see him
singing along through his coarse Viking hair. Whatever Matthew brings to the stage, Zack does too. “One of the things I look for is dancing in the crowd,” Zack says. If you have not had the opportunity yet to see Blackfoot Gypsies perform, you can download their live-recorded EP “Dandee Cheeseball” at their Bandcamp site. The five song EP was recorded entirely on three tracks at Fry Pharmacy in Old Hickory. It is fast, fiery and provides a great litmus test for how the band sounds live. One of my favorite Blackfoot Gypsies songs, “Dance,” is just as good on Dandee Cheeseball as it is live. When they played “Dance” at the Exit/In, Matthew prefaced the song by saying, “It’s for all of you in the crowd. Just hang onto it and rub against it.” Their first EP, which is self titled and also available on their Bandcamp, provides a more robust look at their influences and songwriting capabilities. “I’m not doing anything new, I’m just a finger pointer” trying to introduce people to more country, rock-and-roll and blues. Reinterpreting what came before is something that musicians have done for ages. The hard part for a band is to put their unique seal or mark on their songs. Blackfoot Gypsies have found their mark. The song “Keep Running” is a great example of blues music played via country
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guitar and melody. Matthew shows more than anything his control over the slide, but also mixes Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons vocals. A great segment of the song is at the end of the first verse when he sings “listen to me talk” and allows the guitar to do all the talking necessary. Immediately after “Keep Running,” the band changes gears and presents a great droney song called “Come In, Sit Down.” It’s abrasive and melodic; it’s head-nodding and foottapping; it’s an example of just how good a guitar and a drum set can be in case we all forgot. From the opening track “Coming Through The Pines” to the slow closer “Just Can’t Stop (myself from loving you),” the band validates that American songs of travel, love, heartache, and just pure movement are a formula that can never disappoint if done correctly. With two EP’s down and a new fulllength record “On The Loose,” they show how much they can improve on an already great sound. They recorded at the Bomb Shelter in East Nashville with Andrija Tokic. The entire recording process was done on a 24-track two-inch tape.
“IT'S FOR ALL OF YOU IN THE CROWD. JUST HANG ONTO IT AND RUB AGAINST IT.” After the recording was done, they took the master to United Record Pressing and now have vinyl copies for sale. “I was really proud it never saw a computer.” People can argue until they are blue in the face about analogue vs. digital, but for a band so clean and simple in their execution, analogue just makes sense. Blackfoot Gypsies’ new music video “Don’t Know About You” is a fun exploration into a day in the life of Zack and Matthew. They hang out in American Flag
short shorts, drink beer, play some music, and shoot their empties with a BB gun. But all of their antics don’t overshadow what is most important, and that is a great f***ing song. It’s everything they are trying to make. It has great country vocals, heavy guitar and drums, and above all else, it’s danceable. It’s invigorating to see such a band that says “f*** it all” to the super-hip, trying-harder-to-be-cool-than-to-makegood-music attitude. They like to play songs that bring people together. Blackfoot Gypsies’ energy and efforts are put into their songs more than into their image. You get the sense that they are simply themselves. While they dress strangely, and live strangely, it’s impossible to imagine them any other way. And their product is better for it. To borrow from Zack’s comment on their music, the two certainly look like “rock and f***ing roll[ers].” If they weren’t playing music for crowds, they probably wouldn’t know what to do with their time. But what do you expect from a Viking-in-overalls drummer and a guy who lives on a bus?
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Free Indoor Gardening Classes: 9/8: FALL GARDEN 9/22: HYDROPONICS /// 17
Planting a Seed
By Colin Pigott and Andri Alexandrou Photos by Cameron Powell
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What makes an arts community thrive? The chief components are easy enough to see: artists, galleries, studios, and people who love art. Less easy to define and develop are the threads with which these elements are woven together. Some of these include affordable space, opportunities for artists to commingle and collaborate, and art patrons moved to write the checks to deck their walls and sustain the whole enterprise. Can we have all of this in Nashville, where music often dominates the cultural landscape? The answer would seem to be “yes.”
Nashville's streets are still lined with the shells of old department stores, industrial buildings, and residential spaces that suggest our city's vast potential for future transformation. Artists of all kinds have been and continue to be drawn by this untapped potential. They continue to add new layers to our creative community and grow the diversity of our cultural output. But the question remains: can they thrive here? Seed Space sits in one of those old buildings, a former hosiery mill on Chestnut Street. It is the product of Nashville-based artist Adrienne Outlaw’s collaboration with the nonprofit Nashville Cultural Arts Project (NCAP), and together they hope to provide a unique experience for Nashville’s art enthusiasts. Clocking in at a modest one hundred square feet, and contained entirely within Adrienne’s own studio space, Seed Space is aptly named. It’s a relative sapling in Nashville’s urban post-industrial forest, yet it regularly hosts world-class exhibits of experimental works that are welcomed by eager audiences—and many of those audiences are filled with new art patrons. Inspired by similar programs in Chicago and Minneapolis, the Seed Space team adapted a growing business model called CSArt, which brings a bit of DIY farmers’ market spirit into the sometimes stuffy world of art collection. It’s a familiar concept: patrons of local farms pay a one-time fee for a share in a CSA (“community supported agriculture”) program, and they then receive regular hauls of fresh fruits and veggies for the duration of the growing season. Seed Space is applying this concept to art, with hope that they can put more art into
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the hands of more collectors, generate a steady cash flow for artists and gallery alike, and thus cultivate a sustainable corner of Nashville’s art community. From each Seed Space show opening, CSArt shareholders get to take home crates of artworks from top-tier creatives. Soon after coming to Nashville from Chicago, Adrienne started the Nashville Area Arts Blog, hoping to connect with other artists, critics, and curators. She started an events calendar and got her finger on the pulse of the Nashville arts community. In 2003, Adrienne asked NCAP for funding to help her launch the website and her collaboration with the nonprofit has spawned many successful events and exhibits for nearly a decade. One experiment, 2009’s “Art Makes Place,” responded to Nashville’s propensity for installing traditional public art pieces—you know, dancing naked people, life-size Elvises, plaster guitars, they’re everywhere. For the project, six artists displayed works for thirty-minute intervals at locations all across town, and Adrienne glimpsed Nashville’s appetite for the avant-garde. She thought she could continue to facilitate and find funding for progressive, home-grown art, so she opened a corner of her personal studio to the community and in so doing created Seed Space. That was almost three years ago. Seed Space is now curated by Rachel Bubis, a Nashville native, and CSArt has a growing roster of contributing artists. Rachel and Adrienne encourage artists to take risks: to install mixed media pieces, to do performance art, or simply to show a collection in progress that’s not yet ready for a large gallery. Their emphasis on experimental-
Blockage is part of Adrienne Outlawâ€™s new body of work in development called Sweet Demise. More at AdrienneOutlaw.com /// 21
ism is partly a function of what they call the “uniqueness of the space”—features such as the one wall that gets wet when it rains, or the possibility of squirrels wandering into an exhibit—but they always wanted something beyond traditional, two-dimensional wall art. Adrienne notes, “There are plenty of venues that do that.” For example, one recent trend at Seed Space has been the use of sound and video media. “We didn’t have in mind that it was going to be so technologybased, but most of the shows that we have now fit that category,” Rachel says. That willingness to grow and progress organically with the interests of artists and audiences is part of what makes their role so valuable. A decade ago in Germantown, the Nashville Cultural Arts Project found a home in the Neuhoff Complex, the shells of an erstwhile slaughterhouse and meat packing facility. Spared by a timely donation, the spacious campus on the Cumberland became a place
With space for collaboration, a collection of people can be more than the sum of its parts. where Nashvillians who cared could contemplate the future of their skyline. NCAP threw open their doors to artists and architects, hosting a lecture series that brought attention to Nashville’s forgotten buildings. The people who attended decided that together they could save some of Nashville’s urban gems for the creative community, and Seed Space advances that ethos—with space for collaboration, a collection of people can be more than the sum of its parts. NCAP, the financial caretaker and co-progenitor of Seed Space, is in many ways like a patient gardener. For a garden to thrive, everything must be just so: the sun comes up; the rain comes down; the space is protected; the gardener plans the landscape; time works its magic. Nashville is not unlike a garden, but the full measure of a garden’s beauty is fleeting and seasonal at best. A master gardener plans for predictable change, adapts to fluctuations of climate, and cultivates plants that are hardy and resilient. In the past, just as in oth-
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er cities, Nashville’s art world has endured unpredictable sequences of bloom and wilt, but Seed Space hopes to be a sanctuary where that cycle is tempered. CSArt certainly has the potential to generate some steady income for local artists, but its potentially transformative feature is that it provides an opportunity for a shared experience. When members come in to pick up their art shares, they can meet the artists that created them. Artists and art lovers relish the chance to exchange ideas and phone numbers, face to face in an increasingly digital world. This is what Seed Space looks like when artists, other galleries, patrons, and friends come together and celebrate their shared passion—roots take hold. What is a city anyway? There’s really no wrong answer here. It’s a collection of buildings and cars and breweries, of history, of celebrations, of weather; it’s a canopy of roofs and trees, sheltering a people who share an unknowable future. What do we want this city to be? What should it be, and can it be those things? What should we make of ourselves? Why are we here; why are we anywhere? These are some of the valuable questions that art—in any form—confronts, illuminates, and sometimes seeks to answer. We Nashvillians all sound different, look different, and live differently, but we share a point in space and time, and we're all having a conversation about how to grow our city. An experiment like Seed Space gives us a place to have that conversation, and it provides shared experiences that remind us of a great truth that we all know but often forget—that all of us in this city are part of one living, growing thing.
Av ai l abl e at . . . T h e Wil l o w T r e e / 6 1 5 . 3 8 3 . 5 6 3 9 4429 Mur phy Ro ad / N ashvil l e , T N 37209
For more info, visit SeedSpace.org
Sweet RIDE By Claire Gibson | Photos by Martin Cherry
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The stench of rancid waste and the sight of unending refuse is typical in Hong Kong. As a child, May Cheung could see a landfill from her family’s apartment window—a constant reminder that trash doesn’t just disappear into oblivion when the garbage truck comes. She knows it still exists. That’s why she’s always dreamed of living a sustainable life. Now, with the recent founding of Tricycle Sweets Company, she is getting much closer. Though she only moved to Nashville last year, May fits in remarkably well with the burgeoning crowd that calls for greater sustainability, efficiency, and environmental conservation. Her voice is now one among the chorus of cyclists crooning for more bike lanes, safety, and education. And she’s not just a biker. Although she loves her two-wheeler, more often, she’s riding her Copenhagen tricycle, outfitted with a large, hot pink and white crate that rides on the front. And did I mention she can bake, too? Today, she crafts miniature fruit pies, subtly sweet oatmeal bars, and tender french pastries then pedals them around town to farmers’ markets, events, and even 12 South’s Halcyon Bike Shop. May Cheung is single-handedly starting the food trike revolution. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, just a few decades ago May Cheung’s family was living the constraints of an overpopulated city with little opportunity. Sitting over a cup of coffee at Bang Candy Company, May describes her childhood, when she shared a tiny room with her sister, grandmother, and another housemate. She laughs, remembering the lack of space, privacy and money, then flips her long shiny black hair behind her shoulders. She doesn’t seem phased. Her Cantonese accent is slight, but apparent, and she reclines in the high-top seat naturally. Her smile is white, wide, and plentiful, and when it starts raining, she asks politely if she can move her bicycle inside (she chose her two-wheeler that day). She’s easily excitable with a vivid laugh and bright expressions. May is tall and physically fit, which isn’t a surprise. Baking is labor intensive. So is triking. “My parents were really hard workers,” May explains, respect and love evident in her careful tone. She shares that at the start of World War II her father’s parents fled from mainland China (and the invading Japanese) to Hong Kong. He later became a police officer—a job he kept for 30 years before relocating his family to America. “Perseverance and dedication, I guess that’s what I took from my parents.” In 2001, after the United Kingdom returned control of Hong Kong to China, Cheung’s family moved to Virginia. At the time, May was 13, and only knew Cantonese. “It was pretty hard and I was really nervous about speaking,” May says, reflecting on her high school days.
“I really didn’t have courage to try and make friends, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to articulate well. Making friends was tough.” By the time she reached Virginia Commonwealth University, May was more comfortable in her own skin. She was studying Health and Exercise Science when she rekindled her love for baking—something she’d done as a child, but had never quite mastered. In Richmond, she landed a job at Montana Gold Bread Company, a local high-volume bakery, and quickly realized how difficult the work would be—hot ovens, heavy trays, early mornings mixing, kneading, sweating. At home, she began experimenting with goodies, mostly cupcakes, and became addicted to the process. “Baking is a job that requires a lot of focus,” May says, slowing her words slightly and breaking into a grin. “When I see people enjoying what I’ve made, and I see their faces and expressions when they’re eating something they really like, it makes me so happy.” Suddenly, May’s senior year of college, her plans to continue baking were brought to a screeching halt. She’d just gotten off of work, and was riding her bike home. The truck turned to the right—he never saw her. Striking her elbow and sending her to the ground, the truck’s crushing weight left her with broken ankles and a mangled bike. Somehow she made it to the hospital and spent the next several months in a wheelchair, desperate to recover, striving to walk again. Today, May still has purple and red scars across her right ankle, and internal injuries in her left one. “It’s not that bad anymore,” May says, laughing. “It was on that bike right there.” She points to her repaired bike with pride. After months of recovery, May’s motivation and persistence led to a miraculous recovery. She wasn’t concerned about the physical pain and every day she’d get up and try to push herself a little bit harder. Ultimately she got back on her feet, and back on her bike. Around the same time, she completed a monotonous nine to five internship in her last semester. “It was so boring,” May says emphatically. “Not even boring, it was mentally draining. When I got out of there, I didn’t feel inspired anymore, I’d lost a sense of purpose.” As boring as it might have been, the office job she hated gave her time to daydream. Knowing she simply could not walk back into a stifling cubicle, she chose
instead to start her own venture doing something creative. To make a living, she decided to sell her homemade cupcakes. And then she bought a tricycle. “During that time, I looked online and found this company selling tricycles and I thought, this is totally doable, it can happen!” May says with a chuckle. “I can rock the tricycle. I don’t really need a truck.” The trike, ordered online from the Haley Tricycle Company, keeps her overhead small and maximizes her efficiency. It cuts down on cost, waste, and time, and sets May Cheung’s enterprise apart from any baking competition. In fall 2010, she
rooted from Richmond, packed up the trike, and moved to Music City. “I didn’t even know where to go to buy food,” May jokes, explaining that at first, the business went to the back burner. For many months, she simply focused on getting to know the city, and learning her way around. When she was hired at a local bakery, May says she couldn’t contain her excitement. But quickly, the commercial drive and massquantity production she was required to complete began taking its toll. Think Lucille Ball and a conveyor belt. May was pumping out a few hundred cakes an hour, and felt slightly bored with the uniformity
“When I see people enjoying what I’ve made, and I see their faces and expressions when they’re eating something they really like, it makes me so happy.” launched her business in Richmond and it took off with great success. She taught herself graphic design, applied for a business license, and launched a website, all on her own. And when an order came in for 200 cupcakes, May knew her business was viable. “It wasn’t even the money,” May says shaking her head. “It was empowering. It was a big order, and I knew I could handle it.” Still, May took a retail job to help make ends meet, and when her business license expired in 2011, the draw of a new city and a fresh start was appealing. With only one friend in Nashville, who was coincidentally looking for a roommate, May up-
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required in each confection. She began to daydream about her beloved tricycle company, but simply didn’t have the time, energy, or motivation to make it happen—yet. Then, this March, May interviewed to be a baker at 12 South’s popular Frothy Monkey. On Wednesday, she works an overnight shift to prepare dough and other goodies for the shop. On most other days, she bakes in the kitchen starting at 5 A.M., and finishes at noon. The solitude, quiet, and atmosphere of the job has been a great fit. And the hours, as odd as they are, have been a gift for this entrepreneur. “Ever since I got the job at Frothy, I’ve felt more inspired,” May says. “They of-
“This is a company looking to make a difference in the world of music.” – Jennifer Barry, Awaiting The Flood
fer freedom of creativity, and we get to focus on making what’s good.” With rejuvenated creative energy, May resolved to move forward and relaunch her sweets company. Sick of cake at this point, May now plays with other candies and treats. She shops at farmers’ markets and local grocers looking for the freshest ingredients, then concocts miniature pies, a sweet and savory sesame brittle, and even makes homemade jam for all her oatmeal bars. And just wait until you get a taste of her toffee this fall: rich, nutty, and carmelicious. That’s a word. As the weather grows cooler, expect to see May’s trike around town on the weekends, or at the lunchtime downtown farmers’ market on Tuesdays from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. at the Bank of America Plaza. With Vanderbilt and Belmont back in session, May also enjoys more street pedaling as well. Thanks to her connections with other creatives and bike enthusiasts in the community, May often rolls her mobile confectionery to Halcyon Bike Shop, too, where they value May’s vigor and courage in business. “The word entrepreneurship seems really business-y for me,” May says. “I’ve always had this passion in me, and now I’m expressing what I like and who I am as a person. But I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur until I really became one.” Now that May’s Tricycle Sweets Company is on the ground and rolling (pun very much intended), it’s impossible to know what her next move will be. Nashville still has a long way to go to becoming a truly bike (or trike) friendly city, she says. But, all in all, May is convinced that her resourcefulness and efficiency will catch on as more Nashvillians come to realize the impact of their waste. Plus, she says, three wheels work just fine.
American Cadence is not your typical record label. We believe in the healing power of music and it’s ability to change lives. Because of this belief and our commitment to community, we donate a portion of all ACR proceeds to music education initiatives for children living in low income communities in the Nashville area.
Visit AmericanCadence.org to learn more and get involved!
Free Stickers at: facebook.com/AmericanCadence
artist development • album production • graphic design
For more info, visit TricycleSweetsCo.com
COCKTAIL OF THE MONTH by No. 308
The Johnny Five This month’s cocktail was named after Johnny Five, the lead robot in John Badham’s 1986 film Short Circuit. Somewhere between E.T., Edward Scissorhands, Terminator, and The Fifth Element, the film chronicles the tale of a robot (known at first as “Number 5”) who gains consciousness and attempts to live as a human. The Johnny Five is an earthy and citrus concoction that features genever (a juniper spirit that pre-dates gin) alongside lemon and beet juice. Simple syrup lends sweetness to the drink and cava brings the bubbles. The beet juice and juniper help put your feet on the ground while the effervescent lemon puts your head in the clouds. After a long day at work, it’s just the right mix to make you human again.
1 oz. genever 1 oz. fresh beet juice 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice 3/4 oz. simple syrup Cava Lemon twist Combine genever, beet juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a champagne glass. Top with cava and garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy responsibly. - Ben Clemons, No. 308 28 / //
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& WHEELS TRAINING By Chuck Beard | Photos by Daniel Meigs
y definition alone, an oasis is a place offering welcome relief, and Nashville’s Oasis Center on Charlotte Avenue is certainly that. It is a wonderful organization, filled with dynamic programs and people that help guide Nashville’s youth who are often far more wonderful and dynamic than they can see for themselves. By definition again, to furbish is to restore something that is broken. And Dan Furbish does exactly that, while also teaching youth at the Oasis Center to do the same. He runs The Workshop, a bicycle maintenance and building program at the Center that was started and continues to operate with the help of Halcyon Bike Shop. The Workshop is part of the Center’s mission to help young people become “happy, healthy and productive” adults, and it helps fulfill their vision for the Center as “A place where ideas come to life. A place where creativity and dreams meet a commitment to act.” The Workshop got started back in June of 2009, in the middle of discussions for a new experimental summer program. Dan took his experience working with kids and his background making sculpture and thought outside of the box. “I wanted to teach the kids the importance of learning to work with their hands, outside of the class-
room and beyond pencil and paper.” Not so long after that, Andrew Parker and Elise Tyler of Halcyon Bike Shop were contacted to see if they would donate bikes that the kids could repair, restore, and recycle for personal use. Halcyon’s altruistic response was immediate and a budding relationship had begun. Working within a timeframe of a six-week summer program, the team at Halcyon helped Dan and others set up what would become the foundation for teaching the kids how to break down the bikes and build them back, better than before, piece by piece. Dan explains, “Each class focuses on a different part of the bike. The second class is dedicated to truing wheels; the third class focuses on brakes, and so on, until the bike is ready for riding. The day of the final class, before they hit the roads, we teach everyone the traffic laws, bike safety (everyone gets a helmet), and various bike-friendly routes around town so they can get where they need to go more easily.” The Workshop serves two main purposes. First, it provides necessary transportation for many kids that often wouldn’t have any other way of getting places like school or jobs. And it’s an environmentally friendly option as well. Secondly, it allows kids to obtain vocational
skills that will be useful for their future while having fun at the same time. After completing the training course, the kids are given master mechanic certificates, credit for service hours during the program, a helmet, a lock, a tool kit, and a patch kit for future tire repair. Not only do the kids earn all of these things upon graduation, the graduating class is also asked to make a pledge to help others who are interested as well. The summer program was an instant success. As a result, Dan, the Oasis Center, and Halcyon set up additional
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classes, in an after school format. Utilizing shuttles already in place, participating kids were brought to and from various locations to attend shorter classes. This new format covered the same materials and lessons over a longer period of time during the school year. Then, after enough donations, which are always welcomed, the Oasis Center was able to make the program mobile. They built a workshop in a trailer that could be taken from place to place, wherever there was interest in and a need for the program. The program continues to grow and expand, but there have already been over 500 graduates of the program since its inception in 2009—the majority of whom frequently return to help others learn. When speaking about the impact it has had outside of the program and its participants, Dan mentioned that the bike workshop has already inspired several Vanderbilt professors with in studies of public transportation and social program development, while also providing a productive source of service hours for other groups. When speaking about the future of it all, Dan is hopeful that one day, sooner rather than later, The Workshop will be in a position to hire a number of program graduates to work and sustain the program while expanding on the sense of ownership and skills they have already attained. With a steady influx of students and old bikes from the community, both loaded with potential, this program is a welcome relief that helps restore that which was thought by many to be bro-
ken. According to Dan, “For me, it keeps coming back to that process of tearing something apart in order to put it back together again. When you watch these kids figure it all out for the first time, which never gets old for me, you see them come away with a tremendous sense of pride, accomplishment, responsibility, and ownership for something they have made with their own two hands. There’s something so basic and yet so fundamentally important about that.”
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SIDESHOW TIME! B y D a v e P i t t m a n | P h o t o s b y C a m e r o n P o w e ll
“Is that really in the table?” I gesture to a santoku-style knife that sits, like a sculpture, rising out of the worktable at a forty-five degree angle. It is so stable and so apparently deep into the plywood that I think it must be a gag, like one of those headbands that makes it look like you have an arrow through your head. It is more beautiful than that, though. It has a walnut handle, and when I bend down for a closer look, I can see myself in the chrome-like blade. I can’t help but think that the person who chose this knife and stabbed it deep into the table must 1. have a great eye for design 2. be very strong.
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Though she only moved to Nashville last year, May fits in remarkably well with the burgeoning crowd that calls for greater sustainability, efficiency, and environmental conservation. Her voice is now one among the chorus of cyclists crooning for more bike lanes, safety, and education. And she’s not just a biker. Although she loves her two-wheeler, more often, she’s riding her Copenhagen tricycle, outfitted with a large, hot pink and white crate that rides on the front. And did I mention she can bake, too? Today, she crafts miniature fruit pies, subtly sweet oatmeal bars, and tender french pastries then pedals them around town to farmers’ markets, events, and even 12 South’s Halcyon Bike Shop. May Cheung is single-handedly starting the food trike revolution. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, just a few decades ago May Cheung’s family was living the constraints of an overpopulated city with little opportunity. Sitting over a cup of coffee at Bang Candy Company, May describes her childhood, when she shared a tiny room with her sister, grandmother, and another housemate. She laughs, remembering the lack of space, privacy and money, then flips her long shiny black hair behind her shoulders. She doesn’t seem phased. Her Cantonese accent is slight, but apparent, and she reclines in the high-top seat naturally. Her smile is white, wide, and plentiful, and when it starts raining, she asks politely if she can move her bicycle inside (she chose her two-wheeler that day). She’s easily excitable with a vivid laugh and bright expressions. May is tall and physically fit, which isn’t a surprise. Baking is labor intensive. So is triking. “My parents were really hard workers,” May explains, respect and love evident in her careful tone. She shares that at the start of World War II her father’s parents fled from mainland China (and the invading Japanese) to Hong Kong. He later became a police officer—a job he kept for 30 years before relocating his family to America. “Perseverance and dedication, I guess that’s what I took from my parents.” In 2001, after the United Kingdom returned control of Hong Kong to China, Cheung’s family moved to Virginia. At the time, May was 13, and only knew Cantonese. “It was pretty hard and I was really nervous about speaking,” May says, reflecting on her high school days. “I really didn’t have courage to try and make friends, be-
cause I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to articulate well. Making friends was tough.” By the time she reached Virginia Commonwealth University, May was more comfortable in her own skin. She was studying Health and Exercise Science when she rekindled her love for baking—something she’d done as a child, but had never quite mastered. In Richmond, she landed a job at Montana Gold Bread Company, a local high-volume bakery, and quickly realized how difficult the work would be—hot ovens, heavy trays, early mornings mixing, kneading, sweating. At home, she began experimenting with goodies, mostly cupcakes, and became addicted to the process. “Baking is a job that requires a lot of focus,” May says, slowing her words slightly and breaking into a grin. “When I see people enjoying what I’ve made, and I see their faces and expressions when they’re eating something they really like, it makes me so happy.” Suddenly, May’s senior year of college, her plans to continue baking were brought to a screeching halt. She’d just gotten off of work, and was riding her bike home. The truck turned to the right—he never saw her. Striking her elbow and sending her to the ground, the truck’s crushing weight left her with broken ankles and a mangled bike. Somehow she made it to the hospital and spent the next several months in a wheelchair, desperate to recover, striving to walk again. Today, May still has purple and red scars across her right ankle, and internal injuries in her left one. “It’s not that bad anymore,” May says, laughing. “It was on that bike right there.” She points to her repaired bike with pride. After months of recovery, May’s motivation and persistence led to a miraculous recovery. She wasn’t concerned about the physical pain and every day she’d get up and try to push herself a little bit harder. Ultimately she got back on her feet, and back on her bike. Around the same time, she completed a monotonous nine to five internship in her last semester. “It was so boring,” May says emphatically. “Not even boring, it was mentally draining. When I got out of there, I didn’t feel inspired anymore, I’d lost a sense of purpose.” As boring as it might have been, the office job she hated gave her time to daydream. Knowing she simply could not walk back into a stifling cubicle, she chose instead to start her own venture doing something creative. To make a living, she decided to sell her home
“What? Oh, that? That’s a Kiwi Knife,” Luke Stockdale of Sideshow Sign Co. answers in Australian. “They’re great knives. At home, lots of chefs will just use these instead of expensive knives. They’re only like six bucks. And they’re sharp. I use them for everything.” Like a jeweler, he pulls the blade from the wood and delicately holds it out for inspection. “KIWI-BRAND MADE IN THAILAND” is stamped into the blade, along with a small outline of a kiwi—the bird, not the fruit. He gently places the blade on the table, but given his eclipsing, six-foot-seven-inch structure, it’s not hard to imagine that he was the one who had wedged the blade into the tabletop before. I’m lucky he’s such a nice guy. “All the world’s a stage,” said “Jacques” in William Shakespeare’s play As You Like It. That’s something that Luke seems to know and welcome. He’s got a knack for the theatrical, for the playful, for blending the real with the unreal. It is evident in everything he does. When I told him we wanted to take his picture for the magazine, he asked if he could wear his Batman outfit, or his gladiator costume. At first, I didn’t get it, but after talking with him a little, the request makes perfect sense. He’s a visual communicator, and he has a playful and shyly theatrical disposition that is fitting, especially given what he does for a living. He designs and builds “old” signs. He designs them not so much to “look” old, but to “be” old. Knowing that, walking into his studio workshop still feels a bit like traveling in time, or the way movies always show time travel working. A character suddenly arrives at an unfamiliar place, much the way I did when I visited Luke’s studio, and struggles to figure out when he or she is. His studio is in an old garage behind his sister-in-law’s house. It’s quaint and looks charmingly old-fashioned, but who knows what it actually looked like before he got his hands on it. There are hand-painted letters on the panes of glass in the door to the outside: S - I - D - E - S - H - O - W. Edith Piaf ’s voice drifts across the room from a tiny speaker. With the exception of some relatively new power tools, everything in the room could be described as “vintage,” “classic,” “antique,” or “retro.” Like that character who’s trying to figure out what year it is, I scan the room for clues—a calendar, a postcard, packaging, copyright dates, anything. By that measure, it must 1945. I notice the old lighted signs and letters covering one wall. “Wow,” I say. “You must have been collecting these for a long time. Is that what inspired the old-school sign thing?” I’m trying to make sense of Luke and of this room. He looks confused. I ask again in a different way “No mate. Those are mine,” he says. Then it hits me. The cool old signs aren’t old at all. They were designed and built by Luke himself, in the last seven months. I had been staring at the end product and I thought it was the inspiration. Now, I realize that it wasn’t time travel. Instead, the theatre metaphor applies here. I am backstage, and the workshop is filled with props, many of them built, some of them found—a tennis racket, a b.b. gun, a deer head (with a baseball bat on top), an axe, an old sculpture of a dog, boxing gloves, and of course,
a gladiator helmet. Of the last one, he tells me, “Russell Crowe gave me this,” as he slips it on. I believe him for a second, before a wide grin appears. He is a convincing gladiator. My attention shifts back to the wood and metal letters on the wall. I can’t believe he made them. The signs aren’t cheesy or fake looking in anyway. They’re beautiful. Even up close, I can’t see anything that would suggest they are anything other than charming, well-worn old signs. Everything down to the tiniest detail has been tastefully and expertly crafted. They’re actually way too nice to be theatrical props. It all starts to make sense, when I learn that Luke is also a seriously talented graphic designer. That helps to explain why his typographic taste is so good and why the level of craftsmanship in his work is so high. “I’m a perfectionist,” he says. “I think graphic design is one of the few jobs where you can work, and work, and work on something to get it right. Sometimes I forget about food for eight hours.” He spent years doing top-tier graphic design work for clients in the U.S. and Australia, including some familiar logos for businesses around Nashville. His design business carried the same vaudevillian, theatrical theme that Sideshow still wears today. It is called Whiskey Theatre, but as Luke says, “Now Sideshow takes up all of my time. I called it ‘Sideshow’ because that’s how it started. It was a weird thing on the side. Now, Sideshow is everything.” He adds, “It’s not really a sideshow anymore.” Luke was born in the small rural (and boring, according to Luke) town of Benalla, 130 miles from Melbourne. Later, his family moved to a much bigger small town that was also boring. “You wouldn’t believe how beige it is. Zero creativity.” He tells me he was a misfit, “a bit weird. I was a little shy, and I was into punk rock in a big way. And skating. I wasn’t bad, but I was definitely ‘different.’” He moved to Melbourne as soon as he could, and he eventually ended up at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where he studied graphic design. After college, he went to Europe, where he met Jasmin Kaset, a Nashville native and half of the duo Birdcloud. “We met in Prague, a few times actually. Jas was living there at the time, and I was traveling around the Eastern Block. I was having such a great time. Jas and I actually ended up living together in Poland for a little while after that.” He and Jasmin are now married. They came to Nashville together for the first time six years ago. “It’s great because now I have friends here that I’ve known for six years, even though I’ve only lived here full-time for two and a half.” He’s quick to point out that Jasmin is part of Sideshow, too, “I couldn’t do it without her. She’s learning some of the shop skills, but she also keeps the business running. She’s sort of the account manager and helps with all the organizational things, including making sure orders are packaged and shipped on time.” He stops to light a cigarette with a propane blowtorch. The blue jet of the flame is only an inch from his nose. I ask him why he got into making signs. “Well, I always had workshop skills. Working with my hands can hold my attention, and there are
"THEY DON'T MAKE COMPUTER CHAIRS MY SIZE."
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To purchase one of Lukeâ€™s signs or to find out more visit: SideshowSignCo.com
very few things that can do that. I can’t even watch films.” He explains that graphic design is one of those things, too, but adds, “They don’t make computer chairs my size. They don’t go up high enough. Genetically, I think I was really built to be on my feet.” While he was able to do amazing design work on some great projects, he was also tired of having to work on boring projects he didn’t like. “I was definitely looking for something else to do,” he says. “I had an idea to start this, but it was really my mom’s house burning down in a bushfire that really steered me away from doing digital work.” After the house burned down, his mother asked him to come back to Australia and help her design a new one. It was during that process, that he became more interested in physical objects. “Sideshow is really the product of that experience, of wanting to do more work with tangible things and real textures for a change. But I knew I also wanted to keep doing graphic design, so this is kind of a marriage of those two things.” For Luke, it’s all design—signs, houses, furniture, logos. “I found myself asking
the same questions that I would ask with any other clients. I was problem solving. Looking at a floor plan was exactly the same as trying to figure out the best branding for a company. None of it was really architecture. I designed it, and then we hired a draftsman to turn it into something the builders could read. Now, the new house is actually up for a few sustainable design awards.” That started the ball rolling, and after another trip home for Christmas last year, he returned to the U.S. with a small loan to start Sideshow. Of course, at that time, it was on the side. Now, as he says, it’s not a sideshow anymore. And while the workload is heavy, he’s enjoying the extra autonomy, and he’s starting to settle into a normal routine. “I don’t even have to ask for directions anymore. That’s something I’m quite proud of. Nashville is home now.” It hasn’t always been easy, though. Most of his family is in Australia, including young nieces and nephews. “And that’s hard sometimes,” he says, “but I love my family here.” His work has been growing in popularity, too. He’s made signs and posters for
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restaurants, boutiques, ad agencies, at least one very prominent web business, and of course people’s houses. But you don’t have to order a custom sign to get your hands on one of his designs. There are a number of hand-pre-made items available on his website including the ever-popular French periodic table and a giant ruler to track the growth of children. There’s even a shadow puppet chart, a light-up exclamation point, and a charmingly creepy anti-smoking poster. I can tell that he’s happy with where things are and where he is. “If you’d told me six years ago that I’d be living in Nashville, I would have said, ‘Where is that?’ I mean, I knew it because I’ve always loved old American music, but I never thought I would be living here. It was tough at first. But there are so many great things about this place. Everyone supports everyone else here. It’s cool that all of the creative people and businesses are helping each other. I think that’s what’s fueling this creative movement that seems to be happening here. We wouldn’t be doing half this well if we weren’t here. Nashville is great. I love it.””
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CHANGE By Megan Pacella | Photos by Cameron Powell
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Ruben Torres isn’t a huge coffee drinker. After all, the sixteen-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. High School student hasn’t quite reached the age where afternoon jolts are absolutely necessary. But as head roaster for Humphreys Street Coffee Company in South Nashville, this is one teenager who knows his coffee. With shaggy black hair and a runner’s build, Ruben looks like a typical teenager. But after spending a few minutes with him, it’s clear that he has business acumen and artisan roasting knowledge that few of his peers can match. Ruben knows which beans are in season in different regions throughout the year, how long to roast them and how much fair trade coffee costs. He’s been roasting coffee for three years. If you think sixteen sounds young to be roasting coffee beans, you’re right—that’s the point of Humphreys Street Coffee Company. Harvest Hands Community Development started the coffee company to provide jobs for the young men in a mentoring program. Harvest Hands and Humphreys Street Coffee are housed together in a cozy old church building, built in 1929 as the Humphreys Street Methodist Church. In the decades that followed, the church, situated on a corner in a long neglected South Nashville neighborhood, eventually closed in 2008. Now, Harvest Hands has created a vibrant pocket of new life and economic hope. Harvest Hands’ Executive Director Brian Hicks explains, “When we got this building, we kind of renovated it for all of
our programs. But this has been here since 1929, so we wanted to root the coffee company name back into the community. The people who live here sort of connect with that name, and that is important to our mission.” Humphreys Street Coffee Company is a branch of Harvest Hands that teaches job skills, leadership and responsibility to young men in the community where the business resides. In addition to Ruben, anywhere between five and ten other neighborhood teens work in the coffee upstart, bagging the whole roasted beans and delivering them to local restaurants and businesses. “In any healthy neighborhood, the dollar actually has to turn over and exchange within the community, so we wanted to create opportunities for students to work where they live,” Brian explains. “In our neighborhood, it’s harder for kids to get jobs, so we created this opportunity to mentor them, to teach them how to work and create job references for them.” Although the coffee company is a full-fledged business, Brian doesn’t actually earn more money when sales go up. Every dime that doesn’t go toward buying more supplies is used to pay young workers and invest in scholarship programs for
their future. “It’s interesting because sometimes the people that support our coffee aren’t doing it for the social aspect, they are just coffee lovers,” Brian explains. “We think it’s important to teach the students who are part of what we do that quality matters. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it well.” As they stroll around the roasting room at Humphreys Street coffee, pointing out large bags of fair-trade beans and showing off the company’s artistic marketing posters, Ruben and Brian pause in front of a shining Diedrich IR-7, a large, brown coffee roaster that takes up about one-third of the small room. “We started out with a home roaster, and the kids would crowd around it to learn about coffee,” Brian says. “But we quickly realized that if we wanted to be a legitimate coffee company, we needed a legitimate roaster. We read a magazine called Roast, and we noticed that when folks would win ‘Roaster of the Year,’ a lot of them used a Diedrich roaster.
"Quality matters. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it well.”
Drop by the Humphreys Street Coffee headquarters at 424 Humphreys Street to buy a pound of coffee. For more information or to buy online, contact brian@ harvesthandscdc.com or visit humphreysstreetcoffeeco.com You can also call them at 615.499.4963 www.humphreysstreetcoffeeco.com
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So we thought this was the way to go.” In the end, Brian’s assumptions about the roaster were correct—it’s a fine piece of machinery. The problem was how he was going to pay for it. As a start-up, funds were tight, and he needed an investor. Luckily, a friend from church named Cal Turner was interested in Brian’s plan to create a sustainable revenue source in the underserved neighborhood. Cal, whose family founded Dollar General, also started a non-proft philanthrophy organization called The Cal Turner Family Foundation. After developing a thorough business plan, the foundation gave the company enough cash to buy the gleaming Diedrich roaster. With their new machine secured, Brian took Ruben to Idaho, where the owner of the company—Mr. Diedrich himself—taught them about roasting beans to perfection. “There are a lot of people who roast on Diedrichs who have never heard of this guy, but we got to go out and meet him. It’s kind of like learning to drive from Henry Ford or something,” Brian laughs. “It made us feel like legitimate roasters, and it was very impressive to learn from him.” While learning how to operate their new piece of machinery, Brian and Ruben landed on a new philosophy for creating their product. Instead of buying beans from one or two regions, Brian only buys beans that are in season. At different times of year, that means buying straight from farms in Africa, Central and South America and Indonesia, depend-
ing on who has the freshest beans. As a mission-minded organization, Brian buys his beans through direct trade or fair trade practices and also takes organics into consideration. But to him, that’s only half the battle of a true “fair trade” business. “A lot of people fail to ask the question, ‘What does the coffee do locally?’” Brian explains. “So someone could be very conscious about the developing world, but they might treat their local employees like crap. It’s just as important that what you do on a global level, you also do on a local level. We’re a company that’s really concerned with both of those things.” Humphreys Street Coffee is only a few years in the making, so it’s not clear yet how working for the company will impact the young teenage employees in the long run. But Ruben feels confident that working for Brian is doing good things for his peers. “You could tell that some of [the guys in the neighborhood] weren’t really interested in college when they first started working, but now they say they are going to go to college,” he says. “They’re really thinking about their future. If they hadn’t done this program, they probably wouldn’t be thinking about what’s next.” As for Ruben, putting “Head Roaster at Humphreys Street Coffee Company” on his résumé is going to be a huge boost. Not that he needs one. He is already an accomplished runner and musician, and he just scored a perfect score on his AP exam for Human Geography. But when he talks about the inner-workings of the fair trade coffee business, he gets a gleam in his eye—it’s obvious that he’s not working a cool job just to improve his prospects. “It’s like, one coffee tree makes about one pound of coffee,” Ruben says. “And so those bags of coffee are 125 or 150 pounds. That could be someones whole farm right there. I think about that now.” Brian adds, “It really teaches the young men who work here about the world and all the places that coffee touches and how your practices affect everyone. It’s really powerful to do something the right way.”
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Casey Pierce COWBOY with
BRAINS By Alyssa Rabun | Photography by Daniel Meigs
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Visual artist by day, philosophizing limo-driver by night, and aspiring cowboy everywhere in between, that’s local painter Casey Pierce. When we met, he had just returned from his honeymoon on a dude ranch in Dubois, Wyoming.
asey has a lot to say about his journey out West. A talented painter with past exhibits in Nashville’s Rymer and Estel galleries, Casey was pleased to discover that Jackson Hole, Wyoming (about eighty-five miles from Dubois) boasts an impressive gallery scene (the fifth largest art market in America). He visited several galleries there, viewing Western landscapes and fresh abstracts, but in retrospect, he felt more inspired by the peculiar experiences and larger-than-life characters he met. His intimate exposure to the romantic Western frontier and eccentric Wyomingites provided ample content for new themed pieces. And that’s not surprising for Casey. “I am heavily influenced by my environment,” Casey says. “When my works are weird and spacey, it reflects a time when I’ve been at home, holed away in my bubble. My visit to Wyoming influenced a narrative.” Casey is a grand storyteller. One of the stories he shares with me is from his last night in Wyoming. He explains that he was drinking in a bar, and while there, he was approached by a “curled-mustache-sporting” cowboy in an “orange shirt, suspenders, dark blue jeans, and a camel-colored hat.” Casey’s vivid and detailed descriptions hint at his excellent memory for the visual, which shouldn’t be surprising. That night, Casey was wearing a red-white-and-blue striped shirt he had purchased at a thrift store here in Nashville. The cowboy asked him where he got the shirt. He barely waited for the answer, and then asked how much Casey wanted for it. He told Casey that it matched a pair of pants that his grandmother had made for his father in the sixties. Casey politely told the man it was his favorite shirt and it wasn’t for sale. Then the cowboy offered him four hundred dollars cash. “I told him ‘that is crazy’. I paid less than twenty dollars for it, so I asked him how many drinks he’d had, but he pointed emphatically at my chest and said ‘Don’t YOU worry about that.’” Casey gave him the shirt and accepted his fee then and there. The setting, props and personalities in Casey’s memory of the trip are all begging to be incorporated into pieces of art. Describing his run-in with the striped shirt bandit, Casey jokes, “I like his values.” In a slightly more
serious tone, he goes on to say, “Buying art, like buying the t-shirt off of my back, is often desire-based rather than need-based. Emotions and sentimentality play heavily in the circulation of artworks. My own sentiments and dreams also fuel the making of the work.” Casey often practices subtraction and fading in his paintings, taking out things to direct attention to form and clarity. From gun slingin’ masked bandits to tumbleweeds blowing in the wind, Casey plans to examine the Old West as it is presented in pop culture and focus in on the design and relevance of objects of that era. “There is a materialism to my work. It is important to me to focus on what we’ve surrounded ourselves with to understand what our values are over time,” says Casey. It won’t be a difficult genre for this Old Westernwatching cowboy. “I go on benders watching ten spaghetti Westerns in one sitting,” says Casey. “It’s a rich genre.” But Casey will not be painting epic landscapes where the horses run wild into the sunset. “With this style, I focus on the details of the moment. Like in the Old Westerns, I love it when film directors get in close,” he says. Casey tells me, “If I’m traveling, I’m painting.” The Wyoming trip is just one example. After graduating from college with an art degree, Casey was looking for a fresh start and place to re-center himself. He moved onto a farm with a Mennonite family in rural Kentucky. He painted them while they worked and showed the series in an abandoned train station nearby. Later, Casey moved to a colonial town in Mexico where he created a small series called “Cowboy Dreams.” For that body of work, he created paintings based on dreams he had while living there. When he’s not wandering shirtless around Wyoming bars, riding mules in Mexico, or milking cows with Mennonites, Casey is immersing himself in the arts in Nashville. Living here has helped shape Casey’s career as an artist and continues to influence his style and technique. “When I moved here I wasn’t ready to be a professional artist yet. School hadn’t prepared me for the art game and I didn���t take initiative on the business side.” He began working odd jobs in everything
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from coffee shops to ad agencies. In 2007, Casey also started his own magazine. He recognized a void that needed filling within the Nashville arts community. “The Scene had stopped covering art as much as they had in the past and Nashville Arts Magazine catered to a specific type of art-lover. I wanted to see a different kind of artcommunity-building, a publication for emerging art and culture enthusiasts.” Casey started The Rabbit as a zine that would “be a record of the burgeoning art scene in Nashville,” and it evolved into a full-on, locally distributed magazine. The Rabbit posed the question, “Where is our movement?” and offered an answer, “It exists in the artists and galleries and cooperatives and enthusiasts and in anyone else who gives a shit.” In the span of two and a half years, the team put out six issues delving into topics like live local music and the growing art collective presence. They threw well-attended parties and reached out to the younger arts community. In 2010, however, Casey realized that he needed to re-focus on his art and building his personal repertoire. For that and other reasons, he and the rest of The Rabbit team decided to release their final issue. Now, Casey focuses all of his energy on his current and upcoming paintings. Having more time also means he can work on several projects at once. In addition to his Western-themed work, he is creating an abstract brain series. “I was thinking of going in a really wild direction,” says Casey. He shows me a painting called “Sunset” which fills a textured brain with the yellows, oranges and pinks of the fading sun. In the piece, that wrinkly, spongy organ has been made into something beautiful, allowing the viewer to think of the brain in different terms. It creates a “distance between the reality of the thing being depicted and the viewer.” While the aesthetics of the piece aren’t the only forces at work, the piece doesn’t try to tell a story. “I feel like the brain itself is interesting and makes for an interesting abstract, even if it is representational.” This subject is in stark contrast to the concreteness of his Western pieces. “With the brain series, rather than zooming in on
objects in a scene, I have subtracted the scene and am showing the brain as the center of the focus. It is a look inward at the vehicle of human consciousness.” He adds, “But the subject matter is circumstantial, dependent on what we read, watch, experience or identify with at a given point in time. All art is a glorification of some subject: a dream, a political issue, an object, a feeling. Whether I’m painting brains or bandits, I have one goal: to transform something ethereal into something material. That desire fuels the work through many circumstances.” While the concepts behind Casey’s work are often far more complex and tenuous than the subjects would at first suggest, that’s part of what makes his work so brilliant. His work operates on multiple levels. He can take a very deeply philosophical idea about perception and reality and paint it into a beautiful, material thing. On one level, there’s a big beautiful brain on the canvas, but beyond that, powerful statements are being made and questions are being raised. As he describes the brain work, I can’t help but think of how, in order to perceive and make sense of the work, I’m using my own version of the brain that’s been decontextualized and dolled-up for the canvas. “That’s exactly the point,” he says. “It’s like one of those infinity loops where you see yourself on a security monitor, looking at yourself on a security monitor, looking yourself on a security monitor, but this piece does that conceptually.” He then adds, “Plus, it provides an opportunity to sit there for a second and simply contemplate the brain.” With work like that coming out of his brain, we can be sure that there are great things to come. Let’s just hope Casey Pierce, no matter how badly he wants to be a cowboy, sticks to making art and doesn’t ride off into the sunset anytime soon. We shouldn’t be too worried, though. As he says, “I moved around a lot after I left my parents’ house for college, but Nashville was the first place I went that really felt like home, and it’s a great place to make art."
"IT IS A LOOK INWARD AT THE VEHICLE OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS.”
For more info, visit caseypierce.com
MR.NATURAL By Henry Pile | Photos by Jon Morrell
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The heat rises long before I do. The light, still muddled and gray, stretches slowly across the deep green of the land. My boots are wet from the short walk to my car, and the coffee offers little comfort during the drive to Leiperâ€™s Fork. Â
Franklin is miles behind me now, and I scan the mailboxes for my destination. Out here, the mailboxes have room to breathe. The gap between houses and the rare roar of an engine open up in a wide stretch, closing me off from the stoplights, city blocks, and concrete monoliths of downtown Nashville. Everything stretches out here. Everything, except my phone signal. I turn off what is left of the potted road, and stop at a gate. Leaning out, I press the call button and wait. The ringing from the speaker behind the metal box feels oddly cold in such a lush environment. The metronome-like repetition is hypnotizing. No answer. I push the button again and enjoy the same static-filled, robotic ring. Still no answer. Am I too early? Is this the wrong address? But, through the gate and deep into the yard, I see a man in a widebrimmed straw hat peek from behind a tree. He steps out. I wave. He waves back and walks to an ATV. A pack of dogs come bounding out as he drives close enough to trigger the gate. I follow him down the driveway—four or five dogs guiding my car down the gravel road. At first, I’m not sure what to make of Paul Schertz, owner of Joe Natural’s and Roaring Creek Farm. “I’m sorry about the gate,” he says. “We disconnected the phone. We’re practicing getting off the grid.” The air conditioner has also been shut off and they are considering further reductions in connectivity, but for now, they are just “practicing.” This also sets the stage for a guy who is unabashedly honest, confident, and built with the energy of a nineyear-old (that is to say, he’s got a lot of it and everything is “cool” and “check this out” and “oh, come over here,” and “no way you’re gonna believe this”). Born and raised in New York, Paul Schertz is a proud Jewish kid (he’ll be fifty-nine this year) who earned success in Florida real estate development. Then, the market did what it did, and in 2008, Paul found his way into farming with
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the idea that he could open restaurants and serve farm-to-table food. “How hard could it be?” Paul says, grinning inside his black and gray beard. Paul’s vibrant, carefree attitude can be seen in both Joe Natural’s locations, especially the new space in Cummins Station. A step away from sushi and used books, the downtown lunch spot draws in a variety of lucky diners from all over town. Inside, orange and yellow wall panels contrast with farmhouse tables and barn carts. Light from the floor-to-ceiling windows opens the entire room and draws eyes up to the loft seating above the kitchen. Black-and-white photos of Roaring Creek Farm remind you of the ground that bore your food—food that captures the freshness of the short trip the ingredients made—from the green-
“WE DISCONNECTED THE PHONE. WE’RE PRACTICING GETTING OFF THE GRID.” houses on the farm to the second-hand plates on the table. The menus at both locations change as the seasons change. As a fruit or veggie disappears for the season, so do the corresponding menu items. But this makes the experience real, because Roaring Creek Farm is local. It is literally forty-five minutes from Nashville and not a boat ride around the world. If we get no rain, the farm gets no rain. At Roaring Creek Farm, there is a creek. It isn’t roaring, but Paul does stop to observe the water. “There’s a snake in here somewhere,” he says, inspecting. “A big one. I killed one the other day and the
kids swim in here so I want to be careful.” There is also a farmhouse, and this house is worth the visit alone. Listless curtains hang languidly over rich woodframed windows. The morning light spills yellow over the wide plank floors and dark leather furniture. The ceiling arches overhead giving room to think— something you get everywhere on a farm. We eat breakfast (all locally sourced eggs, honey, and bread of course) around a worn wood table. Next to me is Sara Amerman, dedicated farm hand and horse lover of all horse lovers. “She’ll run a guy off the road if she sees a horse sticker on his truck—just to talk about horses,” Paul says laughing the way boys laugh when they poke fun at girls. Across the table is Paul’s son Michael and grandson Maddox. Three generations of family in morning light at breakfast with locally sourced food in a house without air conditioning and no cellular connection. All we need now are some Amish people with horse-drawn buggies. Right on cue, Paul says, “If you have time, I’ll take you to meet the Amish in Lobelville.” Roaring Creek Farm and Joe Natural’s are not “you know what would be a cool/hip/trendy/easy way to make money” things. Paul doesn’t do irony. This is Paul’s way of offering food produced by people in his community for the people in his community. “This is how people used to do it,” Paul says. But how does one do it with a 20 acre farm? “I am making this up as I go,” Paul admits. He may be a cynic like most farmers, but he adores his animals, loves his land, and cherishes his neighbors. Moreover, Paul loves what he does. He’s genuinely happy and he exudes that joy with every word, even when he expounds on the exploitation of the “green” movement. Paul uses the term “farm to table” as an instructional guide, not a marketing buzzword. He won’t submit for the “organic” certification because he doesn’t think it means anything. “People should know where their food comes from because it matters, not because ‘organic’
is a popular notion. They shouldn’t rely on a government label either. Now, big farm companies can follow the minimum requirements to meet those ‘organic’ standards. That doesn’t work for me.” Here’s how it does work: Roaring Creek Farm is terraced, so to speak. On the lowest level, rests the creek, main house, and storage barn. There is a flower garden, which supplies all the orange, red, and whimsy arrangements for Joe Natural’s, and a wide field used for outdoor events. Behind the creek, a gravel road bends up to the second terrace and the goat barn. Expect farm cats and, of course, Charley the watch dog. There may be horses around here, too. Walk up the road a bit more to the third level. Honey bees, raised garden beds, and farm machinery are surrounded by huge
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mobile greenhouses of okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. Near the fence, shiitake mushrooms are grown in cut logs. An assortment of a half dozen green, dark brown, black, and spotted eggs are delivered daily, ready for Joe Natural’s, to his driveway from a farm at the top of the hill. His suppli-
“YOU LEARN TO LIVE WITH THE WEEDS.” er is a seventeen-year-old girl named Olivia. At one point, Paul thought about raising his own chickens, but decided against it, seeing how well Olivia handled the task.
Paul says, looking my way, “Part of what we do is support the local economy. The restaurant is the end purveyor for many of these growers and we like that.” Down the road, he gets meats at Triple L Ranch and dairy from Noble Springs. Though he grows plenty of vegetables, he also buys from the Amish “because that money supports the Amish hospital fund and you never know when your own cucumbers could be wiped out due to bugs, bad weather, or bad luck.” This sense of community is how Paul defines adjectives like “farm-to-table” and “farmerowned.” Whether you stop by the location in Cummins Station or the original restaurant in Leipers Fork, Joe Natural’s delivers healthy (pun intended) portions. Even a half sandwich and side of couscous can
be enough to fill you up, and Paul likes it like that. Sure, he runs the numbers and watches the bottom line (Joe Natural’s is a business after all), but it’s about more than being profitable, it’s about a food experience. “I saw people coming in to check out our farm store in Leiper’s Fork,” he says. “But they weren’t buying anything because they didn’t get it. They didn’t understand what we were doing. So, I realized I had to tell people our story. Over and over, a hundred and seventy times per week I am telling people our story and now, people get it.” The original Joe Natural’s in Leiper’s Fork presents a French farm heritage vibe with a Tennessee twist. The mixed woods and repurposed elements paired with inseason flowers (grown on the farm) and luxe fabrics offer a “well used”
feeling and make you feel right at home. In the main dining room, his grandson runs food, his son shakes hands with newcomers, and neighbors share stories. Sara builds mosaics of tomatoes, purple, orange, bright red, yellow, all tattooed with color and design. Customers can grab a hummus and red quinoa salad or a turkey and roasted fig sandwich. For a few hours each day, Joe Natural’s buzzes and so does Paul. “I’m really struggling with who I want to be. I have one foot in the Jewish New Yorker go-be-bigger-be-better, or I can wander around the farm and be me—peaceful.” Back on the porch, we drink water and talk about bird calls. Sara can hear the difference between a cardinal and a mockingbird imitating a cardinal. Paul laughs and says he never even heard the birds before the farm. And now, he says, they are
everywhere. Here there is an infectious love of animals, people, old stories, and doing it the hard way with a healthy dose of comfort and commonality. If I felt out of place at the gate, it has been forgotten now. “This place was perfectly manicured before we made it a working farm,” Paul says, “but, you learn to live with the weeds.” As I leave, I pet the dogs, spot horses heading up to shade, and hear goats in heavy debate, just a decibel louder than the birds. I can see beds full of vegetables that will make their way from Roaring Creek Farm to a table at Joe Natural’s. Soon, my phone will buzz with voicemails and text messages, but for now, I leave with a box of tomatoes and squash and an open invitation to return any time, even if just to practice disconnecting from the grid.
For more information on both locations, visit joenaturals.com. /// 53
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HARD to FAKE By Paul Franklin | Photos by Will Holland
hen I first moved to Nashville, I was living on a couch in my friend’s apartment near Centennial Park. We were both new to town, and we spent a lot of time going out to bars at night. Luckily for us, we were within walking distance of a cheap dive called Springwater. We had no idea that it was known as one of the best dive bars in the country. If you don’t know what to expect, it can slap you in the face, but in a way it’s kind of perfect. It’s smoky, it’s dirty, and the beer is cold. With so many bars pretending to be crappier than they are, I find a Simpsons quote fitting: “this isn’t a faux-dive, this is a dive.” Springwater Supper Club and Lounge is not for the weak of heart, those sensitive to smell, or germaphobes. That is not to say Springwater is anything less than a great bar. It isn’t for everyone, but it is a place that’s open to all types. Plain and simple, it’s an everyman’s bar. It is beer-only, but it isn’t fancy. Don’t go to Springwater looking for the newest and coolest microbrew, but they do have Pabst, High Life, Yazoo and Fat Tire, among others. At the end of it all Springwater is “pure Nashville,” as Craig Smith, the de facto Springwater historian, tells me over a couple of beers. Over a handshake, a man named Terry Cantrell started Springwater 35 years ago, in a building that had previously been a bar called Norma’s. Before that, it had been a speakeasy during Prohibition. The Godfather, as Cantrell is more commonly called, is an elusive figure who looms about the bar in the early afternoon. Angel Parker, a bartender and man-
ager for Springwater, tells me Cantrell doesn’t want to be the face of the bar. And that’s understandable. Springwater is what it is because of the people who frequent the bar and call it their living room. Its full name, Springwater Supper Club and Lounge came about somewhat organically. A bartender used to answer the phone by saying “Springwater” and would then tack on any subtitle that came to mind. “Supper Club and Lounge” was the one that stuck. Craig and I spend a few hours drinking and telling stories inside Springwater while the weather outside grows from hot to cruel. During a quick break from opening beers or talking with the day crowd, Angel tells me the reason she started coming to Springwater was because “it just looked like people were always having a good time.” The collection of characters, which constitutes Springwater’s “regulars,” is more a group of great friends than just customers. They are a pack of strays and that’s the way they like it. In the afternoon you will typically find a range as diverse as a tree-worker, a mechanic, a plumber, a “director of risk management,” and a Filipino ombudsman (like a diplomat). As Craig puts it, “I mean, the back patio looks like the smoking area of mental institution. Springwater is hard to fake.” It is a sense of irony and a sense of humor at the same time. It is a sort of equation: take any normal activity, filter it through Springwater, and the end result will be a definitively bastardized version that encapsulates the bar’s odd nature. An easy example is how Springwater’s comedy night, “Dive Laughing,” started. It began in 2006, when Craig decided
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he wanted to do stand up comedy. He was one of the regulars at the time (he wasn’t yet a bartender) and decided to try out some of his jokes when a band cancelled at the last minute. However, because it’s Springwater, Craig also put a few hooks through the skin on his back, hung himself up, and then proceeded to tell jokes for thirty-five minutes. Hilarious, I know. I cringed as he described it. Now, what began as Craig’s flesh hanging and comedy combo has turned into a comedy open mic every first Wednesday. Springwater isn’t a bar with a set aesthetic look that the patrons are forced to sit in. The assortment of oddities that litter the walls are items patrons have either brought in purposefully for the bar, or accidentally left there. The mascot of their softball team, the Springwater Dirtbags, is a taxidermied monkey
“I SAW HIM BRING IN THAT MONKEY AND I KNEW WE HAD TO HAVE IT FOR SPRINGWATER.” Craig bought off of one of the regulars. “I saw him bring in that monkey and I knew we had to have it for Springwater,” he says. Craig laid down a friendly ultimatum—either the monkey would be purchased, or it would be taken. The sense of mutual friendship and community has always been an integral part of Springwater. You may have heard that the Black Keys recently shot a music video at Springwater. They wanted the dingy look, the torn up red streamers behind the stage, and the smoky feel that Springwater is known for. The Black Keys are not the first, and certainly not the last, band to use the bar as a video set or a background for a photo shoot. A few years ago a band came in to do a shoot and brought a smoke machine. “I said wait, wait. Give us ten minutes and we’ll make you all real smoke,” says Craig. Sure enough, Springwater’s smokers-in-residence were able to make the
AND IT'S THE ONLY BAR WHERE YOU HAVE TO CLARIFY WHICH GUY WITH AN EYE PATCH YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT. bar sufficiently smoky all on their own. There are no frills to Springwater. What you see, good and bad, is what you get. They self proclaim to sell the most Pabst Blue Ribbon in all of Nashville. At only $2 a can, and from what I’ve seen at other bars, I’d say they’re probably right. Angel tells me that on average Springwater sells 40 cases of Pabst a week—960 Pabsts, roughly 137 a day. If Pabst isn’t your thing, they also have Miller High Life “pony races.” If you haven’t heard of a “pony race,” it is just a miniature chugging contest that uses only High Life half-pint “Pony” bottles. Of course, if you’re not into half-pint bottles, they also have three beers on tap at a time. The bartenders and patrons have created their own communal activities as well. The bar’s softball team has the best hecklers in Nashville. (They were so effective with phrases like “valet park these nuts” that heckling has officially been banned by the league.) Every May for the past five years they have held an auction, aptly titled “The SprAuction.” (Auction 60 / //
items have included but not been limited to: a preserved fetal cat and the opportunity to pour a mason jar of cicadas down Craig’s pants.) The money from the auction goes to a good cause—buying beer for the crowd. Every February they have a chili cook-off where anybody in the bar at that time is able to serve as a tasting judge. Plans for a “Guac-off” are currently in the works. Springwater is not just the best dive bar in town, people f***ing love this place. It is a collection of like-minded, though wildly different people. They share stories, bring in homegrown vegetables from their gardens, celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together, and most of all create an environment that is impossible to replicate. Craig smoked cigars with the regulars at Springwater when his first child was born. People have, very rarely, met their wives and husbands here. Football fans tailgate for Vanderbilt games in the parking lot. It’s a great place to find a contractor, handyman, or even a lawyer. Many
of the regulars have the kind of nicknames you would expect to find in a dive like this—Crying Jesus (who has been banned), Bobby Numbers, and Metal Jay, to name a few. And it’s the only bar where you have to clarify which guy with an eye patch you’re talking about. At night, they have music shows, comedy open mics, and karaoke, and the bartenders note that the median age gradually decreases throughout the evening. If you go to Springwater, there are rules that must be followed. Remember to be a gentleman towards women, never say “I’m not looking to start trouble,” don’t wear hospital gowns, don’t fall asleep, be careful who you go home with, and don’t bring your own booze (you’d be surprised at how many people try). But if you are looking to have fun, drink cheap beer and are prepared to see some of the strangest sights in Nashville, then give Springwater a go. “Springwater is a lifestyle choice, not a dive bar,” says Craig. “It’s like being in love with a woman who ruined your whole life. You can’t get away.”
“IT'S LIKE BEING IN LOVE WITH A WOMAN WHO RUINED YOUR WHOLE LIFE.”
F I LM N E RD I N MUSICCITY
Who is Rodriguez? by Sarah Brown
Coming soon to an independent movie house near you
(which means The Belcourt, of course, since it’s the only one to grace our little burg)
is the phenomenal documentary Searching For Sugar Man, which chronicles the enigmatic career of musician Sixto Rodriguez. Due to the mystery-solving aspect of this special film, which, being completely ignorant of the man and his music was a particular delight, this review is somewhat divergent from the norm in that it is divided into two segments. The first is a review in which care has been taken not to spoil the intrigue inherent to the story. It is meant to be read before viewing for the purposes of piquing one’s curiosity. The second is an interview with director Malik Bandejelloul, who was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule (he was in Australia at the time we made contact) to answer a few of my questions. It has been left unedited in Bandejelloul’s charming second-language English. While elucidating, it does give away the mystery and should therefore be read after watching the film. But that’s just a suggestion. Last time I checked, Nashville’s still in America and America is still a free country, so I’m not going to tell anyone how they should read anything. I’ll just tell them the right way, naturally. Enjoy!
PART ONE Who is Rodriguez? Whether you can answer that question or not, Searching For Sugar Man is an absolute must-see. This “musicological detective story” is sure to be revelatory both to those who, very understandably as it turns out, have never heard of the man and those who are familiar with his staggeringly poetic body of work. Sixto Rodriguez, a MexicanAmerican singer-songwriter hailing from Detroit, possessed a talent completely comparable to (and arguably outstripping) that of his protest-era contemporaries like Bob Dylan, yet tragically he remains almost completely unknown in his native country. Despite the power of their messages and the beauty of their music, the two albums he recorded in the early seventies did not register so much as a blip on the American radar, causing a man who was already mysterious to fall off our map entirely. But talent this profound simply will not be silenced. It will, one way or another, as if by magic, find just the right time and just the right place to find an outlet. As it turns out, that outlet was halfway around the world in Apartheid-bound South Africa, where this mystery man’s music was better known than that of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and even the King himself. There were many stories
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among fans about who Rodriguez was and how he had died, including rumors that he had ended his life by committing onstage suicide. Eventually, that fact led some enterprising South African music lovers to attempt to track down the origins and fate of their beloved icon, about whom they knew next to nothing. The adventure of this quest is gorgeously captured in Malik Bendejelloul’s documentary, which elevates the man to a legend of mythic proportions and renders the cities it explores, mostly the breathtaking cliffs and bay of Cape Town and the snowbound smokestacks of Detroit, with panoramic love that makes even grimy, ugly Motor City seem magical. Never boring for even a second, the mystery unfolds in twists and turns with the art of master storytelling. Perhaps this spellbinding film will spark a revival for Sixto Rodriguez amongst the American audience that remains largely ignorant of this talent (like so many, many others) hiding right under their noses. Heartbreaking and exhilarating by turns, Searching for Sugar Man is not to be missed, and the less said about its contents, the better. Watch the mystery unfold for yourself. See you in the dark.
F I L M NERD IN MUSICCITY
PART TWO (spoiler alert) NATIVE: Being neither American nor South African, but Swedish, how did you yourself discover the music of Rodriguez? BANDEJELLOUL: I used to work for Swedish television and in 2006 I quit my job and went traveling for six months with a camera looking for stories in Africa and South America. In Cape Town I met with Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and he told me the story about Rodriguez. N: What about him and/or his music inspired you to document him? B: First, I didn’t really care too much about the music, I was afraid that I would be disappointed, [that] the fans were exaggerating when they compared him to the (sic) some of the greatest artists ever, Dylan and Stones. But when I finally started to listen to those songs I fell in love with them very much, they are just exceptionally good tunes. N: Are you as passionate a fan of his as the people depicted in your documentary? B: Yes, maybe I am. I’ve heard those songs hundreds and hundreds of times while editing and still I listen to them regularly on my iPhone. N: What were your feelings when you were finally introduced to him face to face? B: I was, first of all, very happy he wanted to meet me at all. He was quite reluctant to be a part of the documentary. He is a very private man with a lot of integrity, which at the same time is part of his beauty I think. N: Aside from the man himself, who was the most interesting person that you interviewed? B: Impossible to say, I was so lucky that all of the interviewees in the film were such wonderful people with so much generosity. I knew the story was great but what is a great story if there are not interesting people to tell it. I was very spoilt in that respect, they were all charismatic people with a beautiful and sensitive way to be.
NATIVE ANIMAL OF THE MONTH
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Passeriformes Family: Paridae Genus: Baeolophus Species: Bicolor
Tufted Titmouse: (n.) a super-stylish songbird with an ironic name and a mohawk
Other names: too cool for nicknames The tufted titmouse. That’s right. Tufted. Titmouse. (Hehe) One more time: titmouse. As if the name weren’t enough, they’ve got goofy punk mohawk featherdos. And the mohawks are fitting. They live like tiny feathered rockstars—vociferous, sometimes spoiled, extravagant. Take their crash pads for example: they prefer stylish old woodpecker nests (read: penthouses) and other holes in trees, high above the hustle and bustle of more “corporate” forest animals below. They have been known to host lavish parties, too, but their overly-gregarious nature can also be problematic. Sometimes, so many titmice crowd into tiny (but very chic) apartments (I mean nests) that they have been known to suffocate each other in a sort of hellish mosh pit. They also decorate their nests with plush materials, sometimes plucking hairs from the fur of exotic animals, such as dogs. When they find shed snake skin, they struggle tirelessly to incorporate it unironically into the walls of their
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nests. Once their digs have been carefully designed and gaudily appointed, they defend their pimped-out casas year-round so they can, in an oh-so-rockstar way, lounge around and reproduce. Their offwhite-ish spotted eggs yield tiny titmice who loyally lend a wing to help their wild and less-than-responsible parents raise the next year's brood. As mentioned before, they’re loudmouths, and they sing a number of popular birdsongs—from “péto péto péto” to the high-pitched “woo-woo-woowoo” car alarm song, and of course, the more nuanced classic “ti ti ti sii sii zhree zhree zhree.” There’s also the enigmatic “Peter-Peter-Peter,” which we’re pretty sure contains a hidden message about the devil when played backwards. One thing is certain, when the tufted titmice are in (or more accurately, outside) the house, they make it known. Tufted titmice used to dwell only in deciduous forests, but the combination
of encroaching human environments and the need to get more exposure for their bands, has drawn them to the cities. In Nashville, they especially like living in gardens and parks, and they can sometimes be spotted on neighboring window ledges, peeping in curiously. They have also been seen trying to slip demos into the mailboxes of record execs (you can only do so much with Twitter). Titmice love bird feeders. Sure, they’re a little lazy, but aren’t we all? I mean, none of us are hunting or gathering anymore. Instead, we take a trip down to the grocery store when we need food, and so do the tufted titmice. They’ve also been known to keep secret stashes for rainy days. If you’d like to host a titmouse party in your own backyard, stock your feeder with sunflower seeds, nuts and, if you dare, decadent suet and mealworms. Or, you could just try leaving out a bottle of hair gel.
Everyone deserves to live a long and happy life.
Thatâ€™s why we only sell the best holistic foods, toys, treats, and accessories for dogs and cats! Our East Nashville location also offers a self-serve dog wash.
12 South: 2222 12th Ave. South (Backside of Building) (615) 292-9662
Five Points: 1008 Forrest Ave. (Backside of Building) (615) 228-9249
Hours for both: Weekdays: 10am-8pm Saturday: 10am-6pm Sunday: Noon-5pm
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