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MIKE FLOSS MAY 2016


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®

B e t h e B r o, b

r o.

1. cut k-like thing 2. grab a stic ck ba on 3. tape + tag us o Br e th be 4.

b e a r d i t i on N A S H V I L L E ’ S A L L N AT U R A L B E A R D + G R O O M I N G P R O D U C T S CO. B E A R D | S H AV E | T R AV E L | G R A D UAT I O N | G R O O M S M E N | FAT H E R ’ S D AY shop local or at beardition.com # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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521 Gallatin Ave #1

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Photo: Giles Clement

vint age + handmade goods

SHOP WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR

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O P E N 7 DAYS A W E E K

@oldmadegood


TABLE OF CONTENTS MAY 2016

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36 THE GOODS 15 Beer from Here 18 Cocktail of the Month 22 Master Platers 77 You Oughta Know 79 Animal of the Month

FEATURES

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26 The Basement East 36 Thaxton Abshalom Waters 46 Mike Floss 58 Riverside Grillshack 66 Cardboard Kids

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have coffee, will travel.

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@thedosetruck

dosecoffeeandtea.com/truck


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DEAR NATIVES,

T

hanks for tagging us, y’all! Be sure to check out these Instagrammers, and #nativenashville to share your photos with us.

president, founder:

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

creative director:

MACKENZIE MOORE

managing editor: 

CHARLIE HICKERSON DARCIE CLEMEN

art director: 

COURTNEY SPENCER

community relations manager:

JOE CLEMONS

editor:

@eye_tease

@proofbranding

community representatives:

POLLY RADFORD KELSEY FERGUSON

film supervisor:

          writers: ​@makingmeagan

@nashvillephotogroup

photographers:

production:

@chromeponyjamz

@amyeyemgmt

CASEY FULLER MATT LEFF ANDREW LEAHEY SAMUEL SHAW ITORO UDOKO JONAH ELLER-ISAACS HENRY PILE COOPER BREEDEN

JEN McDONALD DANIELLE ATKINS ADAM LIVINGSTON DYLAN REYES JONATHON KINGSBURY EMILY DORIO ROBBY KLEIN

GUSTI ESCALANTE

founding team: founder, brand director:

DAVE PITTMAN

founder:

CAYLA MACKEY

MACKENZIE MOORE JOSHUA SIRCHIO TAYLOR RABOIN

to advertise, contact:

for all other inquiries:

@mspatricemarie

SALES@NATIVE.IS HELLO@NATIVE.IS

@veronicasomers

PROUDLY DELIVERED BY RUSH BICYCLE MESSENGERS

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RESPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

VISIT PLOWBOYRECORDS.COM FOR NEW RELEASES

OUR ARTISTS: BLACKFOOT GYPSIES • BOBBY BARE • PAUL BURCH • BUZZ CASON • CHEETAH CHROME • CHUCK MEAD • DRIVIN N CRYIN • THE FAUNTLEROYS • THE GHOST WOLVES • JD WILKES & THE DIRTDAUBERS • JIM ED BROWN # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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Photo: Kelsey Cherry

1200 VILLA PLACE - SUITE 403 - (615) 730-5367 castillejanashville.com @castillejanashville # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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Mai Tai by Ben Clemons of No. 308 ph o t o by j e n m cd o n al d

The Mai Tai, one of the most classic yet bastardized tiki cocktails of all time. Like many others, its recipe and origin is shrouded in mystery and debate. Victor J. Bergeron (Trader Vic) claimed he invented the cocktail in 1944, while Don the Beachcomber claimed he did it back in 1933. Don or Vic, one thing is the truth: this drink is NOT the Mai Tai that 90 percent of you have ordered. It is not filled with pineapple and orange juices. It has no whipped cream. It is not the lazy bartender’s rum punch that he made because he watched the movie Cocktail once, looked around the bar and threw a bunch of shit in a tin, shook it, and dumped it into your glass. Here is our version of the classic Trader Vic’s Mai Tai. Mahalo!

THE GOODS 2 oz Appleton Estate 12-year rum 3/4 oz fresh lime juice 3/4 oz orgeat syrup* 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao

FShake all ingredients and strain into a freshly iced rocks glass or your favorite tiki mug. Garnish with mint and a cherry.

syrup *ORGEAT at is an orange Orge almond syrup. It may be purchased at most liquor stores or made from various online recipes.

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C HARLOTTE AVE & 46TH AVE IN SYLVAN PARK

SATURDAY MAY 21, 2016 9:30am-4:30pm 10am to noon for kids 4-14

Special thanks to Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp


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MASTER PLATERS

BAKED SALMON W I T H B E R RY SALSA

W I T H A L P H O N S O A N D E R S O N O F B I G A L’ S PHO T OS BY DAN IELLE AT K IN S

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THE GOODS 2 tbsp Dijon mustard 2 tbsp chopped Chipotle peppers 2 tbsp catsup 1 tsp minced garlic 1 tsp molasses 1/4 cup Worcestershire juice of 1 lime 3/4 cup olive oil salt and pepper to taste 2 salmon steaks

DIRECTIONS F Combine the mustard, peppers, catsup, garlic, molasses, Worcestershire, and lime juice in a food processor. Process until pureed. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a thin stream and process until the mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. F Place the salmon steaks in a baking dish. Pour the sauce over the steaks. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily. F Serve with Berry Salsa.*

*BERRY SALSA 1 pint blackberries 1 pint blueberries 1 pint raspberries 1 tbsp chopped red onion 1 tbsp chopped cilantro 1 jalape単o pepper, chopped juice of 1 lime 1 tbsp cider vinegar F Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well.

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MIKE GRIMES IS SITTING ON A COUCH in The Basement East’s green room, leafing through some papers from a filing cabinet left behind by one of the building’s past occupants. “This is insane,” he says, holding up a yellowed invoice and showing it to his business partner, Dave Brown. “Look! A printing order from January 1972.” The Basement East is celebrating its one-year anniversary, and its two owners are feeling a bit nostalgic. Their venue may be young—a downright infant compared to long-running clubs like the Exit/In, which opened its doors back in 1971—but there’s some serious history here. In the main room, streaks of paint stretch across the floor, reminders of the building’s earlier days as a printing shop. Backstage, stacks of paperwork sit inside cabinets that haven’t been opened for years. Everything is different outside the building’s walls, of course, where construction crews and out-of-town developers have been giving East Nashville a facelift

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BY ANDREW LEAHEY | PHOTOS BY ADAM LIVINGSTON

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for the last half decade. Mike and Dave both lived in town long before Nashville became an It City, though, and their approach to The Basement East has been a simple one: move forward while honoring the past. There’s a lot of past to honor. A dozen years before The Beast (as it’s now commonly known) held its first show in April 2015, Mike and Dave both worked at smaller venues on Woodland Street. Mike was the owner of Slow Bar, a short-lived watering hole and rock club that helped kick off the earliest days of East Nashville’s growth spurt. Long before Five Points

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became a destination for those looking to eat French food, groom their golden retrievers, and order sushi, Slow Bar— which occupied a squat building that now houses 3 Crow—was a sign of something new brewing across the Cumberland. The stage was small and the beer selection limited, but Mike’s club still drew artists like Ryan Adams, the Shins, Kings of Leon, The Postal Service, and the Black Keys to a part of town that many considered dangerous. Slow Bar’s original website still exists, filled with low-res pictures from some of those infamous gigs. There’s a shot of a mop-headed, twenty-three-year-old Jason Isbell performing with the Drive-By Truckers in 2002, a trio of photographs from an Alex Chilton show, and shots of Nashville icons like Lucinda Williams and Wilco cofounder Ken Coomer. Mike is happy to recount some stories not represented in the photo galleries, too, like the time the Black Keys performed for a $100 guarantee—a sum he initially wrestled with, believing it to be too much for a new band—and the evening Ryan Adams wrapped up an impromptu, half-lit gig by losing a fight with a snare drum. “He jumped into the drum kit and smashed his chin and then ran out the door,” Mike says of Adams, a former Nashvillian who recorded his solo debut, Heartbreaker, across the street at Woodland Studios. “I guess he was embarrassed. It wasn’t even a real show! No one was scheduled to play that night, so I called up [Adams’ former bassist] Billy Mercer and said, ‘What are you doing? Do y’all just wanna come over and play?’ Meanwhile, Ryan’s been hanging out at 12th & Porter, getting drunk, so next thing, they come over and jump onstage for about twenty minutes and go crazy, then they were done.” “And then the next night, he was on national television with this big-ass bandage across his face,” Dave adds, laughing. “It looked like a Kotex!” Mike yells. “It


was this really big piece of gauze. There he was, doing a Willie Nelson tribute at the Ryman on TV, with something that looked like a tampon on his face.” Slow Bar closed down in 2003 after three years of operation. Around the same time, Dave was starting to build some buzz of his own at Radio Cafe. Gillian Welch, Guthrie Trapp, and Todd Snider were regular performers at the East Nashville restaurant, which occupied the first floor of what is now Mad Donna’s. Initially hired as a bartender, Dave began booking bands after word got out that the food wasn’t very good. He needed some way to get people— preferably people who drank a lot—through the door. Under his direction, music became Radio Cafe’s calling card. “When Slow Bar closed, we were the only rock venue in the neighborhood for a few years,” Dave says. “The 5 Spot was operating intermittently, doing stuff like the Old Time Pickin’ Parlor. Travis [Collingsworth] and Todd [Sherwood] hadn’t come into the picture over there yet. We had a lot of awesome neighborhood rock bands in East Nashville that nobody knew about, though—like Alcohol Stuntband, Black Diamond Heavies, and The Clutters—and 5 Spot wasn’t booking that kind of stuff, so we decided to.” Despite working within two blocks of one another, Mike and Dave didn’t team up until 2005, after Mike headed back to the west side of the river and moved his record store, Grimey’s, into a Victorian mansion off 8th Avenue. He started hosting shows in the cellar beneath the shop too. The Basement was a difficult sell at first—the parking lot was small, the ceiling low, and the bar virtually impossible to access once the room filled to capacity—so when Dave came to Mike and offered his help, it didn’t take much arm twisting. With Dave on board, The Basement began booking 7 p.m. “early shows” in addition to their usual gigs at 9, doubling the bar’s chances of breaking even. It worked. The Basement became a Nashville institution, and the two have been partners ever since. It was Dave who first saw the “For Rent” sign in front of a large, 14,000-square-foot building at 917 Woodland Street. He was driving

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to a listening party at the original Basement in late 2014 when his gas light came on. After filling up at the BP station in Five Points, he decided to take a shortcut down Woodland. Several blocks away, the future Basement East loomed in all its white-washed, vaguely retrolooking glory. He was hooked. Mike drove by the place later that afternoon to take a look too. Within days, the two had gathered together enough cash to convince the building’s landlord to give them first dibs. They signed the lease several days before Christmas, then began a four-month period of intense renovations. Slow Bar and Radio Cafe had both been accidental music venues, with barrooms that were retrofitted to accommodate bands. From the start, though, The Beast was a different animal. With help from sound engineers like Keiffer Infantino and a team of contractors, Mike and Dave fine-tuned the acoustics of the building’s top floor. They added layers of soundproofing materials to the ceiling and hand-built a thirty-foot stage, putting all the posts on floating rubber disks to avoid any feedback-causing vibrations from the wood. They then raised the stage by three feet, a height that gave a clear view to pretty much everybody in the room. They built a bar that stretched most of the length of the main room, then

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added an outdoor deck and smoking patio that covered most of the room’s width. Later, after the venue opened, they launched The Pub at The Basement East, an adjacent eatery serving up a mix of Asian and Mexican food. Dave, who eats there three days a week, raves about the Bloody Mary. It’s easily the biggest venue in East Nashville. Mike and Dave are proud of the place, but they’re even more happy with The Beast’s music schedule. The place has become a home for locals, touring bands, rock acts, hip-hop artists, headbangers, singer-songwriters, and Music Row country chart-toppers. Hometown heroes like Margo Price, The Wild Feathers, and Cage the Elephant have packed the room to capacity. Queer Dance Party held its New Year’s Eve party at The Basement East, and there’s even a one-act play scheduled for August. Dave is happy with the diversity of The Beast’s schedule. “There’s seven billion people in the world right now,” he says. “There’s so much music out there. You have to look outside your personal preferences sometimes, because it’s not wise to let your own personal tastes limit what you put on in your venue. There are a lot of people out there who like music just as much as you—they just like different music. You can’t forget about them.” The Beast’s reputation is grow-


THE BASEMENT EAST: thebasementnashville.com Follow on Facebook and Instagram @TheBasementEast or Twitter @BasementEast native.is

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ing too—not just in Nashville, but on an international level. Terry Rickards, who booked shows at Mad Donna’s and The 5 Spot before joining The Beast’s staff late last year, points to his clogged email account as proof. “We get booking requests from all over the world,” he explains. “Jamaica, Africa, Australia, Germany. I think the national awareness is growing, and I think it’s bigger than that too.” For The Beast’s owners, a growing reputation means growing profits. They’ve been talking about more renovations and upgrades to the building, only half of which is currently in use. They’re expanding The Pub’s offerings, including a recent brunch menu. They’re actively bringing in bands outside of Nashville. But at the end of the day, they’re still focused on improving the neighborhood that gave them a start back in the early 2000s. “Some people wanna know what our take is on ‘the New Nashville,’” Mike begins, “because they think we’re semielder statesmen or something. And I’ve heard a lot of those people complain about the traffic and the growth and everything. Just go on Facebook and look at the comments on the East Nashville group, and you’ll see people bitching about everything! But I’ve been here as long as anybody. I’ve been waiting for all of these new people to get here. Yeah, the traffic is bad at times. But overall, I think all of this growth is phenomenal. Anyone who moved here seven years ago and thinks that makes them part of the Old Nashville, and it gives them a right to bitch about stuff . . . Well, fuck that shit. I think everyone should be very happy with where we are. Because if you take a look around, you’ll know this city is incredible.” “It’s a growing, thriving, bustling place, and it’s just getting better,” adds Dave. “If you’re a music lover—if music is the thing that means the most to you—then this place is the best place on earth.”

Music City

W W W . M U S I C C I T Y O P T I C A L . C O M

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615-988-0513 - 525 Hagan St. - AmericanHotelLiquidators.com Open 10am-6pm Mon-Sat and 12-5pm Sunday # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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THAXTON

ABSHALOM WATERS

DISCUSSES THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF ART AND

LIFE IN NORTH NASHVILLE

BY SAMUEL SHAW | PHOTOS BY DYLAN REYES # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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After Party The heart of North Nashville, on the first Saturday in April 2016, is a venue its proprietor calls Art History Class Lifestyle Lounge and Gallery. It is all that and more, but I think of it as Thaxton’s Place. There is no sign. Outside, the building appears unoccupied. Other than the stencils on the boarded-up building next door (“That’s my signal,” Thaxton says), only an address decal marks the right place, where people are gathering after the downtown First Saturday Art Crawl for an event Thaxton calls the Whiskey and Wine Social. It’s not a secret or exclusive club (Thaxton welcomed me to invite anyone), but it might be the coolest spot in Nashville, so I’ll leave out the address. Inside, the room is endlessly inviting. It is an Art Gallery, at least: the room is open; new artists are showing; scarves from Africa are carefully arranged on a shelf; one wall is painted rococo wallpaper. It is a Lifestyle Lounge: antique chairs line the walls; a chess set is in use; Tribe Called Quest is on the deck; a piano is adorned with stacks of records, books, and music magazines; the space invites culture and conversation. It is also Art History Class, but not the one you took in college: the room is a portal to African American cultural history and Black Nashville history, which are widely overlapping categories and converge here in the present tense on the north side of town. At 11 p.m. the room is already packed. There are artists, young and old, professors, graduate students, chess players, and artists’ moms. Thaxton is shaking hands and bumping shoulders with arriving guests while prepping the space. He holds a dust brush in one hand, runs bags of ice in the other, fixes a speaker cable with his foot, and still manages to acknowledge everyone in the room. I watch the room fill up as I sip on wine, bob my head, look at art, and make small talk. Like any art gathering, the crowd organizes into a handful of migrating conversation circles. The maitre d’ chats me up on environmental issues. A proud mother wants to make sure I know that I am looking at her daughter’s

art on the walls. As a sociologist, I’ve followed artists in Nashville and other cities for years while doing dissertation research, but North Nashville artists always eluded my “snowball” sample. I have written on the topic of art crawls, and I’ve written that art crawls can become racially exclusive (white), which in turn can spur gentrification (by design or not) because, in academic parlance: art legitimates the appropriation of space. Now I am the only white guy in the room, welcomed and privileged to write about this Afrocentric space. The last thing I want to do is hype an art scene and a neighborhood where gentrification pressures are very real. I issued this dilemma to Thaxton several days earlier, but he was already well aware: “If the neighborhood does change, wouldn’t it be better that this place is here?” I agreed. When I asked how he wanted to be represented in this profile, he insisted, “Emphasize the neighborhood. It’s all about North Nashville.” “You not gonna stay ‘til 3 a.m.?” Thaxton teases me on my way out, before promising that, like the Harlem salons of the 1920s, this all-night soiree has only just begun. The vibe will only get more expressive. The scene can only become more cohesive. The venue will only become more definitive of its time and place. He is thinking well ahead of the party at hand. Thaxton Abshalom Waters Thaxton used to carry his paintings under his arms along Jefferson Street, between his home studio and the Showtime Barbershop, Na’sah’s Nail-Tique, and anywhere else he might find an audience. Inspired by Panther illustrator Emory Douglas, Thaxton carried paintings of Black Power and black culture—$100 for a Malcolm X, $120 for “Live Jazz.” He painted what sold. If someone wanted Dexter Gordon, Thaxton could paint him. If someone wanted Stevie Wonder, Thaxton would. He painted a lot, out of necessity. “I was trying to feed my family,” Thaxton says. He squeaked by, but being a starving artist works

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better when the artist is single, the poverty is voluntary, and the economy is good. “I always knew how to make art. My dad was an artist. But at that point I didn’t think deeply about it.” For Thaxton, his art was a hustle, a means to survive after the recession wrecked his first entrepreneurial effort, a T-shirt and knickknack store called Hebroots. His art career took a turn after a chance encounter with longtime Nashville artist and Tennessee State University professor Michael McBride. The way Thaxton tells it: McBride approached him while he was painting a mural on Monroe, told him he needed to step up his art game, and encouraged him to spend some time at the TSU art department. At TSU, Thaxton networked with McBride and Samuel Dunson. They taught him to think beyond sales, to think about concept, to get personal in his work. He learned to interrogate an ashtray, a hair product, the wallpaper; he dug into his childhood; he read about Harlem and North Nashville. He made collages that tapped the roots of his memory. He got shows in academic galleries. He became an artist in an art community, and the community became his art. He still paints too. Thaxton has since found employment as the art gallery coordinator at the Nashville Public Library. “I went from selling paintings

to the people in the neighborhood to telling the story about the neighborhood!” Thaxton says emphatically, as if his path to self-discovery was the same North Nashville sidewalk he takes every day. Fair enough, but it seems to me that North Nashville is not simply Thaxton’s inspiration and source material. He makes the neighborhood. In addition to the Whiskey and Wine Social, Thaxton uses his venue to host spoken word events, group drawing/painting workshops, a Wu-Tang–inspired kung fu movie theater, and a community discussion/lifestyle forum he calls Shop Talk. Thaxton’s Place is like an installation of an art gallery in an art gallery that has curated a community in North Nashville. North Nashville It was way back in 2010 that Thaxton went from being from North to being North—ancient history in Nashville perhaps. The city has since learned to embrace its artists and its neighborhoods. The New York Times has come and gone. ABC is poised to stay. Property values have doubled. We’ve become a “creative city.” History ended when the millennials moved in. But the North Side unfolds on a different trajectory. North exists despite the Opry, cowboy boots, professional sports, valet restaurants, condo towers, or other It City icons, past and present. In the middle decades

of the 20th century, North was shaped, literally, by the red line—Federal Housing Administration code for whole neighborhoods deemed “too risky” to invest in because of the presence of black residents (i.e., no mortgage loans, no wealth accumulation). It was shaped again, razed and bisected actually, by the construction of Interstate 40. In the 21st century, the effects of white flight continue to determine its meaning. The New York Times did not go there. Nashville does not go there. North property values remain significantly lower than other parts of the city, not because of its neardowntown proximity. Yet, among the many artistically, culturally, and historically relevant quadrants in Nashville, North might be the most relevant. In fact, you would have to go to New York City to find a collection more representative of the origins of an American Art World than the Stieglitz collection at Fisk University. Thaxton could talk for days about the artists and characters that have made this neighborhood what it is. Aaron Douglas, the Harlem Renaissance painter who made art for The Crisis and illustrated book covers for Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston, moved to North Nashville during the Great Depression to become the first chair of the Fisk art department. David Driskell was the second. Fisk is also responsible for bringing Harlem poets

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“I DON’T WANT THIS TO BE A MUSEUM OF WHAT WAS , BUT OF WHAT IS , AND WHAT IT COULD BE. ”

THAXTON ABSHALOM WATERS: Follow on Facebook @ArtHistoryClassLifestyleLounge or Instagram @arthistoryclassllg native.is

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and writers Arna Bontemps and James Weldon Johnson, and for giving a platform to the generations of John Wesley Works and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who were curating and circulating original music around the world long before Nashville’s Music City moniker stuck. W. E. B. Du Bois, who wrote about “the problem of the 20th century . . .” lived in North Nashville and studied at Fisk. Nashville natives and early civil rights activists James Napier and Preston Taylor were key subjects in Booker T. Washington’s Character Building. During the early 1960s, North Nashville was home and refuge for nonviolent protest organizers Diane Nash and James Lawson, while Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix rocked out in its bars. North has local folk heroes, too, like Jefferson Street Joe (Gilliam), the ’70s Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who could throw the football from one TSU end zone to the other (but who, despite outplaying Terry Bradshaw during the 1974 season, did not play in Super Bowl IX). Where does Thaxton fit into all of this? He might say he is just another artist in a long history of artists in North Nashville. But he is also the one telling its story, and it turns out that he was born here, wrought by the neighborhood that he now creates. “I don’t want this [Art History Class Lifestyle Lounge and Gallery] to be a museum of what was, but of what [North] is, and what it could be,” says Thaxton. Sociologists often describe places as having a distinct “character.” Neighborhoods like North Nashville accumulate experiences, resist or adapt to change, and “act” in both scripted and improvised ways. North has and will always confront external pressures. Now Germantown keeps getting bigger; tall skinnies are going up; hipsters are spotted on Buchanan. But places are also fashioned by the images and memories that their denizens embody and curate. What I learned from Thaxton is that art is a place, but North Nashville is not just another place. Thaxton’s art is locating origin stories in an inclusive black space in a city that once turned its back and now wants a piece.

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MIKE FLOSS BELIEVES

NASHVILLE'S HIP-HOP SCENE CAN BE A N AT I O N A L CONTENDER AND IS DOING H I S PA R T T O MAKE IT HAPPEN BY ITORO UDOKO PHOTOS BY JONATHON KINGSBURY

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IT WAS AROUND THIS TIME LAST YEAR that Mike Floss’ song “Dopeboy Dreaming,” the lead single from his debut album Don’t Blame The Youth, appeared in a Tidal commercial during the Billboard Music Awards. It was Mike’s first foray with a national audience, and it made his already anticipated album that much more anticipated. Since then, his buzz has steadily increased. But it’s something the twenty-five-year-old rapper is taking all in stride. “Everything I do right now is about putting something out there and gaining one new fan at a time,” he says simply. It’s a down-to-earth, levelheaded approach that seems characteristic of Floss. When I meet him for our interview, he’s dressed down in black denim, a black hoodie, and a gray, vintage Tennessee Oilers T-shirt. It’s a subtle nod to Old Nashville, but one that also speaks to Mike as an individual. He wears his roots proudly on his sleeve, and like many native Nashvillians, the city is irrevocably intertwined with his persona. Michael McGaha, aka Mike Floss, was born in Chicago but moved to Nashville at the age of two with his parents. His father, Rod McGaha, was a successful jazz musician, and Mike recalls a childhood spent doing homework in vocal booths and taking naps under engineering consoles. He didn’t have many neighbors growing up, and his parents rarely had guests over to the house. Mike attributes his loner personality to this period in his life. “I was left with room for a lot of creative thought,” he recalls with a half-chuckle. As a kid, his father would give him old computers to record music on and experiment with, his first ventures into hip-hop. “I was making wack beats and trying to rap on them,” he laughs. By the time he was in high school, at Pearl Cohn Magnet, he was selling his mixtapes to classmates with the help of a friend, fellow hometown rapper Gee Slab. “I was selling them for like

five dollars, which I shouldn’t have aware of too. The myth that our city only has been. They were terrible mixtapes!” He smiles and shakes his head before country music has been largely defeatcontinuing, “It’s crazy, looking back on ed. Many people locally, nationwide, that stuff compared to what I’m doing and even worldwide have since caught now. I’m sure a lot of people I went on to the fact that Nashville is teemto school with probably didn’t think I ing with underground and indie scenes was actually going to do this. But I’ve that span rock ‘n’ roll, electronic, punk, and more. But despite the massive always said I was serious about it.” Mike has always possessed this growth that the local hip-hop and R&B sense of hustle. “I’ve been working scenes have undergone in the past half since I was thirteen,” he says. With decade, it’s still a common misconcepan eye cast early on toward creative tion that Nashville lacks a community entrepreneurship, he attended Pearl of homegrown hip-hop and R&B artCohn because it was a business mag- ists. “There’s actually a lot of hip-hop net school. “I thought maybe I can get a little company going or something. I here,” Mike tells me. I agree, adding was trying to be Dame Dash from Roc- that, strangely, hip-hop seems to be A-Fella Records.” Upon graduating, he one of Nashville’s best-kept secrets. studied business administration and “But I don’t see how,” he replies. “It’s marketing at Tennessee State Univer- not like anyone’s hiding it. But I guess the right people just don’t know about sity. It was during these years at Tennes- it. Or the people that can blow it up see State that he initially established just haven’t heard of it yet. But evhimself in the local hip-hop scene, ery time I expose somebody new to then performing under the moniker it who’s looking for it, they think it’s Openmic. Mike honed his skills per- really dope. The good thing, though, is forming at venues around the city and that the scene here is really organic beworking with other Nashville hip-hop cause nobody has touched it yet.” When it comes to overturning the artists at a point when the local rap scene was just starting to take root. misconceptions surrounding NashChock it up to his business-savvy and ville hip-hop, Mike Floss’ Don’t Blame instinctive entrepreneurial spirit. Or The Youth is an important effort. As maybe it’s because he literally grew the city continues to define its new up in the music recording industry. identity, it’s important that the range Whatever the case, it didn’t take long of diverse voices and stories that have for Mike to earn a reputation in town helped craft New Nashville don’t get as one of the most promising up-and- lost in the mix. Don’t Blame The Youth sheds light on a significant side of our comers in the hip-hop scene. These days he’s got more eyes on city whose story is often undertold. The album is in many ways a call him than ever. The same goes for the city he calls home and the scene he to arms. Mike describes it in part as hails from. And it’s something that “me being honest about the decisions Mike doesn’t take for granted. One of I make. I’m at a point now where I his goals, he emphasizes, is to figure can’t really blame anybody but myself out what it will take to “crack that for anything that’s happening or has Nashville code and make the hip-hop happened. We can point the finger at scene here something that people our parents or whoever did you wrong. nationwide are looking at.” That’s no But at the end of the day, you gotta easy task. Cracking that code means live with you. So all I try to focus on is making the local hip-hop scene some- what I cause and what I can do better. I thing that more Nashville residents are think that’s the expression of [DBTY].

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I put a lot of my own shortcomings, or things that I’m not as proud of, in the music. It’s like okay, go ahead and accept it about yourself. Because that’s who you are.” This stark and honest philosophy resonates throughout the record. Take the album art, for example. It’s a provocative subversion of a classic image: a jug of milk and a bowl of cereal. Except in the place of traditional breakfast cereal are bullets. Lots of bullets. “I’m trying to get to the root of things. I take this innocent concept of breakfast cereal and replace it with what you’re actually possibly consuming, even on a food level.” Whether it makes you question the politics of ethical food consumption or consider the fact that we’re a generation raised on a healthy diet of gun violence and warfare, it’s powerful, thought-provoking imagery. “It’s just the mentality of this country,” Mike says, describing the ugly side of capitalism that teaches us to ignore all of the negative, often horrific things that are required to attain the glamorous goods we covet. He explores this idea further on his breakout single “Dopeboy Dreaming,”

a song that addresses the adolescent fork in the road of choosing between a dopeboy lifestyle or the (decidedly more boring) straight and narrow path. He describes what makes a dopeboy seem so appealing. “[Growing up] what we see are the painted cars with rims and a sound system, and the girls that wanna walk over. But we don’t really see what happened on the front end. We don’t see all the people that got killed around him or how many times he’s been arrested. None of that stuff.” The single is the centerpiece of an album that tackles often-tough-todiscuss, but important, issues. Mike Floss addresses topics relevant to us all in a manner that’s neither judgmental nor preachy, injecting doses of his own personal story along the way. There’s a level of suppressed anger present on the album, stemming in part from his frustrations with the nation’s current racial and political climate. “I didn’t really rage on the project. I spoke on it kind of eloquently and nicely,” he explains. “I think a big part of what I am, and who I am as an artist, is to kind of present people an escape. You already gotta live it,

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MIKE FLOSS: Mikefloss.com Follow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @mikeflossmusic 52native.is / / / / / / / / / / / / / / ////// # N AT IVE N ASH VI LLE


all day every day. So I wanted people to kind of relax for a little bit. But this next project I think is going to be a lot more aggressive and a lot more frustrated.” You can sense that aggression on his recent single, “Kerosene,” which premiered earlier this year on VICE’s Noisey Radio. The song’s pure energy, thanks in part to local beatsmith SHMUCK THE LOYAL, helps ignite the weighty boasts and thought-provoking one-liners that populate it. The seismic production leaves a lasting impression and is a clear sign of Mike’s future ambitions. It’s not hard to imagine thousands of fans raucously stomping and moshing to “Kerosene.” Back in February, Mike got the chance to tour for a month with fellow hometown act Cherub, a duo that has nailed the leap from indie to commercial success. It was his first extended run on the road, and he claims it made him a much stronger performer. “The show is so much better now, light-years ahead,” he tells me. “The more I can do stuff like that that’s gonna make me grow as an artist, that’s what I’m going to try to do.” His formula for landing new creative opportunities? “To be honest, most of my opportunities just come from being a good person,” he says. “People like to work with people they like. I’m a laid-back dude. There’s some people that you would work with until you meet them.” So what’s next for Mike Floss? “We got a lot of stuff on the table right now. But you know, 10 percent of it is supposed to happen and 5 percent of it actually happens.” He alludes to releasing a couple of EPs this year and plans to continue exploring new avenues for marketing his music and pushing the local scene. “It’s grassroots. For me, it’s always about building.” Mike knows that Rome—or in this case, Nashville’s hip-hop scene—wasn’t built overnight. He’s not taking any opportunities for granted and is focused on growing his music organically. It’s an exercise in hard work and patience, two things he’ll need in large amounts if he’s determined to build his own Rome one day.

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STEVE AND SUSAN

RICHTER’S

TINY RIVERSIDE GRILLSHACK

ON ROSEBANK IS A FEW BLOCKS SOUTH OF NORMAL

BY JONAH ELLER-ISAACS | PHOTOS BY EMILY DORIO 58 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / ////// 58 / // / / / / / / / / / / / / /////

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IT’S QUIET HERE IN ROSEBANK. At least until the train comes through. This East Nashville enclave has a calm, suburban feel to it, though the eateries and bars of Five Points are a short trip away. When the wind blows just right, you can even hear the hum of Briley echoing eastward across the Cumberland. Rosebank Avenue winds through the hills of its eponymous neighborhood and meets the broad, tree-lined boulevard of Riverside Drive at a wide intersection next to the train tracks. At the corners are a car repair shop and a smattering of vehicles; a new medical center; an empty lot, speckled with mud and grass; and finally, our destination: The Riverside Grillshack. It’s a shack. You might be shocked, but inside the shack, they grill. They also fry. And the quality of their food far exceeds what you might expect from a shack in Rosebank. In truth, I should say shacks. There are two structures here; the larger of the two plays host to great culinary feats. The miniscule kitchen inside holds no more than three cooks, but from their skilled hands comes a steady stream of burgers and fries to sate hungry Rosebankers. Connected by a covered patio, the second shack features signage declaring it the LUXURIOUS DINING AREA. Though the screened-in porch is lovely on a warm day, it’s not at all luxurious—but that’s beside the point. Because when the food comes out, the scenery no longer matters. Today I’ve arrived at the Grillshack and don’t plan on immediately devouring my togo order. I take a seat at one of the sturdy picnic tables across from Steve and Susan Richter, the ambitious restaurateurs that transformed this tumbledown shack into a dining oasis. They’ve brought their young daughter, Emily, who’s crawling on the table between us. At nine months, she’s a pile of adorable wrapped

in a Pink Floyd onesie. Over her babbling, I ask how their other baby, the Grillshack, came into being. It all started at Rosepepper Cantina, Steve and Susan share with a grin, a Mexican restaurant known for its witty sign and strong margaritas. With those cocktails, I’m guessing Emily and the Grillshack are not the only babies with Rosepepper roots. Steve and Susan worked at Rosepepper back in 2006, both serving tables. Their longtime friendship and mutual careers in food service predated their romantic pairing, and though they both left the Cantina, Steve tells me that “somehow, we got roped back into restaurants after those years.” As he puts it, “We’ve always loved the idea of being small business owners and had that being a goal for our adult lives. It took a while for it to come together, and I swore and swore it was never gonna be a restaurant ever again. But you know, it happens that these are the things you’re good at. Sometimes, you know what you know. It worked out pretty well.” Before the shack, there was the food truck: Über Tüber Hand-Cut Fries. It lasted only a single summer. The recipe was an attempt to re-create the product served at Thrashers, a beloved beach boardwalk fry shop on the Atlantic coast near Steve’s childhood home of Salisbury, Maryland, and coincidentally, also near Susan’s birthplace of Falls Church, Virginia. When Steve explained his idea to Susan, it was an easy sell because, as she tells me, “I went to the same beach and had the same fries growing up. So when he decided, ‘Let’s try to make Thrasher fries,’ I was like, ‘Yeah! Let’s try to make those fries!’ They were the best fries we’d ever had.” The sell was easy; the recipe was most definitely not. Steve looks like he’s reliving some minor trauma # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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recalling the development toward the cook shack next process. “It took probably door and lays it out. “Since dozens—if not a hundred— we were never prepared to failed recipes before we start a full-size, full-service came up with something restaurant or something that we thought was good along those lines, we essenenough to compete . . . I’ve tially just found a space that never found anything that’s was the size of a food truck. so difficult, so easy to screw Now it has a gas hookup and up, as french fries. If you’re a water hookup and it lets us off a few degrees, or a few make fries to those quantiseconds, in any stage of the ties that we need, enough cooking process, they can to be successful. Since then, it’s just been us trying to just be ruined.” Steve and Susan started keep up with growth.” By October 2013, their to offer their exhaustively tested Thrasher-style fries, kitchen was grounded on and people enjoyed them. terra firma, and the two beBut the food truck didn’t gan to experiment with difdo especially well, even as ferent menu items and reciit chased local festivals like pes. Their perspective was Pride and Tomato Fest. Steve unusual, as Steve points out. explains, “Our recipe re- “We went the opposite direcquires just colossal amounts tion from most places . . . Inof water and gas and stuff stead of, ‘What do you want that made it progressively with your burger?’ we said, more impractical to do it ‘What do you want with your from a truck.” Their supply fries?’” The original menu dilemma, however, led them featured a handful of sandto this unusual shack—an wiches as fry-friendly platter odd structure, certainly, but mates, but their customers remarkably well-suited to spoke clearly: they wanted their needs. Steve gestures burgers, and only burgers,

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with their fries. “The numbers were crazy!” Susan remembers. “It was like 90 percent or something, if not more: just the burgers. And then 10 percent: all the other ones combined!” With the message received, they pared the menu down significantly and focused on making their burger and fries as delicious as possible. A noble mission, to be sure. As Riverside Grillshack’s lunch and dinner menus took shape, Steve and Susan invited Leigh Wiser, another Rosepepper alum and Tennessee native, to create a complementary breakfast. Leigh joins us at the shack and tells her side of the story. Starting out six days a week, she would arrive at dawn with loaves of homemade rosemary bread, small pies made with fried biscuit dough and fillings both sweet and savory, and her miraculous fried grits, among other delectable items. “It was a labor of love,” Leigh quips in a soft Southern drawl. It was a hard slog at first, with long hours at the shack bleeding into her long nights work-

ing behind the bar at Rosepepper. Now she’s found a better balance and brings her breakfast to the shack Friday through Sunday, a much more reasonable timeframe. Still, she gives it her all. The grits are golden triangles that are fried to perfection, and even though they’re just a small side dish, Leigh’s recipe is demanding. “[They’re] mixed, baked, chilled for a little bit, sliced, frozen, fried.” She adds with a self-effacing smile, “It’s . . . all of my things are a lot.” Leigh’s attention to detail and quality goes along nicely with Steve and Susan’s minimalist menu, and the extra open hours mean there are now six employees supported at least in part by the Grillshack. The work family here makes it possible for Steve and Susan to simultaneously own a small business and raise a beautiful young baby. Steve never wanted to return to the long, arduous hours that working in the service industry entails, and now he doesn’t have to. As he explains, “We

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RIVERSIDE GRILLSHACK: Follow on Facebook or Instagram @riversidegrillshack native.is

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have really good people that are runnin’ the shack for us now . . . We never really intended for this to be anything but a job for me, but it turned out to be a business that employs five people plus me. The fact that we’re able to do that when we never really had bigger plans for it other than it just being a personal project—it’s awesome.” Train tracks hug the Grillshack’s property line, so close that Susan once served a burger to a conductor awaiting his pass-through orders. Though the train rumbles through every hour or so, there is a soft tranquility that surrounds the Grillshack and Rosebank. Along with the quietude, though, comes some isolation. For thousands of Nashvillians in Rosebank and Inglewood, this humble shack is the first restaurant when driving downtown, or the last filling station before arriving home. Today, as I lounge in the Luxurious Dining Area, surveyors for Metro Nashville are creeping back and forth across the Grillshack’s wide, puddled lot. Next door, a line of tall skinnies are getting their windows installed, nearly ready for new owners willing to part with $300,000 and up. There’s a tendency around town to see developers in a pretty harsh light. It’s understandable sometimes, but they’re not all bad. Steve and Susan have a lease until 2020, and even if their property gets built out, the landlord has told them to plan on sticking around. That stability might give them a chance to open a second location. “Healthy businesses grow,” Susan tells me as she reaches out to pick up her daughter. “[It’s] been a lot of hard work and a lot of luck over the past couple years with us being open.” Steve adds that they’re not afraid of growth. “More activity on Riverside, and Rosebank in particular, makes this place better off for everyone that lives here and eats here.” The Riverside Grillshack won’t be quiet for long.

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SINCE FORMING CARDBOARD KIDS IN

2013, JAKE GERMANY,

AUSTIN CUNNINGHAM, AND BRANDON MCFARLIN HAVE DELIVERED THEIR MODERN TEXAS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL TO A NATIONAL AUDIENCE. NOW BASED IN NASHVILLE AND WORKING ON A NEW ALBUM, THEY’RE READY TO MAKE THEIR MARK AGAIN

BY HENRY PILE | PHOTOS BY ROBBY KLEIN

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THE HALL LEADING INTO RCA STUDIO B IS TEEMING WITH TEENAGERS. Their bodies press from wall to wall, squeezing past each other like salmon on their way to lay eggs in the room where Waylon and Dolly each laid down tracks. I must be in the wrong place. I’m looking for Cardboard Kids. But no one can hear me. I can’t turn back and fight the tide, so I ride the sweaty current until I can grab an exit door. “Emergency Exit Only” it reads. Check. Outside, wiping my mouth and catching my breath, I look at the unimpressive brick building. The last remodel must have been in the 1970s. I wander around, looking for a door not protected by a phalanx of teens on a school field trip. A woman crosses 17th Avenue, heading in my direction. Her name is Amelia Handshoe. She works with Mike Kopp, music co-manager for Cardboard Kids, and she guides me through the proper entrance. “Elvis used to roller-skate through the studio,” she tells me. We find Mike. He looks like an offensive lineman crossed with a poet. He’s kind. He smiles broadly and ushers me to ever-smaller rooms. Through a few sets of doors, we find two young guys in baseball hats huddled over an electric piano. A couple of metal folding chairs and a thrift store sofa finish out the room. Jake Germany, lead singer and guitarist, greets me. His bleached hair shoots from under his hat like stems of a yucca plant. Austin Cunningham, guitarist, sits on the edge of the sofa. They are exceedingly friendly, but I can’t help but feel like I interrupted something. And where is their drummer, Brandon McFarlin? Jake, Austin, and Brandon were born and raised in Tyler, Texas. Stuck about midway on the lonesome drive from Dallas to Shreveport, Louisiana, the town is modest and blue-collar to the core. “One day,” Jake tells me, “I counted sixteen churches from school to my house.” Religion and football, which may not be mutually exclusive, held center stage in Tyler. Rock ‘n’ roll, as to be expected, lived on the fringe.

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“We both went to a huge megachurch,” Austin says. “Baptist,” Jake says flatly. They list a series of nicknames: Six Flags Over Tyler, Bapti-Dome, and so on. The guys grew up in church but don’t consider their music religious. They’d rather not go too far down that conversation path, but the influence of church— not religion—is central to their story. Early on, Jake’s only experience with music was exploring his grandfather’s music room. Guitars, drums, and horns were littered about. “I was drawn to the saxophone,” Jake says. “When the time came to join band at school, my parents made me play the sax,” he pauses. “I hated it.” The strict classroom setting didn’t encourage his creativity. By high school, he dropped the sax. But this is where church became important. “The youth pastor at the church asked me if I could play bass,” Jake recalls. “I said no, but he told me to show up and he would show me how to play four notes.” That was it. He had a knack for the instrument. He was drawn in by the sheer power of the bass. “I would stand against the amp when I played,” Jake says. “It felt like metal on metal.” Far more powerful than a vibrating reed. “I played tuba,” Austin laughs. “That was the least cool instrument possible.” He describes his band tenure as “short.” This is also a good way to describe the way Austin tells his own story. If Jake can spin a yarn, Austin is happy to take the backseat. Eventually, Austin also found his way to the bass. He was drawn to the simplicity and nuanced nature of the instrument. With only four strings, it felt accessible. Despite the bass being a first love for each of the guys, they both switched to guitar. Beginning in junior high, Jake, Brandon, and Austin started, joined, and ended various music projects. Untangling the storylines for when each guy was in what band and who else was sitting in

or moving on is complex. They were in a lot of bands. Sometimes they played with each other. Sometimes they did not. Here’s how I understand it: Long before the kids became Cardboard Kids, they were exploring the options available in Tyler, Texas. Growing up connected to the Internet, they were able to reach beyond the confines of their town and discover unreachable music options. “Emo music was my thing,” Austin says. “I listened to Brand New and Taking Back Sunday a lot.” For Austin, emo music quickly led to punk, and punk led to his first band, Middle Child. “I started playing in punk bands in garages,” Austin tells me about his early high school days. This wasn’t cliche; it was necessity. “You could only play in garages or churches,” he explains. “All-American Rejects was my big thing,” Jake says of the music he was into during middle school. “It was the beginning of a lifestyle for me. I definitely wore a side belt,” he says, laughing. Jake recalls his first band, The Reserves. “We were terrible.” They were a self-described acoustic, Dashboard Confessional ensemble that ran against the grain of more popular local Texas metal bands. With these two guys playing to different crowds, a connection in the scene might have been unlikely, but Tyler’s scene was microscopic. High school bands shared the spotlight with professional bands. A show playbill might include a staggered list of metal, allgirl, emo, acoustic, and punk. Everyone knew everyone, and the style of music didn’t matter. Austin, Jake, and Brandon belonged to a sub-community of kids looking for an opportunity to rebel. Tyler was a dry county, so snagging some booze was exceptionally difficult. “The


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CARDBOARD KIDS: cardboardkidsband.com Follow on Facebook @cardboardkidsband, Twitter @crdbrdkds, or Instagram @cardboardkids native.is 70 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / //////

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closest thing we could do to be rebellious was play it was more fun than the rest.” Austin jumps in, “I said, ‘Well, I have more songs if music,” Jake says. Just one problem. “There were no music venues,” you want to hear them.’” The collaboration felt right, and the solo act beJake explains. The only spot, other than a church, that passed for a venue was a storage unit nicknamed “The came a band, Jake Germany and the Cardboard Kids. Sheds.” In a series of storage rentals, local kids would They toured. They played at 12th & Porter in Nashville. gather to listen to a hodgepodge of music. But a suc- “We played that small side stage and no one came to cessful show required strategic planning, especially our show,” Jake recalls. “It was just us, the other band, on Fridays. “We called it the Fifth Quarter,” Austin and the sound guy.” They returned home to Texas and continued writexplains. There was no point in starting a show until ing. With all three guys contributing to the songs, Jake after the football game. dropped his name and they became Cardboard Kids. Here, the guys played their first shows for an audiBut, without some serious action, this project was ence. “It was strange,” Austin admits. “I was nervous destined to end like all the others. and thought I would only play out once and go back “A friend of mine told me staying in Tyler meant to the garage with my friends.” Austin is an introvert. nothing was going to happen,” Jake says, looking at The thought of being on stage seemed absurd, but Austin. “We had to move to L.A. or Nashville if we something about performing shot lightning through wanted anything to happen.” They chose Nashville, his veins. He was addicted to the experience. and this marked the first major band decision. “Brandon and I were in this shoegaze band called Before they packed up, they laid the groundwork Numerals,” Jake explains. “We never knew where our for their album. Austin and Jake moved out of Tyler singer was because he was the kid in Tyler who did and onto a ranch in Blackjack, Texas. Brandon lived drugs. We liked it.” down the road. Off the grid, they worked on music Each project fizzled out. Luckily, Jake had a fallback while traveling to Nashville to make connections and option. During high school, he was a four-year letterwrite with producers. For a year, they saved money, man in soccer. He was good, and he landed a soccer scholarship for college. He finished his freshman year, wrote, and laid plans for their siege. “Austin took a calendar off the wall and mapped but during the summer he joined the Warped Tour out eight months of our plan,” Jake says. Instead of to play with a new band, The Secret Handshake, and creating a rollout plan for a label, they handed over dropped out of college. “My parents were surprisingly a wall calendar with pictures of dogs and inked dates cool with my decision,” Jake says. “My parents are for photos, PR, interviews, and events, all in an effort rare East Texas parents.” to own the development, creative, and promotion of But the band didn’t last long. Back in Tyler, Jake retheir music. connected with Austin. During the planning year, they met Tres Sasser, “I had moved to L.A. for the summer to do an internwho was launching American Echo, an independant ship for a film company,” Austin tells me. “I went back label in Nashville. He got funding for the Cardboard to Tyler with the intention to move to L.A. for school, Kids’ album and helped accelerate the process. Once but I started playing with The Lion and The Sail and the pieces fell in place, the guys moved to Nashville. decided I liked music more than film.” They didn’t have jobs or, for the most part, a proper Eventually, The Lion and the Sail broke up. Austin place to stay, but they went straight to the studio. sat on a trove of music and continued writing. Jake “We wanted to come out with a full-length album had also been collecting and recording his own solo as our first piece,” Jake says of their goal in Nashville. music. After the end of soccer scholarships and the They took their time and worked with professional Warped Tour, he asked Brandon and Austin to help producers and engineers. After a year of preparing, him record a solo album. His songs detailed his life they spent months recording what would become growing up in Tyler. The album was called Cardboard their first album, Echo Boomer. Kids and was accompanied by a comic book (he and The entire experience was quintessential Nashville. Austin are comic nerds). Joe Costa mixed the album and became a close friend. “I wanted a real angsty song,” Jake explains. “So “One day, we were at lunch with Joe,” Jake recalls. “He Austin and I wrote one more song for the album, and

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asks us about a song where we wanted a female vocal. We said, ‘Honestly, we just want someone who sounds like that woman who sings with Jack White.’ Joe said, ‘Oh, Ruby Amanfu? Okay.’ Three days later, she was in the studio.” From here, momentum built rapidly. They played their first show at High Watt. Jake recalls plugging in his guitar and turning around to a packed room. “I just kept thanking everyone and telling them I didn’t understand why they cared about us,” he remembers. Fresh off the buzz, they prepared a US tour with a headline show at The Basement. The 100-person-capacity venue burst at the seams with bodies pressed to the front of the stage in a standingroom-only show. Though the tour was a success, the relationship with their management began to unravel. By the end of the tour, the guys had negotiated a new deal with Sharon Corbitt-House and Mike Kopp, but, being considerate Southern gentlemen, they agreed to play a going-away show for their outgoing management. For this show, they were back at 12th & Porter, but this time on the main stage. The band hung out in the perch-like green room, waiting for showtime. Their guitar tech popped in and urgently told them to look outside. “I thought, Great. Is it raining or something? What is going wrong?” Jake recalls. When the guys descended the stairs, the room was already full of people and a line outside stretched down the block and around the corner. The opening band hadn’t started, and in a town of perpetually late music fans, people were clamoring to get in. This was a far cry from their first 12th & Porter experience only two years earlier. “My grandmother was the only person in my family with any reservation about what I was doing,” Austin says. “I remember telling her about this show, the line, and how people couldn’t get in.” He stops for a moment. His voice gets soft and he puts his head down. The memory of that conversation moves him. Jake quickly jumps in, “We couldn’t believe it.” Cardboard Kids went back to writing


and recording with their new management team. Now, housed in RCA Studio A, they stand next door to where Dolly stood when she sang “Jolene.” “The studio is so big that Elvis used to rollerskate here,” Jake says with excitement. I tell him I had heard that. “Well, I bought some Rollerblades so I could do it too,” he adds. With Echo Boomer, they were able to take their time, but the studio time was booked and they had to follow deadlines. With the new album, they have spent a year writing and recording. “We’re used to sitting on songs for a long time,” Austin explains. “We’re getting better as musicians in different departments.” “We’re getting better at new textures,” Jake explains. With the new album, they are experimenting with synthesizers and rhythmic patterns. I ask about the overall feel. “It’s dark,” they say in unison. “The new songs have more room to breathe,” Jake says. “They have a special flow. If it makes our hair stand up, we do it, even if it’s not technically correct.” As of this writing, the album title is unknown. No singles have been released. The only information available is that everything will be released in fall 2016. Per standard operating procedure, the guys maintain control of every element. I stand up, shake their hands, and find my own way out. Yes, the building is old. The narrow hallways are barren. The harlequin-patterned floor of Studio A is empty. The space is quiet. In a moment of rare romanticism, I stop and put my ear to the wall. I listen for reverberations of Willie Nelson and Charley Pride. I search for the high cry of Roy Orbison and the rattle of The Strokes. Deep in the quiet, a sound rises. The ping of piano keys leads a voice, Jake Germany’s voice. Outside, the high school kids are gone. People walk their dogs under the shadow of cranes. The city is changing faster than most can handle, but the music industry and those who cherish the backstory still seek out the studios with soul. At RCA Studio A, Cardboard Kids add their entry in a rich catalog of music history.

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YOU OUGHTA KNOW: OKEY DOKEY

OKEY DOKEY cebook, Follow on Fa Twitter or m, ra Instag nd @okeydokeyba native.is

After The Beatles broke up, George Harrison released a sprawling, Vaishnavism-inspired meditation on love, change, and acceptance appropriately titled All Things Must Pass. In addition to being a massive commercial and critical success, the album was a testament to the positive power of change: George had to lose The Beatles to find himself. Such is the case with Okey Dokey, a “psych soul” duo that, like George, is no stranger to the transitory nature of life (and the even more transitory nature of band lineups). The

brainchild of visual artist Aaron Martin and guitarist Jonny Fisher, Okey Dokey features members of broken-up, hiatus-ed, and stilltogether acts like Sol Cat, The Weeks, Desert Noises, Rayland Baxter, and Tristen. It’s a rotating supergroup with a woozy take on soul that wouldn’t be out of place during an acid trip or a pool party (or an acid-trip pool party). Why can’t our breakups and “breaks” sound this sweet? Keep an eye out for Okey Dokey’s debut album, Love You, Mean It, this summer. # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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ANIMAL OF THE MONTH

Written by Cooper Breeden*

Pleistocene Megafauna I’m still baffled as to why I was taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America or that all rivers flow south**. I imagine these “facts” were taught around the same time as the lessons about dinosaurs and extinction, but even those lessons, while more accurate, only scratched the surface of the subjects. Much of the focus of “Animal of the Month” has been on animals that are struggling to get by for one reason or another, and there’s probably a significant number of animals just in Tennessee on the verge of extinction. But dinosaurs have been gone for tens of millions of years. Since then, many other animals have come and gone, and their presence is not yet altogether lost. Since there are so many millions of years between us and the dinosaurs, let’s focus on that short little 2.5-million-year period that ended nearly 12,000 years ago: the Pleistocene epoch. There are some familiar faces here—woolly mammoth, saber-toothed cat, dire wolf—but others may not be as familiar. These large animals, collectively referred to as megafauna, once roamed our continent along with many of the megafauna (such as deer, wolves, and bears) that haven’t yet been eradicated. We will never know the full story of their role in yesteryear’s ecosystem, but paleoecologists still endeavor to learn more about extinct megafauna. One thing is certain: our land was once teeming with giant animals, herbivores and carnivores alike. Some of the more formidable carnivores are the saber-toothed tiger and short-faced bear. The tiger is comparable in size to some of the large cats we know, but its iconic fangs give it a much fiercer countenance. The short-faced bear would have dwarfed most polar bears and could easily clean the gutters on your one-story house when standing up straight. On the herbivore side, there is the Columbian mammoth, which was twice the weight of an African elephant, a species of ground sloth about the size of a buffalo, and the giant beaver that

weighed up to 250 pounds (to put that in perspective, today’s beavers weigh up to 60 pounds). These are just a few examples of the animals that went extinct toward the end of the Pleistocene epoch, and it is debated whether it was because of climate change, overhunting by man, or something else. Am A walk in the American woods is a tame experience, for the most part, but there was a time when it would have been more like a walk through the Serengeti, except the lions, tigers, and bears would have been bigger. These giants changed our landscape just as today’s megafauna do. In many cases, they were keystone species: their effect on the landscape was disproportionately large relative to numb of individuals. the number There is a movement that recognizes the importance of megafauna and seeks to reintroduce large animals to their home ranges as a means of large-scale ecological restoration. This strategy, called rewilding, has projects all over the world, including Pleistocene Park in Siberia, which is working to create a hybrid of the extinct woolly mammoth by extracting DNA from a frozen woolly mammoth ca carcass and injecting it into an elephant—the exact plot of Jurassic Park, but with more scientific merit and less terrifying subjects. One contemporary of the extinct Pleistocene behemoths has recently made its way back to Tennessee. Cougars were chased or killed out of Tennessee nearly 100 years ago, but in the last few months there have been a number of confirmed sightings, some less than 100 miles from Nashville. If the number of sightings continues to grow, there will undoubtedly be an outcry from fearful residents. But the presence of cougars would make for an interesting rewilding experiment and would reintroduce a small taste of the bygone Pleistocene ecology. On your next nature walk, try to appreciate that you’re in a land of ancient beasts, but be vigilant that some may be returning. **Our own Harpeth and Stones Rivers flow north!

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Profile for Native

NATIVE | MAY 2016 | NASHVILLE, TN  

FEATURING: Mike Floss, Cardboard Kids, Thaxton Waters, The Basement East, and many more.

NATIVE | MAY 2016 | NASHVILLE, TN  

FEATURING: Mike Floss, Cardboard Kids, Thaxton Waters, The Basement East, and many more.

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