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ISSUE No.2 No.2 ISSUE AUGUST 2012 2012 AUGUST

PUJOL NICOLE BAUMANN | 5 POINTS PIZZA | BANG CANDY | BARISTA PARLOR HALYCON No. 308 | CULT FICTION UNDERGROUND | HA LCYON | HOLLER DESIGN OTIS JAMES | LINEAR DOWNFALL | NASHBALL | AND MORE . . .


what do you

www.wannadoapp.com

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CONTENTS 8

Daniel pujol is smarter than you

From his poetry to his master’s degree, the hardrocking eponymous lead singer of PUJOL is kind of a nerd—in a good way.

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A Slice of local culture

AUGUST 2012

Five Points Pizza is proudly dedicated to East Nashville. Even so, they make a mean New Yorkstyle slice.

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the big bang

Fortune travels

Artist Nicole Baumann leaves Nashville with a parting gift.

The culinary experiments of Irish Nashvillian Sarah Souther churn out some of the best things you’ve ever put in your mouth.

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Linear downfall

With a new album on the way and “work with The Flaming Lips” now checked off their bucket lists, it’s time to sit down and listen to Music City’s very own 21st Century schizoid band.

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House of brews

Andy Mumma, the creator of Nashville’s new Barista Parlor, talks about doing and seeing things differently.

Ties that bind

After film school and a couple of transcontinental cycling trips, Otis James found himself making ties.

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changing gears

Halcyon Bike Shop wants you to get back on a bicyclye.

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CULT FICTION UNDERGROUND

L.A. has gang wars, New York has breakdancing, and now we have our own sport, too.

This dark new spot is the best place in town to catch a delightfully strange B-movie—from sci-fi to the many subgenres of horror, and everything in between.

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Nashball

cocktail of the month by no. 308

This month, chill out with the Lloyd Dobler, a cooling potion made from aloe vera, apples, and whitetea-infused vodka.

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sit and holler!

World-class furniture designer Matt Alexander of Holler Design comes home.

FILM NERD IN MUSIC CITY: BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD Playing at the Belcourt early this month, let the critically-acclaimed “Beasts” sweep you away.

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Native animal of the month

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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!

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DANIEL

PUJOL is Smarter than you.

by Andri Alexandrou | photos Will Holland

THE WORLD’S LIKE “IT’S ALL YOU BABY!” BUT I’M NOT A BABY I AM A MAN AND I’M JUST WANTING THE BEST I CAN NOT DISENCHANTED BUT FEELING STUCK SO YEAH DUDE, I DO GIVE A ____ AMERICA, YOU KNOW BETTER I KNOW WE CAN GET IT TOGETHER SO BABY, TELL ME ABOUT THE DREAM OF FEELING GOOD TELL ME ABOUT THE DREAM YO ADRIAN, I DID IT. —From “DIY2K” by Daniel Pujol

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lexa Zoe Sullivant, Daniel Pujol’s collaborative partner and girlfriend, is sitting under an orange lamp. She idly straightens a dollar bill between her fingers while a crowd dances and bobs toward the stage. They are assembled for the “PUJOL Sucks! II” show, a combined poetry reading and a rock concert that brings together the Nashville staple event “Poetry Sucks!” and the band PUJOL (pronounced “pooh-jole”). An enthusiastic scattering fills The End, where Daniel Pujol once played an entire show from a cinderblock in the middle of the room. Tonight, fans sing along with this Rolling Stoneacclaimed scion of garage music, basking in the lyrics of his

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most recent album, The United States of Being. “I see a lot of people here that I grew up with, and I’d like to thank you for coming,” Daniel says to the audience. The trio that makes up PUJOL’s current band plays a tight set. His perfectionism is matched in his bassist, Daniel Severs, and drummer, Stewart Copeland (not the Copeland of The Police). The only moments of improvisation are the lines Daniel delivers between songs. His repartée with the crowd sounds like a casual conversation between two people. But in this case, Daniel is the only one talking. “The other day I was in a Walmart parking lot, and I ran into my doppelgänger.” He pauses. “Except, we got to talking and I realized he’s too much like me. So I guess that means I can live the rest of my life still looking for my doppelgänger. This next song is DIY2K.” The audience cheers and starts dancing as the group dives into the first couple measures of the song, and everyone shouts along to the infectiously singable first track of United States of Being. (For the curious who don’t know, a doppelgänger is the paranormal evil double of a living person.) When the show ends, the audience filters out to the side patio to smoke and talk. Daniel is rushing around inside, packing up gear. A slight drizzle starts to dampen cigarettes, but for now, the buzz is keeping everyone from the show lingering on the asphalt. Rolling Stone’s description of Daniel Pujol’s music—“scuzzy, catchy tracks that combine youthful energy with lyrical precociousness”—is an understatement. In reality, PUJOL’s philosophical poetry is energized by his full-blasting vocals and guitar-playing. The collaborative musical effort, with Daniel at its eponymous center, is most impacting when you’re violently joyful, or when something in your life has turned sour and you need fun, punchy music to turn it around. These songs are anthems for the “underachieved,” if we can fairly note that that is distinct from the “underachievers.” Daniel and his listeners are of the same generation—the ambitious and hardworking who may take a while finding the right venue for their aspirations. But

Daniel is a success story—he’s gained some of the recognition he deserves, after years of perseverance in the right direction. If nothing else, he’s gained the ability to survive off of what he loves doing. His style of writing builds on the energy and optimism of  hard rock and heavy metal musician Andrew WK, and drives toward the lyricism of recently deceased rocker Jay Reatard. His metaphors, which aren’t neatly contained, often expand largely to build an atmosphere of intelligent fancy. He’s read his schoolbooks, and now he has the freedom to abstract intellectual storylines and details against a backdrop of rock music. By sound alone, PUJOL is a mix of garage rock and punk. His sound has come to define a trend in Nashville music. Idealistic kids who have lived here for a long time are reinventing this culture and creating something where country music once left a gap. As Michael

He’s read his schoolbooks, and now he has the freedom to abstract intellectual storylines and details against a backdrop of rock music.

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Hann, British reporter for The Observer, told it, Daniel Pujol is a microcosmic example of this Nashville movement. In 2007, Daniel moved to Nashville after growing up in Tullahoma, Tennessee an hour to the south. Then 21, Daniel joined the now defunct band Meemaw alongside Wes Traylor and Jessica McFarland. The band invited other artists to perform at their houses, which they dubbed “reversetouring.” You can trace the roots of Nashville’s explosive house-based scene back to these initial shows. Daniel has built a niche for himself that steers a bit astray from the party-all-the-time mentality stereotypically associated with his genre. In many ways, United States of Being reads on paper like an essay of what has been on his mind recently. The album is most vivid on vinyl, where the liner notes are plain ol’ black and white lyrics—typos included. You can easily read along and know what he’s

saying, or at least, you can know the words coming out of his mouth. Make of it what you like. With written lyrics like “blah blah blah,” we are encouraged to put our imaginations to use. United States of Being opens with the sound of a vibrating phone. For anyone who grew up in the nineties and early two thousands, that sound is a reminder of all the friends out there, the parties we’re sneaking off to, the cars we’re riding in—all while creating a common experience of what it’s like to grow up in America. It represents youthfulness and rebelliousness, yet knowing that Daniel has a record for embedding symbols in his songs, that vibration also represents a cultural paradigm—the consumeristic, capitalistic, got-to-have-it-now, fast-paced, American culture. More often than not, we’re having meaningful relationships with our phones, instead of each other. More often than not, that phone vibration is a sign of a forgotten obligation or a missed opportunity—anxieties we face as we grow older and adopt more responsibilities. That phone is a material possession that in fact comes to possess us. That kind of unsettling hypocrisy forms a theme that runs throughout Daniel’s writing. In his song “Mayday” from last year’s EP Nasty Brutish and Short, he says “I brought you close to hear you say / I need people disagreein’ / so I don’t get stuck in ways / Cause I could see myself slippin’ / deeper towards insanity.” A year later, the tone has changed. In United States of Being, we see him living and thriving off the life he’s built for himself. Look at a track like “Niceness,” and you’ll see that the person here is just glad to be living and dreaming. “I’ve got a feeling / and it’s not ugly / and it’s not hateful.” Daniel seems to have arrived at a place where he’s content to be. In representation of the album as a whole, the opening flagship track “DIY2K,” explains how Daniel triumphed. We hear about how “deviance’s an industry that’s just allowed by the powers that be.” It ends with a victorious off-the-cuff exclamation, “Yo Adrian, I did it!” In his own way, Daniel has moved beyond the emotions embodied in Nasty, Brutish and Short, arriving at his own united state of being. The album explores imagery of God and


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religion, money, artistic creation, animalistic instincts, references to Maya Angelou, and a peculiar reference to the “reverse vampire,” which is also the title album’s seventh track.   “Instead of sucking blood and living forever,” he says, “you’re bleeding out and dying.” Even though the image is gory, the physical act of bleeding out is symbolic of love—“reverse vampiring” is the act of caring about a person so much that it’s analogous to losing blood. The song “Reverse Vampire” is about playing in Meemaw with Wes Traylor, and reveals Daniel’s artistic exploration of boundaries that can exist between musician and subject. For the song, Daniel had Wes play bass and provide vocals for the track to recreate the feeling of Meemaw. The closing track leaves us with the vestiges of Daniel’s anxieties. “Psychic Pain” tells how he fears not being able to express himself. He says, “Even though I’ve been here in Nashville for five years and doing stuff, I’m still figuring out how to get the stuff done that I need to get done.” Daniel spends his working time sitting at the small table outside the front window at Sip Café, an East Nashville establishment in Riverside Village that serves ice cream and

speciality coffee. He has made it his de facto office. At Sip, Daniel budgets, plans tours, takes interviews, draws, and writes, both poetry and songs. Today, his scruffy hair and beard, cutoff jean shorts and less-than-freshlyshowered appearance make Daniel the easily recognizable poster boy of Nashville

“Even though I’ve been here in Nashville for five years and doing stuff, I’m still figuring out how to get the stuff done that I need to get done.”

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youth culture. As we sit outside and talk in the humid summer day, he rips filters off allnatural cigarettes. Cars drive past and friends inevitably stop by on their way into Sip or the neighboring Mitchell’s Deli. In this setting, Daniel is not the rock-n-roll persona he becomes on stage, but is instead a well-read student of great texts. He even earned a master’s degree studying the nature of politics and modern society. Rather than

continuing his studies, he’s setting academics aside right now to write music. Daniel Severs, the bass player in PUJOL, currently tours with the group and forms part of the stable three-piece. Daniel P. hopes that together, they can start veering into more intricate musicianship than what has been heard on previous albums. Daniel S. says of their writing process, “it’s just sitting with Daniel and hanging out with him and working ’til he gets exactly what he wants.” This is no surprise. Simply talking to Daniel P. reveals his perfectionism. He carefully assembles his words, and often references the philosophy that work is necessarily incessant and that purpose is pre-determined. This go-hard approach is matched by Daniel S. and drummer Stewart Copeland. “Stewart works really hard,” says Daniel P. “Kind of in a Biblical way. You know, in a toiling, working-the-land kind of way. But I’m like that, too. My idea of fun is working,” Daniel P. says. “You’re just supposed to do what you’re supposed to do. It doesn’t matter if you got an award for it, it doesn’t matter if anyone knows that you did what you did. You never arrive and get off the hook, cause if you do, then you’re dead.”


Strange Material NATIVE AND COMPANY H PRESENT

CURATED BY JESSICA CLAY AND ROBERT GRAND ARTISTS: KELLIE BORNHOFT / BRETT BORNHOFT RACHEL GROWDEN / ANN CATERINE CARTER MEGAN CHUNN / ROBERT DUNN COURTNEY GREENLEE / DAVID KING CLINTON MCKAY / CLAUDIA O’STEEN WILLIE STEWART / DR. DONNA K WHITNEY MOSES WILLIAMS / ROBERT GRAND

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Ft

ortune ravels By Joe Nolan | Photos Dane Carder and Derek Coté

Artist Nicole Baumann leaves Nashville with a parting gift.

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n a recent Friday night, in the middle of Nashville’s onehundred-plus heatwave, I braved the outside temperatures to trek to the Seed Space gallery in the Chestnut Square building. I left the AC off and the windows down while I drove. A friend had once advised me that after the sun goes down, it actually feels cooler if you let yourself acclimate to the heavy, thick night air. My friend is an idiot. Parking in the lot across the street from the space, the place was already bustling with patrons and loiterers—I faced lots of random “hellos” and handshakes, and even a plan to take a fishing trip, as I walked from my car to the front door and down the long hallway to the first floor galleries in Chestnut Square. Seed Space is a small installation gallery located inside the studio of artist Adrienne Outlaw (full disclosure: I’ve contributed to catalogs for a few of their exhibits and Adrienne was my editor on a now-defunct online art journal). The space is curated by Rachel Bubis. Its small confines make it a unique and sometimes challenging setting for both local and visiting artists, and Nicole Baumann, whose show “Fortune Holiday” opened that night, sort of qualifies as both.

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Nicole and her husband, the artist Derek Coté, were both living in Virginia when he took a job at Watkins College of Art and Design in August, 2009. Speaking with the artist at her opening, I was surprised to find out that she was leaving town the next morning for a short vacation before moving to Detroit, where Coté has taken a new position at Wayne State University. Nicole and I agreed to connect on the phone a few days later. Nicole lived in Long Island, NY for 14 years before moving to Richmond, VA. Like many artists, she was precocious in her creativity and drawing became a major preoccupation, even when she was still a young girl. Picking up on her creative interests, Nicole’s parents encouraged her. “My high school art teacher was pretty influential in my going to art school,” Nicole recalls. “I wasn’t the best student in the world and I didn’t know what I would do in college. Mr. Terrell said ‘You’re going to go to art school. You’re going to go to VCU.’” For the uninitiated, Virginia Commonwealth University boasts one of the best art programs in the country. According to the VCU website, their art department has the highest ranking ever achieved by a public university school of arts and design,

“I didn’t consider myself an artist until I became a graduate student making original works. It takes awhile to really become an artist.”

For more on Nicole Baumann and her work, visit NicoleBaumann.com

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and their sculpture department is currently ranked number one – besting every program – public or private – in the country. Nicole clearly found a niche in the program, making the unusual choice to take both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from VCU. “It is pretty unusual to get two degrees from the same school,” she admits. “I spent a lot of my undergrad experience designing and making furniture, but I knew I was going to do my master’s in textiles, so it was really a different experience. Plus, I already lived in Richmond so I qualified for in-state tuition at one of the best schools in the country.” Typically, artists are encouraged to seek out a new school for their MFA work. Nicole’s decision put both her work ethic and her creative determination to the test. “They required me to make a completely new body of work,” she explains. “They wouldn’t take me right out of undergrad. I took three years off between undergraduate and grad school. When you’re an undergrad, the instructor says “do this assignment” and then you make it, but it’s really somebody else’s idea. I didn’t consider myself an artist until I became a graduate student making original works. It takes awhile to really become an artist.” By the time Nicole had made it through her MFA, she’d found a voice for herself in a particular type of expression and had begun to make a body of work that she felt comfortable calling her own. “From the very beginning, I was interested in employing textile methods to create sculptural installations,” she explains. “I was into using textiles in a non-traditional way—not like tapestries and other “fibery” ways you see artists use fiber. I make small parts and put them together to make a larger image.


Working in Seed Space was good because I wasn’t working to make one specific image. I was just working in response to the space.” At first, the colorful illustrations look like elegant little line drawings, but closer inspection reveals Nicole’s embroidery threads. I spent my first few minutes at the gallery trying to discern the larger image she was trying to realize using these tiny images on small pieces of paper. Eventually I realized that “Fortune Holiday” offers only a loose narrative that encourages the viewer follow it through the space. Tiny ice cream cones, axes, flowers, dogs and cars dance across the gallery walls in a design that implies a left-to-right reading. “It’s like drawing with a little bonus,” she explains. “There’s a bit of texture—I think in line drawing and I think in embroidery. I’m married to my material. You wouldn’t ask a painter ‘Why do you use paint?’.” The embroidery process provides her with challenges, but also with a meditative respite of sorts. It also brings her work a decidedly feminine, but not too feminine, touch.   “It’s very time consuming and you can’t embroider everything. I have a few OCD tendencies and the repetitive process of embroidery is very therapeutic to me.” She continues, “I’m not one of those girly artists—you know, women artists are always making work about their kids. I’m not going to make work about my kid, but I like the way that embroidery brings a softer touch to the work.” The story on display in “Fortune Holiday” isn’t so much a detailed journey as it is an impressionistic collecting of images from Nicole’s dramatic last months in Nashville. The work is funny and ebullient, but also melancholic. She kept referring to it as “my summertime piece.” “The whole installation is controlled chaos,” she says, laughing with relief. “I just had a baby in January. When my son was only five days old, he had a major surgery and spent sixteen days in the NICU. Three days after his surgery, I had an appendectomy and things just

continued on from there,” she laughs again. “And now we’re moving to Michigan. Everything’s been nuts for the last few months.” Making art directly out of her personal experiences comes naturally to Nicole and in speaking with her I realized that nearly all of her work had a specific, personal story attached to it. For instance, an earlier installation entitled “Hear Here, Dear Deer” traces its roots back to a disturbing discovery the artist made on a drive with her husband. “We found a deer that had been hit in the middle of the road,” she remembers. “We stopped and tried to direct traffic around it so nobody would hit it and we called the police. They ended up pulling it to the side of the road and they had to shoot it. I had to make the deer piece as a tribute to that deer that died on the side of the road. So, it’s about a personal experience that I had.” Another work, “Sweet Virginia Air” resonates more with Nicole’s current circumstances. When she left Richmond for Nashville, she already had one last show lined up in Virginia. For the show, she handembroidered the phrase “Sweet Virginia Air” on 284 separate pieces of paper—one for every day she’d been away from the state—the uniform phrasing tying together the envelopes, postcards, brochures and random paper cut-outs the artist used as her substrates. Nicole plans to do a similar work commemorating her years in Nashville, but, for now, she’s still too invested in her current installation and the transitions it represents to think about what comes next—or what came before. “Really this whole thing is my own bittersweet narrative,” she says, describing “Fortune Holiday.” “It sort of starts in Nashville with ice cream cones and flowers and then it bleeds into more flowers, but there are also axes, saws and a few dogs and finally it turns into the cars. And I guess that those are connected to Detroit. But, there are always flowers. The flowers go on to the end.”

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Linear Downfall (3000 words) by Paul Franklin photos Brad Bass

Linear Downfall 21st Century Schizoid Band by Paul Frankl i n | p h o t o s B r a d B a s s

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h, wow! Wayne Coyne just Chance Cook (Charlee’s older brother) texted me,” says Charlee Cook, and Will Hicks (childhood friend of the the nineteen-year-old female Cooks), it was a dream come true, too. bassist and most-of-the-time “We all love The Flaming Lips,” Charlee lead singer of Linear Downfall. offers, “and they’re easily one of my For those who don’t know, Wayne Coyne favorite bands. One time at Bonnaroo, I is the frontman of and mastermind behind stood for fourteen hours to stake out a The Flaming Lips, a perennially popular, front row spot at their show. So, to have world-famous, and oh-so-creatively your hero, our hero, telling us that he loves experimental rock band. We’re standing our music. That’s pretty cool.” outside the Exit/In, and the whole In Oklahoma, Linear Downfall was situation is odd to me, mostly because asked to learn King Crimson’s heavy Wayne Coyne has never texted any of my hitter “21st Century Schizoid Man.” other friends. Charlee continues, “It’s still Within an hour, they had the song down just so weird to see his name on my phone.” and ended up recording an amazing cover. It turns out that Charlee, along with For the rest of the week, they ate, slept two of the other three members of and worked in Wayne’s personal studio. Linear Downfall, had just returned from Wayne made himself available, but often recording at Wayne Coyne’s pink-floored left them to play around and experiment. studio in Oklahoma City. According to “When we were left in the studio Charlee, it had all been a very surreal alone, we would freak out a little. We experience. were just like, ‘What the f***? Holy Shit. I

and in touch with your emotions to get what we’re doing.” Linear Downfall started with Chance Cook, Charlee’s brother who is five years her senior. Chance wrote and recorded an album under that name in high school back in 2004. He sang on the album, called “Abolish TV,” and played all of the instruments except organ. The album sold for $3.00 to friends at school, and it was surprisingly sophisticated. Charlee and Chance Cook have always played music and sung together, but the siblings really began collaborating around the time “Abolish TV” was recorded. She was eleven or twelve years old at the time, and as she points out, “I mean, before that, well, you don’t really want an eight-yearold in your band.” They began with co-writing songs, and quite successfully. Then, Chance needed a drummer, so Charlee learned to drum. She

“When we were left in the studio alone, we would freak out a little. We were just like, ‘What the f***? Holy Shit. I can’t believe this.’ It really was like Willy Wonka. I mean, there were peacocks walking around outside the window.” “We were playing Springwater one can’t believe this.’ It really was like Willy night, and Wayne Coyne showed up with Wonka. I mean, there were peacocks Ke$ha. It’s an important venue for her, walking around outside the window.” because it’s where she played her first That week, they recorded three original show. She brought him there after they songs on top of their King Crimson cover: recorded at Blackbird,” Charlee says. “We “Brain damage for breakfast”, “Mama J were nervous and excited. It was pretty Saves the Day” and an ode to a pedal of unbelievable when he showed up right theirs that had once belonged to Sean before we went on.” Lennon (John and Yoko’s only son) At the time, Linear Downfall was three called “Wasp Song.” All three of which people. They gave it their best effort, and will hopefully appear on “Fragmental it was a great show. Afterwards, Wayne Hippocampus,” their upcoming album. congratulated them and gave them his After coming back down to Earth, the number. He asked Charlee to text him. group became more ambitious. Dom Charlee was shocked when he actually Marcoaldi joined, turning the trio into texted her back the next day. a quartet, and they began challenging That was when he told them how much themselves more than they ever have. he liked their music and invited the three They started playing bigger venues to of them to come record in Oklahoma. Just growing crowds, although, Charlee is like that. So, they were off to Oklahoma. quick to point out, “Not everyone gets our When they arrived, “It was just crazy,” music. Our music is really about emotion. Charlee Says. “They brought out a few big It’s about creating an experience for boxes of effects pedals, showed us around people so that they can feel what we feel the studio, and then they were like, ‘Use or have felt. There are definitely shows we whatever you want.’” play where people are like, ‘What is this?’ For the other two members of the band, You definitely have to be open-minded

was twelve at the time. Later, they needed a bassist, so Charlee learned to play bass when she was fourteen. They’ve always collaborated well. Charlee explains, “It’s one of those things where our brains are connected. We’ve been through a lot together, some really traumatic stuff, and when we write together, we can read each other’s minds. I think that definitely shapes our music. He’ll start a song, and I already know where it’s going. I can finish it in my head the same way he hears it in his.” Even though Chance had already recorded an album under the Linear Downfall name, he wanted to start fresh with Charlee. She explains, “Yeah. He’s been a really cool big brother and partner. He basically just swept that first album under the rug. As a band, we really consider our first album to be the first one that Chance and I collaborated on, ’Daydreaming at Night.’” After that album came “Gloomillume.” Like many bands, a large and important portion of their songs is rhythm. Will

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Hicks holds a dominion over his drum kit in a way few others do. No movement or sound is excessive or unnecessary, and he is more than capable of keeping up when a song suddenly changes time signature and tempo. And Will is also an accomplished pianist. Charlee actually met Will in the eighth grade, when the two of them won the “Most Musically Talented Award.” His keys skill is on display on many tracks. On the majority of their songs, Charlee is the lead singer, but Chance often adds concise harmonies. While Charlee sings, she also dances, flails, kicks, and plays bass lines as complex and intriguing as early bebop jazz bassists. The girl with dainty hands, too young to buy a beer, can walk up and down the neck of the bass like it’s a sidewalk. She can switch between freeing soft, pure vocals that float out into the air and belting out unbreakable, forceful choruses. One of my favorite songs, both live and on record is “Digital Oak Tree.” It contains all of Charlee’s vocal range, as well as a general sampler of what the band is capable of doing. Chance’s guitar work is the product of a remarkable talent, but he is also receptive to new playing styles and techniques. He adopts and swallows whole any type of music he can, and then funnels it through his own personal mix of determined distortion, and he likes to play loudly.

“You definitely have to be open-minded and in touch with your emotions to get what we’re doing.” During their writing/recording sessions, they don’t play a song together in its entirety. Instead, they force themselves, in Charlee’s words, to “paint the emotion quickly.” It’s a collaboration between people, but it’s also a collaboration between digital and acoustic, man and machine, which makes it all the more impressive when they perform their songs live. In their early years, the songs were rapidly growing more complex, but without having more people to play the additional parts. Translating their music from record to live performance was quickly becoming the greatest challenge they faced. They put so many instruments, effects and samples into their recordings that playing live with only three people was quite difficult. Like a superhero, Dom Marcoaldi swooped in at just the right moment. After playing with the band for some time, he became an official member. Having another guitar on stage allows the multiple overlapping guitar parts that Chance writes to be heard live. But even today, with four people, the band has to “literally relearn the songs before playing them live.” That said, one of the most beautiful things about Linear Downfall’s songs is the fact that one sound or instrument does not trump or overpower the others. Instead, it’s strangely harmonious. The contributions of each member are vital. Seeing them live, it’s hard to believe that there are only four of them. Their sound is expansive—it swims through the audience and crawls up the walls. They fill their stage with as 20

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much equipment as they can fit—blue and pink pedal boards, pinktaped amplifiers, and shiny, colorful instruments. They scream, croon, wail, and fiercely pull the music out of the instruments. In any given song, the listener is likely to hear many different things—jazz, punk, fuzz, funk. The remarkable feat is that these four friends can mix any given type of music with its opposite and still produce an amazingly catching and powerful song. Upon first listening, the songs don’t seem to adhere to the traditional structure of: verse, chorus, bridge, etc. That is not to say that their songs have no structure. Instead, their music is filled with sped-up, jazz-style drumming played underneath, “odd noises,” and punk-rock-speed, distorted, looped guitar and bass to form rambling and deeply-emotive, psychedelic soundscapes. Charlee explains that even though they don’t like putting a label on their music, “experimental” works best as the descriptor. They are “always trying to do something new.” They challenge themselves with music—to play more difficult things or to create something that’s never been heard before. Their live shows and stage presence follow the complexity, oddness, and collaborative nature of their music. When the band began performing live, the then trio created large and extravagant stage shows. They had props, costumes, and massive amounts of confetti. Large robots and demons also figured prominently. They wanted their shows to add an intriguing visual component to their music. That visual idea is still apparent in their shows today, but not as blatant or forceful as it once was. At some point, they decided that the visuals had begun to overwhelm their music and needed to be tempered. Chance says they wanted to make sure the music was “not overshadowed by the spectacle.”

But they haven’t abandoned “visually stimulating” altogether. Their shows are still visually impressive. The four input their own aesthetic styles into each performance. Charlee typically has crazy hair, vibrant clothes and leotards, and a big feather boa on her bass strap. Chance has been known to sing through a shark mask, and his Fender Stratocaster is covered in reflective stickers. Dom can often be found wearing an Alladin-esque vest. Will plays a refined drum kit and usually wears leopard pants and a spray-painted T-shirt. For Linear Downfall, it’s all an experiment, and it’s all about emotion and process—finding new ways to communicate what they experience. One of the hardest reasons to pin down their music is because they challenge themselves ferociously to change and adapt. When Wayne Coyne returned to Nashville to pick-up his “blood records” (which contained in the vinyl the actual blood of the artists recorded) from United Record Pressing, he stopped by the Cooks’ house. “He knocked on the door,” Charlee says, “and was like, ‘Come on, get in the van.’ So, of course, we got in his van.” Wayne took them down to Jack White’s Third Man Records to exchange the Lips’ Blood Records for one of Jack’s blue liquid-filled ones. Along the way, they talked about the Lips’ upcoming tour. That day, Wayne invited them to play with The Flaming Lips while on a record-breaking, eight concerts in twenty-four hours tour. Fortunately for Linear Downfall, Wayne would only require them to play three songs. One of those songs was “21st Century Schizoid Man,” where Charlee and Wayne shared vocals and Chance played the fastest and most difficult solo he’s ever learned. “Wayne’s really done so much for us. He’s just like that. He helps people,” Charlee says. While that may be true, one thing is certain: Wayne Coyne has excellent taste.

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Free Indoor Gardening Classes 901 Main Street Nashville, TN 37206 615.227.7261

8/4: PLANT NUTRITION 8/20: INDOOR LIGHTING AUGUST | 2012

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Nashville’s

New House

of

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By Cayla Mackey | Photos Cameron Powell


“What would you like?” Andy Mumma stands confidently on the other side of a waist-high farm-wood counter, ready to take my order. “I’ll have a soy cappuccino?” I say without any confidence. His eyes narrow. “Hmm. That’s weird,” he says in the way that someone returning home to an unlocked front door would say the same thing—with a casual hint of suspicion. I am instantly deflated. “How about an almond milk latte?” he suggests. As I sip from the white porcelain cup stamped with the anchortattoo-reminiscent Barista Parlor logo, my world changes. He was right. Andy knows what he’s talking about, especially when it comes to coffee. Andy is the mastermind behind Barista Parlor, one of Nashville’s most rapidly ascending coffee hot spots. As a recent post on their Facebook page says, “It’s been a pretty cool couple weeks between The Tennessean, the New York Times, The Scene, Channel 2 & 4 News, and soon, Travel + Leisure magazine [and Native]. Thanks for all the support and kinds words!” And that’s just how he is. Andy doesn’t take his success for granted. He is firmly grounded in and committed to the founding idea of Barista Parlor—his more than welcome contribution to Nashville. For Andy, owning a coffee shop of his own has been a longtime dream, one he cultivated during his sixteen years as a Nashvillian working at coffee shops. “I’ve been working in specialty coffee since I was 18,” he says. “It’s been a dream of mine for years and years to have my own place. I always knew it would be different. I wanted you to automatically think differently when you walked in, that you would automatically be open to different experiences and trying new things. The first element in that is just designing it differently, so that it doesn’t look like every other coffee shop.” That’s immediately obvious. Barista Parlor is not your average grab-and-go coffee fix provider. From the outside, Barista Parlor’s

bright blue stucco and orange garage doors signal something out of the ordinary. A parking lot hedged by cinderblock walls painted with arrows directs you in from the outside world. A giant wooden anchor looms overhead, above the four garage doors. The space used to be George’s Transmission Shop, which Andy gutted to yield an open floor plan with a central altar: a coffee-creation nexus outfitted with cutting edge contraptions that look like equipment from a madman’s laboratory. But the atmosphere is immediately welcoming, even though the well-trained baristas take coffee-making seriously. Inside, a mix of Memphis soul and upbeat classic rock music echoes softly through the space across the room to a giant mural of a ship hung on the far wall. “It’s alright to have a good time, oh it’s alright. Everybody clap your hands.” Those brave enough to face the morning on this particular day (or smart enough to be active in the cooler early hours) include a tattooed cyclist in cutoff jean shorts, a middle aged slacks-wearing professional, a guy wearing a trucker hat and holding a baby, and one very famous musician. The only additives offered next to the beehive water dispenser are simple sugar and demerara sugar. The seating is varied. High-top tables with bar stools co-exist with bench stools at family-style long banquet tables. Mounted to the walls are collapsible leaf tables rigged with metal cable. Some display small bags of single-origin specialty coffee, grown in South AUGUST | 2012

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America and Africa and roasted in places like Portland and Brooklyn. Historic maps of the United States and vintage flags hang over shelves holding coffee paraphernalia for sale, some comfortably familiar, others bewildering. Old soda box trays display artisan chocolates. “I wanted to kind of encompass all of my passions,” Andy says. “I love transportation. I love old cars and ships and motorcycles. I love coffee. I love design. I love art. I love music. I love the South.” But Andy didn’t always know that he wanted to create a place like Barista Parlor. He moved to Nashville as a musician, following the path of his older sister, who was attending Belmont at the time. He slept on her floor for a while, then started playing guitar and keys and singing in rock and roll bands. On the side, he picked up work at local coffee shops. He worked at about half a dozen Nashville coffee bars and one in Arizona, where he briefly moved to help start a branch of Lola Coffee. As the general manager and roaster, Andy reflects that Lola was sort of a training ground for Barista Parlor, where he got the feel for what it was like to build a business. And that’s not the only thing he brought back with him from Arizona. “It might be my OCD, but I like the beautiful, clean lines of Southwestern architecture,” Andy says. “I’ve definitely brought that back with me. I’ve always loved design and I’ve always loved midcentury. So now I combine clean lines with a lot of old wood. That’s how I live—minimal. You can think more clearly and live more creatively when you’re not jumbled.” Barista Parlor is not the place starving musicians come to get a day job. It’s a place for what Andy calls “Coffee Career Professionals.” Andy says, “I’ve been a barista for 15 years and I wanted a place where I would want to work, where it would be more than just a side job.” Employees here learn the intense science of coffee. They are alchemists chasing brewed perfection. Here, words, phrases, and acronyms such as “cupping,” “latte art,” “refractometer,” and “TDS” are casually thrown around. Andy pulls the veil back, “Cupping is the international way of evaluating coffee. You have a lot of ground coffee and bowls set up. You go through a process of scoring coffees. You’re getting fragrance and aromas. You’re putting water in. You’re skimming the grounds and you’re slurping it to aerate it through your mouth. It’s the same process

that a farmer in El Salvador would use to test his coffees. The scores go from 0 to 100 on what’s called The Cupping Table. It’s a good base to score coffees on.” “Latte art” is the fancy design on top of a coffee-and-milk beverage. A “refractometer” is similar to the instrument winemakers use to measure the sugar in a grape. “We use it to measure the brew strength and the TDS percentage levels,” Andy says. “TDS” stands for “total dissolved solids. We adjust the grind particle size and ratios to match a desired zone. It’s really scientific, but we try to keep it from getting stuffy, though. We do that in our coffee geekery time and keep it cool and delicious the rest of the time.” “I like people coming in and ordering a coffee and not having to think about it. I want it to be the best coffee they’ve ever had. That’s the reason we take all the time to do that stuff,” he explains. But even a coffee amateur can appreciate “The Slayer.” Baristas have to put in approximately 100 hours to be able to “dial

really matter what coffee they use, it kind of all tastes the same. Whereas with this method, you still get that nice, smooth, syrupy body, but it has a lot more flavor on the top end—like bright berry notes and sweet chocolate.” Don’t like the way that sounds? “We also have an ice brew method for doing hot coffee where we pour directly over ice,” says Andy. “For that we use a Chemex or a Hario V60. That’s a little more delicate. It’s more tea-like. It’s got a lot more flavor and a little less body, but it’s wonderful. That’s why we offer both methods. They’re both so different that it justifies carrying them.” It sounds like we’re talking about wine, but this something far more utilitarian— you drink it every morning just to wake up. Most people have never actually tasted good coffee, and it’s kind of sad. Andy explains, “Coffee is the most complex beverage in the world. Second place is wine. Coffee has three times the organic compound makeup of wine.” So what is the barista’s job in all of this complexity? “We’re basically trying not to mess it up,” says Andy. “There are so many steps in the process that by the time it gets to us, our job is to just grind it correctly and brew it properly and let the coffee shine. That’s why we keep it really simple with the menu. We don’t like to have a lot of additives or syrups and all kinds of crazy stuff. You can do that with any coffee. With the few signature drinks we do have, we take the most obvious inherent flavor and exaggerate it and play with it. We’ll never have a drink that doesn’t make sense for that coffee. We’ll build the drink around the flavors of that coffee.” Though the menu is short, the options are not limiting. Andy recommends a natural-process Sidama. “That means they leave the skin on when they ferment it. That increases the inherent fruitiness so it tastes very much like strawberries and cream.” All of Barista Parlor’s coffees are single-source, which means that all of the beans come from the same place and are roasted in the same batch. The specific roasts that they carry change periodically. Even though Barista Parlor prides itself on being a premium coffee spot, the essence of its existence is simple. A chalkboard hung on one of the walls reads “Our coffee is handcrafted-by-the-cup. It’s delicious.” Every aspect of the place is summed up by these few words. “Everything in here is built by people I know,” says Andy. “It’s

“I like people coming in and ordering a coffee and not having to think about it. I want it to be the best coffee they’ve ever had.”

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in” espressos on this Ferrari of espresso machines. There’s only a handful of them in the states. “It’s amazing,” gushes Andy. “It’s just a beautiful piece of machinery. It pulls the best espresso I’ve ever had. It’s just a whole different way of extracting espresso and I think it’s genius. It’s only got two controls, but it takes a lot longer to figure out than a normal, computerized system.” The three cold brew towers hold glass vats of water that drip onto coffee grounds through corkscrew tubing that would be well-suited for Dr. Frankenstein. The product is an awesome cup of iced coffee. According to Andy, “The coffee from our cold brew towers is really syrupy and thick, but it has a lot more flavor clarity than the traditional cold brew people are familiar with.” He explains, “That’s basically when they steep a bunch of grounds in a tub and filter it through a cheesecloth. That can sometimes taste kind of gritty and muddy, and can lose the top end taste. It doesn’t


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built entirely from materials from Tennessee and the South. 90% of the stuff in here is from Tennessee, made by people I know—from the tables and chairs, to the stools, lighting, and clothes—everything.” Local screenprinter Bryce McCloud did the 30 foot wide mural of a Prussian ship on the back wall. “He designed the big anchor outside, too,” Andy offers, “and we built it with all of the scrap wood left over from our build.” Holler Design supplied the tall bar stools. Old Made Good curated the decor: a mounted antelope head here, antlers with pink painted rings there. Southern Lights did all of the lighting. Emil Erwin made the aprons the staff wears, Imogene + Willie supplied the staff’s jeans, and Otis James did their neckties, bowties, and caps. Andy adds, “I have ideas. I’m fortunate enough to be friends with people who are better at building them and making things look like what I want. I’m just a guy who wanted to have a coffee bar and got the opportunity.” Andy’s ideology has its roots in his upbringing. Andy, ear gauges and all, was raised a Mennonite. “I went to a little Mennonite school, a little Mennonite church, and I would spend every summer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania working on my grandparents’ Mennonite dairy farm. I sort of grew up there, at least in the summers, and I lived in Chesapeake, Virginia the rest of the year.” Growing up in the Mennonite Church ingrained him with certain values that show in his creation of Barista Parlor: his commitment to locally-sourced products and materials, his investment in the community, the simplicity of the space and concept. Of Mennonites, he says,“It’s like Amish light. 90% of the clothes I wore growing up were homemade. We could have a car to get places, and we could have electricity, but we still didn’t have a lot of the modern conveniences, like a toaster and a microwave and things like that. I really appreciate my childhood and heritage. I think it instills a lot of really great core values that I wouldn’t otherwise have.” Andy still remains true to his roots. “There isn’t a Mennonite church I go to on a regular basis, but when I go out of town and visit

family I’ll go to the super old Mennonite church in Lancaster. You probably wouldn’t guess by looking at me, but I can rap off probably about a hundred different hymns.” If anything, Andy is bringing more of himself and his heritage into his work every day. “I think it’s in vogue now, but I grew up canning and pickling, too,” he says. Andy aims to bring some of the canned and pickled items from his childhood palate to the Afternoon Bites menu at Barista Parlor. The master plan includes cocktail-inspired signature coffee drinks, flights, pairings, and tastings, as well as little plates with charcuterie and cheese, from Porter Road Butcher and The Bloomy Rind respectively. Andy plans to do the flighted coffee tastings paired with little bites, just like wine tastings. Each flight will be one coffee served in different ways: pulled espresso, brewed coffee, and as a cappuccino or cortado, “So that you can see how the coffee tastes different across all three.” Andy also plans to build a large outdoor patio at Barista Parlor, which he admits was inspired by his time in Arizona. He designed it and plans to have it finished in the fall. It will incorporate bicyclefriendly features and is designed to be inviting for people and their dogs. Even Andy is excited to bring his own rescued “Tennessee Yellow Dog” Lucy to enjoy the new area when it’s complete. There are also plans for Barista Parlor’s soundtrack to include new additions from The Groove, their neighbors across the parking lot. More than anything else that Barista Parlor may be, it is a part of Nashville. “I wanted Barista Parlor to be something that I would be proud to have in my neighborhood,” says Andy. “People who live here take such pride in Nashville. This city is all about like-minded businesses doing awesome stuff. The more cohesive we are, the better.”

“90% of the stuff in here is from Tennessee, made by people I know— from the tables and chairs, to the stools, lighting, and clothes— everything.”

This story is dedicated to Julia Ellen Stoltzfus. 26

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NASHball L.A. has gang wars, New York has breakdancing, and now we have our own sport, too. By Paul Franklin | Photos Sebastian Rogers

I

’m sitting in a small spot of shot next to a field with ten or twelve other people. They are dressed in soccer cleats, breathable exercise shorts, and pretty official looking soccer jerseys emblazoned with the name of their sponsor, “3 Crow Bar.” I am not dressed in snazzy soccer gear; I’m not here to play soccer, but neither are they. Beneath the abysmally hot Tennessee sun, they’re congregating to play a new game—Nashville’s game. Witnessing Nashball in action, it looks like an adult version of an ad hoc elementary school game. In reality, Nashball is more challenging than that. An energetic and eclectic mix of soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball, the concept of Nashball is simple: get the ball (a volleyball) in the goal (called “the oval”). To get it there, teams of three to seven bump, kick, bounce, and volley their way down the field four consecutive touches of the ball at a time, always with hands in a fist, never letting the ball bounce on the ground twice in a row. It’s exactly the non-aggressive, hyper-athletic pick up game that it’s creator, a Nashville musician and graphic designer, introduced to friends Memorial Day weekend of 2010. He prefers to remain anonymous. “I don’t want it to be MY sport,” he says. “I really want

it to be a non-commercial, open thing that everyone feels they can grab onto, whether I’m around or not. It doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to Nashville.” Despite his selflessness, the founder took painstaking personal efforts to shape the rules for Nashball carefully. Months of study helped him determine that four was the right number of touches a player should get—three would be too few to move up the field, and five too many for referees and players to monitor. In this new game, teams score more often than in soccer, but less often than basketball, creating a lively, energetic game that he hopes will attract the masses. There used to be a distinction between what people thought of as a “sport” versus a “game”—one for spectators, the other for players. Unfortunately, we live in a world where most games have become spectator sports. Poker? We watch it. Ping Pong? It’s in the Olympics. While most games were originally intended for the players themselves, over time, they’ve morphed into commercial enterprises that make millions off of spectators and the players they idolize. And as professional spectators, those of us on the outside have a hard time breaking in—we like to leave it to the experts. In part, Nashball was created to solve that problem.

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The straightforward rules of Nashball create a mixture of playfulness and mechanical challenge—a new game that no one has mastered. A Nashballer can only improve his or her skills up to a certain point, and even then, the best player will miscalculate a bump or misplace a knuckle and send the ball flying in the wrong direction. And when errors happen— and they do happen—no one on the field looks perturbed or frustrated. They smile and put the ball back into play. Somehow, Nashball avoids the harsh competitiveness and serious rivalry that plague other pickup leagues around town. And that’s why newcomers are so welcome. There’s no need to fear looking inexperienced in Nashball—everyone’s inexperienced. No one played in a Nashball

“I grew up here, love it here, and thought it would be neat for Nashville to have its own sport.” little league. No one played in suburban Nashball tournaments. After a match, teams grab a beer together and agree to meet again the next week. The he-whowill-not-be-named creator of Nashball developed a communal experience of fun, athleticism, and camaraderie—the antithesis of commercialized sports. “I grew up here, love it here, and thought it would be neat for Nashville to have its own sport,” he says. After an hour on the field with this lot of Nashballers, I’m beginning to understand its rapidly growing popularity. I came to be an observer, but now I’m a believer. In fact, I liked the game so much that I’ve decided to quit smoking so I can play Nashball without my lungs pleading for a break every five minutes. That’s not to say that Nashball is only available to those in peak physical condition. But it certainly is a lively game— and it’s definitely worth a try.   Check out Nashball.org to join a weekly pick up game and stay up to date with  Nashball’s Twitter @Playnashball.

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THE

COCKTAIL OF THE MONTH by No. 308

LLOYD

DOBLER

Taking its name from the main character of “Say Anything”—you know, that movie where Lloyd, played by John Cusack, famously stands in front of his car outside a girl’s window with a boombox held over his head—this cooling, aloe cocktail will keep you comfortable in the summer heat and can sooth the burn from even the most heart-wrenching of near-breakups—boombox optional. 2 oz. white tea infused vodka* 3/4 oz. aloe vera juice 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice 1/2 oz. diluted agave syrup** Combine ingredients and garnish with green apple slices in a highball glass. - Ben Clemons, No. 308

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one tea bag white tea per cup of vodka for one hour * soak ** equal parts agave syrup and water combined N AT I V E

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E

very story needs a hero. In most stories, the action is driven by one of two things: either the hero goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town. In the case of Matt Alexander, furniture maker and founder of Holler Design, his story has a little bit of both. To be more precise, Matt went on a journey, then he came back to town, along with a friendly Brooklyn street cat named Rick James. Matt grew up in the small, unincorporated town of Cainsville, near Lascassas, TN. It’s a small rural community in the beautifully verdant space between Lebanon and Murfreesboro, and it lies right on the line that divides the high-resolution and low-resolution Google Maps satellite images. Today, he still lives there, in the house that he grew up in, on the outer edges of greater Nashville. Thankfully for me, Matt’s house is on the high-resolution side of the arbitrarily-drawn Google Maps line.   His house sits on land that his family has inhabited since 1829. In one shape or another, his family has owned the plot continually since World War II. For a moment, I feel like I’m in The Lion King as Matt describes the property, “It extends all the way back to that ridge over there, then back down to the road that you came in on. On the other side of this road over here, it runs as far as you can see.” Today, it is roughly seven hundred acres of farm and forest where his father raises cattle and Matt harvests lumber for his furniture designs. A decade ago, Matt left Cainsville to attend the University of Tennesse, Knoxville. There, he briefly studied architecture and ultimately graduated with a degree in sculpture. After that, he attended the world-renowned Cranbrook Academy of Art near Detroit, where he completed an M.F.A. in “3D Design,” which is a multidisciplinary and artistic take on product and furniture design. Like many designers, after graduating from Cranbrook, Matt moved to New York where he worked a number of design-oriented odd jobs, including teaching online classes at night. While living in Brooklyn, he decided to

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start his own furniture company. If one were listening for it, one might have heard a tinge of homesickness or nostalgia in the concept for the company and the name he chose. At the very least, they show his devotion to his roots. “I chose the name ‘Holler’ for its double meaning,” he explains. “On the one hand, it’s a Southern word for ‘hollow,’ like a clearing in the woods, but it is also a Southern expression for ‘shout’ that often carries joyful or exciting connotations. The basic idea was to take classic Southern furniture and give it more contemporary lines and details that would make it more modern, more globally relevant. I wanted to take the furniture I grew up around and apply the things that I had learned since leaving Tennessee.” According to Matt, he wasn’t exactly homesick, but he did recognize that life was more difficult in New York than it would be if he were in Nashville, especially considering he wanted to commit to being a design entrepreneur full-time. He didn’t have the square footage to build furniture on the scale that he wanted, and he had to work so much harder just to survive. He knew the option of moving home to cheap rent, more space, a low cost of living, and family-owned trees was

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there all along. Eventually he couldn’t resist it anymore. As he put it, he was “eager to take that next step.”   So, unlike most designers, he relocated to his rural hometown in 2009. He purchased a saw mill and set up a workshop in an old general store down the street from his house—a

“I wanted to take the furniture I grew up around and apply the things that I had learned since leaving Tennessee.” building where his grandfather once worked— and next door to a building that his great grandfather used to own. Entering his shop is a bizarre and transporting experience. It’s hard to not imagine friendly small town folks shopping for canned goods or boxed cereal in the main room, where most of Holler’s furniture is now built. Shelves that likely once held toiletries or cleaning supplies are now filled with deer antlers and drill bits. There is

no air conditioning, but that’s made up for by the abundance of natural light which drifts in along the low ceiling from the many openings to the outside—a back door, two sets of floor to ceiling windows, and a set of glass French doors up front. Judging by the relatively comfortable temperature inside, the building was smartly designed in a time before air conditioning was a practical reality.   In the back corner, stacks of freshly minted chairs are backlit by the open door. It creates a very dramatic showroom effect, even though this space is obviously for building things. In another corner, I find a collection of beautiful walking sticks. Some of them hold naturally spiraling, spindly forms. “My dad likes to go walking stick hunting,” Matt explains. “He’s found some good ones.” Matt’s attachment to the land (that literally belonged to his forefathers), and his involvement in every step of his process, is inspiring. He brings a whole new meaning to the idea of “vertical integration.” He selects and fells the trees he wants to use, he mills the lumber, he designs the objects they are to become, he builds those objects—tables, chairs, cutting boards, coat trees, desks, benches, and more—and then, in most cases, he sells the


furniture directly to his customers. It’s a unique model, and to my knowledge, there’s no one else in the world of contemporary furniture that’s working that way.   Matt humbly asserts, “I think it’s pretty cool. There are not a lot of people designing and selling a piece of furniture who also made it and can show you exactly where the tree came from.” It’s certainly an idea that’s easy to understand. With the growth in disposable, low-quality overseas manufacturing; massive, globalized supply chains; and growing numbers of designers completely disconnected from their materials and even their final products, it’s refreshing to see someone melding worldly contemporary design with long-lasting, old-fashioned products and time-tested ways of working. The influence of the South and the practically-minded aesthetic farm life find their way into Matt’s contemporary designs. There’s an old-style high-back rocking chair that looks like it’s been spliced with the DNA of a stealth fighter, a dining chair that could be a Rem Koolhaas building, a table that looks like it’s from shop class in a parallel universe (it features otherworldly three-legged interpretations of sawhorses), and a stool-slash-side-table that I can only describe as post-industrial zen. And I’m not the only one who has noticed Matt’s hybridizing creative genius. The aforementioned stool has already been featured in an off-site furniture show in New York during the annual design madness of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. He also has customers all over the world, and most of his orders come from the left or right coasts of the U.S. It seems that, up until now, his local customers are mostly those in the know, who are on the bleeding edge of what Nashville is rapidly becoming. One great place to see his work on display in town is at Barista Parlor, where you can even try out his elegantly simple bar stools in the company of other well-designed things from Southern Lights Electric Company, Imogene + Willie, Otis James, Emil Erwin, and Bryce McCloud of Isle of Printing among others. Matt, along with those other designers, and many more not included here, represent a bright future for Nashville and its place in the world of design. As Nashvillians, appreciators of design, and/ or people who enjoy sitting, we should be thankful that the hero of this story went on a journey and learned what he did, but more importantly, we should be glad that he decided to come back to town.   To view Matt’s current work or to enquire about custom furniture, visit Holler Design’s website at HollerDesign.us

Av ailable at... T h e Willow T r ee / 615.383.5639 4 4 2 9 Murphy Road / Nashville, TN 37209

NOW OPEN. P^Zk^ikhn]mhh__^kaZg]\kZ_m^] lhk[^mmhZg]`^eZmh%fZ]^_k^la ]ZberbglfZee[Zm\a^lnlbg`_k^la bg`k^]b^gml%bg\en]bg`eh\Ze`khpma& ahkfhg^&_k^^fbedZg]ikh]n\^' Eh\Zm^]bg>]`^abeeObeeZ`^ Mn^l]Zr&LZmnk]Zr3**3,)Zf&23))if Lng]Zr3*+3))if&/3))if E^`Zmh@^eZmh'\hf

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Five Points Pizza

(1500 words) by Alyssa Rabun photos Cameron Powell

A SLICE -OF-

LOCAL

CULTURE

B y A l ys s a R a b u n |

P h o t o s C a m e r o n Po we l l

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With the founding of Five Points Pizza, the location took the lead. At the beginning of last year, attorneys Tara Ertichek and David Tieman, strolled past a run-down, almost forgotten space near the center of Five Points, just a few blocks

from their East Side home. The building was worn and unkempt and available for rent. The interior walls spat paint chips and it had poor plumbing, but the couple recognized potential. It had previously been a butcher shop, grocery store, and bike shop, among other things. They were ready to leave their jobs, and the space, haunted with local history, needed to be reintroduced to East Nashville.  They knew they wanted to start a restaurant there, but they didn’t know what kind. The couple teamed up with their lifelong friend Tanner Jacobs, who had a record of opening deliciously popular restaurants. Over drinks, the three brainstormed ideas for the space, and discussed the area’s gastronomical needs and habits. At the time, the East Side food scene had already made a name for itself offering local and

“We thought: ‘Why not?’ We were already starting a business together. We might as well make it official,” jokes Tara. Back in East Nashville, with the community’s diverse demographic of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, families, and singles in mind, the owners hoped to create a relaxed sanctuary where any genre of person could hang out and enjoy quality fare. And so the concept of Five Points Pizza was born—casual dining, friendly atmosphere, and pies piled high with craft and deliciousness. Although Tara doesn’t claim to be a New Yorker, she lived in Brooklyn for the first two years of her life. Something must have stuck, because she can

“Today, dough-making is everything. We start at 8 A.M. every morning.” natural food stores, fine dining, choice coffee, ethnic spice, craft cocktails, and enough beer on tap to satisfy a boatload of sailors. But they sensed a void that needed filling: the neighborhood was lacking a good old-fashioned pizza-by-the-slice joint. In her lively, down-to-earth style Tara describes that void saying, “The bars offer good smoky hangouts, and there are plenty of more upscale places like Margot and Silly Goose, but East Nashville, and especially Five Points, was missing this kind of casual, good food.” The starry-eyed team set out to unearth the best recipes and ingredients available. As part of their research, the three owners travelled to some of the top parlors in the country, including Goodfellas in Staten Island, NY and Homeslice in Austin, TX. The trio also travelled to Las Vegas to attend the International Pizza Expo, where Tara and David got married in an impromptu ceremony at the Stratosphere Hotel—pledging their devotion to each other—and pizza.

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throw dough with the best of them. She explains, “It was a matter of tinkering. We barely knew anything about pizza dough, but we would add more yeast or more oil as we experimented, and now we’ve figured it out. Today, dough-making is everything. We start at 8 A.M. every morning.” Five Points Pizza prides itself on crafting a New York style pizza. It has a broad slice, thin, crisp crust and a heartbreakingly chewy finish. While many pizza joints skimp on cheese quality, believing that it is a good place to cut corners, anyone with a mouth knows why that’s a bad idea. Here, the cheese is so good it’s a little shocking—a little out of place for such casual food, but in a good way. The same could be said for the other ingredients, as well. On my visit, I feast on the “Old World” pizza, which blends fresh mozzarella, sweetly ripe, light tomato sauce, and flavor-loaded basil. The whole pie is then dusted with a blend of Parmesan and Italian herbs, which happily includes oregano. My taste buds scream “gourmet,” but I am brought


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back down to earth by the paper plates, paper napkins and eclectic decor. Apparently, I am not the only Nashvillian to appreciate the quality. Five Points Pizza has both a steady flow of new clients and a hefty crowd of regulars. “Some of our customers come in for lunch and then come back for dinner,” says Tara. The staff turnover is incredibly low, too. “Everyone working here started with us. We hired several musicians and artists in town and we are flexible if they have a tour or gig. We want them to have a life outside of this place. We promote the work hard, play hard philosophy.” Tara, David and Tanner also want to make sure Five Points Pizza is an active, contributing part of the East Nashville Community. They have close relationships with a variety of local groups,

including the East Nasty runners who frequent the restaurant on Wednesdays and the Nashville Rollergirls who were enlisted to help promote the new restaurant. From staying open late during pub crawls to participating in the Tomato Arts Festival,

specials and holding contests for prizes. It’s impressive that they have been so successful in such a short amount of time. Reminiscing, Tara laughs saying, “Neither David nor I had any business opening a restaurant. We started with nothing. Neither of us were chefs. We had no equipment. We literally started from scratch.” But often, made-fromscratch is the best way to do things, and they already had a damn good location that just needed some love. New plumbing, electricity and fresh paint helped modernize the neighborhood landmark while preserving its original feel. “It was important to us to revitalize the building in such a way that we honored its historical significance,” says David. As they began the renovation, they

“Some of our customers come in for lunch and then come back for dinner.”

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Five Points Pizza is committed to East Nashville. Last August, the team passed out free pizza to Tomato Arts Festival-goers, and this year they’re offering by-the-slice


reached out to their landlord, Mr. Lehning and his family, who had collectively worked in the building for nearly a century. David, Tara and Tanner poured over old photos, which Lehning’s family shared. For the first time, they saw how the space had evolved with the changing neighborhood. After remodeling, the owners enlarged and hung many of the black-and-white photos—each offering a unique perspective on the location’s morphing significance. One photograph from the thirties features slabs of meat lining whitewashed walls with a butcher in a blood-stained apron carving away at a local’s soon-to-be dinner. Another image from the the forties shows the space having transformed into the neighborhood grocery store, boasting the popular products of the time. David gives me the gallery tour, introducing me to the historical cast. While posted at the bar, I am stared down by a stoic grocer, captured in photograph, looking satisfied but tired from long hours restocking the shelves. Five Points Pizza reminds diners and drinkers that the shop has a bona fide place in the history and culture of Nashville. David describes Mr. Lehning’s first visit to Five Points Pizza after they moved in, “Mr. Lehning didn’t know we had found all of the photographs from his family’s past. He had tears in his eyes when he saw the image of his grandfather working in here decades ago. The Lehning Family is pleased the space has been revitalized and reintroduced to the East Nashville community.” Whether you are interested in chowing down Old-World-style, quietly taking in the shop’s history with a plate of “garlic knots” (don’t ask, just try them), or mingling with the regulars over a pint of Jackalope (perhaps after an East Nasty run or a Rollergirls game?), Five Points Pizza won’t disappoint.

EVERY WEEKEND IN ELMINGTON PARK CHECK the website for all events SaturdayS 11AM-4PM & SundayS 12PM-4PM

TWITTER: @WANDERLANDNASH

Five Points Pizza, located at 1012 Woodland Street Nashville, TN 37206 Lunch specials: 2 slices and drink for $8 or a slice, salad, and drink $9. The Happy Hour Special offers one slice of cheese or pepperoni and PBR, Schlitz or High Life for $5 (2 P.M. - 5 P.M. on weekdays) AUGUST | 2012

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The

BIG

ang B By Gillis Bernard | Photos Ashley Hylbert and Tiffany Clapp

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The culinary experiments of Irish Nashvillian Sarah Souther churn out some of the best things you’ve ever put in your mouth.

E

veryone loves a good old fashioned duo. Peanut butter and jelly. Starsky and Hutch. Hipsters and skinny jeans. Marshmallows and guns. If you’re questioning that last combo, you clearly haven’t heard of Bang Candy Company. If this happens to be the case, let me be the first to tell you that you have been missing out, my friend. On what exactly? Let me try to explain. Imagine a cloud. Imagine reaching up and plucking that fluffy, light cloud out of the sky, holding it softly between the tender pads of your thumb and forefinger. Looks tasty, eh? I know it does. It’s tempting, so just give in already. The anticipation of its cottony layers of water droplets melting on your tongue, refreshing your entire being, is killing you. But then imagine that the very instant that your little atmospheric snack introduces itself to those tingling taste buds, the fuzzy cloud transforms into a delicious puffed marshmallow cube of sugar and spice—and not only everything nice, because, well, that paltry adjective doesn’t even begin to cover the torrid, rose-cardamom love affair you are about to fall into. And you’ll have none other than Nashville’s culinary Cupid, Sarah Souther to thank. Sarah is the vivacious, experimental mastermind behind Bang Candy Company, a handmade artisan marshmallow and simple syrup business and café. The café is nestled within the creative community of Marathon Village, a wizened yet handsome red-brick   former automobile factory. The building serves as a sanctuary of innovation for artists, brewers, writers, designers, and other creatives (what’s up, MOONBASE?), and, as of January 2012, marshmallow makers to much of the aforementioned creatives’ delight. The café has a whimsical, playful vibe with a little vintage country flair. Upon opening the doors, a grand, old-fashioned record player greets guests, crowned with a large, framed, hand-painted scarf of a symmetric swirl of guns. A collection of clouded, multi-colored glass bottles take advantage of the building’s wooden architecture, resting on shelves perched underneath beams and supports. High tables and chairs tower by the original glass panes, which are traced by rusty iron. To the right of the counter sit a few wooden shelves that house a rainbow of shockingly flavored simple syrups, their glass sides dripped with thick ribbons of green sealing wax. And, just beyond the counter lies the kitchen, separated, but not completely, thanks to a glass-paneled half wall. This wall allows for a thrilling slice of food voyeurism. The glass serves as a window into another world, a world reigned over by the aproned masters of stainless-steal mixing monsters who have a knack for turning unlikely flavor combinations into extraordinary treats. The flavors are just as daring as they are mouthwatering; Chocolate Chili, Orange Ginger Cinnamon, Toasted Coconut, Lemon Lavender Blueberry, Sour Cherry Limeade; the list of marshmallow flavors goes on and on and is constantly being added to with the café’s weekly feature dubbed the Marshmallow of the Moment. With such exciting flavors, one can only assume there is a creative

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mastermind behind the scenes. Bang Candy’s innovations are driven by one Sarah Souther, a native of Tipperary, Ireland. Part artist, cook, entrepreneur, she’s a hands-on, go-getting triple threat. A little over 8 years ago, she made her first trip to the United States. Her destination? Nashville. Armed with big ideas and a vivid imagination, Sarah took advantage of the town’s acceptance of all things artsy. Our Southern city became Sarah’s new laboratory for her fanciful experiments with fashion, art, and food. Her first venture was a wearable art company, a medium that allowed her to toe the line between pieces of artwork and clothing. Her bold designs found their way into buyers’ hands from specialty boutiques and parties around town carrying the line. Her flirtations with fashion turned a corner when she picked up silk painting. The vestiges of which grace the walls of the café, offering brightly painted swaths of silk that look more like gallery-worthy framed pieces of modern artwork than the scarves of a self-taught painter. But one night, everything changed. A dinner out with friends led to Sarah’s sweet introduction to her first handmade marshmallow. Intrigued by the surprisingly fresh and natural treat, she began to try her own hand at the trade of mallow-making. Her homemade marshmallows soon became  a favorite among her friends at parties and other get-togethers. “It just started organically rollercoasting along,” Sarah says. “I said to myself, ‘I’m spending most of my time making f***ing marshmallows, I guess I should make a business out of it.’” The very first marshmallow Sarah made continues to be one of Bang Candy’s best sellers, and you can bet that the confectionista was not going to be satisfied with a traditional flavor. The first flavorful attempt? Rose Cardamom. When asked for some insight to her unique choice of scent and spice, Sarah matter-of-factly explained that she just looked in the cabinets and found some rosewater and thought that sounded good. Her love of Indian food led her to picking cardamom as its accompaniment. “It’s not that I abhor Vanilla,” she

says, on explaining her knack for outrageous combos. “It’s just that if I went to an ice cream shop, I would never order Vanilla, never!” The first batch’s perfumed flavor and others were met with great popularity. Although her marshmallows started to supply the shelves of neighborhood eateries like Fido, the Belcourt, and Mitchell’s Deli, Sarah wanted to sell them on her own. More specifically, she wanted to go mobile. Friends threw out ideas for food trucks and concession stands. But Sarah’s not one to settle, so the ambitious chef took the project into her own hands, and thus the “cocoa van” was born. The cocoa van is a petite log cabin on wheels that looks more like a child’s playhouse than a food trailer. The endearing nickname comes from Bang Candy’s first shot at selling directly to their customers: In November 2009, Sarah began to sell hot cocoa out of a little cart, accompanied, of course, by her tasty marshmallows. But spring rolled around soon, and it was clear that the steamy beverage was going to need to adapt to the rising temperatures. Customers no longer wanted to warm up. They needed to cool off. After a little playtime in the kitchen, a fleet of fizzy natural sodas was created to meet this need. A cup full of ice and soda water swirling with one of Bang Candy’s simple syrups, some zesty twist of lemon or lime, and a dash of fresh herbs, seemed to suit fans just fine. The success from the spring and summertime natural sodas led Sarah to selling the simple syrups as well. Habanero Lime, Rosemary Ginger, Strawberry Mint, Peach Basil Nectar, and Lavender Rose simple syrups all serve as the delightfully sweet backbones of Bang Candy’s natural sodas (And they aren’t too bad in cocktails, either!*). For those who would rather quench their thirst with something a little more potent, the Bang Candy Company Prosecco Bar (only available at select events) has just the thing. Each party-goer can specialize his or her cocktail by selecting a simple syrup to liven up the drink. Mixing and matching of flavors is not only allowed, its encouraged. Sarah most recently concocted such potions for a

“I said to myself, ‘I’m spending most of my time making f***ing marshmallows, I guess I should make a business out of it.’”

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downtown art gallery event at First Bank. “It’s great fun,” she says, and part of the enjoyment comes from chatting with the guests and observing their excitement at first sip. It’s clear that tasty experimentation is Sarah’s thing. “I love to see people pushing the envelope on flavor,” Sarah says. (She even mentioned during our interview that she was dying to try a bone marrow and cherry flavored ice cream…I’ll leave that one to her). And she certainly doesn’t let an unconventional smattering of tastes intimidate her when it comes to making marshmallows, flavored syrups, and desserts. One might think that the wild flavors isolate those with more particular tastes. Au contraire. Bang Candy’s marshmallows and syrups satisfy even the pickiest of palates—and by that, I mean children. Sarah’s marshmallows have become a kid’s birthday party favorite, starring in a number of tasty marshmallowbased treats. Wee Nashvillians have been eager to swap boring birthday cakes for Bang Candy’s s’mores. Now, when I think of a s’more, I think of some of the s’mores I grew up with and am accustomed to: two golden brown toasty marshmallows and a generous chunk of Hershey’s milk chocolate, messily sandwiched between some honey graham crackers. But Sarah’s s’more isn’t the typical Kumbaya-singing campfire fare. The Bang Candy s’mores consist of one of the company’s handmade marshmallows cozied up between two shortbread cookies which has been generously drizzled with Belgium chocolate. The cookies add a touch of Sarah’s Irish roots to the traditional snack, and in her opinion, are perfect substitutes for the “awful and just plain uninteresting” graham crackers. But the desserts don’t stop there. In the past, Bang Candy’s whipped up gourmet Rice Krispy treats, homemade pie shells filled to the brim with decadent chocolate ganache, and one of Sarah’s favorites, her take on moon pies. The spin-off of this Southern dessert staple is made with a mouthwatering combination of toasted sesame cookies and an orange marmalade and ginger marshmallow, drizzled with dark chocolate. The mission of the company is simple: “I want everyone to feel something outrageously wonderful when eating one of our marshmallows,” Sarah says. With such fascinating, inventive

marshmallows, syrups, and snacks to offer, it seems like she’s had some sweet success. And the meaning behind the guns? Once Sarah settled on Bang Candy for the name, the revolvers, a popular design from her silk painting, seemed altogether fitting for the wild and pleasantly surprising flavors in every product. * From my wide-eyed wonderment at the café’s kitchen, you might be able to tell that my hands are better suited for holding a pen than a wooden spoon. If I tried my luck at l’arte de marshmallow-making like Sarah, I would most likely fail miserably and reach for the nearest jar of synthetic marshmallow fluff and call it a day (Only if the Bang Candy Café were closed, of course). However, I do dabble in mixology on occasion. You can imagine my joy when I found out that Bang Candy also had an exciting array of simple syrups, perfect for daring mixed drinks, for sale. I could not pass up the opportunity to snag a bottle (don’t worry, I paid for it). And that very evening, inspired by Bang Candy’s Hibiscus Orange Flower Ginger syrup, my roommate, Kate, and I created a delicious potation. Upon first taste, we decided that this glorious thing required a name, a name so perfect that it evokes the very essence of the feeling each sip inspires. From this moment on, let the product of the following drink recipe be known as The Frolicking Nymph. Enjoy and be merry, responsibly.

The Frolicking Nymph 1 cup crushed Ice 2 tablespoons of Hibiscus Orange Flower Ginger simple syrup Fresh lavender to taste ¼ cup Club Soda 1.5 ounces of the finest gin one’s budget will allow Muddle fresh lavender and add to bottom of glass.

Add crushed ice and simple syrup to mix. Add gin. Top off with club soda. Bang Candy Company 1300 Clinton St. Suite 127 Nashville TN, 37203 10-5 Tuesday - Sunday serving paninis, local single brew coffee, flavored lemonades, marshmallows and many more delectable treats. For event information visit bangcandycompany.com or contact sarah@bangcandycompany.com.

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“This is a company looking to make a difference in the world of music.”

– Jennifer Barry, Awaiting The Flood

Out Now (available on iTunes and AmericanCadence.com) “Making an album, nowadays, that has personal meaning and tells a real story is a tough sell. Some people would call it a risk. The way I see it, I’ve been able to spend the last few years working on the exact album I wanted to put together for a long time. This record chronicles a two year period of my life dating from November 2nd, 2008 to November 2nd 2010. I signed my first record deal and spent almost all of my time on the road. I loved, sacrificed and lost only to have to pick up and start again. I hitchhiked for 3 months around America and followed that up with driving 100 thousand miles in 18 months. I slept in my van in the winter and lived on an extravagant tour bus in the summer. I’ve gotten to see most continents and play my music in cities I thought I would never even get the chance to travel to. And when all was said and done, I was back on the same flight two years later back to the same airport to start the next chapter of this story. It has taken quite a few years and a lot of support from people in every corner of the globe to get this album finished and out; and to that end, I really hope I don’t forget to thank anyone on here. But if you helped, you know who you are, and my door is always open. Hope you enjoy the record.” – Kiernan

Brandon Jaehne / Kiernan McMullan Wood & Wire Split 10” Paste OFA tag here.

Kiernan McMullan Two Years

Charlie Abbott Brand New Weather

American Cadence is much more than a record label.

Aaron Shanley Please Tell Me The Clocks Are Lying

Coming Soon

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! Sonia Montez and The Henry Street Players

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Ties Bind -That -

After film school and a couple of transcontinental cycling trips, Otis James found himself making ties. By Cayla Mackey | Photos Lauren Holland

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“I still haven’t seen the Godfather,” Otis James confesses. We’re sitting at The Bang Candy Company, around the corner from his shared workshop with leather goods brand Emil Erwin. He’s wearing one of his own handmade caps and a worn T-shirt. The black scruff of his day-old beard smooths over the hard line of his jaw, and contrasts against the cool blue of his eyes. “I think I started watching it once and got bored,” he continues, “I just found that I didn’t have enough passion to do film. I wasn’t a film nerd. There were still important movies that I had never seen.”  This isn’t the usual path for an artisan clothier, but Otis isn’t “usual.” The website of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at “I had this mentality that I wanted to be self-sufficient,” Otis says. Chapman University reads, “Our majors are designed to help He wanted to know how to make everything that he used. He adds, students develop their creative visions along with the skills to express “I was so over computer work and I wanted to have more tangible those ideas using all forms of media.” The academics of Orange, work. I wanted to learn how to sew. I wanted to learn how to do California may not have considered fabric as a medium covered in woodworking. I wanted to learn how to weld. I wanted to basically be their curriculum, but that is Otis’ medium of choice. Since he moved able to make whatever I needed to use for the most basic functions.” to Nashville three years ago, Otis has been crafting handmade items Before he went on his second trip, he decided to try to make as that have garnered much admiring and national attention. In 2011, he much as possible. I made a shirt, and I carried a waterproof fanny earned the first place in Garden & Gun’s “Made In The South Awards” pack that I made. I made the front rack on my bike and the bags that in the category of style, and he was recently featured in GQ’s July went on it. I knew that I was going to be gone for a while. I didn’t 2012 ‘Nowville’ spread. He got a whole page in a section of only eight know where I was going, and I didn’t plan on ever coming home. I pages that are supposed to define our entire city. Now, like a reluctant, thought, ‘Well, wherever I go, that’s where I’ll be. That’s where I’m camerashy model, Otis is coming into his own as one of the South’s going to move.’” most celebrated craftspeople. He even made a little alcohol stove for cooking. He also took his Otis always knew that he wanted to make things. He and his older bike apart and rebuilt it. “I stripped it down and painted it. By the brother used to make stop-motion videos when they were growing time I was done, I really felt good about all of that stuff.” up, first in San Diego, then in Denver, then in Knoxville, where his dad He rode up to Rhode Island, then to Montana, where he took a bus still lives. Otis would make the websites for their projects. “I got really to Denver, Colorado. He rode to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where into the computer side of things,” he recalls. Even today, he designs despite his repeated best efforts, he was drawn back to L.A. by friends. and codes his own website. At Chapman, he says, “I did mostly the “I got to L.A. and found that I really didn’t have any direction. I didn’t computer side of things—special effects, graphics, and stuff, which know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go,” he reflects. “I just is just completely miserable. It’s kind of floated around there for a while. very isolating. I didn’t have enough Then, on a whim, I decided to move to passion to do that.” What bothered Nashville.” him the most was that at the end of “‘I just said it one day and it made sense, the day, his projects didn’t occupy ‘Maybe I could go to Nashville.’ I had only physical space. “I prefer more been here a couple of times. I wanted tangible, physical pursuits. With to be back in the South among friendly what I do now, when you work with people. I wanted to be close to my dad, your hands, you make a physical but not too close,” he says. So Nashville is object at the end of it all, which to where Otis found himself—jobless and me, is a lot more valuable,” he says. “At the end of the day, film and determined to be self-sufficient. He sort of fell into custom clothing websites don’t drive me.” by default. He wanted to make things with his hands for specific After graduating from film school, he searched for what he wanted people, and it seemed like the right fit. He had already been doing it to do for work. It was obvious that he enjoyed “creating things,” but in L.A., which helped a little. “I wanted to make things for my friends, beyond that, he wasn’t really sure what a film school graduate without like a jacket,” he recalls, “I would say, ‘I want to make you this jacket. an interest in film should do. So he decided to get lost and explore for It would look great on you.’ That’s how I got into custom clothing, a while. “I had this idea that I wanted to go out and bike and see things. making a specific item for a specific person. It made sense to me.” I took off, and figured it out along the way. I started gathering things, When Otis moved to Nashville, he told everyone he knew that he moved out of my apartment, and just left one day.” The 2,000 mile wanted to make clothing. “I was enthusiastic, and that seemed to be ride spanned sixty days, taking him from Mexico to Canada. Then he enough for everyone,” he says. Otis knew how to sew, but as he will traveled to the San Juan Islands, near Seattle. He bummed a ride from tell you, there are a few steps between knowing how to do something a friend north to Vancouver and then back to California. and doing it well. “I tried to get a job at tailor shops when I moved The trip was a needed break. “It’s something I had wanted to do for here, but no one would hire me. I had no experience. I just wanted a while,” Otis says, “I needed to get out. I was burned out. I hated L.A. to sweep floors, to learn and watch,” but no tailors would have him. and I was over Southern California. I didn’t know what I was doing.” So he found a part-time job at that he found on Craig’s List. It was In spite of it all, he remained in L.A. until he was too restless to stay at Street Tuxedo, a locally- and family-owned tux rental shop in any longer. “Again, I was burned out,” he says. At age 24 he moved Cool Springs. He had some previous experience in the suit-selling back in with his dad in Knoxville to save money and travel. He took business, but at the time, he considered Street Tuxedo to simply be a month to plan and prepare for a second bike trip, this time East to a job. It wasn’t a computer job, and it would allow him free time to West instead of South to North, but something was different. pursue what he wanted to pursue—custom clothing.

“I just said it one day and it made sense, ‘Maybe I could go to Nashville.’”

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Otis James Lookbook (500 words) by Cayla Mackey photos _____________

Henry Pile wears: Style: 092, Silk/ Wool Necktie, $110.

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Otis applies one of his handprinted, hand-stitched labels.

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His break came when he got an unpaid His friend Tommy Havell was the recipient eight months, he was bringing I+W one or internship making alterations with Loretta of the first practice tie. “It was awful. Terrible,” two ties a month. People would read write Thompson, the master sewer at Levy’s, the Otis confesses. Otis was so embarrassed by ups on him, including a later one in Urban high-end clothing store in Green Hills. “I his first tie that he recently went back and Daddy, and then call asking to buy a tie. “I basically lied and told her that I wanted to do traded Tommy a better one. But Tommy didn’t have an online store, so people would alterations,” he sheepishly admits. But she loved it. Instead of the $5 Otis requested for somehow find me and ask how they could gave him a chance. He would go in and watch that original tie, Tommy insisted on paying buy my products,” he recalls. He decided to the mostly-female staff work, some of them $20 for it. start selling online, and began the transition with 40 years of experience or more. When Otis felt ready, he began working to full-time tie maker. “I wasn’t very good at alterations,” Otis on the commissioned ties. “They turned out Then came the bow ties. “It’s been a big recalls, “but I learned how to really sew, alright,” he says, “I know they weren’t great, evolution with the bow ties,” Otis says. I can how to use an industrial machine and an but the Streets were pleased with them.” tell by the twinkle in his eye that he’s trying to industrial iron. I learned through watching It was enough to get him started. Rachael say something very delicately. “I never wore these women and setting goals for myself. I encouraged Otis to do ties for weddings. Two bowties,” he says. There it is. “But people wanted to learn how to do it the way they months later, a groom-to-be came to rent started asking for them,” he smirks. “It took do it. I wanted to be able to have that kind tuxes for his wedding and wanted custom me a while before I put my stamp on them. of speed and control. I wanted to be able to ties. Otis was his guy. His fiancé brought Otis I thought, ‘Alright. If I’m gonna do bowties, master the machine and the materials.” the fabric, and Otis did the rest. “She loved I’m gonna do them this way.’” The intricacies of sewing, the precision them, absolutely loved them.” The woman Otis soon opened another wholesale and control, didn’t come easily. “There was was Jennifer Milam, an event designer. “She account in Boston at a store called Ball and a big learning curve, and sometimes I feel became this big champion of me,” he says. Buck on Newbury Street, Boston’s famed like there still is,” Otis says. Ready or not, His first media attention was because of shopping district. To help fill the orders, he another break came Otis’ way when Rachael Jennifer. It was a write-up about his ties on a hired an intern, Katie Kelly, who was then a Street, a member of the family that owns website called “Ashley’s Bride Guide.” Fashion Design major at O’More College of Street Tuxedo, asked Otis to make ties for Interest in the ties poured in, despite the Design in Franklin with her twin sister Karen. her brother and father, Mark and John Street, fact that Otis was also interested in making According to Otis, it took him two years to who were still Otis’ bosses. Most people other things. Finally, he decided to go with it. figure out how to make a quality tie that met wouldn’t volunteer to make gifts for their “I said F*** it. If I’m gonna make ties, I’m gonna his standards, with Katie there to help him bosses, but Otis, who had never made a tie, make them my way. I’m gonna do what I fill orders along the way. Now, “Katie makes eagerly obliged. Rachael supplied the fabric, want to do.” Otis approached Imogene + great ties from start to finish,” says Otis. and trusted Otis with the rest. Willie and pitched his ties to them. From Most people think a tie is a simple piece of To start, Otis bought ties and dissected five black and white gingham ties, his first clothing, but for Otis, this is far from the truth. them to figure out how they, um, “worked.” wholesale account was born. For the next “There’s a lot of little things that if you don’t 60

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Otis James Lookbook (500 words) by Cayla Mackey photos _____________

(opposite page) Style: 046, Hemp/Cotton Necktie, $90; (this page) above: Style: 077, Wool/Linen Necktie, $110; Style: B091, Wool Diamon Point Bowtie, $110. AUGUST | 2012

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Otis Wears: Style: 093, Wool/Silk/Linen Necktie, $110

do them quite right, it messes up the tie,” Otis he tactfully chides. “I don’t like shiny fabrics. According to Otis, “A cap is more utilitarian. says, “It took me awhile to realize how to do I don’t like things that are too smooth. I hate It can be just an accessory, but it can serve things just right. There was a lot of trial and all white,” he more forcefully asserts. When a function. Whether it’s keeping heat in or error, and a lot of figuring things out.” With my face reveals what I’m about to tell him, blocking the sun, or just keeping your hair out Katie as his apprentice, the learning curve is that our new office is all white, something of your face, it’s more functional to me than smaller. “Katie has me to teach her what I had he already knows, he tries to smooth it over. a tie.” Since he was 14, he’s been enamored to figure out by myself,” Otis observes. That “It has its place,” he says. I know he’s just with caps. “It’s something a little closer to my not to say all the difficulties are gone. Now being polite. He’s an artist. And instead of a heart,” he says. there are different challenges to overcome. paintbrush, Otis uses fabrics. He’s certainly Caps also allow for more creative freedom. “It was really hard for me to have someone entitled to his taste. “There’s more you can do with it,” Otis says else helping to make things that I put my But deeper than aesthetics, Otis’ creative of the cap, “A tie is a tie. You can change the name on,” Otis says. “That took a while to output draws from his rebellion against a width, and change the shape somewhat and get over, from an ego perspective. I want the fabric. You can do other things, too, but to be able to stand behind everything, to me it’s still kind of silly. People do things and I do, but it’s just a struggle to give up to be avant-garde, but I’m not a fan of some of that control. That’s been great. that. I like for there to be specific reasons Now I completely trust Katie and I trust for design. With caps, there are so many her work. I stand behind it one hundred different shapes and so much more you percent.” can do with them. It’s more exciting. Caps Katie can’t explain her attraction offer more problems to solve.” to ties. “There was something about Leatherworker Emil Congdon, neckties and bowties that made me really, career in digital technology. “I’m drawn to proprietor of Emil Erwin, won first place really happy,” she says. For her, ties have an nature and more natural things,” he explains. for “style” in the “Made In The South Awards” undervalued importance. “It’s one of the few “Even in the things that are manmade, I like in 2010 and now shares a studio with Otis. things that men can use to really accessorize,” to have aspects of nature in them. If there’s Emil’s apprentice, Ric Alessio, is in the space she says, “There’s only so much you can do to a pattern in a fabric, I don’t like it to be as well. Otis, Emil, Katie, and Ric usually men’s clothing. There are not to many things aligned with the center of the tie. I don’t like banter while they work against the constant you can do with, say, a shirt without it looking perfect symmetry. I like more of a natural backdrop of music: cutting, measuring, stupid. There are so many different things feel - subdued colors, natural fabrics. Wool is pinning, fastening, sewing, and folding what you can do with ties. There are so many probably my favorite material to work with. become finished products. Today is a little options.” There’s so much you can do with it. It’s a very quieter—a tight deadline is drawing in their It’s these subtleties that make the practical and beautiful material.” focus. They’re working feverishly to catch up difference between a product and a work Practicality is a common theme in Otis’ life, on orders. When I ask Otis how he feels about of art. Otis buys his fabrics in the garment a common thread if you will, running through. all of the demand, he shrugs his shoulders and district of L.A., usually 10 to 15 styles at a time “My mind is very driven to practical things. I says plainly, “It is what it is.” for a total of 100 yards. He looks for color and think I’ve always been that way, but especially I get the sense that he never expected this texture, and is drawn to silk and wool blends. after doing those two bike trips,” he says, “I kind of attention, and I know that he didn’t. “I buy a lot of stuff that isn’t made for ties, that’s was down to only what I could carry on my For Otis, the goal never was “to be successful.” made for suits instead,” he says, “I’m really bike. You gain that connection to what you In Katie’s words, “His main goals are to be drawn to the patterns and the textures. I just use, and figure out what you don’t need, and friendly to people and to put out a great really enjoy working with those materials.” get rid of it. Don’t hold onto it. I still carry product.” Otis adds, “I don’t push anyone Otis also has definite opinions of what he that.” Practicality can be difficult to achieve into buying anything. I hope the products doesn’t like. “I’m not really a fan of pure silk,” with ties, which is why Otis also makes caps. speak for themselves.”

“His main goals are to be friendly to people and to put out a great product.”

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Changing

Gears

A to B: Halcyon

by Jon Morrell photos Jon Morrell

(2000 words)

Halcyon wants you back on a bicycle Photos and story by Jon Morrell

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T

he walls are lined with cabinets full of orphaned parts— gears, derailleurs, crankshafts—and tools from decades past. Tall shelves in the middle of the room overflow with rainbow-colored accessories: lipstick red saddles, pink fluorescent pedals, and neon green handlebar tape. I have just entered 12 South’s cyclophile heaven, Halcyon Bike Shop. When Andrew Parker co-founded the shop in 2008, he took more than a few risks. For one, Nashville had just been ranked among the worst cities for biking in the United States. And then there’s the fact that the shop launched in the midst of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, at a time when many small bicycle shops were failing across the country. Still, in the heart of 12 South on Halcyon Avenue, Andrew wanted his bike shop to be a multipurpose, community-oriented facility that would help make Nashville a more bike-friendly, sustainable city. Andrew also came to the table with an unconventional business plan: an exciting, albeit unproven and unusual concept. Halcyon Bike Shop would only sell rebuilt used bicycles—no new bicycles at all. “I know a few people who thought I was crazy, but I had a strong belief in the sustainable concept,” Andrew says. Additionally, the plan included a public workshop just outside the shop’s back door. Today, frequent patrons and passersby

“We encourage everyone to walk in and talk to us, whether they are seasoned cyclists or new to the game.” complete al fresco repairs with free access to bicycle tools and professional advice from Halcyon’s mechanics, although donations are always welcomed. While that idea may sound a little crazy, too, it’s just another example of how well Halcyon serves its community. “I love Nashville.” says Andrew. “I wanted to open a bicycle shop here because that’s what the city needed. I could have moved west, where bicycle culture is more developed, but I chose to stay here. I want to do my part to help make Nashville better.” Andrew’s younger sister, Stephannie Parker, also an original Halcyon cast-member, doesn’t want any Nashvillians to hesitate when entering the biking world. “We never want anyone to be intimidated,” she says. Mechanic and assistant manager Chris Callis agrees,“We take great pride in our community and neighborhood. We encourage everyone to walk in and talk to us, whether they are seasoned cyclists or new to the game.” In 2009, Andrew expanded his influence outside of 12 South when he helped establish the Bike Workshop at the Oasis Center, along with Dan Furbish, a local cyclist. The Workshop offers underprivileged kids six free weeks of training in bicycle building, maintenance, and safety. All Halcyon mechanics have volunteered time with the program, and the shop has donated innumerable tools and bikes over the years. A recent addition to the Halcyon mechanic team, Chase Hardin 70

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says, “You can’t fake it here. All we want to do is ride and work on bikes all day, every day.” Another new addition, Zeno BenAmotz adds, “I just really love working on bikes and fixing old things. It’s my passion.” Stephannie seems equally passionate. “The act of building, fixing, or creating any object is so rewarding and fulfilling, and the creative liberties we have here are the best,” she adds. If biking isn’t your passion (yet), don’t fear. Halcyon doesn’t discriminate, and openly loves all bicyclists. In one visit, you might see a college student looking for a clunker to lock up outside their dorm, a business-commuter in need of new panniers (bicycle saddlebags), or a semi-professional racer tuning his steed. Halcyon regularly rotates the lineup of all-stars in their diverse collection—a powder blue Nishiki, a cherry red late70s Raleigh, an Orbea Opal with full Dura Ace, and a Specialized Roubaix. Other bikes are tricked out with individualized accessories like classic leather seats, golden handlebars, and electric blue chains. Andrew encourages all of his customers to design bikes that show off

their distinct qualities and quirks. “We don’t subscribe to cookie-cutter, industry standards,” says Chase. “Biking is about expressing yourself, and the whole process is driven by our love of biking and individuality.” Halcyon also shapes bikes to fit the varying needs of Nashville riders. They have morphed old-school road bikes into hybrid commuters and often rebuild mountain bikes to be more road-friendly. According to Andrew, more and more people are coming in everyday. “People are realizing it’s a good way to save money and gas while improving your mental and physical health,” Andrew says. And this April, it became apparent that they’ve been serving Nashville riders well. All of the risks had been worth it. Halcyon faced the bittersweet fact that they had outgrown their cozy, yet confining, original space. But they were determined to remain in 12 South, despite rising costs and limited building availability. Andrew recalls, “I was terrified at first. I knew I couldn’t relocate across town because this was my adopted neighborhood and I owe much of my success to 12 South. I just knew

we needed more space to grow and thrive.” Fortunately, the perfect opportunity presented itself—a large house across the street. Halcyon had already been renting the house for storage, and despite their nostalgia for the old shop, they knew it was time. So began the most difficult three months since the shop’s initial opening. Dozens of contractors, volunteers, and the shop’s staff spent the spring of this year in a tumultuous effort to relocate. “We knew the potential was there, but we had no idea how it would all turn out,” Chris says, reflecting on the move. “Looking back, it was all worth it.” Now that one of Halcyon’s entrances directly faces 12 South Avenue, the foot traffic from intrigued future customers has more than doubled. The new location offers more opportunities for employees to talk bikes with their neighbors and has room to host community events. And there is more space for the staff, too. “I think I’m most happy about not physically running into everyone 20 times a day like we did in the old shop. I haven’t taken an elbow or wrench to the chest in a few days,” AUGUST | 2012

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joked mechanic Dan Allen. From the hot pink back wall, to the elevated, open-kitchen mechanics’ workshop, the new Halcyon Bike Shop is rustic, inviting and full of natural light. An affectionate black and white pit bull mix, Baby, and adopted brown mutts, Jim and Molly, greet at the door. The shop bombards visitors with a barrage of colors on almost every bike and the pleasant smell of weathered rubber tires and greasy towels. Beautiful works from local artists hang above as part of an ongoing, rotating show.    In keeping with Halcyon’s recycling and environmental ethos, Andrew says, “the first thing I did after making the decision to move was to call around town in search of local materials that could be reused.” Reclaimed wood lines the shop’s ceiling and workshop floor. In fact, the planks that cut through the middle of the shop’s ceiling are part of Belmont’s old basketball grandstand. Friends and businesses all around

“I am so proud of my city for believing in us. Things are changing for the better around here everyday.” town offered everything from flooring to windows to countertop bars, mostly for free. In the end, Halcyon had more than enough materials to realize their vision for Act II. When summarizing the transition, Andrew praised, “It was a collective effort and I couldn’t be prouder of my crew. It was truly humbling.” While acknowledging that there are many people to thank, Andrew feels particularly grateful to Durden Architecture, Noel Richards, and his inhouse mechanics. Andrew boasts, “I am so proud of my city for believing in us. Things are changing for the better around here everyday. We now have more bicycle advocacy groups fighting for our rights, and the mayor has made improving the bike lanes a major priority. It shows in the shop.” Still settling into their new location, the Halcyon team keeps their doors literally wide open for anyone to stop by for any reason—to test drive a bike, customize or repair a bike they already have, or simply to talk shop. They do everything they can to encourage bicycling. “If we could say one thing to Nashville,” Andrew says, “it would be: believe in your city and get back on your bicycle.”

For more info, visit: HalcyonBike.com

(832) 3PITTIE (832) 374-8843

musiccitypitbrigade@gmail.com facebook.com/musiccitypitbrigade AUGUST | 2012 N AT I V E 73


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F I L M NERD IN MUSICCITY

How could I have not known about this before now? This is the thought that first crossed my mind when I was assigned to write about Cult Fiction Underground. I mean, those three words practically define my interests to a T. Tucked up underneath the

recently minted Logue’s Black Raven Emporium on the corner of Trinity and Gallatin, the subterranean lounge and theater is Nashville’s newest offering for devotees of rare and vintage exploitation, horror, and general B-movie madness. It’s a relatively new establishment, with the boutique upstairs having just opened in January and the downstairs only having been open since May. And true, it is located in Beast Nashville. Being a West End Girl, I participate heartily in our friendly cross-town rivalry, so my quasidisdain for the wrong side of the river often keeps me in the dark about the trendy new enterprises that crop up there each week. But had I known about this place, I would have been gladly dancing the Ellington Parkway shuffle for months now, for here at last is an Eastside destination that truly speaks to my twisted little heart.

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he unassuming entrance at the rear of the former veterinary clinic is a high wooden fence surrounding a compact smokers’ patio, virtually unnoticeable by the light of day but easily recognized at night by the packs of black-clad puffers milling about. To the left is a heavy, unmarked door reminiscent of Prohibition-era portals accessible only by password, and the effect is obviously intentional. For beyond lies the type of need-to-know-basis speakeasy outfit for those who find high-end mixology bars to be too “fancy.” It is not a place that caters to the well-heeled, looking for a place to languish in glamor for an evening. It targets, with sniper-like precision, the freaks, outcasts, lowlifes and geeks, all those delightful deviants who feel out of place, well, anywhere else. The deviant in me immediately begins to feel at home. The foyer is hung with an excellent collection of grindhouse posters and head shots of B-movie idols, all adorned with signatures collected over years of attendance at various horror conventions. Pam Grier, Dr. Satan, the original Michael Meyers, Bruce Campbell, Fred “the Hammer” Williams and Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS are all present, with cheeky little tags reading “Be Bad!” and “Stay Scared!” Here, one gladly hands over the outrageously cheap five dollar fee for the pleasure of a double-feature unlike anything else to be seen in this town. Step through the parted velvet curtains and one arrives in the Subterranean Lounge, and it is immediately apparent that the bar has been appropriately named. Lining the walls are still more fabulous posters that are sure to pique the curiosity of any good deviant; my personal favorite was for Witchcraft ‘70, touting hidden-camera revelations of the weird rites, human sacrifices, and sexual dalliances to be found right in the heart of suburban America, all in splashy, attention-grabbing tabloid headlines meant to shock and awe. Clustered amongst the posters are retro black-and-white erotic photographs and striking prints of popular horror icons, from Barnabas Collins to Edgar Allen Poe to our own Bell Witch, all screenprinted by co-owner Robert Logue himself. Seating in the lounge is comprised of plush Victorian settees and an intricately carved wooden throne—there’s no better

word for it—that would not be out of place in any haunted mansion. The equally formidable shelving piece behind the high bar, mirrored and wrought from darkpolished wood, would make Lovecraft feel right at home. Unfortunately for those of us with a preference for stronger poisons, beer is all they offer, but the selection ain’t bad. I understand that liquor licenses are a pain in the ass to acquire, and the atmosphere is obviously more of a selling point than the bottles behind the counter. But who knows, if they gain enough of a following, that could change. The environment has made it an obvious choice as the new host of Salvation, Nashville’s roaming Goth Night, and the Saturday I visited was its first stab. Being a bona fide weirdo myself, enchanted by

unhappy, and it’s because they’re in the f***ing MALL, wearing nylon lace under fluorescent lights. The mundane will always make a goth feel more awkward and betrayed; they’re trying so hard, why can’t there be some place, some little corner of the world, that steps up and meets them halfway? Thank you, Subterranean Lounge. While it lacks the grandeur of NV (which is yet to have an equal in this particular aspect), it is definitely a place that welcomes our city’s dark-minded with open arms. It was created for them and by them, and while the crowd was a little thin for this first outing, I spotted several familiar faces prominent in the scene, so I have no doubt that it will only grow in popularity, bringing all those despairing of ever recapturing the experience of days past to crawl back out from under their black velvet-adorned rocks to reclaim the night. Through the next door is the cozy little thirty-seven seat theater that comprises the Cult Fiction Underground. It was a full house for that night’s offering, a moody seventies vampire flick called Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural. Set in the Prohibition-era South, it focuses on a tender young thing named Lila, the daughter of a notorious gangster who has taken refuge in devout piety under the wing of her town’s reverend. Upon receiving a mysterious letter informing her that her father is deathly ill and desirous of a reconciliation, she leaves her home, under much trepidation, in the middle of the night to make a horror-strewn journey to a muchmaligned corner of nowhere. There she meets Lemora, her father’s beautiful and ominous host, and is drawn into a bizarre dance of death and devilry. As could be expected, it was intensely strange, by turns unsettlingly (and unintentionally) comic or downright disturbing, but it delivered all the throwback thrills it promised. It was everything I had expected from my meeting earlier that day with the operation’s co-owner and Cult Fiction’s mastermind, Bob Slendorn. He originally hails from New Jersey, where his frequent childhood visits to then-ubiquitous drivein theaters first sparked his incredibly ardent love of the offbeat, quirky, and horrific in film. He moved to Nashville when musician/ artist Robert Logue and fashionista Cemile Bagci-Logue, a couple whom he

Seating in the lounge is comprised of plush Victorian settees and an intricately carved wooden throne that would not be out of place in any haunted mansion.

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the broad spectrum of subculture, and with a penchant for playing dress up that I gleefully have never outgrown, I have attended Salvation on many occasions. As could be expected, it’s hard for goths to carve out a niche in a town like this, unsurprisingly inhospitable to the most overtly freaky, and Salvation has galavanted down an incredibly rocky road. Since the closure of downtown nightspot NV, which with its darkly elegant ambiance was the last place truly suited to the task, it has been held at a number of depressingly gauche outlets, and has had the obvious misfortune of choosing venues doomed for failure. What might not be readily apparent about the gothic lifestyle is the supreme importance of ambiance. A big part of the drive to embrace such a style is dissatisfaction with mainstream, massproduced modern culture. The soulless tackiness of the average watering hole is at direct odds with heart-wrenching longing for the romantically macabre. There is a reason why mall goths always look so


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had befriended at numerous horror conventions, urged him to come on down to Nashville. Drawn by our rich cultural scene and delectably low cost of living, they were able to establish their dream business, and thus the joint venture of Logue’s Black Raven Emporium, the Subterranean Lounge, and Cult Fiction Underground was born. Our interview was really of a confab between kindred counterculture fiends, exuberantly sharing all of our common preferences and pet peeves on the bleeding edges of film—digging into sci-fi, horror, slasher, exploitation and grindhouse with equal vigor. The obscure reaches of his knowledge far exceed my own, and his zeal inspired eager anticipation for Cult Film Underground’s forthcoming delights: The Manster, a Japanese-American horror collaboration

Cult Fiction Underground is as eager to serve up the rare, disgusting, diabolical, deranged and unintentionally comic as you are to devour them . . .

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that has been an obvious influence on the much-loved Sam Raimi; The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, a gorgeous and rarely-seen early offering from master of the morbid Dario Argento; and an all-day H.P. Lovecraft festival featuring The Reanimator and perhaps another Stuart Gordon masterpiece which, for various reasons, they can’t advertise and I can’t cite here, but believe me, it’s an atmospheric creepfest well worth the watch. Be there or beware! To all you disillusioned, downtrodden Nashville deviants out there, have hope. Your needs have not been ignored. This city will always have room for us, if only because the room is out there to be carved out and claimed for our own. Cult Fiction Underground is as eager to serve up the rare, disgusting, diabolical, deranged, and unintentionally comic as you are to devour them, and all in an environment that makes one feel as if some missing piece has finally fallen into place. I know I won’t be able to stay away from somewhere that makes me feel so welcome. AUGUST | 2012

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of the Southern Wild Beasts by Sarah Brown

“The whole universe… depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece, the entire universe will get busted.” So begins Beasts of the Southern Wild, the narrative fairy tale of Hushpuppy, and what’s true for her is true for the film in which she is portrayed. All is balanced with such exquisite delicacy as to be truly knock-the-wind-outta-ya breathtaking, a film whose intricate yet simple beauty commands the attention of your entire being from frame one. It is equal parts brutal and tender, gorgeous and grotesque,

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grim and Grimm, reminiscent of a Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece rendered in mud daub and corrugated iron. Part mythical epic and veiled cautionary tale, it captures all the whimsical elements of the best storybook fantasy and grounds them firmly in a winsome yet squalid reality that is both childlike and ominous.   Hushpuppy (played by superstardomdestined new knockout Quvenzhané Wallis) is a six-year-old girl who lives with her daddy Wink in the Bathtub. Strung vaguely between the natural disasters of the painfully recent past and the natural disasters of the frighteningly not-so-distant future, the Bathtub is a mostly abandoned realm of deluged delta beyond the levee that walls in the dry mundane world, converted into a sort of backwoods Never Never Land by its remaining inhabitants. The denizens of the Bathtub are a vivacious bunch who are well aware of the dangers of their choice to remain in their outcast domain, but they are determined not to let surviving get in the way of good ole exuberant living.

Which they do in delightful fashion with a lot of liquor-drinkin’, fireworks-sparkin’, loose-lovin’, catfish-punchin’ swagger. By necessity they must live closer than ever to the lushly sodden wilderness they occupy, making their society a primitive reflection of modern bayou life. Hushpuppy is a stunning echo of every fantasy heroine you read about as a child, nostalgic yet sublimely fresh. She possesses a subtle yet awe-inspiring mysticism—like most children of fantasy, she is gifted with special powers, in this case the ability to hear the story any heart is trying to tell with the secret code of its beats. And in this she can hear the connectivity of the entire universe. It is of course all the more enchanting because she seems to take her startling insight for granted, endowing her with that delightfully dynamic dichotomy of naïveté and wisdom. The story is made all the more magical in that it is told entirely from her scrappy little perspective, raw and full of wonder. For all her grit she is still a vulnerable girl trying to eke out an existence


F I L M NERD IN MUSICCITY

in a harsh world, yearning to imitate the tough self-reliance she sees in her father, half-concealing, half-conveying her inner desire for tenderness and protection. The mysteriously ailing Wink for his part maintains his distance through his intriguingly unique brand of tough, true love, in order to prepare his little daughter for all that lies ahead. Hanging over the heads of the Bathtubbers is a myth of terrifying transformation, of melting ice caps, torrential storms and world-shaking floods, and the insidious approach of massive boarish destroyers called Aurochs. In true mythic fashion, one small act of hate on Hushpuppy’s part busts a piece of the universe, causing a chain reaction that brings about a cataclysm and sparks the epic journey of reparation that frames the rest of the story. It is a quest for independence and for love, for self-knowledge and for world-wisdom, for a place to call home and for the ability to be at home in one’s own heart. Shot entirely on location in Southern Louisiana (from whence over half the cast, including Wallis, hails), it was filmed on 16 mm (smaller and more homemade-looking than the 35mm film typical of Hollywood), with most of the camerawork done by hand; the recognizable setting and somewhat jolting visual movement lend

Authenticity oozes and drips from every shot, and for none will this be more true than for us Southerners . . .

Read more of Sarah Brown’s film writing at

saintviciousfilm.com

a realism and immediacy so gripping you can practically feel the swampy air and smell the frying gator meat. Authenticity oozes and drips from every shot, and for none will this be more true than for us Southerners, we who have borne witness to the temperamental nature of our climate and the unique cumulative trash-treasure style of our culture. The recent plight of that part of the South surfaces along a plausible trajectory, and the whole thing is captured with such mastery that it maintains the familiarity of the location while elevating even the most ordinary of objects to something almost metaphysical. Along with the sometimes dizzying camerawork, the sound is so intense at times that you are literally rocked by the maelstrom endured on screen. The soundtrack is a perfect complement to the marvelously evocative imagery—haunting strings and brooding horns undercut ephemeral bubbles of bells, somehow with a distinctly Southern flavor. See it on a rainy day to experience the full effect of the pervading wetness of this movie; you’ll step out wondering how prepared you are to take on the end of the world. Timely and timeless, regional  and yet global, Beasts is the rare film produced these days that obviously knows the value of imagination in every aspect of creation. An intellectual, low budget, locallydriven and intensely-collaborative effort produced this cinematic jewel, and it deserves to be admired and cherished. The film’s heart beats so loudly that you can practically feel it in your own chest, and you don’t have to be Hushpuppy to decipher the poignancy of this dazzling modern fairy tale. Get swept away in the emotional and fantastical floodwaters of Beasts of the Southern Wild. You’ll be glad you did. See you in the dark.

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NATIVE ANIMAL OF THE MONTH

Procyon lotor: (n.) a mid-sized hypocritical nocturnal mammal that paradoxically enjoys eating garbage and obsessively washing its food.

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora

Other names: Masked Bandit, Waschbär (German), Meeko (Pocahontas), Rocky (The Beatles)

Family: Procyonidae Genus: Procyon Species: Lotor

“A very interesting book could be written about the Raccoon and, with its industrious energy and resourcefulness, it deserves to be elevated to the status of the National Emblem in place of the parasitical, carrion-feeding Bald Eagle.” - Ivan T. Sanderson, Living Mammals of the World

Trivia: Which U.S. President had pet raccoons?

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cheating, being a meany, and/or generally being sneaky). Their ability to outsmart all of us comes from their inordinate skills and massive brains, making raccoons adaptable and highlyevolved, fur-covered secret agents. Their “voluminous braincase” gives them a memory span of up to three years for solving complex problems. That’s more than most of us can claim. They use a highly-developed secret language to communicate encoded messages. So far, we’ve only been able to identify 13 distinct calls, but there could be millions. Raccoons have also spent millennia developing their permanent bandit mask that comes standard. Besides allowing raccoons to more easily remain anonymous, their dark masks reduce glare, improve night vision, and help them look cool, even when they’re not trying. Raccoons are also capable of climbing down trees head first ninja-style by turning their hind feet around so their claws point backwards, and their paws become pliable when wet. They might even cling to glass, which would enable them to scale skyscrapers. Who knows? They can also hear things really well, like earthworms inside the Earth. Like, literally underground. But every super-thing has its kryptonite. For raccoons, its beech trees. The slick and

slippery bark makes these trees especially difficult to ascend. Raccoons have been known to avoid these trees at all costs. Recently, raccoons have been on the move. In Japan, up to 1500 raccoons were imported as pets each year after the success of the anime series Rascal the Raccoon in 1977. The raccoon dog, which looks a lot like a chow chow, lives in Europe and eastern Asia. And they’re moving to the cities. These urban raccoons are responsible for, um, recycling, the garbage for you. They also like toothpaste. Raccoons can be picky eaters, too, and have been known to develop strong individual preferences for foods. The one we know happens to like Chipotle. A usual diet consists of 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates. And they can eat snakes as well as your pet’s food. Baby raccoons, called kits, chirp and twitter like birds and come with a built-in disarming cuteness that catches you off guard (for an example, Google “baby raccoon eating a caramel”). Tragically, hunting and cars are the leading causes of death for raccoons, which have been known to live for over 20 years in captivity. Their average life spans have been known to be much shorter in “the wild,” which often means attics and back alleys. So the next time you see a raccoon, give him a firm salute, and say “Procyon Lotor, I respect you.”—but watch your stuff.

ANSWER: President Calvin Coolidge kept two raccoons, Rebecca and Horace, as pets.

Ah, yes. Tennessee’s official State Wild Animal, the raccoon. Neither bear, nor rodent, nor canine—a missing link. The English “raccoon” comes from the Native Americans and means “the one who scrubs with his hands.” As if that weren’t vague enough, the Spanish word for raccoon, “mapache,” came from the Aztecs and means “the one who takes everything in its hands.” Hell, we could all be raccoons according to that. Other languages highlight the raccoon’s good hygiene in combination with a word meaning “bear.” Take the German word for raccoon, “waschbär” (wash bear), for example, or the Japanese word “araiguma,” which means “bear who washes.” But in French and Portuguese, they think of the raccoon as a giant rat, not a bear. We think it’s somewhere in between. Its binomial name “procyon lotor” means “before the dog washer” commenting on the raccoon’s place as a precursor to the modern dog, and also making sure we don’t forget that he washes. F*** it. We have no clue what this thing is. We propose the name “clean washing rat-bear-dog,” just to be inclusive. What we do know is they’re up to no good—in a good way. Research tells us that raccoons are unpredictable. Basically, you can’t trust ‘em. There are numerous myths that explain how the raccoon got its badass facial mask and striped tail (mostly involving


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Native | August 2012 | Nashville, TN