ISSUE 71 MARGO PRICE
MAY 22 901 WOODLAND ST 7PM
ISSUE LAUNCH PARTY NATIVE NASHVILLE
A BARBERSHOP FOR MEN & WOMEN OF ALL AGES WA L K I N A N Y D AY O F T H E W E E K F O R A Q U A L I T Y C U T O R S T Y L E
$15 BUZZ | $27 STYLE CUT 4
F R A N K L I N - E . N A S H V I L L E - S Y LVA N PA R K - T H E G U L C H
W W W. S C O U T S BA R B E R S H O P. C O M
CONTENTS MAY 2018 24
46 THE GOODS
13 Beer from Here 17 Cocktail of the Month 20 Master Platers 89 You Oughta Know 95 Itâ€™s Only Natural
FEATURES 24 Peabody Shoe Repair 34 HalfNoise 46 Margo Price 58 Theatre Spotlight: Ingram New Works Festival
70 Contributor Spotlight: Sarah B. Gilliam 78 Geist NATIVE NASHVILLE
NATIVE NASHVILLE â€ƒ
BEHIND THE ISSUE: MARGO PRICE Though this isn’t the first time Margo Price has graced the pages of NATIVE (see our April 2014 story on her old band, Buffalo Clover, or our November 2014 cover story on Manuel Cuevas, in which she was a model), this is her first time on our cover. And since we were already acquainted with Price when we decided to interview her, we wanted to do something a little more intimate for her first cover shoot—something a little closer to home, if you will. So that’s exactly what we did. Price was generous enough to let veteran NATIVE photographer Brett Warren and a full crew invade her house on a Thursday morning (she even made us a pot of coffee), and we couldn’t be happier with the results. Warren perfectly captured that hazy, ethereal atmosphere unique to sunny Tennessee mornings; and for part 2 of the shoot, he kept that feeling alive by hand painting a massive, 150-foot backdrop at local studio WELD. Combine that with consummate styling from Stephanie Thorpe and Kate Brown (they dyed the pink dress seen on the cover themselves), plus hair and makeup from Brittney Head, and you’ve got the makings for one hell of a shoot. Read our interview with Price on page 48, and check her out at the Ryman on May 19, 20, and 23 (if you can snag tickets, that is).
PRESIDENT, FOUNDER: PUBLISHER, FOUNDER: OPERATIONS MANAGER:
ANGELIQUE PITTMAN JON PITTMAN JOE CLEMONS
EDITOR IN CHIEF: COPY EDITOR:
CHARLIE HICKERSON DARCIE CLEMEN
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: ART DIRECTOR:
HANNAH LOVELL COURTNEY SPENCER
SENIOR ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE: ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE: PRODUCTION MANAGER:
KELSEY FERGUSON SHELBY GRAHAM GUSTI ESCALANTE
SARAH MORRIS LEXIE ROLAND
KYLE COOKE NATHAN DILLER CHARLIE HICKERSON JONAH ELLER-ISAACS COOPER BREEDEN
MACKENZIE MOORE JOSHUA SIRCHIO TAYLOR RABOIN
FOUNDER, BRAND DIRECTOR:
FOR ALL INQUIRIES:
NICK BUMGARDNER DANIELLE ATKINS AUSTIN LORD PHOENIX JOHNSON BRETT WARREN DANIEL CHANEY SARAH B. GILLIAM EMILY DORIO
1200 Clinton Street Ste 10 • 615.679.0221 • firstname.lastname@example.org • purenashville.co
Hair by Stylist: Alisha Donaldson
WITH HANNAH LOVELL NATIVE Creative Director Beer Name: Lovebird Brewery: Jackalope Style: Hefeweizen ABV: 4.4% Food Pairing: Boiled Crawfish Appearance: Foggy body with foamy head Aroma: Bright and fruity Where to Find It: The Filling Station Overall Takeaways: Cold weather just doesn’t want to leave. It’s like a bad date who won’t get the hint that it’s time for the check. As soon as you think you’re in the clear, another conversation has popped up and you’re cornered into pretending you’ve seen the movie they’re quoting. Mother Nature has been playing games with us lately, but Jackalope’s Lovebird is here to ease our troubled hearts. Next time the sun is out, find a six pack and throw some blankets down in the backyard. This beer’s crisp tartness and light body are the perfect counterpart to a lazy day in the sun. If you’re really feeling your oats, grab a few pounds of Louisiana Seafood Company’s boiled crawfish from their truck off of Gallatin Avenue (which is conveniently just a half mile from The Filling Station). They say opposites attract, and it couldn’t be more true for these two. That cajun spice needs a little sweet, and Lovebird is the perfect complement.
CELEBRATE HAPPY HOUR WITH US!
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd www.gardensofbabylon.com 14
LESSON LEARN'D BY SEAN GLENN, BEVERAGE DIRECTOR OF NO. 308
PHOTO BY NICK BUMGARDNER The Papaw is a drink 308’s Ben Clemons first made years ago, and it’s become a modern classic at our bar. Ben recently handed over the beverage program to me, so as a tribute to him, I wanted to rework one of his drinks while keeping the ingredients and ideas intact. Enjoy Lesson Learn’d, my take on the now-classic The Pawpaw.
THE GOODS 2 oz Four Roses Bourbon 1/2 oz Coca Cola and Peanut Syrup* 2 dashes Angostura bitters
DIRECTIONS Combine ingredients in a freshly iced rocks glass. Stir briefly. Garnish with two cherries.
*COCA COLA AND PEANUT SYRUP Lightly crush and toast 1 cup peanuts. Add 4 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let sit overnight. Strain off peanuts and add 2 cups of Mexican Coke.
- PARTY BASICS/DREAMSCAPES
- AIR GUITAR SOUTHEAST CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018
- LIVE ART SHOW
- HARI, PATZY, BLOND BONES
3 0 O L D H A M S T.
Visit www.littleharpethbrewing.com for live events calender and online ticketing. POWERED BY 18
COFFEE BREAKFAST LUNCH OPEN DAILY 7AM-3PM 700 FATHERLAND ST. 615.770.7097 SKYBLUECOFFEE.COM E S TA B L I S H E D 2 0 1 0
MASTER PL ATERS
BY CHEF DANIEL GORMAN OF HENLEY
PHOTOS BY DANIELLE ATKINS
TRAILER BABY CRACKERS TOPPED WITH PIMENTO CHEESE, CRAB, AND CELERY LEAF
FOR PIMENTO DRESSING
METHOD FOR PIMENTO DRESSING:
METHOD FOR CRACKERS:
1 cup mayo 1 oz bread and butter pickle liquid 1/2 tsp chopped garlic 1/2 tbsp Sriracha 1 roasted red bell pepper, diced Salt, sugar, and black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients and season to taste. Refrigerate the dressing for one day before making the pimento cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Melt the butter in a small saucepan with the garlic and Old Bay. Transfer the butter mixture to a mixing bowl with the saltine crackers and gently toss the crackers to coat them evenly. Transfer the crackers to a parchment-lined sheet tray. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the crackers. Bake the crackers for 7 minutes, turning halfway. Remove the crackers from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. Once cool, store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
FOR PIMENTO CHEESE
1 pint Comté cheese, grated 1 cup Pimento Dressing, divided 1/2 cup aged Gouda, finely grated 1/2 jalapeno, diced
METHOD FOR PIMENTO CHEESE:
Combine the Comté and ½ cup of the Pimento Dressing. Mix till a paste forms. Add the Gouda, jalapeno, and other ½ cup of dressing and mix till combined completely. Double check for seasoning and store in a piping bag. This spread is best if made the day before you plan to serve it. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
FOR TRAILER BABY CRACKERS
METHOD FOR SERVING:
8 oz butter 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning 2 sleeves saltine crackers 1 tsp lemon juice
Lightly dress desired amount of crab meat in lemon juice. Pipe the pimento cheese on the Trailer Baby Crackers. Top with the crab meat and garnish with celery leaf. Serve immediately.
TAYLS w/ THE JAG, LASSO SPELLS, OGINALII & MORE - MERCY LOUNGE & THE HIGH WATT
ICEAGE w/ EMPATH, DEEPER - MERCY LOUNGE NADA SURF: 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF ‘LET GO’ - MERCY LOUNGE HEATHEN SONS w/ THE UNDERHILL FAMILY ORCHESTRA - MERCY LOUNGE LOGAN HENDERSON - MERCY LOUNGE MIKI FIKI w/ THE PRESSURE KIDS, KATY KIRBY - THE HIGH WATT MY SO-CALLED BAND - MERCY LOUNGE HORSE FEATHERS w/ CALEB GROH - THE HIGH WATT THE DUSTBOWL REVIVAL w/ THE LOWEST PAIR - THE HIGH WATT DAVID RAMIREZ w/ MATT WRIGHT - MERCY LOUNGE WESLEY BRIGHT & THE HONEYTONES - THE HIGH WATT THE POSIES w/ TERRA LIGHTFOOT - MERCY LOUNGE POND w/ FASCINATOR - MERCY LOUNGE STRYPER w/ TRUE VILLAINS - CANNERY BALLROOM ST SAM EVIAN W/ BUCK MEEK - THE HIGH WATT MIDDLE KIDS w/ DUNCAN FELLOWS - THE HIGH WATT SUZANNE SANTO OF HONEYHONEY - THE HIGH WATT STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS w/ LITHICS - MERCY LOUNGE 22
Peabody Shoe Repair has been In Troy Horner’s family for more than forty years. Now he’s teaching a new generation of aspiring cobblers BY KYLE COOKE PHOTOS BY AUSTIN LORD
“I’M A FIREMAN, BASICALLY. I GO FROM PERSON TO PERSON AND PUT OUT FIRES.”
Troy Horner is really a cobbler and the owner of Peabody Shoe Repair in Berry Hill. But with the red-hot demand for shoe and leather goods repair—Peabody’s wait time is currently four weeks—perhaps fireman is a more apt job description. I arrive at Peabody only a few minutes after they open. Tucked in a corner of a strip mall between a Mattress King and a children’s fabric store, Peabody doesn’t exactly look like the Nashville institution I’ve read about. It’s a far cry from the shop’s original Hillsboro Village location, but Peabody is busy as ever. When I walk in, there are already two women at the counter—one is picking up a pair of high heels, and the other is emptying a tote bag of flats and sandals onto the counter like she’s at a Coinstar machine. Horner and I chat in the back corner of Peabody’s workshop. We sit at a small table blanketed in sole replacements, shoe stretchers, and Sole Factor catalogs. Horner f lips through the pages, periodically turning them my way to show me styles and trends he’s keen on (he wants to add camouflage soles to his boots). He’s wearing a pair of black Wolverine 1000 Mile boots, Wrangler jeans, and a buttondown with the sleeves rolled up. His hands are callous, his fingernails blackened, and his forearms peppered with small scars. Horner is almost fifty-five years old. He has a big white beard and a smile that transforms his face from stern to warm in an instant. “I remember coming into my interview, I was reading up online about some gruff man, and I was worried,” explains Katie Perry, who has worked at Peabody for a little over a year. “But I had a pretty good rapport with him as a customer, and it turns out it’s just an outer shell.” “When I tell my friends I work at Peabody,” explains Bekah Cope, “they ask, ‘Is that mean old man still working there?’” Cope has been at Peabody full-time since the new year.
Horner says he tries a bit harder to be nice to customers than he used to. “When I was here by myself, I used to be a little angry. I’m better now.” Nevertheless, customers at Peabody usually only get upset with one of two things—the wait time, or Horner’s forthright assessment of the products they bring in. A quick search on Yelp reveals as much. Despite the high ratings—four to five stars on Yelp, Google, and Facebook— one review in particular stands out: a one-star in October of last year involving a creased pair of Louboutin heels. “Louboutins?” Perry says. “Horrible. Those are waxed cotton with cardboard inside.” Horner chuckles. “That’s where I get a majority of my bad reviews—just telling people what their shoes are really made of. They’re like, ‘You’re an asshole.’ Okay, I’m an asshole,” he says with a smile. Peabody has been in the Horner family since July 1976. Horner’s father bought it from the widow of the original owner so that his mother would “have something to do.” All these years later, Peabody is still thriving. Most cobbler shops didn’t have that same fortune. According to Horner, Nashville had about twenty-five shoe repair shops a couple decades ago. Now, he says, we’re down to about six. The decline is due to a variety of factors, the rise in plastic or rubber-soled shoes chief among them. People are buying shoes that are not designed to be repaired. Because of that, Horner says they try to do everything that comes in the door— purses, baseball gloves, you name it. “We do anything. I think that’s a problem with some of the shops around town that are not doing well,” Horner says. “They don’t do everything. We’ll do anything that comes through the door if we can.” Horner attributes Peabody’s longevity to these special projects. He says other cobblers in Nashville will send the more renegade projects his way. “We take on unorthodox jobs,” Perry
interjects. She mentions a man who wanted his cowboy boots converted to Chelsea boots so they could fit under his skinny jeans. Peabody even makes sheaths for knives. “Some of our regulars know we like to get a little creative with things.” Chock full of used boots, leather jackets, and bags, no shelf in Peabody is empty. There’s literally a barrel of refurbished baseball gloves in the front. Horner even sells his own polish, something he thinks they should do more of. But as you may have surmised, customer service is not an area where he flourishes. That’s where Perry comes in. “She was a perfect fit,” Horner says. “I started out as a customer. I was a die-hard Nisolo fan, and they sent me through his doors,” Perry says. “[Horner] did a special project for me—I had a dog get a hold of a shoe—and Troy made them into ballet flats instead of oxfords. That was one of those showcases of like, ‘Wow, that was really cool.’” Since then, Perry has become addicted to the artistic side of cobbling. When I ask the room what makes a good cobbler, she quickly answers, “Creativity—being able to envision something that isn’t there yet.” Like anyone passionate about their work (and any good salesperson), Perry carries her job with her. She often notices women in line at coffee shops with damaged heels or decaying purses and refers them to Peabody. “I think there’s a lot more that we’re able to do than the general population knows,” Perry explains. “For example, if you’re a shorter woman and your purse strap is too long, we can fix that for you. That’s a really simple thing we can do that really transforms how put-together you look.” Perry is part of a wave of younger people who are purchasing better shoes. Horner says after the crash of 2008, he noticed people began buying footwear that could be repaired, and since then,
more and more people have come through Peabody’s doors. Even as boots become more popular— particularly in Nashville—Horner is not confident that the dozens of closed repair shops will sprout back up. He says opening a shop without used equipment can cost about half a million dollars. Gesturing toward the various machines surrounding us, Horner explains that he was blessed to be able to buy many of them from cobblers that went out of business. Even so, some of the machines ran him $60,000. I ask Horner, who has children of his own, if he plans to keep Peabody in the family once he retires. “I made sure that my kids went to college and had their educations,” Horner says. “Because [shoe repair] was a decent living, but it wasn’t college money. But now, today, it kinda is. I made sure my kids had something to do, but now I wish I had worked them more toward it. But I have grandkids, so we’ll see.” The good news is that Horner has full confidence in his understudies. “Any single one of them could open their own shop in four or five years,” he says. “They’re like my kids.” Because the pool of available Nashville cobblers is exceedingly low, Horner will most likely pass his business down to someone he knows. “You can’t hire a shoe repairman,” Horner says. “They don’t teach it anymore. They used to teach it in jails, but they stopped all that. You can’t go to college and say, ‘Hey, I want to be a shoe repairman.’” Horner pauses, looks around the shop. The bell on the front door rings, and Perry makes her way to the counter to greet a customer. Cope wails on a heeled boot with a hammer. “You gotta train your own.” Peabody Shoe Repair is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
NATIVE NASHVILLE â€ƒ
WITH A LITTLE HELP
How Paramore drummer Zac Farro found a new sound—and himself— with his new project, HalfNoise
BY NATHAN DILLER PHOTOS BY PHOENIX JOHNSON 34
FROM MY FRIENDS
It sounds kind of lame, but I really found myself there. I just kind of grew up on the road since I was thirteen, and that can screw you up pretty bad. Not that I was a screwed-up dude, but I just missed out 36
ZAC FARRO CONSIDERS FOR A MOMENT
what might have happened had he not grown up in Nashville. “I love my family up in New Jersey, but what I do is because I’m from here,” he says. “Not that I wouldn’t be passionate about another avenue of life or occupation, but I can’t imagine a world without music, man.” He’s not a Nashville native, but Farro and Music City go way back. He moved to Tennessee from the Garden State as a child, and he started playing drums when he was nine years old, after his mother sent him to a Bach to Rock music camp. Farro found himself surprisingly eager when the instructor brought in a kit. “In school when you have to do a presentation or something, that was literally my worst nightmare,” he says. “So I’d never volunteer to go up, and the dude was like, ‘Hey, would anyone want to play the drums?’ and I just look up and my hand was raised . . . It was like a weird meantto-be moment, because I had never played before.” Fa r ro didn’t get ser ious about drumming until two years later. Soon afterward, he and his brother, Josh, became founding members of pop-punk band Paramore. They began touring, and the Franklin-based group became an international sensation. The Farro brothers famously left the group in 2010, but Zac rejoined in 2016. And he’s only twenty-seven. After he and his brother left the band, Farro felt creatively curious. He began messing around on Logic Pro and GarageBand, sketching ideas and finding sounds he liked. Around the same time, his friend Daniel James was getting into production and approached Farro about working together on some of his tracks. He even accompanied Farro when he moved to New Zealand for a few months. While they were there they recorded the first HalfNoise LP, Volcano Crowe. “It sounds kind of lame, but I really found myself there,” says Farro from across a table on the patio at Vui’s Kitchen
in Germantown. “I just kind of grew up on the road since I was thirteen, and that can screw you up pretty bad. Not that I was a screwed-up dude, but I just missed out on a lot of life. And [James] met me over there and we did some music and had some crazy life experiences and then I came home and I was like, ‘Cool, I want to do this.’” Farro returned to Nashville and continued recording and releasing music, all of which James co-produced with the exception of his 2016 album, Sudden Feeling, which was recorded in Los Angeles with Phil Danyew and Scott Cleary. In the time since, HalfNoise has changed shapes—Farro is still the only permanent member, but he considers Half Noise sessions more of a musical potluck and invites his friends to bring something to the table. “It started as a bedroom project and now all of our friends know, ‘Oh, HalfNoise is recording? Hell yeah, I’m going to come over and play something,’” he says. “It’s a thing now.” In some cases, these contributions from friends mean that they co-write entire songs with Farro, and in others they simply lay down a guitar part or two. It’s not surprising that Farro brings people together this way. Dressed in a pink beanie and blue bomber jacket with a logo that reads “Bear Safety Patrol,” he speaks sunnily about his work in a way that belies his many years in an industry known for cultivating cynicism. He mentions his friends constantly, from a buddy he’s producing in Los Angeles to a Swedish couple he’s collaborating with. Farro and his roommate have also started writing songs in the morning over coffee. It seems friendship and creative collaboration are one in the same to him. But Farro’s friends aren’t the only thing that’s been influencing HalfNoise lately. For their latest release, Flowerss, the band drew inspiration from the likes of The Kinks and T. Rex. They also incorporated more organic instrumentation into Farro’s songs.
“I got to this place where I couldn’t play the song that I’d written on the computer on just the piano or guitar and it translate, you know?” he says. “It’d be just a completely different thing, and I think that’s cool, but I wanted to stretch myself and write songs you could sing around the fire with friends.” In fact, he did just that the night before, playing his song “Scooby’s in the Back” with a group of pals. Last year’s The Velvet Face EP evoked the 1960s, with a psychedelic sound that was a departure from the ambient indie rock and electro-pop of its predecessors. Flowerss takes that sound even further and is HalfNoise at its most adventurous. Farro was listening to everything from Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti to French indie rocker François Virot. “All That Love Is” is a melancholic meditation on feeling let down in love, set against a wriggling bassline that dares you not to dance. “And a lot of that is I’ve let myself down and I’ve just put myself out there too quick and then I get hurt,” Farro says. “So it’s this needed-to-getthat-out kind of thing, almost to move on.” He likes the tension created by the contrast between the sad lyrics and the happy sound. “There’s also something encouraging about just being honest, you know?” One of his friends kicks the song off speaking in French, telling the story of a couple spending a romantic evening together. It’s an homage to Cameroonian composer Francis Bebey, who layered guitars and traditional African instruments with drum machines and synthesizers. On “She Said,” Farro sings, “She said, ‘Don’t worry about a thing’ / But then I just worry, I don’t know why I can’t try,” over crunchy guitars and crashing drums, the latter of which he recorded in his home studio right when he woke up one morning. Farro and James tried to recreate the energy of the original take when they were tracking the songs, but they decided to keep the original, quirks and all. Farro tried to take that same approach to the recording process as a whole.
“There are moments where two friends are playing the guitar parts all the way through and riffing on each other and kind of improvising. We left it because [when] they did it again they did it even better, but the character wasn’t there,” he says. “There’s something so digestible about a human imperfection, you know?” Working on his own project has been a learning experience for Farro, from recording to performing to branding. In Paramore, he was used to sitting behind the drum kit, but in HalfNoise he’s the front man, a transition that Farro says has been awkward at times but has proved rewarding. He also credits his new role in his old group with bolstering his confidence, as he has grown from a kid who dreaded speaking in front of his class into an adult singing in front of crowds. “Honestly, joining this band again has given me the courage to even be myself more and be even more charismatic, because there’s less pressure to make this, like, a big band,” he says. “Not that I ever wanted it to be anyway, but it lets it be even more organic and natural and just more my personality.” Both bands complement each other. Their teams work together, and Paramore’s most recent record, After Laughter, with its groovy, synth-heavy sound, was wellaligned with Farro’s musical sensibilities. He even co-wrote a couple of the songs. With HalfNoise, Farro has focused more on making music than touring extensively, but they hit the road for a string of headline dates earlier this month, culminating in a hometown show at Exit/ In featuring some friends—rock trio Ornament and singer-songwriter Becca Mancari. Paramore also regularly includes HalfNoise material in their sets on tour, giving Farro a chance to step out from behind the drum kit and stretch different muscles. Being raised here, Farro has watched Nashville grow and change, but he still finds the city creatively stimulating, especially right now. He just started reading Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman, a book
NATIVE NASHVILLE â€ƒ
that details her experiences in New York’s early 2000s rock scene, when bands like LCD Soundsystem and The Strokes were coming into their own. “When I read it I’m like, That’s what’s happening in Nashville right now,” he says. “It’s still kind of like the Wild West a bit . . . I’ve been here my whole life and maybe it’s the season I’m in, but it seems like the most riveting time to be here. Even though a lot of people complain about it changing a lot, and I do too sometimes, complaining’s never done me any good. So I’m kind of trying to stop doing that too and just see the positive side of it.” Farro is also doing his part to give back to his hometown. He started his own label, Congrats Records, with two friends back in 2016. At first Congrats was a means to release his own music, but now Farro’s turning his attention to other artists. Like HalfNoise, he sees the label as something fluid, a conduit for more than just music. He loves photography and might want to release a book of pictures through Congrats one day. “It’s like an art house,” he says. “It’s not just a record label that’s like, ‘We only sign music.’ It’s like, ‘Let’s do whatever we want.’ There are no rules with it. That’s what’s so cool.” We wrap up our meal, and Farro is about to walk to rehearsal for the PAR AHOY! cruise, a four-day trip through the Caribbean headlined by Paramore that sets sail the following week and features a wide-ranging lineup of artists and groups. Farro will play with both of his bands. While there is some overlap between the two, whichever project he’s working on, he’s all in. “So, when I’m in HalfNoise world, I’m all there. When I’m in Paramore world, I’m all there, and so I’m kind of like, ‘Oh yeah, I have this other band,’ once we’ve come from a really long tour,” he says. “Time is a challenge, but I don’t think I want life without a challenge.”
SHOWS & EVENTS JUNE 8 - LORI MECHEM QUARTET JUNE 16 - SARAH PARTRIDGE JUNE 21 & 22 - CABARET w/ NAN GURLEY MORE INFORMATION AT
W W W. N A S H V I L L E J A Z Z . O R G
HalfNoise’s latest EP, Flowerss, is available now.
OF THE PIE NATIVE sits down with Margo Price ahead of her three-night run at the Ryman
BY CHARLIE HICKERSON PHOTOS BY BRETT WARREN SHOOT ASSISTANT: RYAN SMALLHANDS STYLING: STEPHANIE THORPE AND KATE BROWN HAIR AND MAKEUP: BRITTNEY HEAD
“ O K A Y,
R E A L LY
A P P R E C I AT E
e ver y t h i n g y ’a l l h ave done, a nd I rea lly like what we picked out before, but I saw this buffalo dress dow n at t he shop t h is mor n ing, and . . .” It’s October 2014, and we’re already thirty minutes behind schedule shooting Margo Price. Along with fellow East-ofMusic-Row songwriters Kelsey Waldon, Cale Tyson, and Angel Snow, Price is modeling a custom Manuel Cuevas suit for a NATIVE cover story on the Rhinestone Rembrandt. Or she’s supposed to be modeling a suit. Cuevas tailored one especially for her, and it’s hanging on a rack next to me, ironed and ready to go. Price is the first model in today’s lineup, so a last-minute wardrobe change that will involve driving through downtown at lunchtime is not ideal. But the buffalo, she pleads, is her spirit animal. Her family’s farm was in Buffalo Prairie, Illinois. Her old psych-rock band was called Buffalo Clover. We’ll make the buffalo dress fit. The buffalo dress will make the shoot. It won’t take that long to get to Manuel’s shop, and will you just look at this picture of it? The next thing I know, Margo Price is riding shotgun in my Volvo as we drive down Broadway with a $5,000 dress in the back. While I’m driving, three things come to mind: (1) Margo Price is persuasive as hell, (2) This dress is going to make the shoot, and (3) I’m going to be hearing the name Margo Price a lot more often. Since that shoot day, Price has released two highly acclaimed albums via Third Man; played Saturday Night Live; gone on tour with Willie Nelson (her own strain of weed will soon be offered at Willie’s Reserve, Nelson’s chain of pot dispensaries); and has been featured by The New York Times, NPR (in one of Fresh Air’s more surreal moments, she played a stoic cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”
for Terry Gross), The Daily Show, and many more. Through all of this, Price has emerged as one of those artists we talk about when we talk about “real” country. The sort of artist—along with Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, and Sturgill Simpson, her male counterparts in the Americana gallery of saints—that can’t help but stand as the perfect antidote for Music Row mundanity. She sings songs about corporate greed, the gender pay gap, and Reagan selling arms to Iran, over a sound that’s equal parts Stax soul, outlaw country, The Dead, and even ’90s R&B. “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day” this is not. While Price deftly tackled rural realism on much of 2017’s All American Made, she shines brightest when singing about something she knows all too well: crushing, soul-devastating loss. When she was a child, her family lost their Northern Illinois farm; one of her twin boys passed away as an infant; and her husband/co-writer/bassist, Jeremy Ivey, pawned their car and Price’s wedding ring to record her first album. This morning, though, Price doesn’t look too downtrodden. She’s curled up on a couch in her new-ish Whites Creek home, hair in rollers, pajamas on, sipping coffee from a David Bowie mug (“Rebel Rebel” is appropriately printed just below the rim). There’s an organic, “hippie” pop-tart on the coffee table, and Pokémon is cued up on Netflix—remnants of her son, Judah, who’s now out back feeding the family’s chicks, Dolly and Loretta. “It’s good to talk to you again, you know, while not riding around in your car,” she says with a smile—the same one that convinces people to drive across town for buffalo dresses. So with (slightly) more time than we had back in 2014, and in a setting that’s a lot more comfortable than a 2004 Volvo V50, Margo Price and I talk about success, happiness, and why you shouldn’t get too used to her playing country music.
Your first album is this introduction to you that’s intensely personal. The second album took that personal and made it universal. Can you speak to what the new material you’re writing is like, and where it fits in those two worlds? Well, we’ve already recorded one album, which was a concept record. I’m not gonna give away the subject matter or the genre, but we recorded that, and I’m just gonna sit on it. I’m gonna wait and maybe release it in, I don’t know, like ten, twenty years from now or something. It’s like when Neil Young will hold on to things . . . When you’re in your prolific period, I think it’s cool to just get as much out there and recorded as you can. We’ve got that that we’re sitting on, and then we’ve started working on another project, and I also don’t wanna give away—it’s gonna be a little bit of a genre change. This second record, everybody was like, “Oh, it’s a political record.” For me, it was just kind of still talking about the world around me and how I see social issues. I definitely am not looking to put out another political record, but that being said, I am not gonna ignore things that I see. So there’s still gonna be everyday life. It’s hard to explain without just totally letting the cat out of the bag of what my next plan is, but I’m definitely looking at it like a chess game—and I know exactly where I want to move. You’ve expressed admiration for Bowie and his reinventions before, and in The Fader you basically said, “Jury’s out on whether I continue to play country forever.” Do you think that that shift might be sooner than some would imagine? I think so. I think that right now, the way that things have gone, country music is now kind of being exploited as this thing where it’s like everybody’s authentic, and everybody wants to be Americana, and everybody’s putting on a Nudie suit, and that’s fine . . . [But] some people are kind of fabricating these bands or these characters, so it’s like, “Oh here’s an Americana boy band, and here’s someone who’s traditional country, they’re so authentic.” Well maybe, maybe not. But once everybody starts jumping on the bandwagon, it’s just
gonna sink. Once you start homogenizing it and producing it, then the whole thing kind of loses its charm. I’m not saying I’m never gonna play country music again—I would never say that, because I love country music—but I think just for me, following the muse, I’m going somewhere else right now. In your Daily Show interview, you mentioned being a role model for young women. Does that make you nervous about a misstep in your day-to-day life or your public life? Well, I’m no paradigm of virtue—I definitely have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. I’m human . . . I’m trying to really stay down to earth, where I’m not selling sex, and I’m not focused on the look more than what I’m saying. I’ve got people that are like, “Oh, I’ll give you free Botox.” There’s so many temptations that come the longer you’re in this business, you know? Sure. It’s that idea that you’re not ugly, you’re just poor. Right, exactly! But I’m like, “Well, I like my face.” Of course when I was younger, I felt like I wanted to change so many things, and I always felt like my success was not happening because I wasn’t fitting into this mold of beauty. Because I grew up looking at people like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and all the boy bands. It was just all about being sexual and being beautiful. I want people to appreciate the things that come out of my mouth and not be concerned with how big my lips are. This is a big question, but what is country as a genre—or as a mindset—to you? I think the word country means something different to everyone else. To me, country music is just . . . the actual day-to-day commentary on everyday life. It’s about the truth, and the grit, and the sadness, and the ugliness, and all those things. Then you say country music to somebody else and all they think is trucks, daisy duke shorts, and beer. The word has really been kind of twisted so many different ways that I think sometimes it loses its meaning. For me, it’s just the stories of the people.
“I was raised to stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s hard— even if people are gonna call you names and scream at you.”
Speaking of that, you’ve said that you’re a fan of how Bobbie Gentry and Bob Dylan could write about the mundane and make it interesting. You also namechecked Virginia Woolf on All American Made, who’s also very, very good at that . . . How do we write about the day-to-day when everyone’s day-to-day gets weirder and weirder as this world gets weirder? Exactly! Yeah, that’s a great point. Bob Dylan had that song called like “Clothes Line Saga” or whatever, and then there’s Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe.” It’s about those things, but the more time goes on, the more different our day-to-day life becomes. I was talking to Emmylou Harris about a year ago, and she was telling me about this article she read. It was like, “Country music is going extinct,” almost because of the lives that we lead, and because people don’t grow up at the end of a dirt road and don’t have to struggle as much. So it’s like, “Well, what are you supposed to write about? How you were raised in the suburbs and you had a cellphone at the age of twelve?” But that was really kind of how All American Made started. It was like, “Well, I can’t just not talk about things,” because it’s so in our face. You turn on the TV, you read the paper, look at your newsfeed every morning, and you see social injustice, you see corruption in the government, you see people fighting, you see a country so divided. And unless you’re just completely numb to it and living in your cloud of white supremacy, it’s going to affect you. Me being a writer, I’m going to write about that, and I’ve probably alienated a few fans, maybe lost a few people along the way. But I think in the bigger picture of my career, that’s fine, because I don’t want fair-weather fans that only want to hear about drinking whiskey. So I have a lot of mixed emotions about the world right now, and I’m just trying to sort it out myself. I don’t have any answers for everybody. I don’t know where we go from here. I’m not telling everybody they have to think like me . . . I’m just doing my best to make the right decisions for my child, and for the future of America.
Do you think artists—even country artists— are obligated to talk about politics in this day in age, even if it’s through the filter of their personal life, like you do? That’s a tricky question. People kind of voice their opinion by not voicing it, in a way. You say you want to remain neutral, that’s totally fine, but then what is the quote? It’s like, “Silence can kill an honest man by not speaking up” . . . I know a lot of people want to look at music as an escape, and it totally can be that, but—oh, that’s such a hard question. I don’t know. I think not saying what you stand for is kind of a vote for the other team. Ignorance is bliss. Well we’ve seen that with—to bring up another Nashville artist—Taylor Swift. She’s caught a ton of flack for being silent on everything. Yeah, I mean, if that’s how you want to go about it, then I’m sure you’ll be selling twice the records, cause you’re selling to this side, you’re selling to that side. But I never got into writing songs to make money . . . I’m not concerned about staying silent for a few extra bucks. I don’t know, that’s just the way I am. I was raised to stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s hard—even if people are gonna call you names and scream at you. I want to be on the right side of history. The familial, personal, and financial woes you’ve faced have been talked about by everyone from Terry Gross to The New York Times. Do you feel caged in by that narrative? Is it like that Waylon line? “Don’t ask me who I gave my seat to on that plane, I think you already know.” Yeah, exactly. The more time goes on, and the more times I’m interviewed, it gets redundant. Sometimes I just wanna answer questions really sarcastically. But people love an underdog, and I think that was half of the appeal to everybody who was like, “Oh man, look at her, she was struggling. Now she’s doing great.” Everybody wants it to be a Cinderella story. While it kind of feels like it is, I still have depression. It’s just a different set of problems now, you know? I don’t have a social life because
I am working myself to death, I’m gone all the time, I barely see my kid, it’s hard to spend time with my husband and my family. But I’m happy that I’m able to do what I love. I think that yeah, I am done talking about the ragsto-riches story, though. It gets monotonous as hell. What’s inspiring you right now? Where is that muse you mentioned earlier taking you? Well, some of it is about having success and the problems that come along with that . . . It’s just a whole different world I’m living in now. I think being in the spotlight, and having people say things about you and tear you down like they know you when they have no idea, you know? It’s real different. I remember when I played SNL, I had never dealt with such internet bullying. Just people saying the most hurtful things. Yeah, that’s a part of it. There’s a whole world of new social circles and new things to be discovered—some good, some bad. How do you deal with that? Because yes, to a certain degree you sign up for this when you put yourself out there. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s really fair to say that in this day and age, because “out there” is more out there than it’s ever been before. I mean, all I wanted to do was sing songs. I never wanted to be famous—I never wanted that part of it. I just wanted to make a little money playing music. But people need idols, and people need people to look up to, and they also need people to tear down. It’s like they kind of build you up just to tear you down later. I’ve grown really thick skin, but it’s just confusing, because I just wanted to be an artist, I didn’t want to be a public figure. Now everybody wants to know what I think on every subject under the sun, and sometimes I don’t even want to comment about it because I get a little paranoid. I get a little scared that
someone’s gonna show up and do something crazy, you know? Speaking out about things like gun control, my dislike for Trump and his wall, that makes people angry. I don’t know. It’s only a matter of time before I just quit even having any commentary on what’s going on, and I just support things maybe with my money. If I believe in a cause and I donate to it or something. Would that be going against what you were saying earlier about silence being a problem with artists though? I’m an enigma, what can I say? [laughs] I get it from both angles, but I guess time will tell— time will tell. Though you’re not technically “Southern,” a lot of your music grapples with this very Southern idea of generational wealth and breaking the chain—this idea that if just someone in the family would catch a break, maybe things would get better, maybe you’d “Get back the farm.” Do you feel like you’ve caught that break? Do you feel like you’re there now? Well I definitely can’t complain financially. I guess I feel like I’ve shown all those people in high school who said, “You’re a loser. What are you doing? Are you gonna get a real job ever?” I guess I feel like I’ve shown them that I can make a living off my own two hands. I think that’s not only a Southern ideal, but I think that’s all over America . . . I think everybody wants to rise above the lower middle class, which has all kind of become one thing now. I don’t know that I’ve captured the American dream, but I’m sure glad that I went out and chased what I believed in and got a little piece of the pie. Margo Price will play the Ryman Auditorium May 19, 20, and 23 and is on tour now through September.
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THEATRE SPOTLIGHT INGRAM NEW WORKS FESTIVAL
PHOTOS BY DANIEL CHANEY STYLING BY NATALIE RISK
Works Festival has brought four extraordinar y play wrights from across the country to Nashville each year to share their new plays with local audiences. All of the plays have been developed for several months with local actors, directors, and artists as part of the Ingram New Works Lab, just one of the facets of Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Ingram New Works Project. The initiative was created with the support of cofounder Martha R. Ingram to provide an opportunity for national theatre artists to connect with Nashville audiences and to develop new works while in residency at Nashville Rep. The play wrights of the 2018 Ingram New Works Festival are tackling the same question from four different and dynamic points of view: How do we navigate a world that has changed so dramatically?
Each one of these stories is about trying to navigate a new world, whether that’s challenging yourself to be the kind of person that can nurture art in the most unlikely place, trying to keep your business open while you make sense of rapid gentrification and its cost on your community, trying to find a new life in extraordinarily bloody circumstances while escaping the old one, or literally trying to see yourself in a new country. “There’s no question about it, the world is in a state of extraordinary change,” says Nate Eppler, Nashville Rep’s award-winning playwright-inresidence. “I think the most necessary art helps us navigate that and tries to make sense of how we live in this world now, at this moment.” The Ingram New Works Festival takes place May 9–19, 2018. Visit ingramnew works.com for more information.
Tori Keenan-Zelt’s play How the Baby Died tells the story of Stace, a young actress who moves across the country to be a live-in nanny for her friends while making an unsettling audition tape for a French horror theatre company.
(It’s a party for the baby—sort of—and STACE has just met RICH, a doctor. THE BABY screams bloody murder in the background.) STACE: But I mean. Babies cry, right? That’s like a normal baby thing. RICH: I’m not a pediatrician. STACE: Right. No of course. RICH: And what do you do? STACE: Yeah, so I’m sort of trying to figure that out right now? (THE BABY is still screaming.) RICH: I do like kids though. I don’t have any. But I like, oh, you know, the idea. I mean, you spend all day with unconscious people, you sort of want something nice to come home to. STACE: So wait—what kind of doctor are you? RICH: I’m a surgeon. For adults. STACE: Oh wow! Can I just ask you— RICH: I don’t look at moles at parties. STACE: Yeah no I was just. How much can a person get hurt before they feel it? I mean before other people start to notice? RICH: Mental or physical pain? STACE: Um, both. R ICH: Well there are variables, but theoretically, you could cut off whole parts of the brain without affecting normal functions in any observable way. STACE: Theoretically. RICH: There have been a few. The Nazis. Did experiments. They’re illegal now. Obviously. But some stroke victims can pass a baseline days after trauma. STACE: How do you know if the baseline is normal? I mean what even is normal? RICH: It’s a low deviation from the mean. STACE: Right. So. Even if you can’t see it, it’s still in there though, right? RICH: The trauma? STACE: Yeah. R ICH: The huma n body remembers ever y thing. That’s what makes it so fascinating.
STACE: So what do you do? RICH: About what? STACE: If there was like a trauma here tonight. Something really bad like a fork in the eye but the fork was invisible, how would you save them? RICH: You can’t die from eye trauma. STACE: That we know of. RICH: I mean, we know. STACE: But what if it’s really deep in there? Like if she keeps going to the bathroom and bringing her purse, and he knows she’s not on her period because they fucked on the way over—you know—in the Uber—they can afford non-pool-Ubers. But it didn’t feel right—you know how your body can respond even though your mind is like fuck no? And so now he’s on his fifth wine even though he promised, and she says something about the wine and he says something about the purse, and next thing you know, BOOM! Fork-inthe-eye. RICH: How deep? STACE: Not that deep. At first. But then, he starts trying to explain how it’s actually OK that he’s drinking—how it’s really her fault— and he keeps talking, so I mean, she can’t take the fork out, Right? She has to drive it in deeper and deeper—and the whole time she’s seeing in his other eye the pain of each push til she can’t think anything but how hazel isn’t a color. How she doesn’t want to hurt him—she just wants it to stop. And so even though each push is breaking her a little bit more, she has to keep pushing and pushing and praying she’ll hit something that will just make it stop. RICH: I’d just do a basic procedure to isolate the trauma, and he should be good as new. STACE: A lobotomy? RICH: Nazis. STACE: Right. STACE: Yeah so nobody stab anybody til after the party, OK? Just relax and um have some wine!
James Anthony Tyler’s Pranayama focuses on a set of neighbors struggling to connect in a Bikram yoga studio in a gentrifying corner of Harlem during the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
(It’s Friday July 8, 2016. The class stands over their yoga mats facing BANITA. BANITA stands, on her mat, in front of her students. All of the students stand on their left leg while their right leg is lifted. They all move, in unison, to bring their right foot into their cupped hands. Standing Head to Knee Pose—DandayamanaJanushirasana.) BANITA: Meditate on your left leg. If your left leg’s locked, inhale, suck your stomach in, slowly, gently, right leg lifts up, leg comes up parallel to the floor. No higher, no lower. Take a deep breath. Heel forward, turn your foot in from the ankle, all five toes now back towards your face. Both legs loooong, upside down L. Bend your elbows down, elbows touch the calf muscle. Now touch your chin to your chest, and touch your forehead to your knee. We’re going to see how long you can hold it today. (Lights go to half over all of the yogis. KORDELL steps into a spotlight facing the audience as the class continues Standing Head to Knee Pose.) KORDELL: You’re a Griot. Always have been. Always will be. You’re an educated Black man. Survived Cleveland’s East Side. Excelled at Shaker Heights High and graduated at the top of your class. Proud Howard University man. Full academic ride. Went to study with Black literary giants. And you meet a Black literary giant, before he was who he is. Freshman year Ta-Nehisi Coates becomes one of your best friends. And junior year you meet love... your religion.
(KORDELL looks at QUINTA, his wife, and then back at audience.) KORDELL: “Between the World and Me.” Killing the game! I’m so proud of him. His writing has always been dope. My writing has always been dope. The world just doesn’t know, but they will. So, a look at my life. You still do what he does. You write about your life. From my birth until now. You write about the struggle to inspire your students at City College. You write about..... Why the fuck are you teaching at City College? These are the students that need you, right? But students also need you at Howard, right? Or Morehouse? Or Grambling? HBCU’s with a name, reputations. But you’re on your way to becoming tenure and you’re in the city, the greatest cultural city in the world, and you’ve been writing.... Kinda.............. Be real. Honest! These thoughts? Fuck! Go away. Just need to get through this pose, this class.......... Is it the baby? Gotta write. Gotta write my truth........ But even if it means losing.................. her......................................... My religion................ You gotta tell her. It’s a fucking cliche. “One night. Meant nothing. You’re the one I love. Forgive me.” It’s a cliche but it’s real. You feel like shit. You don’t want to carry this. You just want to put it down but it’ll explode, kill every fucking thing you done built with her. So, maybe you stay quiet. You stay quiet and re-dedicate yourself to her. That’s it. (As Kordell steps back onto his yoga mat the lights rise. BANITA Changes. All of the yogis come out of the pose.)
Cristina Florencia Castro’s play The Very Last Wishes of Grandpa Joe or Mia & Hector Go Sightseeing features an acclaimed pop-up book artist traveling to Ireland with her best friend while silently grappling with her loss of vision. (HECTOR’s grandfather is dead. His ashes are in an urn with the Indiana Pacers team logo on it, per his wishes, and HECTOR is responsible for it. MIA is there to comfort her best friend—but she’s not doing a great job at it.) HECTOR: My family hates me. MIA: They don’t. Shit always goes down when a family member DIIIEES. HECTOR: Can you not say it like that? MIA: What? DIIIEES? HECTOR: Yes—Stop it! MIA: How am I saying it? HECTOR: Like you’re being super intense about it— like—DIIIEES ... You’re saying it like that. MIA: I am not. HECTOR: Whatever... (HECTOR lets go of MIA and looks at her. They look at the urn. And the Pacer’s logo.) MIA: It’s so ugly. HECTOR: It’s what he wanted. MIA: They’re such a forgettable franchise. HECTOR: Stop that. (HECTOR sits next to the urn.) HECTOR: He told me he was getting cremated so he would be easier to carry... MIA: Uh, okay. HECTOR: He wants to go back. MIA: Back? Back where? HECTOR: Ireland. MIA: Really? Why? HECTOR: He made me promise. On his deathbed. MIA: Cheap shot. HECTOR: I thought so too—my whole family did... We fought. They want to keep him here with us. I told them that’s not what he wanted and it turned into this huge thing. It felt so... Mia, will you come with? MIA: To Ireland?
In Nate Eppler’s This Red Planet, a former US president wakes up one morning and decides to be an artist instead of a Republican, enrolling in private painting lessons from an art teacher hired specifically to discourage him. (BECCA, the art teacher, shows her husband DAVE a painting by the ex-president. It’s supposed to be a pear.) DAVE: Oh you gotta tell him he sucks. BECCA: This is why I didn’t want to show you. DAVE: Look at that that’s like—What even is that? That’s like a yellow rock. BECCA: It’s obviously a pear. DAVE: Pears aren’t yellow. BECCA: They are yellowish. DAVE: Pears are green. BECCA: No. DAVE: Yes. BECCA: Have you even seen pears? DAVE: Yeah babe I’ve seen pears. BECCA: Pears are not green. DAVE: Okay maybe you’re talking about some kind of artsy-fartsy Trader Joe’s pears, but I am talking about American pears. BECCA: American pears are yellow. DAVE: It’s not even the right shape. BECCA: He’s only been at it two weeks. He’s doing great work. DAVE: Why are you encouraging him? BECCA: He’s, I don’t know, he’s not what you think, he’s nice. DAVE: He tried to murder a whole motherfucking country, Rebecca. Like what are you even? BECCA: That doesn’t have anything to do with anything because that’s that’s that’s it’s not like he did that personally. DAVE: He did, he did do that personally, he personally did that. BECCA: It’s not like he—No—He was president and he— DAVE: He sure was. BECCA: And you’re, what? You’re happier with what we have now? DAVE: Fucking A right I am burn it all down. You think they care about us? BECCA: They, yes, they, yes they care about me. They came to me for help. DAVE: They don’t care about you. BECCA: Well at least they’re nice to me. DAVE: Maybe they don’t know you like I do.
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CONTRIBUTOR SPOTLIGHT SARAH B. GILLIAM
PHOTOS BY SARAH B. GILLIAM
Hilltown is a small community in the unincorporated town of Santa Fe, Tennessee (it’s pronounced “Santa Fee”). There are only three signs when you enter the neighborhood: one reads HILL TOWN with an arrow, one is for the Hilltown Church of Christ, and the last points toward the Maury County Coon Hunters Club. We adopted the Hilltown name for our own farm when we moved here in 2016. We came here to simplify our life. That is to say, to shift our focus from meetings and clubs and practices to gardening, building, and creating on our land together. To us, Hilltown is a place to experience something together. Something that takes time, patience, practice. Last year, we decided to start sharing this with others by offering workshops that incorporate those ideas. You can take experience-based classes like Axe Camp, Dendrology 101 (a.k.a. tree ID-ing), and Darkroom Photography, all of which are designed to be thoughtful, unplugged, and focused. In addition to our workshops, we have chickens, keep bees, grow two acres of native wildflowers to sell at the local farmer’s market in Leiper’s Fork, and offer firewood and cooking wood. Over the past two years, we’ve found an incredible community. There is a multigenerational, diverse group of people whom we call on when we need help, have questions about farming, or need produce. Each week, we gather about a mile and a half down the road in Fly—another Santa Fe community similar to Hilltown. We have affectionately called this “neighbor night” with our “farmily.” Moving to Hilltown has given us space to play with our kids, try our ideas, and be part of a community. We are living our dream. —Sarah B.
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Chef Josh Stockton and the team at Geist have brought new life to a historic Nashville blacksmith shop
BY JONAH ELLER-ISAACS PHOTOS BY EMILY DORIO
YO U’ V E
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unassuming brick structure a million times. I certainly have, whether on my way to the Farmer’s Market at Bicentennial Mall or Sounds games at First Tennessee Park, but I never would’ve guessed this one-story building at the southwestern end of the Jefferson Street Bridge holds as much history as any in Nashville. John Geist Sr. emigrated from Germany in 1874 and in 1886 built a modest frame house on the edge of Germantown (which, it turns out, actually hosted Germans at one point!). Around the turn of the century, the family upgraded to the brick structure that currently stands, and for the next hundred years, the Geists operated a series of businesses that trace the path of modern industry. They first opened as a blacksmith shop, forging horseshoes and wagon wheels. As horse-powered shifted to horsepower, they used the forge for ornamental ironwork. Geist Jr. taught the trade to his sons, and the family eventually added lawn mower repair to their services. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and when the Geists finally sold the building in 2006, it was the longest family-owned and operated business in the city. But by 2012, after some years of neglect, the site ended up on a different list: Historic Nashville’s nine most endangered historic properties. Geist in German can mean “ghost” or “spirit,” which is oddly fitting, considering the family name—along with the oncemaligned site—will live on through its next iteration as the home of Geist, Nashville’s newest fine dining establishment. Taking full advantage of an artfully renovated interior, owner Doug Martin and local architect Anne Marie Garcia of Sobremesa Design have created a space that lets the historic building speak for itself. Brick walls divide the floor into three distinct areas, but expansive cutouts in each wall keep a consistent flow and prevent any sense of stuffiness. The bar sits perpendicular to a wall of windows built into the arched doorway through
which horses once entered. Next to the kitchen is a private dining room, focused around a table for twelve, and between the more intimate space and the bar is the main dining room. Many of the tables here feature cozy wingback chairs, and waiting for me at one of these is Geist’s chef, Josh Stockton. Though he’s only thirty-five, Stockton’s road to Geist has been long and winding. “I bounced around,” Stockton tells me. “I went from Michigan to New York to Hawaii, back to New York to Las Vegas to Tennessee the first time, back to Las Vegas, back to Detroit where I’m from originally, back to Las Vegas, and then finally out here.” Stockton’s first foray to Tennessee had him working at Blackberry Farm, a luxurious resort in the Smoky Mountains. Stockton’s parents r un a farm in Gainesboro, a tiny town in Jackson County outside of Cookeville, and his brother’s also a chef, now working at Blackberry Farm’s sister property, RT Lodge, near Knoxville. Stockton’s dad was a chef too. “My dad worked at an Italian restaurant owned by a Sicilian family. My first job was, he woke me up my first [day] of summer vacation, I think when I was twelve or thirteen. He’s like, ‘You’re goin’ in. You’re gonna make pasta with the owner’s grandmother and mother and sisters’ . . . That was my indoctrination.” I settle back into the plush chair as Stockton tries to put into words how much he loves cooking. “It’s the only job I’ve ever had,” he relates. “I’ve never held a job that wasn’t in a restaurant or a kitchen or a butcher shop of some sort . . . The only thing I ever really enjoyed was food and working with food. What we get to do here is fun.” Though it sounds like he’s enjoying himself at the moment, I wouldn’t blame him for feeling overwhelmed—Stockton and his wife, Amanda, only arrived in Tennessee in February. In less than three months, he’s gotten a restaurant off the ground, plus Amanda is expecting their
first child in June. After he explains all this to me, I ask Stockton if he’s taken a breath recently. “No,” he replies with a laugh. “Not since the restaurant opened!” Right now he’s “only” at Geist from 9 a.m. until after 10 p.m. “And that’s actually lighter than the first couple weeks, which was more like 8 [a.m.] to 12 [a.m.]. So we’re getting there,” he states matter-of-factly. The Geist team also includes Freddy Schwenk and Matt Buttel of Nashville Ice Lab running the cocktail program, and thus far, the bar has been the engine driving much of their business. “That bar is always three people deep!” Stockton says with some surprise. “Those lounge tables are always full. It is jam-packed.”
In Cooking by Hand, Paul Bertolli writes, “The task of keeping food vibrant and interesting, particularly food that belongs to a long tradition, is the challenge of any cook, professional or amateur.” The book is one of a handful concerning food and cooking that Stockton lists as his essential texts. I’ve returned to Geist to see the ways that the chef keeps his food vibrant and interesting, and to check out how the space functions on a crowded weekend. Even though it’s unseasonably cold and raining hard, the bar is indeed packed as reported. And because it wouldn’t be Nashville otherwise, there’s even a (thankfully small) bachelorette party. I linger at the door, looking out at a gorgeous patio space built in part with bricks from the Geist home. With a wood fireplace and espaliered trees lining the edges, it’ll be a lovely space once it warms up. My wife and I are seated in two of those comfy wingback chairs. Our corner is lit by candles cradled within the wall openings between rooms. The bustling bar is no more than fifteen feet away, and the private dining room hosts a party of twelve that’s mushroomed into a rowdy table for sixteen, but somehow amidst the chaos,
our spot’s surprisingly quiet and feels intimately ours. We dive into a cocktail, the Oaxacan Old-Fashioned, with reposado tequila, mezcal, agave, and bitters, and the Ice Lab provides the drink with a block of ice stamped with a capital G. I order from the spirit-free section of the beverage menu, enjoying a Dark & Stormy featuring locally brewed ginger beer, vanilla, and activated charcoal for color. As we work on our drinks, a plate of rolls come and are quickly gone. The rolls, like all the baked goods, are made in-house by pastry chef Andrew Dean Gallagher. Gallagher is slammed in the kitchen, but he emails me after the meal to explain that, like Stockton, food was an early obsession. “I started cooking at a young age. I found myself spending more time in the kitchen experimenting and ‘cooking’ than I did outside playing with the other children. Cooking was just something I did. It’s normal and as familiar to me as writing my name.” The rolls are soft and airy, and a side of lemony butter doesn’t hurt them. I’m sad when the butter leaves. But there’s so much more to come. Stockton’s beef tartare has a spicy, earthy kick from horseradish and comes with these adorable nickel- and dime-sized potato chips. His burrata oozes out across a layer of spaghetti squash that sits atop thick slices of griddled bread (more excellence from Gallagher there). A spectacular pasta pairing features an enormous raviolo with mushroom conserva on one plate, and on the other, a pici pasta—fat, hand-rolled noodles served al dente and lightly grilled, with butternut squash and greens cooked with cured egg yolk for a potent umami burst. We’re starting to fill up, but the polenta arrives, soaked for two days in white wine, stock, and citrus, then seared and topped with sour onions and pine nuts. We can’t say no to that, nor can we refuse our final main, a confit chicken, just perfectly moist in every bite, alongside white beans and a wonderful house-made
NATIVE NASHVILLE â€ƒ
chicken sausage that shows off Stockton’s skills as a butcher. We f inish with a dessert from Gallagher that’s as much an adventure as it is a dish. When it comes to the table, it looks like a perfectly spherical lime served on a pile of dirt. We use gold spoons to crack the “lime,” which is actually a bright green shell of white chocolate, and a key lime custard collapses into the “dirt” (crumbled graham crackers). The pastry chef writes later: “The philosophy and thinking behind it was to answer the question of ‘How do I do key lime pie without it being key lime pie?’ As a chef, I like to challenge myself and ultimately, the guests, to go beyond what is expected.” In another of Stockton’s best-of books, The Third Plate, Dan Barber says in regards to cooking: “The greatest lesson came with the realization that good food cannot be reduced to single ingredients. It requires a web of relationships to support it.” Stockton has taken that lesson to heart: the team behind Geist has built their own culinary web to create a multisensory feast. Their delicate renovation acknowledges and celebrates the long, rich life of this historic space; and the partnership between Stockton, Gallagher, and Ice Lab allows Geist to cater to all kinds of people and parties. The Geist family once made firstrate products here, or at least I figure, since they wouldn’t have lasted so long otherwise. You can still find examples of their fine ironwork at the gates of a local church or two. Stockton seems a worthy descendant to their craftsmanship: “My food philosophy is, I just like to work with quality ingredients. I like to give them the care and time they deserve, and I think every food can be done well.” Geist is open Wednesday through Friday 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 2 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
1013 Fatherland St. 6592 Highway 100 Suite 1
EAST NASHVILLE BELLE MEADE
YOU OUGHTA KNOW: TAYLS PHOT O BY EMILY D OR IO
If you’ve been around Middle Tennessee’s music scene over the past decade, there’s a good chance you already know Taylor Cole. And if you don’t know him, you may know of him: between fronting now-defunct psychrock spectacle Chalaxy, drumming for local indie quartet Creature Comfort, and booking talent for beloved local venue The East Room, Cole has become a ubiquitous presence in our city’s psych, DIY, and whatever-else-you-canthink-of communities. Now Cole is embarking on his first proper solo project: Tayls. Backed by an all-star lineup of local talent including members of Molly Rocket, Creature Comfort, and Roots of a Rebellion, Tayls makes unabashedly earnest art for a time that desperately needs it. C o l e ’s s o n g s r a n g e f r o m t h e autobiographical—“Pop Tart (Queer Boy/ Small Town)” recounts Cole’s upbringing as The Other in rural Tullahoma, Tennessee—to
the fantastical—“Change Your Mind” follows a lonely toaster that falls in love with its human owner. But even when singing about sentient appliances, Cole wears his heart on his sleeve, singing lines like: “I’m no more yours / I’m no more complete / You found something that works better than me.” Throw in some of producer-guitarist Greg Dorris’ Brit-pop sensibilities, and you’ve got anthems that even a Gallagher brother couldn’t scoff at. Given his “day” job, it’s not surprising that Cole picked vegan deli The BE-Hive, which is connected to The East Room, as his favorite local restaurant. “I’ve never been to an allvegan place that can work around my nut allergy,” Cole says. “I recommend the sweet potato burrito!” Tayls’ self-titled debut EP is out May 18, and make sure you catch his two-venue release show, happening the same night at Mercy Lounge and The High Watt.
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In the age of the internet, the bathroom may be the last bastion of privacy. But for most of us, our bathroom is connected to a vast network (a sewage system, that is), into which we export our data. While we retain our anonymity through the sharing of this very personal data, that doesn’t mean we are free from the ramifications of its release. Though I sincerely hope that the bathrooms I visit remain private, my hope is that we should all keep in mind that what we do in the bathroom definitely does not stay in the bathroom. But that means a lot of different things, so let’s dive into this cesspool of euphemisms. While I use data as a euphemism for excrement, it could be more broadly applied, in this case, to any substance we discard in the bathroom, whether in the toilet or sink. There is a growing concern in our country about the effects of emerging contaminants, the general name given to a category of substances that includes pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Many times, we wash these things down the sink or discard them directly into the toilet. In other cases, chemicals make their way into local water bodies indirectly (by way of our sewer systems, via our bowels, which often don’t fully break down all the chemicals in these products). For the most part, these substances enter ou r water ways in sma ll concentrations, but that doesn’t mean their impact is inconsequential. A growing body of research has analyzed their effects, and
the results so far have been weird and scary. Minnows exposed to pharmaceuticals in the water stopped fleeing from predators, stopped guarding their nests, and suffered organ failure. Earthworms in agricultural fields fertilized with biosolids (byproducts from sewage treatment plants—this is a common practice) were found to have ingested disinfectants commonly found in soaps and fragrances. Some researchers have even found “feminized” fish—male fish with female eggs in their testes—which are likely the result of the fish absorbing substances like estrogen from birth control pills. Emerging contaminants aside, there’s also the issue of straight up poop and pee. In most of our cases, it’s getting piped underground and ending up in a sewage treatment facility. There it will undergo a series of treatments before being deemed clean enough to re-enter the Cumberland, where it originated. But complications can arise along the way. A common sewer design is one that combines the sewer system with the stormwater system. Not surprisingly, this system fills up faster when it rains, sometimes beyond capacity. In those cases, something has to give, and the sewage will burst forth from the pipes somewhere. If you haven’t seen any instances of this, you might have at least smelled them. Nashville is currently in the midst of a giant project to overhaul and improve its sewer system, so hopefully these instances will dwindle in the future.
Obviously, most of earth’s creatures bypass the commode and poop shamelessly on the ground. Poop isn’t so bad in a wellbalanced ecosystem, but unfortunately, in many places the poop-to-land ratio is too high. We take our dogs outside to poop in our yards and parks. Deer run through our neighborhoods and poop all over the place. We let our cattle poop in fields that drain into the same streams and rivers from which we pump our drinking water. To make matters worse, when the fields are mowed, the buffer area around these streams and rivers is reduced. Bathroom business is a complicated topic. What happens after we pay our respects to the throne is largely out of our control. However, there are some conservation-minded practices we can follow to ensure we’re doing right by our friends downstream of the sewer system. For one, don’t flush your unused meds. There are a number of prescription drug take-back stations throughout Nashville that were established for this purpose.* Outside of that, one of the best tools is awareness. If you think that sewage smell in your neighborhood seems out of place, you just might be right—it could be the result of an accidental overflow, and it’s worth a call to Metro Water Services. * tn.gov/ behav ioral-health/substanceabuse-services/prevention/prevention/finda-prescription-drug-take-back-box.html
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Featuring Margo Price, Halfnoise, Peabody Shoe Repair, Geist, Ingram New Works Festival, and many more.