“Everything is Awesome” – Nashville in mid-April

The Nashville Football Club will be hosting the Music City Invitational Soccer Tournament April 17-19, 2015 at fields across the city. Here are suggestions for “other” things to do in Nashville for visiting team members and their families.

The Nashville Football Club will be hosting the Music City Invitational Soccer Tournament April 17-19, 2015 at fields across the city. Today’s post has suggestions for “other” things to do in Nashville for visiting team members and their families.

At the Music City Center (Nashville’s still-new convention center), the LEGO KidsFest will running that weekend. This festival brings all of the creative hands-on, minds-on fun of LEGO building and experiences together in one activity- and entertainment-packed family event for children of all ages and builders of all skills and interests.Tickets are being sold for half-day “sessions,” with one session on Friday, and two sessions each on Saturday and Sunday. (Saturday’s sessions are almost sold out.) Tickets for children aged 3-17 and 65+ seniors are $19.50 each; adult tickets are $22.50 each. Children aged 2 and under are admitted free.

For those who prefer entertainment with more horsepower (and don’t mind the smell of burning rubber), check out the State of Drift grassroots drifting competition series on the racetrack at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds on Saturday, April 18. Information about this event is clearly written for participants – I couldn’t find spectator ticket prices, so perhaps it won’t cost a thing to go watch these cars slide around the track! (As with most motor sports events, you should be prepared to sign a waiver to gain entrance, however.)

On a much greener note, Nashville’s annual Earth Day celebration will be held in Centennial Park on Saturday, April 18 from 11 am to 6 pm. Nashville’s Earth Day Festival is a free, family friendly event with live entertainment through out the day celebrated each year in April. The event will feature exhibits and activities aimed at educating participants about protecting our environment. Live music will start at 11, and will culminate with a free performance by the Rebirth Brass Band at 4:30. The event also features a Green Market, a Beer Garden, and educational exhibits.

I find it particularly challenging to make restaurant suggestions that will appeal to family members of all ages. So, my suggestion would be to head down to the Nashville Farmers Market for midday meals on Saturday or Sunday – in addition to some of the best produce around, there’s a great variety of restaurants and food stands in the Market House, along with plentiful seating in the center of the action. While there, look for the Dirty Pages exhibit, highlighting the most-used (i.e. “dirty”) handed-down family recipes of Nashvillians from all backgrounds. (If you’re still in town on Sunday evening, there will be a Dirty Pages storytelling event from 5 – 7 pm, sponsored by The Porch writers’ collective.)

If the adults are able to sneak out for a night on Saturday April 18, I highly recommend making a visit to The Sutler Saloon in the Melrose/Berry Hill section of town. This recently-reintroduced music venue features a restaurant menu filled with tasty (if a bit indulgent) foods and beverages, a speakeasy-style downstairs lounge, and – starting at 9:00, the very talented up-and-coming pop musicians Daphne Willis and Jenna Scott. I caught Daphne Willis performing recently at City Winery and was just blown away by her talent. You can sample some of her sounds (and Jenna Scott’s) on ReverbNation. This show would appeal to all ages, but I’m thinking that, by 9 pm, the athletes should be in bed for the evening!

Whether you’re visiting Nashville for the soccer tournament, or just looking for some fun stuff to do, I hope that one of these suggestions will Sound Like Fun to you!

A weekend of service and reflection – honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I hope that you won’t allow current tensions to distract or dissuade you from participating in activities honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King on the January 17-19 holiday weekend.

The national dialogue around ethnic and race relations has been especially heated in recent months. I hope that you won’t allow current tensions to distract or dissuade you from participating in activities honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King on the January 17-19 holiday weekend. Here are some of the best options to make your holiday weekend both meaningful and enjoyable.

Each day, our city’s community centers connect Nashvillians of all ages with valuable resources.Hands On Nashville is recruiting volunteers to brighten and improve four Metro Parks Community Centers as part of a its MLK Days of Service campaign. More than 800 volunteers are needed on Saturday, Jan. 17 and Monday, Jan. 19 to support these important neighborhood spaces. Activities such as painting and cleaning are scheduled to take place in the morning; volunteer shifts will end around lunchtime.

After a Saturday shift of painting and cleaning, how about lunch at one of Nashville’s outstanding ethnic restaurants? Many of these family-owned restaurants are run by first-generation immigrants, who take pride in serving delicious and authentic dishes of their homeland to their new hometown neighbors. Among my favorites in South Nashville are Guantanamera Restaurant on Nolensville Rd. near Grassmere, and Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant on W. Thompson Lane.

Not all of us are of an age where we can fully recall or appreciate Dr. King’s efforts to promote integration and equality in the U.S. (and particularly in the South). The Selma movie (rated PG-13) dramatizes his hard-fought efforts to end discrimination in voter registration – efforts that culminated in the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This movie is currently being widely shown at Regal and Carmike theaters – go with a friend or loved one, and plan time after the movie for discussion.

Sunday’s observances across Nashville will be largely church-centered, but some Nashvillians were fortunate enough to get tickets for Let Freedom Sing, held Sunday evening at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center downtown. This free event features the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and special guests performing a mix of spirituals, popular songs and classical music honoring the triumphs of the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, no tickets remain for this event.

Vanderbilt University is sponsoring a weekend-long schedule of events and observances for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  holiday weekend, culminating with a Monday afternoon of “Teach-Ins” and an evening keynote address by former U.N. ambassador, the Honorable Andrew Young. Tickets are free and available to the public (limit 4 per person) at the Vanderbilt Sarratt box office.

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