Free February

Whew – it’s going to be a great month!

Here are a dozen events in the Nashville area worth investing your time in February 2018. Continue reading “Free February”

Après-Halloween: Mellow Fun in the Midstate

I’m looking for some less-hysterical, more mellow forms of entertainment in this lull between Halloween and Thanksgiving…

International visitors recently asked me why there weren’t more Halloween decorations in places like the Opryland Hotel, or in shopping centers. My response was that, unlike Christmas, Halloween is not a season. Now I think I was wrong. I started seeing photos from costume parties on Facebook in mid-October, and this past weekend was a whirlwind of Halloween activities – I’m ready to put away all the nonsense, even though Halloween is tomorrow!

I’m looking for some less-hysterical, more mellow forms of entertainment in this lull between Halloween and Thanksgiving, because I know that the Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/New Year season is fast approaching.

Here are some activities I’ve found for the beginning of November:

Wednesday, November 1 – Music City Roots at The Factory in Franklin 7pm – 9:30pm

Music City Roots is Nashville’s acclaimed Roots and Americana radio show. For the past few years, they’ve broadcast live from The Factory at Franklin, a multi-use shopping, dining and entertainment destination on Franklin Road at Liberty Pike. Tickets range from $10 – $25, and are available at the door. Seating is first-come, so plan to arrive a bit early. This week’s artists include Guthrie Brown, Hannah Fairlight, Donna Ulisse and Amy Black.

I recommend heading to The Factory early to window shop and perhaps get a bite to eat at Mafioza’s or at Saffire Restaurant.

Thursday, November 2 – Blair Jazz Choir at Turner Recital Hall 8pm

The Blair Jazz Choir explores vocal jazz standards as well as vocal jazz arrangements of traditional tunes. A mix of straight-ahead swing, Latin and ballad grooves will be represented in the repertoire of the newest jazz ensemble at Blair. This event is free and open to the public. Parking for the event is also free in the West Garage on the Children’s Hospital campus (2500 Children’s Way).

Friday, November 3 – Belmont School of Music performance of “Die Fledermaus” at Troutt Theatre 7:30 pm

Belmont is consistently ranked as one of the top ten music programs in the U.S.; catching their student performance of this Johan Strauss opera is a great way to catch a performance by an up-and-coming musical talent. Die Fledermaus (“The Bat”) tells a story of marital infidelity, revenge and the effects of champagne consumption. Tickets are just $10 ($5 for seniors). It just so happens that the Troutt Theatre is across Belmont Blvd. from some of Arnold Myint’s good restaurants – make an evening of it!

Saturday, November 4 – First Saturday Art Crawl in Downtown Nashville

The  First Saturday Art Crawl Downtown is a monthly visual arts event in the historic arts and entertainment center of downtown Nashville. On the First Saturday of each month, an alliance of art galleries and museums collectively invite the public to explore Nashville’s vibrant downtown art scene. Prior participants have recommended parking at the Public Library Garage and then starting at the North end of the map. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring an umbrella in case of rain.

Sunday, November 5 – “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” at the Belcourt Theatre (Time TBD)

This film, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman,, is described as “a sensational thriller brimming with unsettling humor and creeping dread, steeped in Greek tragedy, existential horror, Hitchcockian psychodrama, and riveting suspense.”  If you go to a matinee screening, take the edge off afterward with a trip to one of chef Maneet Chauhan’s restaurants in the Gulch.

End-of-Summer Scramble

It’s the last weekend before college football season, and folks in Nashville are either scrambling to get one more weekend of summertime activities done.

It’s the last weekend before college football season, and folks in Nashville are either scrambling to get one more weekend of summertime activities done, or tending to yards/houses/chores/family members that need attention before Autumn. I confess that, due to televised NCAA football, I don’t get out much on Saturdays between the first of September and the end of November. (If I were a fan of a top-ranked team, I’d probably have to resign myself to doing all my holiday shopping online, because the NCAA division championships go right into mid-December!

As I mentioned recently, I’m getting ready to have a big yard sale with friends – and that’s going to eat up every bit of my time and energy on Friday evening and Saturday. On Sunday, however, I plan a nice, relaxing day, followed by an evening at the Carnton Plantation for the Sunset Concert. (This weekend’s band is an Eagles cover band, The 7 Bridges Band.)

But here are some good ideas for fun this weekend…

Friday night is a Full Moon Pickin’ Party at the Warner Park Equestrian Center on Old Hickory Blvd. These laid-back, family-friendly fundraisers allow musicians and music lovers alike to mingle under the light of the moon, while enjoying fine bluegrass and roots music. Adult admission is $25 at the gate, which includes complimentary beer &/or water. Youth 7-17 can enter for $10; Children 6 and under are admitted free. You can bring food, blankets, chairs, dogs (on 6’ leash), and if you bring an acoustic instrument to play in the jam circles, you’ll get a significant discount!

If I wasn’t planning a yard sale, I’d be planning to catch the Saturday matinee performance of Cirque du Soliel’s “Varekai” at Bridgestone Arena, followed by dinner at one of the Nashville Originals restaurants that’s participating in Nashville Restaurant Week.

As it happens, I’ve already told you something great to enjoy on Sunday. Hope to see you there!

I don’t plan to post suggestions for Labor Day weekend. Hope you have a splendid holiday! (I plan to resume my series about Nashville-area neighborhoods in September…stay tuned!)

Events to Get You Out of Your Nashville Summer Weekend Rut

Are you stuck in a rut, doing the same activities every summer weekend?

Are you stuck in a rut, doing the same activities every summer weekend? With all the growth and change in Music City, there are new happenings being planned all the time. This weekend (July 25-26), I’m planning to make first-time visits to two events that Sound Like Fun.

Beginning July 25th, the Cornelia Fort Pickin’ Party is a new outdoor music series raising funds to help preserve one of the city’s most unique landmarks, the Cornelia Fort Air Park at the Shelby Bottoms Greenway. The music series will continue once a month through October, offering music from local bluegrass bands. This Saturday’s band is Sheriff Scott and the Deputies, described as bringing a “dark urban message from the bluegrass frontier.” Musicians are encouraged to bring their stringed instruments for some impromptu bluegrass jam sessions; a concert will begin at 8pm featuring a local bluegrass band. Admission is $10 and includes one local craft beer from Yazoo Brewery (two beers for musicians with a stringed instrument!), $5 for ages 12-20 and children under 12 are admitted free! Pickin’ starts at 6, band starts at 8 and party goes until 10pm.  Bring your folding chairs and blankets, but don’t bring outside food or beverages. You can bring your dog (on a 6′ leash), but be aware that there is not much shade available and it’s likely to be hot outside. All proceeds from the event series will go towards revitalization projects at the Cornelia Fort Air Park.

Sunday evening, July 26th offers a lovely opportunity for a family picnic dinner and lawn dancing on the grounds of the historic Carnton Plantation in Franklin, at the Carnton Sunset Concert Series. (This series has been going on for years; I don’t know how I missed it!) The Vinyl Radio band will be covering classic rock hits of the 70s from 6pm to 8pm. Gates open at 4:30 – bring your lawn chairs or blankets, and pack a cooler (alcohol is permitted) or buy your dinner from one of the food vendors. No grills or pets, please. Adult tickets are $10 in advance (see website for locations)/$12 at the gate; tickets for children 6-12 are $5 each (age 5 and under admitted free).

I can only imagine how relaxed and refreshed I’ll feel come Monday morning after treating myself to these summer weekend events!

Become a Nashville Native – in Murfreesboro!

How long do you have to live in Nashville before you’re considered a native? Because this area has always been welcoming of new citizens, it’s not uncommon to find that, in any crowd, relatively few people actually were born and raised in this town. But after 15 years or so, people start claiming “native” status. I have a theory that you actually become a Native Nashvillian the first summer you learn to embrace the heat and humidity, frizzy hair and sweaty clothes, and go out and enjoy the great summertime activities in our area. (There is a corollary that this is also the time that you forget how to drive in frozen precipitation.) If you’re a Nashville transplant, this weekend is a perfect opportunity for your initiation – ironically, I’m going to suggest that you make a 30-minute trip to Murfreesboro for that rite! (If you’ve already achieved “native” status, you probably already have this on your calendar!)

Once hailed as the capitol city of Tennessee (1818-1826), Murfreesboro sits at the geographic “center” of our long, flat state. Home to Middle Tennessee State University (where enrollment rivals that of UT-Knoxville), this bustling city is much more than a bedroom community for Nashville. Sure, there are plenty of chain restaurants and big-name shops to support the local population – but there’s just enough of old Murfreesboro still present to make it a fun day trip from Nashville.

This weekend (July 10-12) is particularly enticing – head to town early and you can start your day with breakfast at the City Café, just off the courthouse square. There’s free parking at the City Garage near the courthouse – a few blocks away. This friendly and historic “Meat & 3” is renowned for their lunches (and their freshly baked rolls), but they make a good traditional breakfast, too. They open at 6am – I recommend arriving no later than 7:30 because it gets crowded!

After breakfast, take a stroll around the grounds of the Rutherford County Courthouse rutherfordcountycourthouseand enjoy the Main Street Saturday Market – a traditional farmers’ market. Local tomatoes should just be coming in about now, and it’s a sure bet that you can find corn, cucumbers, beans and peaches – along with fresh baked goods and lovely flowers. (Plan ahead and put a cooler in your vehicle to store your purchases while you linger in “the ‘boro.”) The market runs from 8am – noon each Saturday from June through August.

uncledavemacon
Enjoy the sounds of Uncle Dave Mason – “Sail Away Ladies”

As the day heats up, so does the fun – after dropping off your farmers market purchases in your vehicle (and picking up your folding chairs), you can walk over to Historic Canonsburgh Village, where Uncle Dave Macon Days will be in full swing. Named for the King of the Banjo and one of the first stars of the Grand Ole Opry, this event has grown from an afternoon banjo-pickin’ contest into annual 3-day music and artisan festival that celebrates old-time music and dancing. If you go on Saturday, you’ll have missed Friday’s Harmonica, Dulcimer and Jug Band competitions – and you’ll also miss seeing Dr. Ralph Stanley perform. (He’s scheduled to take the stage on Friday at 8 pm.) But you’ll get to see the Buck Dance and Clogging finals, and hear the Fiddle, Banjo Competitions, and see the finalists perform in the Bluegrass Band and Old Time Band competitions. You’ll also get to hear The Steeldrivers, who take the stage at 8 pm.

Plan on eating festival food for lunch and dinner, or take a break from the heat and visit one of the local restaurants within walking distance. Visit the local services tents to learn what community agencies are active in Rutherford County – one of these tents is sure to be giving away cardboard fans, which are a blessing on a hot July day!

Tickets for Uncle Dave Macon Days are $10/day for adults (3-day pass for $20), $5/day for seniors (age 55+) at the gate; children 12 and under are admitted free. Folding chairs are welcome.

I can pretty much guarantee that, after enjoying a hot summer day of fun in Murfreesboro this weekend, you’ll drive back home happy, hot and tired, and feeling like you’ve earned your “Nashville Native” badge!

Best of the Fests – Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival

What started as a small town festival back in 1972 has grown to a major event, drawing hundreds of amateur musicians, dancers and artisans, and thousands of spectators from around the world.

I have to admit that it’s been many years since I last attended the Fiddlers’ Jamboree in Smithville, TN. It’s a really wonderful music festival, but it’s always held the Friday and Saturday nearest the 4th of July, so there’s always plenty of competition for weekend entertainment around then. Despite my absence, this event has continued to grow and improve – What started as a small town festival back in 1972 has grown to a major event, drawing hundreds of amateur musicians, dancers and artisans, and thousands of spectators from around the world.

The mission of the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival is to preserve and perpetuate traditional Appalachian and Old-Time music, dance, and crafts. So, you’re not going to hear “Sweet Home Alabama,” and you’re not going to see twerking, and you’re not going to be able to buy a Shamwow. But the Festival does offer a good variety within its genre – when you tally up the number of competition categories, there will be up to 35 separate competitions over the 2-day event.

Competition begins each day at 9:00 am, and continues until that day’s contests have finished. The final contest on Saturday is a “fiddle-off” between the winners of the Junior (up to age 40) and Senior (40+) fiddler contests to select a Grand Champion.

So whether you visit the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival as your destination activity, or as a part of your holiday weekend travel to Center Hill Lake, or one of the state parks nearby (Edgar Evins to the north near I-40, or Rock Island to the south, between McMinnville and Sparta), I think you’ll understand why this little festival has grown to a large tradition.

To get to Smithville from downtown Nashville, take I-40 East to the Lebanon/Watertown exit (239A), then head southeast on US 70/TN-26 about 33 miles. Allow about 1 ¼ hours for the one-way trip.

Mules Rule! A Clash of Cultures Creates a Harmony of Fun

As the seasons change, the planets have aligned to bring Nashville Fashion Week to town at the same time as the week-long Mule Day celebration in Columbia, Tennessee.

April 6 – 12, 2015  As the seasons change, the planets have aligned to bring Nashville Fashion Week to town at the same time as the week-long Mule Day celebration in Columbia, Tennessee. Add to the mix a terrific assortment of concert offerings, and you have an entertaining week that encompasses Nashville’s past, present and future!

Nashville Fashion Week is a city-wide celebration of Nashville’s thriving fashion and retail community and its vast array of creative talent. Featuring local, regional and national designers and industry professionals in an array of creative events throughout the week encourages both Nashvillians and visitors to explore the city’s diverse fashion and retail spaces throughout the week with promotions, partnerships and educational workshops. Events begin on Tuesday, April 7 with a Designer Showcase event at Acme Feed & Seed, and feature a Ready-to-Wear Runway Show at the Musica roundabout on Friday, April 10, before wrapping up with a Nashville Fashion Forward Gala at The Rosewall on Saturday, April 11. Tickets to individual events vary in price; an all-access pass to ticketed events costs $300. Proceeds benefit the Nashville Fashion Forward Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Even if you don’t plan to attend any of the  events associated with Nashville Fashion Week, let’s make a pact here and now to refrain from wearing any of the following items in public that week: Cut-offs with cowboy boots, yoga pants, fleece, Uggs or anything “chickenflage.”

Fortunately, any or all of the above list would be on the list of acceptable attire at events surrounding the Mule Day celebration in nearby Columbia, Tennessee. This celebration has its roots in the farming traditions of our area, and hearken back to times when a man’s livelihood depended on the quality of his mule, and a man would seek to purchase aforesaid mule at an annual gathering. Mule Day has been a popular Columbia tradition for nearly 170 years, since the 1840s. It began as “Breeder’s Day”, a single day livestock show and mule market event held on the first Monday in April. Over time, Mule Day evolved from a single day event into a multi-day festival, attracting thousands of attendees, lasting almost a week. The actual mule auction will happen late afternoon on Wednesday, April 8. Thereafter, the mule-centered events deal with showing off the strength, grace and beauty of this donkey-horse hybrid. Even those unenlightened souls who don’t appreciate the mule will find plenty of other activities – an Arts & Crafts/Flea Market will run from Thursday morning until Sunday afternoon, and the Mule Day program promises “a variety of musical entertainment ranging from bluegrass to hillbilly.” (If you know what differentiates bluegrass music from hillbilly music, please clue me in!) There’s a Liars’ Contest at the Columbia High School on Friday night, a Mule Day parade downtown on Saturday, April 11 at 11 am, and a bluegrass concert at the high school that evening. These community festivals are casual, fun, and if the weather cooperates, definitely worth a day trip.

As if these two events didn’t already offer something for everyone – it just so happens that the week of April 6 – 12 is a great week for concerts in Nashville. That Monday, those who appreciate the indie-rock sounds of English band alt-J can catch them in concert at the Grand Ole Opry House. (Tickets sold out – check with your favorite ticket reseller.) Tuesday night features the legendary Stevie Wonder at Bridgestone Arena, in his “Songs in the Key of Life Performance” tour. (Tickets still available through TicketMaster.) Friday night, The Bangles will be bringing their 80’s Cali-Pop sound to City Winery. (Seats remain and can be purchased through the City Winery website. And the country superstar I’d most like to meet – Alan Jackson is performing on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. (A limited number of ticket remain through TicketMaster.)

So, whether you’ll be checking out the latest in slip-on footwear in Nashville, celebrating the farmer’s friend in Columbia, or kicking up your heels at a concert – have some fun in early April!