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.

5 Ways to Be Cool in Hillsboro Village

Before we had The Nations, 12 South or East Nashville, Music City’s first “cool” neighborhood was Hillsboro Village.

Before we had The Nations, 12 South or East Nashville, Music City’s first “cool” neighborhood was Hillsboro Village. Within easy walking distance of Vanderbilt University, Peabody College and Belmont University, Hillsboro Village has long served as a thriving retail area, where students, faculty and neighborhood residents could do their banking, watch a movie, and visit family-owned shops and restaurants. Sadly, many of the shops have disappeared, but there’s still plenty to do in Hillsboro Village on a hot summer day. And in the summertime, when most of the college students have left town, Hillsboro Village is a great weekend destination. Here are 5 ways to enjoy a weekend in Nashville’s original “cool” neighborhood.

  • Start with brunch – If you’re early enough to beat the long line that forms at The Pancake Pantry (or at least early enough that you won’t pass out from the heat while standing in line), you can find out why this family-owned breakfast place has been attracting lines for over 50 years. Or, if your breakfast tastes run a little more adventurous (and healthy), you might opt for Bongo Java’s Fido Cafe, located in the former Jones’ Pet Shop (they kept the distinctive sign). Crave a cocktail at breakfast? Perhaps you should satisfy your Bloody Mary craving at Jackson’s Bar & Bistro, where weekend diners can order from the brunch menu until 3pm!
  • Explore the shops – These are shops that are meant to be explored. In fact, I don’t think it’s advisable to plan to purchase anything very specific, because the whole fun of this adventure is strolling through the shops, exploring the variety of available merchandise and picking up a wonderful impulse item. Don’t miss Davis Cookware – half amazing vendor of specialty coffees and teas, and half jumbled assortment of cool kitchen gadgets. While you’re in that part of the Village, shop Book Man/Book Woman – a true bibliophile’s paradise. And stop by Pangaea to explore the interesting assortment of gift and décor items.
  • Take in a movie – The Belcourt Theatre is an old-style movie theatre that has been converted to a not-for-profit cinema. Although they are known for being one of the only places in town to view limited-release movies, they also show classics. Checking out their website, I see that, on the weekend of June 20, they’re showing a Hobbit movie, a 1974 Robert Altman feature, an Indiana Jones adventure, and a really interesting-looking documentary called “The Wolfpack,” about 6 brothers who were raised in NYC but were secluded in such a manner that their only experience with the outside world was through the movies they were allowed to see.
  • Go to dinner – After the movie, you can continue walking west on Belcourt Ave. and you’ll find a variety of good casual eateries. Belcourt Taps has live music nightly, Savarino’s, Lucky Belly and The Dog of Nashville are popular for delicious, reasonably-priced food.

This next one isn’t for everyone, but I hope you’ll keep an open mind…

  • Go to church – I happen to among those that think going to Sunday service Sounds Like Fun. And it just so happens that one of my favorite Nashville churches is located in Hillsboro Village. Belmont United Methodist Church has a beautiful sanctuary, a diverse and welcoming membership, and a nice musical program. The 8:15 am service has communion each week; the 10:30 service has communion the first Sunday of each month. It’s a great way to start the week.