The Best Hot Chicken Festival In Nashville

Take heart, hot chicken fans – there is an alternative to the July 4 Nashville Hot Chicken Festival that is WAY MORE FUN

You may have checked out my previous article where I opined that the Nashville Hot Chicken Festival held each July 4 weekend in East Nashville is a colossal waste of time.

Take heart, hot chicken fans – there is an alternative event that is WAY MORE FUN – and as an added bonus, it’s a fundraiser for the Predators Foundation.

I’m referring to Hot Shots! Hot Chicken, Whiskey and Bourbon Festival scheduled for Friday evening, October 21 at Bridgestone Arena. When I tell you that, for $70 a ticket, you get unlimited samples from the most popular Nashville Hot Chicken joints in town, and unlimited tastings (well, limited only by your sense of propriety) from regional and national distilleries – well, I really shouldn’t have to tell you anything else. But I will! Because your ticket also gets you into the exclusive Viewing Party as the Nashville Predators play the Detroit Red Wings that evening. And, if all that wasn’t enough, your ticket also gets you to pick a future Preds game to attend at Bridgestone Arena. BOOM!

If you are into Nashville Hot Chicken and Predators hockey, but want to attend this with your kids or just don’t want alcohol, you should know that there is an option for that, and it’s just $50. (These prices are “early bird” rates that just last through tomorrow – not sure how much they’ll go up after that, but I would seriously consider attending this event even if you have to pay more.)

Last year’s inaugural Hot Shots! Hot Chicken, Whiskey and Bourbon Festival was held the afternoon of August 1. Moving the event to an evening in October means that attendees will also get to participate in a watch party as the Predators take on the Red Wings in Detroit.

Planning for Fun in Centerville

What I really wanted to tell you about is the upcoming National Banana Pudding Festival, held the first week of October in Centerville, TN.

Sometimes, planning and preparing for an event is as much fun as the event itself. Continue reading “Planning for Fun in Centerville”

End of Summer Fun in Franklin

Now I look up and realize that summer is coming to an end, so I’ve got a really promising end-of-summer event to suggest

Huge apologies to those of you who’ve patiently been waiting for me to write a new post about fun things to do in and around Nashville. A few of you Continue reading “End of Summer Fun in Franklin”

A Visit to Cheekwood is Good to the Last Drop

Like Nashville, Cheekwood really shines in the summertime.

When Mr. Leslie Cheek’s family coffee business (known as Maxwell House because it was served at that historic downtown hotel) was sold to Postum/General Foods, he invested his share of the proceeds in a lovely 100-acre tract of land, and hired a renowned architect to design a country house and gardens. Continue reading “A Visit to Cheekwood is Good to the Last Drop”

No Foolin’ – a Fun Way to Support the Ronald McDonald House

This fun event features food from some of Nashville’s eateries, live jazz performed by Nashville’s talented Denny Jiosa, an outstanding selection of silent auction items, and a selection of wine, beer and spirits tastings skillfully curated by Ed Fryer of Village Wines & Spirits in Hillsboro Village.

Some of the very best happenings in Nashville are those that benefit schools, philanthropic organizations or charities. One of my personal favorite happenings is scheduled for this Friday, April 1. Continue reading “No Foolin’ – a Fun Way to Support the Ronald McDonald House”

Get Greek! in Nashville

Enjoy the livelier aspects of Greek culture starting Friday at the annual Nashville Greek Festival.

“There are two kinds of people – Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek.” – Gus Portokalus in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”

Although Nashville isn’t known for having ethnic “cities within a city,” there are pockets of international culture within our town that occasionally bubble up as festivals for all to enjoy. This week, The Athens of the South gets its Greek on. Continue reading “Get Greek! in Nashville”

Let’s Get Ready to Roller!

There is nothing like an evening at the roller derby. Trust me!

I’ve been planning to tell y’all about the Nashville Rollergirls. This morning’s email featured a LivingSocial deal on roller derby tickets that is hard to pass up. If you already subscribe to LivingSocial, you got the email – if not, you should be able to access the deal for the next few days by following this link. LivingSocial Promo  If you miss the deal, don’t worry – even at full price, this is an entertainment bargain, and the 2015 season is just starting.

There is nothing like an evening at the roller derby. Trust me! The sport is not quite as glamorous as it looks in Raquel Welch’s 1972 movie Kansas City Bomber or Drew Barrymore’s 2009 classic Whip It (also starring Ellen Page and Kristen Wiig) but it’s also not quite as violent. And the rules are pretty easy for a casual spectator to understand. But I’m getting ahead of myself – here are some ways to maximize your fun while supporting the Nashville Rollergirls at one of their upcoming matches at Municipal Auditorium.

1.  Pick a roller derby name. There are several online name generators you can use to get started (here’s a link to one) – when I first used one of these I got the classic Peach Clobber which is just perfect for a Southern girl. My girlfriend initially chose White Thrash – but then she got creative and came up with her own – Bitter Honey! Well, that just got the ball rolling – I since have developed my own roller derby spin on a trade name – Lumbar Liquidator. Sounds dangerous, right?

2. Learn the rules. Or don’t. As mentioned above, it’s pretty easy to catch on to what’s supposed to happen, and pretty soon you’ll be able to tell when to cheer. But if you want to read up, you can find the rules here. You should know that the Nashville Rollergirls are part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), which means that the action happens on a flat, not banked surface. There currently are 301 full member leagues (teams) in the WFTDA, and the Nashville Rollergirls are ranked 31st, which means they are good!

3. Catch the half-time show. Frankly, it’s been a few years since I last attended a Nashville Rollergirls derby (I’m about to remedy that, thanks to LivingSocial), but one of the best parts of the whole evening was the half-time entertainment. A newly-married couple took a spin around the track together (proving that wedding gown trains and roller skates don’t mix well), and a fun-loving group of mostly middle-aged women performed a dance routine to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It.” Love!

4. Appreciate your team. These women are athletes, and the souvenirs at the roller derby are great – get a team t-shirt, or a button with a funny slogan and display it proudly! And learn the skaters’ names – you never know when you might end up on a Southwest flight to Chicago and realize you’re sitting across the aisle from Union Jack-U-Up! You shouldn’t miss your opportunity to get a signed barf bag, even if you have to follow her into the ladies room at the Chicago airport! (It was a special moment – not stalker-y at all!)

For those who miss the LivingSocial promotion, tickets are available at the door, and at several retail locations in town. I look forward to seeing you at the roller derby!

Now, doesn’t that Sound Like Fun?

How Do You Afford Your Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle?

Here are some of my tried-and-true methods for keeping my entertainment budget under control in Music City.

(Apologies to Cake!)

Up until now, I’ve tried to write about Nashville activities and events that are free or very inexpensive. The truth is that attending concerts and live shows in Nashville is very fun – and can be very expensive. In a typical year, I attend between 20-25 concerts – and a similar number of live shows. Here are some of my tried-and-true methods for keeping my entertainment budget under control in Music City:

First, acknowledge that you can’t go to every concert of every band you’ve ever liked. Before I make a ticket purchase, I generally have to answer “Yes” to two or more of the following questions.

  • Is the concert on a weekend, or at least not on a night where I have an early meeting the next morning?
  • Would this be the first time I have seen the artist/group in concert?
  • Can I get decent tickets for less than $50?
  • Do I know someone that would enjoy accompanying me to the concert?
  • Do I enjoy the concert venue?

Once I’ve made the commitment to go to a concert, I often wait to make a decision about buying t-shirts, posters or other stuff until the end of the show. If I didn’t enjoy the show enough to have an enthusiastic conversation with a stranger about it, I’ll pass on the merchandise. (I’m looking at you, Ray LaMontagne.)

There are a lot of smaller venues and events around Nashville that book surprisingly popular artists. A few years ago, I was one of only a handful of people watching The Georgia Satellites perform live at the Tennessee State Fair – free with the price of Fair admission. Last year, I got to see Hozier in concert at the Exit/In for $25 a ticket. And, though I missed it, last night Garth Brooks played a surprise concert at Marathon Music Works. Many of these smaller venues send out periodic event calendars to email subscribers, and artists will announce events like this if you follow them on Facebook.

Nashville is chock-full of great musicians, and many of our best artists/groups have a devoted local following, even though they don’t play the larger venues. The following events at 3rd & Lindsley are coming up in March and worth checking out. The Jack Pearson Band (that’s THE Jack Pearson, former guitarist for The Allman Brothers Band) is playing on March 4 – tickets are just $10. The Long Players (a group of talented session musicians who specialize in selecting and recreating an entire album) are performing Tom Petty’s “Full Moon Fever” on March 13 – $20. And among my personal favorites, the Pat McLaughlin Band will be there on March 17  – $10. It’s not an elegant place, but you can get table seating and even eat some pretty good bar food at this club near downtown.

Another great idea for catching good music is to pick a dining establishment that features live music, and time your dinner so that you can get a free show! Case in Point: Soulshine Pizza Factory in Midtown (near the Vandy campus) has good pizza, and on Saturday, March 14, The 1969 Band will be playing there. (No cover!) This is bigger-than-your-average-band (Horns and vocals and keyboards! Oh my!) and their combination of spot-on classics and new music makes for great dancing, or just fun listening while enjoying pizza and beer.

I’m only getting started, folks – watch for future posts featuring other favorite spots for entertainment in Nashville. And in the meantime – enjoy!

Go to College – Free (or Inexpensive) Entertainment in Nashville

Many local students actually will have successful musical careers – so it’s especially appealing (and cost-effective) to catch their performances now!

When I landed a small part as the housekeeper in my college’s production of “Night Must Fall,” I fantasized that audience members would recall that performance after I’d launched a successful career in Hollywood. Students in the Music program at Belmont University probably have similar fantasies as they perform for audiences on campus. The difference is that many Belmont students actually will have successful musical careers – so it’s especially appealing (and cost-effective) to catch their performances now! The same can be said of students at other local universities, of course – here’s a sampling of upcoming college events that sound like fun.

The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt recently completed construction and installation of a Dobson pipe organ. This Sunday, February 8 (3pm), organist Carl Smith will present “An Introduction to the Blair School’s New Pipe Organ” in the Turner Recital Hall. The first part of the event will be an informal discussion of the organ’s design and musical characteristics, with numerous musical illustrations. This will be followed by a formal 45-minute recital on the organ, which will include music by Couperin, Bach, Brahms and others. A reception will follow the recital, with an opportunity to meet the organ builder. The event is free and open to the public.

Tennessee State University’s Department of Music has scheduled a Faculty Jazz Concert for Thursday, February 12 (7pm) in the Goins Recital Hall at the Strange Performing Arts Building. The concert is free and open to the public.

The Lipscomb University Department of Theatre is presenting “Seussical – A Fantastical, Magical, Musical Extravaganza” on selected dates between February 13-22 in the Collins Alumni Auditorium. Ticket prices range from $17 (public) to $5 (student), and are currently on sale.

The Belmont University Bluegrass Ensemble is giving a concert on Thursday, March 5 (7:30pm) at the Massey Concert Hall. The Bluegrass Ensemble performs traditional and contemporary material, and has performed at a variety of locations including the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium. The concert is free and open to the public.

Belmont Musical Theatre is presenting “All Shook Up” – an American Jukebox Musical featuring Elvis Presley music and a 1950’s era story based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night – March 20-29 at the Troutt Theater. Ticket prices range from $10 (regular adult) to $5 (senior and student), and are currently on sale.


A February Art Immersion Weekend (+) in Nashville

Aside from periodic trips to The Frist, I don’t often take advantage of Nashville’s art offerings. But the beginning of February is as good a time as any to remedy that!

This itinerary is developed in honor of my new friend Angela, who recently moved to Nashville from Austin. (In the spirit of the friendly rivalry between these two cities – chalk one up for Music City!) Angela recently asked about the Art Scene in our city. I have to admit that, aside from periodic trips to The Frist, I don’t often take advantage of Nashville’s art offerings. But the beginning of February 2015 is as good a time as any to remedy that!

First stop is the Franklin Art Scene Downtown Art Crawl on Friday, February 6 (6pm – 9pm), in historic downtown Franklin. This free monthly event provides both the novice and the art connoisseur an opportunity to see a variety of magnificent work, from blown glass, to turned wood, to mixed media and more. A free trolley runs between the locations, many of which provide complimentary wine and snacks. (Bonus: While in downtown Franklin, make time to enjoy dinner and/or drinks at one of the restaurants downtown. Red Pony is always outstanding; Grays on Main is also fun!)

On Saturday, you might take in a day at the annual Art Event at Lipscomb Academy on White Bridge Rd. (near Harding Place). This year, the event will feature works by 54 talented artists, with a wide range of media and prices, from traditional to contemporary. The show promises something for everyone – including pottery, rugs, jewelry, and much more. If you can’t make it to the show, but are interested in purchasing art to support Lipscomb Academy, you can register to bid online for a painting created and donated by one of Lipscomb Academy’s student artists. The show runs from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, and from 11am to 4pm on Sunday.

While fortifying yourself for the next activity, why not stop for lunch (11am – 3pm) or dinner (5pm – 10pm) at The Yellow Porch restaurant on Thompson Lane in Berry Hill? The food is the creative star at this moderately-priced restaurant (dinner entrees range from around $14 to $30), but the decor has a cool vibe featuring artwork by local artists.

Saturday night, February 7 (6pm – 9pm) is the night of Nashville’s First Saturday Art Crawl, sponsored by the Nashville Downtown Partnership. This popular free event presents local and world-renowned artists and artwork, in a variety of participating galleries along Nashville’s Fifth Avenue of the Arts and upstairs in the Historic Arcade. Most galleries serve free wine and other refreshments. The gallery crawl is a great free night on the town, featuring shuttle service between the galleries.

If you haven’t yet caught the current Young Tennessee Artists: 2014 Statewide exhibition at The Frist, Sunday afternoon, February 8 would be a perfect time to do so. The exhibition showcases a selection of the finest artwork created in Tennessee’s high school Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) art programs in 2014. The 39 pieces represent student artists from 16 schools, and were selected from over 600 submissions. Admission to The Frist Center for Visual Arts is $10 for adults; $7 for students or seniors. Young people (age 18 and under) are admitted without charge, as are Frist Center members.

Chaser: Although there don’t appear to be public events listed at OZ arts center during the weekend in this column, it’s worth noting that they have an exciting upcoming exhibition of contemporary interactive visual art by Alex Lockwood. The exhibition will open with an OZ Thursday Night Things (“TNT”) reception on Thursday, February 19. Doors open at 6:30. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 at the door. OZ is a little tricky to find the first time, but worth the effort!