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”

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.

5 Steps to Planning a Day of Fun in Middle Tennessee

Here’s how to plan a “Day of Fun” – the extraordinary gift of spending an entire day together

Summertime is the time of anniversaries and birthdays at our house. We’ve celebrated enough of both to make traditional gift-giving seem impractical – even slightly ridiculous. (As I explained in my Valentine’s Day article, we usually don’t even buy cards for each other any longer!)  In this article, I’m going to tell you how to plan a “Day of Fun” – the extraordinary gift of spending an entire day together sharing interests and experiences. This particular itinerary will be planned for Saturday, June 6 – which happens to be our wedding anniversary!

Step 1 – Choose the First Event – There are a number of festivals going on in small towns across Middle Tennessee on June 6. You might select the Wartrace Music Festival (10am – 10pm), or the Folk Medicine Festival in Red Boiling Springs (9am – 6pm). For this weekend, I’ve chosen the Coopertown Barrel Festival (10am – 4pm) as our First Event, which means that we want to arrive in Coopertown sometime between 10am and noon. But first – breakfast!

Step 2 – Pick a breakfast spot on the way. Put some effort into this selection – this might be the time that you finally try to get a table at one of Nashville’s new brunch hot spots like Biscuit Love or Fenwick’s 300. (Or you might just head over for the terrific breakfast and friendly service at Nashville Biscuit House in East Nashville.) In our case, since we know our First Event is in Robertson County, I spent a little time on Google and discovered a promising breakfast spot – The Country Junction in Joelton, TN.

Step 3 – Pick an alternate morning activity. Okay, let’s say that we arrive at the Coopertown Barrel Festival at about 11 am, and we’ve seen all there is to see by 11:30. Or, let’s say that the heavens let loose and we decide that slogging about in the rain doesn’t Sound Like Fun. Part of the reason for picking the Barrel Festival in the first place is that we enjoy learning about whiskey distillation. So, if we end up needing to stay indoors, we’re likely to head over to Prichard’s in Joelton, or down to Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Marathon Village (or both) for a tour. Or, if we’re feeling ambitious, we might go up to Bowling Green, KY to tour the Corsair Distillery (and get a stamp for another destination on the Kentucky Craft Bourbon Trail).

Step 4 – There Will Be Barbecue! After the big breakfast we’ve planned, we’re probably not going to be hungry until almost mid-afternoon. And, though it’s sometimes fun to just choose a restaurant based on what looks good (and open) as you’re driving by, I tend to get impatient once hunger strikes! So, it’s a great idea to check out Yelp! (or some such service) so that you’ll know a good local barbecue joint that’s not too far out of the way. For my itinerary, I looked for something in Springfield – I see that top-reated Willie Mae’s is closed on the weekends, but J.L. Baldwin & Son’s Pit Barbecue is open and reviews are solid!

Step 5 – Chill Time. There’s nothing like a cold beverage and some live music to round out a Day of Fun. Of course, we have several favorite music venues in Nashville we could visit – but at Beachaven Vineyards and Winery in Clarksville, we can set our lawn chairs out and listen to some great music – FREE! (All we have to pay for is the wine we drink.) This Saturday’s artist is the “World Famous” Jim Gibson, playing blues/jazz guitar.

So, there you have it – 5 steps to a spectacular Day of Fun! I’ll be featuring additional itineraries in the future. Feel free to share any successful itineraries you’ve crafted – let’s make our summer memorable!

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.

Enjoy!